November 22, 2014

Whatever Happened to…R.B. Thieme, Jr.?

By Chaplain Mike

This one may be a stretch for some of you, I don’t know.

However, for those of us who were involved in churches and schools in the 1960’s and 70’s that subscribed to dispensationalist ideology, the name R.B.Thieme (1918–2009) brings back some memories.

Thieme was pastor at Berachah Church in Houston, Texas for fifty-three years, from 1950-2003. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, where he was heavily influenced by the teaching of Lewis Sperry Chafer. While at DTS, his studies were interrupted by WWII military service, which also had an effect on his approach to life and ministry. He became affectionately known as “The Colonel” and would wear his military uniform in the pulpit on various occasions.

When Thieme became pastor of Berachah, he immediately dismissed the church board and inaugurated a heavy schedule of teaching services—four nights a week and twice on Sunday. His teaching ministry proliferated throughout the country and around the world through lectures, books, and tapes. At one point the ministry was reported to be sending out thirty thousand tapes per month. Those who have been connected with Thieme or influenced by his teaching include Hal Lindsey (he attended Thieme’s church and mentions RBT in The Late Great Planet Earth), Chuck Swindoll, and Dan and Marilyn Quayle.

By most reports, Bob Thieme was idiosyncratic, pedantic, authoritarian, provocative, prolific, reclusive, and condescending.

Many of his teachings are downright looney and some so convoluted that even the diagrams he used to visualize them look like advanced mathematical formulae (see below).

He may be understood as a product of dispensational methodology gone to seed, military style discipline and organization, Cold War sensibilities, and a kind of intellectual hubris by which one creates his own system and then sets himself up as the only expert over it.

The emphasis of Thieme-style church is on (the pastor) teaching doctrine, period. I have always found the ethos as warm and hospitable as an windowless military office full of gray steel filing cabinets. Some have testified that the atmosphere at Berachah Church under Thieme was as controlling and manipulative as boot camp—break down the soldier’s personality and will, and force submission to the “army way.”

Garry Wills wrote about him in his book, Under God: Religion and American Politics:

Perhaps Thieme once had intellectual gifts; he certainly aspired to an eminence only they could give him. But he has chosen a way of life certain to obliterate them—surrounding himself with sycophants; avoiding for decades any new idea or challenge; dealing always with minds he considers inferior to his; putting on display a learning whose credentials never need renewed; condescending to his own followers; refusing to deal with those whose submission is not predictable.

More critical evaluation of Thieme’s ministry may be found at:

If you want to see for yourself what Thieme’s teaching is like and check out some ministries that are continuing his legacy, click on the following links:

When we first moved to the south side of Indianapolis, we noticed a “Bible Doctrine Church” near where we lived. It has always been small and has experienced problems; another congregation split off from it and became more mainstream non-denominational evangelical in its ministry. But it remains open.

You can still find these kinds of groups on the internet too, but as I looked through websites, I noticed that many of the churches no longer have pastors and that the people gather to watch videos of teachers from other locations. (One of Thieme’s teachings was that believers cannot grow by studying the Bible for themselves—they must have a “pastor-teacher” to instruct them).

I’d be especially interested to learn how people who are still in circles that are associated with schools like Dallas Theological Seminary and with dispensational teaching view Thieme and his legacy today.

But we want to open this up to others as well, who may have been affected in any way by “The Colonel” and his teachings.

  • How many of you are familiar with Bob Thieme?
  • Did you or others you know receive his tapes and read his publications?
  • Have you or people you know attended Berachah Church or other “Bible Doctrine” churches that follow his approach?
  • What kind of influence have Thieme or his followers had in your life or in the lives of others you know?

Any “tapers” out there?

Comments

  1. Ugg. The church I grew up in completely worshiped him. It also ruined the lives of most of its congregation.

    That said, since I stopped going there before I reached junior high, I never really investigated Thieme so I’m not sure how many of my bad memories are from his method or simply from the individuals involved in that specific church.

    I do know that I still hate the word doctrine. I vividly remember overhearing my another woman talking with my mom after they both left the church say that she couldn’t even open her Bible anymore because of her experiences there. I never really understood what she meant until after I left Driscoll’s church. (you think you’ve escaped fundamentalism and they pull you back in…)

    • Wow, Marie. Thieme AND Driscoll? You need a hug.

    • I can’t/won’t resist: hey EAGLE: I know you’re out there. This lady has lived thru Thieme and Driscoll and still loves Jesus and HIS church. The baby does not have to follow the bathwater. Just sayin’.

      Marie: fresh baked goods of your choosing and your favorite expresso. You are a saint.

      GregR

      • +1

      • David Cornwell says:

        Maybe the baby drowned…

      • Jesus, yes, church, no. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to church. I will take any and all baked goods though Greg :)

      • Saw this Greg. Thanks for your concern. I’m getting together with someone in the DC area on Sunday morning where we’ll continue to tackle the problem of evil. I’m still reading Philip Yancey. So I’m reading a bunch of different material.

        • Glad you could hear this in the way intended. I”m not trying to be ….Pastor Thatguy all up in your grill. It seems as though you have at least several wonderful friends. They are priceless, as you already know.

          Yancey, of course, is da bomb.
          GregR

  2. This is the first I’ve ever heard of the man. For which I should probably be thankful — he sounds like a bibliolatrous, militaristic Harold Camping, with a dash of shepherding movement thrown in for “flava.” And that diagram … “gobbledygook” seems inadequate. I look over this and I hear in my head the voice of Dr. Walter Martin saying “run, don’t walk, to the exit” …

    How did the American church become so unhinged that people like this were/are able to amass and keep such influence? Has it always been that way, or was there a signal event that threw us off course? I’ll take a history lesson if anyone’s got one …

    • I’m with you on that Ray…what is it that enabled a man like this to build his own interpretive kingdom & have so much influence? Is it something uniquely American? We do have odd stuff here in the UK, but not quite like this. I hope I’m right on this, but maybe ignorance is bliss.

  3. http://trianglebiblechurch.org/index.htm

    After leaving one authoritarian church locally and shopping around I’ve decided the area is mostly this style.

    Sigh.

    • The Guy from Knoxville says:

      I was looking at Triangle Bible Church website and saw some of the charts – looks like an updated version of the book The Dispensational Truth. By updated I mean that it’s in the form now of glitzy color charts insted of the b/w drawings in the book – nothing different.

      BTW, in a former church we had a pastor come in in 2000 who was a graduate of DTS and I found it interesting about the statement on Theime Jr upon becoming pastor of Berachah Church dismissing the entire church board and ruling with a military like approach…… when this guy came to my former church in 2000 he pretty much did that but not as directly as Theime did. This guy in 2000 basically did it via bringing in his own staff and getting the church to give him sole authority on hiring and firing of staff and the deacon board was pretty much stripped of power to do anything other than being a heat shield to keep the staff from getting scorched at every turn. This “pastor” was, as you would expect, a big dispensationalist on end time stuff. The guy left the church a couple of years ago to pursue his business which books and takes tourists (aka churches and church memebers) on holy land tours. Seems there’s a lot of demand for that these days and pastor’s wanting to make more $ than the lowly local church body puts out are doing things like this and other things such as MLM type businesses. Will stop here on this however, a good topic for future posts might be this trend of pastors starting outside jobs and then promoting it in their churches to get others to buy on/into it etc.

  4. Wow, CM. Talk about a trip in the Wayback Machine.

    My dad, a pastor of a small church in northern Michigan, would listen to his tapes all the time. It got so I never even had to try to memorize, “The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword…” because I heard it so many times. It is embedded that deeply in my brain.

    As for the appeal of such folks, in an age of Cold War turmoil, economic and political uncertainty, and the certain destruction of the world as we knew it (the 1950’s were giving way to the free-love 1970’s and the late 60’s were not pretty to those who remember the race riots and anti-war protests), there was a certain kind of comfort in having someone speak with authority about what was going to happen. The militaristic style appealed to those who felt powerless in the face of societal disruption, particularly since it was clear the government under Nixon and Carter weren’t going to solve anything.

    For me personally, it was the beginning of my inundation into premillennial dispensationalism. Needless to say, that is now a thing of the past, but there are plenty of folks who still hold to this eschataological theme and there are plenty of buzzwords and Christianese vocabulary that sprinkles church conversations to show that it isn’t dead yet.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The militaristic style appealed to those who felt powerless in the face of societal disruption, particularly since it was clear the government under Nixon and Carter weren’t going to solve anything.

      How does that differ from the unnamed First Horseman of the Apocalypse, “The Man on the White Horse”? Archetype of “The Man on Horseback”, who presents himself as a Savior in a time of desperation and rides that desperation into power?

      “They will call upon The Strong Man. And The Strong Man will come.”
      — some half-remembered line from a Seventies-vintage Spiritual Warfare novel

  5. After seeing that diagram, I can tell I would want to know no more about this man’s teachings.

  6. Carey Gilpin says:

    WOW, that is a blast from the past. I grew up at Berachah Church, despite technically being an Episcopalian- My family and I listened to many of his tapes and I have all of his books packed away. I have had a significant doctrinal shift, but this man formed much of my biblical world view while growing up. When I have more time, I will post more tales/ stories from a very early age.

    • We Episcopalians tend to pride ourselves in the broad, inclusiveness of the beliefs in the denomination, but usually that means more liberal tendencies in the faith not really dogmatic, structured, fundamentalist tendencies in the faith. Wow!

  7. Adrienne says:

    Very interesting post. I have never heard this name until now. However it may be behind a very difficult church time in our lives. My husband and I were new Christians looking for a church. Most we checked out were either just looney or in total confusion. Then we found a small church, independent, and the pastor introduced us to Dispensational Theology. He also introduced us to Chafer, Lindsay, Ryrie etc. We were impressed by the seriousness of his church after the nonsense we had seen. We each purchased a Scofield Bible and joined his church. He was self-educated and very negative about other churches in the area. When we asked about neighborhood evangelism he made it clear that he didn’t want “sinners” in his church (?) There were many red flags flying but we were too young to understand. Anyway, he went off the deep end and began to teach the “quit your job the Lord is coming” stuff. On Easter Sunday, out of the blue, he told my husband and I to get out of his church. From the pulpit during the service. His reason was that I had a small women’s neighborhood Bible study in our home. We were stunned. We went to the car and just sat and wept. Later in the week one of the Elders called us and my husband could hear that someone was listening on the other line. Very spooky. We later learned we were the first of many as he systematically emptied his own church. My husband never attended church again. So I find this post most informative and I wonder if he wasn’t influenced by this man. His church collapsed (no wonder) and he died of a heart attack leaving behind a trail of destruction.

    • Thanks for your story, Adrienne, though I am sorry for what you went through. The church you describe sounds like it may very well have been influenced by Thieme and his philosophy.

    • I’m very sorry this happened to you. It makes one wonder if there wasn’t some mental illness involved as well. NUTS!

  8. Never heard of the man, and thank God for that. Had enough problems without ‘im.

    T

  9. refusing to deal with those whose submission is not predictable.

    This phrase, from Gary Wills, is being repeated far and wide by a variety of pastors/leaders, of a variety of types and theologies. The more authoritarinan the leader, the more pre-emptively dealing with those who “don’t get the vision” will be necessary. Color within the lines, there, lambsies.

    • What does that phrase even MEAN?!?!? What the heck is “predictable submission”? And what does the “those” they’re refusing to deal with entail — just people in the congregation who have working brains, or those outside the congregation, or what?

      Sounds like it would just be simpler to make folks say “Shibboleth” before coming into the sanctuary …

  10. Wow, this is an interesting post. I’m from Houston (though now in Japan), and my mom grew up in Berachah and often references the church and Thieme. She and my grandmother both say that he was very good back in the 60s or so, but went off the rails after that. We have some stuff of Thieme’s laying around the house, but I’ve never read any of it myself. I have tons of problems with dispensationalism and Berachah’s stuff seems deeply entrenched in it, like a lot of conservative Texas churches.

    The underlying problem as I see it are all of these artificially-constructed and externally imposed interpretative frameworks, like in the picture in the post. I believe teaching theology and education is extremely important and there’s a dearth of it in the modern church, but the dispie stuff is just completely off the rails and in my opinion, basically a product of a western, individualist, and particularly American mindset. It’s clear that in Thieme’s case, his understanding of the Bible and Christianity is deeply rooted in his American military background. Not an asset, in my opinion. Seeing the pastor decked out in military uniform would probably give me a seizure.

  11. To finish answering the questions at the top: I’m not really sure how deeply Thieme’s teaching affected my mom and grandmother. They’re dispensationalist but the word and subject doesn’t come up in conversation much beyond the Rapture and that sort of thing. There are some cryptic tomes of dispensational lore sitting around bookshelves in my parents’ house, but as far as I can tell they haven’t been opened in years. However, if I was to make an issue out of my disagreement with it, sparks would likely fly.

  12. David Cornwell says:

    His diagrams look like plans for a military offensive including where to hit the beaches and allocation of units. He was in need of a part in Dr. Strangelove.

    • I wish I’d thought of the Dr. Strangelove reference, David. Thorne was Dr. StrangeDoctrine. That would have been a good title for this post!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “VE CANNOT AFFORT A MINESHAFT GAP!!!!!”

    • The diagram shown above really does look like a military plan, doesn’t it, complete with acrononyms and stages? It sort of reminds me of L. Ron Hubbard, who also served in the armed forces (U.S. Navy in his case) in the Second World War and we all know what Ron went on to do.

      I do think there was something about military service that appealed to a certain personality type and they re-created their own private little army when the official force said “Thanks, here’s your dismissal, don’t call us, we’ll call you”.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It sort of reminds me of L. Ron Hubbard…

        I was thinking the same thing. Thieme’s official portrait(?) at the top of the posting also gave me a vibe of Elron’s Official Portrait, as did the convoluted diagram full of three-letter acronyms.

        • I just looked up photos of L. Ron Hubbard. Unbelievable. Are these guys twins separated at birth?

          Or…

          Have they ever been seen together?

          No?

          I thought not.

          dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee

      • Reminds me of the movie, “A Beautiful Mind”.

  13. 8. An Impersonal Love for All Mankind

    From what I can gather,this is problem solving device #8. Can anyone explain this one to me ?? Being of the uneducated masses, I was thinking that all love was personal. Help ??

    • Linus of Peanuts must have followed Thieme, then. He once said “I love mankind. It’s PEOPLE I can’t stand!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “The little towns and houses where
      I learned with little labor
      How to Love My Fellow Man
      And hate my next-door neighbor.”
      — G.K.Chesterton

      Classic Communism was all about “Impersonal Love for All Mankind”, just like its ancestor The French Revolution. “Mankind”, COLLECTIVE. NOT INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE WITHIN THAT COLLECTIVE/expendable cells within the Collective Body. The Reign of Terror, the Great Purge, and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution were ALL to Purify that Collective For The Common Good of All Mankind.

    • Two ways that can go, greg r:

      (1) What good is it if you do good to those who love you? Even the pagans do as much. Love your neighbour as yourself.

      (2) You’re acting for The Greater Good, so you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. I’ts Mankind you worry about, so if that means locking people up in re-education camps, burning heretics, or enforcing compulsory sterilisation policies, remember – it’s all for the Good of Humanity.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Or– The Fatherland of the great Arian race.

      • (2) You’re acting for The Greater Good, so you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

        this makes a certain kind of “sense”; just wondering what “breaking a few eggs” would mean in his ecclesiology and stance to the outside world. I have guesses, but they are just that, never met the man or read any of his stuff.

        On a sidenote: I’d always thought highly of Chuck Swindoll, Chuck must have had an ability to keep whatever was worthwhile and “spit out the bones”, or at least most of them.

        GregR

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Swindoll always struck me as the type of guy who keeps his head screwed on straight. Weird that his name was connected with such a total opposite of himself as Thieme.

    • Per “impersonal love” -let me help. The term “impersonal love”, as Thieme taught, means that God’s love for you did not stem from something personal about you, hence God was not motivated by your properties but by his own integrity. While loving us from his own person and integrity may appeal to thoughts of categorizing this as “personal love” this is not how the term was used by Thieme. The problem with many who encounter this language is that they, in error, interpret “impersonal love of God” as meaning that God did love us from his person or personal ideas and values which is not what Thieme was saying.

      Per general audience-I am very familiar with Thieme and though I do believe some of his views and practices face challenges, expression such as “many of his teachings are downright looney” and “nut job” to describe his person, which I have read here, are a disservice to genuine and objective evaluations. Joe Layton Wall, as posted here, does a decent job of critiquing Thieme’s ministry and in the end he makes this conclusion:

      “In Chapter I it was concluded that Thieme must be included in the circle of
      orthodox Christianity”

      A far cry from the reckless statements by some, here, and frankly surprising. I, too, have objections to a few teachings by Thieme along with many other teachers such as John Piper’s great and popular error of Christian Hedonism, MacArthur’s Lordshipism, Hyper-Absolutism Divine Sovereignty in Reformed circles and so on.

      I, personally, do not favor Thieme’s proprietary nomenclature or many of his illustrations but many of the concepts contained within are quite orthodox and at times quite insightful, however they do take some plodding through, a task of which many are not willing and some react with extreme negatively to the unfamiliar and I believe some of the reactions here fall within this scope. I prefer an analysis of each and every allegation, not undeveloped conclusions.

      • Alex, I wondered when a Thieme apologist might appear.

        No one here cast him out of the kingdom or said he was not ultimately “in the circle of orthodox Christianity.” If he is in the family, however, he must certainly be recognized as one of the “weird uncles” at the family reunion. He led a fringe sect for more than 50 years that had many cultish tendencies, and those who continue to practice his form of “church” remain on the fringes. He took dispensationalism (in itself a problematic and increasingly discredited system of theology) to extremes. He had no ecclesiology other than “the pastor-teacher is the only one who can teach, and that’s all he does.” His hermeneutics are ludicrous, and in my view anyone who develops a “proprietary nomenclature” is in a dangerous position to himself and others. This was at the heart of our earlier critique of Bill Gothard, for example, and I would argue it is true of Piper’s “Christian hedonism,” Warren’s “Purpose-Driven ______,” and anyone else who practices theological innovation.

        In the end, however, it is his replacement of Jesus with “doctrine” at the center of his teaching that is the most troublesome. With Thieme and others like him, it is not ultimately about Jesus. It is about their teaching and their system.

        • Possibly Thieme cannot be surpassed in eccentricities so I understand the term “weird” but I am also aware that his eccentricities have been, at times, treated as serious theological deficiencies or at least coupled with certain arguments against Thieme’s ministry. I am not so sure the glasses some wear when they view Thieme aren’t already designed with a certain blur of the lines.

          To Thieme’s defense, he often used the term “preoccupation with Christ” in explaining why the emphasis was on “bible doctrine” (that is, the person of Christ is expressed in God’s Word, hence to know God’s Word is to know Christ, “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”) but I understand the examinations and objections by some. I would say Thieme’s his own prejudice toward this view worked as a neutralizer to what may have been an even greater impact of his ministry.

          BTW, do you know why students of Thieme often do not respond to inquires about Thieme? Because of the language of shame those objecting use, much like labeling him a “nut job”. This does not open the door or make the invitation to discourse and discover very inviting. So it is not surprising to observe a great deal of non-response. I could give a comparison to Tea Partiers (I am not one this is to make a point) where those opposing their views try to shame them into silence through mockery but I suspect you get my point.

          And as you pointed out, proprietary nomenclature has pitfalls and you are not alone in your value of its inherent warning it might serve when we see it utilized extensively. As to being a Thieme apologist, I am not sure I qualify, rather simply that I believe there is a degree of dignity missing with regard to the due diligence we are required when terms like “loony” are used which are quite absent in those within orthodoxy that recognize Thieme’s contributions while objecting to what they believe are his excesses or errors. I do not attend a “Thiemish” church, for the record, quite an orthodox Protestant one in fact.

          I have done my research on Gothard and I certainly would not put him in the same category as Thieme though they may have shared a few common traits.

          Thanks for the response, though.

          Alex

      • Alex: I appreciate your responses, you know this man’s work better than most who have posted.

        Thieme is free to coin new or unusual meanings for familiar words, that’s his right. I have a tough time getting my mind around any use of the phrase “impersonal love”, when love is used in the christian sense. If GOD is love, then whatever love is or isn’t , it will be personal, but maybe I’m wearing the nitpicker’s hat here.

        Thieme’s work does not appeal to me in the least, although I do admire his tenacity and perseverance in teaching. My introduction to the Colonel is recent, but I have to admit, his “contributions” do not seem very apparent. Maybe you could summarize a few.

        • Again, I am not wishing to be viewed as Thieme apologist, simply one who believes there is a great lacking of objectivity and fair discussion about his work. But as to his work that may be of contribution, may I recommend his book, “The Integrity of God”. Of course that ministry charges nothing for the teaching so you can order it for free. You might be surprised by the high degree of orthodoxy as well as superior articulation concerning the doctrine of God.

  14. I think the most memorable sermon to me was one time he was talking about his favorite bird. He said some would pick the parrot and others the eagle, but in his estimation, his favorite bird was the vulture. He waxed rhapsodical about all the virtues of this noble bird and how it was maligned and unappreciated by the masses. Don’t remember a lot of the details or even the context of the message, but I distinctly remember him gushing over the hidden beauty in buzzards.

    • David Cornwell says:

      With the earth serving up its dead, they render nature a great service. When I drive along the rural roads near home, I can come across a dead animal with vultures around it, returning again and again to take their fill. Passing by it later the plate has been cleaned.

      They do have a certain beauty. Last summer I was taking a morning walk, and just up the road from our house in a patch of woods some vultures were sunning themselves with wings spread far, perching in the top branches of a dead and leafless tree. I wanted to say, Hey you guys, I’m still alive!.

      • I see them sunning themselves in the morning, perched on all the rungs of an electric tower. Maybe 20 or so. Looks like a vulture condo and it’s an impressive, yet whimsical, sight.

        But I digress; never heard of this man, thankfully. But I had been under the pastorate of a man who only chose elders who were “predictably submissive.” It really was his way or the highway. He had to be top dog and woe to anyone who disagreed or challenged him in any way. He made their lives so uncomfortable that they had no choice but to leave.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Looks like a vulture condo and it’s an impressive, yet whimsical, sight.

          Not so impressive/whimsical if that vulture condo is right outside a hospital looking in. Heard about that happening on the news years ago at one hospital; they had to get Animal Control on it because the vultures looking in were scaring the patients.

          And then there’s an older one-panel gag cartoon where the oncologist is telling the patient “What makes you think we didn’t catch it in time?” while behind the doc two vultures are perched on the windowsill eyeballing the patient.

          • The “air burial” in Zoroastrianism (Parsi) culture, where the bodies are exposed to the sun and birds of prey in “towers of silence”.

            Trouble with this nowadays in India as the vulture/predator avian population plummetted due to pollutants, etc. so there just aren’t enough vultures around to consume the corpses.

          • Nope the vulture condo is out in a field, but they could possibly be waiting for roadkill :)

            Martha, thanks! You just explained the title of an episode of “Jewel in the Crown.”

          • Bella, I’m not quite sure of my twelve times table, but on the other hand, this is the kind of thing I do know.

            Sometimes the inside of my head alarms me ;-)

    • A vulture was sitting on a fencepost. A sparrow hawk zipped by, calling, “Why are you so glum, Vulture?”

      “I’m hungry,” the vulture sighed.

      “Well, why don’t you get some food?” asked the sparrow hawk impatiently.

      “Because I wait until le bon Dieu provides.”

      “That’s ridiculous,” snorted the sparrow hawk. “Who cares about le bon Dieu? I always catch my own food. I don’t sit around waiting for it to drop dead in front of me. Watch what a good hunter I am!” And he zipped and dived and swirled through the air until he hit the fencepost the vulture was sitting on and fell dead on the ground.

      “Merci,” the vulture intoned to le bon Dieu, and settled down to his meal.

      (A Louisiana Cajun folktale)

  15. Wow, this post explains a lot for me. I was too young back then, but I know that my oldest brother was greatly influenced by him..would go to hear him if he was speaking nearby and get his tapes–and for years haven’t been able to understand why he is is so, well, Bob-Thieme-ish….now I know why. Condescending, harsh,judgmental, etc., thanks for the post…the past explains the present.

  16. Bob who?

  17. Pam Burns says:

    Glad to have missed that particular nightmare.

  18. cermak_rd says:

    I prefer his lesser-known brother Art Thieme (actually, I doubt they’re related). Art is a wonderful folk singer in Chicago.

  19. This is the first I’ve heard of this guy and after the reading the post I think that is probably a good thing. I’ve probably run across a few who were influenced by him, though.

    One thing that absolutely confounds me is why people didn’t run screaming for the exits the second he dismantled the board at his church. In my experience, any time someone dismantles accountability and oversight structures to gain control, or resists them int he first place, that is a huge red flag and I have never seen things go well subsequent to that. In fact, I’ll go further and say that I believe it is sinful, specifically the sin of pride. That people don’t see this or overlook it because of a desire for someone to tell them definitively what and how to believe and assure them that they have the best doctrinal system or whatever is fairly mindboggling.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      One thing that absolutely confounds me is why people didn’t run screaming for the exits the second he dismantled the board at his church. In my experience, any time someone dismantles accountability and oversight structures to gain control, or resists them int he first place, that is a huge red flag and I have never seen things go well subsequent to that.

      Call it what is is, John:

      A Coup, followed by a Cleansing/Blood Purge. All Hail Glorious Maximum Leader!

      Just like Russia in 1917, Germany in 1933, and all those banana republics/Third World Hellholes.

      • Pretty much true. But it is easier to escape a church than a country, or at least should be, hence my puzzlement. Some other dynamic is going on here.

        • Yeah, but how many people are really involved with their church board or parish council or vestry or what have you, John? I would wager a lot of people were only vaguely aware what was going on, and a lot more probably assumed that running everything was the pastor’s job anyway.

          It could have appeared as a good, solid, teaching pastor coming in and clearing out all the old dead wood of the same ten guys who’d been running things their way for far too long. Then, of course, the remainder who are uncomfortable with the new regime quietly slip away and are replaced by the new recruits who don’t know there’s any different way of doing things.

          • That could well be part of the other dynamic I referenced. Also the fact that people are looking for something like stability and certainty in a changin world, and he apparently offered it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          But it is easier to escape a church than a country, or at least should be, hence my puzzlement.

          He who was born in a cage
          Yearns for his cage;
          With horror I understand
          That I Love My Cage.
          — Yevgevny Yevtushenko

        • But it is easier to escape a church than a country, or at least should be, hence my puzzlement. Some other dynamic is going on here.

          No to the ease in escape thing, IMO. A country throws up barbed wire, search lights, dogs, trenches, walls, and aims guns at you. These are small potatoes in comparison to “GOD will get you and punish you eternally if……”. Oh, and forget about coming back to family gatherings, because you are now “one of them” (although I can’t say for sure that’s how leaving Thieme’s church would play out, never been there).

          Psychological, emotional, and spiritual barbed wire trumps the physical model, hands down.
          GregR

      • The Guy from Knoxville says:

        HUG – that little paragraph is also the same approach taken by the PDC/PDL and other church transitioners these days. Go in an older established church dismantle the entire accountability structure and get sole hiring/firing power assisted by a hand picked and willingly compliant staff and you have the same thing going
        on. None of it’s good and the devestation is vast and permenant and most don’t recover from it.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I was not directly involved with Theime, only indirectly via the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay. I lost 10-15 years of my lives to Dispys, and the damage is still there.

    Even worse, Dispensationalism is so universal among Evangelicals it wasn’t until after my “Take Your God and Shove It” reaction that I found out there was anything else. Christian = Fundagelical, No Exceptions. Scriptue = Party Line. No Future except Late Great Planet Earth and Left Behind. Christ = Big Brother. Beware Thou of the Mutant.

    • Where do these people come from HUG? They don’t have this cast of characters in Europe do they? Is it something in the ground water?

      • Eagle, I think maybe we got rid of all that kind of thing (or most of it) during the 17th century Wars of Religion.

        The English Civil War, for example, has a lovely cast of characters including those known as Ranters, Levellers, Diggers and Fifth Monarchy Men (besides the original Puritans versus Cavaliers).

        Either that, or they all emigrated to America once things settled down over here :-)

        • One more Mike says:

          “we’re Americans!! We got thrown out of all the good countries!!”

          Bill Murray in “Stripes”

  21. Wow. If Wikipedia is right Theime had some really strange beliefs as far as abortion and such. Odd.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You mean this?

      Thieme taught that there is no human soul in a fetus and that it doesn’t become a human life until the point of birth (see: The Origin of Human Life); in an interview with Joe Wall, he categorically denied that he taught abortion is acceptable.[2] Thieme taught that the fetus has biological life, including reflex motility and unconscious brain activity, and what he terms the “format soul”, analogous to a formatted but blank computer disk. Thieme indicated that during fetal development, the brain is prepared to receive a human soul but does not actually receive one and become a human person until God breathes the “spark of life” (neshemah) into the body at human birth.

      Thieme called Roe v. Wade “one of the wisest and most brilliant decisions that the Supreme Court has made in many, many, many years” and said that “abortion is a decision between a patient and her doctor.”[12]

      And I also found this in the Wikipedia article:

      He continued in a militaristic vein after leaving the service, including as a guest speaker at the third annual Houston Anti-Communism School in 1960.[3] Additionally, during the early 1960s Thieme publicly lectured on Communist brainwashing techniques[4]

      “Houston Anti-Communism School”?
      “lectured on Communist Brainwashing Techniques”?
      I read that and my mind flashed “BIRCHER!!”

      After retiring in 2003, his only son, Robert “Bobby” Thieme III, was elected by the congregation of Berachah to serve as the new pastor.[7]

      AKA Inheriting the Throne?

      Since his retirement, R.B. Thieme Ministries has shifted focus to compiling Thieme’s sermons and notes into new books, and reformatting and revising existing material into modern formats (e.g. DVD, MP3, and Powerpoint).

      Compiling all the Thoughts of Great Leader…

      OK, massmind, how does this differ from a (ominous reverb) CULT? And a CULT Leader?

    • Yes, the abortion thing was a surprise to me. It grows out of his “rightly dividing” approach. Biological life should be distinguished from soul life, which in Thieme’s view is given by God in a baby’s first breath. Therefore abortion is only disposing of biological matter, not a human being.

      • Not to stir the abortion debate b/c that is way off topic here, but his views played well in Texas?

        He must have had a very strong personality.

        Mike, what type of people fall prey to this sort of thing? I mean, sure pastoring a baptist church is like trying to herd cats (spoken from expereince) and they have their own issues for sure, but most baptist I know would laugh a preacher out the front door if he tried to get rid of the elders/deacons.

        Yet he doesn’t seem to be a signs and wonders type charismatic so there is no draw there. Do these folks suck in people who are new to the faith, or those who have been hurt and just want someone to tell them what to do and believe?

        He seems a lot like Hagee to me.

        • this is loaded with spelling errors but I typing in a hurry here:)

        • One of the reasons this interests me is that I would like to find out why he had such appeal. Certainly the times had something to do with it. Like we hypothesized in our earlier post on Bill Gothard, there may have been a large contingent of those seeking structure in the midst of alot of personal and societal chaos in the 70’s.

          • The 70’s were crazy, glad I missed all but the last three years:) But you are no doubt on to something, I think many things going on in the 80’s make the growing health and wealth prosperity gospel growth make sense.

          • I think the structure and certainty angle is spot on.

            Not much has changed, IMO, but those offering this “biblical certainty” would not usually put it into a patently bizarre and rigid package, so recognizably weird. Still the dispensational charts (re-worked every 6 or 8 yrs, of course), but minus the military like acronyms. And of course in some circles their is the certainty , and unassailability, of spiritual experiences/visions, etc, which will always sell well to a similar, but distinct niche.

            From Rick Hughes Glossary:

            Bible, the thinking of Christ, is divided into two parts, the Old Testament, which looks forward to the coming of Christ, and the NewTestament, which records Christ’s life on earth as well as His provisions for time and eternity. The fu nction of the Bible is for
            teaching, for reproof (disclosure of failure), correction, and for training in righteousness. Synonyms: Word of God, Truth, doctrine,completed canon of Scripture

            In charismatic circles, it won’t be the bible, per se, that gets the lofty position, but the spiritual experiences and hermenuetic that follows those. Either way, it becomes the bible PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD…… to borrow an LDS phrase.

          • Mike, you ask why Thieme had such appeal. I can’t answer that, but I’ll ask another question: Why does dispensationalism itself have such appeal?

            I agree with HUG’s statement above at 11:59 am that dispensationalism is universal among evangelicals. How could we have arrived at that? Even in my church, which is evangelical and I’ll insist NOT fundamentalist (although we have a few) people accept without question certain popular dispy beliefs–even though our pastor has become conspicuous in his neglect of preaching on end-times and has never mentioned the word “rapture” in my hearing in the 19 years I’ve been there.

            Maybe he should preach something on end-times, and use the R-word, just to shut people up. Or would there be a split in the church? Could be a battle he’s not willing to fight.

          • I second what Ted says. Why does dispensationalsim run amuck in the United States? They don’t have this problem in Europe? Can we migrate there….?

            But why is so much of this universal? I find it interesting that many “Bible based” ministries and paraministries would wamrly embrace something that’s only about 150 years old. So for the first 1700 years everyone got it wrong? That’s a major W.T.F?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Yes, the abortion thing was a surprise to me. It grows out of his “rightly dividing” approach. Biological life should be distinguished from soul life, which in Thieme’s view is given by God in a baby’s first breath. Therefore abortion is only disposing of biological matter, not a human being.

        “Biological life should be distinguished from soul life”?

        Isn’t that Gnostic Dualism like JMJ/Christian Monist blogs about?

      • I’m surprised he left ensoulment until the moment of actual birth – that’s very late. The usual notion was that at the quickening, the rational soul was infused into the foetus (early Christianity up to mediaeval theology, following the Cutting-Edge Science of the day, a.k.a. Aristotleanism, considered this to occur between 40 days for the male and 90 days for the female).

        Thieme’s view may have been influenced by Jewish thought, where for some commentators, the Talmud does not treat the foetus as a human person until it comes into the world at birth?

    • yeah, & the initial for his middle name, B, stands for “Bunger”…

      so, you can use that as a way to identify those that have been ‘bungered’ by the Colonel & his looney-tune teachings…

      he ‘bungerized’ the scripture…

      that is a real ‘bungerism’…

      Holy Bunger batman! you are under the wrath of the Colonel now & all hell is about to bust out! if it ain’t Armageddon, it sure will be a close second!

      you know…stuff like that…

      :D

  22. Chap Mike: WHERE do you find this stuff ??? ……oh yeah, the intra-net..

    from Larry Wood’s “Bible Doctrine News”

    Curse of Babylon Tornadoes Ravage US
    June 1, (Day 152, Wall): Tornadoes struck the United States in three distinct groups. They struck in Massachusetts, Kansas, and California. The pattern symbolizes Cosmic, Political, and Ecumenical Babylon. In other words, the US was under the power of Satan, and the weather curses pointed that out. The Latitudes of the groups were also revealing. The Massachusetts tornadoes were at 42 N., for Baal. The Kansas tornadoes were at 38 N., for dying in the wilderness, and 39 N., for the sin leading to death. And the California tornadoes were at 39 N. The people in Massachusetts were shocked to have devastating tornadoes in their neighborhood. They thought it only happened to others.

    • Yes. Go to his home page and look at the map of the U.S. Truly weird.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Why do I get this image of a Numerologist and/or Astrologer poring over his charts and calculations, making Divination Magick for the Hidden Meaning Of It All?

    • Thanks for the laugh, greg r! Whoever does that site is seriously ten wafers short of a Communion plate …

  23. I never heard of this R.B. Thieme (thank you God) but he seemed to be selling the same old message of
    fear, God-complex, & inerrancy. aka fundementalism!
    it has always amazed me the evils we will do to avoid “future evils” aka “righteous fear”.
    he seemed to use the Red Scare & patriotism to win the masses.
    Today we can see this in the new fundamentisms.
    – Socialism scare — follow the Atheist Ayn Rand or we will turn into the USSR
    -Biblical inerrancy — you must literally understand the Bible the way we understand it
    -Constitutional inerrancy — you must literally understand the constitution the way we understand it
    if you do not walk the line on these 3 fundamentalisms you are part of the “others” that we are at war with.

    there was a good article in July about this new fundamentalism here:
    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/07/05/lind_three_fundamentalisms

  24. Cedric Klein says:

    You know, not that any would hang out here, but there are probably tons of people out there who honestly say would say they never saw any of these abuses and that without Thieme’s ministry, they may never have come to Christ & might be dead now.

    Of course, there are people who can say that about Herbert W. & Garner Ted Armstrong, too.

    • Just goes to show that God will use anyone, no matter what they think they’re doing, for His purposes. Up to and including Judas Iscariot …

  25. I spent 15 years in ministry in the Philippines. I once met a Christian in a remote mountainous region who was anxious to know what I thought of Billy Graham. He knew almost nothing of the man except that true Christians opposed him. Guess where he got that idea from? I also remember surveying a region to learn more about existing ministries. Walked into a church building where the entrance was painted with one huge mural of US Marines! The influence of R. B. Thieme. They came supposedly to preach the good news but it was their own vain imaginations that really took root.

  26. A couple of years ago I visited my friend’s church and the pastor taught on “better watch out or you will getting out from under God’s protective umbrella”. He had a chart on the screen that looked similar to the one you have above. It was too complicated for the pastor to have come up with himself, and he was only glossing over the teaching. I looked it up on the Internet and it originated with Thieme.

    This teaching is that, as a Christian, you will get out from under God’s protective umbrella if you sin (any sin). This gives absolute permission for “the devil to get ya”, and God won’t even hear one of your prayers until you repent. This is similar to the teaching that God doesn’t hear an unbeliever’s prayer except the prayer of repentance.

    The teaching is very popular here in Kansas, although that was the first time I had seen the chart. It is really sad, because it torments believers with legalism.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Torments believers with a lot more than legalism, Scott.

      If any sin causes God to turn his back on you until you Truly Repent, you’re going to be continuously whipsawing back-and-forth, like a ping-pong ball constantly getting batted between God and the Devil. You’re going to be continually grovelling before God to Truly Repent, opening you up to some pretty ugly manipulation from your Accountability Partner/Shepherd/Superior.

      I came across this in the Seventies with a small book called “The Calvary Road” that pretty much preached the same thing, and it was Crazy-Making.

    • Thieme called it “Rebound.” Basically, the whole Christian life is summed up in 1John 1:9. Sin, lose fellowship with God, confess your sin, regain fellowship. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That is EXACTLY what that “The Calvary Road” book taught. Like I said, it was crazy-making.

  27. After clicking the link to Dan and Marilyn Quayle above, I’m grateful that George H.W. Bush survived his term in office. It’s scary what I read, knowing that Quayle as V.P. could have become president at a moment’s notice. Among some of the items (HUG will love the first one):

    “Colonel Thieme was cited as the behind-the-scenes Bible scholar and “military expert” for the World War III scenario in the multimillion bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey.”

    “Former Nixon aide Charles Colson, in his 1987 book, Kingdoms in Conflict, has warned from his more moderate evangelical Christian viewpoint that a U.S. president in the 1990s could indeed trigger off World War III over Israel, if influenced by Bible prophecy ideas such as Thieme’s.”

    “It is well-known that Dan Quayle has taken a separate, bellicose, negative stand from that of President [George H.W.] Bush in regard to the peace talks and arms reductions agreements with [Soviet Premier Mikhail] Gorbachev.”

    Thank you, Jesus.

    • Sounds like the pre-incarnate Tea Party….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        More like the “Christians For Nuclear War” attitude I encountered among Hal Lindsay fanboys in the Seventies.

        “It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…”

        Scariest part was in all the Dispy Eschatologies of the period, the Rapture was supposed to happen at the moment the first Russian ICBMs (“God’s Judgment for America’s Sins (TM)”) were cutting atmo over their targets and the primaries in their warheads began their detonation sequence.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “Colonel Thieme was cited as the behind-the-scenes Bible scholar and “military expert” for the World War III scenario in the multimillion bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey.”

      And I thought Lindsay was the one who started “Christians For Nuclear War”…

      (Infodump: Late Great Planet Earth is based on the assumption that in the Book of Revelation, God was showing John a movie ot The Predestined End (1970s at the latest) leaving John to describe it as best he could. Lindsay interpreted most every one of the Trumpets/Scrolls/Judgments/Plagues of Revelation as Nuclear Weapons effects. Hence, “Christians For Nuclear War”. It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…)

  28. Elizabeth says:

    Well having missed the majority of the 60’s and spending the early 70’s as a child in Germany with the real Army seems to have been a real blessing! Ironically, most of the military men I grew up around were very grace filled Christian men.

  29. Josh in FW says:

    I’ ve never heard of this goof ball. However, I am a member of a Bible Church whose Pastors primarily come from DTS (some come from SWBTS), I have friends who have graduated from DTS, and I have a relative who is a secretary to one of the professors at DTS. I am very familiar with the Dispensational and DTS community. None of the people in my life that are associated with DTS are as freaky as the way you are describing this guy. I’m probably being irrationally defensive but there seems to be an implication in this comment thread that this guy is the poster boy for DTS, Dispensationalists, and conservative Texas Evangelicals. Every institution has the occasional goofball and we ought to be careful not to malign an entire group because of the craziness of one high profile individual.

    • First, I don’t see that anyone cast aspersions on DTS, in post or comments.

      Second, his brand of dispensationalism and Christian life teaching has been criticized by DTS reps and grads for years, so we actually are standing with them in that.

      Third, I don’t see that anyone painted “conservative Texas Evangelicals” with a broad brush calling them crazies.

      Bob Thieme is one of kind, in my view, who gained prominence in a certain period of cultural history. I don’t know of any respectable people in mainstream conservative evangelicalism who don’t consider him a nut job.

      • Josh in FW says:

        It appears that I was indeed being irrationally defensive and pushed the reply button too quickly. Thanks for the additional clarification that this guy is not an example of mainstream conservative dispensationalism.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I don’t know of any respectable people in mainstream conservative evangelicalism who don’t consider him a nut job.

        But apparently he became a VERY INFLUENTIAL nut job in Pop Evangelical Christianity. Both directly and indirectly through such proteges as Hal Lindsay.

  30. ArmchairTheologian says:

    Berachah Church is summed up by a wise old philosopher named Tony Soprano who astutely observed that, “You see out there it’s the 1990s, but in this house it’s 1954. 1990s…. 1954.”

    Thieme’s leadership style and Berachah’s atmosphere were products of 1950’s Cold War ideology in which the military kept us safe from communist attack and the USA was the “client nation to God”. The USA assumed this mantle against the evils of communism after World War II.

    The problem is, Berachah never changed much after the 1950s- and many Houstonians were just fine with that for decades afterwards. Autocratic pastors were not looked down upon in the South in his heyday and Thieme did not trouble his soul with governing Berachah by consensus.

    Say what you will about Bob Thieme, but he was certainly NOT lazy! He taught for over 50 years solid, five times a week well into his 80s until he was forced to retire for health reasons. Bob Thieme’s mission was to “modernize” biblical exegesis by introducing a modern (read: invented) vocabulary on how he perceived biblical interpretation functioned. (and respectfully, he was not a Marcionite, Chaplain Mike- he taught many a lesson on the Old Testament and the power/ presence of Christ therein).

    I do have to commend the Colonel’s ministry in one area in stark contrast to Texas/ Southern churches: No fund raising. All books and tapes were free of charge. In the library, a discrete donation slot was present, with no additional pressure or phantom hand in your wallet. That was notably refreshing and has not been encountered during my church wanderings from youth into adulthood.

    There were many controversial teachings by the Colonel (to say the least) as outlined ad nauseam above. I am grateful for my exposure to other theological viewpoints that awakened me to the fallacies of dispensationalism.

    While I am grateful for the exposure that lit the fire to pursue biblically orthodox theological study, the Church is so much more than a classroom. It is a place of growth and community where Christ is present to give healing to and through believers in His great Hospital.

    • Thanks for the good perspective. As for “Marcionism” you are correct, it is not an exact parallel. However, the pervasive dualism and the theoretical separation of the OT as a book for Israel rather than the church, which finds its teaching in the epistles, and which uses the OT primarily in a spiritualized manner to illustrate NT truth is similar in its spirit.

    • Josh in FW says:

      These (Armchair & CM) were helpful comments. After rereading the thread, I’m left wishing that there was a delete option for my comment above. Oh well, live and learn.

  31. textjunkie says:

    Count me in the people who never heard of this guy, though Hal Lindsay, yeah, definitely.

  32. I came upon this site while doing study on a topic, and thought I would add in my two cents as someone who began listening to R. B. Thieme, Jr. in the early 70’s.

    There were many people here who said, “Never heard of the guy before, but, yes, he sure sounds like a nut job to me.”

    From Mike’s description here, if I did not know anything about Bob Thieme, I might assume the same.

    My recommendation here to those who simply have accepted Mike’s description at face value, let me recommend that you go to http://rbthieme.org/ and order the introduction to the basic series and the first 34 lessons of the basic series (they are in an MP3 format). The phone number is at that site and they will send these materials to you for free. They will NEVER contact you after that. If you want more teaching, you have to contact them (36 lessons are sent out with each order). You will never be charged for this; and at no time will you receive a letter asking/begging for money. That’s Bob’s policy. Spiritual information is free, no matter what your own financial status. Then listen to the 2 introductory basic lessons and the first basic lesson, and determine at that point if this is beneficial to you. Don’t take my word for it and don’t take Mike’s word for it; find out for yourself.

    As for Bob’s personality–that was Bob’s personality. It was a lot different than that of most pastors, including those who were spiritually brought up in his church. God uses all kinds of personalities to His glory. Calling Thieme reclusive, simply because he studied the Bible 8 or 12 hours a day because he believed it to be important, is hardly fair. I did not like Bob personally at first, and grew to like him after time. I used to be a public school teacher and some of the best teachers at that school had very different personalities and very different classroom styles–they simply taught within the confines of their own personality and were very effective because of that. The same was true of Bob Thieme. He was a very excellent and effective teacher. Comparing him to Harold Camping is unwarranted.

    I don’t know if this was pointed out, but Bob taught, at his peak, nine 1.25 hour classes each week. I have yet to come across another pastor who was so willing to set his life aside in order to teach the Word.

    As to his vocabulary: Bob developed Biblical concepts and then developed a vocabulary to go with these concepts. This is not a crime or a shortcoming. Just as there is no sin in updating the KJV of the Bible, there is no sin in updating a vocabulary to explain spiritual concepts.

    Who Bob was and his great dedication to the Word of God is sadly besmirched on this page. He was orthodox, his teaching was orthodox Christianity, and he was not running some kind of a cult. He had a strong personality, and that is being treated by some on this page as some sort of a personal failing. That’s simply wrong and judgmental.

    Through Bob’s teaching, I developed a strong love for the Word of God, and my life as a believer in Jesus Christ was strengthened by his faithful teaching.

    • Respectfully disagree. Thieme was certainly prolific, but he was on the fringes of orthodoxy and that’s a majority opinion, not just the thoughts of a few people on this website.

      And this also points out something I will talk about later in the week. Thieme’s tape ministry, which spread far and wide, proved to be divisive in many churches, leading people to follow him and despise the ministry of their own local congregations. I saw it happen more than once, and heard about in many other cases.

    • One more Mike says:

      I remember in the late 60’s, early 70’s ministers who had come out of service in the Korean War/WWII that were preaching a dispensationalism that took the form of “the communists have all of our names on a list, because we’re christians, and we’ll be the first ones they get rid of when they take over the government.” I don’t specifically remember the name “Theime”, but I was pretty young then, and I remember seeing these types of charts in classrooms and the ministers office. Fortunately, cooler, more reasonable heads prevailed and that type of preaching and minister went on to greener pastures, so that influence didn’t leave a permanent mark. Of course, those cooler heads had all died in the 80’s & 90’s and we became early and very successful adopters of the church growth movement. I’m not sure which was worse.

      • I notice you edited my letter.

        Are you afraid to include the final paragraph or two?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Looks like we’ve got ourselves a Thieme Fanboy.

          Grand Unified Conspiracy Logic now in effect:
          The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

      • In fact, I challenge you to include my entire commentary here, and then I will respond to what you allege in your 2 comments.

        • Read the FAQs/Rules, Gary. Generally, we don’t allow people to advertise their own blogs. I let your other link stand because I was familiar with the site, but we discourage people from leaving links too. We don’t have the moderation manpower to check every link and make sure it is legit. It had nothing to do with content; just blog policy.

          • this is Joe L. Wall’s (partial) answer to your earlier question about “why Thieme’s extensive impact” ?? this is from Wall’s dissertation preface. Interesting stuff.

            Why has Thieme’s ministry been so highly successful when measured in
            terms of the extent of his influence? The answer lies not only in his intellect and
            his personal gift and charisma, but in a distinctive contribution he has made to the
            Christian community. In the sixteenth century the reformers took the Scriptures,
            which had been kept from the common people and began to preach the Bible and
            translate the Scriptures into the languages of the people. In the twentieth century
            Thieme has attempted to do the same thing with theology and detailed exegesis of
            the Scriptures. Although some of his terminology has aroused criticism and
            ridicule in some quarters, he has succeeded in communicating to a large segment
            of Christendom, and to many non-believers, much biblical truth heretofore
            restricted to the seminary halls. Furthermore, he has devoted years of study to the
            development of doctrine previously either overlooked or treated only partially by
            other teachers.

            GregR

          • Greg, I would argue that his impact, in fact, has been pretty minimal. He has not “communicated to a large segment of Christendom.” The leaders of his own seminary disowned him. To compare him to the Reformers is ludicrous and sad. Greg, this guy was a nut. Churches following his teaching and methods are on the fringe of the fringe.

          • I’m very new to this party, but judging by the “Rob Thieme who ?? ” response that seems to be prevalent, I tend to believe you. I think his current fans are stalwart, duh, how else could they have survived this long ?? I find Wall’s comments interesting in that they are as positive as they are, maybe he is trying to do somthig of a gracious backpedal for DTS ‘s benefit.

            I think it is also sad that someone, anyone really, could get something of a free pass under the “he has a very strong personality” card. That dawg just dont’ hunt, IMO. When I get a few really slow moments, I might skim Wall’s paper, but if it’s looking at the Colonel’s stuff in detail, I’m not sure I can stay awake through a careful analysis.

          • Two other post scripts:

            It matters not a whit, in terms of faithfulness to the gospel, that Thieme, or you, or me, was hard working. Don’t make me name others who worked as hard and are widely known as WAY off.

            Although offering his teachings for free is commendable and worthy of following (Sam Storms articles, anyone ??? great stuff, and FREE) I know of a few blatantly WAY OFF groups that offer their stuff for free, and are quick to tell you about that. Again, this establishes that Thieme was not apparently greedy. Super. That doesn’t mean that his doctrine was gospel and grace honoring, necessarily.

            Possible future post: what is it about dispensationalism that 1) WILL NOT die out….. and 2) tends to generate weird off-shoots. Assign this one to EAGLE and have him report back. :-)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I remember in the late 60?s, early 70?s ministers who had come out of service in the Korean War/WWII that were preaching a dispensationalism that took the form of “the communists have all of our names on a list, because we’re christians, and we’ll be the first ones they get rid of when they take over the government.”

        AKA Estus Pirkle’s classic Christploitation flick, “If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horsemen Do?”

        And a Seventies radio preacher (proto-televangelist) named Billy James Hargis whose opening radio credits proclaimed “For Christ And Against Communism!”

        And a Jerry Jenkins novel where the cackling Bad Guy Conspiracy ignores some very real threats to their plan to concentrate on destroying “Our greatest enemies — Born-Again, Bible-Believing Evangelical Christians!”

  33. If you google RBThiemeJr files.pdf, you will find pretty much all you need to know about his history and effect.

    Reading about people offering his “free” material (as if this is a good thing), it simply boils down to that no one outside his group would publish it i.e. the material is worth buying, and secondly that the Master wants his ideas to be distributed as far and wide as possible. Including long after his death.