During the mid 1990's when the Worldwide Church of God was transforming its thinking and beliefs, many of the so called "loyal men" headquartered in Pasadena, and elsewhere, balked at this new way of thinking. The WCG was throwing out the phrase "cognitive dissonance" in almost every sermon, article and interview.
Wikipedia defines cognitive dissonance as such:
After months and months of claiming the church was NOT changing any of its teachings, even though the rumor mill was working over time claiming it was, the Worldwide Church of God abruptly departed from the path and made epic changes. These changes ripped the church apart by forcing members to "think" on their own for the first time. Some got the necessity for the changes and many did not. How could Herbert Armstrong have been wrong? Is everything I ever believed wrong? These questions disrupted the life of the church.In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. An individual who experiences inconsistency (dissonance) tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and is motivated to try to reduce this dissonance—as well as actively avoid situations and information likely to increase it.
Some of the biggest enforcers of the "new" doctrines of the WCG were the very same men that sit in positions of leadership of the United Church of God today. For a long period of time, while they planned and plotted their new church, they kicked out hundreds of members from the WCG for disagreeing with the new teachings.
While these men were punishing questioning members, Vic Kubik, Robin Webber and others to gathered in Kubik's apartment on the Pasadena campus where they plotted to form a break away group where they could divert as much money possible in order to preserve their jobs. Word was quickly spreading as to what these men were up to. Church of Administration was also aware and told them to get in line or get out. Many paid lip service for several months till the UCG officially had money coming in. Then they left.
Once these men left thy started mocking WCG's comments on the "cognitive dissonance" comments being made. They claimed that they had no cognitive dissonance in their thinking. They were right and there was no possible way they could be wrong.
Now jump forward a decade as United Church of God started facing its own upheavals with major splits happening. The splintering groups and members claimed that the UCG brass were up to something and making subtle changes doctrinally. UCG swung into denial mode claiming no such thing was happening. Disgruntled members and employees in Cincinnati kept spilling the beans on all kinds of things happening. Pretty soon UCG big-shots started claiming that those upset were dealing with cognitive dissonance.
Now jump forward to 2015. The United Church of God ha snow embraced "Transformative Learning" as its new tool of "educating" its "college" students and members into examining their thinking and to being open to new ideas. The UCG recently hired on a new minster trainee who is educated in this thought process.
What is transformative learning?
Here is what the University of Central Oklahoma define Transformational Learning as:
Jack Mezirow, a leading thinker in adult education, developed his characterization of transformative learning (TL) in the late 70s and early 80s. Dr. Patricia Cranton of Penn State, another leading writer on transformative learning, says that the “elegantly simple” definition of TL includes the idea of people changing the way they interpret their experiences and their interactions with the world:
. . . an individual becomes aware of holding a limiting or distorted view. If the individual critically examines this view, opens herself to alternatives, and consequently changes the way she sees things, she has transformed some part of how she makes meaning out of the world. (Cranton, n.d., available here)
This idea of a fundamental change in perspective or frame of reference (King, 2002) is at the heart of transformative learning. When someone undergoes such a change, he has, in essence, “transformed” his view of himself or of the world or of how he interacts with others and his environment.
There is nothing wrong with that approach and should be what every single person heading off to college or parked on their butt in church is using. However, in the historical Church of God movement under Herbert Armstrong's influence, critically examining ones view, being open to alternative thinking and actually changing ones thinking was NOT something that members were encouraged to do.
The entire foundation of the 20th century Church of God movement was based upon Armstrong's six months spent in a public library, a dream of his wife, and a distorted interpretation of British Israelism. Once that was set into print or uttered by Herbert Armstrong it was FINAL and no one was to question him. Anyone that dared to question or actually prove he was wrong was immediately kicked out and marked as a dissident.
So what is the United Church of God really up to? Many see this is just one more in a long line of hypocritical things that UCG is doing. What is UCG going to do if someone comes forward and says that everything that UCG believes is actually wrong? Will they stop, listen, examine and open themselves up to new alternative thoughts and practices? You and I know the answer to that!