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Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The Corruption of an Unconventional Mind
The Corruption of an Unconventional Mind
Lonnie C. Hendrix
As one of the many folks who accepted Herbert Armstrong’s theology in part or in toto, I have given a great deal of thought to the subject of what made me vulnerable/susceptible to his teachings. After all, most of the people who heard his message did not accept/adopt it as their own. Why? Because they were too smart? Maybe, but my sense is that there was something more profound at work.
It seems to me that Mr. Armstrong’s message had a particular appeal to those who were not satisfied with traditional religious teachings and explanations about Scripture. It appears to me that the folks who were already searching for something more spiritually and intellectually satisfying than the dribble which they had been spoon fed all of their lives were more susceptible to being seduced by his message. In short, Armstrong’s target audience was in large part made up of those folks who had what we might justly characterize as an unconventional mind (those not conforming to what is generally believed or accepted as truth).
Herbert Armstrong focused on some of the blatant inconsistencies between what Traditional Christianity was teaching and what these folks were reading in Scripture. He also pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in some of the teachings and behaviors exhibited by mainstream folks. Likewise, he skillfully ridiculed the illogical nature of some of their most important/cherished beliefs and teachings. In further contrast to his fellow theologians, he appeared to base his own teachings on an uncanny familiarity with human experience and history. Finally, he seemed to have answers to the deeply philosophical questions that had been haunting humanity for millennia.
At least, that’s how it seemed as long as one read all of his material, accepted it as the revelation of the Holy Spirit and didn’t dig too deep after doing so. Mr. Armstrong had taken the time to think about these issues and study them in a little more depth than the average Joe (which isn’t saying much, since even unconventional minds tend to be intellectually lazy). At any rate, he had readied/prepared himself for when those poor unsuspecting minds opened their eyes and ears to his message. In other words, he was primed for them; and they were ready to be seduced.
In this way, Herbert Armstrong was able to kidnap minds that might well have otherwise been on their way to bigger and better things. Once they were in his grasp, he erected all kinds of internal and external obstacles to further study or questioning. He assured them that they had found what they had been looking for, and any further searching was a useless and dangerous waste of time. In fact, if they continued to search, he assured them that they would lose what they had obtained and stumble into the Lake of Fire!
And just to make sure that they didn’t turn back, he attacked the very thing that had brought them into his fold in the first place: their intellectual curiosity. Mr. Armstrong assured his followers that they were the “weak and foolish” things of the world. He told them that they had been sheep - blindly and mindlessly following the satanic teachings of Traditional Christianity, which really wasn’t Christian at all. Thus, doubting their own unconventional disposition, they became imprisoned within the bizarre kingdom of Herbert’s ideas. Fortunately, some of us were able to recover (or never completely surrendered/abandoned) that disposition and have been able to emerge from that dark prison of close-mindedness and begin to grow again in grace and knowledge.
Looking back on my own experiences in the kingdom of Armstrong, I can see how dangerous it is for someone to ever completely shut the door to his/her mind. According to the Bible, Satan is already lurking within the recesses of that place. Hence, a door that is shut and locked provides no exit for him, and no entrance for God or further enlightenment. The real truth is never threatened by further investigation or consideration, and a truly unconventional mind is never satisfied with the answers that the rest of the crowd so willingly gobbles up.