Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Just so we're clear on HWA's evolving stance on healing, doctors and medication in his latter unhealthy years

".... :In the last years of his life, Herbert Armstrong took a number of heart medications and had a full-time nurse travel with him everywhere he went. He used the medical profession for almost everything.

What amazes me now about this is that he would almost brag about what he was doing. He would write letters to the membership saying things like, "You know, most people can hardly get a doctor to visit their home, but I have two doctors who come to visit me on a regular basis." I found that many of our people were actually entertained by his admission. The tension between Mr. Armstrong’s practice and his teaching almost never registered among some of us. Some of our braver people would come to ministers and pastors and ask quietly, "Is Mr. Armstrong really going to a doctor?" And we would tell them, "Yes, he’s telling the truth!"

In the days before he died, this conflict finally began to sink in, especially with Mr. Armstrong himself. My dad asked him, "How could you take this medication? You’re the one who wrote the booklet that insists God’s people have no need of a doctor if only they obey and have sufficient faith. So how can you be using the medical profession? How do you want me to answer this question that church members are asking?"

The situation was made worse by the way some of our pastors responded to members who did go to doctors for help. Even when members were diagnosed with some catastrophic illness, their pastors might say to them, "The Bible teaches that going to a doctor shows a lack of faith!" Thankfully, most of our pastors were not that inflexible and judgmental – but far too many were.

All of these things finally conspired, I think, to make Herbert Armstrong realize that his stance toward the medical profession had to change. His conversation with my dad about this topic took place in 1985. By the end of January 1986, Mr. Armstrong was dead."

Faith + Obedience = Healing



RSK said...

Bitter Bob Thiel had a piece up earlier today regarding polygamy. For what exact reason, I'm not sure - aside from the tired "slippery slope" argument that everything somehow leads to mass bestiality. But anyway, he had a long quote from HWA that also railed against divorce and remarriage, calling those who married a previously divorced person "adulterers" and the like.

Of course, no mention of the previously divorced Ramona Martin. Funny how HWA himself would change his own rules to get his way.

Anonymous said...

Other Christian denominations had exactly the same healing doctrine as Herbie. It implies he plagiarized their doctrine and 'supporting' scriptures. Did anyone ask themselves why God would design all these germs and viruses, then bind Himself to healing these same diseases.

nck said...

I find the Armstrong experience of many interesting.
Saddening also to hear about the many deaths concerning health.

Personally I feel divorce is wrong from a theological legal perspective.
But of course it happens. The bible acknowledges that fact many times.

Personally I feel and know God heals.
But of course in my 23 wcg years I ALWAYS saw a doctor if needed, just as HWA did and was the practice on the SEP camps and AC.

Personally I feel crossing a street when lights are red light is dead wrong legally.
But of course I cross the street when no one is coming.

My personal experience was not hampered by Armstrongism. Call me a hypocrite or whatever. I am legally and theologically right always (in my mind). God is to decide on my actions.

btw I also believe thou shalt not kill. But I am the one pulling the trigger on any dictator.


nck said...

During Katrina a guy was sitting on the roof of his flooded house.
A trooper with a boat came along and yelled "hop in the house is gonna crash".
The guy said "oh no the lord will save me".
Then a police helicopter aproached. "We're lowering a rope, grab on.."
The guy said "oh no the lord will deliver me"..
A yachtsman sailed past. The guy hid since the lord would save him.

The house crashed, the guy died and he arrived at heavens gate.

He immediately started yelling at God. Where were you? I waited to be delivered.
Then God answered. "Man, I sent you a trooper on a boat, a helicopter, a yachtsman, why didnt you jump to save your live?"

Thus ends Ncks story on his personal take on wcg faith healing doctrine. I held this position my entire life and my 23 years of wcg and thank Readers Digest for this wonderful insight.


I do take serious though all the people who died and had a different take than I had. I am not mocking them.

Elizabeth Teklinski said...

Here is a great explanation of why our loved ones will likely never leave a cult: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftg_I4_Bz5M

As the physician and addictionologist, Gabor Mate is known for saying: Stop looking for that which is "wrong" about a person's addiction but rather figure out that which is "right" about it--meaning what is the person getting from it that he or she cannot get elsewhere. Cults are addictions to a megalomaniac narcissistic thought form just as a co-dependent relationship is an addiction to the narcissistic supply a person can gather by covert means from an NPD. Like the co-dependent, the cult member becomes a "co-narcissist," and gets "drunk" on the specialness and superiority the cult doctrine provides. You cannot supply reason to convince a person in a cult to let go of that specialness--especially after many decades of commitment to the cult regardless how many "prophecies" (a classic symptom of NPD) have come and gone. I actually think the situation is hopeless. I would love to hear from someone who has escaped a cult after 20 or more years (not the child of the parents who joined but an actual member) to prove me wrong.

Glenn said...

So what was HWA's answer to the question? How did he justify his getting top flight medical care while denying it to the membership? Probably something along the lines of "Well, I am God's Apostle and he needed me alive to finish the Work, so those rules don't apply to me."

Glenn said...

I happened to be in the Auditorium when HWA first publically discussed his intention to marry Ramona and asked the members of the HQ church if they "loved him enough to allow him to remarry." It was perhaps the most transparent, self-serving talk I ever heard from HWA (and I heard a lot). It was that sermon that was the final straw for me in deciding that HWA was just a self-centered, selfish old man who would do or say anything necessary to get his way (D&R, healing, primacy of Peter, church government, overlooking GTA's many transgressions, the church being at fault for Loma's death, etc.)

DennisCDiehl said...

Excellent info Elizabeth

Mickey said...

My curiousity was piqued when I read the first comment by RSK about HWA divorce from Ramona. So I looked it up on the Ambassador Reports. Two things stood out. HWA initiated divorce proceedings and then told church members that this should not set a precedent for them. Clearly he not only thought what he preached didn't apply to himself and made it clear to the lower orders in the church. As Glenn said he was the most selfish serving individual. I just wish that those who still revere him could see this.

Elizabeth Teklinski said...

Thanks Dennis. As a person who grew up in the WWCOG, in my long healing journey, I have greatly benefited from the work on c-ptsd by both Pete Walker and this guy here: http://spartanlifecoach.com/self-assertiveness-course/ (This course specifically discusses the kind of "spirituality" to which the megalomaniac would necessarily cling basically being a "prophet" on most high with a direct ear to God. It describes the splinters to a T. I also am learning a great deal about the four "Fs" of c-ptsd: http://www.pete-walker.com/codependencyFawnResponse.htm Powerful resources that I just cannot recommend enough for others in a similar situation. All my best!

Byker Bob said...

There was an interesting statistic thrown at someone at the height of a flaming episode on another "dissident" blog or forum years ago. One of the parties implyingly stated that about 15% of the general population is totally incapable of taking care of themselves, of living a normal life without some sort of structured assistance being involved in their lives. In extreme cases, these are the people who end up in mental hospitals or jail, on welfare, under the supervision of the courts or child protective services, etc. However, there are other less extreme cases (as Elizabeth so eloquently pointed out above) in which some of these same people realize that they need someone to structure their lives, do their thinking for them, and to basically tell them what to do. So, they "self-medicate" by becoming part of a cult.

It is difficult for most of us to imagine this, but some of these folk actually receive tangible and undeniable benefits from these cults, their quality of life being far better in the cult than it would be in its absence. In the Los Angeles area, there were any number of cultic organizations functioning in the business community, and I had an opportunity as an outsider to work with, and to get to know some of the individuals who were members. Most of them were functional to varying degrees within the context of their structured environment, but it was very plain that some were what we might call extremely "needy" and would be totally lost in a freer environment. I always thought it would be much better even to see someone shaving their heads, running around in robes and flip flops, lighting incense, and chanting "Hare Krishna" rather than living in the streets, involved with drugs or crime, or succumbing to various more dangerous addictions.

"Normal" people (whatever that means) who get caught up in these cults will sometimes leave them because they come to resent the lack of personal control left to them. But "abnormals" who fit the profile of these incapable ones generally end up as lifers. If they ever do leave their cult, they end up finding another one soon thereafter, with a slightly different structure. In the case of Armstrongism, they splinter-surf.


NO2HWA said...

The afternoon on the day he died, I was called to his home and given a small suitcase that was filled with all of his medicine. I was told to take it to the amphitheater on campus and burn it in the fire pit. It was filled with over 50 different medicine containers with prescription labels. Those that claim HWA took no medicine and relied totally upon faith healing are lying to their followers.

Elizabeth Teklinski said...

Thanks Byker Bob. Hitler also once described this common need to be led and cared for emotionally, and obviously, he exploited it. I have heard that NAZI mind control books were, in fact, on Armstrong's desk. I suppose as long as there is a market of people seeking a cult leader, there will be a ready supply of cults.

I have to love the ever-blunt, but accurate, writings on psychopathology by Thomas Sheridan who says that no one ever leaves a cult unless in a body bag or without one's right mind. They just won't let you go because any cognitive dissonance caused by reality creates a kind of anxiety attack/nervous breakdown that makes it impossible to return to normal life and work in the real world: http://thomassheridanarts.com/articles.php?cat_id=16

"Once inside these prisons of the mind, you may never escape, as your neurology is so totally rewired that you may never again re-find the person you once were . . . That aspect of your humanity was perhaps the part of you that was meant to be embraced and worked with through your own individual understanding of yourself."

This is what I noticed . . . an almost desperate psychotic wish for the end of the world to come as immediately as possible. This death cult is incompatible with contributing to a healthy, sane, and loving family system.

nck said...


Would Tom Cruise or John Travolta fall into that category?
Just visiting Tom and Katy's wedding place!


Anonymous said...

TradingGuy protested: "I have made no mention of light bulbs, so please, no using my name in vain."

TradingGuy, you don't remember posting negatively about the incandescent light bulb, and that it's invention has caused people to not be able to get a good night's sleep?

Gerald Bronkar said...

There are numerous nutty ideas put forth in the bible, divine healing being being fairly high on the list of those harmful to mankind. There are so many: The Virgin Birth, Christ dying for our sins, the resurrection, Noah's flood, Paul engineering his concept of the Christian Church decades after the death of Jesus, David being a man after God's own heart, the soon return of the Son of Man, the entire book of Revelation. The beat goes on.

The one that most amazes me is the way Christians accept the concept of "Original Sin". It boggles my mind. God created Adam and Eve in the Garden, with zero experience, told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge, left them there to be tempted by the serpent, which God supposedly created as well, they ate, and presto, we are all living in sin and a fallen world, needing a Savior to shed His blood so we can be forgiven, and be saved. Save me from these silly concepts, PLEASE!

Is that not the basic story of Christianity in a nutshell? And I do mean "nutshell".

What is your favorite bible story??

Anonymous said...

"Faith + Obedience = Healing"

Except for when it doesn't. And when that happens, you shouldn't conclude it's because the equation is defective. Instead, you should conclude it's because YOU are defective. That's the christian way since c. 50 AD.

Anonymous said...

Generally speaking, people do not join cults, but a group that turns out to be a cult. The cult has a outer face which deceives the new member about its true nature. The person is slowly robbed of their rights and mental health via subtle means. Cults aren't exclusively religious as many believe. Businesses, political parties, therapy groups, and even families are sometimes run as cults. Image a self defence club run along cults lines. Try escaping from that.

As for Herbie and Ramona, he should have known the marriage is a trade, and that in his old age he couldn't fulfil his part of the contract. He would not have been able to even get it up. He needed a nurse, not a wife. He tried to swindle Ramona, and she swindle him (or the church members) in the divorce pay out. This is what happens when people do not respect trade.

Cheers TradingGuy

Connie Schmidt said...

I remember reading somewhere that HWA flew to Romania or some other Eastern European country in order to get shots for his "Johnson" in order to help him with erection dysfunction and impotence. All on the church nickel and expense. I guess his penis and him just didn't have enough "faith" to be healed.

Anonymous said...

We were all taught in WCG that we would someday rule the world. However, just look at the condition of all of the splinters/ slivers, etc. If you took the best one, whichever that could possibly be, can you imagine what this world be like if they were in control. (I know supposedly Christ will give all knowledge once in the Kingdom.) And I know this world is definitely screwed up, but I'll take the "rich and powerful" running things over the "weak and foolish". Especially when you see how things are at these groups.

I always wondered why if we were going to rule cities we never ever heard sermons about actually learning sound principles on how to actually do it. Always just about indoctrination of WCG- splinter beliefs. Remember your holy day offerings and send in the tithe-of-the-tithe, don't forget how to count your third tithe year, don't go to doctors, no make-up, shun the outside world, including unconverted family. (Even though you need to rule them in the millennium.) I guess you can talk to them then with a rod of iron, etc.

Of course this speaks to what Elizabeth was talking about, many stay in these groups because of the promise of greatness and power. Obviously, these are usually the last types you would want in power.

RSK said...

Hell, I remember towards the end of 1985 ministers reading from the PGR with updates on HWAs condition and his doctors. He even had a live-in nurse during the 80s. Anyone who claims he avoided medicine wasnt alive or paying attention then.

RSK said...

I even recall some of his last mass letters saying "my doctor says..."

RSK said...

Well, Mickey, she had already been divorced before she and HWA were married. That alone violated his standing on the matter. Then, of course, when he felt it necessary to divorce her, that also went against his prior stance on the matter.

To some degree, you see that in many people - the man who is stridently anti-homosexuals until his daughter identifies aa one, the politician who opposes cancer research funding until she is diagnosed with it, et cetera. But they do not claim to speak on a god's authority. HWA did.

RSK said...

I can't fully answer that, Glenn, as I was born into WCG in 1978, when they had somewhat relaxed their stances on many issues. By that point in time, they worried internally about liability and tended to explain away the medical issue with the doublespeak of "we never said it was a sin". My memory of that particular topic is not very specific, but it seems to me that they were OK with members dying via refusing treatment so long as no WCG employee had actively encouraged them to do so.

Anonymous said...

Like Herb told his daughter (that he was raping, by the way) when he took her dancing on Friday night in the midst of a campaign touting the holiness of the Sabbath, "Those dummies will believe anything I tell them." Yeah, we did, didn't we?

Anonymous said...

Herbie would have been imprisoned if he had been raping his daughter. It must have been consensual.

Martha said...

Elizabeth, I don't know if I count. My parents came into WCG before I was born but I remained until my mid 30s. I moved across country from them and still attended; was even ordained. My husband and I, who was also raised in WCG, came out of the cult in our 30s. We did not make the initial decision to join, but we drank the kool aid and stayed of our own free will until at least the 15 year mark, although not quite 20. Leaving was one of the hardest things we've done, and we left the more liberal end of the COG spectrum (and are quite stubborn, strong-willed individuals). We were blessed on so many levels, and yet I see how WCG, its doctrines and its fruit will affect us for the rest of our lives.

In the end, the recurring splits got our attention and made us question our foundation. We just couldn't understand why things were so messed up. We couldn't reconcile the fruit of the COGs with the New Testament. Eventually, the reasons became clear.

The "specialness" idea has disturbed me, even since I was a WCG teen. Consider the focus on the USA allegedly as modern day tribes (an idea which is fully disproven. Though I am an avid Bible student, my COG experience has thoroughly soured me on prophecy and the like. I am taking a class right now where the teacher makes a good case that the USA is descended from Japheth, not the lineage of Shem). Who cares if we are descended from modern Israel, I always wondered. If Jesus died for all, and the cherry-picked tenets of the Sinai Covenant were binding upon all of mankind, then what did our genetics matter? If anyone is "special," it is because of what God has done, not because of what we have done. But I understand why the "special" label is so attractive to some, and why it is so insidious. I remember hearing sermonettes and prayers thanking God for our specialness and our special knowledge as we approached leaving. It gave me chills, because I could finally see it was little more than modern day gnosticism at best.

I do know of a few who both joined up and left of their own will. Too few, though.


nck said...


You are mixing your extensive scientific knowledge on cults with sour wcg experience.

"This is what I noticed . . . an almost desperate psychotic wish for the end of the world to come as immediately as possible. This death cult is incompatible with contributing to a healthy, sane, and loving family system."

I will not debate the point that there of course were many close knit families in wcg, doing their best attempt from their personal (prewcg) backgrounds.

My point is the combination you speak of. In the late sixties and early seventies I knew many in wcg outside of the sheltered USA whose present world had ended due to the collapse of the European colonial empires. In wcg they found a new ideal of a "globe encompassing empire" being the organisation itself and the promise of a better world. Many of these people had been witness to the grotesque abuse of political power in the seventies resulting in hunger and poverty in what we then called the 3rd world. Making a wish for the end of the present world an extremely sane wish. Especially combined with a longing of the reestablishment of order in a world that had become exremely confusing.

Luckily modern technology led by the cultists from Silicon Vally is rapidly creating an orderly mechanicly led new world order so cults won't be needed anymore. The entire world will be a cult of order and health and anxiety will be ruled out by improvements on prozac. Food technology will feed all mankind and techology will uphold order. (btw As I am writing this and chuckling on how a professional like you would judge this posting if even giving it any attention, I just read a little cessna was filming all activity in Baltimore for the past year.) I am not into the cult of political correctness.



nck said...

btw Elizabeth

I found your contribution extremely good about the point to focus on what is "adding value" instead of "what is wrong."

As a professional influencer myself I know the power of "added value", the non benefical sacrifices people are willing to make to gain it and the "irrational sacrifice" people are willing to make in order to hold on to that what is gained.

(no I am not trading guy but I read his is stuff now and then to learn what people find "added value" to see where they are not willing to sacrifice the gain so I can expand margin)


nck said...

Sorry one more time,

I am sure you recognize I value your contribution and science.
I was just in my personal way making a point on "the perception of a world in chaos" and "the scientific way" of dealing with that "problem" engineering a new world.

In a very practical way I deal with "risk aversion", "aversion of loss", "cut losses", "mass psychology", "behavioral finance", that's why I found your analysis on the "added value" "triggering and refreshing", now I will doze asleep again with something to ponder.


Elizabeth Teklinski said...

Thank you Martha for sharing your story. Can you define a specific moment when the lights came on for you? Can you relate that time of coming out of the fog with your emotional needs being met elsewhere from outside the COG?

Elizabeth Teklinski said...

I agree. There are many layers of mind control spread throughout every fiber of society. Back to my earlier comment, the mind control Kool-Aid would not be so readily sold if there was not such a huge market for it (i.e., individuals willing to sacrifice their sovereignty of mind, soul, in exchange for their emotional and safety needs, which makes them vulnerable to the specialness NPD hook. I am speaking of personal experience in the present day with the splinter/end of the world doctrines and not about historical COG trauma. It takes courage for me to speak up here, as the individuals are no doubt reading this now. That's all I am going to say about the matter.

Anonymous said...

"Elizabeth Teklinski said...Here is a great explanation of why our loved ones will likely never leave a cult: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftg_I4_Bz5M"

Here is another one.
They don't want to grow up, spiritually.
Child-like minds.


Martha said...

Elizabeth, I wouldn't say that was what brought the lights on for me. I was never all that socially isolated from "outsiders." I had friendships at school, and later at work and in the community. As can be expected, they were hindered by all the predictable things - the birthdays, weekend and holiday things that often cement social relationships. The take-away message definitely was that your real relationships were with those "in the church." But I wouldn't say there was ever a time my emotional needs were not met, at least partially, by people outside the COGs.

The fruit of the COGs was what got my attention. Specifically, the fruit of the leaders during a split. I know I personally contacted some leaders, all but begging them to seek reconciliation, even professionally binding arbitration, rather than split fellowship and relationships. I asked them why they weren't following scriptural procedures for problem solving and reconciliation. The attitudes on all sides were the complete opposite of Christ-like. This really got my attention and started me on a thorough reading of the gospels, and eventually led me out of the COGs.

This is why I have harped on fruit so much on As Bereans Did. I gave the COGs a pass on bad fruit for years because I believed fruit wasn't a big deal as long as you had the correct checklist. But the Bible tells us that we cannot get good fruit from a rotten tree, or rotten fruit from a good tree. No church is perfect, and I wouldn't claim one needed to be (the one I attend now certainly isn't) but we need to be honest with ourselves about the fruit we see from the COGs and their theology. When we are, we will see that they are not attached to the true Vine (John 15).

Elizabeth Teklinski said...

Very interesting Martha. Thank you so very much for your sharing!

Elizabeth Teklinski said...

OH MY Word DBP, I am a developmental psychologist and this documentary you posted (https://www.youtube.com/embed/htqOIjzi-jE) is the most accurate description of the cult dynamic I have ever seen. Wow! Thank you!

nck said...

Informational video DBP for all dealing with "self and others".
It deals with the different levels of cultic behavior and explains:
-The behavior or the North Koreans. (who are people too)
-The change from Nazi's to nice oktoberfest celebrating Germans and vice versa
-The US marines
-Fraternities (University and others)
-etc etc etc

They all have their particularities.

I guess "growing up" means as Genesis says. "To leave they father and mother."

The Armstrong brand consisted of many ideals.
-"Go west young man." (cgi move to carolina's is the final nail in the coffin going east)
-American expansion (From the Midwest frontier pursuing the dream in Oregon and later the Golden Land California) Just follow the yellow brick road.
-By extension a globalized (american) world (when the european empires crumbled)
-order in a world of confusion
-freedom (within the cult) in a world held captive by financial institutions who are at present approaching the final capstone on the Tower of Babel, which is global finance.
-The fatherly figure as a new father for the majority of wcg members who ALREADY came from disfunctional families.

And of course much more including everyones personal dreams of personal salvation.