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Saturday, August 20, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Rachel Held Evans has been running a series of posts on her blog called "Ask A _______." She has selected various people from different backgrounds to answer questions written in by readers. Her first was "Ask a Mormon" Most are answered by people who are looked upon by fundamentalists as "deceived".
In seeing the various people she is highlighting and the responses from some of the fundamentalists reminds me of many in Armstrongism who regard these same people with derision and contempt. God forbid if anyone in Armstrongism every thought about asking anything of the following people and groups! Truth only resides in Armstrongism and cannot be found outside it.
Rachel's latest one is:
When Was the Last Time Your Old Church Found Some New Truth?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I grew up in the Presbyterian Church and I don't believe I ever heard anyone use the words "the truth" when speaking of their beliefs. It was just beliefs. You know, the ones passed on from generation to generation and being Presbyterian, no one in the local church ever would think to question any of it. It didn't matter. Behind the scenes, one could believe what they wanted and it was all so generic and nice that I can honestly say I never remember one issue coming up that maybe needed to be looked at, or anyone uttering the words, "new truth." Old truth was just fine and who cared.
When I discovered, as a teen, the really true Church of God, that seemed to me to be concerned with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that's all we heard about. People were asking each new member "So how or when did you come into the truth?" It was a nice way to say ask how long they had been in the church and from what error had they arrived. The word "truth" was thrown around a lot by that church. Everything had to do with "the truth." We kept the true sabbath, the true holydays, understood the truth about being born again and the truth about unclean meats and how to have a happy marriage. There were the true seven ways to be happy or be a leader or study your bible. You could be called into the truth and you could be dismembered for falling away from the truth. There was the truth about tithing and the truth about not tithing. There was the truth about who God has chosen and who He had not chosen and who He now loved and who he was pissed off with. There was the truth about the end times, which of course, we were living in and Jesus second coming simply has to be in the very near future. In my lifetime in fact! We even knew the Plain Truth about everything from trade wars to crime and queer men. Never heard much about the truth of queer women though.
If you wanted to know the truth, just ask the Church, preferably on the local level by way of the minister, who knew all the truth there was. We knew the truth about evolution and the truth about the flood. Often we knew the "plain truth" which is the truth stripped down to the really core truth of the truth and was so simple to understand. However, simple as the truth might be to understand, God still had to open your mind to the truth, or you were never going to understand or know the truth. But it was simple after that. I later found out that "God has to open your mind," meant that one who came to the same conclusions as the Church and leadership had indeed had their mind opened by God. Those who disagreed or only saw some of it were still in the grip of Satan or at best had a bad attitude.
Gosh, we knew the truth about life and death. No one knew how consciousness or quantum physics worked, but all things God, just ask! We knew where you went and where you didn't went. We knew when you went to where you were going and how to get there and who wasn't going along with you because they had yet to discover the truth. We knew when they would discover the truth and, while not as good as when I discovered the truth, it was not bad at all. What's a thousand year difference compared to eternity? Nuttin! We knew who was in the right Church, which would be us, and who would be in the wrong Church, which would be all not us.
We knew the truth about the God of the Old Testament and why he was so freaking mean and loved killing both animals and humans. We knew the truth about the New Testament and how the Son of the Old Testament God was the nicer of the two and canceled all the stuff His Dad liked. We knew that the truth was that this bachelor son lived alone with His Father, after everyone that loved him the week before killed him. We knew they lived somewhere and the Father never had a wife or female to keep him company. But that was just the truth. God was a He and if you were a she, then you still had to be a "son of God" just the same, because that was the truth. Of course, I was uncomfy with me, a male, being the Bride of Christ, ewwww, but that was the truth too, so I had to rejoice in it.
Wow, we knew it all. Just ask! But once in a great while we discovered "New Truth." I can't tell you how amazing new truth is to discover. Now I may have been hoping that we would have discovered the new truth about the actual origins of man and the evolution of life over millions of years as opposed to the truth of everything being around 6000 years old, the story of Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel, but that was not up for discussion. I thought maybe there was some new truth on why so many of the stories in the Old and New Testament are either scientifically incredible or historically impossible and unprovable, but no luck there either. I thought maybe some new truth might have to do with how the Gospels aren't harmonious eyewitness accounts of Jesus life, nor written by the men whose names appear on the books. But no banana there either. I thought maybe we'd get some new truth about why Paul never mentions Jesus' life, teachings, miracles, life events, birth or stuff like that, including why he never quotes him, but no, wrong again.
What really would have been nice would have been some new truth on how the local minister was just a guy too and didn't know everything and that was ok, but nope, nothing like that either. And it really would have been nice if, as a minister, I could suspect there was such a thing as "new truth" out there that maybe those in charge had missed to, but whoa baby, don't even think about it! New truth had to come from the top down and only agreement came from the bottom up. That's the way all churches area really. Top down, not bottom up. Bottom uppers are an endangered species in any church.
Recently a friend of mine told me the guy at the top of her church made a really good point in her church. Seems the minister fired the music director of 25 years without permission from the people. He said he was the guy at the top and it was his call. One guy at the bottom asked to speak and was given permission to do so. He reminded the minister that that is now how things are done and that he was wrong to do this firing on his own. Then the really good part comes up. The son of the minister walks up the isle and decks the guy opposing his father's actions. Police are called and it's all good! The bottom uppers won because decking the good guy never pays. I love the truth!
Once in a great while New Truth did come to the Church of "all Truth all the Time." But alas, it was always something like, "The New Truth About Make-up" or "The New Truth About Divorce and Remarriage." I learned these truths came from God when leadership was being being given a hard time about make-up by God's leading wives or some of God's leading wives left their leading husbands and the leading husband wanted a new leading wife. We did have the New Truth about Healing as well as leaders aged, needed care that they didn't need when younger and rethought the idea of only trusting God for healing etc. I'm glad that was old truth to me but I managed to keep that to myself and members in my care who asked.
But over all, New Truth just doesn't make it's way into Churches very often. They don't love to tell the old old story for nothing! As Mark Smith says in "Damn the Truth."
"Christians, unlike scientists, hate any and all evidence that goes against their theories. Theologians have a very hostile and oft times irrational attitude towards any evidence that would even suggest their theories need to be changed to fit the facts. To a Christian, a faulty theory is like an old member of the family whose mind has seen better days- something to warmly embrace and shield from all criticism. Christians, rather than being disinterested seekers of truth as they oft times pretend to be, are thus shown instead to be preachers of established dogma, opinions firmly set in concrete, with their minds already made up for them two thousand years ago by a Jewish rabbi. To a fundy Christian, there is no "new truth" to seek out or be discovered. So rather than seeking out new truth, they instead only seek out new ways to defend their old "truths". This is the reason you'll never see a "Research and Development" department within a school of theology. It is also the reason why, in defense of Christianity, no argument is too circular, no appeal to emotion avoided, and no straw men are left unconstructed."
He goes on to ask if a genuine new Gospel of Jesus were ever found, would it be added to the current New Testament? The answer is, of course, "NO" because all the truth there is, is already in the Bible. Besides, they have already found really great new Gospel writings, but one says the Disciples got miffed at Jesus for kissing Mary too often on the lips. When they asked Jesus why he loved her more than them, he came back with, "why does she love me more than you?" Great answer!!! Lousy Gospel. You'll never hear it in church.
One of the other problems out there when it comes to "The Truth" is that it gets suppressed a lot when someone who knows finds it. After all, it did take the Catholic Church 450 years to apologize to Galileo for noting that the sun was the center of the solar system and the earth revolved around it, not it around the earth. I personally think that 450 years between learning the truth and applying the truth is too long and certainly too long between apologies. Now the Catholic Church is not so sure about unsaved babies going to Limbo and may, in fact, get to go to heaven like baptized babies. Cool huh? Like they know, but isn't that amazing how something that was so much "the truth" for millions in the past, is now probably not after all...oh well.? This is great news for babies, if retroactive which I suppose it is or at least we can hope. Now those who thought one thing can think something else more comforting. Gosh, I hope this new truth does not only apply after a certain date. Bummer! All kidding aside, that kind of truth is just opinion because of questions raised about the state of certain categories of humans that die in certain states of being according to the Church. Don't mistake any of that for truth. We must not forget that Church Father's of the past were not above adjusting the truth to fit a real need. As Gibbon noted,
"The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius himself, indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and that he has SUPPRESSED all that could tend to the disgrace, of religion...(he has thus) so openly VIOLATED one of the fundamental laws of history." (On Christianity, Edward Gibbon, Prometheus, Buffalo, New York, 1991 pp. 131, 132)
Even Paul made a big deal about being duplistic. He would be a Jew to a Jew, a Gentile to a Gentile etc. which always left me wondering just what and who Paul really was. He said so often in the New Testament that he wasn't lying, I wonder why he felt he had to say that so often? Sounds like lots of folk thought he was.
So ask yourself, when was the last time my church found out there were more truths to understand than the ones they have in all their booklets and tracts? And I don't mean the Plain Truth About Eating Out After Church! I bet you'll have to say never. Church's don't really deal in truth as much as tradition and control of how those traditions are defended and apologized for. Church apologetics really are that you know. They are apologies for the fact that there are those times when we can see that something about the Bible or a "truth" as explained by a Church just does not fit the facts as we know them in this day and age, and yet we will not examine them. Sorry, the old truth is THE truth and we simply are not admitting any new ones at this time. Churches don't do new truth, but are good at doing new ways to defend old truths, which might not really be true.
This attitude of all churches and religions really should be your first hint that something is very wrong with it all and perhaps it really is all about tradition, not making waves, money, control and keeping the old old, yet inaccurate story alive so we all feel better. Most are afraid they or others will be disillusioned if "New Truth" rears it's ugly head, but when it comes right down to it, do you wish to live your life based on illusions? Actually many do which is why they never question anything...
Dennis C. Diehl
Those fine upstanding folk at COGWA, who conspired behind UCG's back while on UCG's dole have elected new leadership. Men only, of course. The same men who conspired to form UCG when they split from WCG, then did the same planning behind UCG's back to form their new splinter cult. Same old unethical actions with a new church name. Same old, same old.
Don't expect anything new from this group. As they fall back into retro mode and worship all things HWA prior to 1986 look for more people to defect from their group. Some have already left because they realized they had bought into a lie and have returned to UCG, or left the COG completely.
They having nothing worthwhile for the world and will only gain a few converts who already have some kind of COG background.
The awesome new leadership is:
Clyde L. Kilough
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Benjamin Grant Mitchell's book, The Last Great Day is selling well. Kudos to him for the success. Maybe he can prevent more lives from being destroyed by Armstrongism!
Amongst other self-penned reminders like “Everything I write makes me a better writer” are others focussed on my novel, The Last Great Day.
Occasionally I will return from making a cup of tea or changing a nappy (or changing a nappy while making a cup of tea—it’s all about time management) and see something like:
“The Last Great Day is an inspirational story”
“My focus in 2011 is on promoting The Last Great Day“.
The point of these particular bits of silent self-talk-it-up is to help me remember that although I am writing other stories now the one I spent three years perfecting is available for others to buy, read and—hopefully—enjoy.
Having put my heart, soul and back into making The Last Great Day ‘sing’, it is important for me to let people everywhere know The Last Great Day exists.
Luckily for me I’ve been invited to officially launch The Last Great Day at Melbourne Writers Festival (on Saturday 3rd September) this year. I’m really looking forward to it but am also grateful for other opportunities I’ve already had to share my story.
Since self-publishing on 21st April this year I have been fortunate to have been invited to the Emerging Writers Festival; Readings in Carlton have taken on The Last Great Day, and I also got to do a book signing at my local Dymocks.
At my first writing festival and my first retail outlets I’ve been able to share—and sell—my story. I’ve also met people who’ve already read my novel. It’s been fantastic getting enthusiastic and positive responses and seeing in the eyes of my ‘ever expanding readership’ how my words have found an appreciative and growing audience.
There’s been photo opportunities too. The one I’ve put up with this blog shows a small step towards achieving one of my other affirmations which is:
“The Last Great Day is on top of best seller lists everywhere”
And it’s true.
At least for one day, in a single bookstore in East Doncaster, The Last Great Day outsold all other books. As of August 2011, The Last Great Day is officially (not just in my imagination) a “Best Seller”.
Now, for my next bookstore storming…
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The Church of God a Worldwide Association has an article up on it's web page geared towards young adults. It starts off mentioning that many in the Church of God suffer from anxiety, emotional, and psychological problems. No shocker there!
COGWA had the opportunity to start afresh with new ideas and new ways of doing things when they had their hissy fit and left United Church of God late last year All indicators over the last year have proven that they have no new ideas and that they are deeper entrenched in the worship of "all things Herb, all the time and in all ways."
Armstrongism has always taken a deep seated hatred against therapy, counseling, and psychiatry. HWA, GTA and Rod Meredith have always made tremendous effort to mock and ridicule therapy and psychiatry.
So what words of wisdom has COGWA spelled out for those suffering from anxiety, mental health issues and psychological problems in the Church of God?
Christians are not immune to the emotional and psychological problems facing many in the world today. We aren’t comfortable talking about them, but ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. How can we begin to deal with these challenging issues?
As Christians, we know that we will suffer various kinds of trials and tribulations and that our trials can test us and help us grow. Jesus Christ mentioned this reality and gave us encouragement: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Many in the Church of God suffer from anxiety disorders and/or other sorts of emotional and psychological problems. Speaking from personal experience, these are difficult things to deal with, and the subject is not talked of often within the Church. When facing difficult times, my searches generally uncovered little help beyond the advice to pray about it and try to overcome fear.
The second paragraph translates into Armstrongite speak that, mental health issues are "trials and tribulations that we bear because we are "aliens in this world." Because we live in this world we are filled with anxiety and suffer greatly.
Could that anxiety be coming from horrible aberrant doctrines and sermons by evangelists and ministers threatening the members with every imaginable kind of curse unless they follow their jack booted masters diligently?
What about the anxiety that is produced from endless speculation and silliness regarding the end times, the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation? How much blood, guts and gore can people take before they have mental issues?
We saw that first hand when one of Rod Meredith's cult members snapped after listening to one of Rod's sermons and went on a shooting spree killing several members. We see it in action with all the end times speculation that is rampant in Armstorngism. In Bob Thiel's 2012-2016 bullshit, in Apostle Malm's specific date setting, to Wiener Dude Weinlands moronic prophecies which had ALL failed, to LCG's sick obsession with violence, death and torture in the end times. The list can go on and on.
So what is the magical COG fix for mental health issues?
The first thing they are told to do is pray about it. While this may work for a select few, this will NOT cure the vast majority of people with mental issues. Working with a 'higher power' along with good therapy and counseling techniques will work together for the better. But when "prayer" is mentioned in COGspeak it has different meaning than it does for most Christians. COG prayers are heard before all other prayers in the world. COG prayers have a direct pipeline into God's ears where it will be dealt with in some magical way.
Praying is our most powerful tool as a Christian; being able to take any problem to our Almighty Creator is an incredible blessing! And overcoming fear is also important, although those who suffer from anxiety are obviously going to have a harder time with that—and it doesn’t necessarily mean they are short in the faith department.
Next they are told to "overcome fear." as if it is their fault they are in this condition. Why are they fearful? Could it be because of aberrant doctrines and church teachings? Fear of theologically bankrupt ministers? Or, a deep seated fear of a god that they think is sitting there in glee waiting for them to commit some kind of sin so he can dish out well deserved punishment?
The author goes on:
I’ve grown up in the Church and am a baptized member of the Church of God, and I have an anxiety disorder. I’ve learned a lot through the ups and downs. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
Never give up on God!
No matter what, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, despite how impossible it may seem. The following scriptures helped me through troubled, and often scary, times.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Psalm 57:1).
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).
Seek God’s help
Pray; fast; get anointed. God will bless you for seeking Him. Go boldly before God and ask for help.
Pray, fast and get anointed. You fast because you know you must have something topower to do what a real therapist cannot do. When this method is used it is an endless circle of disappointment. "Why haven't I been healed, I need to fast more and pray more because I still must be doing something wrong!" Years go by as the person does this cycle over and over as they sink deeper and deeper into mental health issues.
Don’t keep things inside
I know it feels like you’re the only one who has ever felt this way; but you’re not. Opening up to my pastor and to my family was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but it was the first step in getting where I am today—and believe me, I am in a much better place today!
Seeking help from a trained and qualified pastor will work wonders if he is trained in good counseling methods. Sadly, there is not a single COG minister alive that has had proper training in counseling techniques and therapy! Almost all counseling training is "in house" training, because it is not tainted by the "world's techniques". That's why we have ministers in the COG refusing to deal with rapists and child abusers. With violent husbands, alcoholism and rampant drug abuse.
I think that in the past, a negative stigma has been associated with mental health problems and with seeking professional help for them. The stigma is not without cause. There are psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who look negatively on religion and God and do not work within biblical principles.
On this the author is correct. The COG has mad a mockery out of mental health professionals. A well trained therapist or psychiatrist can easily see if dangerous religious beliefs are causing issues. The problem is that COG members think there is no issue with their beliefs. "There is no way what I have been taught is wrong. God revealed this lost information after 1,900 years to God's Apostle and there is no way he ever made a mistake!"
A wise therapist! A foolish COG member!I met with one therapist who was convinced my religious convictions were somehow to blame, but obviously that is not the case. I think he would be shocked if he saw the positive change in me, even though I still attend church and have the same beliefs!
But, after praying and searching, God has led me to other professionals who have helped me, and who were supportive of my beliefs.
The decision to seek treatment and the treatment you choose are very personal choices.
At least this person did go outside the COG to get some help. However, like all god COG members, not too much credit is not given to those people, all the credit goes towards the church and the "truth" they have that they think magically cured them.
As long as any person remains part of an Armstrongite Church of God, there will never be totally mentally healthy.
For decades I heard over and over from various ministers that because we were faithful sabbath keepers we were set apart from the world by God and given special protection. Ministers always loved to get up in church after some major disaster and trumpet out that Mr and Mr's Set Apart's home and business were left untouched by the tornado that destroyed every single home next to them over a 50 mile wide path. Their home alone out of 30,000 homes was spared........or, "...the earthquake damaged thousands of homes in New Zealand, but all of our Church members homes were not damaged, not even a broken glass..."
Of course, such miracles could only occur in Church of God land. Anyone outside the "true church" were agents of Satan and were not able to be protected. That's the simplistic logic and magical god that permeated Armstrongism and still does to this day.
This mentality is not unique to Armstrongism, it is also found in other Sabbatarian sects. Take a look at this story in the latest Seventh Day Adventist, Adventist World for a similar story of miraculous protection.
Note that this story has only women in it, no men or children were spared. Unbelieving husbands who refused to believe were killed.
While I have no doubt 'miraculous' things have occurred around the world that are unexplainable, there is something not quit right about this story. If this is true then it should scare all Armstrongites into leaving their respective splinter cults and head over to the nearest SDA church ASAP!
When the first atomic bomb in history was dropped on Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945, it destroyed everything within a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius: the temperature of the ground reached an unimaginable 6,000° C (10,832° F). Everyone within a four-kilometer (2.5 mile) radius was burned to death. A tremendous wind, at the speed of 4.4 kilometers (2.7 miles) per second, was generated, causing even cement buildings to collapse and broken glass to fly up to 16 kilometers (9.94 miles) away. The radiation from the bomb was unbelievably strong, causing those exposed to it to lose all bodily functions and their cells to undergo apoptosis, a kind of cellular suicide. Between the blast itself, the resulting fires throughout the city, and the radiation burns, some estimate that 200,000 citizens of Hiroshima lost their lives.
Not One Adventist Harmed
In the midst of all this devastation, was it really possible that not one church member, even the one living within 1 kilometer (.62 miles) of where the bomb hit, was killed, or even hurt?
During her investigation the journalist heard the testimony of church member Mrs. Hiroko Kainou, who, surprised by the sudden fierce wind, fell to her knees and prayed. Though every piece of glass in the house blew out, she came away without a single scratch. All of the other 20 Adventist church members in Hiroshima were also kept alive and safe. Though six of them have since passed away from old age, Mr. and Mrs. Morita, the Yoshimuras, the Sumis, the Matsutanis, and others are still active.
Iwa Kuwamoto, who is still doing evangelism from her home by telephone and letter at age 83, was within one kilometer (.62 miles) of the bomb site when the bomb fell. When she crawled out from under the fallen buildings, she witnessed the giant mushroom cloud that was obscuring the sun and shrouding the land in darkness. She tried desperately to help her husband, an unbeliever at the time, to get out from under the fallout, but the raging fires were threatening to close in on them. Taking her husband’s hand and crying, (Iwa) said, “The fire will be here soon. I can’t do anything more, so let’s die here together. God knows everything. Please believe in Jesus Christ. I cannot save you!” But her husband said, “No. I will die here, but you must escape for our children’s sake. You must somehow get to safety and find the children. Do it for the children!”
You only need to listen to about 3 minutes of this to remember how Armstrongism uses "conversion"
as it's favorite weapon of mental destruction. What better way to destroy a life of a hurting person than to spit out:
"You're UNCONVERTED and because of that God has removed ALL blessings from you!"
as it's favorite weapon of mental destruction. What better way to destroy a life of a hurting person than to spit out:
"You're UNCONVERTED and because of that God has removed ALL blessings from you!"
"You're Problem is that You're Just Not Converted"
Occurring within all religions, the phenomenon called "conversion" is, in reality, nothing more than mind-control, programming, or brainwashing to achieve the desired compliance. All Christian organizations use the idea of conversion in one way or another to amass followers of a particular persuasion.
In my own experience, it ended up exchanging the idea that my previous beliefs were wrong for new ideas on who and what Jesus said or didn't say about this or that topic. It had a bit to do also with first seeing and then admitting to my absolute sinful state of being, no matter how nice a guy or well behaved a kid I had been in reality. Any "good" I could come up with was labeled as "filthy rags" according to the rather wacked out Jeremiah, I believe. I think it was also Jeremiah who declared my heart was "deceitful above ALL things and desperately wicked", and was such a worthless and duplistic vessel that it needed converting, or all hope was lost. This conversion was evidenced by my repentance from tons of stuff I really hadn't practiced to any great degree, you know, jealousy, anger, lust and greed, but never the less, I was full of it and to say I was really just a nice kid looking for the truth was proof of my depraved self in spiritual denial. So upon repentance from "God's holy and righteous law", which Paul, I later learned either was for or against depending, I was admitted into the club of the converted. I was 19 years old, well within the ages of between 10 and 25 where the majority of humans who go through this experience, have it.
After the initial conversion from the bad me to the God now in me through the Holy Spirit so I could be like Jesus, me, it was a life of overcoming and becoming "perfect like my heavenly Father was perfect." Yikes, no challenge there, so I was never good enough as were none of my friends. Actually no one ever made that grade and you don't know anyone who is anywhere near that either. But that challenge does manage to keep the sheep in a constant stage of "not good enough", compliant and open to the suggestions of those possessing the superior and more mature spirituality...yeah right.
"Conversion" is an artificial, deleterious state induced in a submissive person by a self-serving religious leader." The Psychology of Religion, Dr. Edwin D. Starbuck
Dr. Starbuck went on to note "The essence of 'conversion' is the induction of a state of mere feeling which, when it has passed, leaves no spiritual improvement and often results in the subject feeling like a victim. Frequently the experience is so humiliating after the fact that the subject rejects not only the "conversion," but anything having to do with religion." I guess my writing this is proof enough of that reality. Sometimes well meaning types try to convince me that if I joined their church, I would have a much superior experience but let me tell you that there is no such thing as only half opened eyes when it comes to lessons learned this way. Once experienced, the eyes are wide open to even the well meaning, yet marginally informed good intentions of others.
In the last days of my ministry, it had become rather expected of the ministry to involve the men in the then flourishing Promise Keepers movement. I resisted noting that I was not about to stand in a group of 100,000 guilt ridden, shame driven and fear guided middle age men, listening to any Grand Poopa force them to their knees in another round of heartfelt repentance, blah blah. Besides, it was too much trouble to go potty in a group that large. I did not attend when ministers in the area got together to go to Washington or Atlanta and I sure as hell was not going for the special minister revivals. Nothing worse than weeping ministers trying to get that old feeling back they had when they first got tricked into thinking what they knew at 22 was all there was to know about things theological. Even though I publicly told my minister friends and elders that Promise Keepers was a bit suspect, archaic in it's approach to women, and would be history in three years, I was viewed as not being at team player, marginalized and finally not considered worth keeping in the organization. Don't weep for me. I wanted out at the time and just did not know how to walk away from something I always thought I was supposed to be doing. It's not a light thing getting fired by God ;)
At any rate, Promise Keepers tanked in less than two years, I was right and they still came out the winners because they were doing the "converted" thing by attending and I was not. Promise Keepers was as much a control mechanism as any 19th revival ever was. Women should rejoice that it did not spread any further than it did or you'd not be able to tell the difference between your life and that of the women under the Taliban.
Those who subject themselves to the conversion rules of a particular denomination, group or belief are always liable by the controllers for not being "converted enough." This is a phrase they will hear, along with having experienced a false conversion should you ever be found not to be towing their particular line. It's control rearing it's ugly head again, and they may not even know they are doing it. Or they may. A basic rule to live by is any time any group makes you feel in any way that you are not "good enough," it's not you, though you will be made to feel it is all you. Just leave. Anytime your conversion or lack of it is tied to your not being healed of this or that malady even though the Church or ministry has prayed for you etc, just leave. It's not you, it's them.
Anytime your conversion is questioned because you simply brought up a question about doctrine, Biblical errancy, contradictions, the practices of the ministry, the way money is spent, the content of sermons that promote your guilt, shame and fear, just leave. You will not change those that wish to control you by questioning your sincerity and "conversion" to their views, and remember, all churches promote their own views of God and all ministers also use their human reasoning to do it. One of the great put downs available to the ministry against the converted Sheep is "you are just using human reasoning." Just ask them what kind of reasoning they use. Most will not be so bold to reason that their reasoning is purely of God while yours is not. Don't get me wrong, some will, but most aren't that sold on their own infallibility. It's all human reasoning unless you are willing to trust a man who tells you "God told me." I am not.
Conversion from one state of being to another is a slippery slope for many. It often involves playing on the feelings of sinfulness, unworthiness and self loathing one might have for themselves at any particular time in life. These are times when we can be most manipulated by others, especially theologically or on topics that seem to give us hope of some sort, though misplaced.
Let me give you a few observations, based on experience of what conversion is not tied to.
Conversion, enlightenment and personal growth is not based on the giving or not giving of your financial resources to support the Guru. If you want to contribute to building a grand edifice to the organization or the man who started it, that's your choice, but if your giving and the amount you give is tied to your sincerity, loyalty, devotion or conversion to the group, then leave. It is not. Any church or minister that checks up on the amount of money you freely give before promoting or even including you, is a spiritual bastard having his own conversion issues. Ok, he's also just a regular bastard too.
Conversion is not based on numbers. Just because a church has four services a day and boasts thousands of members, is no indication of any inner peace or spirituality you will gain from joining it. I predict that many people will drop memberships at mega churches for this very reason. They are too filled with busy work, self promotion and glitz to be meaningful for the inner person. They perspire you instead of inspire you. I predict a return to smaller churches, closer to home where you do not have to even go near the damn interstate.
Conversion is not based on how often you participate in this or that "proof of your loyalty" activity. Just say no, I can't go. If your not giving four hours of service a weekend to make church work is a measure of your conversion or lack of it, walk away and reclaim your inner spirituality. If you don't have time to spend during the week helping the minister do his job, yet will never be an elder if you don't, hold your ground. If you think you have no life now, just let yourself get ordained into obligatory conversion activities and see how depressed you get. You'll burn out anyway in time and then be labeled "unconverted" when you leave exhausted and rankled.
Conversion is not related to your knowing or not knowing the details of your churches doctrines or beliefs. Remember, they are all just beliefs and beliefs are based on opinions and ideas about what this or that person or group thinks something means. There is NO ONE AND ONLY TRULY CORRECT, GOD LOVES US THE MOST CHURCH OF GOD on this planet. We are way too divided and not one body we, no matter what the song says. Coupled with the idea that Jesus never thought to start a new movement or Church and the Apostle Paul introducing a cosmic Christ in place of any real Jesus he never met, pretty much eliminates your being in the one true pure, true church. And where did those 12 disciples go any way?
Conversion is not connected to what anyone else thinks of you, your understanding, your skepticism or your caution in following those that declare themselves to be God's representatives on earth. We have had our Jones Towns and Wacos to keep us alert to where people can be lead. There are thousands of churches with unstable ministers and messages that are accidents waiting to happen...again. I can list several, but I spare you. Count the number of times a minister uses the word "I" in his sermons and if it is more than three times, walk away. Ok, well at least it should be less than 100 times. Well no, 50. You judge. Ministers that appoint themselves as the Watchers for God, Apostles of the End Times, or one of the Two Witnesses need mental health counselors, not congregations. Ministers that mind your business more than you get to should be avoided, as well as ministers and churches that seem to have no one besides themselves to be accountable to.Conversion is not a lot of things but several things it is would be things like personal, meaningful, private, inner, calming, encouraging and hopeful. An even more mature approach is that conversion can also be called enlightenment. En-Lighten-ment...to make lighter or to make lights go on. Too much of what passes as fundamentalist Christianity and truth actually shuts off the flow and turns off the lights. It is that kind of conversion experience we should seek to avoid so as not to have spend years in recovery from religion gone sour.
If all else fails when some asks you what Church you belong to, just tell them you are Non-Condemnational and you will enjoy both their puzzled look and your new found freedom from the kind of conversions, so called, that are meant to control, discourage and keep one in the box of never being good enough. I love the bumper sticker that says "Born Right the First Time." Hmmmmm, maybe that's the answer!
Dennis C. Diehl
Sunday, August 14, 2011
FROM THE INTRODUCTION: Suppose you move to a different area, and are keeping your eyes open for a good group to belong to (a social club, a church, a synagogue, or service organization). You visit one such group where the people are very friendly, loving, and give you individual attention. The group has a variety of programs: a rehabilitation program for drug addicts, services and nursing homes for the elderly, help for the poor, and free clinics. The leader inspires the disillusioned, the disenchanted, and those who have been rejected elsewhere. He is well-known and respected in the area, and the mayor gave him a position as Director of the City Housing Authority. Would you join this group?
Suppose you spend four years in college and nearly two years in graduate school to prepare for a career in Christian music. Then the ministers of your home church tell you that you are not needed in their music program. Shortly afterward, you find a new group that welcomes you with open arms. They really care for people. The leader of this group has fascinating Bible studies. You and everyone else are able to sit and listen to him for several hours at a time. Would you stay in this group?
If you answered "yes" to the first situation, you joined the church led by Jim Jones who led over 900 of his followers into a mass suicide murder. If you liked the second group, you became a follower of David Koresh who led over 80 of his followers to die in a blaze of fire.
A wolf in sheep's clothing is a short and simple description of a cult leader – as these men were.
Are there any warning signs that a group and its leader are dangerous? That’s largely what this book is about.
To read more about this subject, click here to download Stephen Martin's e-book.
Christian and Secular books on Recovery from Mind Control
Christian Books Addressing the Dynamics of Spiritual Abuse
· **The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse (Johnson & VanVonderan)
· Healing Spiritual Abuse (Blue)
· The Discipling Dilemna (Yeakey)
· Exposing Spiritual Abuse (Fehlauer)
· 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (Fischer)
· The Rest of the Gospel (Stone)
· Twisted Scriptures (Chrnalogar)
· Toxic Faith (Arterburn)
· More Jesus, Less Religion (Arterburn & Felton)
· **Tired of Trying to Measure Up (Van Vonderan)
· **Families Where Grace is in Place (VanVonderan)
· **Safe People (Townsend and Cloud)
· Bring ‘Em Back Alive (Burchett)
Secular Books Addressing Cults and Cultic Churches
[Remember: The dynamics in Biblical churches and in cults are identical.]
· **Take Back Your Life (Lalich)
An earlier version was **Captive Hearts, Captive Minds (Landau-Tobias and Lalich)
· **Combating Cult Mind Control (Hassan)
· **Cults in our Midst (Singer)
· **The Lucifer Effect (Zimbardo)
· Releasing the Bonds (Hassan)
· Recovery from Cults (Langone)
· Snapping (Conway)
· Bounded Choice (Lalich)
· Brainwash (Streatfeild)
· Battle for the Mind (Sargant)
· The Manipulated Mind (Winn)
For decades we have been bombarded in the Churches of God about a coming WWIII with Germany at it's head who will bring the United States and British Commonwealth nations to it's knees. We have also had alternative bogeymen that became the chief scapegoat once the Berlin Wall fell. There's China, there's the rampaging Muslims, and some are even hoping that the Soviet Union regains it's power in order for HWA and Meredith's prophecies to come true.
In reality these are impotent nations compared to a far greater power that has emerged with the ability to bring down governments, presidencies, religious leaders and churches.
It's the Internet! This one little tool has empowered people with the ability to check things out without having to go to their minister, elder or prophet/apostle.
A blog on cults today had a small paragraph about how the Internet helped decimate UCG late last year. UCG has not recovered and will NEVER recover from this.
Recently, a friend of mine who came out of the Worldwide Church of God mentioned that the main splinter group from that cult has split again as an anonymous person had posted on a forum the happenings within that church and caused many to question the leadership. Again, the freedom to search and find answers has helped cult members to get free.
UCG is now lashing out at the evilness of the Internet and it's ability to change peoples mindset. Scott Ashley has an article in UCG News August 2011 . Ashley has written this article to contact the rumors that are swirling around UCG and on the Internet about changes in UCG's doctrines. Apostle Malm, on the Shining Light blog is taking direct credit for cause of this article. He claims he has been in several discussions with Ashely recently.
Apostle Malm writes:
Scott Ashley graduated from AC in 76 and then moved to Denver, he became a deacon about 1990 and was ordained in 93, see his CoE bio. He was not in Pasadena during the Tkach years and has absolutely no knowledge or understanding of what was going on then; therefore he cannot see through what is taking place now. He has commented on this Blog under an assumed name recently and he and I have exchanged messages both in the past and in the last few days. I have just sent him some information together with source proofs, but Scott has a dedicated “my group is God’s and corrrect in all things” attitude. He has seen fit to attack me on other occasions even more directly; without knowing what he was talking about. He is a man of great zeal for UCG and I expect that like Paul; when his light of understanding goes on, he will become a very special person. Right now he is blinded by misplaced loyalty and a lack of information and understanding. Do you think that he and certain others would waste their time on reacting to any other Blog? These things are a good indication of the impact that this Blog is having and on the need they feel to respond. I have never advertised this Blog and yet it is having a profound impact on the various COG groups. Many brethren and some elders are experiencing a renewed zeal for the Great God! Why? And How can that be, if the Eternal is not involved? James
Malm is a serious threat to many of these splinter cults. He is going after die hard Armstrongites who are hell bent on keeping the law perfectly. Malm and his little legion of acolytes think they have all the capabilities to keep the law in it's entirety:
Recently I have repeatedly said that UCG is not changing its written doctrine; it is changing its practical application of its written doctrine. They are also watering down the “Law and Grace” issue into a license to sin. Yes, they know what sin is, but they have bought into the Evangelical lie [based on the Evangelically produced NKJV and the NIV etc] that we cannot keep the commandments properly before God; therefore Christ will overlook our human frailty and sin out of “love”.
Many of these cults are afraid that Apostle Malm is going to start another group. He is already telling people to stay home from their church Feast site, or attend this year knowing that it will be their last one with their present COG group. He is soliciting money and has enough backers that can set up a new non-profit Church for him to step into without him ever lifting a finger.
What is going to happen to this group of people once Apostle Malm's prophecies and blovaiting all fail to come to pass? More destroyed lives. More disillusioned people.