For any Church of God member who grew up as a child or attended as an adult, the chances of you ever receiving medical assistance were slim to none. To do so was to let the church know that you had no faith that God would heal you. Back then children could get out of school immunizations if they provided x-rays and other form-letter statements from the church. Some parents were sensible enough to ignore the directives for their kids and some adults sought proper medical treatment as needed without feeling the need to get ministerial approval. However, many did not get proper medical treatment and suffered all kinds of consequences, even death. All because they thought they had to be obedient to COG ministers and fearful of losing their salvation.
This idiocy was all due to Herbert Armstrong's booklet published in 1952, Does God Heal Today?
In 1952 a small booklet written by Herbert W. Armstrong officially inaugurated a doctrine which brought suffering and death to the Worldwide Church of God for more than thirty years. The booklet was entitled, Does God Heal Today? Some of the subheadings of the booklet are: "Medicine Condemned as Idolatry" and "The Pagan Origins of Medicine". This doctrinal pronouncement was issued under the same threat of loss of eternal life as were many of his other writings.
In Does God Heal Today?, Armstrong leaves no doubt in the reader's mind as to the seriousness of seeking medical help:
"We take the broken bread unworthily if, and when, we take it at communion service and then put our trust in doctors and medicine instead of in Christ, thus putting another God before him." (p. 14)Receiving communion after going to a doctor invalidated the symbolism of the communion service? Wut?
Armstrong admonishes his followers to be obedient to James 5:14-15 which instructs a believer to call for the elders who will anoint them with oil and pray the prayer of faith. He then adds: "He does not say, call the doctors and let them give medicines and drugs and God will cause the medicines and drugs and dope to cure you.... Instead, God says call God's ministers...," (p. 19).
"Don't pay any attention to how you feel, or what you see, after you have called on God for healing. Just know you are to have it -- and that's that!" (p. 20).Then to scare members even further, we were warned that to seek medical assistance was equivalent to sorcery, witchcraft and idolatry! To do so would ultimately result in EXCRUCIATING DEATH in the second death which was the lake of fire! Seriously, who would go to a doctor after reading that kind of crap?
This doctrine was emphasized by other Worldwide Church of God writers through the years In The Good News magazine of October, 1959, there appeared an article by Donald G. Wofford entitled, "The Origin of Medical Science."
Wofford stated: "Either we trust God to heal our diseases... or trust in medical science -- which won't help us and which God terms `sorcery,' `witchcraft' and `idolatry' -- and suffer agony now and an excruciating death -- the second death in the lake of fire," (p. 8).The writings by Armstrong and Wofford were considered "God's law" because God supposedly channelled those words into their minds, who then put to them to paper as "God inspired" and commanded "law" for the membership.
These writings were accepted as God's law by the members and resulted in many cancelling their health insurance policies, refusing to vaccinate their children, and denying themselves novocain when attending dentists. Dental visits were acceptable, but not the use of pain relievers. Even aspirin was shunned by many as the devil's medicine.Thankfully we have the Ambassador Report to document the lives touched by this absurdity:
The real extent of this tragic obedience can be seen from the stories of those who followed Armstrong's teachings to the death. In an article in the 1977 Ambassador Report by publisher and editor John Trechak entitled, "Modern Moloch: Human Sacrifice in the Armstrong Church," a number of examples are cited. Trechak gives this account:
"I recently asked a former high-ranking minister of the Worldwide Church of God if he knew personally of any cases of church members dying as a result of the Armstrong healing doctrine. This is what he told me:
`Yes, absolutely. Many. I can specifically recall one case that plagues me even yet and that's (of a) little boy, five years old, who had spinal meningitis.
`Dr. McReynolds, the Seventh-day Adventist doctor who worked with the church, was advising them to take the child to the hospital and try a new treatment that was 90% to 100% effective.
`The people asked me what they should do, and I kept saying, "Read the booklet (Herbert Armstrong's healing booklet), follow God, and have faith."
`So they did. They remained faithful to the doctrine of the church. I didn't tell them to do it, but I sure encouraged them. And the little boy died.
`I remember it so well because it was such a tragic incident, and Dr. McReynold's was so angry. `He just flailed at me and said, "That's just an absolute waste of human life, and there's no reason for it," and he just let me have it.
`I know of literally scores or hundreds of cases like this. There's no way to determine the exact number of people who were affected. We're talking about a forty-year period. I think thousands actually died over the years as a result of this doctrine.'"Thanks to Ambassador Report word started spreading that Rod Meredith and other ministers were actively going to doctors and seeking medical treatment. The cat was out of the bag and yet they still scrambled to cover it up. All the time they were still pushing this non-medical malarkey, Herbert Armstrong was receiving medical treatment and was taking all kinds of medications
In the mid-1970's it became known that high ranking members of the Headquarter's staff had been seeking medical assistance. Rod Merridith had had eye surgery and Herbert Armstrong had seen doctors abroad. Many ministers and members began to question the healing doctrine.
The failure of Herbert Armstrong to deal with the problems with this doctrine and others culminated in several dozen ministers and five thousand members leaving the Worldwide Church of God in 1974. Although the booklet Does God Heal Today? was discontinued in 1968, the members were not immediately given any new doctrinal paper to guide them into a sane approach to health care.
It has only been recently, in the late 1980's, that such a booklet has been published. Published by Watchman FellowshipThe really sad part in the above quote is that the membership overall, still believed they should not go to doctors and waited, like frogs in a pot of slowly heating water, for the church to tell them what to do! They did so because it was an understanding ingrained in all sermons and booklets that the members were too stupid to know what to do unless a minister or "God's apostle" told them what to do.
Sadly, this perversion is still being promoted today in various COG's. The leadership get proper medical treatment, but the members are afraid to.
When will they learn that the lake of fire is NOT the destination of anyone who goes to doctor? Even worse is the hundreds of lives of babies, children and adults who needlessly died because of this belief!