Sunday, May 27, 2018

Obedience Unto Death

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 Fellowship
The 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!


Anonymous said...

"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."

Pack's group, RCG, also has a booklet very similar to HWA's. I believe it may be posted on their website. Although probably not, they like to keep some of that info from public eyes. But, it is available to the membership, and even today, these groups are still preaching to avoid the medical profession at all costs. Although Pack himself uses doctors.

Dennis Diehl said...

The old and New Testaments give more than enough encouragememt to believe in healing miracles and the prayer of faith only. What other real choices did bronze and iron age people have? Virtually none. They weren't shunning better medical knowledge and treatment as people, to their harm and lack of common sense can and do today in the name of faith. That kind of faith is modern day foolishness.

I watched a sister almost die over months having faith when a few hours of good treatment would have saved much handwringing for parents and family. She feels God eventually healed her. I feel she lucked out

What About The Truth said...

Who could forget HWA's statement in his booklet about how could one poison (Illness) plus another poison (Medicine) equal healing.

The healing teaching of the WCG was a very strong teaching even in the early 80's. The only two parts of HWA's teaching on the subject in my opinion that have any truth to it is; God heals and cause and effect. The classification of all illness being because of physical sin and the belief that the beating of Christ's body was for our physical healing is just plain horrific theology.

That God has healed and still heals should be without debate in the religious spectrum. There has been a long tract record of evidence but in reality, the over all incidents of healing are in the low single digits of COG members and of those, most were only healed once.

Yes the hypocrisy of the church's teaching is nothing short of a stain upon men who put their own self importance and self worth above all others. I can still remember until today how stunned I was when it was announced that HWA was under the care of a doctor and on medication toward the end of his life. I could never understand how a teaching about the use of a Satan inspired medical profession didn't equal the same about scientists and engineers whose technology the church relied upon completely to do the "work". If there was never the availability of radio, television, computers, the Internet, automobiles and jet airplanes, how far would have HWA or the splinters been able to advance their churches?

Once again, "healing" is an example of the consequences of scriptural self interpretation error leading to the dangerous overreach into peoples physical lives. How hard is it to miss the spiritual aspect of healing. Jer. 31:33 being just one example of Israel's healing in the Kingdom of God.

The results of the gross error of scriptural interpretation has been more of an assault upon the families of the COGS than what comes from without. Whether it is "divorce and remarriage", child rearing, healing, "Common" or the administration of a false church government, the evidence is far too much of a causation of a lifetime of sorrow in many families.

Anonymous said...

I was a child who grew up in the Worldwide Church of God to a hardline conservative family. Because of this, I can tell you I never, with two exceptions, went to the doctor. Exception one being to get a physical for SEP. For some reason, this was acceptable. The other was the one time when I was around seven to go to the dentist for one cavity. For some reason, that was acceptable too.

My parents withdrew me from the vaccination program for religious reasons.

I had to suffer all the childhood illnesses - croup as a baby that nearly killed me, mumps, measles, a three-month bout of cold that turned to pnuemonia, many horrible flu bouts, a few common colds, and the chicken pox. Fevers commonly rose to over 104 degrees. Once I was suspected to have had a "febrile seizure" at night, but there was no appointment to confirm that. I also had some other unusual symptoms that were observed but not checked on.

At age 13 more serious problems surfaced relating to severe anxiety and panic. But, because going to a "worldly psychologist" was an absolute no-no, these symptoms were ignored. Turns out that it was diagnosed years later this was partly due to the influence of the church's false teachings, and partly due to parental teachings and practices. "Developmental trauma".

Because all of these symptoms were un-diagnosed and not treated for so long, they led to much more serious chronic ailments down the road that are there to this day. Thankfully, now, I am under a team of doctors, and faithfully take the medicines that help me stay alive. There was no reason for all of this to willfully happen. But I am thankful now that I embrace the science, the medicine, and all of the things that I believe God put on this earth to bring us healing. The journey is not over. I have much more to overcome.

Am I bitter against Herbert Armstrong because so much of my life was robbed by his direct teachings? I can't say I'm bitter. I try to think there was a purpose to all of this. I also know I'm not alone - that many other children of the church went through it as well. It wasn't right. It certainly wasn't Godly. Because of the Worldwide Church of God, I very well could have died. Fortunately, thank the Lord, I'm a survivor from the pits of evil. And yes - willfully preaching a doctrine that puts children in harm by avoiding helpful medicine IS evil. It's not only evil - i's probably criminal. Did Herbert Armstrong have blood on his hands? Did he do what he did intentionally? What did he gain? Everything he built is gone. His church is dead - as are many of his members because of his teachings. His splinters can't make any headway on anything. What was it all worth? His prophecies all catastrophically failed. And people suffered. I know. I was one of them.

Those who support Herbert Armstrong, and those who teach the same doctrines he taught are supporting doctrines that have HARMED or KILLED people. Let that sink in loud and clear. Armstrongism was darkness masquerading as a ray of light. Armstrongism was and is the epitome of deception. Free yourself, and live. I am a survivor, and you can be too.

Anonymous said...

We too had to face losing both our children to disease, one also had spinal meningitis, but decided to ask for God’s healing, but decided to take both to doctors also to do our part.

This was the late 70’s, so very controversial, but I stuck to my guns and both are alive today, though the child with meningitis did lose most of their hearing, but fully functional otherwise.

Since then it became very obvious of the “do as we say, it as we do” nonsense, but I always recognized blindly standing by and doing nothing, was sheer stupidity.

My guess is we needed both.... sort of showing faith by our works. Today, if I wanted to be anointed, the ministry would probably be the last people I’d go to.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the church and didn't have vaccinations and didn't have antibiotics etc. Thankfully I was healthy. Even after I left the church I clung to a lot of those flakey natural health methods of healing which so many in WCG followed. It was wrong to go to doctors but ok to use weird herbs and folk remedies to cure ailments. Plus fasting to rid the body of poisons. The reasoning was that God had put herbs etc. on earth to heal us, and also a proper diet with no unclean meats etc. So were we relying on God when we were allowed to use herbal/naturopathic remedies? Many pharmaceuticals are plant based, but changed from how god made them.

I got cancer long after I had left WCG, but refused medical help like surgery and chemotherapy. Instead I found hundreds of 'natural cancer cures' on the internet and naturopaths eager to direct me. They didn't work, and eventually in extreme pain I agreed to medical intervention and it saved my life. Its a long story, but I am sure my cancer could have been cured at a much earlier stage if I hadn't refused treatment. Perhaps the fact that I am well years later is a miracle from God, but it only happened after I had much medical treatment.

Byker Bob said...

In the 1960s when the anti-medical teachings were perhaps at their peak, and such stupid things were occurring as diabetics in the church throwing away their insulin, the ministers were telling us in sermons about iatrogenic disease. This was a relatively new term at the time and described an entirely new category of symptoms, side effects, and diseases allegedly caused by doctors and medicines.

In retrospect, it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Not only were church members literally dying or contracting additional disease because the ministers diverted people from the medical professionals to mandatory annointing, but also, in their infinite wisdom, our own church was causing long term mental and personality disorders, through their doctrinal and managerial approaches.

We attended a church in which the authority structure co-opted and took over virtually every professional entity which could have advised any part of our lives. Chief medical advice came from the church. Financial and tax advice came from the church. Legal advice came first from the church. Dietary or cullinary advice came from the church. Parenting skills were dominated by the church. The know-it-alls at the church dispensed much advice (advice for which they refused to accept responsibility when it failed) that they were by no means qualified to give, and it suppressed members in many areas of personal growth and well-being. This is what happens when any entity inserts themselves as your single source. Herbert W. Armstrong did not believe in second opinions that would have held himself and his lackeys accountable. He wanted total control of what he called his “dumb sheep” (and we were!).


Anonymous said...

Paul and Barnabas were treated as gods in a city where they healed. It's my belief that Herb and other Christian denominations teach healing in every case in order to manipulate and coerce God into healing. This would result in all Christian ministers being treated like gods themselves. And all that blackmailing power it would give them.
These church leaders must know that God is not obliged to heal in every case, but hide it from their followers.

Hoss said...

In the late 1970s I read an article by HWA on healing and doctors, possibly in the GN. In that article, he wrote that would be "okay" for one to get appropriate treatment from a medical doctor. However, this "permission" was prefaced by If you lack faith...

DennisCDiehl said...

It was and is never right for parents to make faith healing decisions for their children . If a parent wants to trust for divine healing based on their adult perspectives , faith and decision making powers, so be it. But no one ever has the right to have faith for someone else, much less their own sick child. That is unfair and ignorant.

Byker Bob said...

Oh, I can assure you, Dennis, that if the faith healing matters were left to the kids, any kids wanting to go to the doctor would have received a severe spanking!


Anonymous said...

I was in Pasadena 1972-76. Toward the end of that time, I realized I had never heard HWA use the words, "God helps those who help themselves," but he said exactly that in many other ways. Except we were not allowed to help ourselves when we get sick. I wondered about that contradiction for years after that, until we found out that he was getting medical treatment after all.

Hoss said...

No doubt about it, 446, HWA certainly did help himself...