Herb settled on a niche that allowed him to get very rich whoring for money in the name of God. His approach was time sensitive that masterfully created a worldview of urgency, danger and imminent death and destruction. You literally had no time to argue with his message. There was no need to critically analyse his message. God either gave you the ability to agree with everything Herb said or you were simply not called and on a crash course with the worst time in human history in just a few short years or months.
Herb's message was fueled and justified by one key verse:
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come." -Matthew 24:14
HWA was a "wolf in sheep's clothing" in my opinion and never converted. But Paul makes an important observation when he says,
"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry...preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely...But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." -Philippians 1:15-18
Over the years, I watched many brethren wake up to the dark truths about HWA and the WCG and even find that not all the teachings were sound. Unfortunately, the response is often to throw it all away, going as far as to even declare themselves agnostic or atheist.
Once one allows cognitive dissonance to begin to pop holes in the worldview HWA created for us, the initial response is, as expected, anger. How could I have been so stupid? How could that person do such a thing? If there is a God, why would He allow someone to do this in His name?
The hard part is waiting out the anger and letting reason drive the car. In doing so, we can understand WCG in the context of Christianity as a whole. Not only was it NOT "the" church or "only" church BUT it is just another church made up of people who generally mean well, want to have a relationship with God and none of which have all the answers.
While HWA's message was embodied in Matthew 24:14, it was not the driving force for some to respond and become members of his church. Some actually found other doctrines having to do with God's mercy, love, kindness and inclusive plan for all mankind as their inspiration and motivation. Unfortunately, these are not the AC graduates that made their way into leading the church. Instead, many were drummed out throughout the 70's. The intellectuals were burned at the stake and narcissist managers won the day.
But I have found (and this is largely anecdotal evidence) that after the failures of prophecy culminating in the 1970's, generation x born in those years and others coming later in the 90's do not have the prophetic fear factor as part of their personal Christianity. I believe this shift from fear to love is real and the reason why old goats pushing the HWA "work" falls on deaf ears today. Gen X and Millenials are pioneers of the Information Age. Baby-boomers gave us every reason to be skeptical.
HWA certainly trained more wolves to follow in his steed but I would argue many are more like goats than wolves. To understand my perspective on this, consider Jesus' parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46.
Creating a church around Matthew 24:14 diverted the resources that enable Christians to exercise love and care for humanity, into a message that justified leaving acts of kindness undone. As one friend pointed out to me, when you demand 30%+ of people's incomes to fulfill Matthew 24:14, there is literally nothing left to exercise those things Christ said would make you a sheep in His good standing.
HWA's gospel created a clergy and laity of goats. The good news is we don't have to remain goats. And I am inspired by more Gen X'ers waking up and Millenials that are challenging the old guard. I no longer tithe and divert most of those resources to helping people in my community. And I don't require those people to be members of my church or even professing Christians. The only criteria to receive love should be in being a "biological" made in God's image.
When Christ said to love one another in John 13:34-35 as evidence that we are His disciples, He obviously didn't mean that Christians or members of a Christian sect showing love for one another was the evidence. He already made that clear in the Sermon on the Mount.
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?" -Matthew 5:46-47
When He said we have love for one another, He meant all of humanity. That is what would cause observers to notice such action because nobody does this.
HWA created a church that naturally (but not necessarily) locks its members into being goats. We must overcome this by no longer supporting a Matthew 24:14 message with unbiblical tithes. We can abandon the wrong teachings and the unbalanced approach without giving up altogether. We can continue to call the errors out publicly on blogs like this without the fear of being silenced, marked and defamed by the old goats keeping the gates. The AC alumni can't live forever and the spiritual generation gap in the church is real. Christ said if we really want to make a difference, it will not be in supporting one man in "his" mission to usher in the Great Tribulation. It will be in acts of kindness toward those that would never expect it.