Monday, January 30, 2023

Fear, the fuel that drives Armstrongism


Fear is the main tactic in keeping members "in" the church. Fear of being cut off from God. Fear of losing one's salvation. Fear of committing the unpardonable sin. Fear of getting kicked out of the "true" church. Fear of being disfellowshipped and marked by God. Fear of not making it to the place of safety.

January 1, 2023 Exit and Support Network 
Having only limited knowledge of the Bible as a teenager, I was intrigued when I first heard about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and that He would be ruling with His saints on Earth for a thousand years! So I wrote to Pasadena and read just about every booklet they published. It wasn’t long before I took the bait and was hooked. 
I can attest to the fact that fear is definitely a factor—perhaps the greatest—that keeps members within these Armstrong cults from venturing out. This was especially true of those in WCG. Herbert Armstrong who was the master controller at the helm instilled that fear with the threat of the lake of fire if one “tastes the truth” and later walks away from it. 
For all the years I remained in that cult, it was fear that kept me from stepping out or even raising any question to anyone inside the “church” or outside of it. We were warned that raising questions or having doubts was the first sign that Satan had a grip on us. We were constantly reminded that this was “God’s government,” and who are we to question those that were directly appointed by God? I remember the repetitious warnings of Gerald Waterhouse that we were to say, “Yes, sir!” to the boss no matter he said. 
Sadly, this is how the WCG operated so successfully for decades. I dare to say that most of us suffered financially over the years, as we followed the dictates from above “seeking first the Kingdom of God” (i.e., the pocketbooks of those in charge). –Former WCG member


R.L. said...

And yet, fear is a factor that brings some people to Jesus and Christianity in the first place. Fear of dying, for instance.

"Fear Is a Liar" - Christian singer Zach Williams.

DW said...

This is exactly what the Adventists say to their members, to keep them stuck. If you leave the Adventist "church", you are leaving God. I imagine the JWs and Mormons do this, too.

Clearly, this tactic works, so the cults use it. However, they are far more afraid of you than you are of them. They hide it well, behind false pronouncements from the "ministry" and manage to put the fear of (another) god into the member. But remember, if you have the courage to walk away and seek God on your own until you find your footing, they are diminished- both in numbers and power. That is their greatest fear..not God, but losing members, power and money.

Stand up and walk out. The only thing that awaits you out in the world is Jesus. He told us many times over that fear is useless and what is needed is faith. Fear not for I am with you always! Now that is the best news possible for an abused, scared, tired member who has done their best to "live God's way", (whatever that means) and thinks they have failed. The only failure would be not seeing that you are being used, abused and led to eternal death. You can do this! Get out and find the love, peace and joy that comes from being born again in Christ!

DW said...

I forgot to mention, that cartoon minister looks exactly like Gerald Flurry..minus the goatee! And the rubber ducky!

Tonto said...

Every movement of men use fear and greed for motivators. In fact "fear and greed" is used in virtually every form of marketing for all manner of products , politics and orgs.

Death is a really great fear motivator, and ETERNAL DEATH even more so. Even the "Climate Change" folks push the "we are all going to die" unless you submit to our agenda button.

Eternal life with power, status, and a crown (greed), or Eternal Death, with no remembrance by anyone and "gnashing of teeth".

Anonymous said...

What I've found interesting over the years is that there are those who feel that people who write letters such as that one to ESN have falsely or disingenuously bought into and misapplied all of the descriptives of the cult phenomenon to "the Church of God", totally missing the truthfulness of that application. It goes over their heads completely. They deny that that has been their experience, even though the horrors and abuses have been so thoroughly documented by so many others. Those are people who have totally accepted their gaslighting.

Others acknowledge that there have been abuses, but they do not recognize the correlation between the doctrines and those abuses. They think the abuses are something which can be dealt with by reforming the church or getting rid of a few bad ministers. That's like believing that the stench can be removed from a steaming pile of #2!

Anonymous said...

Tonto bringing it. Thanks for your posts. I miss Byker Bob's entries also.

Anonymous said...

......perfect love casts out fear....1John 4:18

Anonymous said...

All of what was described brought back the horrible memories of my unfortunate and terrifying 13 years in Armstrongism, in the Worldwide Church of God.

Just as the author above did, I, too, learned of the church and inquired and read its literature. It seemed so obviously correct. There was a proof text (scripture) for every teaching and mandate. Unless I joined, because I now knew “the truth,” failure to properly act on it would bring my condemnation. I had no choice.

So, while seriously jeopardizing my marriage, for 13 long, arduous years I was a tithe-paying member of the Worldwide Church of God. Each Saturday I traveled many miles to the banquet hall to hear the pastor preach another sermon. Every single one of those approximately 700 sermons told me how I had failed in properly keeping The Law; that unless I repented and did things right, I was headed to the Lake of Fire. On the way to services, I feared what I was going to hear that week. On the way home I wept, bitterly. As always before, I had failed.

Never an encouraging, helpful word or phrase. Through that entire time I had to be aware that “ just three to five years...” all hell was to break lose and if I didn’t get my act together, I’d never be allowed to go to the “place of safety.” Of course, I knew that my wife and kids, who never became members or attended services, would then be “left behind.”

For me, and so many others, the Worldwide Church of God was a church only of fears and tears. Nothing more. At the start, for not being a member, I was condemned. Then, after being baptized and diligently attending and paying three tithes (plus special offerings), I felt even more condemned. I failed in every way to attain and demonstrate righteous behavior. Clearly, I fell short of every requisite Biblical command.

Then, the so-called apostasy of Joseph Tkach. I was released, to follow the teachings and requirements of Jesus of Nazareth, not of Herbert W Armstrong. I meekly returned to my Bible-believing and Bible-teaching Protestant church. There, I re-discovered and practiced the True Faith. There was an abundance of kind and encouraging words.

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
- John 6:40

I believe, I confess that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, was slain and was buried, and on the third day was resurrected. With his life, death, and resurrection, because my belief in Christ and those things he accomplished, I, with all other believers, are saved. Scripture does not lie; it is the Word of God. I no longer live in fear. No tears; only joy. Praise be to God.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, whatever happened to Bob?

Byker Bob said...

Nothing, 6:26 and 7:20. You just read some of them.


Anonymous said...

Fear ? No such thing. Only the godless ones would say that. Living in the past big time with this post NO2HWA.

Anonymous said...

Gerald Waterhouse teaching members to say "yes, sir" to the boss is a restatement of HWAs "government is everything" teaching. This is like the Pharisees "the Sabbath is everything" belief when they criticized Christ for healing on the Sabbath. HWA put government before human life itself, making it a false god.
Btw, Gerald Waterhouse hardly said "yes sir" to God with his gay lifestyle. Typical minister hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Fear of what man says, Nah but a spiritual healthy fear(awe and respect) for God is right. We are also warned to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Phil.2:12 God will do the rest and give it not fear mongers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:45 quoted Phil 2:12, "work out your own salvation..." My understanding is that the salvation referred to is not salvation from the penalty of sin, which Jesus took care of, but salvation from the power of sin. IOW growing in Christian maturity. In time, we will be saved from the presence of sin. Three aspects of salvation, past, present and future.

Retired Prof said...

Anon 6:26 and 7:20, you (and others) must be relieved to know that BB is still sharing his wisdom with us. I have been enjoying his comments all along. I often recognized them when his favorite topics showed up in a well-written comment. No doubt I failed to recognize many as his, because there are other writers here whose style is just as good and whose ideas are equally reasonable. So I merely relax and read everyone's comments for their style and substance, without worrying too much about the author's identity.

On Internet forums, there seem to always be trolls lurking, ready to pounce out and start a pissing match. If we keep our attention on ideas instead of personalities, we can minimize their disruptions.

Byker Bob said...

"If we keep our attention on ideas instead of personalities, we can minimize their disruptions."

You nailed it, Professor! Ultimately, the trolls made my name into a distraction. This showed no sign of being a temporary thing, either. So, I went underground. Seems like it's much better this way.

Thanks so much! I enjoy your wisdom, wit, and comments as well.


Anonymous said...

Yay! Do my eyes deceive me? Biker Bob is back?! It’s been too long!

Anonymous said...

Tonto 4:45 seems like we’re surrounded by cults more by the day from the covid cult with its mandatory vaccines and boosters; to the climate change cult with its penalizing all users of non-“green” forms of energy; the cancel culture cult that censors everyone that they disagree with; the lgtbq cult; etc it never ends! I feel all this “diversity is our strength” mantra is actually leading to more divisions (“us vs them”) and ultimately more weakness that in turn will lead to the ever poorer, sick and ignorant people pleading to Big Government to save them when in truth it’s Big Government that’s the mother of these cults that’s been using money and power to indoctrinate the people into its own heretical cultish belief systems all for the purpose of subduing them.