Saturday, October 14, 2023

Rediscovering Our Intellectual Curiosity and Critical Thinking Skills


Rediscovering Our Intellectual Curiosity and Critical Thinking Skills

Lonnie Hendrix

One of the great ironies of having once been a part of Armstrongism is the loss and/or distortion of two of the things that allowed us to entertain Herbert Armstrong’s teachings in the first place. I am, of course, speaking of our intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills.

In an article for Psychology Today, Dr Michael Austin defined intellectual curiosity as “a deep and persistent desire to know.” He went on to say that an intellectually curious person pursues the “why” questions. Remember how those old Worldwide Church of God booklets with questions as titles first grabbed your attention and instilled a desire to want to know the answers to the questions they posed?

Likewise, it was the employment of some of our critical thinking skills which first allowed us to entertain the answers that Mr. Armstrong was selling. In Coursera’s article What Are Critical Thinking Skills and Why Are They Important?, C.T. is defined as “the ability to interpret, evaluate, and analyze facts and information that are available, to form a judgment or decide if something is right or wrong.” In his writings, Herbert Armstrong invited us to employ some of our critical thinking skills. He asked us to identify the biases and prejudices of traditional Christianity. He invited us to research the topic from the pages of our own Bibles. He encouraged us to be open to God’s “truth.” Mr. Armstrong also encouraged us to meditate on what he (or the Bible) was teaching us about some subject (analysis and problem-solving).

The problem was that Mr. Armstrong offered us a destination – a place to park our intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills. After all, once we had discovered “THE TRUTH,” there was no longer any reason to be curious or use those critical thinking skills! Indeed, according to Herbert Armstrong, if we continued to explore and employ those skills, we might lose the truth which we had discovered. In fact, after we were hooked, Mr. Armstrong encouraged us to become binary thinkers!

According to LifeHack’s Clay Drinker, binary thinking “is thinking there are two sides, and you can only pick one. Also known as dichotomous thinking, this way of thinking becomes simple for us to process complex ideas and situations. The gray area in the middle of these complex issues is often ignored or goes unnoticed.” This is also sometimes referred to as black and white thinking. With Mr. Armstrong, everything was either or. He was the master of the false dilemma. Things were either Holy or Pagan, clean or unclean, good or evil, true or false! When we think about it, the problems inherent with this kind of thinking become readily apparent. Once again, Drinker informs us that “The problem with binary thinking is its inaccuracy. Gray areas do exist and are prominent in every issue. It may make us feel better to think about this or that, them or us, him or her, but it’s not how the world works.”

So, how do we recover what was lost? How do we recover our intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills? My guess is that, like most of us who contribute to this blog, Mr. Armstrong never completely succeeded in suppressing your curiosity or eradicating your critical thinking skills. In other words, they’re probably still there – bruised and buried in your subconscious. Hence, you only need to reawaken them – start exercising those dormant muscles – and allow yourself to begin once again exploring Scripture and the world around you! You have to give yourself permission to listen to other people and their ideas. You have to allow yourself to explore writings outside of the books and booklets promulgated by Armstrong and his disciples.

Also, you have to work on the biases/prejudices which Herbert Armstrong instilled within you concerning science, history, and education. In other words, it’s not just about beginning to research topics again – you must also learn that some sources of information are superior to others. In short, you must learn again to recognize that other folks also have their biases and prejudices which they bring to the table for discussion. And, most importantly of all, you need to acknowledge that you may be wrong about some things – that you may not have all of the answers to all of the questions!

Likewise, on the spiritual side of your journey, you will need to acknowledge that we currently see through a glass darkly – that God’s Holy Spirit doesn’t make you (or anyone else) infallible in matters of faith. Allow yourself to entertain the ideas of the folks who have devoted their lives to the study of Scripture. Biblical criticism is NOT a bad thing! It can be an extremely helpful tool in better understanding the Bible. Allow yourself to explore the textual, philological, and literary criticisms of the scholars. You don’t have to swallow everything they write hook, line, and sinker (indeed, you shouldn’t), but you should recognize that it is possible that they have something to contribute to your understanding of Scripture. And, finally, we must all remember that we should continue to grow in grace and knowledge for as long as we are breathing and cognitively able to do so! Best wishes and blessings on your journey!

Restored Church of God Exit Letter: Karl Doherty


RCG Exit Letter: Karl Doherty

August 30, 2023


Greetings Mr. Wulphert de Graaf,

            I hope you are doing well. I would very much like to thank you for seeing me in person and taking the time to counsel and reason with me about my concerns at such short notice after returning from your trip.

            However, I am deeply saddened and disappointed in making the decision to send you this letter with a heavy heart. This is regarding the multiple failed dates for the coming Kingdom of God given by Mr. David C. Pack. I mentioned other past organisations, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, and Mormons, who failed in setting dates for the return of Jesus Christ, and Mr. David C. Pack has followed suit. He has put himself under such immense pressure to get prophecy right and finally complete the Mystery of God. But he has done none of these things.

            After much time and thought, since nothing has come to pass, I can no longer continue as a member of The Restored Church of God and have, therefore, withdrawn myself. (1 Timothy 6:5)



            I was baptised and became a member of The Restored Church of God on the 9th of October 2020, during the Feast of Tabernacles, after proving the ‘one true’ Church of God from the RCG’s literature and sermons. It was a wonderful time to finally be called and be connected to the body of Christ with those of like mind. On the first day of that 2020 Feast, Mr. David C. Pack stated in Part 269 of The Greatest Untold Story! @1:25:19 “… you’re not going back to your home. You saw it for the last time.”

            So, none of the brethren would be going home due to the return of Jesus Christ? While sharing my fearful excitement with other brethren, I said, “Wow! So I’m not going home then?” Well, The Last Great Day passed by. As did December 24th/25th. Then, also the Roman New Year’s Eve Festival at the end of 2020. (I even sent a short “thank you" email for all his hard work leading the church). I recently learned about the “2019 Night Watch" that the brethren experienced where nothing happened.


            I got on board The Greatest Untold Story! (TGUS) series train at station 256, and here we are in August 2023, and we are passing 464 and have still not reached our destination. Or anywhere close to it. In fact, we are on an interlocked, ever-shrinking circular track as the date settings are repeating with no sign of stopping. My only option is to jump off, knowing that the game is up. I am still uncertain where and how I’m going to land, but the Bible shows me I cannot stay. I am leaving the corporation of The Restored Church of God (Amos 3:3), but not the belief in or the following of the truth.



            I love and care very much for my brothers and sisters in Christ whom I have met in The Restored Church of God. The fellowship, kindness, the giving and serving attitude, and the friendships made with those who appear to be for the truth and for each other who try their best to honour and obey God and keep His commandments. I feel it for those who have invested many years with a fervent commitment to The Restored Church of God.

            I heard about a congregation in Canada whose faith and freewill were compromised because they felt the need to sacrifice themselves for the brethren. They were under severe pressure from the ministry to take the COVID-19 vaccine so they could assemble on the Sabbath and/or attend the Ministerial Conference; otherwise, they would have been 'put out' … or even fired from the church!

            Since 2022 alone, there have been 50+ dates set by Mr. David C. Pack that have not come to pass for the return of something or other. (I still remember the unsettling impact of these date settings on a former member here in the UK, who was so convinced all day during a Church Social that Jesus would walk through the door at any moment.)

            It has become apparent that the brethren I associate with are no longer “on fire” or full of joyful, fearful excitement. Instead, on display is a reserved “hope” by hanging on, waiting patiently for yet another disappointment. This results from too many “prophetic speculation failures” that cause more and more confusion than clarity. Additionally, the self-professed titles of Apostle, The Elijah, That Prophet, Joshua the high priest, the Seventh Angel/Messenger, the Goodman of the House, etc., continue to expand.

            Whether or not Mr. David C. Pack is a prophet or Elijah seems to randomly come and go only to resurface in a surprise reprise somewhere along the “still right on track” series.

            The idea of the “present truth” (already established to be remembered in 2 Peter 1:12) is presented as a “shape-shifter” that just will not settle or be “pinned down” and should be more thought of as the “present understanding” of an idea in prophecy that is unstable as water in whatever supposed moment in time. 

            One major recent example is in TGUS Part 453 @43:39, where Mr. David C. Pack said, “…once that month just went poof, for the fiction it was, the sixth king just jumped to the fore. You won’t have any doubt.” @1:16:54 "You better hope it's Putin, or we have years to go! You better fervently hope it's Putin! There’s no chance it’s anybody else, ‘cause until somebody else is here, until some alternative arrives, who’s gonna be bigger than what I’m about to tell you. It’s that man and no doubt.” @1:24:54 “What alternative is there? I know it’s him. Everything lines up.” @1:30:13 "So this is all faith-building. If your faith didn't grow as a result of hearing this sermon, then there's something wrong. You should be on fire and excited! You should be Wow! We're there! … You're seeing prophecy being fulfilled! ... It’s impossible it’s anybody else.”

            He names Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin as the sixth head/king of Revelation 17:10 ‘…and one is.’

            Fast-forward to Part 461 @1:35:00, where he totally dismisses the idea after having presented all his evidence in a suspenseful way to the brethren. He just brushed it off like it was nothing but a speck of dust–what an utter mess-a-round! "...tossed to and fro, and carried about..." (Ephesians 4:14)



            The false prophetic date-setting cycle reminds me of a stereotypical shopper who has tried on every single pair of shoes in every store in town only to conclude by saying, "What about the first pair I tried on?" 

            The Jamaican proverb: “You can’t plant peas and expect corn” comes to mind.

            I do not believe that a single minister can offer a clear explanation with an understanding of the ever-changing prophecy teachings as delivered by Mr. David C. Pack. He puts endless possible scenarios before us where nothing that was “absolute," or “inarguable," or “impossible to refute," or “cleared up and made plain” has happened. Not a single one, Mr. de Graaf.

            Regrettably, what has become clear is that Mr. David C. Pack is caught up in a personal “prediction addiction” and knows he cannot cease. He sometimes implies the brethren are deeply involved in the prophetic process by using the collective term “we," especially when it goes pear-shaped. When it is actually he alone, the self-professed prophet and apostle setting dates that do not come to pass.



            Okay, so there have been some “golden nuggets” and mistranslation discoveries, which are helpful. But these do not excuse the multiple date-setting failures that quite simply mean, according to the word of the Eternal God, that Mr. David C. Pack is a false prophet who speaks presumptuously and takes the Lord's name in vain. “On God’s authority…”and therefore, not sent by God.

            The brethren of the Restored Church of God have been counselled by the ministry from the lectern: “…our job is to simply believe it.” That quote came from the sermon "Blessings – God’s Quid Pro Quo” by Mr. Edward Winkfield in December 2019 @ 45:15.

            Whatever happened to “Prove all things” and study the Bible for yourself? Mr. Edward Winkfield is also the minister who told the church, "That is for the ministry.”

            Even Mr. David C. Pack in TGUS Part 396 @ 1:49:05 firmly said, “All you gotta do is sit there and shut up and learn.”  Remember the old church mantra: “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible”?

            Other ministers also prop up the GUS series and continue to elevate Mr. David C. Pack. Some are subtler than others, while more recently and frequently are grafting it into their sermons about Christian Living.


Acts 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.


            Alarm bells, anyone? Or at least, confused enough to even think of the possibility that something’s just not right?Maybe some are privately concerned, but it is not common knowledge or openly shared amongst the brethren.

            So I ask, has an apostasy developed within the Restored Church of God because, for years, there have been date-setting failures for the return of The Kingdom of God (which becomes evident only when you are a member), and is this a little more than the church simply going “off track” while being deceptively reminded that “we’re still right on track”? 

            Did it begin with the GUS series, aka “The Prophesy Series," or even earlier… who knows?



How can any man proclaim to know what Jesus Christ Himself did not know?


Mark 13:32-33 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.


Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.


Mr. David C. Pack recently described setting dates as “particularly arrogant” but has continued anyway. He has been heart-to-heart with the church, saying he has felt “uncomfortable” even giving the year. Somehow, that is not enough to get him to stop doing so.


Deuteronomy 18:20-22 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.


Mr. de Graaf, please have a listen to some of Mr. David C. Pack's sermon excerpts with the times given:


            Hold Fast at All Costs – January 1998 @52:45

                        “You shall not know what hour I shall come upon you."


            Angels and Demons (Part 3) – December 2002 @1:09:03


            Germany in Prophecy (Part 1) – August 2000 @17:07

                        “The first and most basic rule of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19-21)


            Understanding Signs, Wonders, and Miracles True and False! (Part 2) – December 2005  @19:34


            The Great Shepherds Voice – May 1999 @23:44


    21st Century Apostle (Part 1) – February 2005 @20:36 / @43:11 / @58:51 / @1:50:04                                                @2:07:54


            21st Century Apostle (Part 2) – February 2005 @10:00

                        “They would know, God and Christ would know that I would conclude

                        and know that I am not a prophet."

                        @46:52 "And I'm no prophet."

                        @1:16:07 / @1:17:24 / @1:27:39 / @1:39:17 / @2:06:22


            30 Reasons to Follow the Truth (Part 1) @06:14 / @39:24 / @45:07 / @1:07:10 / @1:11:52 

                        @1:19:50 (1 Kings 18:21)


            Another 30 Reasons to Follow the Truth (Part 2) @00:00 / @02:31 / @12:58 / @26:10

                        @33:38 / @1:15:34 / @1:18:49 / @1:24:21  


            Final 30 Reasons to Follow the Truth (Part 3) @00:06 “…why you should follow the truth,

                        even if that means leaving the organisation you are part of behind.”

                        @17:09 / @1:24:00 / @1:29:47—This was a recorded quote by Mr. Armstrong.


            TGUS Part 447 @2:02:25

                        “I’m not called to give you a date… I never heard any of the original prophets call out a  date! None of them ever did! They called out what God was gonna do. Surely, God will do nothing, but he reveals it to His servants, the prophets. Now, the fact that he’s revealing this to me, I have to be a prophet. Ephesians 3:5 says it. 2nd Peter 1:20-21. You can’t reveal these things to a prophet and maybe a bunch of prophets or at least two more if they’re in the room. I have to be Elijah now!”


            TGUS Part 450 @10:49

                        “ … could you go another year? … You could never ever, ever move me from believing

                        The Kingdom of God is not Av 1.”


Numbers 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.


Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?


Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.


Please review The Good News article from May 1979, “Beware of False Prophets” by Robert E. Fahey for more study on the subject.


Jeremiah 23:11-12 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.


Jeremiah 23:16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.


Jeremiah 23:20-22 The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, 


Jeremiah 23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;


Jeremiah 23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.


Ezekiel 13:3 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!


Ezekiel 13:6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.


Jeremiah 29:9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.


The Real Truth article from September 2016, How to Spot a False Prophet, by Mr. Samuel Baxter, gives no guidance to look up the scriptural references in Deuteronomy 18:20–22 or Jeremiah 29:9. How can the church write an article about false prophets and not reference such important verses?



And so then, if not sent… Mr. David C. Pack cannot be an Apostle of Jesus Christ.


Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:


Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;


Romans 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.


Hebrews 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:


1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.


            In Part 447 of TGUS @1:20:05 and 1:24:02, the notion that in Daniel 9:24, we are to anoint the most Holy is very disturbing. This term only refers to devoted places or things such as the Holy of Holies and sacrifices. Read Exodus 26:33, 30:36, and Leviticus 10:17. The most Holy is never a person—see Bullinger’s Companion Bible & Daniel 9 appendix.

            Mr. David C. Pack attributes most Holy to God, The Father, who is The Most High (The Holy One of Israel). This is not plausible and is utterly false. The Most High is not the most Holy. God is never called the most Holy in the entire Bible. Can anyone in the ministry explain how what Mr. David C. Pack said is true?



How is “Common” tied directly to salvation?


            “Common” in The Restored Church of God has been wrongly applied, misused, abused, and should really be shared towards the needs of the brethren to help each other and the poor amongst them. It was an example of freewill offerings at the beginning of the Church of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. It was not a permanently commanded doctrine from God to “sell all…so, why not gain eternal life with it?” (TGUS Part 378 @30:57). It sounds just like that old serpentine Roman Catholic salvation doctrine.


Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.


Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.


Acts 4:34-35 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 


You cannot find in any verses how Common is commanded by God or is a requirement for salvation. I have heard some brethren are so willing to sacrifice that they harmed themselves financially for fear of being cast into the Lake of Fire. Mr. David C. Pack spoke urgently last Pentecost about giving Common before it was too late. Over a year later, what was that Common used for?

2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.



Where is the accountability?


            A recent sermon in August 2023, “Integrity” by Mr. Carl Houk, was most enlightening. He stated that the one thing his own father hated more than anything else was lies. Integrity means honesty and trustworthiness, which are attributes of God. The glue that holds honesty and trust together is accountability. No accountability breaks down honesty and trustworthiness.

            This should apply to all God's servants equally, not just the lay members. It is clear that Mr. David C. Pack is not held accountable by anyone at Headquarters. Continuing without any fear of the consequences has surely been detrimental to the whole church.



In his own words. Matthew 12:37


The most stunning yet powerful eye-opener for me was reading the book, Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? The Rise Of False Prophets. In his own words, Mr. David C. Pack judges himself as a false prophet. He exposes himself in his own literature coupled with select moments from the TGUS series.


"If someone follows a false prophet or a false Christ, he is already terribly deceived.” (p.35)


“Do not let a deceiver twist basic scripture into a tangled ball, making them appear to say what they do not!” (p.39)


“Over time, Saul became a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” One moment, he would be warm, friendly, charming, and David's best friend, and seconds later, a raging murderer seeking to kill David. Be careful if what is being described is a pattern visible in your leader. It is not of God.” (p.46)


“Another characteristic of false prophets is that few or none of their prophecies ever come to pass.” (p.47)


“If a prophet is sent by God, every one of his prophecies will always be PERFECTLY accurate – no exceptions!” (p.48)


“Typically, false prophets claim that they are getting ‘more and more insight.’” (p.51)


“These deceivers always seem to find new ways to elevate themselves to greater offices and roles! Declaring oneself to hold the second-highest New Testament office - PROPHET – is, in itself, a huge self-elevation. But it rarely stops there.” (p.51)


"They want their followers to be afraid to talk to 'outsiders.' These false leaders know that knowledge dispensed outside their control is a threat to their ability to retain control." (p.56)




The following incomplete lists of removed sermons and literature are no longer available in Member Services or the RCG public website.


Removed sermons:

            The 1,335 Days—What Most Will Never Hear (Prophesy Series #23, Event 18)

            The Clarion Call—The Time is Now!

            The 144,000 (Parts 1-4)

            The Place of Safety (Parts 1-2)

            Where The Vultures Gather

            The 1335 Days of The Son of Man (Parts 1-8)

            Understanding The Original Elijah

            Synagogue of Satan Identified & Marked!

            First a MOSES, Now ELIJAH—130 Proofs! (Parts 1-3)

  The Greatest Story Never Told! (Parts 1-30)

            The Greatest Untold Story! (Parts 309-313)


Removed books:

            I Will Send Elijah To Restore All Things

            Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? The Rise Of False Prophets

            Herbert W. Armstrong – His Life In Proper Perspective

            The Bible’s Greatest Prophecies Unlocked!—A Voice Cries Out

            The Bible’s Difficult Scriptures Explained!



“But it is ultimately the responsibility of God’s people to discern the difference between true and false apostles. More false leaders will rise in the future to make this claim.” (p.52)


I only have one choice.


            Finally, Mr. de Graaf and my dear brethren, let me say that I have no regrets being a cheerful giver as I believe that what I give is given to God.

            I hold no animosity toward Mr. David C. Pack, the ministry, or its members. But as TGUS continues full steam ahead on its current trajectory, this RCG ship is going down with its captain and crew. God has been removing his financial blessings, and the recent mention in TGUS Part 461 @1:38:05 of “major cuts” is proof.

            I hope God intervenes and that bold, faithful men, moved by the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ, stand up against heresy and reason one-on-one. I hope that as two or three bold witnesses, they straighten out all that is crooked at Headquarters with the full love of the truth and outgoing concern for others. They will do so IF they are indeed shepherds and not just hirelings. Mr. Bradford Schleifer is in the best position to address this matter but has been complacent, which adds to my disappointment.

            I am not leaving The Restored Church of God because I am impatient for the Kingdom of God or hold a “this is taking too long” attitude. I am not leaving because I do not want to continue to follow God’s Commandments or Government, wherein everyone undoubtedly falls short.

            I have simply come to the realisation that I have been bamboozled… and not for the first time. “Twice bitten, thrice shy.”

            May God’s mighty Holy Spirit comfort, strengthen, and guide us forward in the assured hope of the return of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God to rule on His earth “in truth and in righteousness” forever.

            I hereby resign as a member of The Restored Church of God.


            Warm regards,

            Karl Doherty


P.S.—You may wish to keep in contact as I believe we have made a good friendship. On the other hand, if you prefer not to do so or even later change your mind, I will respect your decision.

(courtesy of Marc Cebrian)