FEAR IS A TOOL
As a reader one thing anyone can learn from reading from a wide range of sources, is that no matter what you say, there are always those who will differ. This is natural and what a dull world if every human being thought exactly alike. I have read on the websites of many who have the belief that "the Bible is infallible and inerrant" and is "totally inspired by God." The "Holy" books of all the religions of the world are in fact the primary source and foundation that have fueled a world of division, antagonism, elitism and a host of other human problems. I suppose if we had been born on Mars and it was inhabitable and we were brought up believing in a book called "The Writings", which was a collection of writings from "prophets" and "prophetesses" of other inhabitable planets and which found their way to Mars, then that is what the common people would accept as "truth." In that book of "The Writings", it may say "all these writings are given by inspiration of God" and that would seal it for many who would forever believe that indeed God was the author.
The world is full of theologians, "scholars" and believers in the Bible, who think the Bible itself "proves" that it is the word of God. If indeed God is not the author of confusion, you have to scratch your head and wonder how the world is so divided into so many different interpretations of the Bible and thus innumerable churches and major religious beliefs. The general excuse is "well those who don't believe as we do, just don't understand the Bible." Yeah sure! Some people have been highly offended when I told them that the church world is full of Bible worshipers, who think the Bible is God. They always have a retort to "God is not the Bible and the Bible is not God." God is not ink on paper, but not only do millions of churchians seem to think so, but so also do other religious groups who think their "Holy" books are God also. Religious minded people love to quote passages from their "sacred" writings, which is their source that supposedly validates what they believe.
As far as the Worldwide Church of God and its offspring are concerned, their view of the Bible is peculiar to the interpretation of Herbert and their leaders. This is of course true of all groups and no one is convinced that anything that differs with their views is acceptable. I have emailed several splinter groups or their representatives in the past and expressed a few views, and the general reply is silence, but also a time or two---hostility. People simply do not want their comfort zone rocked. I agree that it is unsettling to be told that the Saturday Sabbath has nothing to do with salvation or eternal life, or material blessings for observing it, if you have been indoctrinated that it is paramount.
Most people have had the idea of Bible infallibility so pounded into their thinking for so many years, that to even entertain that their "Holy" book is full of holes is unthinkable. To question or challenge the Bible is tantamount to questioning God Himself and so to them, it is off limits. In the Old Testament anyone who picked up sticks on the Sabbath was to be put to death, and no one who can reason would believe that this represents the God of love, portrayed by Jesus Christ. And yet millions say "the Bible is totally inspired by God." Surely something is intrinsically wrong with a book that is the foundational source that causes some people to believe that they have rights to your property by force, or that they can kill the men and women and children in conquest and save the virgins for themselves. Writings that purport to enslave people to rulers of men, must have been penned by aliens, but not by God. Giving a priest class of people "right" to your pocketbook, because they represent God on earth is far fetched. The clergy class of "professional" Bible-thumpers are naturally ecstatic, because they can pick out passages in "The Writings" that give them status and free money at your expense.
I wonder how many more thousands of years will pass before people the world over come to their senses about "The Writings?" We know instinctively the basics of right and wrong without having to read it in ink on paper, scrolls or on papyrus. Don't we all know that it is wrong to murder your next door neighbor? Do we need a "licensed" preacher to stand in a pulpit and tell us this? Who were all these dead men, who penned "The Writings" and attributed them to God? Were they LYING SCRIBES with an agenda to control the world and pocket a treasure chest full of coins, compliments of their sheep-like followers? How do "The Writings" identify the splinter groups of the WWCG as the "one and only true church of God" on earth? I guess some people believe in magic.
There is no "pastor" who identifies himself or herself with that label, who does not seek personal followers. Some "pastors" are very successful at gathering a great crowd of people at their feet. We live in the age of the mega-church and there are many of them. Herbert W. Armstrong was among those who amassed a considerable number of human sheep. The front put forth to the world and the public is always the same, which is to "preach the Gospel" to the world. Without personal followers no "pastor" (unless independently wealthy), could ever build a church building, a "Christian" school, a "Christian" college or fund ministerial homes, luxuries, jet airplanes, trips around the world, glossy magazines and so forth.
Although always hotly denied the real basis for churchianity is money. Most likely the world of churches will never disappear from life on earth. Most all parents will forever teach their children to believe as they do in
regard to religious beliefs and so the many belief systems perpetuate endlessly. The Mormon Church has staggering wealth, as does the Roman Catholic Church. The Worldwide Church of God during the life time of Herbert W. Armstrong, although nothing to sneeze at in terms of their bank vault, paled into insignificance compared to the Mormon and Catholic churches and even the Jehovah Witnesses. The Southern Baptist Conference and other groups are also vast religious empires. In fact the combined wealth of all the churches together is nothing short of countless billions in assets and revenues. Was God/Jesus Christ ever really just a business enterprise? Apparently those who founded churchianity think so, as do those who perpetuate this vast money making industry.
Why do men and women aspire to wanting to be "ordained?" In my opinion it is because of human vanity. People love to be thought of as being "important", "special", "above others" and "gifted" more than "common" people. I have a friend I have known for many years, who was "ordained" and although he has no following or church, he refers to himself as "Reverend _____." He has learned that by using the term "reverend", he often receives favors from other people, who deem him as "special." It is sheer vanity and fraud on his part, and in my opinion borders on blasphemy. My sister-in-law and my brother-in-law use to attend a very large Baptist Church in a major city and when the older "Senior Pastor", retired, they imported another preacher from clear across the country. The new "pastor" was so vain and haughty that our in-laws, took an exit. The man was intolerable. Young people often run off to "Bible College" thinking they want to "serve" others, and what it really turns out to be is that they become self-serving, at the expense of the tithe payers.
Many churches now have "Youth Pastors", "Children's Pastors", "Music or Worship Pastors" and every type of "pastor" coming and going that are supposed to serve the "needs" of others. When my two daughters were teenagers, long ago they were bossed around by the youth pastor of the church we attended, and I had a few choice words with this man, that my children were not his property and that he was not their parent. When the "Christian" school my daughters attended, gave the students so much home work that they had to stay up until midnight or later with "homework", I knew then that we were being robbed of our own family time and so we pulled our daughters out and home schooled them. Many churches think they are God to those who attend and to their children.
I can't really say that everything about church life is totally bad and that is because human beings are social creatures and they are able to have good times, in spite of the control and financial drain upon their pocket books. I can remember we use to have volleyball teams at Ambassador College and as employees we had great fun playing that sport. We attended concerts, had beach outings, campouts and did some fun things. We had some good friends and many good times at Shakey's Pizza, which included a crowd of our people, guzzling mugs of beer. We all learned from those experiences. Some of us simply could not endure the authoritarian hierarchy, the "God-status" of the self-appointed "pastor-kings" or their endless rants and so took an out, never to return.
I still know people that I went to church with many years ago, who still dutifully attend church services every weekend, pay their tithes and seem to be clueless. Some of us just don't understand how these people think. Every pastor of every church will defend himself and his church tenaciously. I have no doubt that many pastors are very sincere and zealous about their beliefs, but sincerity and zeal does not necessarily spell "truth." People can be sincerely wrong. For many church goers, those of us who use to attend and now do not, seem to have "spiritual leprosy." Not all church goers have the same attitude, because some will be friendly and ask no questions, while others treat you as if you have a contagious disease. I have even found that atheists are generally thinkers, where the clueless sheeplike church attenders are not. I have read a great deal from atheists and believe there are many legitimate issues. Some atheists are friendly and likeable and some are hostile and drive people away. I have no problem having friendship with people who present themselves with a humble attitude, no matter what they believe. I have a friend who grew up in India, although lives in Canada and he is Caucasian and he leans toward Buddhism. We have some things in common aside from religious beliefs.
Churches will always deny that they exist as business enterprises for the purpose of money, but men have always loved control and power over their fellow human beings, and like all human governments, churches are tools of control and free money. Churches treat their members as if they are nursing infants and must be bottle fed for life. Those who sit in pews are insulted as if they are mere spiritual children and must be taught what to think and what to do and what to believe, because without their human "Pastor-God", they cannot function.
Is there an optional way to live and learn without being dominated by men and women who stand in pulpits and think they have a "right" to your pocketbook?
I confess that there are so many issues about life on earth that make no sense, that it leaves me frustrated. Sure, for those of us who experienced years of the Worldwide Church of God, we learned what truth is not.
We know that religious hierarchy stinks. We know that men who stand in pulpits and pretend to represent God are far off base. We know that tithing is a very false doctrine. We know that many have made prophecies about the future and were very wrong. We have learned that charismatic personalities can often persuade the gullible and naive. We have learned that FEAR and GUILT are tools of control. We have learned that the Bible is NOT infallible and inerrant, and that it is interpreted in as many different ways as there are specks of sand upon the seashores. We have learned that anyone can potentially be caught up in cult groups and man-made religious beliefs.
Beyond all that, when we read that "they shall lay hands upon the sick and they shall recover", it does not always happen and even in most cases does not. I have yet to see a paralyzed human being healed instantaneously, or a paraplegic restored and I have prayed for both categories of such people. I have been in a nursing home where some human beings are nothing more than physical and or mental vegetables, and all the prayers never had any result that was positive. I have been to two Benny Hinn "Healing Crusades" and have witnessed first hand the emotional impact such events have upon thousands of human beings in attendance. I have read many books by the most famous "healing evangelists" or preachers known to man, such as Kathryn Kuhlman, Smith Wigglesworth, Oral Roberts, John G. Lake and others. I even attended an Oral Roberts "healing crusade" in Amarillo, Texas as a young child and was overwhelmed with what I saw and experienced.
Once, some years ago my wife and I traveled to a church to hear a man who proclaimed that he had "raised" something like 14-people from the "dead" in Mexico, in his personal ministry and over a period of years. During his talk, we were all spell-bound with what he had to say, and during the service, in through the doors came a family rolling a man in serious condition (Lou Gehrig's Disease, as we learned) on a hospital bed. Naturally we expected a "miracle", because after all, here was the man standing in the pulpit who "raised people from the dead." After the service, the guest minister was ushered over to the bedside of this man who was at death's door, and nothing happened. The sick man went out the same way he came in. Our disappointment was deep.
Once, my wife and I attended a service at a church where the guest speaker and his wife, had a "healing" ministry, where people supposedly had their teeth filled with "gold" where their cavities were. The guest minister asked that anyone who wanted gold fillings to come forward, and a friend of mine and myself, along with others went forward. The "minister" looked in our mouths with a flashlight and literally said "I see nothing but gold." In our gullibility of course we thought that our fillings had been turned to gold. When we went home and looked in the mirror, there was no gold. Naturally our disappointment was enormous and such an experience only added to our loss of faith and confidence in the clergy class of people.
In my personal life, I have experienced church beyond the Worldwide Church of God. My personal church life includes charismatic, pentecostal, baptist and other groups and even including what is called "house church", which is not controlled by any church organization. In many organized churches they have what is called "cell groups", which I have also been a part of in years past. Ultimately my wife and I came to the conclusion that 100% of all organized churches are man-made institutions and having nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Admittedly Jesus Christ has NEVER approached me personally, in a visible and physical form and spoken to me, so much as one word and yet I still believe in Jesus Christ.
In spite of all the negative church experiences, Jesus makes sense to my reason. I will never embrace atheism. I concede that what is called the "Bible" is full of myth, legend, human fabrication and yet it is astonishingly the most read "book" in the world, and argued over more than any other writings in human experience. In fact the "Holy" books of the major religions of the world are to my thinking the reason for so many problems in human life.
Indeed God is a mystery and I have never found a satisfactory answer to human suffering. I have never known anyone who has not suffered in human life. Suffering is both physical and mental and life is overwhelming at times. Who can comprehend why there are tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and what we all call "natural" disasters? Who can comprehend why humans can be so intelligent and genius and at the same time so stupid as to be idiots, which to my thinking is what all wars are---insane? Why can't life be for positive and constructive purposes instead of idiot and never ending wars of death and destruction? Why sickness and disease and mental anguish and torment?
The only conclusion that I have been able to come to is that "the wisdom of God is greater than the lack of understanding of human beings." As far as what happens after the death of the body, no one has a clue, other than what we all read in ink on paper, which is nothing more than human say so. Atheism offers no hope. If there were no hope of life beyond the physical human realm, then human life is to my thinking without meaning and purpose. What makes sense about Jesus to my reason is that He taught "love your neighbor as you love yourself", "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", "blessed are the peacemakers", "blessed are the meek" and so forth. In essence what Jesus taught in one word is LOVE. Anything attributed to Jesus that would appear to contradict Himself, makes no sense and to me is very questionable as to its real source. As far as we all know Jesus Christ never penned anything and all that we know of Him is strictly based upon what men write.
We can choose to believe or we can choose not to believe. Strangely, no matter how we believe about God, it does not change the fact of His existence and if He does not exist, it does not change that reality.
Personally, I choose to believe.
In the world of religions, every group without exception lives within the walls and confines of the thinking of its founders and leaders. Every Bible college and every Bible correspondence course is tailored to the thinking of the author or authors of those institutions and study courses. Bible colleges are manufacturers of clones of their own making. There is a two fold purpose for Bible schools and this is to perpetuate their peculiar beliefs and $money. They are businesses that provide income to their existence and like a machine they make molds of their own teachings, which are rubber stamped in the young people who are caught in their web.
In the Worldwide Church of God, Ambassador College was the means to a never ending supply of Herbert W. Armstrong clones. Young people are very impressionable, pliable and like clay---moldable. Only those who are capable of independent thought and thinking, break out of the mold. Many live their entire lives within the confines of their programmed minds and thinking, while some eventually break free and run as fast as they can.
This is true not only of the Worldwide Church of God and its many splinter groups who live in religious cocoons, but it is true of all groups, including Mormons (Brigham Young University), Jehovah Witnesses (Watchtower Bible School of Gilead), Southern Baptist (many colleges), Seventh Day Adventist (Southern Adventist University), and the list is endless. Of course many "Bible" schools and colleges also offer liberal arts and studies in non-religious venues.
Every religious group wants to perpetuate itself and there is no greater means to do so than "Bible" colleges. In reality they are not "Bible" colleges, they are clone manufacturers of their own particular beliefs. Many young people aspire to position and influence over others and so hence off to "Bible school" they go to become "pastors" and "preachers" of "truth." What they really become are clones of how they have been indoctrinated to "think." Have you ever had two people knock on your door and attempt to persuade you to listen to them or read their Jehovah Witnesses material? Many have and I have also. I admit that these people are generally friendly, sincere and zealous, but at the same time they are NOT independent thinkers, they are parrots. They are programmed robots of Jehovah Witnesses indoctrination. I always feel sorry for the two young people that I have seen with white shirts and ties walking down the street, who are intent to proselytize anyone who will give them an ear to Mormonism.
Young people in general don't have the experience to discern, but with time you would think that as people become older they would become wise. Sad to say, many never become wise to the serpents, snakes and wolves in sheep's clothing who devour. Worldwide Church of God splinter groups are all led by clones of Herbert W. Armstrong and they are NOT "the Way, the Truth and the Life." There is NO mediator between God and man, aside from Jesus Christ, for those who still believe in Jesus Christ. Religious cocoons are not a new phenomenon and they have been in existence for a very long time. Public persuaders are often pretenders. Most likely the common factor as to why so many will follow these fake religious rulers is simply FEAR. However, God is NOT a monster. The "Bible" may portray God as a monster, but I would suggest that in fact the so called "Bible" so misrepresents and distorts the true character of God is so many parts, that it is the very reason so many have warped views of the true nature and character of the Creator of all life and the universe. No loving parent would act toward their own children the way the Bible portrays God as acting toward His own human creation, in many parts of it.
Splinter groups of the Worldwide Church of God, are living inside religious cocoons. In nature, cocoons break open and the butterfly or moth is set FREE.
As a former member of the Worldwide Church of God, during the lifetime of Herbert W. Armstrong, I can well remember that reading the literature or material of anyone outside of the "true church of God", was forbidden or discouraged. Herbert W. Armstrong would say "don't believe me, believe your Bible", but then the cult would tell its members not to listen to anyone other than their own church leaders. What motive would any religious leader or group have to censor alternative opinions, books, reading material or vocal lectures, unless there was FEAR that they might lose members to alternative possibilities? Living in a cult cocoon stifles the ability of anyone to learn that there is a vast world outside of the cocoon.
Many religious leaders, religious organizations and political groups hate FREEDOM of thought. Cult religious groups insist that they and they alone are the bearers of "truth." Even human governments live in perpetual FEAR of losing their power and control over the common people. Propaganda, disinformation and distortion, suppression, silence and twisting of facts and truth are common in the world in which we live. The Worldwide Church of God, was NOT the "Church of God", but was the brainchild of Herbert W. Armstrong. Herbert was a master deceiver. Herbert was a wolf in sheep's clothing. The religious and even the political world have always from the beginning of human existence, been potential deceivers.
How many members of Worldwide Church of God splinter groups, cower in fear that they might be found out, but who secretly read websites such as "Banned by HWA?" If any such reader is reading on these types of websites, let me encourage you that the world is vastly bigger and greater than any splinter group of the Worldwide Church of God can imagine. It is only when a human being steps outside of their comfort zone, that they come face to face with the FACT that there are possibilities about God, the Bible, life on earth and existence that are light-years beyond the confines of cult mentality. There are dimensions of thinking that will
leave a human being speechless, when anyone with a little courage "risks" learning beyond the censorship of the confines of self-appointed "ministers" of Worldwide Church of God splinter groups.
Life on earth DOES NOT revolve around Herbert W. Armstrong, anymore than it does any splinter group of the WWCG, or its self-appointed mediators who think they stand between God and their members. Censorship of views and perspectives that differ with "accepted" views is a tool of tyranny. I wonder if Herbert W. could come back from the grave, if he would admit that he was an abysmal failure as a "teacher" of what real truth is concerning God/Jesus Christ? Just think people, every single leader of every splinter group of the WWCG will eventually kiss the grave and return to dirt. If dead men could talk, I wonder if they would change their tune about their activities while they had their being?
Censorship is common in human life among the religious rulers, as much as it is common in the world of politics and other matters in human life. Anyone who differs with the status quo is naturally and automatically
demonized by those who do not want alternative views expressed. The primary tool used by those who censor, is to demonize, terrorize, ridicule, assassinate the character of opposition, cause fear, cause guilt, make people think that truth is evil, and belittle opposing views.
History is rife with examples of those who were burned at the stake, tortured and put to death for no other reason than that their expression of their own thoughts about issues engendered animosity from the "elite"
rulers who hated opposition. We all know that Jesus Christ was the greatest Whistleblower the world has ever known, and He exposed the religious frauds for what they were and are---WOLVES! BEWARE!!!
Years ago as a member of the original Worldwide Church of God, and as an employee for twelve years at Ambassador College in Pasadena, I can well remember Herbert W. stating that "I think I have the mind of God."
Human vanity in some human beings is enormous. Herbert thinking he had the mind of God, naturally was implying that only he had the mind of God. This was to imply that Herbert and God were on the same level,
same playing field and thought alike. Whatever Herbert did then, was God doing it, because God and Herbert were pals. Spending millions of dollars of tithe payers money on college buildings, jet airplanes, homes, mansions (for the ruling elite), traveling around the world and presenting $20,000 pieces of Steuben Crystal to "Royalty", was then an "act" of God, because God thought the "same" as Herbert W. Armstrong.
"I have the mind of God", so then no matter what Herbert W. Armstrong did, it was the mind of God. The world is overrun with religious groups founded by individuals with very colorful personalities, who see themselves as equal to God, and as representing God on earth to mankind. What is overwhelming is how the sheeple can be so hoodwinked into following these individuals. I also am guilty. I did it in my youth and in my lack of knowing.
I well remember how paranoid we were in the Worldwide Church of God, and any opposition was considered "persecution." I use to be one of the individuals who walked about the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena during the Sabbath church services with walkie talkie and watched the grounds. If anyone just innocently walked across the campus, he or she was viewed with suspicion, as if someone is "out to get us." Since there was more than one of us doing this, we would communicate via walkie talkie and tell each other "keep a look out, there is someone walking across the grounds at such and such a location" as if they were out to "get us." This is typical of the mind and mentality of cults.
Herbert W. Armstrong created God in his own image. I learned long ago that God IS NOT a member of the Worldwide Church of God, or any of its splinter groups. And for everyone else, God IS NOT a member of the Southern Baptist organization, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormon empire, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, the Mennonite group, the Amish, the Seventh Day Adventist, the "Sacred" Name groups, nor a member of any other man-made religious group on earth. God IS NOT even an atheist or agnostic. What Herbert W. Armstrong did in his religious career, is to create God in his own image. So then, the followers of Herbert W., were following the mind of a man whose personal opinions persuaded a multitude of people that Herbert W. Armstrong had "the mind of God." And the millions of dollars flowed into his bank account like a river.
Strong arm Herbert was a master deceiver. Throughout history there have been many charismatic personalities that have masqueraded as the source of "light" and "truth." The world has never lacked for sheep like human beings who have demonstrated an inability to think or reason for themselves. The world is overrun with human beings snared by a religious fish hook. It is not that God Almighty has come down and presented Himself to anyone on earth, at least in our current day and age, but you would think that these "spiritual" gurus who stand in pulpits are personal pals with God, in a form that no one else is. It is pure nonsense, but the gullible overwhelm the world. If it were not for the gullible and the naive, there would be no religious organizations or institutions.
Every religious organization is headed by some man or woman who thinks of themselves in terms of "Godhood", but who in reality are only human as are all other human beings on earth. They are NOT God, and not even close. That so many would give their lives, time, energies and money to such false religious leaders is astonishing. Herbert W. Armstrong was NOT God. He was NOT even an "apostle" of Jesus Christ. He was a self-appointed, self-deceived human being with an enormous ego. Words that come from the mouths of persuasive public speakers is often magnetic and attracts the listener. In the world of religion and the world of politics, there is not really much difference. The goal is persuasion! If the speaker can persuade you to follow them, then you have been hooked.
The greatest defense against being deceived by anyone is to QUESTION. Question everything and assume nothing is true just because someone in a pulpit says it is true. Fear, is a tool of those who want to control
the minds and thinking of their naive followers. What gave Herbert W. Armstrong the "right" to know "truth" as an exclusion from others, unless they learned it from him? This is such a common type of situation in the world of religion that it is ludicrous (totally ridiculous). Who can enter the mind and thinking of Herbert W. Armstrong and understand what made him tick? How did he arrive at all his pretended and supposed religious convictions? No matter, he was off the deep end, as are many others, such as those in Scientology, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses and countless others, including the splinter groups of the Worldwide Church of God.
The many people involved in the Worldwide Church of God splinter groups have no concept of Jesus Christ and that He came to SET THE CAPTIVES FREE (from all man-made religious bondage). Life itself is NOT about keeping the Saturday Sabbath, "Feasts" of the "Old" Testament, or legalistic religious ideas, but about LOVE towards others, which is also by its expression love towards God. The simplicity in Jesus Christ is that He taught LOVE, COMPASSION, MERCY, EMPATHY and HUMILITY and NOT rituals, like keeping the Saturday Sabbath. The Sabbath has not one iota of anything to do with righteousness. The Sabbath will NOT garner favor to anyone because they observe it. In reality no one keeps the Sabbath, because it is NOT possible, based upon the conditions of what one reads in the Old Testament ( and I suggest the website of Robert K. Sanders an ex-Seventh Day Adventist who penned "Renouncing the Sabbath after 47 years as of 2002" and although directed toward Seventh Day Adventists, it applies to anyone who thinks they keep the Sabbath (THEY DON'T), see www.truthorfables.com/Renouncing_the_Sabbath.htm.
Under the weight of TRUTH, Armstrongism collapses into the dust and dirt of the earth, as do all other false religious beliefs the world over. Those who follow leaders of the Worldwide Church of God splinter groups need to get a real life. Wake up people! These self-appointed religious nuts are NOT God. Neither was Herbert or Garner Ted. Can't you think for yourselves???