THE END OF INNOCENCE?
Is this the beginning of the end for Ambassador College'? Is the decline and fall already underway? Has freedom of religion had it at Ambassador? Is the so-called "Ambassador Experience" over? Next year, will the college be headed for a mere depression, or a bankruptcy? And perhaps most important, is truth headed for an increasingly austere life at an institution whose major media is called THE PLAIN TRUTH?
It's hard to be optimistic when you consider that this institution gave us forty years of Pentecost on the wrong day, divorce without remarriage (and that administered in the wrong way), "healing" with nothing to ease the pain, a TOMORROW'S WORLD that no longer exists, and let's not forget, "1972"!
Yes, it is hard to be optimistic. And, if normal conversation can be believed, a majority of people aren't.
None of the "great purposes" seem pertinent anymore. Bricket Wood is gone. Imperial Schools are gone. The Ambassador Press has beer sold. The computer department is being phased out. The Ambassador Television Studio is being bartered off. And it doesn't help to be reminded that THE PLAIN TRUTH looks starved for content, while the pages of the once-again-delayed HUMAN POTENTIAL are so bloated with content that it appears to be wallowing in its own valleys, perhaps never to see the arrival of a second edition. Yes, it's hard to be optimistic.
But the problem is not lack of optimism. The problem seems to be the lack of believable integrity behind the "new" programs. Integrity no longer seems to be of the same value to the present administration-an administration which has as its highest counsel, Stanley Rader, a man who didn't even attend Ambassador College.
For the first time within the memories of most of us, Ambassador people are seriously questioning whether the college will survive. As a result, many seem to be caught in an unintended backlash of falling expectations.
Part of the problem may be that so many developments seem to confirm the portent of the negative view. In light of recent attempts of Ambassador administrators to misdirect AMBASSADOR REVIEW material from its rightful owners, it is not difficult to believe those who warn that the administration is not only in error, but willfully covering up error!
The notion that "government from the top down" is not of God and therefore not the best government for humans gains plausibility from the premature departure of four of the college's most respected evangelists-three of them vice-presidents. The resignations of scores of former Ambassador administrators convince us that the issues troubling the consciences of these men are real.
The continued rising prominance of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation appears to bear out the credibility of seers who say that Worldwide Church of God contributions are being transferred to a separate foundation under the control of less than "Ambassador quality" people. Reports of the A.I.C.F. spending $125,000 in one night for a Hollywood movie premier lend substance to the ominous prediction that Ambassador College will not make it much longer if these subsidies continue at the current pace.
The editors of this magazine are prepared to believe the worst-the collusion, the fraud, the shortchange and the clever subterfuge. But we are not prepared to accept without a fight the end of individual freedom, the demise of Ambassador College and its replacement by a group of international hustlers who offer fun for a few and oppression for the rest.
The Ambassador entity is at a turning point. It can listen to those who would try to improve it or it can cling to those sacred cows that will destroy it. It's time we realized that our growing-up phase is coming to an end. Many of us leave it reluctantly. It's hard to let go of the precious illusions of our spiritual childhood, the innocence of our infant-like beginnings.
Now we are discovering that certain doctrines and leaders cannot live in control of our lives forever. If this is what's happening, perhaps in time we can make peace with inevitable change, candidly admit the mistakes of the past, settle into a productive and rewarding spiritual maturity and face adulthood with intelligence, not blind allegiance. The end of innocence in this case will be the first step toward wisdom.
-J. Timothy Nugent
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