When Prophecy Fails

When Prophecy FailsWhen Prophecy Fails is a study of what happens to individuals when their belief system has been shown to be in error (disconfirmed).

A review by William E. Adams at Amazon.com says:

This work first saw print in 1956. It is the story of a UFO cult in a large city in the Midwest…how it developed, how the leaders recruited followers, how predictions about the coming end of the world started flowing from the psychic members who allegedly channeled messages from the spacemen/pilots. The cult members were told they would be saved, picked up by saucers on an appointed date. The members quit jobs, sold possessions, and gathered, only to be disappointed. Did they all quit in a huff? No way. The first failure only made them more determined they were right, more anxious to be ready for the next announced departure date. Then a second failure. A few members fell away, a few suffered doubts, a few challenged for leadership themselves. The point of this book is that it takes “three disconfirmations” to kill a movement of true believers, and even then, some still hang on to the discredited “theology” by grasping at excuses. I found this book by accident about 30 years ago, and have read it at least four times. I find it fascinating. In the 1970’s I knew two women in Albuquerque who were amateur psychics. They started bringing forth “space brethren messages” and eventually, although they failed to attract a following, they went up into the nearby mountains one night sure they would be lifted off before the coming unspecified disaster. They waited, but no ship appeared. I think people inclined toward UFO beliefs haven’t changed much since this book was published. The basic data shown in this study can apply to religious or political groups as well. I am sorry it is out of print, but if you have an interest in this field, get a used copy…the prices are reasonable and the book will not disappoint!

Support for the study was obtained through the Laboratory for Research in Social Relations of the University of Minnesota and help received through a grant-in-aid from the Ford Foundation to one of the authors. The study is to answer the how and why people take on new fervor when they have contradictory evidence which they should not be able to avoid. There are five conditions under which the authors would expect to observe the increased fervor:

  1. A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.
  2. The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual’s commitment to the belief.
  3. The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
  4. Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.

The first two of these conditions specify the circumstances that will make the belief resistant to change. The third and fourth conditions together, on the other hand, point to factors that would exert powerful pressure on a believer to discard his belief. It is, of course, possible that an individual, even though deeply convinced of a belief, may discard it in the face of unequivocal disconfirmation. We must, therefore, state a fifth condition specifying the circumstances under which the belief will be discarded and those under which it will be maintained with new fervor.

  1. The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of dis-confirming evidence we have specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, we would expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselyte or to persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.

Luckily, the authors found a group they could observe during the study. A woman of a very religious persuasion began writing messages she just ‘knew’ was from a contact in outer space. This ‘source’ warned her to tell the world that there was going to be a great flood to purge the world.

Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is in violation of copyright laws.
Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is a violation of copyright laws.

Along the way, she was told that those within the inner circle of her group would be rescued by flying saucers.

Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is in violation of copyright laws.
Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is a violation of copyright laws.

And in the end, we all know how that turned out. They waited again and again to be picked up, but, alas, there was no saucer shuttle and no flood. Yet, many of the group continued to believe even after a number of disappointments, illustrating the workings of the 5 premises. The people really did hang on to their beliefs even after they had been demonstrated to be patently silly.

Of course, those of you currently in the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia know perfectly well there are no such things as flying saucers and the whole thing is patently silly on the face of it.

Apparently there are some Armstrongists who believe in flying saucers.
Apparently there are some Armstrongists who believe in flying saucers.

 Oops!

Just in case you Armstrongists get off the hook because you don’t believe in flying saucers, think again! The authors of When Prophecy Fails spend over seven pages of the first chapter on William Miller! The CoHAM should be getting mighty nervous. After all, those of us blogging to refute Armstrongism have shown that the Worldwide Church of God and its successors are cults. We’ve debunked British Israelism and shown up the same sort of ‘prophecies’ ‘disconfirmed’ by the book. There are no excuses. You Armstrongists are doing exactly what the study predicts you would do. For example, consider the British Israelism Church of God: It has the gall to just make up excuses why DNA doesn’t disprove British Israelism. The problem is that Y-Chromosome DNA has been found to be stable over thousands of years and just doesn’t magically morph to some other haplogroup. Idiots.

 Then we need to consider Herbert Armstrong’s Prophetic Record:

Herbert Armstrong's Prophetic RecordMajor fail. Again and again. And yet, people keep believing and making up excuses, just like the study says. If you really want to be embarrassed by what you believed, re-read 1975 in Prophecy:

1975 in Prophecy Color VersionHerbert Armstrong made some pretty bold prophecies. They simply didn’t come to pass. Did you make excuses for the failure in 1975 when the disconfirmation was too intense to ignore?

Ron and Laura Weinland -- the two witnesses of the Church of God - Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG)
Ron and Laura Weinland — the two witnesses of the Church of God – Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG)

 If there is any group that illustrates the truth of When Prophecy Fails, it is the PKG. Ron and Laura Weinland — the two witnesses of the Church of God – Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG) — have conned the PKG to continue giving them money even after their major prophecies failed… again… and again. What’s worse, Ronald Weinland is currently serving his sentence for felony Income Tax evasion, but the PKG membership sticks with him and continues to make excuses.

Others, such as David Pack continue to exhibit hoof in mouth disease — Dave prophesied a specific date that three major leaders in the other churches of God would die and members of all the ACoGs would come flocking to him. That was years ago and still… nothing.

 Now it is true that the Armstrongist Churches of God have something that little group in the Midwest in the 1950s didn’t have. It would have been so much better after the flying saucers failed to show and take them away from the flood that didn’t happen if they had some way to find out how the various members of their group fared after The Great Disappointment. They should have had the benefit of some sort of periodic newspaper which had stories and articles about the group and the individual members. They could keep up much better, even if the editor didn’t particularly believe in the tenets of the group and held the ‘floodists’ and ‘farmer UFOlogists’ in contempt. He could still publish something called The Journal. Maybe out of some town like say, Big Sandy. What’s important is not what the group believes — what’s really important is to keep the social group together in its completely delusional dysfunctional existence.

It’s called journalism.

The Perfect Red Heifer™

The Perfect Red Heifer™

Armstrongism is on the nutty fringes of the outer limits of human belief, some how made to seem perfectly reasonable until some objective analysis is done by societal standards and scientific observation. How is it that if you don’t agree with the daft rubbish that some how it’s your fault and you just don’t understand?

The Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia isn’t the only daft religion and the new series, Dig on the USA Network brings to light what happens when extreme religion goes to great lengths to insure the establishment of their view of the world:

The really scary thing is that the creators of the series did a lot of research and found that there is a basis for what they present: They may have dramatized, but there are groups out there plotting and scheming to do the things portrayed in the show, to bring about the apocalypse, Armageddon or something (we’ll know more as the series unfolds). Look at Dig – inside the Episode: Episode 1:

About midway, they bring to light the story of the red heifer. As they say, if you Google the “red heifer” you will see there are people who believe that this could happen. Do you have questions? You will be rewarded. Of course, you will end up with ever more questions. Be warned: These groups aren’t just messin’ around. They’re serious. This is life and death stuff to them. Dig deeper — to coin a phrase, trust no one.

The red heifer is being raised in Norway. The Rabbis inspect the newly birthed heifer to see if there are any stray hairs that are black, which would absolutely ruin the sacrifice — but thankfully, this particularly young cutie is perfect for sacrifice, and so we are off and running. Apparently, the red heifer sacrifice is really, really, really important to Jewish prophecy for some reason. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it sure does to them.

It turns out that there is a connection to Armstrongism. The USA Network TV series is about people of extreme faith and the lengths they will go to when they believe God is on their side. Of course, He isn’t, so you can be certain this will all end in tears. Nevertheless, one of the features of the series is the Jews seeking out the Perfect Red Heifer™ for some sort of funky sacrifice signifying the… well.. it’s not clear, but it’s truly important to somebody to bring about the end of days, the coming of the Messiah or something.

I know The Perfect Red Heifer™ well. In the WCG, I knew a Jewish lady and her husband who certainly was in the center of things — at least in her own mind. She was a prophecy buff, and the main reason she joined up with Armstrongism was the prophecy of the end times. Of course, you know that couldn’t have lasted, particularly with the advent of the Tkach era, so she and her husband hied off to the Messianic Jews in hopes to find more of what she wanted. I was in her home one Sabbath post-WCG and she nattered on and on about The Perfect Red Heifer™ rather obsessively. I told her about the Herbert Armstrong incest and she accepted it, saying that it did not surprise her.

Well, here it is over a decade later and I’m pretty sure she’s still looking for that Perfect Red Heifer™. She was certain over 10 years ago that the Jews already had one picked for sacrifice on the altar to bring the Messiah or some such. I’d say that the best use of the Perfect Red Heifer™ is stew meat by this time if the poor thing is still alive.

It’s just plain nuts.

And the Cult of Herbert Armstongism Mafia sects aren’t much different than this kooky Jewish lady looking for the coming of the Perfect Red Heifer™.

Holy cow!

It never ceases to amaze how extreme Armstrongists can be: Strongly held daft cult ideas which just has to be!

This is just one such example.

Kudos to USA Network.

Although… here’s hoping it doesn’t give anyone any ideas….

Self-Deception

Herbert Armstrong was the master of self-deception. Not only that, but he trained us all to be adept at self-deception. And self-deception is exactly why people stay with the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia.

Watch this TEDx Event Presentation by Dr. Cortney S. Warren in her talk, “Honest Lies: The Psychology of Self-Deception”:

At the core, we lie to ourselves because we don’t have enough psychological strength to admit the truth and deal with the consequences that will follow. That said, understanding our self-deception is the most effective way to live a fulfilling life. For when we admit what we really are, we have the opportunity to change.

There are core strategies which we use to practice self-deception:

  1. Denial: Refusing to believe something is true, even though it is;
  2. Rationalization: Creating a reason to excuse ourselves;
  3. Projection: Taking an undesirable aspect of ourselves and ascribing it to someone else;
  4. Cognitive Distortions: Irrational ways in which we think;
  5. Polarizing Thinking: Thinking in extremes;
  6. Emotional Reasoning: Thinking that our feelings accurately reflect reality;
  7. Overgeneralization: Taking a single negative event as an infinite spiral of defeat.

From an existential perspective, we deceive ourselves to avoid the ‘Givens’ of life, the fundamental realities of “being human” that we must face:

  1. Death — we’re all going to die;
  2. Ultimate Aloneness — we were born as a single person housed in a solitary physical body;
  3. Meaninglessness — our lives are inherently meaningless unless we give them meaning;
  4. Freedom — we are responsible for ourselves because we have the freedom of choice.

To avoid these realities, we frequently lie to ourselves:

  • Deferring responsibility for choices;
  • Believing in ‘specialness’ so that there is a unique protection from harm;
  • Compromising to meet cultural norms.

Self-deception leads to massive amounts of pain and regret. To avoid being honest, we frequently make choices with harmful consequences to ourselves and others — we may use drugs, alcohol, eat, shop, gamble, steal, lie, leave people or pass our emotional baggage down to those we love the most. Or, we may choose not to change even when we are miserable or causing profound harm to those around us. Looking back at life with regret is incredibly painful, because you can’t change your choices in the past.

When we don’t take full responsibility for who we are, we hurt ourselves and everyone around us.

The way to change is:

  1. self-awareness — become observers of ourselves;
  2. examine the contribution to the conflict in our lives;
  3. admit to insecurity and confront the choice.

Not changing when confronted with the truth is a choice. Although we cannot control the many circumstances we encounter in life, we are responsible for our reactions to all of them.

Confronting our self-deception is a lifelong journey. We change and the world offers us new opportunities to understand ourselves. There is always more to learn.

It is now time for those who embrace the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia to be honest with themselves.

Isolation
Isolation

Here are just a few of the truths Armstrongists need to face:

Herbert Armstrong was not an apostle;

Herbert Armstrong was a false prophet;

Herbert Armstrong committed incest with his daughter for ten years at the beginning of his ministry and, therefore,

Herbert Armstrong was not actually converted, and,

Herbert Armstrong was never qualified to be a minister;

Herbert Armstrong is dead;

Herbert Armstrong knowingly allowed his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, to be second in command as the top evangelist, even though GTA was an adulterer, alcoholic boozer and a gambler;

There is no place of safety and there never will be (and Petra is an absolutely terrible place to try to survive);

British Israelism, as the key to prophecy, has been thoroughly debunked and no prophecy based on it will come true… ever — it’s extra Biblical;

The True History of The True Church was nothing of the kind, plagiarized from Ellen G. White and thoroughly, provably wrong, particularly about Waldensians supposedly keeping the Sabbath and Holydays (they considered themselves to be good Catholics);

The leaders of the major sects of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia have proved themselves inept and to be false prophets;

Jesus isn’t returning in your life time;

There may be tribulation, but the Great Tribulation won’t happen in your life time;

The Bible commands “from such turn away”;

There is no such thing as a Christian narcissist;

Armstrongism is a religion of physical rituals, not of spiritual content;

If you are an alcoholic, you must stop drinking or you will not just die badly, you may seriously injure and kill others;

If you are diabetic, you cannot drink alcohol;

If you are diabetic, you need to manage your condition because it’s not just going to ‘go away’;

Anointing for your chronic diseases will not make them go away;

There is not and never was any such thing as ‘second tithe’;

If you are a farmer and you try to keep the seventh year land Sabbath, you will either go broke, have to borrow money or lose your land because you simply won’t get double income in your sixth year because, just like the Feasts, the land Sabbath was given only to ancient Israelites in the land of Israel — the land ‘the Lord gaveth thee’ — under the Old Covenant only — a physical covenant for a physical people devoid of the Holy Spirit given promises of physical prosperity only;

The United States and British Commonwealth are not lost tribes of Israel, and, more importantly, none of the doom, devastation, destruction is going to occur because of their supposed sins against an ancient religion which was never given to them;

Your ministers are in it for the money and the ego trip — they are totally selfish and don’t really care about you;

Your ministers and leaders know nothing of morals and ethics;

Your ministers are terrible at counseling;

Your ministers are liars;

Your ministers don’t actually know how the Bible was put together, or if they do, they are lying about it;

You still can’t put new wine in old wineskins, even though that’s what Armstrongism is all about;

You don’t really know what other members of your sect really believe, even though you think you’ve known them for decades;

There is no loyalty — you can incur someone’s wrath and be disfellowshipped at any time;

Your family isn’t really safe;

You are wasting your money;

You are wasting your time;

You don’t really believe in science, you believe in magic;

By allowing someone else to define right and wrong for you, you’ve become a sociopath with a flexible adapted conscience;

No one is exactly what they seem;

It’s all quite insane.

Once you get through and eliminate these lies of your self-deception, you will still have a long way to go.

The only way to be free of your self-delusion is to stop feeding it by severing contact with those in the cult who are holding your mind hostage.

The "Plain Truth" About The True Church

Blast from the past…

From time to time in my adventures, as I read the letters and articles of people on this website and elsewhere, I come across references to the “true church”. When my eyes were first wrenched open by the unassailable facts of corruption at all levels of the Worldwide Church of God, almost the first question that entered my mind was: “If this isn’t the true church of God, then where is it?”

For forty years I had been immersed in the doctrines and prophecies of Herbert DoubleYou Armstrong. Though I did not consider myself a Bible “expert”, I did know without a doubt that no other church on the planet had what we had. What we had was a theology that was so logical that it was perfect. No other church was aware of, nor would they accept, these fundamental “truths”. In a nutshell, these truths were:

  • The annual holy days. These seven festivals pictured the Plan of God, from the crucifixion to the arrival of God the Father on earth (nothing about the 4000 years preceding the crucifixion, however).
  • The identity of the Ten Lost Tribes of the House of Israel. (I have to admit that I found it a little difficult to accept that the tribe of Dan included both Denmark and Ireland, but hell, I wasn’t very smart in those days. It also amazed me that objects named after Dan included the rivers Don and Dnieper, but no one ever mentioned the Danube!)
  • The weekly Sabbath. It was God’s “sign” placed on his people. Sunday, by contrast, was the “mark” of the beast. (No biblical scriptures backed this up, but it didn’t matter. DoubleYou said so.)
  • Prophecy. This was clearly the ultimate proof (to me) of God’s true church. Our version of prophecy included pretty much every prophecy in the Bible (at least a whole big bunch of them) and was mapped out from the time of Alexander the Great (and before) all the way to John Paul II. This included Daniel’s vision, Matthew 24, all of Revelation, most of the minor prophets, heavy hitters like Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, not to mention Jesus and John. Everything was (or seemed to be) covered. It made sense. It was logical. Details might vary here and there, but the “big picture” was intact. No other church had that. No other church came close

The Seventh Day Adventists seemed to believe that the United States was the beast power. I read one of their publications in which they indicted the entire U.S. Government, but ignored the entire rest of the world. Russia, China, Europe, and the Catholic church were never even mentioned. Other “prophets”, such as those on the 700 Club, the PTL Club, and the Trinity television network were so pathetic as to be laughable. They didn’t have a clue.

Our theology was perfect. The Bible was perfect. We read the Bible, believed it, and let it “interpret itself”. There was no way we could be wrong about any of this, because it came right out of the Bible.

Then I discovered the Plain Truth about the Worldwide Church of God. I learned of homosexuality at Headquarters, of incest and rape within the Armstrong family, of adultery and fornication and (probably) statutory rape by Ted Armstrong, of Herbert Armstrong’s alcoholism and “flog log”. I learned of Herman Hoeh’s connections to the Nazi party (his parents were members), of his picture collection of little boys, of the Manpower Meetings held by Rod Meredith, of a putrid cesspool of corruption of all kinds at every level of the Worldwide Church of God. (I already knew in my heart that the Tkaches were corrupt, but it was quite a shock to discover the rest.) And I learned emphatically that tithing not only was no longer required, but was being administered incorrectly (indeed, feloniously).

“In the mouths of two or three witnesses shall it be established. . .” There were piles of evidence, hordes of witnesses and first-person accounts. None of this could be disputed. It was not a suspicion, there was no “reasonable doubt”. In fact, there was no shadow of a doubt. It was true. All of it. For four decades my life had been ruled by people so corrupt that their equal could only be found within the ranks of the KGB or the SS. These “men of God”, these “ministers”, these “spiritual leaders”–were the biggest crooks of the century. And they had done it all in a way that none of them would ever fear legal consequences.

The entire organization was rotten to the core. I was rocked. I was stunned.

And I was puzzled. The question popped over my head like a balloon in a comic book, with a huge question mark in the center. “If this isn’t the true church of God, then where is it?”

?

It was a good question. Really, it was the only question. A question I had to answer. Because I could no longer remain in the Worldwide Church of God with a clear conscience. I didn’t even want to. But if I were to avoid leading my family into the very fires of hell, I had to know–“If this isn’t the true church, then what is? Where is it?”

There was no point in investigating other churches. I had already done that. One thing Herbert DoubleYou was very good at was knocking down the teachings of other religions. Yet I did talk to various “Sunday Christians” that I knew, read some articles, read a few books. Nothing answered the question. The people I talked to knew a lot less about the Bible than I did, all the literature talked a lot about Jesus and little else. What about the prophecies? What about the plan of God? What about the Millennium? What about a lot of things?

I could have consulted experts, but where to find them? And how to determine if they knew what they were talking about? All the books I had read were written by people with letters after their names, and they each had their own personal axe to grind. Finding a disinterested or neutral “expert” seemed unlikely.

I was left with only one avenue of approach. And that was one the Worldwide Church of God had ridiculed for decades: I was left to my “own understanding”. More precisely, I had no option but to think it through as logically as I possibly could.

You may laugh. Who the hell does he think he is? What degrees does he have? I’m nobody, of course–the Worldwide Church of God made sure I understood that. I have no degrees. But I can tell right from wrong (in a moral sense), I know the difference between up and down, black and white, right and left. As a computer programmer I can track down a bug that no one else can find, which means I have to think in logical terms to do my job.

And I had never had a more open mind in my life than I did at that moment in time.

It took time. I don’t remember exactly how much time, but I left the Worldwide Church of God May 29, 1992, and it was probably late 1994 before I knew the answer. I can’t recount here all the avenues of thought that I went traveled. I don’t even remember them all. Certainly every day in my car (I drive 35 miles to work each way) I thought of little else. Many hours each week went into the sorting down of facts, fiction, and fables. I went back over sermons, articles, discussions, lectures, announcements, and various other data in my mind. And I found myself returning again and again to two fundamental quotes:

  1. Prove all things. . . (from the Bible)
  2. We came in at the middle of the movie (from Herbert DoubleYou)

The first one, Prove all things, is a scripture unknown to most of the Christian world. If they ever read that, or believed it, most of them would never be able to believe half of what they do. If the Bible was ever right about anything, it has to be right about that one.

The second one, a favorite of Herbert Armstrong, turned out to be much more revealing than he ever intended. He used it in the context of world history, pointing out that we are born and live our lives at a certain era in the history of the world and our perceptions are colored only by what we can see, with little or no knowledge of what went before. A very good point. (The same is true, of course, of the Worldwide Church of God itself. Those of us who came in the Sixties or later had no knowledge of what HWA himself had done or taught in previous decades.)

These two quotes made my job a little easier. The first was incentive to make sure I finished the task. The second offered a clue as to how to do it.

To make a long story short, it boiled down to this: Everyone assumed that there had to be One True Church. Period. There was no recognition of the historical saga of church and churches, of orders and groups and unions and cliques and brotherhoods. The apostles who wrote the New Testament were generally accepted as the founders of the new religion called Christianity, but since their time the evolution of that religion had been constant, to the point that today what was called Christianity bore very little resemblance to that original philosophy (with its creeds and tenets and rituals). That was Herbert DoubleYou’s major appeal (or one of them, anyway), that what passed for Christianity today did not square with that original faith. And he was right. It does not.

Neither did the one he instituted.

Where does it say, in the Bible or elsewhere, that there has to be one “true church”? The Bible speaks of the “body of Christ”, but what exactly does that mean? Many who left the Worldwide Church of God in the early 90s adopted the idea (and I was one of them, initially) that “the body of Christ” consists of “true believers” wherever you may find them–in the Worldwide Church of God, the COG 7th Day, among the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Baptists, the myriad fundamentalists–even Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. In other words, if they individually have that “personal relationship” with Christ, then they are “true Christians”.

Was this, then, the “true church”? Was there no single organization, but rather a scattered congregation of individuals mixed in among the hordes of traditional Christians like nuggets of gold among so much slag? It seemed likely for a while, but then how would one obey the admonishment to “forsake not the gathering together” of believers? How would you know who to congregate with? How could such a disorganized mob be effective? How would such powerless individuals carry out the great commission to carry the gospel to the world? How could God reveal his intentions to such people through his prophets, if they didn’t even know each other, if there was no network, no means of communication?

Gradually it dawned on me that the “great commission” had already been achieved. There was no need for an “end-time apostle”. If the New Testament were true, there had already been twelve apostles (one for each tribe of Israel, I suppose). They had already done the job. We have the Bible, which supposedly contains all their writings that are important for us to read. The Bible has been published for centuries, is available throughout the world in purt-near every language. There is no need for an “end-time work” such as Herbert DoubleYou established, or like those we see and hear on the airwaves today. The word has been spread. The world knows about Christianity. So communication between individual believers, for the reasons I considered, is unnecessary.

That still left questions hanging, of course. What about the place of safety? What about escaping the tribulation? What about prophecy? What about . . .

What about. . .

Hm. What about what?

Slowly I realized that everything I thought I knew about anything was suspect. Talk about your paradigms–I was asking all the wrong questions, based on my Worldwide Church of God training. I assumed there had to be a true church, because I assumed that prophecy was important, because Herbert DoubleYou had said it was. I assumed that Christians had to be able to identify one another–I assumed a lot of things, but I didn’t really know very much at all.

I had to ask new questions. For example, What is required for salvation? Membership in the One True Church? Subscription to the correct set of beliefs? Did you have to keep the sabbath on Saturday? Did you have to keep the Passover and the Jewish holy days? Would you be condemned for keeping Christmas or worshiping on Sunday? Did you need to understand the subtle variations of meaning between the Greek and Hebrew text? Was it necessary to be able to translate the precise meaning between the original text and the modern English equivalent? Did you need to understand the precise archaic context of every parable spoken by Christ?

Just what the hell did it take to avoid crashing and burning?

Even in the Worldwide Church of God no two people ever completely agreed on every single nuance of scripture. Not even among the ministry. Hell, especially among the ministry! They were more divided than anyone. And if no two Worldwiders could get together on these issues, then none of them were going to be saved, and the rest of the world didn’t have a prayer (assuming that Worldwide Church of God theology was correct–which it wasn’t).

I asked the question: What about some poor sod in Africa or China who meets up with some smiling missionary who tells him about Jesus, and he buys it? The Bible said that anyone who “confess that Jesus is the Christ” is a Christian. So this poor sod confesses that Jesus is the son of God. He is therefore a Christian. This poor sod can’t read, write, or use the internet. He has no Strongs Concordance handy. How in the hell is he going to distinguish between the three words for heaven or the three words for hell? How is he going to figure out the punctuation in the King James Bible when Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, today you shall be with me in paradise”, as opposed to “Verily I say unto you today, you shall be with me in paradise”? Hell, even educated Americans can’t find that one!

So is God going to burn up this poor sod just because he can’t read?

If he is, then he’s no god of mine! And if he doesn’t, then all this legalistic crap is nothing but the dung of an ox (i.e., bullshit).

So where did that leave me? Where does it leave you? When you consider that a “church” in today’s environment is nothing but a legally organized corporation (i.e., a business), it really takes away any question of which church is the “true” church. After all, who is asking which store is the One True Store? Or which team is the One True Team? Or which factory is the One True Factory?

We were led astray, totally, to the point that we could no longer think. We were told that God had to have a “true” church. No proof was offered. No questions were tolerated. It was stuffed down our throats, and we never really thought much more about it, except to say that, “Once you’ve been in God’s true church, where else can you go?”

I finally arrived at my bottom line. Simply stated, it is this: There is no True Church. You are either with God or you aren’t. Christianity is an individual endeavor, pure and simple. As for churches–well, we’ve already been there and done that. Any organization that attempts to catalog its beliefs and structure its membership has already lost the battle. It has become man-made religion. You can attend any church you want, from fringe-lunatic cult to Catholic or anything in between, and take whatever you want from any of them, but don’t look for the “one true church”. As an organization, it does not exist.

Thank God for that!

Article by John B.

Arrogance

While the actor Johnny Depp was still a bachelor, a single man asked him if he could give advice on dating and Johnny Depp’s response was something like:

Don’t ask me, I don’t know, I’m as screwed up as everybody else.

It’s a good honest answer of the sort we wish we could get from the leaders and ministers of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong: Herbert Armstrong never gave such answers himself — being a “know it all” kind of End Time Apostle — and his followers since have followed in the same rut he established decades ago in the last century, being full of instant answers backed by booklets, literature, magazines and websites of every stripe answering every kind of question and even answering quite a few that were never asked, projecting full confidence that their answers are all true, useful, scientific and unassailable.

The Cult of Herbert Armstrong is full of itself, puffed up in full arrogance, confident in its overweening ego, that the only truth is here with them and you dare not go anywhere else because, if you do, disasters will surely follow, you will be in deep trouble, you will have terrible problems, living in want and fear with no one to rescue you: You will be sorry, because you should have listened! The entire venue is designed to put you in fear so you will submit to the superiority of those who dominate and manipulate you. These self-made Gurus are experts in every subject — at least every subject of any importance. They are the only ones with wisdom and knowledge of any use.

These arrogant Gurus suck you in with something you’ve never thought of, attracting you with curiosity, snaring you initially with something you agree and believe in, gaining your trust with something familiar and then leading you down the primrose path of kook insanity.

Here is an analogy which may help you understand the process:

The world is NOT Flat!!!! We can prove that the earth is absolutely NOT Flat!!!! Brethren (gaining your trust by sucking you into the conspiracy of the brotherhood), you KNOW what I am saying is true!!!! You KNOW I have the truth!!!! You all know (making you part of a collective) the Earth is not flat!!!! People who tell you the earth is flat are WRONG!!!! They know it is wrong, yet they continue to spread this terrible lie!!! I can prove the world is not flat!! You know what I say is true!!! Haven’t you wondered about this truth???!!!? Have you proved it for yourself???!!!?? Write for our free booklets, The Earth is NOT Flat and Seven Proofs the Earth is not Flat! You need this information, never brought to you before!! For 1900 years, this truth has been hidden — a few have known — but now you can know!!! There is no obligation, no one will call on you — it is all free of charge.

Now you know the world is not flat, but did you know that the sun revolves around the earth???!!!??? You may not have thought about it, but you see it every day: The sun comes up over the horizon of the round earth and runs its course in the heavens and sets in the West!!! You’ve never heard this truth before! Scientists are trying to cover this up! But don’t believe me, believe your Bible! The Earth is round and it is in the center of the Universe because God has chosen us to make us gods! I am the only one with this truth! You can become God as God is God, but only if you believe in the truth of key to Godhood, which is that the sun revolves around the earth!!!! Be sure to write for our free booklet, You can become God because the Sun Revolves Around the Earth!

This is all delivered with confidence to the point of arrogance so you will believe that he believes and in believing he believes, you will believe.

Johnny Depp said:

I think everybody’s nuts.

There may be some truth to that.

Consider the absolute arrogance of a man who belongs to an organization and then begins to think that he, and he alone, has been touched by God with an understanding that no one else has, and his mission is now to go forth to preach this new truth to everyone, no matter how silly and stupid it is. Often, this “revelation” is accompanied by a psychotic break, leading to the manic phase of the bipolar disease cycle. This self-styled Guru will insist that he was humbled — a recounting of his initial depression — where he was nothing but “burned out junk”, but when the manic phase kicks in, he will be able to recount the “joy” that his God has renewed him and given him a spirit of understanding that others do not have. And then we are off and running.

Even as unqualified as our new Guru may be, steeped in arrogant incompetence, he manages to dig himself deeper into his pit of arrogance studying without any real understanding of subjects he’s undertaken in his pursuit of his new “truth”. He’s already lost his business / job. He is mentally incapacitated. Yet he is self-deluded that he’s been given brilliance given to him by the endorphins stimulated by sleep deprivation in his manic mode. He has “up” times and he has “down” times. Sometimes the “down” times leave him in such a state of depression he can’t even get out of bed, or, if he does, he won’t be up until mid afternoon. He can disappear and be unavailable for weeks at a time, shunning human contact or at least severely limiting it. After months of this, he finally emerges fully engaged in arrogant narcissism to take on the world as some new savior just emerging from his cocoon. He then thunders his message to the world. Or if he’s like Robert Thiel, he does significant squeaking.

The problem is that arrogance is infectious, like a virus that mutates as it is transmitted from person to person. Once caught, the arrogance does its damage and often becomes chronic. Now when it is transmitted from Guru to simple follower it is transmogrified to be an arrogance that the follower now knows special secret knowledge — but much less than the Guru. This sort of infection makes the follower proud, but it also propels him or her to infect others, but in the process, the followers do not gain infected followers for themselves, but direct the newly diseased to the Guru.

Moreover, the Guru, finding a modest success in infecting others through his arrogance and making them arrogant themselves, but still subservient to him as “Patient Zero”, he trains some of a small cadre of followers in his special laboratory of infectious virtual mental disease to be special carriers of the virus of arrogance. These manifest the disease with different symptoms: They are special and seize arrogant power over the followers of the Guru while remaining in his domain of disease. They lord it over the followers as being superior by virtue of the fact that they know more crap than the follower simpletons do and the followers are impressed with the advanced qualities of the leaders as being superior to them.

It should be noted that this sort of arrogance of ignorance is widely spread. According to the Watchers of Deniers, scientific literacy has reached ever plunging lows showing that United States Adults and Students believe:

  1. Sound travels faster than light (14%);
  2. Disagree that the center of the earth is very hot (20%);
  3. Disagree that the Earth goes around the Sun once a year (33%);
  4. Disagree that astrology is not at all scientific (41%);
  5. Think antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria (45%);
  6. Think that ordinary tomatoes do not have genes but genetically  modified tomatoes do (49%).

According to the article — to be much more clear — one-third of of American Adults / Students believe the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Really.

They believe.

33%

We’re stunned.

Very disturbing.

Imagine if you must, how much damage an arrogant Guru can do?

Imagine if you must, how much damage an arrogant Guru can do by inducing his followers to believe in British Israelism as the Key to Prophecy — managing to get all of the prophecies wrong — but having the followers believe that he is the End Time Elijah, which we must point out, that Elijah was a prophet, so no matter how you slice it, Herbert Armstrong actually was a false prophet.

There is, however, a built in mechanism to defend the arrogance of the leader, authorities and followers against being inoculated with the truth: Bald face arrogant lies. The Fragmentation of a Sect: Schism in the Worldwide Church of God by Dr. David V. Barrett quotes Richard Nichols, Herbert Armstrong and Richard T. Rittenbaugh to show how this works:

The offshoots deal with the problem of Armstrong’s failed prophecies in different ways. Richard C. Nickles, of Giving and Sharing Ministry, quotes Armstrong himself from an early World Tomorrow radio broadcast:

A terrible famine is coming on the United States, that is going to ruin us as a nation inside of less than twenty more years. Alright, I stuck my neck out right there. You just wait twenty years and see whether I told you the truth. God says, if a man tells you what’s going to happen, wait and see. If it doesn’t happen, he was not speaking the word of God, he’s speaking out of his own mind. If it happens, you know God sent him.

Nickels comments, “The twenty years is long past! Herbert Armstrong labeled himself a false prophet.”

But Richard T. Ritenbaugh, of the Church of the Great God, comes to a different conclusion. Although he accepts that Armstrong “made many predictions during his ministry, and many of them have not come to pass. Some were plain wrong. Some were vague. Some were specific,” he then argues:

So what are all those predictions Herbert Armstrong made? Rather than call them prophecies (which they were not) and him a false prophet (which he was not), his predictions were more correctly speculations, theories based on true but insufficient and unclear evidence. Speculation is not sin.

It is if you sign it “In Jesus’ Name”.

Richard T. Rittenbaugh.

Liar.

What a Dick.

At minimum, a religious leader that makes wild prognostications [make that read: Prophecies] which do not come to pass, simply cannot be trusted to get anything right [make that read: Is a false prophet]. Read 1975 in Prophecy again [published in 1956] and if you aren’t embarrassed to have believed it at some point, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

It is arrogance that moves the leaders to declare that white is black, black is white, lies are truth, truth is lies, love is hate, hate is love, poverty is prosperity, prosperity is poverty, speculation isn’t prophecies and that failed prophecies don’t make a man a false prophet, but it gets worse, because if it were just the arrogance of the leaders, the membership would bolt like scared rabbits.

It is arrogance that keeps the members in place, even after their leader is proved to be wrong, a false prophet, crazy and even a convicted felon. Members of Ronald Weinland’s Church of God – Preaching the Kingdom of God (PKG) continue to not just follow him but continue to give him their money so his wife can go travelling, buy underwear from Victoria Secret and have all those diamonds she sports, even as he sits in prison for Income Tax Evasion as a convicted felon. He isn’t going anywhere for the next three years and neither are his followers. They believe in him. They lap up all the crap he spews at them. They won’t leave. They continue to defend him, even though his absolute set dates (multiple and progressive) for the return of Jesus Christ come and go, come and go and still, no Jesus. The next date is coming up less than 50 days from now. It too, will come and go, but the PKG membership will stay because of their infernal arrogance. They will not admit they are wrong. They will not change. They don’t stop following their false prophet proved wrong again and again. That takes a LOT of arrogance.

1956

History has repeated itself: You just wait twenty years and see whether I told you the truth. God says, if a man tells you what’s going to happen, wait and see. If it doesn’t happen, he was not speaking the word of God, he’s speaking out of his own mind. If it happens, you know God sent him. The only thing that is different is the time period. Ronald Weinland said essentially the same thing. He’s proved himself a false prophet. Since the other Cult of Herbert Armstrong sects have been making the same prophecies (but most don’t set specific dates — it’s always 5 to 7 years away), they too are false prophets. Ronald Weinland is just one who’s the worst one caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Roderick Meredith has been able to be a false prophet for 60 years — a record hardly anyone in the CoHA sects can rival, but he keeps going on and on and on (he may die shortly, so if he does before this article is published, I apologize, but, after all, I didn’t prophesy it, one way or another).

The arrogance of the leaders and the membership is asinine, but one man, Dixon Cartwright, has put together The Journal which manages to keep the arrogance alive and prosper in one place. He knows that most of the stuff in the rag is pure drivel, but he publishes it anyway. He gives nearly everyone to have a dialog, even though it should be obvious they are spewing. The Journal actively supports and promotes arrogance in its own way, to keep the arrogance alive, thereby giving the arrogant advertisers opportunity to promote their emphatic empathy entropy and the writers an opportunity to have arguments which are totally meaningless given that the assumptions upon which they are based are quite daft. There is month after month, page after page publications of stupidity disguised as arrogant confidence.

No one is about to give up the arrogance. It holds everything and everybody in place. It is the glue that holds the cultists together, except they aren’t glued together, they are screwed together — but they are too bull headed to admit there’s anything wrong with their wrong headed religion. It can’t work and it doesn’t, but they aren’t about to admit it because of their arrogance, so the dysfunctional disease continues unabated. A few escape, but often it takes quite a lot at the personal level to prompt them to leave when they get to the point they just can’t stand it any more.

And after they do leave, they look back at the arrogant “friends” and “family” they left behind, with their glorious erstwhile leaders, and see, even if not perceive, the great arrogance of the cult which held them prisoners for so long.

There are over 7 billion people on planet earth. Each one of us is just a small part of a giant crowd. Very few rise to the level of being noticed — but what if, what if, you had something that distinguished you as special? Suppose you had secret knowledge? Suppose that you were one of just a small few that was selected of God to have truth that no one else has? Suppose that you could feel different, special, superior? Suppose that you are so very special that you have the entitlement to be arrogant? Suppose you will become a king, priest, god, to lord over all your former critics, enemies and those who don’t even notice you, let alone pay any attention to you? You can now ignore science. You can now ignore the experts. You can now ignore anyone who disagrees with you. You can remain confident that you are better than anyone else (except your Guru and his appointees) and no one can tell you anything. You are right and everyone else is wrong. You are better. You are superior. Soon, the whole world will see how special you are. You will be validated. You are a winner!

This is really heady stuff. It is the stuff of arrogance. It is for losers.

If you need to know, the earth is not flat and the earth revolves around the sun.

The rest you should be able to figure out for yourself if you’re not too arrogant.

Swindlers

Herbert Armstrong’s Crime Syndicate

Mr. Davis stood there with Mr. MacFarland discussing the repairs Mr. MacFarland had made for Mr. Davis. Mr. MacFarland was a remarkable man, since he was blind from action in a foreign war, but was still a top flight mechanic. He was remarkable in other ways. For example, he was giving his wife grief because she could not park the car. She said, “Fine, you park it!” not expecting he could respond. He got out of the passenger’s seat, measured off the distances between the auto and the two other cars in relationship to the parking space between them, got in the driver’s seat and proceeded to park the car perfectly. She certainly didn’t have much response to that. Our illustrious Mr. Davis handed Mr. MacFarland three one dollar bills and thanked Mr. MacFarland for the excellent work he did, and Mr. MacFarland thanked him for the $30 dollars owed, thinking it was three ten dollar bills. He was blind you know.

Swindlers have been an endemic epidemic within the Cult of Herbert Armstrong since the 1950s: It isn’t just the leaders and ministers, it’s the members. One estimation is that about one-third of any given micronanocult of Herbert Armstrong may be swindlers. Dr. Robert Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak give us a clue in Snakes in Suits: Psychopaths are attracted to unstable environments that lack controls for process — and even lack process. A group that is in stages of development or drastic change are particularly vulnerable, since swindlers take advantage of the lack of standards by which “right” and “wrong” within the group are measured. They marginalize what rules there are through doubt and casting aspersions, making people within the group vulnerable to their inevitable psychopath games.

A girl named Cara, a member’s daughter, came home one day with the rest of the family from Sabbath Services and proceeded to tell them about her best friend in church: Marta was 12 years old and her father had been committing incest with her. The family also found out that Jan, Cara’s other best friend, had a father who was a psychopath with an interesting story. Barto had come into the church from the Philippines and promoted the idea he was a doctor, but because of United States rules, he could not be certified — or so he said: The real truth is that he was a swindler with a con game who had no medical training at all. Barto became best friends with Dr. Johansen, a church member who was a real licensed practicing physician. Barto proceeded to dupe Dr. Johansen into promoting him as a physician. The end result of this game was that the real doctor, Dr. Johansen, lost his license, his practice and was disgraced while the psychopath Barto dumped Dr. Johansen to leave him fend for himself after Dr. Johansen was ruined, lost his license and his practice — forced to change careers. Barto remarried. His daughter, Jan, and Cara, the daughter of the family in view here, went to meet with the psychopath’s wife, Jan’s stepmother, who just happened to have schizophrenia. They knocked on the door and from inside a voice said, “You are here to kill me! No wait, that’s not reality!” The three girls, Cara, Mara and Jan, often went off together to Nordstrom’s to shoplift expensive scarves. They never got caught.

Recently, the elder pedophile who had a penchant for young boys in the church died and had his funeral, which brought up the memory of the leading lady in the church who informed the father of the young son what the man who was his YOU teacher had been doing. She related at the Night to Be Much Observed that the leading ladies in the church tried to bring the matter to the Headquarters at Pasadena but were rebuffed. The best they could do is “keep an eye on him” during services and particularly on the Holydays.

Many are familiar with the stalkers in the cult who declared to their obsession, “You are mine!” after their obsession was married to someone else. Imagine the embarrassment of a married man returning from his honeymoon having the lurker in the church spring from behind a column where she hid herself to declare this.

There have been all manner of scams, swindles and cons, not just by the Takers who are leaders in the church with their ministers, but the members as well. The cult is a dangerous environment and that is because of what Dr. Phil in his book, “Life Code” describes as the BAITERS:

  • Backstabers
  • Abusers
  • Imposters
  • Takers
  • Exploiters
  • Reckless

Though virtually invisible to most naive sheep members, these BAITERS lurk in the background like the crows at the neglected Ambassador College before it was sold to Harvest Rock. They are dark evil beings at what may be thought of at the fringes of the cult, but are very active and very much a part of it — it’s just that people don’t recognize them.

Last time, we examined the Evil Eight properties of these BAITERS:

  1. They see the world through a lens of arrogant entitlement and frequently treat people as targets
  2. They lack empathy
  3. They are incapable of feeling remorse / guilt and don’t learn from situation to situation
  4. They are irresponsible, self-destructive and disregard the well-being of others
  5. They thrive on drama and crisis
  6. They brag about outsmarting other people
  7. They have a pattern of short-term relationships
  8. They live in a fantasy world marked by delusion

This time we will examine the Nefarious 15 “tactics,” behaviors, or strategies BAITERs will use to “get to you,” hurt you, and take what is yours:

  1. They infiltrate your life, seducing with promises and flattery
  2. They define you as a conspiratorial confidant
  3. They are way too focused on getting your approval — as though their very existence depends on your accepting them
  4. They are always gathering data and “building a file” on you. Everything they do, every interaction, is for a purpose
  5. They consistently misdirect and maintain a mystery about who they really are; they answer questions that weren’t asked; they obfuscate
  6. When confronted with problems, they always blame others
  7. They lie, either by misstatement or by omission; they understand that lies with a kernel of truth are the most powerful
  8. They are frauds; they cheat, and they steal property, information, and credit for other people’s work and claim false competencies to gain trust and reliance
  9. They isolate their victims and foster dependency to obligate you and gain leverage and power
  10. When in a position of power and authority, they abuse it with self-dealing and egomaniacal conduct
  11. They ID your sensitivities and hot buttons to gain leverage
  12. They have “selective memory” and are revisionist historians; they reframe reality
  13. They are two-faced; they spread lies and gossip — pretending to be your friend and ally to give you a false sense of security while being disloyal
  14. Because they are paranoid, they “get you” before you [can] “get them”
  15. They are masters of passive-aggressive sabotage

Our pilgrimage would be incomplete if we did not mention the methodology used by Herbert Armstrong — the one still in use today by all the cult leaders: To reduce the prospective members to think of themselves as worthless.

Those of us who were in the cult in the 1950s and 1960s remember well this indoctrination. As we came to “the truth” (which was nothing of the sort), we were taught that nothing we knew was worth anything, nothing we ever did amounted to anything and we were convinced that we were so worthless that we had to start from the very beginning to rebuild from the ground up.

Herbert Armstrong, of course, knew everything that was worth knowing — he was the Apostle and no one could trump him! He was the one that God chose who was the only one through whom any truth could be revealed — from the top down. No one could tell him anything, and if they tried… well, he had a temper and he was used to getting his way. He was the top dog and he was the only one who had the quality to take the message of Corporate Christ to the leaders of this world (by using vague stupid references to the two trees which meant absolutely nothing). He was the only one who could go to evil despots and dictators to present them with Steuben Crystal from tithed blood money. All the rest of us were pathetic nothings who needed to know our place in the hierarchy, which was pretty much to supply this egoist with $2 Billion to $4 Billion to provide for his excessive personal life style. He was so close to God, no one dare oppose him.

By the put down and treatment with contempt, the people fell into line, devoid of what might be laughingly called self-esteem.

This was doubly bad because the children of the church members were treated the same way: They needed to know their place among the gods — playing less than any insignificant role as less than anyone else, save for the domestic companions of the family. As serfs and slaves to the serfs and slaves, having absolutely no rights, knowing nothing and having not one shred of power in their insignificance, they were prepped for a future slavery of underachievement, discouraged from ever aspiring to the dreams and goals of their schoolmate peers. Many of them thought that this dysfunctional family life was the norm and everyone lived this way, not realizing that it was a profound aberration designed to keep them captive to a slave mentality system of the peasants.

You are nothing.

You will be god.

Be satisfied with that.

Or you’re out.

There’s nothing like intimidation on the worthless to keep them in the prison especially designed by the swindlers of the cult.

The Cult of Herbert Armstrong employs all of these methods. They are evil. They corrupt.

And again, there is not one reason in this world you should give them the benefit of the doubt. None. They are not worth your time, let alone your money and other resources.

To be clear: Herbert Armstrong was a failed ad copy writer with barely an eighth grade education with delusions of greatness, plying lies, deceptions and fantasies as reality upon duped naive sheep type followers. He had no real worth. The only thing he really understood was “quality” things, possessions; and his great swelling ego making him above and beyond those of accomplishment, talent and achievement who could have been great, but were ruined by his selfish meddling. He was a swindler — a BAITER.

And all his followers now making themselves leaders are also BAITERs.

This is the time to understand who these people are, understand how they work and guard against them, lest they take who you are and destroy it.

Abandon the swindlers and don’t let them claim ascendancy.