By John O.
The opinions expressed in articles by the author, are his personal beliefs only.
They are NOT necessarily intended to convey what readers must accept.
Each is encouraged to prove all things for themselves.
It was many years ago when my buddy, Karl, and I talked on his back porch in eastern Tennessee. He personally knew John Banner (I KNOW NOTHING) and we chatted about our experiences with Worldwide Church of God. Since we were both out now, we could chuckle a little, and feel a little glum at times.
Karl and I had been through the cult together. We'd shared the mess, suffered the pain, incurred the losses, and licked our wounds. Over time, we'd come spasmodically together from New York (we were both electronic engineers), we'd driven across the country, traveled in parts of the East, we'd been in Arizona and California, touched base in Hawaii, flown together in a Cessna 172 over the islands, and now we had things to re-share under the humid spring of a Tennessee sky. We were, and still are, the best of friends. And we talked about the incident of the cat.
Isn't it amazing, Karl commented that night, how people trusted the ministry? I remember. The brethren would do anything the minister recommended because they thought this guy was a "man of God." The congregation were so ready to remove their brain and leave it at the feet of the ministry (and I include myself), and rely totally on the judgment of "God's Servant." Little did we know.
None of us could see this whole thing as a business. The TKACH WEALTH and (and plenty of other Ed's web pages) ought to convince the most ardent "believer" of the cult. Believe it or not, we actually believed that the ministry had a pipeline to God, and the advice they gave, came from Father Himself. Thus we trusted the ministry to give us "God's information," as the supposed laying-on-of-hands gave a man the direct connection to God and the knowledge of eternity.
This crazy idea was further complicated by (what appeared to be) the occasional "miracle." I remember one woman who came to me on one Sabbath. This was common knowledge, as she told everyone of what happened, so it's not private. She told me that she and her husband could not have children. She asked for anointing. I did. Within two weeks, she was pregnant. And so the saying went out: "If you want to get pregnant, then go and see John."
And the credibility rose. Since I knew this was just co-incidence (and maybe faith on her part), I gave no mind to the implications. But others did. Brethren started to trust the ministry more and more. And this is where the danger comes in. Trust NO man, I eventually learned, and prove all things.
It was the brightness of the stars (unlike California) in eastern Tennessee that I remember that night Karl and I talked about the cat. We were not too far from the Nantahala National Forest, and although we could laugh at this situation at times, the impact of the story was sad. The story is no secret, as everyone knew all the details.
There was a wonderful lady in the congregation who was living alone and who wanted a pet. A couple, in the congregation, raised cats, and they gave this lady a kitty. Unfortunately, to those who know cats, most kitties have a mind of their own. Although this is no problem to us cat lovers, it can be trouble to those who have never had a pet before. If you own a cat (like we do) you have a very unique and predictably independent animal. This lovely lady did NOT understand.
Since she was having problems disciplining the cat, she talked about it to the congregation. Now, it happened that there was a guy in the congregation whose name was also "John." This guy was a prankster. He had the answer to her problem . . . or so he told her. The answer? When the cat is disobedient, then put it into the toilet bowl and flush it. The shock, he said, will restore the cat to obedience. She did.
The problem here is that the congregation thought the other "John" was me. Please, lemme go on record. My wife and I are total animal lovers. We love our cats, give them full freedom, and totally abhor any type of vivisection or animal experimentation. Animals have feelings too. That goes for EVERY type of pet. WE LOVE ANIMALS.
The sadness of this tale is that the kitty died of pneumonia a few days later. And I got the blame.
Although this sounds pathetic, the implications are far reaching. The congregation did NOT challenge me on this issue. They thought that it was me that told the lady to do this dumb thing, but NO ONE challenged me. I wish to God they had. Later, my friend, Karl, told me about the situation, and I had to apologize in a sermon about the confusion. This shows how people actually TRUST the so-called "ministry."
This is what happens in Worldwide Church of God+ and it extends to all other areas. If we don't prove all things, then we're at the mercy of those who would abuse our minds. If ever there was an extension of "God" to us, then the mind is it. But no one challenges the thinking of a "ministry" in a cult.
In a cult, people give their minds and finances to the organization, and then they surrender their intelligence to the local ministry.
Probably FEAR is the greatest factor in this equation. Because folks think that any organization - like Worldwide Church of God + - are actually organizations of "God," then they think that whatever comes from this whole mess is equated to as a revelation from Divinity.
The worst problem here is (again) that NO ONE challenged me. No one brought me the Matthew 18 principle. They all "assumed" that I was correct, since I was a "man anointed of God," and nothing could be further from the truth. I was NOT anointed, nor was I a man of God, and I am still NOT, anymore than anyone else that's reading this. But people trusted me, and even though I never said it, they'd do the most bizarre things. This is scary.
I later found out that many were annoyed at my supposed "advice." Heck . . . I would be too. I would never treat a cat that way. But everyone supposed my thinking to be correct because they thought I was a "minister." It took my buddy, Karl, to come to me and say: "Hey John, is this true?"
Pleeeeeeease, trust no man. Believe no one. Prove all things. Let's use our minds. And as long as Ed puts this on the site, I'll yell it. Let's use the intelligence that God gives us, and not that of another.
On that night in Tennessee, Karl and I sat on the back porch and watched the stars. I remember that night, and for those brief moments together, we felt that the world was at peace. But, together we wondered what would have happened if after that woman had flushed the kitty in the toilet, and then she opened the lid and found that the cat was gone?
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