Wayne Paris' letter to a Worldwide Church of God minister friend.
This was posted to ekklesia on 6/22/97.
Reprinted here with Mr. Paris' permission.
This post is a letter I sent a Worldwide Church of God pastor. It offers reflections on a number of postings I've seen on ekklesia with regard to Worldwide Church of God "party line." It took a little time. I haven't identified the pastor, who is a friend (I hope after he gets this private mail), so he'll never know I shared it. It's available for reflection, comment or lambaste. I'm not particular. I apologize for not editing out the personal notes.
Doxology: Proverbs 27:6 Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful.
I'll repeat my last e-mail after this one to remind you of a proffered on-going dialogue. Still waiting, and waiting. I'm not surprised that the proffered dialogue wilted and died. I expected it. It happened when I addressed Fred Davis' response and it happened when I addressed it a couple of times in letters to you.
I've followed some Worldwide Church of God trends on the Internet since that last post. They provoke observations (invited by you) or not. It's just so easy to press the "send" button, I will send in spite of your lack of response.
There is a lot of exchange on the Internet that "lurkers" (comes across as voyeuristic, doesn't it) like me can see that offers insights unavailable to the average Worldwide Church of God lay person. I reckon I know more about what's going on than the average dedicated sabbath service attender. For one thing, my point of observation is not censored or spin-doctored. I'd question whether that candid condition prevails in sabbath services. But then, my point of observation relates back 20 years, doesn't it? One observation is that called "Calvinistic" which is spreading in local Worldwide Church of God congregations. Indeed Calvinistic and Congregational are related. They both oppose catholic or hierarchical church governance. They, therefore, repel Mr. Tkach's recent thesis on church governance.
Some time back, I wrote something to you or someone relative to the word "glasnost": openness. I speculated that Mr. Gorbechov, of the former Soviet Union, would have sacrificed his favorite appendage to recover the concept or emergence of glasnost when he learned the cost. He was a dedicated communist. Glasnost, designed to offer a modicum of freedom in a society where communism and freedom were incompatible, resulted in the demise of his communist social system. I have speculated that M. Tkach (Sr. or Jr.) would rue the day he introduced Worldwide Church of God glasnost to the Worldwide Church of God proletariat.
From the first day I saw Mark Trabladillo's home page I told Sharon that the Worldwide Church of God had let a genie out of the bottle that they'd never get back in and would pay a lot to try to do so. I've since learned that he (a member) is considered a thorn-in-the-side, gadfly, pain-in-the-ass troublemaker. Frankly, he is an even-handed, articulate, free-thinking Christian offering well-thought-out opinions and analyses, and opportunity for free exchange of communication to any and all points of view of Worldwide Church of Goders and non-WCGers, in and out of the fellowship. I call that freedom of expression.
I think that is the premise of some important foundational stones of our democracy which allowed Herbert and company to mess up me and a generation and a half of like spiritual retards. We weren't exclusive, but we were his particular grist for the mill of a limited diabolical deception. That constitutional freedom also allowed us to exit that mess-up. I'd hate to think what pope Herbert would have done to religious freedom given the power to constrain it. He abused every other power we gave him with our funding. He'd certainly have been as ruthless as the perpetrators of the inquisition to enforce his concept of religion on a truculent citizenry. Please, he said gaaawwwd was going to do it if he couldn't.
Were I in your position, I would find my allegiances divided, indeed, scattered. I have found in material I've learned from Worldwide Church of God history that your position is clearly a dichotomy or a trichotomy. A paid representative of an organization feels an allegiance to the organization. A sincere minister of the gospel feels an allegiance to the author of the gospel and to the recipients of the gospel. In your case, that's a three-way split or division. In order of portent these are reversed or mixed up in your position. It's happened before.
Since I saw you, I've seen some of that homogenization of responsibility displayed with and among your colleagues. Unfortunately, in most cases, the former has prevailed when in contradiction to the two latter. That introduces a fourth allegiance: personal benefit, the scariest of all. That fourth consideration is so perversely paternalistic, condescending and self-serving that it deserves only a foot-note along with an Al Bundy foot, below.
I've read the Kessler letter that reveals the moral and criminal decadence of Armstrong and his administration that was well-known by the his intimates, much of the ministry, and a significant measure of the membership. That perversity was hidden from the bulk of the latter for so many years primarily due to the third consideration, personal benefit. It was incumbent upon maintaining individual position and financial advantage to hide HWA's peccadilloes from the financial base, the membership. J. Tkach Jr. has admitted to being referred as the "bearded Armstrong basher." Yet I've asked repeatedly, "Why, if 99% of what Armstrong taught has been disavowed and retracted by the current administration, has Armstrong not been disavowed?" A 99% percent ecoli-infected hamburger is enough for me to toss the whole MacJackKing-burger, or whatever. I have always tied that to Jesus' admonitions about false prophets and corrupt trees. He didn't say beware and accept 1% of a false prophet's program, or kill the wolf and retrieve the sheepskin, or try to harvest good fruit from a corrupt tree. He said beware (avoid) the wolf, and he said cut down the damned tree and burn it.
I received only one credible answer, and that from an ex-adherent. Bill Meyer whose name has been consummately discredited by a still on-going "Goebbels" branch of the Worldwide Church of God replied to me that "current Worldwide Church of God pastors" are "unwilling to disavow Herbert Armstrong. The reason for this, I believe, is legitimization. Without some special role for Armstrong, the Worldwide Church of God and its current authoritarion Armstrong, strong-arm polity really loses its legitimacy. Without the heritage of Herbert W. Armstrong, Joseph Tkach has no authority. Without Herbert W. Armstrong, even the Worldwide Church of God ceases to have any hold over its members. Without some kind of special role, even if implicit these days, for HWA, members of the Worldwide Church of God will likely begin going to other healthier churches that aren't struggling to reinvent the wheel and that have grasped a Christ-centered Gospel for centuries."
It is an amazing paradox that "the bearded Armstrong basher" is forced to venerate Armstrong in order to preserve the mantle and legacy conferred upon him by the bashed Armstrong. Not just a paradox, but an ironic justice.
The contradictory allegiance to the author of the gospel, and the misapplied allegiance to the church was defined by your mentor. In 1994 Herbert W. Armstrong defined the changed D&R doctrine as "new light, new truth which God has finally shown." This revelation was coincidental to his marriage to a divorced woman, but we won't question that coincidence. The point is that years of members' suffering through marriages broken apart by the "old light," and "old truth," was, as by fiat, reversed, but not mended, by new light and new truth and the blame was placed on God. The light and truth were temporal and serendipitous, but the church was eternal and anchored, resolute. How can that be? And what is the difference when the same church renounces virtually all of HWA's convoluted theorems while holding to them in a symbolical (traditional, [sabbath, H.D.s]) presence, for the same purpose as maintaining the veneration of the fool that amalgamated the whole ecclesiastical quagmire. They are trying to hold the adherents while discarding the reasons for adherence.
"But if we tell them the truth, we could disillusion them into who knows what void." That's bullshit. The truth never did that. That elitist, supercilious disdain for the power, love, ability and prescience of God is the most repugnant aspect of an ocean of repugnance introduced to me by the Worldwide Church of God. It is anti-scriptural, anti-theological, anti-christ and blasphemous. I do not have the words to adequately convey my repulsion toward that concept. Jesus said: John 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
It's not the intention of Worldwide Church of God to shield members from truth to make them free. It is to retain control over, and dependence from, them. It is the same excuse Herbert W. Armstrong made in 1974 in explaining why he held truth from the "sheep, babes," (laity) he wrote: "The number of lives I might destroy forever . . . might be as many as ten thousand." That is the same misapplied, misdirected, Bible rejecting, paternalistic, condescending excuse that the same corrupt tree is using today to fail to identify Herbert Armstrong as a false prophet, the condition of which the current CAD recognizes. And the reason is the same, to imprison, not to free!!!
The allegiance to hierarchy (from whence the pay-checks flow), coupled with allegiance to the flock (which is an inexcusable condescension) are an oxy-moron. They are mutually incompatible. They are opposed forces and contraindicated reality, and exponentially so with regard to allegiance to the author of the gospel who said that He was the truth, the shepherd and the teacher. I would rather drown in a sea of dryer lint mixed with Marsing effluent than be in their station.
The fourth consideration (that scariest) is that which piously couples flock protection, gospel integrity, god (lower case) allegiance with self-interest. I can show you letters from "ministers" that disagreed with '94 doctrinal changes but quietly acquiesced until employment arrangements were made with GCG, UCG, XCG or CG AD NAUSEUM. Damned dedicated bunch of shepherds! And there are more of them still on Worldwide Church of God payroll. (Just the cleverest and most insidious.) But you know that. So does Joe.
I'm still wondering when I will get a straight response, not something more akin to a "lateral arabesque" (The Peter Principal, circa 1965) to my questions. You and God know that the universe does not hinge on my wondering, but you and God can hardly condemn me for asking. You, because it'd do you no good (lacking Herbert W. Armstrong's condemnative ability), and God, because since y'all are reaching out to the public in His name, He just may think that I (and the public) deserve an answer.
Your friend, Wayne Paris
If you have anything you would like to
submit to this site, or any comments,
email me at:
CLICK HERE FOR EMAIL ADDRESS.
Back to "Painful Truth" menu.
The content of this site, including but not limited to the text and images herein and their arrangement, are copyright © 1997-2002 by The Painful Truth All rights reserved.
Do not duplicate, copy or redistribute in any form without the prior written consent.