September 1993 (AR53)
WCG Adopts Trinity Doctrine
In a funny kind of way, it truly is a pity we cannot bring back Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) from the grave - at least for a little while. We would love to see the look on his face when he learned what has become of the institutions he founded: The Worldwide Church of God (WCG), Ambassador College, the Ambassador Foundation, The Plain Truth magazine, The World Tomorrow broadcast. All have been so completely transformed since his passing in 1986, that if he would even recognize them, HWA would undoubtedly be dumbfounded at what they have become. Indeed, it is fair to say that virtually everything HWA founded, discovered, taught, and built up has now been turned on its ear, and what remains ostensibly in his name (for instance, the WCG corporation) is now actively in opposition to much of what he stood for during his lifetime.
The latest HWA doctrine to be spit out by the current WCG administration of Joseph W. Tkach is HWA's adamantly non-trinitarian view of the Godhead. During his lifetime, HWA taught in no uncertain terms that the trinitarian view of God was not only erroneous, but was a pagan teaching that originated with the Devil himself. Now the WCG would prefer to forget it ever embraced such "unorthodox" views. After months of laying the psychological groundwork for the monumental change, the Tkachs called a ministerial conference in Pasadena in early June. During the conference, billed as "the most important since Acts 15," the gathered WCG bigwigs were told by Tkach Jr. and doctrinal expert Kyriacos Stavrinides that the WCG's God is, in fact, a three-person-in-one deity. According to the new view, not only are God the Father and Jesus "persons," but the Holy Spirit, too, is a person. HWA, of course, taught that the Holy Spirit, although coming from God, was really a non-physical power or force and was not an actual person. The WCG's new teaching - which is being hailed by many Christian denominations - is not only at variance with what HWA taught, it is even at variance with what the WCG was teaching just a few weeks ago. It is so much at variance, in fact, that the WCG has pulled its just-published "God Is..." booklet so a new version will reflect the latest WCG doctrine.
So which of HWA's teachings will be next to go on the chopping block? Insiders tell the Report that among those doctrinal changes to be announced to the church membership will be the new status of the Holy Days which, it is suggested, will become just symbols of God's plan - not really laws and not really required for salvation. (The WCG ministry has already been informed about this "modest paradigm shift" - Pastor General's Report, 7/13/93, p. 4.) Another doctrine being discussed by WCG theoreticians is the unclean meats doctrine. Some are already saying that the Old Testament dietary laws were only instituted because the ancients lacked refrigeration. Now that we have refrigerators, so the argument goes, there is no logical reason to pass up the pork and shrimp. Tkach Sr. has also told one of the WCG's gay members he plans to change the WCG's public position on homosexuality somewhat. However, our source does not know how far that change will go or how it will be instituted.
Naturally, with so many doctrines being constantly changed, it is getting a bit confusing for some Worldwiders to understand exactly what it is that they believe or don't believe. To help such members out, Tkach Jr. has issued the following order to his field ministers:
The June 15 PGR listed the only Church publications that should be in local church libraries. The Sabbath booklet, although not on that list, may be in Church libraries.
Obsolete booklets often contain explanations that are no longer representative of the Church. We do not want them in church libraries because many people would view them as officially sanctioned if they were there. So, if a new booklet is published on any particular topic, the old booklet should be removed from all local church libraries. (Pastor General's Report, 7/13/93, p. 6.)
Even more amazing is the Tkach position that doctrines, themselves, are just not that important. In fact, according to Tkach Jr., doctrines often get in the way:
The one chord that binds together each little denominational bundle is the identical thing that has caused every split and division that ever took place between brethren - DOCTRINE! As long as DOCTRINE is employed as [the] basis for church unity, every so-called "church" will suffer strife, division and separation into more divisions. (WN, 4/27/93, p. 5 in Tkach Jr. article entitled "Does God Identify and Underpin His Church by Doctrines, Growth?", emphasis his.)
Whatever one may feel about such views, long-time WCG observers will immediately recognize that we are witnessing a monumental transformation in the WCG's sales pitch. The WCG's ministry is apparently no longer going to say: "Follow us because we have the truth." What the Tkachs are telling us is: "Follow us, give us your money, and trust us with your spiritual welfare - not because we have the truth (because doctrinal truth does not really count for much, it's always changing and, besides, it only causes problems) - but follow us because of the loving feelings you get from being in our loving church."
WCG to Scuttle Its
Twenty years ago, it was not possible to discuss Armstrongism without discussing HWA's teaching on the subject of the identity of Israel - that is, his doctrine that the United States and the British Commonwealth ("US and BC") were the "House of Israel" of Bible prophecy. In today's WCG, however, that doctrine is so much in disrepute that many WCG ministers no longer discuss it. Some are even claiming the WCG never taught it! While there are a few who obstinately hold to it, the Tkach administration is now quietly preparing the way for HWA's version of British-Israelism or "Identity" to be abandoned as numerous other HWA teachings have been. A member of the Council of Elders recently leaked a copy of an 8/10/92 memo from WCG evangelist Joseph Tkach Jr. to WCG minister Mike Swagerty at Ambassador. Because it clearly shows the direction the Tkachs are taking on the "Identity" teaching, we believe you will find it as remarkable as we did. Here is what Jr. wrote to Swagerty on the subject of "Israel in end-time prophecy":
©1993 Ambassador Report. Published irregularly (as finances allow) as a Christian service. ISSN 0882-2123
John Trechak, Editor & Publisher Mary E. Jones, Associate Editor
Founding Publishers: Robert Gerringer, Bill Hughes, Mary E. Jones, John Trechak, Len Zola, and Margaret Zola
Little has been said because it was initially announced as a 2 year study project before we revise the booklet. Since it will require more time than just the 2 years to produce anything, I would not preach on the topic of Israel in end-time prophecy, if you plan to include anything about US & BC. All it will do is generate more questions and possibly more confusion. To directly answer your questions, I would not stick my neck out on it at all.
You commented that US & BC was a big mainstay of the ministry. I would draw your attention to the booklet, "1975 in Prophecy" which was also one of the biggest mainstays of the ministry and often listed by members as the main booklet that brought them into the Church. And it was found to be in error and removed from circulation.
I would answer any inquiries about "US & BC in Prophecy" by saying that we are studying the material in order to produce a revised booklet.
Allow me to acquaint you with some of the problems, if you are not already aware of them.
1) From a Biblical overview: Our traditional belief is that the covenants and promises recorded in the Old Testament have not yet been fulfilled. Yet, we have never addressed how these promises of a continuing line of kings should be understood in light of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When you stop and consider the significance of Acts 4:12 (neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved) the teaching of US & BC has no significance. The national identity is of no consequence given Christ's sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice is (and it should be our central plank and fulcrum) pivotal to God's plan. God is no longer dealing with a single nation.
2) From a plan of salvation view: In light of the New Testament, and the centrality of Christ in God's plan of salvation (as mentioned above) much of the relevance of our teaching on US & BC is reduced to - so what! Galatians 3:28 says, "There is neither Jew, nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." In Galatians 6:16, Paul refers to the Israel of God. While we do not cease being male nor female, Jew nor Greek, American nor German while we are human; in this life we are asked to partake of God's nature and be part of the Israel of God - spiritual Israel.
3) From a logical view: Accepting the identity of modern nations as explained by US & BC forces us to have an a priori presupposition to prophecy. In other words we force ourselves into a corner on interpreting the prophecies by stating the conclusion and then forcing the text of scripture to fit our preconceived conclusions.
4) From a historical view: All of our traditional proofs are based upon folklore, legend, myth, and superstition. There may be some reliable historical evidence, but our booklet has never used any of it. Some of our statements contradict the evidence of history. It is a historical fact that the British empire found this explanation favorable as a justification for their imperial expansion of their empire.
 From an ethical point of view: It is a well known fact that Mr. Armstrong did not originate this teaching. In fact, earlier editions of the US & BC [booklet] plagiarized vast portions of a booklet entitled "Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright." It is not possible to say that this was revealed to Mr. Armstrong, when in fact, we can see where he copied it from - including the historical errors.
 From a practical point of view: In the 1600's when the Sabbath-keepers came to America, they did not preach to the native Americans or to themselves that, "hey! we are Manasseh, and we must warn everyone of their true national identity." Whether a person is from Manasseh, Ephraim, Assyria, or Italy, it is not pertinent to salvation.
We don't need to know whether we are Manasseh, or Ephraim to preach the coming tribulation, the day of the Lord, the return of Christ, the Millennium, or the white throne judgment.
Now, my opinion of US & BC is that this is an interesting episode in history that needs to be pursued. And that is what we are doing, but it will take time. It should not stay at the high level of doctrine until we can find proof. This is especially important if it is to remain the central plank in our view of prophecy. We can't simply say this is something to accept on faith because the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ reduces the importance of the idea to a non-essential in terms of salvation.
Well, we have to keep working at it.
Hang in there!
[J. Tkach Jr.]
When the complete undoing of "US & BC" will be sprung on the WCG membership remains to be seen. But, clearly, the old HWA doctrine is as good as dead.
* * *
Editor: In the last few years so many WCG doctrines and policies have changed - and so radically - that it would perhaps be wise for us to pause a moment to reflect upon the magnitude of those changes. Former WCG minister David C. Pack has provided all of us with a service by putting together and distributing a rather comprehensive list of WCG doctrine and policy changes. Apparently compiled while he was on the WCG payroll as a minister, and it is therefore quite authoritative, the uncopyrighted paper has recently gotten wide distribution in WCG circles. Pack, who has not been one of our favorite WCG ministers (see AR32), is now a minister with the WCG's newest competitor, the Global Church of God (P.O. Box 5500, Glendora, CA 91740-5500). That being the case, we should keep in mind that he has a certain theological bias. (And most emphatically, Mr. Pack's views are his own and not those of AR.) Nevertheless, his compilation of 154 doctrinal and 28 policy changes is well-researched and his comments do reflect the thinking of many prominent ministers and laymembers still in the Tkach organization. With those caveats in mind, we are presenting Mr. Pack's paper below.
A few clarifications should be made for newer readers. The abbreviations: PT, WN, PGR, CAD, PCD, CW, and Reg. Conf. stand for, respectively: Plain Truth, Worldwide News, Pastor General's Report, Church Administration Department, Personal Correspondence Department, Co-Worker, and Regional Conference. The term "cc:Mail" refers to the WCG ministry's new computer network system. Except for punctuation corrections and the addition of some italics, the paper is unedited. Emphasis by underlining is Mr. Pack's throughout.
Doctrinal Changes of the
Worldwide Church of God
by David C. Pack
This is a comprehensive list of most all the doctrinal changes of the Worldwide Church of God. While some of these changes are smaller and less significant, others are huge and have a devastating impact on belief. Many changes involve numerous re-explanations of individual scriptures that could have been listed separately, making this list, quite literally, almost unending. A more comprehensive approach was attempted at the risk of being called picky because it demonstrates that heresy is a cancer that eventually leavens everything it touches. If people were being killed instead of truth, surely we would call this a holocaust.
There are perhaps four to six changes that might be for the better. I do not wish it to be said that "Dave Pack disagrees with every change the Church has made since the death of Mr. Armstrong." This has been said of Dr. Meredith and Mr. Raymond McNair among others to deliberately make us look like Armstrong worshippers rather than followers of truth. It is probably inevitable that this list will fall into the hands of people who will set out to attack and discredit it. I claim it to be neither complete nor perfect. The list grows almost daily anyway. Clever word-gimmickry can probably successfully explain away some few of these changes. Will you let that obscure the massive scope of this great apostasy as you study this list? Or will you prove all things, hold fast that which is good and only follow teachers of truth?
II Thes. 2:3 says a falling away (Greek apostasia - "a defection from truth") will precede Christ's return and verse 13 shows that receiving salvation is attached to "belief of the truth."
I Tim. 6:3-5 makes it clear what one must do in such historic and prophetic circumstances as these we now face. 2000 years of church history show people of truth and courage have always been willing to take this Biblical step. (Note: PGR Personals almost always appear 1-2 weeks later as a WN Personal.)
1. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is now almost entirely about Jesus. "Christ is the Gospel.... He is the Kingdom of God." (PGR, 8/4/92 and 4/20/93, Personals.)
2. The Kingdom is here and we're in it now.
3. Mr. Armstrong was not the modern Elijah. The Church instead fulfills that role. (PCD form letter.)
4. Matt. 24:14 is no longer the Church's commissionit's "just a prophecy." (Portfolio, 3/4/93, Forum & Assembly, R. Kelly.)
5. Ezek. 33:1-7 was fulfilled by Ezekiel - it was never our responsibility. Isa. 58: 1 is not "thoughtful, dignified and friendly" - "it's too dogmatic." (WN, 12/29/92, G. Albrecht.)
6. Modern Israel's identity (U.S. & B.C. book) has been shelved/abandoned and called "folklore, legend, myth and superstition." (J. Tkach Jr. memo to U.S. field minister.)
7. "Christ fulfilled the major Purpose of the national identity of Israel." (PT, 12/92, Q&A section.)
8. Prophetic emphasis was just "prediction addiction." Prophecy is to encourage believers, not warn nonbelievers. (Numerous WN Personals.)
9. The second coming is possibly far off - maybe following another world war. (Numerous places in 1991 and later.)
10. There is no 7000-year plan of God. (PCD letter L57.)
11. God is ...a Trinity (defined as "3 in 1") and a mystery variously called three "consciousnesses, existences, entities" and the concept of the Trinity is not pagan. ("God Is..." booklet, p. 44.)
12. God is... not a family - He has one.
13. God is... not a person [nor] is Christ.
14. God and Christ don't have a body.
15. Man is not made in God's literal form, shape and image.
16. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Polytheism, etc. teach us much about God. ("God Is..." booklet, p. 4.)
17. Christians are only adopted sons who will never become God Beings. God is not reproducing Himself.
18. Christ resurrected Himself. (He, then, couldn't have died for us.) (G. Albrecht sermon to ministers in 1991.)
19. The terms Father and Son are only analogous concepts. (see I Jn. 2:22!)
20. Christ could not sin - Mr. Armstrong's explicit definition of the spirit of anti-Christ. ("Millions Do Not Know What Christ Really Was," HWA reprint, pp. 3-4.) If He wasn't tempted and He didn't overcome sin He can't be our High Priest and had an advantage over us.
21. Striving to imitate Christ toward salvation is "an unscriptural false hope." (PGR, 1/22/91, Q&A.)
22. Christ was crucified on a cross and not a stake.
23. The cross is now "a symbol of service and sacrifice" and members at HQ (and elsewhere) are already wearing crosses. "Remember the cross" is now the WCG "battle cry." (PGR, 2/17/93, Personal.)
24. Interracial marriage is no longer wrong.
25. Marriage to unbelievers is now permissible "because we traditionally defined believers as baptized WCG members" - this is "extremely narrow." (PGR, 4/20/93, p. 3., J. Tkach Jr.)
26. II Cor. 6:14 is just a warning about spending time with idolaters. (PGR, 4/20/93, p. 3.)
27. Divorce and Rearriage is now permitted for over two dozen reasons including "mental abuse, emotional or spiritual abandonment" and many other hard-to-define reasons. (Special Policy Statement, 4/20/93, J. Tkach Sr.)
28. An annulment may be obtained by anyone who regrets getting married several months into the marriage. Also, the Church now accepts any legal annulment. (Special Policy Statement, 4/20/93, J. Tkach Sr.)
29. Place of Safety is not to be emphasized.
30. Church eras are not to be emphasized. (PGR, 2-3 years ago.)
31. Any Church history booklets are gone because "we make no attempt to trace ourselves to the first century." (M. Snyder, 12/13/91, Detroit WMUZ radio interview.)
32. The "invisible church" doctrine (from Augustine) allows for good Protestants and others to be saved. "We make no claims to exclusivity." (M. Snyder, 12/13/91, Detroit WMUZ radio interview - 11/17/92 cc:Mail to all ministers from J. Tkach Jr. states the same in various ways.)
33. Instead of "enduring to the end to be saved," Christians are saved now.
34. Christians are born again at conversion instead of at the resurrection.
35. Social activism through do-gooding in the community is now Christian duty and will help spread the Kingdom. (PT, 3/93, p. 17.)
36. Personal evangelizing and "sharing Jesus" is Christian duty and will spread the Kingdom. (Numerous WN Personals, 12/92-3/93 and various CW letters.)
37. The ability to evangelize is a gift of the Spirit. (PGR, 3/2/93, Personal.)
38. A completely open door exists to every Church function.
39. The Greek word for church, ekklesia, means "called together," not "called out ones."
40. Now is the time for the world's salvation. (Telecast, 3/29/92, D. Hulme.) Mr. Armstrong always understood this was not true.
41. Members may visit and invite prospective members to church - once a duty only for ministers.
42. Members may freely join worldly organizations.
43. Salvation is a gift by grace through faith requiring no works or obedience.
44. The WCG "understands and practices New Testament Christianity." Old Testament verses are rarely quoted. (Tithing booklet ["Tithing and the Give Way"], last page.)
45. Being led by the Holy Spirit - not any set of doctrines - or being in the right organization defines what a Christian is. (CW letter, 2/25/92 and WN, 4/27/93, feature headline, p. 5.)
46. Obedience springs from the Holy Spirit. Acts 5:32 says God gives His Spirit to them that obey Him.
47. Baptism is not required for salvation. (D. Hulme, M. Feazell statements at Evangelical Conf. in Deefield, Illinois.)
48. The Laying on of Hands is "not a fundamental doctrine" so it was excluded from the Statement of Beliefs - see Heb. 6:6. (J. Tkach Jr., cc:Mail to minist-ers, 1/93.)
49. Unconverted mates are "unbaptized members." (Arrows in Flight, 4/93, p. 4.) The term member is subjective because only God knows who they are. (Arrows in Flight, 3/93, p. 3.)
50. The focus of WCG literature is now grace, mercy, reconciliation, sanctification and Christ's blood.
51. The terms "qualify," "development of holy, righteous character," "building holy righteous character," "striving to overcome sin," "conquering sin," "qualifying for the Kingdom of God," etc. are removed from our publications by written policy. (U.S. Reg. Con. handout, M. Feazell, 8/92.)
52. The terms "false religionists," "professing Christianity," "so-called Christians," "religions of the world," "converted Christians," "pagan religions," etc. are both judgmental and condemning and are not to be used. Instead, terms like "Christianity," "Christians," "Mainstream Christians," "Jesus' disciples" should be used. (U.S. Reg. Conf. handout, 8/92, G. Albrecht.)
53. Mr. Armstrong taught the Ten Commandments are the basis for love while the WCG teaches the Ten Commandments don't forbid hatred, envy, rage, selfishness, conceit, and don't require love. (CW letter, 5/27/92.)
54. Mr. Armstrong said the liberalism of the 1970s put the Church in "mortal danger of becoming Laodicea" (GN, 8/79, Personal) but [the] current Pastor General accuses people who wish to hold to old teachings of being self-righteous judges who use emotional arguments to gain their own following. (WN, 12/17/90, Personal.) The current Pastor General wrote "a pharisee is anyone who thinks he has knowledge others do not have." (WN, 10/10/89, Personal.)
55. Co-workers are now "Brothers and Sisters in Christ" and PT subscribers are "Fellow members of the household of faith." (PT, 4/92, Personal.)
56. Voting and contributions to politicians are private matters. (Announced in Big Sandy.)
57. Third tithe may be paid every year at 2.8% abrogating the Deut. 26:12-15 third-tithe-year prayer of faith.
58. Tithing is called a "concept" instead of a law.
59. The WCG is officially pro-choice because "abortion is not equated with murder." IUDs, which kill fertilized ova, are permissible for contraception. (Private letter sent to members and personal CAD advice to members who call and ask.)
60. Men may wear earrings (though not yet at services) and probably the apostles did. (PGR, 1/22/91 and J. Tkach Jr. at Reg. Conf. 8/92.)
61. Proper hair length can't really be determined for men or women (PCD letters) and PT illustrations show David praying, Daniel in the lion's den, the prodigal son, Jesus Christ and the apostles on the telecast all as long-haired men.
62. Members may attend services while overcoming smoking.
63. Reciting the Lord's Prayer is not vain repetition. (PT, 1/93, Q&A.)
64. Position when praying makes no difference. Being on the knees is not important. (WN, B. Schnippert.)
65. New people are to be allowed to attend no matter how badly they dress (and members are allowed to be more lax as well).
66. We take no real position on the 144,000.
67. Prophetic charts are to be avoided.
68. The Beast [is] racism. (11/92 G. Albrecht sermon and M. Feazel sermon sent to ministers.)
69. The Bible is only 20% prophecy at the most (D. Blackwell, 1/93, "Prediction Addiction" sermon) when most all commentaries and Mr. Armstrong knew it was over one third prophecy.
70. Matt. 24:4-5 now refers primarily to strange people who call themselves Christ or to political demagogues rather than to false prophets who come in Christ's name. ("Will Christ Return?", D. Hulme.)
71. The woman astride the Beast is now merely something to be revealed in the future. She is referred to as "Babylon." ("Babylon-Past, Present and Future," p. 15.)
72. Spiritual Babylon is not here yet. People will only have to come out of it when it arrives. ("Babylon-Past, Present and Future," p. 21.)
73. The WCG now keeps "New Testament" not "Old Testament" feasts. The new meanings of each feast day all essentially honor or celebrate Christ in some fashion. J. Tkach Jr. called the holy days "nice window dressing" in the Philippines and Australia in ministerial conferences.
74. Col. 2:16 now has a completely new explanation softening the importance of the holy days. ("God's Festivals and Holy Days," pp. 20-21.)
75. The Azazel goat of Lev. 16 may be symbolic of Christ instead of Satan.
76. Instead of the Father, Jesus Christ is the most important subject in the Bible. (PGR, 4/20/93, p. 8, M. Feazell.)
77. At Christmas "There is nothing wrong with beautiful music, with happy family gatherings, with feasting, rejoicing and even appropriate festive decorations and treats for children..." ("Christmas-the Untold Story," p. 19.)
78. A Christmas nativity scene (Youth 92, 11-12/92) and pictures of Christ, angels, Mary, Holy Spirit like a dove, church buildings with steeples, etc. are all increasingly common. The new PCD letter on pictures and images states that worshipping, not making, these things is what's wrong. It should be noted that this point plus the cross, reciting the Lord's prayer, etc. are natural fruits that spring from those who stop worshipping God in Truth. Such people eventually stop worshipping God in Spirit as well. (John 4:23-24!)
79. The new Passover ceremony states that the bread represents the Church and not just Christ's physical body. The blessing asked over it is to reflect this at the Passover service.
80. The term "body of Christ" is merely a metaphor. (PT, 5-6/93, p.17.)
81. Jonah's sign is now primarily his ministry. (PT, 2/93, p. 23.)
82. Christ was now "about three days" in the grave. (PT, 5-6/93, p.8.)
83. Christ was resurrected bodily (physically), not as a Spirit being. (D. Hulme, M. Feazell statements at Evangelical Conf. in Deerfield, Illinois.) [Editor: On this point, Pack's recollection of Hulme's comment differs from that of others who were at the conference.]
84. "It is of no consequence whether one eats unleavened bread every day during the Festival of Unleavened Bread." (PGR, 4/21/92, Personal.)
85. Easter is now called a "religious day venerated by the Christian world picturing miracles important to Christianity." It is lumped [together] with Pentecost. The "Christian Easter season continues to Pentecost." (PT, 5- 6/93, p. 7.)
86. [The years] 30 and 33 A.D. have now (apparently) been adopted [as dates] for the crucifixion because they both have Friday Passovers. (PT, 11-12/92 [?]; "Reviews You Can Use," R. Kelly.)
87. The Old Testament Passover was the 15th of Nisan, not the 14th, after all.
88. Leaven is not a type of sin (per three HQ sermons sent to ministers - B. Schnippert, V. Kubik, and one other.)
89. Christ's body and blood both represent spiritual forgiveness. (Healing booklet [probably "The Plain Truth About Healing"-ed.].)
90. Healing has been largely exchanged for medical science.
91. There is no physical sin.
92. One can be anointed for emotional turmoil. (PGR, 1/22/93, Q&A.)
93. Blood transfusions are entirely personal matters. The "life is in the blood" has no real bearing on this point. (PCD letter and healing booklet.)
94. Olive oil not only represents the Holy Spirit, but [it] is now also symbolic of medicine and concern of the Church during anointing. "An anointing is, when properly understood, an encouragement to seek medical help." (Healing booklet, p. 49.)
95. Treatments like chemotherapy are just as natural as vitamin C because natural means physical and both are physical. (Healing booklet, pp. 52-53.)
96. New Testament miracles were to prove Christ was the Messiah and are not to accompany preaching the Gospel today because people can now read about it in the New Testament. God didn't want a large church today and miracles would have brought that. (WN, 3/23/87.)
97. Laws are "contravened," not broken. (Healing booklet, p. 58 and WN, 3/27/87, p.3.)
98. Home birthing is not as good as a hospital [delivery].
99. "Disease and suffering (such as AIDS) are not punishments that come from a God of love and mercy." (PT, 11-12/92, "Letters to the Editor", p. 2.)
100. Disease is not a product of cause and effect; it is a built-in trial of life. (Healing booklet, pp. 5, 14.)
101. Hybrid vegetables are improved and enhanced products. (PT, 1/90, p. 27.)
102. One cannot increase the amount of the Holy Spirit one has. You either have it or not. (PT, 5-6/93, Q&A.)
103. The Work being blessed with growth as fruit is now formally disconnected from pleasing God (WN, 4/27/93, pp. 5-6). This standard, which was always Mr. Armstrong's, "can even be a form of superstition" (said by Pastor General [Tkach]). Mr. Armstrong's statements about 30% growth for 35 years have been repudiated by studying the wrong 35 years.
104. Mr. Armstrong used a "health-wealth gospel" hype approach to attract people.
105. Ukrainian charismatics are now deemed converted.
106. Women may write, teach, quote scripture and be interviewer/presenters [on WCG telecasts].
107. Women may direct choirs and be department heads.
108. The new marriage ceremony deletes the wife's vow to submit (and is very weak and Protestant in tone).
109. Accreditation for Ambassador College and worldly theology degrees are now deemed necessary and of value. This is because the Church had an "anti-education bias" during Mr. Armstrong's leadership. (WN, 4/3/89, p. 7.)
110. The existence of God cannot be scientifically proven but must be accepted on faith. ("God Is..." booklet.)
111. Unlike what Mr. Armstrong said, we shouldn't need proofs of fulfilled prophecy to believe the Bible is true. (WN, 8/19/91, Personal.)
112. Increasingly, commentaries seem to be the final source of truth in all matters.
113. Prov. 22:6 means train up your child in a vocation. (PT, 12/92.)
114. Various occupations (that can pay highly) may be chosen seemingly without worrying any longer whether they are right to do. (General advice.)
115. The Sabbath does not have to be kept for salvation. (PCD, D. Hunsberger, personal response to inquiry; J. Tkach Jr. in private letters.) Some Sunday-keepers, who WCG now believes may have God's Spirit, might never be led to the Sabbath. (Same sources.)
116. The Quartodecimans were Sunday keepers. ("Easter Is Pagan.")
117. Sunday keeping is not the mark of the Beast. (M. Snyder, Detroit WMUZ radio interview, 12/13/91.)
118. The Sabbath begins at dark, not sunset.
119. Local church bulletin boards may advertise homes for rent or for sale on the Sabbath. (PGR, 1/22/93, Q&A.)
120. Services may be skipped if one is "too tired to come." (Pastor General's taped sermon, summer/92.) Compare this to Heb. 10:23-26 in end-time context.
121. Christians need not attend services every Sabbath. (D. Blackwell sermon in Akron, 4/17/93.)
122. Make-up is being used-with no enforced guidelines.
123. Birthday parties and celebrations have replaced birthday "recognitions."
124. The WCG is now a "Christian denomination"! - a term Mr. Armstrong utterly denied and condemned. (GN, 10-11/83, p. 22.)
125. Genesis tells us all we can know or say about Nimrod. We should not use "anti-Catholic polemics" like The Two Babylons, or Babylon Mystery Religion. (WN, 3/20/89.)
126. The lesson of Job was not self-righteousness. It was that God is always worthy of unconditional love by humans. (PT, 10/92, "The Trial of Job," P. Kroll.)
127. The symbol of a fish as used for centuries "by Christians" is okay as long as we don't get carried away. This form of idolatry is not really wrong. (PT, 10/92, p. 20.)
128. Polygamy was not a sin and would be okay if it was a custom of our time. (PGR several years ago. An evangelist-professor in Texas has also openly stated this.)
129. PCD letter L57, debunking God's 7000-year plan, states modern forms of human life have been on earth long before 6000 years ago.
130. Geological strata were not a result of a flood but of stages of creation laid down by God. (Refresher [course for WCG ministers], late 1980s.)
131. Prehistoric people may have been created by Satan.
132. Adam and Eve are metaphors, not real people.
133. The two trees are metaphors, not real and not literal.
134. The Garden of Eden is a metaphor.
135. Cain and Able of Eden is a metaphor.
136. Noah's flood was local, not worldwide. (J. Tkach Jr. to a field minister in personal letter.)
137. The Tower of Babel is a metaphor.
138. The languages weren't divided at Babel. There were foreign languages before that time. ("Babylon - Past, Present and Future," p. 5.)
139. There were no seven literal days of creation. This was also a metaphor.
140. Eve did not carry the seed of all races within her as previously taught. (PGR, 1990.)
Church Government has been changed in a variety of ways:
141. When Mr. Armstrong held the office of Apostle "the term definitely did not connote an apostolic function in the Church that is equivalent to that of the original Apostles." (PGR, 3/24/92, Personal.) [Editor: Mr. Pack is correctly alluding to the fact that while HWA lived the WCG taught that Armstrong's title was considered equivalent.]
142. Almost all the Pastor General's material for Personals, letters to Co-Workers, sermons, speeches, PGRs, etc. are ghost-written. By contrast, Mr. Armstrong wrote almost all of his material himself.
143. The Systematic Theology Project (STP) has been officially reinstituted along with the "Doctrinal Team." Mr. Armstrong strongly denounced both.
144. The Advisory Council of Elders almost never meets and has no real voice when it does.
145. Members may attend any congregation of the WCG that they wish, though very few are aware of this policy.
146. The very Protestant NIV is now the recommended first Bible of choice. (PT, 5-6/93, p. 26.)
147. All WCG literature is full of Protestant terms and buzz words. (i.e., "spiritual environmentalist," "kingdom support system," and many others.)
148. Virtually all reference to Biblically important numbers (3, 7, 12, 19, 40, 360, 1260) have been deleted.
149. Adopting children and foster parenting are no longer discouraged. (WN, recent feature article.)
150. Children now have a "valid reason" to leave the Church if they disagree with it. (PT, 1/93, p. 11.)
151. Masturbation, is not really wrong - it is the fantasizing that accompanies it that should be stopped. (PCD letter.)
152. We are no longer called now to primarily do the Work. (Said commonly several years ago.)
153. Of the "Seven Keys to Understanding the Bible" reprint, three [keys] have been rejected and the other four altered. This reprint (written 40 years ago) is, of course, now gone. Note: since Mr. Armstrong said these [keys] were vital to understanding the Bible, is it any wonder WCG leaders no longer understand the Bible?
154. Persecution is now an embarrassment to be avoided. (Recent R. Kelly "God Is..." sermon and recent Mr. Tkach video sermon sent to all churches.)
* Dr. Hoeh said in his 1/92 sermon about the then new "Statement of Beliefs" booklet: the "scripture stands above a Pastor General. The Pastor General does not stand above scripture."
1. The Good News was killed.
2. The Newsstand Program was killed.
3. The toll-free phone number was killed.
4. The 32-lesson Bible Correspondence Course was killed.
5. Mr. Armstrong's literature is all removed along with his by-line. Only a few of his titles still exist but the contents are completely different.
6. Many of the most doctrinally sound evangelists and senior ministers have been demoted, retired, fired, or transferred far away.
7. European television has been killed along with [broadcasting to] some other areas of the world.
8. All international financial support has been shut off.
9. United States television stations have decreased to less than half of the total at Mr. Armstrong's death.
10. Local Church Bible studies have been deemphasized and can be cancelled at any local pastor's discretion.
11. The WCG now advertises local Church addresses on the telecast.
12. Quoting Protestant ministerial journals and secular experts now fills all WCG literature and telecasts.
13. Ministers' wives may once again work and even do it fulltime.
14. All publications are to reflect sexual and political correctness. Terms such as man, mankind, manhood, spokesman, chairman, forefathers, etc. are now to be humanity, people, human beings, humankind, adulthood, spokesperson, chairperson, forerunner, ancestors, etc., etc. (U.S. Reg. Conf. handout, 8/92, G. Albrecht.)
15. Brethren are told they can "believe anything, just stay in the Church and don't talk about it to others."
16. The blessing of children is now to be done privately. (PGR, Fall/92.)
17. Baptisms are now to be done privately. (PGR, Fall/92.)
18. Sermonettes are now to be directed to youth.
19. A new Passover ceremony was sent [to the field ministry] this year. (Uses NIV.)
20. A new Baptism ceremony is planned. (PGR announcement, 2/17/93.)
21. A new Funeral ceremony is planned. (PGR announcement, 2/17/93.)
22. A new hymnal is coming and will include many "old favorites" - to be received by Feast time. (PGR announcement, 2/17/93.)
23. Ambassador College Pasadena was closed and combined with Big Sandy, increasing enrollment from 500 to 1200 - both contrary to Mr. Armstrong's instructions before he died.
24. Intercollegiate sports have been reinstituted at Ambassador College after Mr. Armstrong permanently banned them [because he viewed such programs] as participating with the world.
25. Money, no longer faith, now determines which doors the Church walks through - could this be why the open door set before Philadelphia has obviously closed in so many ways?
26. A new retirement policy and terms denies nearly all rights to retirees.
27. Local sermon tapes may not leave that area or be kept longer than one year.
28. All doctrine is on the table. (M. Snyder radio interview.)
Editor: As David Pack indicated above, the list of WCG doctrinal changes seems to grow almost daily. As the following article by Warren Carlson shows, many major doctrinal changes are creeping into the WCG via the Plain Truth magazine:
Is This Really the Plain Truth?
Holy obfuscation, Batman! Say it isn't so, Joe. Is the WCG really going down the evolution trail? Were Christ's parables made to be understood by all, even "the World"? Was the parable of Lazarus and the rich man really just a reflection of Egyptian folklore? After reading some muddled July 1993 Plain Truth articles, this longtime PT reader (since 1961) and former WCG member (10 years) has cause to pause at the rapid pace of drastic change in the WCG led by that Protestant Roader, Joe Tkach. Consider the following points gleaned from that July issue:
Joe Tkach leads off on page one with his opening "Personal" column and concludes that: "The one true God - The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - created all that is." Holy rampant paganism! Isn't this the Trinity doctrine, scorned so long by HWA? And what's that clickety-clickety-click I hear in the distance? The sound of Herbert Armstrong spinning rapidly in his grave?
In a page five sidebar entitled "Were Parables Used to Hide the Truth?", one would be led to believe that HWA and the WCG's former teaching that Christ's parables were NOT intended for the general public has been thrown overboard, jettisoned along with a growing host of former long-held WCG beliefs. The author writes: "Is the kingdom of God a secret, given only to a chosen few?" HWA certainly believed so, and so did WCG members. The sidebar continues: "Did Jesus tell his parables, which seem so simple, so accessible and so timeless, to keep outsiders from grasping the truth?" Yessir, that's what HWA taught. Only the elect, meaning WCG members of course, get to understand the truth in this age- at least that's what was taught in ancient times. There's that sound again. (Clickety- clickety-clickety-click.) HWA must be spinning even faster in his grave.
In an article written by Norman Shoaf, "What Jesus' Parables Reveal" (July PT, p. 4), we read the following regarding the parable of Lazarus and the rich man: "It's hard to wrench from this parable exact details about the afterlife. Jesus was drawing on images from Jewish and Egyptian folklore, which his listeners would have realized." Holy hoppin' heresy! Didn't HWA always teach, and wasn't there a WCG booklet written by HWA which explained in detail, that the story of Lazarus and the rich man was a lesson setting out the fate of the unbelievers who were to be burned up in the final Gehenna fire? Egyptian folklore?? (Clickety-clickety-clickety-click - the sound is getting louder and faster.)
John Halford's article "Religion and Science-Bridging the Gap" (July PT, p. 14) is a lengthy statement of what must be the new thinking in the higher circles of the WCG regarding evolution, as the following excerpts make clear: "Genesis 1 and 2 further describe God forming the earth and the life-forms on it in six days of creative activity. Most scientists believe the planet's features were molded by natural forces while life developed gradually, from simple to complex organisms, including human beings. Could both of these apparently contradictory concepts be two ways of looking at the same thing? Perhaps they can." Holy jumpin' secular humanism! The WCG has thrown Adam and Eve on the scrap heap and embraced apes and evolution! But wait-there's more.
Says Mr. Halford: "Opponents of evolution often seize on the fact that it is 'only a theory.' But to do this is to misunderstand the scientific method." Oh? HWA in a legion of articles heaped scorn on what he repeatedly emphasized was a theory of evolution, which he went to great lengths to denounce. Again it appears that the old-time HWA religion has been given a mighty shove off the starboard side into the heaving seas. And as a capper, just where did Halford go for higher religious edification concerning science and faith? To an Anglican priest! - a minister of what used to be called a daughter church of the Great Whore of Babylon. And why is an Anglican priest being quoted about faith on the pages of the PT? Yipes! (Clickety-clickety-click. There's that sound again.)
And I didn't even mention what the Questions section had to say about the "7,000-year plan of God," another old-time WCG teaching given the swift kick out of Pasadena. 7,000 years? Under the new thinking, it could be 10,000 or 100,000 years. (Ciickety-clickety-click. No rest for the weary, Herb.)
After reading the July Plain Truth, it is obvious that membership in the National Council of Churches is not far off for the WCG. In fact, I would guess that it is only a matter of time - and a short time at that - before a 50-foot Christmas tree appears at Yuletide in front of the "House for God" in Pasadena and an Easter egg hunt is held on the grounds of the former AC campus, with photos appearing in the Worldwide News of a beaming Joe Tkach patting the head of a smiling youngster who managed to garner the most eggs. Don't laugh. It won't be long. (Clickety-clickety-click.)
Editor: Shortly after we received the above article, Mr. Carlson sent us the following:
I know many must be confused by the changes going on in the WCG. I'm tempted to call some members who were friends while I was in the WCG, but I know my attempts would be futile. When you leave the WCG it's Joe Stalin time - you're a nonperson, obliterated from the pages of history, erased from the memory banks, zapped and evaporated.
I just started getting the PT again starting with the July issue after a couple of years absence from their subscription list. I was startled by the changes. Even the pictures of Joe Tkach change from issue to issue - one issue has him posing sans jacket on Wall Street, Gordon Gockoesque suspenders. The next month we see him smiling at the camera holding for dear life onto what appears to be a Bible. For all I know, it could be the Koran, or the Kama Sutra. Maybe even the Book of Mormon. Or the latest Robert Ludlum potboiler.
There were some more zingers in the September PT. The Kingdom of God is here already. I didn't know this. And the millennium "may or may not equal 1,000 years." I also noted the "liberal" use of jargon straight from the seminaries - what Gerald Waterhouse called "theological cemeteries" - words such as Amillennialism, Premillennialism, Dispensationalism, etc. There's that sound again. (Click-ety-clickety-click.)
Sardis Is No Longer Sardis
One of the more remarkable developments in Tkachism of late has been the WCG's recent overtures toward the Church of God (Seventh Day) churches (CG7). During his lifetime, HWA always referred to the CG7 group - out of which he came - as "Sardis" because, he claimed, they were "spiritually dead." Now, however, with HWA and his church eras doctrine officially dead, the Tkachs have decided that the CG7 folks are not so bad, after all.
Sources within CG7 have told us that in the spring a number of top WCG leaders went to Denver to meet with Calvin Burrell, the president of the Denver-based branch of CG7:
The WCG requested the visit because they wanted to get a better understanding of the CG7D's organizational structure (i.e., they vote their council and ministers into office). We heard that at the visit the WCG reps asked several questions about the organizational structure and offered an apology for past treatment and for calling them Sardis, the dead church. Calvin Burrell's questions were more of a doctrinal nature. He was told that the WCG is coming closer to CG7D's teachings.
Apparently, the above meeting led to an invitation for the WCG reps to attend CG7's biennial general conference in early summer. Joseph Tkach Jr. along with Victor Kubik, Michael Feazell, and Greg Albrecht actually attended and were well received. According to sources in both the WCG and CG7, the developing ties are being encouraged by both denominations. In explaining the developing ties to the WCG's ministry, Tkach Jr. wrote to his field ministers:
Becoming acquainted with the local pastor (if any) of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in your area is an important proactive approach that may have helpful benefits in the future. At the conference, we met many of their church pastors who expressed interest in meeting our church pastors in order to build a friendship rather than maintain barriers of exclusivity.
There are groups with which we would not desire to fellowship because of their disfellowshipped status and their divisive teachings. However, the Church of God (Seventh Day) is not one of those groups. (Pastor General's Report, 7/27/93, p. 6.)
Notice that the WCG is now willing to have fellowship with a church against which HWA rebelled, but it will not have fellowship with churches that claim a doctrinal allegiance to HWA!
In June, we reported on the founding of the Global Church of God (CGC) by former WCG evangelist Rod Meredith. In the few months since then, Meredith's organization has grown at a rapid clip taking hundreds of members from Worldwide (now including WCG ministers Ben Faulkner, William Swanson, and John Ogwyn who brought many of his former Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana congregation members with him), has expanded its radio broadcast to 16 major markets, has just put out the first edition of its full-color The World Ahead magazine, and is reported to have church revenues already rivaling those of the other major WCG offshoots.
In contrast to CGC, however, WCG spinoff Church of God, International (CGI), which is headed by Garner Ted Armstrong, recently had some important defections. Les Pope, who was a CGI minister and board member until February 24, has now formed the Fellowship Church of God (2019 Moore St., Oklahoma City, OK 73141). Pope has told friends that while he does not disagree with CGI's basic theology, he has had misgivings about many CGI policies and practices. For instance, he complains that CGI does not want its members and ministers to question anything, that ministerial conferences are just lectures to subordinates with no give-and-take, that CGI leaders Garner Ted Armstrong and Ronald Dart give themselves salaries that are bigger than Billy Graham's, and that Garner Ted Armstrong has become obsessed with notions of building a huge church empire. (Is another Armstrong "Edifice Complex" rearing up again? Oh NO!) Besides pastoring a congregation, Pope plans to start his own religious broadcast. To counter Pope's "rebellion," CGI briefly dispatched Ron Dart to Oklahoma City to round up local CGI supporters and keep them in the CGI corral.
Another recent CGI defector is author John Tuit (The Truth Shall Make You Free) who, just after we went to press with our last edition, sent us a copy of a resignation letter he wrote to CGI president Garner Ted Armstrong. It provides a number of insights into what is going on in CGI:
The recent edicts from your office have given Paula and me cause for concern. Since around 1985, the CGI seemed to be proceeding in a right way.
Now, the new rules for field churches remind me of the early days, when, in the original 1979 [CGI] constitution and by-laws, you were proclaimed Chairman in perpetuity. Do you remember the uproar over that? You should!
So now we have a new list of ranks, deacons who aren't allowed to anoint (what about Stephen and Philip?), administrators (we call them spies here in NC), speaking credential requirements, and a prohibition against unpaid ministers going more than 100 miles to serve a congregation. All the preliminaries to a total central control as soon as you are ready to place your new Academy graduates, loyal to you, in place. Then, when questions are raised, you say the rules don't really mean what they say, as Ron Dart wrote in his letter to the Statesville Church. Anything to pacify us for the moment, until you are ready to tighten the screws another turn.
And, the money. Always the most important concern, it seems. You claim authority over local church finances, try to tell us that Holy Day offerings must be sent to Tyler, demand local financial reports and complain about congregations that are saving toward a down payment on a building.
Yet, I haven't seen a financial report from Tyler since 1979. Of course, you have never published the schedule of salaries, allowances and benefits of the staff at Tyler, as you should. Are you fearful of the reaction from the struggling members who support you? Your statement in 1978 that the CGI would be squeaky clean has been relegated to the junk heap.
In addition to these problems, you have reverted back to your early 1980's practice of ridicule of others, including your own father. And, because you were offended by someone who didn't practice good personal hygiene, you launched an attack on all men who don't dress in a suit and tie. This doesn't apply to me, except in mid-summer, so I don't have a personal stake in your comments. However, you have offended many who either can't afford such clothes, or by local custom just don't dress that way.
As I have seen these developments over the recent months, it has become evident that you are just playing church, or worse, running a religious business, and want control, with the final concern being MONEY.
You don't seem to get it. If you would just preach the Gospel, stop trying to build a central headquarters, stop trying to quench the working of the Holy Spirit among God's people, you would be blessed in such service. I spoke on this recently, and enclose my sermonette notes for your study.
Rather than be drawn into another round of "church sandbox," Paula and I have decided to withdraw our membership, effective immediately, from The Church of God, International, of Tyler, Texas. We will, of course, remain members of The Statesville Church of God, International, an independently organized congregation, under the laws of North Carolina. And, most importantly, we remain members of The Church of God, headquartered in Heaven, under the rule of Jesus Christ. It is sad that there are those who, while members and officials in physical organizations called the Church of God, may, by their actions, be threatened with loss of the spiritual membership, if it hasn't already happened, assuming that it ever existed in the first place.
Route 1 Box 263
Hays, NC 28635
Daughter of Babylon - The True History of the Worldwide Church of God by Bruce Renehan. Daughter of Babylon, P.O. Box 1551, Tehachapi, CA 93561; 203 pages plus documentary appendixes, spiral-bound first edition $15 plus $3 postage.
There is perhaps no teaching more perplexing to Worldwide Church of God outsiders than the WCG's "one true church" doctrine. Now it appears that at least one key insider is equally perplexed by this cherished doctrine's spiritually paralyzing side effect.
Recently, Pastor General and Apostle Joseph W. Tkach Sr., who appears to want the doctrine modified somewhat, voiced his own exasperation with the rigid closed-mindedness of his Worldwide flock. In his efforts to unravel myths and errors from Armstrong doctrine (a.k.a. "God's Truth"), "Master Weaver" Tkach seems truly bewildered by the group's unshakable, unyielding fixation on Armstrong's faulty rendition of "the faith once delivered."
As white-knuckled true believers cling tenaciously to what they heard "from the beginning" from Armstrong (not to be confused with the true gospel message first century Christians heard from the beginning), Tkach seems resigned to the fact that he will just have to "cut them loose."
Truly there is none so blind, Tkach chides, as one who will not look.
Author Bruce Renehan dares to take that look, examining the dynamic power which inhibits the Worldwider's challenge of his belief system - Herbert W. Armstrong's very own "one true church doctrine." In his book Daughter of Babylon - The True History of the Worldwide Church of God, the former Armstrong loyalist confronts the Worldwider's myopic world view and puts the church's historical documentation to the acid test.
Can the Worldwide Church of God, Renehan asks, really prove it is the "one true church" - the authentic descendant of the primitive first century church founded by Jesus Christ? Was Herbert W. Armstrong, as Worldwide historians have long contended, merely one Apostle in a long apostolic succession leading back through time to the original twelve? Or did Worldwide historians, trusted men of the cloth, reconstruct the entire garment of church history - stitching threads of truth to the colorful fabric of fiction - in an effort to cloak Armstrong's "government from the top down" in the wrap of ecclesiastical credibility? Renehan exposes the true historical and theological roots of the Armstrong movement and the false premises upon which Armstrong's "one true church" doctrine is based.
Daughter of Babylon is highly recommended for Worldwiders - past, present, and prospective. Those who face the task of weeding through the "one true church" mythological maze will find Daughter of Babylon truly enlightening. Some, in fact, may even find themselves released finally (with a clear, educated conscience) from any continuing, uneasy allegiance to Armstrong's theology.
-Janey (George) Milligan
Whitaker On the Three Tithes
Editor: With the WCG changing so many of its doctrines, some wonder if it will now get around to changing its triple tithing doctrine. During the past year David C. Whitaker of Enid, Oklahoma has submitted a number of rather intriguing theological papers to AR. While we do not have the means to publish all of them, we suspect many of our readers will find his comments on the WCG's tithing doctrine thought provoking.
Over the years, many of us have become painfully aware of the various abuses in the applied practice of "tithing" as enjoined by the Worldwide Church of God and related groups which claim to obey the Scriptural laws for the First, Second, and Third Tithes.
Within the WCG, the teaching has been to send the First Tithe to the WCG's headquarters in Pasadena, for members to withhold an additional 10% of their total gross income to use in keeping the annual Festivals, and every third and sixth year in a seven-year calendar cycle for members to withhold and send a yet additional 10% to headquarters as a "third tithe" to be distributed among widows and poor within the WCG. This means baptized WCG members have been required to withhold up to 30% of their annual gross income every two years out of seven, and withhold 20% of their total gross income during all other years. [Note that these percentages are for "tithes" only; they do not include the separate "freewill offerings," mandatory holy day offerings, special offerings, building fund donations, loans, etc. that the WCG encourages - ed.]
Many times during the Third Tithe years, WCG members have had to unduly "sacrifice" - not be blessed! - in order to obey and fulfill the WCG's demands regarding money. This has taken various forms: Sometimes families and their children have maintained inferior nutrition levels; badly needed home repairs have gone undone (while their ministers have lived in well-kept homes); medical needs for family members frequently have gone unattended; and even needed dental repairs and cleanings have often had to be put off. Some of the ways WCG children have been neglected during "third tithe years" would be viewed as statutory child neglect or abuse in some states.
I cannot help but be reminded of Jesus' description of the ancient apostate Jerusalem Pharisees who had forsaken the traditions (Hebrew Kabbalot) from the Prophets in order to construct their own unethical interpretations of Torah administration: "And they prepare heavy and oppressive burdens for other men's shoulders, but they will not remove them with their finger" (Matthew 23:4 from the Greek text). In reading the unpointed Torah Scrolls in use at that time, the human "finger" was always used as a pointer to keep the place in the text of the Scroll while reading and when passing the Scroll from man to man or from rabbi to disciple. Jesus was here saying that these corrupt Pharisees possessed the accurate knowledge about Torah and could have used their "finger" to point from the Torah Scrolls the proper and intended teachings regarding the practice of Scriptural Law so as to produce great blessings upon all those who obeyed. Rather, these unethical Pharisees refused to use their "finger" on the Torah Scrolls to point out the truth about the proper application of the Law to the people - these Pharisees refused to use their individual and collective "finger" to "remove" the misinterpretations and malpractices of the Torah which they, and the Jerusalem Elders, had created at variance with the Kabbalah and Oral Torah anciently promoted by Ezra from the Prophets.
On a Gentile level, the WCG ministry is guilty of this same kind of refusal and sacrilege - dabbling around with Divine Laws which they don't properly understand. The WCG ministry has never taken the time and or made the effort to search Judaic history to discover the proper manner of understanding the Scriptures pertaining to the Second Tithe and the Third Tithe! As a result, many times the WCG manner of keeping the Second and Third Tithe laws has generated hardships and curses rather than blessings and happiness.
In ancient Israel, the Second and Third Tithes were considered to be what we today would call "declensional tithes" based upon the tithing formula described by the Hebrew words ma'aser min ha-ma'aser ("tenth from the tithe") mentioned in Numbers 18:26. This ma'aser min ha-ma'aser applied to the special tithe offered by the Levites from the main national Tithe they received, and also applied to the method of determining the amounts for the Second and Third Tithes. In fact, the Hebrew word for "second" (as in Second Tithe) is sheniy which means "double" in the sense of "secondary" or "subsidiary." The Second Tithe was understood to be a "juxtapositional tithe" or "a tithe accompanying along beside" in relation to the main national Tithe.
Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok explains:
The 'first tithe' (Numbers 18:24-26) was given to the Levites after the heave offering ('terumah') - (10% of 10%) - for the priests had been separated from it.... The 'second tithe' (Leviticus 27:30-31; Deuteronomy 14:22-6) was a tenth part of the first tithe, and was consumed by the owner himself in Jerusalem; it applied in the first, second, fourth, and fifth years in the Sabbatical cycle, and is dealt with in the tractate Maasar Sheni ("Second Tithe") in the Mishna. The 'poor tithe' (Deut. 14:28-9; 26:12) was calculated in the same way as the second tithe and was paid in the third and sixth year of the Sabbatical cycle; it was given to the poor.... The Levites also paid a tithe (10% of 10%) from what they received (Numbers 18:26), in the form of an offering to God. (The Blackwell Dictionary of Judaica, p. 543, Entry: "Tithe"; c1992, Blackwell Publishers: Oxford, England.)
At no time in the history of ancient Israel or in the history of the Jewish religion did God require the people to withhold in excess of the mandated 10% total in tithes! Since the First Tithe (10%) also included the amounts of the Second and Third Tithes (10% of 10% each) according to the specified years within a Sabbatical (seven-year) cycle, anything given as additional was considered as an "offering," and anything additionally demanded by the king was defined as a "tax."
Why should any Christian church impose a tax burden on its own members above and beyond the stated intent and requirements of the Law? Even a good law, when substantially exaggerated beyond its original intent and purpose, can quickly become an unethical law of oppression and tyranny. And this is what has occurred in the WCG as a direct result of the anti-Judaic bias inherent within the cliquish, pro-Gentile mentality of the men positioned in the WCG's top echelons.
After becoming aware of this information about the correct method for determining the subsidiary Second and Third Tithes, will the WCG ministry choose the only moral and ethical course to pursue - changing their ways and enlightening their laymembers? Or, will the desire for money overrule any decision for spiritual improvement and performance? Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810 A.D.) observed in his time: "desire for money and influence is now greater than sexual desire" (Chayei Moharan 2:52, no. 25). Does Rabbi Nachman's observation apply to our present American culture also? And, if so, how strongly has the Worldwide Church of God been affected by the widespread desire for money? In this case, you be the judge.
-David C. Whitaker
The Making of a Tradition - A Criticism of Orthodox Christian Theology by Mark M. Mattison. Ministry School Publications, 3880 Jefferson SE, Wyoming, MI 49548; c1991, 142 pages, $5.95 (plus $1.50 for shipping).
In this historical survey of popular Christian doctrines, Mark Mattison contends that the teaching of the "Trinity" developed over a long period of time in conjunction with influences from Platonism and Gnosticism. Catholic catechist John A. Hardon, S.J., once remarked, "As a Christian today reviews the history of the Church in the first eight hundred years, the most striking feature of the seven general councils held during that period is their concern to safeguard the reality of the triune God." Mark Mattison explores the events and forces which served to make the Trinity dogma so important to the developing Catholic Church, including the political usage of the Trinity teaching as an instrument to combat the doctrines of Arius of Alexandria. Also, following the scholarly position of German historian and philologist R. Reitzentein's 1921 work, Das iranische Erlosungmysterium, Mark Mattison describes how the grassroots pre-Christian Mystery Cult system developed into the early movement called "Christian Gnosticism," and contributed extensively to Catholic religion. With so many forces at work from outside the Holy Land in which Christianity originated, Jesus Christ became perceived "as a mysterious hybrid of various substances." In addition to explaining the pagan theological and extra-biblical influences which occasioned the formation of the Trinity concept in early Catholicism, Mark Mattison calls for a return to the true worship of the One God of Monotheism which Jesus and the original New Testament Church understood. This epochal book, The Making of a Tradition, should be required reading for all current and former Worldwide Church of God members who seek a better understanding of the Trinity teaching in relation to the doctrinal changes occurring within the WCG organization today.
-David C. Whitaker
Gary Scultz Leads Secret
Saucer Base Expeditions
Not everyone who leaves the WCG finds himself absorbed in the activities of WCG spinoff groups. Some move on to more interesting pursuits. A good example is Gary Scultz, a former WCG member and Foundation for Biblical Research board member who has also been a research scientist working on projects relating to air pollution abatement and primary energy technologies. While still maintaining a keen interest in biblical studies, in recent years Schultz has focused much of his attention on the UFO phenomenon.
While, for many people the idea of UFOs - and the related phenomenon of "alien abductions" - is the stuff of tabloid headlines at best, in recent years, more and more educated people have begun to view the subject as something to be taken seriously. Not only are there hundreds of books on the market that purport to give an explanation for UFO sightings and claimed "abductions," but there are whole magazines devoted to the idea of beings visiting our planet from other galaxies or dimensions. One such magazine, for example, is the MUFON UFO Journal, 103 Old Towne Road, Seguin, TX 78155. And in recent years a number of respected academics have produced books dealing with the UFO and abduction phenomena. One such book is Secret Life - Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions published by Simon & Schuster. The author of that work is David M. Jacobs, Ph.D., an associate professor at Temple University.
Not only are there scholars who take seriously the possibility that aliens may be visiting our planet, many everyday Americans feel likewise. Besides the millions who claim to have seen a nonterrestrial craft, about one in every 50 adult Americans may have had some type of UFO abduction experience (based on a poll conducted by the Roper organization - Los Angeles Times, 5/20/92, p. E1). There are even support groups for those who are trying to understand and psychologically cope with their abduction experiences (Los Angeles Times, 3/8/93, p. B1), and one insurance company actually offers UFO abduction insurance (Los Angeles Times, 8/19/93, p. B2).
Until a few years ago, the subject of UFOs was not one that greatly interested Gary Schultz. But in late 1989, Schultz heard ufologist Bill Cooper in a radio interview and later at a lecture. Cooper challenged the skeptical to see "the craft" for themselves by going out to "Area 51" near Nellis Air Force Range in Nevada. Taking up the challenge, Schultz and his wife Pearl went out to the location in early 1990. On their first visit to the area, they saw nothing unusual. But on a second visit, they not only made six separate UFO sightings, but they were able to photograph some of the UFOs in flight. Since then, Scultz has researched the UFO question extensively and has taken others out to "Area 51" and adjacent "S-4" near the government's nuclear test site in Nevada and to another UFO "hot spot" near Tehachapi, California in the hope of having a "close encounter" with UFOs. So many have wanted to see the saucers, in fact, that with an associate named Norio Hayakawa, Schultz has started a tour and lecture organization called Secret Saucer Base Expeditions.
Now, before anyone thinks that Schultz is not just an eccentric, but is a charlatan besides, a few points need to be mentioned. Those of us who've known Schultz over the years are convinced that he is both sincere and not one who is out to defraud the public. Furthermore, many of those he has guided to the desert sites have seen some thing very unusual. Not only are Schultz's photographs quite authentic (there is no hint that they were created by any kind of trick photography techniques), a fair number of others have also taken both still photographs and videos of the craft. Among those who Schultz has guided to the desert locations have been representatives of the Los Angeles Times, The Outlook, Business Week, Omni, KROQ radio, and television stations KCOP, KTTV, and KNBC. Some TV news crews were, themselves, able to video tape the craft in flight, and those of us who have seen some of the video footage can attest that whatever it is that is flying about out there looks and maneuvers like nothing we have ever seen before.
Could the craft be some type of highly advanced spy plane? Such a theory is held by a number who point out that Schultz's tour group has encountered some resistance from government security personnel. In May of 1991, for instance, the groups' caravan was buzzed by a military CH-53 helicopter which tried to run one of the saucer watchers' cars off the road. The incident resulted in a criminal complaint being filed with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times, 6/16/91, p. E1).
Some who hold to the experimental spy plane theory also point to some other unusual happenings in the southern California region during the last year or two. Many living in the L.A. Basin have noticed that tremors similar to earthquakes have been hitting the area quite regularly "on schedule" (for a while, every Thursday at about 7:00 a.m.). Many earthquake-experienced citizens have wondered how any type of earthquake activity could occur with such precise regularity. But phone calls to Caltech and various government agencies resulted in the explanation that no earthquakes are being registered at those times, but that we are getting "skyquakes" of undetermined origin. According to Jim Mori, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, the shocks have been caused by "something that's traveling through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound in a generally northeasterly direction." And an analyst with Jane's Defense Weekly, the respected London-based military periodical has speculated - based on Congressional records that accidentally included secret information - that the skyquakes were probably caused by a new government spy plane, dubbed "the Aurora," which supposedly can fly about 4000 miles per hour (Los Angeles Times, 4/17/92, p. B1; see also the Pasadena Weekly, 5/28-6/3/93, p. 2).
While not doubting that the government may have such a spy plane, Schultz, nevertheless, does not believe that "the Aurora" is what he has been seeing out in Nevada or at another location in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles (and Fred Francis, NBC's Pentagon correspondent, agrees with him). "First of all," Schultz says, "what we have seen is a craft that is completely silent. It doesn't sound or behave like any type of jet or VTOL aircraft." Furthermore, Schultz points out that the flight patterns of the craft - sudden accelerations and decelerations, zigzagging motions, and 90-degree turns - all indicate a craft of highly advanced technology with control over gravity (something unknown in the general scientific community). Based on the evidence that Schultz has in his possession, he has concluded that the UFOs he has observed are actually alien craft that the government has somehow acquired and is now using for its own clandestine purposes.
While many UFO researchers view the UFO phenomenon as being of a psychological or spiritual nature, Schultz says, "Not all alien craft and alien contacts are of the ultraterrestrial or supernatural type. Some of these experiences are with physical aliens and their craft." Schultz has developed a theory to explain this phenomenon biblically. Referring to it as "an ontological sandwich," he points out that "angels - supernatural creatures - are far superior to physical man. So one explanation of aliens would be that these are also physical creations like man, but technologically more advanced. And just as both men and angels can be either good or evil, these aliens are probably capable of being either good or evil, as well."
An interview with Schultz appears in the August issue of Omni, the science magazine, and another interview appears in the 1993 book Alien Contact (Top-Secret UFO Files Revealed) by Timothy Good (published by William Morrow Co., 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019). To help clarify his views, Schultz has also produced two lecture tapes: "UFOs and the Bible" and "The Shadow Government, UFOs, the Bible, and You" ($6 each). For further information about taped lectures, tours to sighting areas, and seminars about UFOs, write to: Secret Saucer Base Expeditions, P.O. Box 599, Gar-dena, CA 90248 (tel. 310-393-0778).
Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination by Keith Thompson, Addison-Wesly Publishing Co. (One Jacob Way, Reading, MA 01867, tel. 800-457-2226), c1991, 248 pages, $19.95.
Things that go "Bump!" in the night...
I was in my booth in Booth City, Ambassador College, Texas, studying late one evening in the early 1970s when C.J. appeared breathless at my door. "UFO!" he said, and disappeared again. Of course I followed him. A handful of guys were standing between the booths, near the Wall, looking up at the sky in the direction of Gladewater. The only thing I could see was an extraordinary bright, reddish light. Someone brought binoculars and tried to see more, but they didn't make the image much clearer. The light seemed to be standing still, or else moving directly away from me so slowly that it appeared to be stationary. Then suddenly it took off at a sharp angle to the northeast and disappeared from view. The others were pretty shook up. They said that they had seen it pass right over the booths, about 1500 feet in the air. It was large and round, with a lot of red and white lights around it. And it didn't make a sound. None at all.
Among all the speculations and dogmatic assertions about "The Truth" that took place in the Worldwide Church of God, there was not a great deal of attention devoted to trying to understand, in any sort of complex way, the nature of the universe in which we live. We knew (or thought we knew) about God and about the "elect's" destiny to become virtually God. We speculated that as "Sons of God" we might be given our own solar systems or galaxies to rule someday. But the WCG was not otherwise noted for engaging in, or encouraging, metaphysical inquiry. Of the denizens of other levels of reality we knew very little save that they came in two kinds, good and bad - and that the good angels existed in order to praise God and, as God's messengers, to help us. The bad angels we tried to think about as little as possible, so as not to encourage their presence among us. But this narrow and frightened view of the universe sometimes left faithful members without answers. Any anomalous experiences that didn't involve anointing by an elder were either ignored or else attributed, with a truly inquisitorial mentality, to those cosmic bad-boys, the demons. So there was no context into which to fit this UFO sighting over the Big Sandy campus except the chilling one that perhaps a bona fide demon had just passed overhead.
In the twenty years since the night of that sighting, I have heard several people talk about their experiences with UFOs in the WCG. Many people, when they come out of that organization, try on their own to understand the significance of their UFO encounters and how the existence of such things squares with the view of the universe that they were taught in the church. Keith Thompson's book, Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination (Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1991), may be one of the most sound pieces of thought about the nature of UFOs available today, and a valuable guide for those ex-WCGers still looking for answers to the riddle of their own UFO experiences.
Thompson develops two lines of inquiry. On the first and most straightforward level, he presents the modern history of the UFO "myth" beginning with Kenneth Arnold's famous sighting in 1947. In this historical narrative, Thompson does not concern himself with the validity or lack thereof of any particular UFO sighting. That issue, he claims, is one of the central tenets of the UFO myth - that with enough time and money, the real truth of UFOs can eventually be discovered. His interest is not in establishing or demolishing the "nuts and bolts" reality of UFOs, but rather in tracing the historical development of the "UFO-as-idea."
One of Thompson's more interesting short asides deals with the historical precedents for the modern "age of flying saucers." Here he deals with such phenomena as the "mystery airships" seen over California in the late 1800s, the visions of medieval mystics, the report of a French archbishop who narrowly saved three men and a woman from being lynched by a mob of frantic Frenchmen because they had disembarked from a "cloudship," Constantine's famous vision at the Milvian Bridge after which he professed Christianity, and Ezekiel's report (chap. 10) of a "whirlwind out of the north" and "wheels within wheels." He speculates that Ezekiel's wheels and modern UFOs might be essentially the same phenomenon - a shape-shifting technology form that has mastered the dimensions of space-time in such a way that defies human description.
On a second and more theoretical level, Thompson analyzes the UFO myth in terms of the place it holds in "humanity's religious search." To accomplish this, he draws upon insights provided by comparative religion, depth psychology, and cultural anthropology. It is important to note that Thompson uses the word "myth" in its scholarly sense: as a sacred story whose purpose is to account for the origin of things. Myth is not something that is "not true." On the contrary, because myth functions allegorically, it is (for those who hold it) ultimately true. Myth has significance not only on its surface but also on deeper, more profound levels as well.
It is at those profound levels that Thompson discovers the religious significance of UFO's for modern human consciousness. Thompson believes that whatever "teaching" may be ascribed to UFOs is simply to remind us who have made virtual gods out of science and technology, and whose view of the universe has been thereby constricted, that human beings actually inhabit multiple worlds and take part in multiple realities. The really strange thing, according to Thompson, is not that aliens or angels might exist, but that modern Western culture has placed these dimensions of reality off-limits to serious, rational consideration. To take UFOs seriously as a modern mythico-religious phenomenon, says Thompson, is to wake up after "a long sleep of denial" (p. 228).
Angels and Aliens explores the link between technology and metaphysics in a way that is thought-provoking to those who have not had an encounter with a UFO, and comfortingly helpful to those who have - particularly those who come from the WCG and continue to suffer the pinching-off of reality that the WCG teaches. In my opinion, Thompson's book is a "must read."
Dear Mr. Trechak:
My wife and I are not regular readers of your publication, but I am hoping you might be able to help us with a problem. We are still members of the Worldwide Church of God. But there is so much confusion and tension in the church now. Many are planning to leave during the fall. We even heard that during the feast there will be demonstrations and walkouts by some ministers who are loyal to Dr. Meredith.
We are getting tired of so much church politics but we still want to keep the feast this fall. Would you know of any other religious organization that would let us attend their Feast of Tabernacles even if we have not formally left the Worldwide Church yet? We don't want to join another church, just keep the feast in a nice environment, not have to see so much politics and confusion.
Editor: In your part of the country, two organizations that might be of help are: Feast of Tabernacles (R. W. Hoops), 8642 Highway 128, Healdsburg, CA 95448 and Association For Christian Development (Ken Westby), 4449 South Star Lake Rd., Auburn, WA 98001.
I think that overall you folks at AR do a very fine job with your publication. But every so often I feel you are a bit naive about some of the groups you mention. Let me give you but one recent example.
In your last issue you mentioned the Watchman Fellowship group in a positive way at least three times. Aren't you aware of how prejudiced they are?
I have before me copy of their Vol. 10, No. 2 issue which contains their 1993 listing of groups they call "cults." Now, granted, they do list many crazy churches that deserve such a label. But just look at some of the others they list: John Denver, John Bradshaw, Union Life, Norman Vincent Peale, all groups that can possibly be labeled "New Age," everything related to UFOs, and even Pumsy the Dragon! I think their list reveals that not only are they prejudiced, they are a bit paranoid.
John Denver is a singer-songwriter who is so squeaky clean he is very boring at times. A cult leader? Hardly.
John Bradshaw is a psychologist (and a former professor of theology) who has helped thousands of people understand themselves better. I personally know people who were greatly helped by his programs. He encourages people to seek God and never tells people what church to join. Why label him a cult?
Union Life is a fairly mainstream Christian ministry. Norman Vincent Peale was a respected minister in a major denomination. So they may have had an occasional odd idea. A lot of us do at times. Does that make all of us - everyone except Watchman, that is - cults?
Anything that can possibly be labeled "New Age" is supposed to be cultish. Of course, they neglect to mention that the Bible, itself, not only refers to a future new age (the Millennium), but most of the ideas that so-called "new agers" are interested in - the idea of life beyond the grave, the reality of spirit, the significance of names, numerology, symbolic thinking, predestination, the interpretation of dreams, the existence of angels and evil spirits, etc.- are all ideas found in the Bible itself.
As for the Sacred Names people - well, should they be labeled a cult just because they take some Bible passages literally?
And where did Watchman come up with the notion that "belief in extraterrestrial beings who have visited Earth and provided knowledge... is always contrary to biblical truth"? From cover to cover the Bible is filled with stories about non-humanoid beings - both evil and good - that come to earth with information for humans. The latter are referred to in the Bible as "angels" (see Gen. 19:1, Lk. 1:28, etc.). I guess the folks at Watchman just never noticed.
And what about Pumsy the Dragon? Pumsy is a hand puppet that is used in schools as an entertaining way to teach young children. Do the folks at Watchman really think a hand puppet can be a cult?
Now, I know what you are going to say: Watchman is only listing those groups that fall outside of "orthodox Christianity."
I guess that is why they list not only the WCG, but most of the WCG offshoots like Dankenbring, Meredith, etc. But is it really fair to label groups as cults simply because they have some teachings that the big Protestant denominations don't have? Frankly, while the WCG and its offshoots may have problems, let's not forget that some of what HWA taught was true: Sunday worship did come from a Roman emperor, Christmas came from the Saturnalia, and there is an awful lot of rank paganism in "orthodox Christianity."
But even if you stay with Watchman's standards, i.e., that we should ostracize every group that does not toe the line as to accepted mainstream Protestant teaching, in what category does that put some of the wackos that we see on the so-called "Christian TV" stations? I was amazed that Benny Hinn did not make Watchman's list. Not did Judaism. If a cult is any religious group that doesn't adhere to "orthodox Christianity" then certainly all religious Jews are in a cult. And what about the Roman Catholic Church? They didn't make Watchman's list either. Yet, can you think of a bigger cult?
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate Jews or Catholics. Nor Hindus for that matter. But, I think as soon as someone starts categorizing ALL religious (and even nonreligious!) organizations that are outside of Protestant "orthodoxy" as being a "cult," to my way of looking at it, the ones doing the labeling have, themselves, become a cult.
I hope that in the future AR will not give such "cult experts" so much space.
Editor: We have stated repeatedly that just because we mention a publication or group in AR does not mean that we endorse all their views. (Just as, undoubtedly, such groups do not necessarily endorse all our views.) In fact, we regularly report on groups with which we have little in common and give their addresses so that our readers can, if they wish, make their own inquiries and come to their own conclusions. We are simply not in the business of running the lives of our readers. As for the Watchman Fellowship organization, they regularly report on the WCG and related groups and they do so in a very professional manner. For example, the recent Vol. 10, No. 7 issue of their magazine - published in the face of outlandish legal threats from the WCG - thoroughly covers the WCG's recent shift to trinitarianism. For a free copy, write to Watchman Fellowship, P.O. Box 13340, Arlington, TX 76094-0340.
There is one thing in your last issue that I take issue with. You seemed to be far more critical of the Branch Davidians than the government. Of course I had no love for David Koresh, but surely you realize that this was a threat to all freedom loving people who believe in the Constitution. The government could not have cared less if Koresh claimed to be Jesus Christ or that he was sexually abusing the children. They only wanted to take one step closer to taking away the people's right to bear arms. The only thing that has kept out government from turning into a complete dictatorship is that our crooked leaders in Washington, D.C. know most of the American people are armed.
Also, while I'm no follower of Garner Ted Armstrong, I agree with him that the government should have used the Andy Taylor approach and sent one agent or the local sheriff, who knew Koresh, to talk about the gun violations. As for child abuse charges, that should have been handled by the local welfare department, not a bunch of trigger happy Barney Fifes. Just how in the world did burning those poor, little children alive help the fact that they had been abused? Don't we have great government? In fact, we will never know if the firearms charges were true or not because all of them were destroyed! The facts are clear that the BATF and the FBI caused the fire by throwing gas into the compound and turning over the Davidians' kerosene lamps they were using because their electricity had been cut off!
As for the agents that were killed, of course that was bad too, especially for their families. But they knew the risk they were taking when they took jobs as agents. I really believe many law officers today would not be killed if they would learn to be our friends and protectors instead of acting like the Gestapo.
Last of all, John, I noticed that you got a good deal of your information about the Branch Davidians from Newsweek magazine. That publication is nothing more than a rag for the system. It is owned by The Washington Post, whose owner, Katherine Graham, attends the secretive Bilderberger meetings but never reports on them in her paper or magazine. If you want the real facts, read The Spotlight.
John, I'm not mad at you.... Everyone is entitled to one mistake.... By the way, you may print this letter along with my name.
-David W. Berryman
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
The least that the WCG could do would be to refund to each of us the money we gave to build the feast sites that they sold and to build the Pasadena campus and auditorium that they are now going to sell.
We were members of the WCG for 12 years. Leaving was not easy, but your efforts with the Report were an immense help, maybe more than you will ever know. After burning our bridges with former church affiliations and friends, and then leaving the WCG, you were our only lifeline to sanity. My very best wishes and thanks.
About This Issue
This issue that you are holding is not the one I promised in June. Although that one is almost ready for printing, I thought it best to delay it so that the more timely information that this issue contains could get out immediately.
For some months now, I have been researching the subject of the WCG spinoffs. There are so many now, and so many that hold to very strange beliefs, I thought that that information would make an informative issue or series of issues. But, in recent weeks it has become very obvious that the WCG is in the midst of a true revolution - one that pales into insignificance all the crises in its past, even the famous 1979 lawsuit brought by California's Attorney General. Many cult monitoring organizations have come to the same conclusion.
Where all this is leading is hard to figure. While the WCG has adopted a number of mainstream doctrinal positions, they have also been flirting with a number that are quite unorthodox. While they seem to want better relations with some religious and news organizations, they remain quite belligerent toward many others. While they admit their church has made many doctrinal and administrative errors over the years, they are doing little, if anything, to rectify the thousands of injustices they perpetrated in their past. "All you need is love" is a nice notion, but for most of us the slogan rings hollow without the physical evidence. (And didn't Paul write something along those lines?)
The next issue of AR should be quite interesting. We'll be getting it out as soon as we pay off the bills we incurred in doing this one. My thanks to all of you who are supporting our publishing efforts.
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