LETTER TO ED
(Reprinted with permission)
By John O.. Ex-Worldwide Church of God Pastor.
In the short time we've been in correspondence, we've often discussed the matter of the ex-ministry of the COG cults, and why so many of them now seem silent. Like you, I'm somewhat baffled. Did you know, I've had some very warm letters from both sexes, saying that they appreciate what we're all doing, but wondering why more ex-ministers haven't apologized. Weren't all these guys sorry? Didn't they give a damn about the people they'd hurt? What . . .?
Our departure from the Worldwide Church of God cult in Hawaii, as I've mentioned before, taught me a great lesson. If anything, it taught me NOT to believe a lying bunch of men who masquerade as "Brothers in Christ." I foolishly believed that such individuals who carry the I.D. of "minister" would naturally be filled with the Spirit and would endeavor to always work for the "plain truth." I was sooooooo dumb. Let me explain.
When Luker arrived in Hawaii in early 1979 to see the condition of the church (and all this is explained in the other article The Plain Truth about Hawaii), we confronted him with undeniable evidence that Worldwide Church of God was only one of many churches of God, and only one of forty that kept the Sabbath. We showed him Herbert W. Armstrong's plagiarism, the lies about other groups, and Herbert W. Armstrong's denial of Christ, etc. We had all the written documentation (and still do) which he read and acknowledged as "interesting."
He could have, like any "normal" minister, taken time to verify this information and sit down to discuss it further. Anyone else would have been stunned by this information that Herbert W. Armstrong had lied over the years about the existence of other groups like Worldwide Church of God. Instead, he moved to have me leave the islands "Whether John likes it or not," and returned to Pasadena for de-programming, and then offered me a pastoral job in Fontana. Was this guy for real? Naturally, this was a tactic that I didn't buy into. He was simply trying to get me out of the islands. Immediately after that, I resigned. I beat him to the punch.
You know something, Ed? I still couldn't figure out why he didn't do something with the avalanche of information that we'd given him. Stupid me! Duuuuuuuhhhh . . . !
It was my wife that finally vocalized that which I could not see, or want to admit. We were talking one night soon after Luker's outburst that caused 90% of the group to leave. Note, it was witnessed, that it was Luker that DROVE THE PEOPLE AWAY from the Worldwide Church of God cult, and not some Machiavellian scheme of John's. He pushed and they left. So my wife and I chatted one night shortly after the departure.
"Why," I said, "didn't Luker do something with all the information we showed him? Doesn't he realize that Herbert W. Armstrong is a crook? What's wrong with Pasadena?"
"Pasadena," she wisely noted, "already knows what's going on. But they're not about to rock the boat because of the income."
I thought about that for a long time and then I realized she was right. They didn't give a damn about the truth. All they wanted was (as Loma admitted) the money. I was starting to learn a lot here. When Willy Berg arrived I was so discouraged with what was happening that I couldn't be bothered meeting with him. He had been, I was told, made aware of ALL the relevant information given to Luker, but he declined to talk about any of it, calling himself, on the phone: " . . . more doctrinally oriented."
All this explanation is necessary because it parallels other experiences that I know. And it also, as I found, explained the difference between a "hireling" and something else more sinister that we'll discuss later.
Like Luker, Berg appeared to be contemptuous of the facts, and in discussing the departure with only some of the brethren, he avoided all mention of the issues, but rather tried to "woo" the brethren. According to the brethren on all islands, he only meet with and/or phoned about twenty percent of the flock. The rest were ignored. At the time, I couldn't figure out why. Was I dumb, or what?
In Hawaii, the folks are close. And when us "haoles" (outsiders or Caucasians) traveled through the islands, we (in the church group) all knew what was happening and where those visitors were and how they lived. Many local church people worked in a variety of places throughout the various islands in those days, restaurants, hotels, stores, etc., and the grapevine was sizzling.
Berg and his wife, it seems, were everywhere, according to the verified input we received. He spent the month basically ignoring the brethren that he'd come to "save," and instead, he and his wife toured the islands, stayed at the best hotels, and ate at the best restaurants. God loves quality, of course . . . and all at the tithe payer's expense.
But, stupid me, I still couldn't figure out why even a "whore for his paycheck" would blatantly ignore such damning evidence. Why would they deliberately milk the tithe payers and then go and continue to support, what was now obviously, a cult?
And this is where I learned the difference between a "hireling" and a "tare."
Over the years, I've encountered many a hireling. These are ones who only care for themselves and their paycheck. At the end of our tenure, I talked with many ministers, both on the phone, and those who visited Hawaii. They didn't mind calling me and chatting, seeing I was now "out." Many, who were planning to leave at a future time, were now diligently padding their nest.
They knew the A.C. education was useless and spent their evenings making up courses to get degrees at lesser accredited colleges. It appears that some colleges would accept some A.C. courses, but other courses had to be taken to complete the Baccalaureate degree. So these hirelings, upon gaining Bachelorhood could then go on to obtain a Master's at an accredited college. Many bragged that A.C. (in those years) paid for their outside tuition. That was before Herbie lowered the boom.
When I asked many about the flocks they would leave when they got their degrees, many simply said: "Screw 'em. We've got to take care of number one." They did.
I personally know of one such "high ranking" minister. His tuition, to the level of doctorate, was reportedly paid for by the College. His house was mostly "written off" by the College, when Stan Rader was purportedly buying off the ministry to be loyal. His luxury home was decorated by third tithe money. And he now works in a profitable practice as a Doctor of Child Psychology. He left the cult, but never bothered to apologize or admit wrong. It's personally sad to me, because I admired and respected him . . . once upon a time. I felt him to be a highly intelligent person and a true gentleman. I considered him a friend, once. But, that's another story.
These - above types - are all guys that I consider to be classed as "hirelings." They simply use genuine folks to get where they want to go, but when the money runs out, they take off to the next paycheck. I don't consider these people as "evil," but simply unscrupulous and foolish meatheads. But the inexorable karmic law will catch up with all of us, and they must learn too. Let's hope they get their act together.
But what I'm talking about here, Ed, is what Jesus Himself said in the parable of "The Wheat and Tares." When I figured out what this analogy really meant, I found it to be very sobering. What He's saying here is - in effect - that in this world we have the good guys (who can make the most colossal stupid mistakes), and the deliberately bad guys , who are actually called "Children of Evil." This is pretty heavy stuff. Although we've seen this type of control or possession in crazed leaders from time to time (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Herbert W. Armstrong), it was hard to believe there were others of the same ilk lurking behind the guise of a "Christian" minister. I felt so dumb at not seeing it earlier. But then again, that's exactly what Paul said in II Cor 11:14-15.
I had to face the fact that many of the Worldwide Church of God ministers may go beyond the realm of ignorance and stupidity. Many of them, according to the parable, were actually children of evil.
Now, it's not my intent, and never will be, to say who falls into this "evil" category and who does not. That's not my business. Anyone can repent. But it is my business to try and discern the difference and "try the spirits."
I think, if we look honestly and with an open mind, we can see the unrepentant tares everywhere - all over the world. They're in business, in leadership, in the justice system, in gangs, in politics, in the military, and in the church groups. There's no changing these individuals, because if there's no repentance, then there can be no forgiveness. Therefore, " . . . their sin remains." Right now, I'd say there are more tares hiding inside church groups, Christian broadcasting groups, the antics of televangelism, large denominations whose pastors brag of "million dollar Sundays," and in smaller cults like the COG collection.
But, I'm finding this very hard, Ed. You know? I'm finding it hard to rationalize the behaviour of those who have absolute proof of wrongdoing in their hands, and who still choose to perpetrate that wrong and justify it. How does anyone choose to go in an obviously wrong direction when he knows for sure he's doing the wrong thing and damaging peoples' lives as a result? How can we reconcile this intentional evil done and still pass it off as the stupidity of a "hireling?" It just ain't so. This is the work of utter corruption and darkness. It is the work of tares.
Hirelings are stupid. I know. I was one. And thankfully, dozens of hirelings got out of the cult when they saw the evil being done. I knew many "good" guys and their wives in the cult, and I know they are out of the Nazi formula of cultism at this time. I only wish I could chat with some . . . if they'd want to talk, of course. They can always get me at my E-mail address. Lemme tell those guys, they're not alone.
Anyhow, Ed, those are some thoughts on what I've progressively learned over the years on what is now hitting so many people. Maybe this thinking could make sense with many things to some folks, and give them logical reasons as to the "what and why" of what has now happened to many of them. Who knows? With me, understanding tends to come slowly, but when I "see" it, then like Job, I really see.
Best and blessings 4 now.
This letter does give a good explanation as to why more ministers will not apologize. I never thought of it in the Wheat and Tares sense but it does explain a lot.
It really makes me sad to think that so many "ministers" are just the opposite of ministers, in that, instead of ministering, which I always interpreted as: "To attend to the wants and needs of others," they were, and are, only looking out for the wants and needs of themselves. These have to be truly Godless people, knowingly using religion and therefore people for their own ends. I can excuse the ones who were just as stupid as the rest of us, but, I had expected it was the majority of them not the minority. And that minority turns out to be only three who will publicly admit that they were a part of an evil system and want to give an apology to those that they have damaged.
People are pretty willing to forgive when they perceive there is a genuine repentance. I don't know what they are afraid of unless Pasadena has something in writing that makes them keep their mouths shut. Probably, once again, means a loss of money, so they keep quiet. Once again, they must not believe there is a God who will hold them responsible.
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