Smug Pastor
Smug Pastor

Herbert Armstrong was smug. He had an explanation for everything. He believed that God personally revealed everything really important to him. He was a gnostic. He wrote booklets: Does God Exist, Seven Proofs God Exists, The Proof of the Bible. He was cock sure. At the same time he was so arrogant that he claimed that everybody who did not agree with him was wrong. He left the Church of God Seventh Day because he thought he was so much more brilliant and smart than they were because he had absorbed and knew all the secret knowledge of Greenbury George Rupurt and they didn’t. That made him superior to them. He considered himself a qualified teacher. He claimed he was the first one in over 1900 years to bring the really really true gospel to the world. Everybody else was a failure. He claimed that science didn’t have the answers. He did. There are just a few little things wrong with his world view:

  • He claimed that British Israelism was the Key to Prophecy but it has been disproved scientifically by DNA evidence and made him a spectacularly failed false prophet as a result;
  • He claimed to have reestablished the true church from an unbroken line from the time of the original apostles but it has been proved that his church history was histrionics and total fantasy which not even the Church of God Seventh Day supports;
  • He prophesied over the radio on the World Tomorrow Broadcast during World War II that the United States and Britain would lose the war to the Germans (this caused the United States Government some heartburn and his broadcast was suspended for a time);
  • He predicted that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972 and his church would be taken to a place of safety;
  • He predicted that Christ would return in 1975;
  • His claim that he brought the true gospel to the world has proven problematic;
  • His Proof of the Bible uses prophecies of the Old Testament to prove the entire Bible true, even though some of the referenced prophecies have failed;
  • His Seven Proofs God Exists claims that the existence of God can be proved because He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.

Let’s examine that last point for a moment. Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and coauthor Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have shown in a paper published in Physics Letters B that the Big Bang singularity can be resolved by their new model in which the universe has no beginning and no end. The new theory works better than the current Big Bang Theory — it solves a lot of problems and the Math is better. If this model is true, then God did not create the universe and He certainly doesn’t sustain it, because it has no beginning or end. What this would do to the idea of the existence of God is unclear. What role would He have? Was He a product of the universe at some point? Could God be an Emergent Property? Is He an advanced Being with highly advanced technology humanity would never be able to understand? Did He create life? Or did He sort of shepherd circumstances to make life appear? Is He really The Designer He was claimed to be in the Booklet? Is God The Lawgiver or are the laws of physics eternal, making God a sort of glorified Hall Monitor? The other problem with this is that the Bible may be terribly unreliable, since many of the books in it seem to be forged. There are at least 40 gospels floating around — it’s a little difficult to claim that you are bringing the one and only true gospel since there are so many of them. How could it really be a reliable guide to exactly who and what God is? And did Jesus actually exist? Historians of the time don’t seem to have mentioned him.

Not to worry.

Armstrongists are assured in their own minds that Herbert Armstrong had all the answers. They claim that they have the answers because they believe what Herbert Armstrong said. They have special revelation from God through Herbert Armstrong.

On the other hand, they point out that Science doesn’t have all the answers. Therefore, they conclude, science is worthless and people should listen to them, particularly when their views don’t agree with the scientists because the Armstrongists claim special knowledge from God and scientists have doubt. Certainly, atheists who depend upon science are just plain wrong. The Armstrongists are supremely confident that they are right. They are smug.

Here is an example from Banned by HWA!:

Anonymous said…

What another load of garbage you keep posting. You cant be serious! You keep thinking the GOG people are in a “cult”, thats just a word people like yourselves throw around to degrade others in the hope of achieving something sinister. That would make any person who goes to any church or part of a political system or sports team for that matter, part of a cult, how simple minded are you.

The real reason you keep this rubbish up is because you once understood the truth, you had the sword the sheild the breastplate and the belt, but you couldnt continue the fight, why? I’ll tell you why; because you have a big yellow streak running down your backs thats why!

To know the truth and then throw your talent away instead of building on it is as cowardly as you can get! You are not the type of people anyone would want in any army. You would throw your arms up in the air and say, “oh this is too hard, I want to get back into the lust of the world it’s a lot easier there”, and then complain about those who fight on.

To justify yourselves you complain about and try to bring down COG people who are out there continuing the fight to defeat satans lies and deceptions by preaching the gospel of the coming kingdom.

When will you get over the fact that we dont follow any man but Christ. All you do is twist the truth like satan himself. Why dont you complain about the apostle Paul how he persecuted the church prior to his conversion, could you imagine if all you perfect souls that comment on this site were around then, what Paul would have to deal with on top of his other persecutions.

Why dont you offer any other solutions if you think your so right. You dont because you dont have any thats why. Its a lot easier pointing the finger at others instead.

You people hound others because they believe in the truth while justifying yourselves because you are spiritually yellow right the way through! It’s hard enough to know the truth but to ridicule it the way you do after you once believed is the biggest act of cowardice!

What you need to do is stop thinking your helping people and wake up! Yes it’s easier not to tithe or develop or grow in grace and knowledge but we choose to and nothing you or your regular scoffers can say or do will ever stop this powerful work from going from strength to strength.

Thats what you’re so sore about isnt it, really, knowing more people are hearing the truth and applying it to their lives while you wander around aimlessly. You dont like being a minority. If you think you know the truth then lets hear it so we can check up on you, but you wont do that because you dont have anything but whining and complaining to offer. Like i said before, the color I see is yellow all over this site.

May 16, 2015 at 12:43 AM

Apparently Armstrongists know everything except how to use apostrophes. And maybe capitals.

Mechanic Getting Started
Mechanic Getting Started

Perhaps we can put things into perspective with a quote from Tony Reno over at Quora:

First, I know other people are going to correct the OP and point out that atheists don’t need to believe in science, but for the sake of my answer, since I’m an atheists who does, let me take it from my point of view.

Imagine my car is stalling on the highway, and I don’t know why. I take my car into the local mechanic. He’s got a small shop, but he’s my friend. He’s fixed several of my cars in the past and I trust him. I ask him to find the problem.

Mechanic Doing Systematic Checks
Mechanic Doing Systematic Checks

He starts working on it, takes the engine apart, runs diagnostics. About this time the local pastor comes in to visit. My mechanic comes out and says, “It’s not the spark plugs, not the wiring.”

I ask? “Do you know what it is yet?”

Mechanic: Not yet.

Pastor: I know what it is.

Mechanic, rolls his eyes.

Me: Really. What is it?

Pastor: God doesn’t want your car to run.

Me: I think I’ll let the mechanic work on it a bit longer.

Mechanic comes back after a while: Well it’s not the fuel line. The coil seems ok too.

Pastor: I told you what it was already. I don’t know why you keep working on it.

Me: Pastor, are you going to fix my car?

Pastor: Well no. I’m just letting you know that God doesn’t want it to run.

Me: Pastor, if you are not going to fix my car, would you please shut up and let the mechanic do his job.

You see, religious people don’t care if I learn what I need to. To them, “God did it,” is all they care about.

Me, I actually want to know the answer. I care about it. I might not need that particular car to run, but I still care about the answer.

Mechanic at Work
Mechanic at Work

When the pastor says he knows the answer he’s totally discounting the work the mechanic has already done. The pastor doesn’t care that the mechanic has done tests and knows things. The pastor is only trying to look smug and important, pretending he has that secret knowledge that the mechanic didn’t have.

But did the pastor know that the spark plugs were fine? Did the pastor know that the wiring was fine? Did he know the coil was fine? No, the pastor didn’t know any of those things.

The pastor is sitting up there with his clean hands and his smug answers and is making a mockery of the years of study and the dirty hard exacting work that the mechanic is doing to find things out.

Do you think the mechanic deserves that kind of treatment?

Pastor: Oh, I know you’ve looked really hard. But you didn’t find the answer. That’s because I already know the answer. No, I didn’t look at the engine. No I didn’t study the instruments. No I didn’t get my hands dirty. No I didn’t run any tests. But none of that matters. I know the answer. God doesn’t want the car to run. That’s your answer.

And you wonder why mechanics might be angry with you? You wonder why car owners might be angry?

Not every atheist is angry, because, as I’m sure people have pointed out, not every atheist cares. But those of us who do care about the car, those of us who appreciate the years of study that went into the mechanic’s discipline, those of us who appreciate the fact that the mechanic is willing to get his hands dirty, take the engine apart, check the instruments out, those who appreciate that these jobs aren’t easy, we wish …

I know it’s a lot to ask …

But we wish you’d quit acting so smug and sure of yourself.

We wish you’d realize that you aren’t fixing the cars.

We wish you’d realize that you aren’t even looking at the engine, much less rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty.

We wish you’d appreciate the hard work that is happening.

We wish you’d realize that even though you don’t really care about the right answers, some of us do.

We wish you’d get out of the way and let the mechanic do his job.

Does that not make any sense as to why the smug behavior of claiming that you know what’s wrong with the car when you are not even offering something that will fix the car, just making a pronouncement, doesn’t go over well? You don’t care what’s wrong with the car. You just want to seem smarter than the mechanic, but unlike the mechanic, you aren’t willing to get your hands dirty and look at the engine.

And in case you are thinking that there are no broken cars involved, you don’t know how science works. Many modern medical instruments come from studies in physics, from detector technology used in studying stars. Science actually gets somewhere. A pastor sitting back and saying, “God doesn’t want your car to work,” is just getting in the way.

Problem Found and Resolved
Problem Found and Resolved

It is clear it’s even worse with doctors.

9 Replies to “Smug”

  1. Turnabout is fair play. Here is a message for the pastor from the technician! “Hey, Pastor! Your church isn’t growing because God doesn’t want it to grow! Your message isn’t getting out in power because God doesn’t want that kind of “gospel” preached. And your prophecies aren’t coming to pass because God says they are false, and you are being presumptuous and self-serving!”


  2. Byker Bob, you are correct, but the example isn’t equal to the mechanic: The Pastor hasn’t put any work into investigating his belief system, doesn’t do ‘system checks’ to eliminate unsuccessful avenues of pursuit, never looks at his prophecies and simply will never admit to being wrong.

    Furthermore, the Pastor doesn’t benefit anyone but himself. He doesn’t really do anything worthwhile for the money he gets, doesn’t really help people and worse, becomes a dictator seeking to control every aspect of all the lives he possibly can.

    The Pastor is an amateur expecting you to believe he has qualified competent professional standing. That’s crap of course, but some people buy into it and the Pastor is off and running with money from a captive audience he can proceed to ruin by his arbitrary dictatorial control.

  3. And when the mechanic finds the problem and gets the engine running, the Pastor says, “God changed his mind/had mercy/that part of the bible is obvious poetic…

    The pastor contributes nothing but drag and dead weight to society, even when he’s wrong moves the goalposts so as to be right “after all,” and never needs to offer proof he’s not wrong.

  4. Danny, if we put the shoe on the other foot, so to speak, and make the Pastor a sort of ‘spiritual mechanic’ we can see a totally failed methodology which is absolutely devastating for those who seek ‘fixing’.

    So you don’t feel good and go to your Pastor for a ‘tune up’. He might ask you a few cursory questions or maybe he doesn’t. First of all, all of your problems are your fault: You sinned and you are suffering for your sins. He doesn’t have any particular proof of this, he just expects you take your word for it because he is the ‘expert’ in these things. He really doesn’t have training relevant to helping you. He lives and gets by by making things up. If you thought “The reason your car doesn’t run is because God doesn’t want it to” was bad, just wait for his advice on your ‘spiritual’ problem.

    So he advises you to repent. You’re not quite certain what you will repent of. You ask him what sin specifically you have committed to make you feel the way your are feeling. He says that it’s your fault and you “have to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. He does advise you to fast and pray about the situation as you seek repentance, whatever that may mean.

    So you go forth, not comforted one whit, only to find the next Sabbath, your Pastor is spilling the beans to the whole congregation about your ‘sin’. You go on a three day fast, praying, meditating and studying. You feel worse after the fast. You go to the Pastor. He tells you that you still aren’t pleasing God and you must do more. He suggests giving a substantial contribution to The Work.

    Your employer requires you to have an annual physical exam and you go. After the test results come back, the laboratory tests show that you have been on the edge of renal failure and some recent event has put you over the top: You are going to die and will have to be on dialysis for the rest of your life. Your doctor says that if it had been caught earlier you could have lived a normal life.

    You go to your Pastor and ask for anointing. He refuses, saying that you went to the doctor because of your lack of faith, disfellowships you and publicly marks you.

    Don’t think that some version of this story hasn’t already happened.

    Multiple times.

  5. Somehow, during my approximately twenty years with “old school” WCG, I usually had the good sense to hide out from the ministers. Fly below the radar, so to speak. People would ride my back about regular counselling, but the few times I did obtain counsel from the ministers, I either got some abominable load of crap from them, or the situation for which I had obtained counsel became dramatically worse as a result of following their advice. The problem was that rather than provide advice from the relative fullness of the areas in which they might have had experience, they put on “know it all” auras, hiding their complete bankruptcy of knowledge in most practical areas. The guys who were in their 40s with somewhat of a business background weren’t quite so bad in this as were the kids who came to AC fresh from high school, racking up enough brownie points to be sent into the field, collecting their wife and lease car on the way out, in the days immediately following graduation.

    Some of the ministers whose style and personalities I really admired while they were speaking from the pulpit turned out to be flaming assholes one on one. Their skills as orators were awesome, but actual people skills on a personal level were just plain horrendous! Who knows? Absenting Armstrongism, they might actually have been nicer people, or they could have been attracted to the things that ministers get to do because they were assholes to begin with. One thing for sure: Armstrongism is and was a powerful modifier, and never for the better!


  6. Excellent response Mr. Becker! Absolutely true and exactly right on the point. I have seen this happen again and again.

    And when the person dies the rumor mill starts. ‘So and so had a problem with sex, or alcohol, or demons’ and the rest of the list you can fill in.

    Then we are told in the announcement part of services not to be sad followed by ‘God will judge them for their sins’.

    The ministry builds you up and then beats you down. You never know what they will do next. This is essentially what a wife beater does. And what is a wife beater one may ask? A raging alcoholic who is out of control and out of his mind. And the people still put up with this behavior.

  7. Well, thankfully, I never trusted ministers that far. Call me crazy but I don’t trust the police, and I would never think of going to to cop to counsel about areas where I’m having trouble keeping the law. And I’ve always seen ministers as cops, so I never counseled with them, and hence avoided all these problems.

    Ode to A Smug Counselor

    Why do you build me up (build me up) Pastor Cop, baby
    Just to let me down (let me down) and beat me around
    And then worst of all (worst of all) Jesus never comes, baby
    When you say he will (say he will) but I love you still
    I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’
    You know that I have from the start
    So build me up (build me up) Pastor Cop, don’t break my heart

  8. Is it time to take your pastor in for his biannual smug check? Some of these ministers fall into the category of “Gross Polluters” for their blue clouds of smug emissions. It’s probably because they’re so old. This is what happens when the ego rings get damaged, allowing their double-annointing oil to get into their cylinders.

  9. “Big Bangs all the way down baby!”
    Conformal cyclic cosmology

    Ever since Galileo, science has gotten “Religion” scared. It has been Science that has been increasing our standard of living.

    “To be in possession of an absolute truth is to have a net of familiarity spread over the whole of eternity.
    There are no surprises and no unknowns. All questions have already been answered, all decisions made, all eventualities foreseen…. An active mass movement rejects the present and centers its interests on the future. It is from this attitude that it derives its strength, for it can proceed recklessly with the present-with the health, wealth and lives of its followers.”
    THE TRUE BELIEVER by Eric Hoffer

    For these kind of people, it is not about gaining a growing competence in ‘getting it right’ through trial and error, it’s all about them ‘being right’ because of their privledged position. Any information that comes in through their senses ‘must’ support that delusion. Since they believe they already have the truth, there is no longer a reason for them to search for it.So, the only choice they have is to defend themselves from Satan’s relentless onslaught. [Cue Eric Cartmen:”Respect Mah AuTHORitEE!”]
    I say leave them by the side of the road and they can pray to God to figure it out for them.

    drive-by philosopher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
25 − 24 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.