People are generally forgiving, and if they see their “repentant” ex-pastor has the guts to openly apologize, then maybe you’ll all have more friends than you know. Remember, if Bill Clinton had told the truth about he and Monica in the beginning, his popularity would have shot through the roof, and this country – as a whole – would have forgiven him.
“The truth shall set you free.”
Blast from the past…
How long it seems since we exited Worldwide Church of God! For some, it’s a shorter time, but for many of us it’s been many years.
Herbert W. Armstrong is now long dead, but his legacy lives on. There have been the predictable power splits from the parent group into a variety of new cults, new leaders, new locations, but regrettably … the same old bondage. You all know the story.
When I look back over the years, from 1968 when I first came into the cult, I saw a legalistic system of religion that I believed was the best system man could devise for a future peaceful world. Like so many, I did not see behind the scenes at the shattered marriages, the burden of tithing and offerings, the totalitarian approach of the church “government” which was our supposed FINAL authority.
It’s been almost twenty years since I left, and for twenty years there’s been something that I felt was very wrong with my life. It’s only now that I’ve really come to see it, and only then I found it by openly asking (my idea of) God to honestly show me my shortcomings. If this sounds like Step #4 in the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step program, then you’re right. It is. And I was very surprised with the answer.
Granted, my family and I left the ministry and 90% of the Hawaiian church left with us, but what about all those years prior to our leaving? While the “karmic clock” may have stopped ticking when we came to our senses and left, what about the damage that I’d done to people prior to the stoppage of that clock? Since I was responsible for teaching many families, and individuals, about Worldwide Church of God, those lives were then forever changed. Did these people leave too? What about those that didn’t?
In any case, even if I could find out now and they had ALL left, what about all the previous years that I helped keep them in bondage . . . the tithing, the deprivation of children, and the fact that I had ignorantly kept any real concept of God hidden?
Some may brush this off with: “Just confess to God, and the blood of Jesus will take care of it,” and this simply doesn’t work. Since there’s absolutely nothing in the entirety of Jesus’ teachings that says this rubbish, I’m still left with the effects of what I’d sown even though I’d deeply regretted and am completely sorry for what I’d done. The false idea that “all is washed away,” does not come into the Master’s theology and is the product of modern Biblical theological insanity, and from much of today’s salesmanship produced in profit motivated Televangelism.
So, I was still left with the trail of human debris that I’d left behind, even though I was now following a new path. I don’t know where all the people that I’d wronged are now. Even if I could talk to each one, what could I do at this stage? Maybe something? Maybe nothing. But, could I (at least) try?
At the very least, I could apologize to them.
It’s one thing to apologize to God, and think that’s now OK, and “I’m in the clear.” But what good is all that if I can simply dismiss all the suffering I’ve caused by this act of verbal “repentance” to God – no matter how genuine. Granted, the sin of commission may be eradicated, but what about the present sin of omission? The original wrong is acknowledged, but what about the karmic trail it’s left behind?
Then I was reminded of the Apology Page that’s linked to this website. At the time of this writing, there are only three names of people that have apologized. I’m more than just a little bit surprised. Is it true that within the entirety of the Worldwide Church of God ex-ministry, there are only a total of three ex-ministers that have done any wrong?
Let me tell a story, one that illustrates a parallel, and see if this message applies to “all who have ears to hear.” Although this may be very uncomfortable to read, I’d ask all ex-ministers to have the courage to please read it all.
Once upon a time, there was a man called Adolph Hitler. He was, as history shows, a demonically possessed lunatic with a humungous ego, and a psychopathic, schizoid personality. Enough said. As Chancellor of Germany, he surrounded himself with an elite body of dedicatees who catered to his every order. They were called the SS.
Above all, they were loyal. They hung onto Hitler’s every word, believed his propaganda, spread his teachings, and implemented his edicts. Granted, they were acting almost as crazy as Hitler, but they were gullible (many of them just kids), uninformed, uneducated, and honestly believed that they were doing the best for the Master Race and the enlightened future of the world. These were Hitler’s minions.
Now, there’s a lot that went on here when this group set forth into the field. Since the SS now had the “authority” from the Fuehrer himself, they threw themselves into their work of purging the undesirables with great gusto. They also enforced the Fuehrer’s wishes in a cruel, legalistic manner, putting on all folks, burdens “grievous to be borne.” People were questioned without cause, dominated cruelly, their lives turned upside down, many were arrested, bludgeoned physically and verbally, others lost their property and life savings, some others died, and others who didn’t align themselves with the Fuehrer’s thinking were marked and banished from the fellowship of their countrymen to places with names like Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen, Treblinka, etc.
Now . . . let’s just suppose that during the course of the Second World War, some of those SS nazis came to their senses. These men now say that they finally realize that Hitler is a certifiable nut case, the propaganda of the party is a bunch of idiotic lies, and the crazed government is destructive to all people’s lives. They also realize they’re still now a part of this demonic mechanism of destruction in people’s lives, and want no more part of it. So, they leave, and in this particular case . . . they flee.
They quietly take their money and as much of their wealth (garnered by fleecing the people they once oppressed), take their families, and leave quietly for Switzerland. Now they’re safe, and consequently employable, for the duration of the war.
After the war, they return to their homeland to find a county in chaos, the people destitute and starving, and the cities in rubble. They each look around at the bombed out mess, but then shake their heads and leave for the serene country, where they now set up a new life and home with the money they’d originally taken from Germany and the new money they’d recently earned in the safety of Switzerland.
As each man leaves the city, each one says to himself: “You know, it’s too bad all this had to happen. Sure, I’ll admit, I was a part of all this and helped participate in all this destruction of people’s lives, but the bottom line is that I really did leave the party. See? I’m in the clear. It really doesn’t matter, at this stage, that I was partly responsible for all this mess. I left the SS, and that’s all that matters. So really, I’m not responsible. I have nothing to be sorry for anymore. I was just gullible in those days, that’s all. Originally, I did what my conscience told me, but I finally left. Heck . . . I can’t change anything now. It’s done. It’s finished. Even while I was in the party, I was really not a ‘bad’ SS officer, as I was just following orders.”
I’m not so sure that the families of six million (plus) Jews, etc., would fully understand. No apology? No “sorry?” No attempted restitution? No nothing. Hmmmmmmmmmm!
Through the 1930’s and into the 1940’s – according to his own family – Herbert W. Armstrong studied and implemented the teachings of MEIN KAMPF, by Adolph Hitler, into the Worldwide Church of God organization. In this book – previously a part of the History class at A.C. – students used to study Hitler’s philosophy in his book of what he called: “My Fight.”
When thinking A.C. students read Hitler’s philosophy of life, many commented to me that they saw a parallel to Herbert W. Armstrong. They saw the modus operandi of people domination, the propaganda machine, the justification of lies, the mandatory respect of authority, the secluded, luxury living, and the outline for the accumulation of power at any cost. Many said to me, at the time: “But John, Herbert W. Armstrong could never be like that? Could he? Could he? Could he?”
Time has shown the fruits of the Herbert W. Armstrong regime, and many of those demonic aspects of Hitler’s reign of terror have been testified to have slithered into the Ambassador scene. And let’s be honest, all of us ministers – in some way, have been tainted with the brush of MEIN KAMPF through its human instrument and willing applicator . . . Herbert W. Armstrong.
Back in the seventies and eighties, I heard that ministers (because of their fruits) were called “ministerial nazis,” and to be more brief: “Mini-nazis.”
Herbert W. Armstrong was a type of Hitler. And we were his minions.
On the PAINFUL TRUTH website, there’s a link to the Apology Page. Granted, like the above mentioned nazis in the foregoing analogy, one person can’t clean up all the mess that’s been made in people’s lives. But do you know something? An apology would sure help. It would show a willingness to show some sorrow for what’s been done. It would help heal a tremendous wrong to thousands, something for which we are ALL partly responsible.
If any average person makes a mistake, then they ought to have the character to come out and (at least) say, “I’m sorry.” Just to simply say, “It’s over,” and “Let’s forget it,” and “God forgives me,” and “I can’t do anything now,” really doesn’t help. The damage has been done, but without apologies from those responsible and directed to those harmed, whenever it is possible to do so, there can be no forgiveness.
I know the theological whitewashing that hirelings produce when apologies are needed. I’ve heard them all before, and frankly, those ideas don’t come from Jesus. GTA is a master at getting around apologies, but then again, look at his spirit. If we have the chance of apologizing and WILL NOT take it, then how sorry are we really?
Shouldn’t we try and emulate the God characteristics in the best way we can? The Infinite loves us infinitely. Could we show any less love in our treatment of our fellow man? Would any of us, having done wrong to our own children, not apologize when the chance arose? Are the brethren, that we once cared for, any different?
I know it takes something more than any of us possess, of ourselves, to make the apology. But God (however you regard Him), can do through us what we cannot do for ourselves. Sure . . . many of us would like to remain “hidden,” and not have to worry anymore about Worldwide Church of God. Some of us feel we’re already suffering enough, and that we don’t need to apologize. But . . . maybe that’s the reason that we still suffer?
People are generally forgiving, and if they see their “repentant” ex-pastor has the guts to openly apologize, then maybe you’ll all have more friends than you know. Remember, if Bill Clinton had told the truth about he and Monica in the beginning, his popularity would have shot through the roof, and this country – as a whole – would have forgiven him. “The truth shall set you free.”
If you, my fellow ex-ministers, ever really loved your flock, you may still be able to help those who have left Worldwide Church of God and who flounder in despair, anger and bitterness. At least you can try. Remember, part of their heartache and confusion is our fault. And an apology is only ONE step in helping to cement the incredible wound that’s been generated by a demonic cult. True . . . everyone will know who you are, but most will respect you. Also, if you have one, please leave your E-mail address. Love, kindness, and help to others can also be given on the Internet.
As ex-ministers, it’s obviously up to all of us individually to make that decision, and if any feels that this “Apology Page” is not the best course, then fine. If you feel that your conscience is clear, then fine too. I only ask you to think on it.
In any case, whatever be your decision, I personally wish you all every blessings, and have a great and abundant eternity.
Article by John O.
Ex-Pastor of the Worldwide Church of God Hawaii Churches of God.
1976 to 1979.