Herbert Armstrong was the master of self-deception. Not only that, but he trained us all to be adept at self-deception. And self-deception is exactly why people stay with the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia.
Watch this TEDx Event Presentation by Dr. Cortney S. Warren in her talk, “Honest Lies: The Psychology of Self-Deception”:
At the core, we lie to ourselves because we don’t have enough psychological strength to admit the truth and deal with the consequences that will follow. That said, understanding our self-deception is the most effective way to live a fulfilling life. For when we admit what we really are, we have the opportunity to change.
There are core strategies which we use to practice self-deception:
- Denial: Refusing to believe something is true, even though it is;
- Rationalization: Creating a reason to excuse ourselves;
- Projection: Taking an undesirable aspect of ourselves and ascribing it to someone else;
- Cognitive Distortions: Irrational ways in which we think;
- Polarizing Thinking: Thinking in extremes;
- Emotional Reasoning: Thinking that our feelings accurately reflect reality;
- Overgeneralization: Taking a single negative event as an infinite spiral of defeat.
From an existential perspective, we deceive ourselves to avoid the ‘Givens’ of life, the fundamental realities of “being human” that we must face:
- Death — we’re all going to die;
- Ultimate Aloneness — we were born as a single person housed in a solitary physical body;
- Meaninglessness — our lives are inherently meaningless unless we give them meaning;
- Freedom — we are responsible for ourselves because we have the freedom of choice.
To avoid these realities, we frequently lie to ourselves:
- Deferring responsibility for choices;
- Believing in ‘specialness’ so that there is a unique protection from harm;
- Compromising to meet cultural norms.
Self-deception leads to massive amounts of pain and regret. To avoid being honest, we frequently make choices with harmful consequences to ourselves and others — we may use drugs, alcohol, eat, shop, gamble, steal, lie, leave people or pass our emotional baggage down to those we love the most. Or, we may choose not to change even when we are miserable or causing profound harm to those around us. Looking back at life with regret is incredibly painful, because you can’t change your choices in the past.
When we don’t take full responsibility for who we are, we hurt ourselves and everyone around us.
The way to change is:
- self-awareness — become observers of ourselves;
- examine the contribution to the conflict in our lives;
- admit to insecurity and confront the choice.
Not changing when confronted with the truth is a choice. Although we cannot control the many circumstances we encounter in life, we are responsible for our reactions to all of them.
Confronting our self-deception is a lifelong journey. We change and the world offers us new opportunities to understand ourselves. There is always more to learn.
It is now time for those who embrace the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia to be honest with themselves.
Here are just a few of the truths Armstrongists need to face:
Herbert Armstrong was not an apostle;
Herbert Armstrong was a false prophet;
Herbert Armstrong committed incest with his daughter for ten years at the beginning of his ministry and, therefore,
Herbert Armstrong was not actually converted, and,
Herbert Armstrong was never qualified to be a minister;
Herbert Armstrong is dead;
Herbert Armstrong knowingly allowed his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, to be second in command as the top evangelist, even though GTA was an adulterer, alcoholic boozer and a gambler;
There is no place of safety and there never will be (and Petra is an absolutely terrible place to try to survive);
British Israelism, as the key to prophecy, has been thoroughly debunked and no prophecy based on it will come true… ever — it’s extra Biblical;
The True History of The True Church was nothing of the kind, plagiarized from Ellen G. White and thoroughly, provably wrong, particularly about Waldensians supposedly keeping the Sabbath and Holydays (they considered themselves to be good Catholics);
The leaders of the major sects of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia have proved themselves inept and to be false prophets;
Jesus isn’t returning in your life time;
There may be tribulation, but the Great Tribulation won’t happen in your life time;
The Bible commands “from such turn away”;
There is no such thing as a Christian narcissist;
Armstrongism is a religion of physical rituals, not of spiritual content;
If you are an alcoholic, you must stop drinking or you will not just die badly, you may seriously injure and kill others;
If you are diabetic, you cannot drink alcohol;
If you are diabetic, you need to manage your condition because it’s not just going to ‘go away’;
Anointing for your chronic diseases will not make them go away;
There is not and never was any such thing as ‘second tithe’;
If you are a farmer and you try to keep the seventh year land Sabbath, you will either go broke, have to borrow money or lose your land because you simply won’t get double income in your sixth year because, just like the Feasts, the land Sabbath was given only to ancient Israelites in the land of Israel — the land ‘the Lord gaveth thee’ — under the Old Covenant only — a physical covenant for a physical people devoid of the Holy Spirit given promises of physical prosperity only;
The United States and British Commonwealth are not lost tribes of Israel, and, more importantly, none of the doom, devastation, destruction is going to occur because of their supposed sins against an ancient religion which was never given to them;
Your ministers are in it for the money and the ego trip — they are totally selfish and don’t really care about you;
Your ministers and leaders know nothing of morals and ethics;
Your ministers are terrible at counseling;
Your ministers are liars;
Your ministers don’t actually know how the Bible was put together, or if they do, they are lying about it;
You still can’t put new wine in old wineskins, even though that’s what Armstrongism is all about;
You don’t really know what other members of your sect really believe, even though you think you’ve known them for decades;
There is no loyalty — you can incur someone’s wrath and be disfellowshipped at any time;
Your family isn’t really safe;
You are wasting your money;
You are wasting your time;
You don’t really believe in science, you believe in magic;
By allowing someone else to define right and wrong for you, you’ve become a sociopath with a flexible adapted conscience;
No one is exactly what they seem;
It’s all quite insane.
Once you get through and eliminate these lies of your self-deception, you will still have a long way to go.
The only way to be free of your self-delusion is to stop feeding it by severing contact with those in the cult who are holding your mind hostage.