Herbert Armstrong was certainly a proponent of sacrifice.
Perhaps it is because he read the Scripture in Romans 12:1
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Many of us are familiar with the ministers standing up at the Feast seven times in a year just before the offering is to be taken:
Give until it hurts!
The expectation has always been from the beginning that we all give our all to “The Work” because God demands it of us and that the Apostle (sometimes with another title with the word ‘General’ in it) is the one to whom we give the money in God’s (or Jesus’) Name. If the children of your family need to be sacrificed, who are you to question the needs of God’s Work? You need to give your effort to The Work. Something has to give somewhere, so if you are short time, you take it from your family; if you are short money, take it from your family. Your needs to even survive pale to insignificance to saving this world. You must bribe God for your salvation, but even more, you need to give everything you have for spreading the Gospel to prove that you love the Leader set here by God / Jesus. If you starve, so much the better: Consider yourself a martyr; if your family starves, they are martyrs too.
But it goes so far beyond money: It is also time, expertise, labor and any other free resource that can be exploited and enslaved — it doesn’t belong to you, it is for the Apostle (Evangelist, Prophet, …’General’).
There is a problem, however: Some of you are Laodiceans and hold back a part, like Ananias and Sapphira!
Many of today’s End Time Apostles / Prophets have called you on this. David Pack, Ronald Weinland, Gerald Flurry, to name a few, are not pleased with half-hearted participation! They demand more! For example, some of them, like David Pack insist that you gouge your unconverted spouse for the money. You should leave your inheritance of real property to the church and not your worthless family who will just waste it on such things as having a place to live, clothes to wear and food to eat. The Work needs a new campus! You need to give to that building fund! The Work needs a new studio for TV and Internet work! The Work needs an extra million dollars this year (and the UCG isn’t the only one) to preach the gospel in Islam Countries, like Saudi Arabia! You must sacrifice. This is all explained by The Supreme Commander of The Supreme Cult. Please note that there are Five Tithes on your income before you even get one penny before taxes!
Note what the leaders have said in the past, like what Garner Ted Armstrong said that we give to God (well, not actually, we give to some guy in an expensive suit) and that is where our responsibility ends: After that, it’s God’s responsibility — He will take care of it and we need not worry our little heads about whether or not The End Time Apostle uses the money frivolously! Or maybe we are supposed to check up on it — there seem to be different readings on accountability.
Nevertheless, we are to GIVE, freely, thankfully, because God just loves a cheerful giver! No grumbling. Just because those leaders in your church have taken everything away from you and have all the good stuff you want and even more than you could have imagined, doesn’t mean that you have to ruin it all by having an ATTITUDE! Heavens no! Some day, if you have just the right faith and you have done absolutely everything you should do quite perfectly and you have the right attitude and wait in patience, willing to suffer loss quietly, then you certain just might have a glorious inheritance! Maybe! You could inherit the Kingdom. No promises though, since you have to give to just the RIGHT cult! See, if David Pack and the Restored Church of God is the absolutely only place of salvation and you are in the Living Church of God with Roderick Meredith (should he live so long), you lose big time. You have to be in exactly the right cult to make this work! You can’t just join any old church and be sure of salvation. On the other hand, if Gerald Flurry with his Philadelphia Church of God (the name sounds right!) and you are with James Russell in the Church of God in Truth, you will be sure out of luck! You may be bowing down to the Meredithites instead of the Russellites! God is definitely a respecter of persons! You need to get it right or repent and then get it right!
God looks at your attitude, which, at the moment is a pretty awkward position. You need to be on the straight path with the narrow gate or else you are on the broad road to perdition with a whole lot of company. It’s all rigged, of course, since all of the Armstrongists are wrong at the core, so you can’t possibly pick the right one!
As the decades roll by, realities crop up and the First Love of sacrificing all you have gets to be not just tedious, but progressively more difficult: You don’t have enough money to cover your expenses; you don’t have enough vacation to cover all the Feasts; you don’t have enough time to give; you don’t have enough energy for yet another cult function.
And then you find out where the money has been going.
And it gets to be ever more difficult to justify your sacrifice.
That’s what your cult leader accuses you of. He makes you feel guilty. He tells you that holding back is a sin of selfishness. He implies that you don’t have gratitude toward God who gave you everything! He threatens you by saying that you will not continue to receive God’s blessings (not that you’ve been noticing them lately). He then tells you that if you don’t give, you will be under a curse.
This is known in some circles as extortion.
In some limited legal circles it is considered a crime.
Certainly, in the case of Ronald Weinland and his silent witness wife, it was considered a crime by the Internal Revenue Service that they didn’t pay Income Tax on $3.5 million of undeclared personal income from member monetary sacrifice. Weinland spent the money on luxury BMWs for himself, his daughter and his son. He went to Las Vegas to an expensive hotel to hold his ministerial conference. Laura had expensive jewelry designed for her to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the sacrifice that the members of his church made for him: Personal luxury living, having nothing to do with “Preaching the Gospel” whatever that might mean. In this case, the Gospel was in the form of books written to predict what was to happen in 2008, which never did, making him an obvious false prophet. No matter, his cult followers continue to sacrifice for him. Heck, the widow lady across the street attending his church got a lien on her house to pay for his $300,000 bail money. You just can’t sacrifice enough for your leader.
Herbert Armstrong was wont to do the same thing, back in the day. The Kessler Letter refers to the incidents where Herbert Armstrong routinely grabbed $50,000 personal spending money before each trip. The Ambassador Report mentions the trip to Monaco where he rented a yacht for his family to sail around the Mediterranean. If this were done today and it came to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, it is likely the Justice Department would have had Herbert Armstrong convicted of felony Income Tax Evasion too. We’ll never know. The internal mechanisms for cover up at the time were too sophisticated for anyone to actually get caught.
Others of the Armstrong cults have other various means to absorb all that their members can sacrifice. Currently, the United Church of God, an International Association, is promoting their “million dollar faith initiative” to extract an extra $1 million this year not in the budget to go preach the gospel to Islam nations. It won’t have any real impact in preaching the “gospel” (of British Israelism) to the Arabs, but it does wonders for member’s morale!
Davy Pack is having a high time building a multi-million dollar campus in Wadsworth, Ohio these days. The members are encouraged to sacrifice as much as they have, as much as they can wheedle from their spouse and in the happy fortune that member with money dies, Davy is to get the inheritance money (don’t leave it to the kids — not providing for your own cult makes you worse than an infidel).
Who knows how much money Gerald Flurry still owes on Ambassador College out there in the wilds of Oklahoma. It’s millions for sure. Members should sacrifice to be able to make payments. Perhaps one day after Gerald Flurry dies, the campus will be sold, just as Ambassador College in Pasadena was, with buildings being razed for some commercial enterprise, although none of us can think of what sort of enterprise would want property out in Oklahoma unless oil was discovered underground.
With over 700 subcults from which to choose, those people with borderline personality have a cornucopia of a plethora of unworthy causes to make their sacrifice, to pretty much engage in practices guaranteed to reduce their quality of life for a very long time to come.
The point of all of this is not to point out that the Armstrongists are charlatans and thieves — they are that — it is to uncover something much more sinister.
In The Last Days, we examined the disturbing chaotic immorality embedded within Armstrongism. Even though the venue seemed benign, behind the scenes lay an horrific hypocrisy of unacceptable cover ups perpetrated within the Armstrongist Community: Armstrongism is rife with moral ambiguity which systematically destroys people and families within the cult environment.
There can be no claim for self-righteous right-wing pandering pseudo Republicans (who don’t vote or supposedly participate in governmental involvements — even to refusing jury duty, let alone military service) to say that they are for God’s Law and support Law and Order. The truth be told, and we’ve told the Painful Truth over and over — that the founders, leaders, administrators and ministers live a privileged life above and apart from the masses where crimes are committed and covered up, immorality abounds and everyone seems to have lost their moral compass, if, indeed, they ever had one. There can be no real trust and there is absolutely no justice. This self-absorbed community of ego, power, privilege and money built on the sacrifice of those treated with contempt has absolutely no socially redeeming qualities.
Moreover, if we accept the somewhat skewed view of Charles Darwin with evolution being “the survival of the fittest”, we have a dead end religious evolution in which the dinosaurs left over from the devastating mass extinction event of the death of Herbert Armstrong are slowly dying off, having not adapted well to the world around them, attempting to do the same useless things they have always done without realizing that they will never get anywhere near the same results with a depleted environment long subjected to entropy. The rule is to change and adapt, or you die. They are not changing or adapting. They don’t even repent of the evil and wicked they do as a matter of course.
Much thanks for your work. The fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 were very disturbing for me as I “unbelievably” came to learn that the WWCG and its splinter groups are nothing less than hoodlums and gangsters. This is sad but what is more sad for me is that I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior and this knowledge was diminished gradually as a result of all the indoctrinations of The Restored Church of God headed by David C. Pack.
I am repulsed that these men, in these splinters, continue in the shadow of Herbert Armstrong. Yet, I am more confused and saddened that their members don’t see what seems so obvious–that they are caught up in a religious cult where they sacrifice the God-given gift of their intellect. And for what? I have spent much time deliberating why these so called ministers and “apostles” would continue as they do. I could take the easy road and say that they themselves are/have been deceived by HWA. But, nay, not all! Surely they have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof: from such turn away.” (II Tim. 3:5).
I remember asking one of the members why is it that Mr. Pack has such a nice and large home and nice vehicles. The member said to me, “he has to because no one will follow or listen to him if he does not have them. You know how people are.” I could not believe my ears because if David Pack truly believes that he is God’s appointed then surely he would not depend upon his worldly possessions to entice new membership. But then again, that’s what their business is all about–to attract, allure, persuade… Tragic.
Surely, these men have not a clue as to what it really is to present their bodies a living sacrifice and that they be not conformed to this world and the ways of this world. (Romans 12:1-2)
Finally, I have just read the critique of Mystery of the Ages, chapter two. All I can is gangsters, gangsters!!
I pray that you all be increased with right knowledge and wisdom from above. Thank you again.
With my warmest regards, –Impacted by Restored Church of God
Those of us at The Painful Truth approve this message.
So those of you who are still addicted to making sacrifice for Armstrongist cults, understand that your efforts are futile: The leaders will waste your money, you will live a diminished life and, in the end, there will be nothing left to show for it.
Meanwhile, you will find that with being surrounded so long with immorality under the covers, you will eventually be so warped that you cannot even determine right from wrong.
And that is the real sacrifice you have made.