The following blog is by Ron Rubottom, a former Armstrongist and editor of the now defunct website “plaintruth.info”
I am a former wwcg member from approx. 1985 to the nineties. (not exactly sure as confusion seemed to cloud my mind after the death of HWA. My experience is a bit different from many of you that grew up in the church or spent many years there. I should say that I appreciate the work you are doing. It is painful for me to see the allegations about HWA on your site, but even though today is the first inkling I have ever had of much of this, I can see that it is most likely accurate. I had already figured out on my own that he was deluded on certain subjects and greatly enjoyed the prestige and high life of his office but blamed others in my mind for encouraging his human nature. (Those like Gerald Waterhouse with his wild eyed predictions and numerology nonsense and carrying on about the prophetic significance of everything Armstrong) But, until today I did not think that he had consciously deceived us. A sad day.
I, unlike many of the victims testifying here, was raised SDA. In that cult we were taught that their prophetess, Ellen G White, received direct revelations from God. She wrote 65 books and I grew up in Takoma Park, MD (world headquarters for the adventists) and my father (a second generation SDA) was a florist with his flower shop directly across the street from the Takoma Park SDA church AND directly across the street from the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (world headquarters) AND directly across the street from the Review and Herald publishing company. The world headquarters publishing company of the SDA’s.
I grew up in that flower shop. It had a huge Hallmark card section which brought in all the SDA employees and executives on a regular basis. I was well known and knew many of the leaders of the church. I placed the flowers in front of the podium every Sabbath morning. My dad taught Sabbath school. I was baptized several times. I sang solos in front of hundreds. I attended SDA schools and studied the bible and Ellen White daily. I took it all quite seriously. I read most of EG Whites books and believed all they said. My family and I sat front and center in the Takoma Park church every Sabbath.
I was an intellectual child in spite of my devotion to the “truth”. The sermons were usually incredibly boring and all I had to read were the church hymnal and the Bible. After wearing out the hymnal to escape the boredom I began reading the old testament. The kings and such historical parts were pretty boring to me and the psalms didn’t do anything for me and then I discovered Solomon’s writings. I read about how Solomon choose wisdom and understanding over all else, when offered anything he desired, and was thrilled by that. In my childish innocence, I was about twelve, I bowed my head right there and prayed for the same things. Whether or not there is a God or if he answers prayers, this is a powerful thing.
After that I began reading Isaiah and other latter prophets and trying to figure out what in the world they were talking about! In SDA doctrine we never heard anything about a peaceful world, only heaven and lakes of fire. I began questioning ministers in the church and because of my family’s position I was able to question the higher up’s and talk to Ellen White’s heirs and others the average member did not have access to. I was given the usual double speak and told the the unconditional promises of the old testament and the prophecies of a peaceful just world were the “way it would have been if Israel had obeyed God.” They had convinced me that the Bible was God’s word so they laid the groundwork for my rejection of the church. Eventually the “White Lie” came out. (The facts the Ellen White copied much or all of her writings from earlier protestant writers, how easy it was to get away with before the internet!)
I was through, and extremely angry. I was really pissed off for years, but had not lost my faith in the Bible as the word of God so was easy pickings for WWCG. When I first heard HWA in the 80’s I had to drive to the top of a mountain in WV where I was living to get the station clearly. The reason I did was because what he was saying finally made sense of all the things I had read in Isaiah and elsewhere and never could make any sense of. JW’s were too weird so I couldn’t get it from them. HWA made sense of it and I determined to disprove him because of the deception I had experienced with EG White. I read every scripture he quoted and the context on either side of it to disprove what he was teaching and found that he was teaching scripturally sound doctrine. (I was used to total inexplicable fantasies like most protestant religions use).
The more I tried to prove him wrong, the more I proved him scripturally correct. I was hooked, line and sinker. I dragged my family along and joined the church. Gave them a lot of money just like the rest of you. I am now divorced and I can’t say it is the fault of the church but I am not sure. Our life was significantly altered and it is possible that the church life prevented us from developing a healthy relationship. I generally blame myself but don’t we all, and not necessarily correctly. I guess I am rambling on but it is such a relief to find a group of folks that have some similar experiences.
For years I have wanted to get in touch with former members that were with us through all that but could not find them as I had moved away and left the church. Couldn’t help but wonder what their thoughts and experiences were since the dissolution of the church, the Joseph T debacle and all. Didn’t even know about all this HWA stuff but it makes sense now in retrospect. I have read most every page on your site today and I have noticed that there are multiple “moderators” and some seem to be atheistic or at least agnostic, while others seem to be somewhat still open to scripture being possibly authentic.
I admire the attitude of all here and cannot begin to understand what some of you experienced in the old days before standards were somewhat relaxed as they were in my time in the church. I do have a clue though. Because of all that I have been through I have been compelled to write out my thoughts and beliefs and to publish them online in the delusional imagination that I understood all as I prayed for at 12. I had a site called the plain truth.info for a few years. This exercise taught me a lot and writing out your thoughts and beliefs is a great way to examine your beliefs as I found myself constantly having to correct myself.
To me the conclusions that I derived from this several year exercise has been helpful and comforting. I don’t know if it would be of any interest or profit to anyone but it has been to me and so I include it here just in case.
I could not let go of the belief that the Scripture was inspired, (a teaching I received in the SDA church that led me to leave it) only that I had been fooled again. In the WWCG I had finally been able to understand all the things that drove me crazy in the SDA in the “inspired” word. I realized that HWA was somewhat deceived and that the WWCG was not the “TRUE CHURCH.” I did not, of course know the rest of the story. After Joe Tkach I left in disgust. It’s funny, the teachings of the SDA’s caused me to disbelieve them, AND the teachings of HWA caused me to disbelieve him too.
In my analysis on my plain truth site I first reasoned that belief systems were choices that serve us or not and that none of them are provable. Creationist, atheist, or whatever is you choose, you can’t prove it’s true. It’s just your choice and as an automatic side effect of your choice you MUST discredit/disprove (to your satisfaction) opposing views. I chose the belief that was hammered into me, that scripture was inspired BUT, I had actually been thinking for myself for some time and came to a different view than I have seen expressed anywhere else.
1. “Scripture” means the Hebrew “old testament”. That was what Christ said could not be broken.
2. The “new testament” was canonized by the Catholic church but has been accepted as “the word of God” by virtually all groups, even those (such as the WWCG) that see the Catholic church as the Great Whore. It seems that it never crosses anyone’s mind to question the validity of this document and every word, especially Paul’s, is given reverence as God’s utterances. This is plainly naive.
At best, if we can trust that the works are genuine, the four “gospels” are not “scripture” they are eyewitness accounts and hearsay of the life and acts of Christ as recalled by his companions/disciples. Then we have Acts, purportedly written by Mark which is just a documentary of events. After that until Revelation, we have the “epistles” which are personal letters from the apostles to churches with their advice, admonitions, and sometimes personal opinions and specific instructions or advice to individuals and groups. I can’t imagine that when they wrote these letters to their congregations that they envisioned this “Christianity” that has evolved placing their correspondence on the same level as the prophets of old, and calling it “the word of God”
Then finally comes “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” purported to be dictated to and written down by the beloved apostle John. If we can believe that this is genuine it would be the only part of the “new testament” that qualified as “scripture” as it would be the only part that was received in the manner that we are told the prophets of old did. i.e. a direct dictation session from God, which is the premise that we are asked to accept from the old testament scriptures. Ok, sorry going tangent.
3.I/we learned in wwcg the Biblically correct teaching that Christ hid the truth from the masses. (“why do you speak to them in parables”….”because to you it is given to know the secrets of the KOG but to them it is not given…) so we knew that according to what we believed that evangelism was not Christ’s agenda. There is no need to convince or convert anyone as God’s “church” is just a group chosen to serve mankind in the age to come. So, no pressure I reason. It makes no difference what anyone believes and there is no reason for a church that recruits members and solicits money from them for what?
My conclusions include that all of Christianity is false BS and that God if he exists has no religion and that religion is the curse of the earth and that one possible explanation for our existence is the plan outlined in the Scriptures. It would be the obvious conclusion that I choose that belief because I was taught it as a child. I have rejected much of what I was taught as a child. I think that the reason I hold to this choice of beliefs is because it makes sense that God is creating a family and that the only way he could do it was by allowing, or actually causing, us to experience the consequences of living in a selfish, non-loving world and seeing the horror of living outside of God’s law of love.
I know it’s sophomoric but as Christ pointed out the whole law can be summed up in two commands, love God and love your brother. We don’t need any commandments if we love. Thanks Beatles. When money and power come into the picture is when all people, who are basically good, run a-muck. The love of money and power has consumed so many. (money is power) HWA loved his power and prestige it seems. You always hear (when people visit some third world country where the population is dirt poor) “the people were so sweet and kind and beautiful! I never in my life met such kind, good people. Yes, because they have no access to the “root of all evil” (oh no, I just quoted PAUL!
Thanks for your work and patience.