Herbert Armstrong spoke of conversion. We’ve had an opportunity to have observed his behavior. We’re a bit confused. After seeing what he did and how he acted, we’re not really sure what conversion is.
It is our understanding that some people have received an altar call. They came down and accepted Jesus as their personal savior. Some of them go their way not feeling particularly different, but within a few days people begin remarking that they’ve changed. One man was told by his coworkers that they noticed he didn’t swear any more; he also didn’t smoke any longer; he didn’t drink alcohol any more — his life was transformed. Another man heard singing and went inside the church. He was a really bad man, but he was convicted in his mind, accepted Jesus. His life was transformed. He stopped carousing, drinking, swearing; his temper disappeared and he stopped fighting with others. In due time, he volunteered to assist a jail chaplain and continued many years helping prisoners pursue change. All of those who have claimed this experience, changed from the inside out — became, in religious terms, a new man.
It is our understanding from Scripture that there is fruit of the spirit after conversion:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
It would seem that if the process of conversion worked properly, this is what we would see and we would not expect to see this:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
This is where things get really dicey: We have seen over decades the behavior of the founders, leaders and ministers of the Armstrongist Churches of God. We have especially noticed Roderick Meredith, David Pack, Gerald Flurry, Ronald Weinland, those fun guys at United and the CoGWA, along with the minor sects which barely exist but seem to have attracted undo attention from their bizarre and extreme behavior. As we examine the ‘fruit’ so to speak, we seem to see more of the ‘works of the flesh’ than ‘fruit of the spirit’. In fact, we seem to see more of:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
II Timothy 3:1-5
It just seems that this conversion thing isn’t working with the Armstrongist Churches of God. People are unhappy. There’s quite a lot of power politics. There’s a lot of cruelty and abuse. People are being simultaneously abused and neglected. The leaders seem to get more greedy and DEMAND more money every week that goes by. There are complaints from the congregants (some just grumble). Those who complain are then accosted and accused of being disloyal. Many are disfellowshipped. We’re thinking that this sort of thing just doesn’t happen in the joyous spirit filled congregations of the converted faithful.
It should be clear why we have such confusion. It just doesn’t seem that the Armstrongists are living up to their hype. It seems that keeping the Sabbath, keeping the Feasts, Tithing and all the other physical rituals to transform people from the outside in is an unsuccessful strategy.
So please do explain it: We’re confused.
What is this conversion thing again and where can we find a good example of it?