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**Do you have history in the Worldwide Church of God? Are you still attending one of its offshoots? Do you see cracks in the doctrine and want more information, or do you not know why you're still there anymore? Is there a hole in your heart and just don't know why God isn't granting you the happiness you were promised would come through tithing and following a man? Do you find that no matter how hard you try you cannot live up to your own standards, and you feel like a failure? Do you find your pursuit of God to be based on fear?
Investigate with me the answers to these questions and more!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Prophecy for Fear and Control

I've spent some time reading Gerald Flurry's ... I mean, the Philadelphia Church of God's ... website, I have to tell you, I see a very disturbing pattern there. Please let me explain.

Take this list of the current headlines as of 9/9/08: "UK Car Sales Crash", "Danger Lurks In America's Backyard", "Banks: Dominoes Ready To Fall", "Russia Attacks".
What do you see about these? They are all negative! Now, I'll readily admit, I chose these because they are negative, and there are several headlines there which are not negative. But I'm trying to prove a point. My point? Gerald Flurry is HWA-redux.

Why so negative? How often have I read "letter to the editor" sections in xCOG magazines where people ask that question. As always, the official respondent tries to smooth it all over by trying to show how it is the duty of the magazine to review the world in all of its aspects, and they try to emphasize how hope is on its way. So, in other words, that's not negativity, that's hope!

That's not hope, that's double-speak; 1984 style.

I am trying to get at a larger point here. But first, I want you to review this website. It is a review of the Plain Truth magazine, from 1934-1970. Please start with the earliest ones. Just review the headlines. You know what I notice? "WAR!", "Dictator", "BEAST", and prophecy - LOTS of prophecy. Now, review the next section. "Prophecy", "Doom", "Danger", "Fate", "Conquer", "Hitler", "War", "Trouble". Again, the same thing: prophecy and negativity.

If you want a fine adventure into the world of false prophecy, read the December 1948 edition entitled "NOW it Can Be Told!". In it, HWA describes how the seeds for World War III were being sown in San Francisco in 1948. The next section of magazines is even more interesting than that. HWA dedicates two magazines to the idea that Hitler was alive and plotting a come-back.
All of these prophecies, negative or not, had no disclaimer. There was no "it is my opinion". No "we could be wrong, but..." They were "prophecies for TODAY!" They were "revealed for the first time in 18 centuries." Yet they were wrong with a frequency unmatched by most politicians. Read them for yourself. No, really! Read those old magazines for yourself. The only way you can possibly have open eyes is to read these things and see for yourself the unbroken flood of false prophecy. Then perhaps you will see that Ronald Weinland, Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, Rod Merideth, et al, are clones of Herbert Armstrong.

They have learned the formula. Part of it anyway. They just aren't as good of ad-men as HWA was. I'll tell them what they are missing. MORE BOMBAST!! They need FIRE! They need to make some COLOSSAL claims of WONDROUS and SECRET things using colorful phrases like "earth shattering" and "mind boggling"!!!

But what about the prophecy and the negativity is so appealing? Why so often? Why so many very wrong claims? Because - it's an ad; an advertisement! And this formula works. No different than "Your shirts will be NUCLEAR white; so white people will need sunglasses!", or "This herb tincture will cure baldness, regulate your bowels, and lengthen your life!", or "Our news team is the MOST biting, MOST dedicated, MOST up-to-date!", or even "Our beer will get you LOTS of women!"
Why do people advertise? Why, to make money, of course. What was another thing that appears in Herbert Armstrong's works almost as often as prophecy and fear? Requests for cash. And that, my fellows, is the reason for the insistence on tithes, offerings, donations, gifts, etc.

But how does a person keep all that money? Control. Control is what keeps the false prophecies from being challenged. Control keeps the money safely rolling in. Fear and control. A whole web of fear, based on prophecy, created the ripe-conditions and left minds ready for control. Add all the rules you want, make all the demands you care to, the people are under control. No one ever asked "Why is Herbert Armstrong living like a king while I can't afford meat?" Well, no one did without getting disfellowshipped. ...Fear!

Fear of loss. Fear of death. Fear of disfellowshipment. Fear of not qualifying for salvation. Fear of losing salvation. Fear of being condemned to the lake of fire. I am willing to step out on a limb here and say, if you are/were part of Armstrongism, you have wondered "will I be in the second resurrection?" That is fear; fear and doubt. All of this leads to more and more control. All of it is based on a heap of false prophecies.
It makes you afraid, and now you want to avoid that fearful end, so you ask, "What do I do? What do I do???" They were hoping for this very reaction. This is where they step in and say (imagine your best gentlemanly sales voice), "Why, I have the solution! It's quite simple. You just pay me a little bit of money, slip on this yoke to work up some safety, and stick around why don't ya?"
Sounds great to a person in fear! I'll buy a dozen if I can only live! And there you are, paying upwards of 30%+ of your income, a slave to their heavy yoke of bondage, and too afraid to even investigate any alternative.

But what if someone breaks the control and chalenges the leadership? A ready-made excuse is there: only the leadership is inspired by God to understand; everyone else is influenced by Satan. Well, we had better get back in line!

Not convinced? Let me quote to you one typical opening sentence, like many others I have seen and no doubt you have too, from the February-March 1955 Plain Truth magazine: "You ought to be gravely concerned -yes, FRIGHTENED about the conditinos in the world today." That was from an article by Garner Ted Armstrong entitled "WORLD WAR IS HERE - NOW!" And that was in 1955. Now, friends and fellows, why should we have been frightened? Let me ask you this - did Christ ever preach this way? Did He go to Galilee and proclaim "BE FRIGHTENED!"? Do the Apostles preach such things? No. It's all an ad; a cheap play on emotions. Pay attention next time you'r watching your favorite televangelist. Notice how the requests for money always come after some emotional piece. Fear or tear, it doesn't matter; it's all about stirring up your emotions to get you to give more. They always get people riled up, then say something like "I want you to get your checkbook out right now!" Of course they do! Right now, while your emotions are running high and you're likely to give more.

Prophecy was a gift from God. If taken as intended, it is a beautiful and hope-filled thing. It was never intended to be a tool for fear and profit and control. It is a blessing and should bring glory to God. It is part of God's love for us and we know God's love casts out fear. Prophecy should cast out fear! If there is any fear at all in prophecy, it is to get you to straighten out your life, not to bring in the cash. The end result of that is again the casting out of fear. Why do these men insist on twisting it like they do? How do they continually get away with it? I had to conclude that anyone who comes to me hawking prophecy is suspect. Take this lesson from the Didache, chapter 11, verse 6 "And let the apostle when departing take nothing but bread until he arrive at his resting-place; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet."


Seeker Of Truth said...


Here's the issue with Herbert and the failed prophesies; they have been excused by Ron Weinland and his followers for this reason: They say Herbert was an apostle, not a prophet. The problem with that is they claim he was the end-time Elijah - Elijah was a prophet, so how can one be an end-time Elijah but not be a prophet? I address this in
Herbert W. Armstrong: End-Time Elijah?

It is easy to control those who want to be controled. They may deny this but, there is an aspect of themself that believes they need a leader, and that leader is very pleased to do so. It's quite profitable. They believe they need someone to teach them... how else are they going to learn, they may say.
I addressed the issue of controling the members in Cults & the vulnerable, and the issue of being taught by others in Do We Need To Be Taught By Others.

Good post xHWA.

xHWA said...

Now, for the people who are reading this...
This is what I mean when I tell you to read this blog and to read others. Seeker has information that is valuable to you. Please do not be intimidated by this. Go and read!

xHWA said...


I never realized it - in my own ugly vanity. I wanted to be controlled.

I recently posted about how it's easy to go back into the fold and go back to sleep. Well, folks, leaving Armstrongism is difficult! Having someone else think for you and create a formula for you to follow is so much easier than having to take up responsibility for your own walk with Christ!

I agree with you, Seeker. A large part of what got me away from a leader is when I accepted Jesus Christ is the Head over all things to His Church - and no man.

I appreciate your linking to relevant articles in your comments. Makes it easier for those in need. Keep it up! Thanks for the help.

And thanks for the compliment!

Corky said...

Take this lesson from the Didache, chapter 11, verse 6 "And let the apostle when departing take nothing but bread until he arrive at his resting-place; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet."

And that is exactly why "the church" destroyed as many copies of the Didache as they could find and did not include it in the NT Canon. But, as luck would have it, they missed a copy.

xHWA said...

Thank God! Eh, Corky? :)

I'd call it s 'recommended read'.

Corky said...

Yes, I would recommend that everyone read the Didache and it's a very short treatise too.

The Christian Churches of the world don't want to accept the Didache as authentic (for obvious reasons - money) but it is definitely first century because it is about "apostles" who were then living. There are no apostles in the later Christian writings of the second century. No "pope" either.

Purple Hymnal said...

The Early Christian Writings website is down -- can anyone recommend another reputable link for a source for the Didache?

I wanna read it too! :-(

xHWA said...

Sorry bout that, PH. It's a shame about the Early Christian Writings site being down. I hope that's only temporary.

Try this:

Purple Hymnal said...

Wow! The "Reluctant Messenger" is the one-man Armstrongist "splinter" who took it upon himself to reprint Mystery of the Ages in full on the Internet isn't he?? 8-O

Are you sure the text of the Didache published at this site is trustworthy?

I actually found another version in the interim.

ECW is still, as of this writing, MIA. :-(