Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Confessions of a Former World Wide Church of God Member

Now some of you may have heard of The World Wide Church of God. For those of you who haven't here's a brief, basic, summation of WWCG, as described by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The Worldwide Church of God (WCG), formerly the Radio Church of God, is a Christian church currently based in Glendora, California, USA. Founded in 1933 by Herbert Armstrong as a radio ministry, the WCG under Armstrong had a significant, and often controversial, influence on 20th century religious broadcasting and publishing in the United States and Europe, especially in the field of interpreting biblical end-time (eschatalogical) prophecies. However, within a few years after Armstrong's death in 1986, the succeeding church administration, led first by Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. and then his son, Joseph Tkach, Jr., examined and changed the doctrines and teachings of which the WCG held fundamental differences with more mainstream Christianity. Many members and ministers left the WCG to form churches that conformed to most, if not all, of the church's former doctrines. The WCG claims 64,000 members in 860 congregations in about 90 countries as of June 2007. The WCG is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.[1]"

As a young child, my mother read and explained Bible stories to me, because of that I developed a belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of my soul. Prior to my mother's passing, she started watching Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong on Saturday mornings. I remember this to be particular annoying because it would interfere with my Saturday morning cartoons. My older sister, Joan, became a follower of the WWCG and Mr. Armstrong right after my mother passed. She started teaching me their doctrines and beliefs. A few years later, as a young teen, I, along with another sister joined WWCG. As a member, I was taught to keep the "true" Sabbath, which was on Saturday. We observed the Sabbath which started at sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday. During the Sabbath we were to avoid certain (if not most) activities. In addition to observing the Sabbath, we observed "Holy Days" such as Pentecost, The Day of Atonement, The Days of Unleavened Bread, Passover and The Feast of Tabernacles. We avoided major Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, which we considered pagan. We weren't allowed to celebrate birthdays as well. As strange as it sounds, always prayed in Jesus' name and considered ourselves Christians. We also considered ourselves, the "True Church" because we kept the "Holy Days" and recognized Jesus Christ as God's Son. Although, I was always confused as to what role Jesus played in everything, since we focused so much on the keeping of "Temple Laws" and the observing of "Days". End-times event was BIG in WWCG. There was a lot of preaching about it, and it was always scary and confusing.

I "studied" the Old Testament and the New Testament while a member, as a teen, but was always confused between some the verses I read and the doctrine that was being taught. Not only that, most of the congregants of the Chicago West Church of WWCG (then, local church) were extremely judgemental, self-righteous and arrogant. I simply could not conceive that Jesus Christ, whom we preached would return to His church (WWCG) would be happy with the attitudes and behaviors I witnessed there. My questions and doubts began to grow, until a major doctrine changed occur and the church splintered again for the umpteenth time in 20 (?) years.

It was then I learned my most valuable lesson in all of my years as a member. It all started with a simple answer from the pastor. I'll never forget that day. It was the most vital day in my walk towards my Father in heaven. It was a day of freedom, in which the shackles of my mindset were loosened. A defining moment in a beginning of a new walk, a different kind of walk, FAITH, not works.

As the pastor sat across me, he looked so uncomfortable and flushed as I asked him my question.

"Why did Jesus have to die?"

His eyes darted upward, and then across the ceiling and back. I knew he was searching for an answer. After a few moments of silence, he looked slightly defeated and said, "I don't know."

A thought dawned, as the sunrise sheds light across a sleepy town, "If he doesn't know, who in the world does?" Who IN the world indeed??? With my parents passed on, and weak/non- existent familial ties, who can be my counsel? My source of knowledge? I knew I needed to search the Word, and ask the only One I could TRUST for truth and clarity! Thus began the start of a BEAUTIFUL relationship! I left WWCG shortly after (1995).

I've heard many label it, then, as a cult. Was it a cult? I would have to say yes, while not to the extreme as David Koresh or some other famous names, anything that leads you away from God and His truth I would think should be considered a cult. Since, leaving WWCG, I joined/attended several non denominational churches. I can't say I've found mainstream Christianity any better than WWCG.

I'm sure some of you noticed that I'm pretty dogmatic about the Word, the whole Word and NOTHING, but the Word :) I have personally witnessed, and experienced the devastation caused by false doctrine.

My life no doubt has been God-led and defined. I cherish all that I've learned and experienced. As a member of WWCG I met my husband at the tender age of 13, who then was also 13, 5'3, with curly hair (who now stands at 6'4"). Who would have known then, that we would be powerhouses for the Lord? That we would go on to share five, soon to be six, blessed children together? God be Praised indeed!

What I promote, oppose to a lot of other Christians who have a propensity to promote a church/denomination/doctrine, I promote a PERSONAL relationship with Christ, by FAITH alone. I promote PERSONAL accountability to diligently seek Him, by FAITH. (Hebrews 11:6) I promote TRUTH by FAITH and not by sight (earthly/fleshly wisdom). I promote the HOLY SPIRIT of POWER, who is God HIMSELF the teacher of all Truth. (1 John 2:27)

We give TOO much power to those who claim to be Godly men and women, and not ENOUGH accountability on our own selves to seek and pursue the knowledge of God through our OWN heartfelt FAITH, and not the self-proclaimed faith of others, though it be GENUINE or NOT. Do we not have access to the SAME spirit of God? If not, then Jesus died only for the ministers and pastors of the Body and was deceitful when He declared:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: "- John 16:7-8

No. We ALL have the equal access to the Spirit of the Holy God, courtesy of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus of Nazareth. HOWEVER, mindsets and attitudes NEED to be truthfully examined by our own accord (something, a pastor cannot do for you) because God indeed resists the proud and gives grace unto the humble:

"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." -- James 4:6-7

The fear of the Lord IS the beginning of Wisdom. Proverbs 1:7

Quite honestly, I say this knowing full well some of you, if not most will be offended by this statement, I find church attendance can be a hindrance to a believer's walk in faith. Let me explain:

We have become a totally different type of "church" that was defined by the Spirit's power in Acts 2. We have evolved into a culture, more like a social club, and sometimes I can even say a "self-help" counseling center. When we require, or demand church attendance, as a condition of salvation, we give our God-given, personal responsibility to establish a relationship of Faith/Trust in God, to our pastors. Thus, we become "lax" after all we are "going to church" every Sunday. How many times have you heard people associate church attendance with being saved? On my end, numerous times!! When in fact, it is a completely un-biblical concept.

Church and Christianity today has evolved into something other than the scriptures define and command. Ephesians 4 It has been so for a long time. For one thing, there are SO many divisions and sects of Christianity. If this alone does not send off warning bells, or at least promote CAREFUL assessment of a doctorine/church, I don't know what else can.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. -- 1 Timothy 4:1-6


I'm not promoting anything other than what I've listed earlier on this post. I believe, as the Word teaches, wherever the "Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". - 2 Corinthians 3:17 After all, I was a former member of a cult church...sort of...

"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" -- 1 John 5:5

AMEN!!




Author's Note:

There may be ads from Google purporting Herbert W. Armstrong's doctrine. These ads are independant from this blog. I have no control over what ads may appear.

4 comments:

  1. We were from WCG too. Glad to find you.

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  2. I used to belong to Greater Grace World Outreach, which is another quasi-denomination with "doctrinal oddities," even though they are different from those of the WCG. After GGWO's leader, Carl Stevens, stepped down a few years ago because of health problems, there were definitely some positive changes. However, I am still amazed at the power of "group belief," as I call it. An erroneous doctrine can be so easily be spun in such a way that only the most discerning believer can distinguish it from biblical truth. We still have a close friend who is part of that ministry, having gone through their Bible College. There is just no talking with him about certain things--He simply cannot take it in.

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  3. i was raised in this cult screwed up my whole childhood.. proud to say i am now an atheist Rot in hell HWA!!!!

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    Replies
    1. I understand your distaste. I have that same distaste towards many misrepresentations. I encourage you to learn God, not by the presentation of who God is by man, and his desire to appease their own self-worth, but through the simple existence nature. The beauty of the flowers. The quiet power of water to nourish them and yourself. Man did not create this beauty, God did. Just as Christ said....Render unto Caesar's what is Caesar's and unto God, what is God's.

      Delete

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