Monday, March 30, 2009

To Acquire a Following

I was watching "House" on TV the other night. He had a conversation with a patient that went like this:


House: "In 1844 a preacher in upstate NY added up some dates in the Bible & predicted Jesus' return. His followers gave away all their possessions & showed up in a field.
Guess who didn't show?
So the preacher said that he miscalculated & they went right back the next month, but with more followers.
Every time he was irrefutably proved wrong, it redoubled everyone's belief."

A few days later...

Patient: "I looked up the preacher from NY State. His followers never faded out! They became the Seventh Day Adventists! A major religion! That man changed the course of history!"

House: "Because his followers were as deluded as he was."

Patient: "Maybe he just gave them something to live for."
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Here is an excerpt from The New York Times:

BELIEFS

By Peter Steinfels
Published: Saturday, March 6, 1993


Seventh-day Adventism itself was born of speculation about the last days. In the 1840's, followers of a Baptist preacher, William Miller, announced that Jesus would return to earth on Oct. 22, 1844. What followed was known as "The Great Disappointment," and only the visions and writings of Ellen G. White, the chief founder of Seventh-day Adventism, forged a new church from the dispersed followers.

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/06/us/beliefs-212993.html?sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

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And an excerpt from: [Bold and underline mine. Do any of them sound at all familar?]


 Saints, Sinners and Reformers

The Burned-Over District Re-Visited

by 
John H. Martin

Chapter 8
_____________________________________________________________
William Miller
_____________________________________________________________
The End of Time and the Adventist Sects


There is nothing like certainty in predicting the future to help religious sects to grow and to attain additional adherents. So it was with the date of October 22, 1844, the time when the Millennium would occur, when Jesus would return, and the thousand year reign of the saved would begin. In the 1840s a wave of anticipation brought many believers to millennial expectations, both within American churches as well as in the growing number of revivals where the preaching about the end of time was taking place. It was, therefore, a great disappointment when October 23rd rolled around and time was still present. Hope does spring eternal, however, and the Millennial excitement which occurred in the period before 1843 has seldom abated, and in these later times the electronic information revolution provides the expectant with more than one hundred popular millennial sites which can be found on the Internet.

William Grandison Finney, and the many other revivalists who excited believers in the first half of the nineteenth century, in part provided the seed ground for those who looked forward to the End of Time. A belief in the return of Jesus as the Messiah had been strongest in the early Church in the decades after the death of Jesus, but it was to fade thereafter as the centuries rolled on. It was the growth of pietistic groups in Europe after the Reformation and then the great revivals in the nineteenth century in America which was to bring about a resurgence in Millennial hopes. These revivals which occurred in the first third of the nineteenth century in America placed the emphasis on the Bible rather than on the traditional Christian theology which had accrued in the centuries after the death of Jesus. Many of the popular preachers of the time were ignorant of this Christian tradition since they were untrained, often poorly educated, and knew only the Bible as the basis for their faith.

In one sense, these revivalists were creating a new Reformation since they were attempting to go back solely to the Bible, to the earliest recorded form of Christianity, a step which neither Calvin nor Luther had fully undertaken. The primitive approach to Christianity of these revivalists encouraged a literal acceptance of the words of the Bible as inherently correct in every detail. It also could lead to a gullibility and a readiness to accept anything new in religious experience which came down the pike. The "New Methods" in religion which Charles Grandison Finney had encouraged were a form of religious innovation which was based on the emotional revivalism which did not encourage a depth of religious thought. It was stressing the "New Man in Christ," a reformed individual who was freed from sin—and freed from any theological moorings.

Revivalist Christianity freed one to interpret the Bible as one saw fit, and thus those who read the Bible often concentrated on the sections of scripture which seemed to forecast the future, particularly the Book of Revelations and The Book of Daniel. As a result, one of the basic elements in revivalist preaching dealt particularly with the anticipated Second Coming of Jesus and the Millennium. There arose among some literalistic Christians a need to pinpoint just when the Millennium would arrive and as to what form it would take. These individuals who were eagerly anticipating the End of Time fell into one of two camps: they were either Pre- or Post-Millennial believers.

1. The Pre-Millennialists believed that Christ, the Messiah, would return before long to begin his one thousand year reign. He would come when conditions in the world had become sufficiently hopeless. These believers were, if you will, pessimists who saw the world becoming more and more sinful. They praised the Lord since the world was getting worse, and it was essential that Christ return to make all things whole once more. Among these were the followers of William Miller who would, after the 1840s, eventually develop the Seventh Day and other Adventist churches.

2. The other group, the Post Millennialists, saw the coming of the Messiah when the world was made ready for his return. These were the activists and optimists who wished to help make the world a better place so the Messiah could return. These included the Shakers, Jemima Wilkinson, and the Oneida Community.

Two things brought the Pre-Millennial excitement to a white heat in the late 1830s and into the 1840s. First, there was widespread economic distress after the 1837 economic panic in the United States, and this seemed to indicate that the world was growing more hopeless. Millennialism has always flourished in difficult times, and the Millennial hope had always surfaced on those occasions in the history of Christianity when the outlook for life was most bleak.

Secondly, there was the preaching and teaching of William Miller, a man who had little formal education but who had a fixation on the coming "End of Time." Concern for "The Last Days" thus excited the hopes and fears of many believers. Many who heard William Miller preaching that the Millennium was at hand became convinced that the coming end of the world was imminent.
The followers of Miller were quite dramatic in their beliefs, for they foresaw the literal appearance of the Christ, the actual ascent of the saints into Heaven, and the actual descent of the wicked into Hell—and this in their own lifetime.

What was the background of William Miller, this American apostle of the End of Time? Miller was born in 1782 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the eldest of sixteen children. He was not too educated an individual, although he was an omnivorous reader, nor did he hold a position of any note in the society of his day. In 1813, when he was thirty-one, Miller was swept up in a Vermont revival, and he became worried over the state of his eternal soul. He was convinced, from the revival preaching that he attended, that he was a sinner and that he was faced with the possibility of eternal damnation. Thus he began to go to church and to study the Bible assiduously, growing ever more despondent over his future fate.

Finally he had a conversion experience, and he joined a Calvinistic Baptist church where he developed a sincere and lasting piety. Miller came to believe that scripture should be accepted entirely and literally. Every word in the Bible was true, every Biblical prophecy would be fulfilled. That there were contradictory statements in the Bible might bother some individuals, but not Miller. He spent fourteen years reconciling all the contradictions he found in the Bible, thereby proving to his satisfaction that the Bible was pure revelation.

Miller next began to figure the date of the second coming of the Messiah by using The Book of Daniel and The Book of Revelation, particularly the twentieth chapter of Revelation. His calculations led him to a date around 1843 for the Second Coming. He spent the years from 1822 to 1832 re-figuring his calculations, ever more convinced of their validity. He was, however, shy and fearful of speaking out since, after all, he was a man of little education. Then in 1832 there occurred an event which changed his life: he was asked by a church to fill in for an absent preacher, and his vision of the future simply overflowed in his speaking.

In the pulpit he became eloquent in describing the joys of the saved as opposed to the suffering of the wicked. He so thrilled the congregation on this 1832 occasion that he was asked to stay on to lead a week's revival—and thirteen families were converted under his preaching. Requests poured in for him to speak at other churches, and in 1833 he became a Baptist preacher and a revivalist. Piety alone, and not knowledge, were sufficient for ordination in some American churches. Now, as a minister, he could speak concerning his ideas of the Second Coming of Jesus. His fame spread, and he was much in demand in Vermont, New Hampshire, and upstate New York.

The Reverend Joshua V. Himes, the pastor of the Chardon Street Baptist Chapel of Boston, happened to hear Miller preach at a religious conference. Himes immediately accepted Miller's millennial ideas and became Miller's publicity agent, manager, and promoter. Himes happened to be a religious entrepreneur par excellence, and he invited Miller to speak at his Chardon Street Chapel in December of 1839. The Chardon Street Chapel is remembered today primarily because of a comment Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote after a November 1840 meeting there when the Chapel housed a "Convention of Friends of Universal Reform." Emerson described it in these words:

If the assembly were disorderly, it was picturesque. Mad Men, Mad Women, Men with beards, Dunkers, Muggletonians, Come-outers, Groaners, Agrarians, Seventh Day Baptists, Quakers, Abolitionists, Calvinists, Unitarians, and Philosophers, all came successively to the top and seized their moment, if not their hour, wherein to chide, pray, or preach, or protest.

With functions such as this in his Chapel, it is understandable why Himes loved crowds, revivals, camp meetings, particularly the exhibition of fear and repentance which were the trappings of emotional religion.

Himes not only arranged Miller's revivals for him, but he edited journals which promulgated Miller's ideas such as the Boston Sign of the Times, the New York Midnight Cry, the primary papers of the Millennial movement. In 1836, sixteen of Miller's lectures appeared in book form as
EVIDENCES FROM SCRIPTURES AND HISTORY OF THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST ABOUT THE YEAR 1843. As with the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith, Miller's writings needed editing by a more literate individual, a service which Himes provided for William Miller.

By 1842 at least fourteen itinerant lecturers, urged on by Himes, were swarming over the Burned-Over area of New York State promulgating Miller's ideas. Then, as a confirmation of Miller's predictions, from February 18th until April 1, 1842, a brilliant comet burned nightly on the horizon of the sky. It ,fulfilled the prophecy that the Lord would be "Revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not the Lord." Miller grew even more inspired as 1843 neared, lecturing more than three hundred times in six months on the theme:
"ARE YOU READY TO MEET YOUR SAVIOUR?" In the summers of 1842 and 1843 there were one hundred and twenty camp meetings whose preaching centered on the coming Millennium.

Miller was not a ranting revivalist, for his sermons were given in a serious and convincing tone. Thousands had to be turned away from his tent rallies as interest in his preaching and predictions surged during what was evidently the last year of earthly existence. In 1843 as Time neared an end, Himes moved their headquarters to Rochester, New York, to be in the heart of the Burned-Over District. On June 23rd of that year Himes had a great tent erected in Rochester, one which could hold three thousand potential converts to Millennialism. Two weeks of meetings, prayers, preaching, and forecast of the coming Millennium proceeded.

Not everyone believed as Miller and his followers did, and books and pamphlets both for and against the prediction of the imminent Millennium poured from the presses. Many clergymen of more moderate persuasion condemned Miller's ideas as erroneous, and at times mobs even tried to break up the meetings at which he spoke, and Miller was pelted with rotten vegetables. But still his converts increased. Himes, ever the public relations man, estimated that one million people had been converted to Millennial beliefs. This is the usual problem with such estimates made by those most concerned with the success of a movement in which they are involved. At best, there may have been some 50,000 individuals who succumbed to Miller's predictions, and most of them remained within the churches to which they had previously adhered.

As 1843 continued day by day, month by month, Miller almost disappeared from sight, growing ill, old, and worn out by his activities. He preached less and less. Himes, however, was in his element as time ran out for this wicked world. He developed more field workers, placing additional itinerant speakers on the roads. Huge meetings were held in New York City, Philadelphia, and the Mid-West. The announcement of the date of such meetings always bore the titillating conditional phrase "If Time Continues." Sunday schools were started for children, and books and catechisms were printed for them, such Sunday school literature and Millennial newspapers always ending with "And that's the way the world is coming to an end." Nonetheless, the secular press remained skeptical. There were reports of dishonesty among the leaders who operated the lectures predicting the End of Time and of the filling of their pockets at the expense of susceptible believers.

With the advent of 1843, a demand grew for an exact date of the Second Coming. Miller was reluctant to pinpoint the day. He had always said it would come about 1843. The radicalism which was developing among some of Miller's converts also distressed him. One of his disciples, John Starkweather, for example, was going too far in encouraging physical manifestations of conversion, the old excesses of the earlier revival movement. For Starkweather, hallucinations and epileptic attacks were seen as extreme but sincere forms of conversion and piety. Then Starkweather went in for mesmerism (hypnosis) and orgies of exhibitionism. The movement was growing out of control. Most Millerites were poor and uneducated, mostly converts from Methodist and Calvinistic Baptist sects. There were few from the more established churches of the Unitarians, Presbyterians, or Episcopalians among the Millerites. Thus these less educated religious seekers were more susceptible to the emotional excesses in which Starkweather reveled.

The appointed year of 1843 passed without the appearance of Jesus or the End of the World. As a result, the spring equinox of 1844 was seen as the more likely appointed time—without Miller's approval. Miller went over his calculations, and he decided that his figures were in error. Thus the Millerites now realized that October 22, 1844, was when Time would end. Millennial excitement revived, and a great Millennial Tabernacle was even erected in Boston. It has been claimed, whether it is true or not is hard to determine since there were many scoffers around, that there was a run on white cloth for the making of Ascension Robes as believers prepared to be received into Heaven. Some believers are said to have paid off all their debts, while others gave away their possessions as time ran out. Two hundred followers of Miller in Philadelphia, it was reported, fled that city of Sodom before its cataclysmic destruction. It was also claimed that tents were erected atop hills on October 21st so as to be nearer to Heaven when the moment arrived, and it was also said that the more ardent believers even climbed into trees so as to get to Heaven first. Some Americans were evidently to be go-getters even in the Heavenly realm if these claims can be accepted.

Alas, nothing happened on October 22, 1844, or in the days which followed. What of those who were disillusioned when the Millennium did not arrive? Some left thechurch for good, some joined the Shakers, some continued to believe in the imminent Millennium and joined new Adventists groups which began to arise. Among this latter there was one Adventists sector led by Hiram Edson who on October 23, 1844, had a vision when he saw clearly that October 22, 1844, was not the end but the beginning of the end. His vision indicated that Christ had come on October 22nd—but not in the manner they had expected. The event had occurred in Heaven, and thus the Book of Daniel was right in its prophecies. These believers formed the Seventh Day Adventist Church which honored the Jewish Sabbath on Saturday, as prescribed in the Bible. Others said that Christ had come spiritually, and true believers could enjoy Heaven's privileges on earth through one of the newly formed Adventist churches in the loose association of Adventists formed in 1845. The Seventh Day Adventists legally came into being as a religious sect the following year. Then in 1861 the Advent Christian Association was created, having separated from the Seventh Day Adventist group over a question as to the immortality of the soul. In 1882 there was a further division when the Church of God, and then the Churches of God in Jesus Christ came into being. Such groups continue to exist, and their members remain pietistic, tithe contributors to support the many charitable institutions which the Adventists see as the visible reflection of their inner faith.

Miller, poor man, was read out of the Baptist Church. He started a small Adventist church, but he died in 1849 broken and forgotten. What of Himes? He lived until 1895, becoming an Episcopal clergyman in South Dakota. Nonetheless, his old beliefs lived on within him, for when he died he was buried atop a hill so as to be nearer to Heaven and among the first to be with Jesus and the saints.

Biblical literalism remains in many Christian sects today which hold to the prophecies of the Book of Revelation and other Biblical writings as being literally true and imminent. Thus the followers of Miller remain firm in their Biblical orthodoxy and are more orthodox in their Biblical beliefs than the standard Protestant churches where theology and Biblical literalism became less important, leaving Americans free to float from one denomination to another among the main stream Protestant churches which differ little in belief today.

There was an upsurge in Millennialism as the year 2000 neared. Pat Robertson, one of the deans of more fundamentalist American Protestantism, wrote a book in advance of that date entitled
THE END OF THE AGE. In 1997, as the Associated Press religious reporter wrote, there were 1,500 people who packed the Sheraton Hotel ballroom in Washington: 

…where for sixteen hours a day the End of Time Handmaidens prayed and swayed, singing of the day when they will "dance on streets that are golden." Around them middle-aged women clad in white and gold robes glide through the aisles while other believers blow into rams' horns, their shrieks announcing the Second Coming. "The end is near. The End-Times are here….This is God's last call," Sister Gwen Shaw, the End of Time Handmaiden's seventy-two year old leader, proclaimed.

It was perhaps the Handmaiden's last convention if they were correct in their predictions. 

According to an Associated Press poll in 1997 almost forty percent of Christians expect Jesus to arrive in the twenty-first century, if not sooner. But then, Joshua V. Himes claimed to have awakened over a million Millennialists in his day, so one may believe what one wishes when it comes to such statistics, then or now.

http://www.crookedlakereview.com/books/saints_sinners/martin8.html

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NOTE from another source: It is important to Seventh-day Adventists to maintain October 22, 1844 as the Day of Atonement regardless of historical documents that bear out September 23, 1844 as the Day of Atonement.

Did any of the things I bolded or underlined sound in the least bit familiar… at all?


How about any of this? (Of course, this covers a wide range)







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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Authors, New "About"

As some of you may have noticed, new authors have joined!

I have updated the"About" to better clarify our goal, our intent. It is as follows:


A Warm Welcome to You, the Reader,

This blog is about the importance of seeking the truth of God's Word: When we consider what others say/teach about God's Word, it's vital to make sure it's TRUTH.

Do we prefer the truth, whatever it may be? Even if it's not what we had thought?
Because we desire to please God, we do 'As Bereans Did.'

Acts 17:11 (NIV)

'Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.'


UPDATE!

I’ve invited a few contributors to the blog, all of whom are believers & advocates for our Lord & Savior Jesus.

It’s wonderful and refreshing to hear different views on Biblical matters from fellow believers in Christ. If a debate should result, one in a spirit of seeking truth and not of competition and self-aggrandizement is desirable for stimulating thought and to provide a resource for individuals in coming to their own conclusions. However, we will not debate the existence or non-existence of God, or of Jesus as the Christ.

The object here is not to jam our views down anyone’s throats. A healthy debate is not an argument, and if each view point were identical, there would be little to be gained toward stimulating thought and growth. We will certainly write as if certain that our beliefs are true, since to say otherwise would be an inaccurate representation of ourselves.

I think it’s safe to say that the authors here will have no need to denounce anyone;
Except some who have not discussed issues but rather dominated as if they were the singular oracle of truth;

Except some who have crossed the line of civility to become theological terrorists; 

Except some who have set themselves up as a point around which others should orbit, as if only this will open up the doors to commune with God;
 
Except some who lodge themselves and their views between a believer and his Lord. 

All others (authors & commenter’s) should be confident of being afforded a forum for civil faith-based discussion and a place to present their opinions and evidence so that everyone involved might increase in understanding. 

Hopefully the revealing of lies and liars can come to an end. We would rather focus on what is beautiful, uplifting, inspiring and true. However, deceivers continue spreading the Gospel of Themselves & we who have suffered deception have a soft spot for those who are being deceived. We could ignore those who would travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, [they] make him twice a son of hell as [they] are (Mt. 23:15), but to do so, is to acquiesce to a victimizer, surrendering the victim to the wolves, perhaps making ourselves an accessory to the crime. 

In such cases, love moves us to speak out.


May God bless you in your quest for truth!


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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

************

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cultism Abounds

Is Armstrongism a mind-control cult? Yes. Without a doubt in my mind. According to Lifton's 'criteria for thought control' defining cult behavior, it meets 8 out of his 8 criteria.

1) Milieu Control: (which I will summarize as) control of human interaction and access to information.
2) Mystical Manipulation: (which I will summarize as) orchestrating events to appear as if they were spontaneous in order to obtain some desired reaction, or interpreting events to make them conform to the beliefs.
3) Demand for Purity: (which I will summarize as) "us vs them" mentality, with "us" as the ideal, and a conformity to a standard set by the group.
4) Confession: (which I will summarize as) expecting confessions of guilt, which are then used against the confessor for manipulation.
5) Sacred Science: (which I will summarize as) 'sacred' doctrines exist that may not be questioned.
6) Loading the Language: (which I will summarize as) words are redefined and used in one way to the initiated, but mean something else to the rest of the world.
7) Doctrine Over Person: (which I will summarize as) the doctrines of the group are more true and more important than the adherents themselves and their experiences. In other words, it doesn't matter what you think, the doctrine is right, and you are confused if you don't agree.
8) Dispensing of Existence: (which I will summarize as) your credibility is tied to the group, agree with the cult or you are dead to them.

Religion itself is, probably more than any other thing, subject to the pulls of cultism. When I think "cult", I think "religious cult". Armstrongism fits ...and if you disagree, you're dead to me. [joking] But it isn't just Armstrongism by any means that deserves the title "cult". No one should debate that.

A friend of mine recently told me that he left the seminary because he realized the Catholic Church is a cult. After 14 years of dedicated service to the Catholic Church as a missionary overseas and a seminarian for the priesthood, he read"Take Back Your Life, Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationaships" by Janja Lalich. This book had several more than just 7 points; I believe the number he mentioned was 27, but I don't recall. In my friend's well-informed opinion, his own church met all but one of those points.
He realized how strangling the atmosphere was. In his view, the church was not interested in growing and developing the individual, but rather changing the individual to meet a preconceived ideal. He feels that centuries of changing this or that, and adding new rituals and whatnot, had obscured the core fundamentals of the church. Everything was planned out and prescribed. Failure to meet a point was dealt with punitively. He felt strangled. His faith suffered in every way. Only after he left did he regain his bearings and a close relationship with God.
A sizable group of his friends left as well, at the same time, for the same reasons, but none of them knew the other was leaving. All felt similarly. And all felt much closer to God once they were free. He recounted to me that one of his friends remained in seminary, and he is quickly heading down the road to atheism.
In the end, although my friend remains a Catholic, and retains his love for what he sees as the fundamental truths at the core of the Catholic Church, he could no longer pursue a life dedicated to an official service of the church.

Throughout the conversation my jaw was on the floor. I was shocked at what he told me. Although the details differed, it was the exact same story of my leaving Armstrongism. It even included a dangerous bout with temptation once freedom was achieved. Thank God he overcame! What he went through and what I went through were the exact same, only completely different. (Wrap your noodle around that one! *wink*)
I was scarcely prepared for what he was telling me. If the oldest continuous "Christian" church was a cult, with most all other churches today tracing their roots to it, which church could be the "right" church? My answer to my own question is that I am confusing my definition of "church" with God's. There is one true church. It is not any denomination or building or corporate entity. I am coming to accept that it consists of people, wherever they may be, that have real faith in Jesus Christ, have Him in their hearts and lives, and who demonstrate that through living in a moral and loving way as motivated by Jesus' presence. The fine details of what they believe on this or that topic may differ, but when the core is right the rest is ultimately gravy on top. I am merely conditioned to think there is "one true denomination" and that they all should agree on most every little thing, even though that isn't so. (I still have a good amount of Christian growth to go through. I consider myself to be only starting out.)

But that got me to thinking. I thought back to a conversation I had a few months back with another friend of mine. We were enjoying some excellent hamburgers and talking about Armstrongism when he noted to me (something along the lines of) "liberalism is a cult and uses cult tactics".
I hadn't thought of it that way before. When I thought about it enough, I have to admit that I agree. Not only about the Democrats, but the Republicans too, and a good deal of other such things. Even Lifton mentions this.
How much similarity is there in the world around me regarding those cult tactics I personally witnessed in Armstrongism? What shocks me is the great many other things that act identically to, or perhaps even rightfully deserve to be called, a "cult". A cult is defined by methods and behaviors, not beliefs. Take science for example -- more specifically evolutionary science.

Even though access to dissenting information isn't generally a problem, there is a form of Milieu Control in that everything is expected to be "peer reviewed" or else it doesn't count whatsoever. When challenged, the first question from any experienced evolutionist will be "from which study or peer reviewed journal did you get that information?" This question is designed to shut down any further conversation. Problem being, in order to be peer reviewed, a work is expected to be submitted by "credentialed" persons in the first place (by "credentials" I mean a degree in science, and getting the proper creds from an acceptable institution can be nigh impossible without adherence to the overall doctrine, so submissions are usually by adherents to evolution), it must be submitted for approval to a body of what I would term "gatekeepers of the faith", to be approved it must be "politically correct" according to the standards of the day, and it must uphold the general ideology in one way or the other. For an example, read this article about the experiences of Dr. Richard Sternberg.
His experience is well documented in plenty more places than just this. I mention that this is documented in other places because of another form of milieu control, which is a bias against the source of information. Even though the source of a fact has no bearing on its actual truthfulness, I have heard ever and anon that such and such source is biased, or Christian, or right-wing, or this or that, and therefore untrustworthy. And why? Because the information is wrong? No. This is a form of self-imposed milieu control. This is no different in any way from how, when I was an Armstrongist, I was completely biased against mainstream Christian sources. Was I right? No. I was simply biased, and illogically so. It was milieu control on a personal level.

As far as Mystical Manipulation goes, there are several examples. The common usage of the words "maybe", "perhaps", "could", etc, are dead giveaways that a scientist is attempting to interpret facts to fit a preconceived notion, as opposed to letting the facts speak for themselves. In this, everything is interpreted as "proof" for evolution. But I think it best to illustrate my point with a few hoaxes. The single most popular hoax in scientific history is that of the Piltdown Man, where evolutionists rigged an archaeological dig to build an entire civilization from a pig's tooth. Or perhaps you recall Earnst Heckel's drawings of embryos; a well known hoax which still appears in textbooks to this day. Maybe you've heard of the deliberate deception of Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten, who so seriously influenced the scientific time lines that Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered his lies, said, "Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago."
We complain loudly about false prophets and televangelists, but that sort exist anywhere a liar can deceive the faithful -- even science. Scientists are supposed to be above all this in their pursuit of pure truth, yet they are not. Not at all.
More importantly to us in this day is the hoax that global warming is caused by man rather than the giant nuclear furnace a million times the size of our planet parked 8 light minutes from here.
This claim is no doubt going to open a can of worms larger than I can personally handle (thus proving my point), so please refer all comments and attempts at milieu control directly to the Heartland International Conference, where "...about 800 scientists, economists, legislators, policy activists, and media representatives...", global warming skeptics all, will handle your questions and concerns.

On to Demand for Purity. This "us vs them" mentality is rampant among evolutionists. How exceedingly many times have I and my fellows been harassed for our faith in Jesus Christ. So very often I have had to sit and listen to screed after endless, embittered screed about some chap by the name of "Jebus". I have been called "unintelligent", "uneducated", "unreasonable", "illogical", "backwards, "medieval", a "flat-earther", and the list goes ever on and on. The vulgarity employed offends reason. Yet vitriol is not reason nor are epithets logical. However, what they are is intolerance for differing views other than their own sacred science, and they are a dead giveaway for cultish behavior.
Asside from these personal attacks, there is constant pressure within the group to conform. Conformity is non-negotiable. Take Al Gore's common statements for example. Often he says something like "the debate is over", or "all scientists agree". If a scientist doesn't agree, immediately Mr. Gore et al attack their credibility, and accuses them of being paid off by "big oil" or some other such bogey man. I see so often when an evolutionary point is challenged, immediately the credibility of the challenger is brought into question. Keep in mind, these attacks are not proof, not reason, not logic, not debate, but ideology plain and simple. And they are classic cultism!

I'll skip confession and go on to Sacred Science. I need say nothing more than "evolution is a proven fact". You know you've heard it. You may even have said it.
Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and as a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (and former evolutionist), challenges it regularly, and suffers constant attacks for it. Intelligent Design (also sarcastically referred to as "unintelligent design") is not proposed and supported by clods, but by credentialed and genuine scientists who simply disagree with the core sacred science. However, those faithful adherents will claim that the sacred science is non-negotiable and unquestionable and if you do not adhere to the sacred science then you are not a scientist at all. (I have more to say about that in the next section.) But again, notice how this claim neither proves evolution nor disproves ID. It does prove cult-like behavior, though. [BTW, I am not an adherent of ID, so I have no axe to grind about it one way or the other.]

This segways nicely into Loaded Language. Political correctness, that great tradition of the left, is pure loaded language. Loaded language is rampant in the scientific community. They can immediately tell the uninitiated by the language and phraseology. For instance the word "theory"; it means something completely different to a scientist.
Even the very word "science" has become loaded language. "Science" has been presented to the public as the pursuit of truth, but in all actuality the cultish behavior of certain leading evolutionary scientists in particular have morphed "science" into a word meaning "evolutionary science", or in other words "the pursuit of evolution as opposed to truth". In fact, "science" is almost universally agreed to be a pursuit of a natural explanation for observed phenomena. In that, they preclude any involvement in God because God is not 'natural' but 'supernatural'. This is purely ideological as opposed to factual. Should there be a God, then truth is not at all what scientists pursue but rather a way to explain things without God. In the loaded language, they become correct to say that Michael Behey, for example, is not a true "scientist". No, nor either is anyone else, credentialed or not, who fails to adhere to the sacred science of evolution. Anyone keeping open the possibility of a God is by loaded definition not a "scientist" because "science" is exclusively natural with no possibility of supernatural.
The core sacred science is another loaded word. For when we say "evolution" we do not generally mean "gradual change over time", but we actually are referring to "macroevolution" which is roughly "the change of one taxonomic group into a new taxonomic group over time". Some "scientists" will deny the existence of the phrase "macroevolution", but it is quite necessary to have around. The goal is to say "evolution is a proven fact". While no one denies microevolution is proven, macroevolution on the other hand is hotly debated in all points. Indeed, all adherents of ID, and most Creationists, believe in evolution -- so long as we define it as "change over time". Indeed, "dust to dust" describes "evolution". My take on this is that we used to call this "change" or "adaptation", but in order to promote greater acceptance to the word, "evolution" was relatively recently morphed into a catch-all phrase. Word games, loaded language, and cultism abound!

Doctrine Over Person is a no-brainer in evolutionary science. If a scientist... err, I take that back because in the loaded language one is not a "scientist" if one does not adhere to the sacred science of macroevolution... if a 'person doing research' (there, that's better) somehow sees something other than evidence for macroevolution, then obviously that one is mistaken. (At the risk of beating a dead horse, remember when the Coelacanth was proof for macroevolution? And if you thought otherwise, you were "unintelligent" or "uneducated", etc.)
Of course it is circular reasoning. Since it was foreordained and established that macroevolution is a "proven fact", then all evidence must point to macroevolution. It's so simple! For a plain and brief example stated more succinctly than I possibly could, I refer you to this article on the topic by Joesph Farah.
"Name for me one thing that explains the evidence better than evolution!", I have been challenged. Well, if your mind is already made up, then nothing can convince and nothing will. It's no different than trying to talk about how Herbert Armstrong was a false prophet with an Armstrongist. Why should I waste my time about it?

And finally we come to Dispensing of Existence. I've already described how if a person doesn't adhere to the sacred science then the attacks begin, one is carpet bombed with all sorts of epithets, credentials are questioned, reputation is demolished, and even in cases like Dr. Richard Sternberg, careers are destroyed. And that poor fella is still a devout evolutionist, he merely committed the unpardonable sin of allowing an ID paper to be reviewed for Pete's sake. His existence was all but dispensed in his community. They completely rejected him.
The idea is, if you aren't a "scientist" (ie. if you are not "us") then you and all you could bring to the table simply do not count a whit. I have experience with this. I once wrote a letter to a professor at the University of Minnesota. I merely wanted to compliment him on a paper he had written. I gave him no inkling of my scientific beliefs or background. He didn't care. He, recognizing my lack of loaded language, absolutely and without remorse tore me up one side and down the other. That's a fine how do ya do! He assumed I wasn't "us", and he could care less whether I was alive or dead. Cultism confirmed!

And that is just my opinion of how evolutionary science can be a cult. I've only just skimmed the surface. For an interesting look at how it is also faith-based, I highly recommend the book "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist."
As far as the sweeping generality goes that I am labeling everyone who believes in evolution as a cultist, I am not (cultism is a behavior, not a belief, remember?). Nor either have I made any declaration whether evolution is right or wrong. I merely take the methods and behaviors of many who have taken it upon themselves to represent evolution and hold them up as examples of ways cultish behavior can be seen outside of religion.
But don't think my look into cults stops there by any means. Evolutionary science was just one example of many. Cults can be found all around. Liberals (aka "Leftists", etc) can equally as much be shown to regularly use these same cultish tactics and match these same cult criteria. I'm not picking on leftists, the right (usually the Republican Party specifically) often does the same thing. Politics has devolved into a spectator sport, and the fans of one team or another couldn't care less which candidate is actually best, but which has a 'D' or and 'R' behind their name. Their team must win at all cost. Hence our very government here in the United States has become a battleground between cultish extremist with radical left-wing national socialist totalitarians on one side and virulent right-wing capitalist pigs on the other. Their ideological tug-of-war is tearing the nation apart while the people cheer on with religious fervor. Meanwhile, it is the reasonable, libertarian-minded center that is demeaned as "kooky"; being pictured as people with tinfoil hats. This is madness!

Everything when taken to an extreme becomes a danger. Aristotle was correct to teach moderation in all things. The Bible teaches temperance in all things (I COR. 9: 25). Cultish behavior appears to me to arise from misplaced faith, overactive zeal, with a healthy dose of pride and intolerance thrown in. Perhaps the challenge is to believe what you believe, and deeply if that suits you, but allow for others to disagree.

The sad part as I see it is that many who leave the Armstrongist cult only end up exchanging that cult for another equally mind-controlling cult. They say they are free, but talk is cheap. The proof is in their unresolved anger issues. I may even have inadvertantly offended a few of them here. Offense was never my intent. I really just wanted to expose the dangers of cultism in unexpected places in the hopes that we will all take a deep, introspective look at ourselves, recognize the signs of cultism in our own lives, and God willing we should regain our senses.


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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Open Chat Fridays at I Survived Armstrongism

Aggie has started an open chat at I Survived Armstongism. She says:

Since activity on the ex-Church of God-blogosphere seems to be highest on Friday nights (Gee I wonder why?) ;) I am trying to get a regular open chat on Fridays off the ground. Drop in any time on Fridays, see who’s around, and depending on timezones hopefully we’ll get a good turnout.

You might want to stop by and check it out.

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prayer Request (cancer, heart)

I received a call from my brother yesterday (3.19.09). He told me that his doctor believes he has a small cancer in the lower part of a lung, and that he may have a problem with his heart as well. 

They don't have insurance so they are trying to contact some charities and such. When they come up with the funds, they will deal with the cancer and once he has healed from that they will address the heart issue.

I would greatly appreciate prayer for my brother and his family.

Thank you in advance,

Seeker

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Hello World

xHWA here,
This is just a very short note to say hello to everyone from my new home here at As Bereans Did.

I shut down my blog at Escaping Armstrongism today. Hopefully God will bless this new home and give Seeker and the rest of us success in sharing Jesus Christ.

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

Love: Emotion? Or Not? ~from a contributing writer~

What follows was submitted to me from a contributor to this blog:



One old Armstrong view hallowed within the old WCG was the definition of love as: an outgoing concern, not an emotion. According to this definition, it is not those mushy, sweet feelings and sentimental appreciation of attributes.
Again: Love is outgoing concern, it is not an emotion, say the Armstrong protagonists, parroting their esteemed paragon of all wisdom and virtue.
 
The word concern means something that is of interest, or something or someone that we may worry for the welfare of. Trying to avoid the idea that love involves emotion is really difficult, as worry is emotional, and to simply like someone is emotional. If love is concern, then for what shall we be concerned for about God? 

Love of country evokes the emotion of pride in consideration of the qualities that we appreciate. To hold the qualities that we love in high esteem is intricately woven of memories that give us pleasure with the certainty of conviction that the object of our affection is true and not an illusion, which is to say, we believe in the nation, person, people or idea.

We can love evil because we appreciate evil, and there is no room for concern in evil. Those who love the Lord Jesus feel their hearts swell with pride and gratitude, being convinced of His goodness and His belief in our eventual completion, as also good and beautiful, in His likeness.

 
The idea that we love God because He first loved us is exactly like the love of a child for a parent who first loves the child, seeing what the child will become; seeing past the stinking diapers and temper tantrums of the moment; appreciating and esteeming what will be.

Jesus asked the question; who will love his lord more? One who is forgiven little, or one who is forgiven much? The answer, of course, being: One who is forgiven much.

This draws a direct correlation between gratitude and love. Gratitude is a very emotional sentiment. Actually, it is an emotion.
How then is love not an emotion?

Love is not an act, it precipitates the act. In the same way, faith is not an act, it preciptates the act.



=========================

Much thanks to the author. This is something, I believe, that has needed to be addressed for some time.

We hear Ron Weinland repeatedly state that love is not an emotion, but an act. We've heard him mock the things that make love what it actually is, anything beyond their dry, clinical definition.

Can you bear the thought of a child being raised in a home devoid of sweet, syrupy, mushy love? I would hate to see the damaged, dry person they would likely grow into. How is that child supposed to feel loved, to feel a bond with his/her parents? How are they to learn how to show love to others, to their future spouse and children?

How can love not be an emotion? The idea is absurd. OWCG worked to kill emotion and thus kill love. Too kill love is to kill relationships, and relationships are the most important thing, particularly our relationship with God.

I grew up in OWCG & it was the coldest church I ever walked into, unlike the churches of my chilhood friends, (yes, I actually attended some). Talk about feeling accepted, and being warmly welcomed! Wow! Didn't experience that at my church. Growing up, OWCG for me was more like school; full of clicks and people who acted like you didn't exist if they didn't esteem you as an equal.
 
I believe the reason Armstronists hold to this definition is simply to discredit the "worldly churches" because they are so loving!  Anything the "worldy churches" do, must be discredited. In their minds, there must be nothing about them that can appear as good, and the Armsrongist churches must resemble them in no way.


So I ask:
If love is not an emotion, then why did the Father turn away at the time of Jesus' death on the cross, if not for the emotions that the death of a child evokes in a parent?

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on my current understanding. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

JOEL ROSENBERG GETS IT RIGHT

It is interesting to me... I mentioned to some of my family, (those that are members of Ron Weinland's church), that if there was any man to keep an eye on, it would be Joel Rosenberg.


Probably, few of you are familiar with him. There is a link to his weblog on the right. He has been involved in government for many years and is a Christian. (You can find out more about him on his weblog).

He decided to get into writing fiction and wrote some political based novels. The first one just happened to include events that actually came to pass. His editor (I believe it was) was pretty excited about that and wanted Joel to write a second novel. Joel assured him just because it happened once did not mean it would happen again. Yet, it did.

The first novel, The Last Jihad predicted 911 and the war with Iraq; the second, The Last Day predicted the death of Yasser Arafat and a terrorist attack on a CIA/Diplomatic convoy passing through Gaza; The Ezekiel Option predicted Putin consolidating central power, and his welcoming of a radical Iranian president with overtures towards alliance, and Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons, defying the US.



Being a Christian along side his insight to the interactions of government(s)/politics, has given Joel a unique perspective that has shown up in his fiction and non-fiction books.

What motivates me to write this post is what I read in his first non-fiction book, Epicenter, in which he said, according to Deuteronomy 33 , that Israel would come upon great fortune from beneath the ground (oil) in the last days before the ten nation alliance would come against Israel.

This was something that was a part of his fictional The Last Jihad series, also. And not too long ago, I read on his weblog, a piece from the Jerusalem Post website:
“Three massive gas reservoirs have been discovered 80 kilometers off the Haifa coast, at the Tamar prospect, Noble Energy Inc. announced on Sunday….Speaking on Army Radio Sunday morning, an exhilarated Yitzhak Tshuva, owner of the Delek Group Ltd, one of the owners of the well, called the discovery ‘one of the biggest in the world,’ promising that the find would present a historic land mark in the economic independence of Israel. ”


So, just let me make myself clear: Ron Weinland says he is God's Final Witness, God's Prophet, and yet, he has gotten nothing right.


Joel Rosenberg has made no such claims and yet, again and again, he has nailed it on the head. He doesn't give dates because he doesn't make claims to receiving anything directly from God. He simply knows government/politics and his Bible.


And certainly, I make no claims that Joel has a direct link to God, only that he is someone to watch. He is simply a fellow Christian.


NOTE: Most of this is memory based, you can get better details from his weblog and web page.




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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on my current understanding. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

RON WEINLAND & THE JESUS/BEGINNING ISSUE

Here I am again to talk about Ron.
Today he went on about Jesus having a beginning, again. He read a bunch of scriptures and then concluded that they were in reference to the Father, not Jesus. The problem is that he failed to prove anything.
He only concluded.
Might I suggest looking, again, at my article: 


Did Jesus Have A Beginning
 
I don't conclude, I, instead, offer extensive proof. 
Who is it that owes you the truth? You do. You owe yourself the truth. How will you know if you have the truth if you don't look at other arguments to prove it to yourself; to be sure, that you do have the truth?

As I always say: it is your responsibility to prove it for yourself. 
It is not Ron's responsibility. It is not my responsibility. It is not another family members responsibility. 
It is yours.

May God bless you in this endeavor.

In His love,

Seeker of Truth

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on my current understanding. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.