Friday, July 16, 2010

This Has All Happened Before

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 
-George Santayana

I love this quote. I think it explains so very much of the problems we experience in our modern lives. Perhaps if every Armstrongist were not only allowed to learn the truth of the group's Millerite Adventist past, but perhaps required to learn the truth of the group's Adventist past, then perhaps some lights would go on.
This is precisely what the leadership cannot allow to happen.

Now, I am absolutely not advocating forcing people to do things against their will. I understand that, given the choice, a great deal of Armstrongists would opt not to investigate the history of Adventism, preferring to continue in the falsehood that the Worldwide Church of God is not descended from the Seventh-Day Adventist church. For years we were told that the Seventh-day Adventist church is not nor ever was God's church (which is code for "Worldwide is not descended from SDA.") - and that is how most would prefer to leave it. I also understand that, should any opt to investigate, a good number will vehemently deny any evidence they find. It is simply too much to accept that Herbert Armstrong is without a doubt a theological descendant of Ellen G. White. It challenges too much. And it's safer to just ignore it and make it go away.

Well, perhaps it's for the best anyway. One thing that George Santayana didn't mention is the danger of remembering the past. What danger? Why, unethically repeating history on purpose, of course, knowing that most people will be completely ignorant of what you're up to. There's a catch-22 buried in here. The willful ignorance of those who refuse to remember the past enables the unethical to break in and steal ideas from the past in order to exploit those who refuse to remember the past. It would be better if we all forget together than to have only the unethical learn from the past.

What am I on about? Perhaps I should get to the point.

I recall many stories about the plagiarism of Herbert W Armstrong. There is an entire website dedicated to investigating Herbert Armstrong's plagiarism of J. H. Allen's book "Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright". British Israelism is a backbone teaching of the old Worldwide Church of God. One couldn't possibly separate the two. Many of the old Worldwide Church of God doctrines were lifted from other sources. Exit and Support Network has several studies that show Herbert Armstrong plagiarized a great many things from other church groups and writers. For two examples, please read "Mystery of the Ages (A Critical Review)" and "Herbert W Armstrong's Religious Roots". But that's not all! The Servants News has an article about how Herbert Armstrong plagiarized the booklet "Has Time Been Lost" from the Church of God (Seventh Day). Whole articles and booklets were just "lifted" from their original authors and the average member of the church was absolutely none the wiser. 
No one knows just how many things were "borrowed" without credit to the original source. Some things were copied almost word for word, with only minor changes in phraseology or word order. Stories abound that Herbert Armstrong would type up a new publication while reading the works of some other church group. As the story goes, this is how HWA would get his "inspiration from God." I understand his preferred source of inspiration was the COG7's "Bible Advocate" magazine (for which he used to write during the late 1920's).

Oh, some people make it their goal to deny all of this. I am not just referring to how the official church leadership purposefully obfuscated, denied, and buried it all. What gets me are the people who still deny it all to this day. But what I believe cannot be honestly denied is that since so many Armstrongists actively refused to investigate the teachings of other groups, they wound up falling for the lie, duplicating doctrines of those groups (whom they regularly speak out against), and all without a clue in the world.
And that is why I believe some of us helped to bring this upon ourselves.

The well-established fact is that the church that Herbert Armstrong founded, the old Worldwide Church of God, was a descendant of Ellen G. White's Seventh-day Adventist group. Two years of study have helped me to understand the blatant similarities between Herbert Armstrong and Ellen G. White. Do you think Herbert Armstrong was the first in 1,900 years to "restore lost truth"? Or the first to say there is no hell? Or the first to claim to be God's only representative in the end-time? Or.... the first to plagiarize material from others?
Take a look at this fascinating study on titled "Ellen White's Plagiarism". It was really learning about Ellen White's plagiarism that inspired me to write this post. Can any of these Adventist groups claim that even a fraction of what they believe is original or unique?

If that's not enough for you, try reading the book "Churches That Abuse" by Ronald Enroth. You'll see more than what you bargained for, I'm sure.

Either by Providence or luck, I happened across this 5-part video series on YouTube entitled "Seventh-day Adventism - The Spirit Behind the Church". As I watched the spectacle unfold before me, it became surreal how this all ties together. There I was, watching the story of a woman who died a lifetime before I was born, and I was simply floored at the way I could take Ellen G White out, and insert just about any of the big-name leaders of the Armstrongist groups - Herbert Armstrong, Ron Weinland... just about any of them. It's all the same show again, and again, and agian. It was as if the doctrines that I once believed so dearly had become tangible, and I was able to take them apart and see how they worked. I had several, "Oh! So that's where that came from!" moments. The full timeline of Herbert Armstrong's doctrines were being gathered together in a matter of minutes... only the videos weren't about Herbert Armstrong. 
But yet, they were. 
They were because it's all the same thing, only the names have changed. I recalled the line from Peter Pan, borrowed from eastern philosophy, "All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again." Adventists have been pulling the same stunts now for over 170 years!

Here are links to the 5 parts of the video. Watch them, and you will see what I mean:

Perhaps this all fascinates me still because somewhere inside of me is an ember of the blissfully ignorant and unquestioning Armstrongist that I once was which hasn't quite burned out. That ember denies that these things are real. It hates the idea that my father was duped into a lie. It doesn't want to hear that Herbert Armstrong is just the next Ellen White. It doesn't want to accept that the Worldwide Church of God is just a spin-off of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Somewhere there's this last glowing spark, burning out, and it still doesn't want to learn from the past. It wants everything to be the way it was - comfortable and familiar.

Someone asked when will all of these things finally fade away. All I could think to say was, "When Armstrongism fades away, something new will pop up." 
And it already has in the form of all of these xCOG splinters, and those who have been infected along the way. For example, one Mr. Richard Rives. He is teaching the same old stuff. Singing the same old song. Herbert Armstrong with a southern drawl. Then there is Mr. Joe Kovacs. He has a book called "Shocked By the Bible" that supposedly gives you "the most astonishing facts you've never been told." That's funny; all of us here have been told them before. Pure, unadulterated, high-concentration, poly-unsaturated Adventism. A fine perpetuation of the cult mindset. Where can a body turn when the mind has been infected by these men? Only to a cult that perpetuates the distortions. It tears people away from tradition, friends, family, and congregation.. but it does not in the least turn a single soul to Jesus Christ. 
It has all happened before, and these fine gentlemen are among the next generation working to make it all happen again.

All of these people who don't want to learn from the past, perpetuate and repeat the same cycle over and over again. There will always be someone more than willing to exploit them, using the same old lies.
I can't allow that ember to have its way, or I feel I will have become part of the problem.
But that's precisely why I keep at this. I don't want to perpetuate the system. I have a deep desire to help those trapped in the system to break free, and step into the New Covenant in the faith and grace of Jesus Christ. I want to help remove the shackles of fear that bind fast. I want to help people leave the old Worldwide Church of God. I do what I do for the people who are there and just don't know why any longer.

I started by quoting George Santayana:
  "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
I would like to finish with a quote that is attributed to Edmund Burke:
  "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Oh precious children of God, you who are still in Armstrongism, do yourself a favor. Watch those videos. Ask the tough questions. Test those spirits. And may God bless you and keep you, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

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. ; )
Acts 17:11


Anonymous said...

"Somewhere there's this last glowing spark, burning out, and it still doesn't want to learn from the past. It wants everything to be the way it was - comfortable and familiar."

Yes! That's it, exactly! And I say this as one who will have been out of "the church" for almost a decade-and-a-half, now.

I was thinking about Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (inspired in part by a comment on Mike's blog) today, and beating myself up that I was so absolutely brainwashed, that I never even realized I was belting out the Nazi Party Anthem with the best of them!

I have this fantasy, of facing down a current CoG-member, spewing vitriol at me about being a "liar" and "against God's truth", when I tell them this, to which I respond by singing the song, and having it confirmed by outsiders that, yes, that really is the Nazi party anthem, and you really did/do sing the Nazi party anthem.

Then I realized just what level of absolute depravity I would have to sink to, in order to sing the Nazi party anthem in public, and I realized that, no, I may never get the opportunity to say to the world at large, "This is the kind of monster that my church made me."

I may also never get the opportunity for someone to tell me, "You can't be a monster if you were only doing what you were told."

Hm. wasn't that the Nazis' defence too? But, yeah, because of the way everything went down with the changes...we may never get closure. Final closure on the church, I mean, as your analogy above suggests. Making your own closure by choosing another religion is a different topic entirely, IMO.

I'm slowly coming around to the idea that I'll never get closure for what happened. I don't have to like it (I don't), but I do have to eventually accept it, otherwise I will never be able to move on.

xHWA said...

" a rule, they attend only their own meetings, hear only their own ministers, and read only their own religious literature. As a result they sincerely believe they are the only ones who have the truth, the only ones who have God's special favors!"
-D. M. Canright

He wrote in 1915, and was speaking of the SDA Church members.
Eerily applicable to Armstrongists, no?

xHWA said...

Here is a link to D. M. Canright's book,

"The Lord's Day From Neither
Catholics nor Pagans:
An Answer to Seventh-Day Adventism on this Subject

I am reading it now, and it's really showing me quite a few things.