This is an unusual blog for me as I rarely blog about my past or personal life. However, I received the email below from a reader named “Scott” who was also in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) led by Herbert W. Armstrong, and he also mentions his unpleasant memories of his experience in that organization. Some readers know that I was in that group from 1969 to 1978, and this blog is dedicated to making a few comments about the WCG as many readers have not heard of it, and other readers wonder about my viewpoints toward it.
The WCG was a quintessential “Pharisee” church. Its leaders loved the “chief seats” (and the power and money that came with them), and they placed “heavy burdens” on their members (see Matthew 23:4-7). Herbert Armstrong and the top leaders lived lavishly with private jets, personal opulence and unabashed self-indulgence while sucking the financial life out of their members. Many modern Christians are familiar with the concept of tithing, but the WCG imposed incredibly heavy financial burdens on its members. They had a first tithe, a second tithe, a third tithe, a building fund, a “love fund,” Holy Day offerings, special offerings, “excess” second tithe offerings, etc. The writer below refers to a piece of prophetic nonsense which the WCG used to teach: that Germany would re-Nazify and conquer the world, taking “captive” the Americans, British, etc. The church once vigorously taught the church would flee to a “place of safety” in Petra in 1972 to escape the invasions of the re-Nazified Germany and that Christ would return in 1975 (they even offered a booklet explaining their certainty that these events would occur). WCG leaders told the members that the WCG church leaders were “God’s government” on earth (pardon my sudden bout of nausea).
I’ll share one piece of information which speaks volumes about the “control freak” mentality that prevailed in the “old” WCG (I put the word “old” in quotes as there is an organization by that name today which bears little or no resemblance to the “old” WCG that the writer below and I experienced). Soon after I was impressed into the WCG at the age of 19 (I was subjected to lurid “scare tactics” by one of their “pastors” that unless I quickly joined the WCG, I’d be consigned to the “lake of fire.”), I surrendered the National Merit Scholarship I had at a private college and attended the unaccredited WCG college called Ambassador College. I had swallowed the WCG’s bait—hook, line and sinker, at that time.
I’ll share a now-funny episode which highlights the “control freak” spirit of the old WCG. At the Big Sandy, TX campus of Ambassador College, I was there when the WCG observed the Fall Feast of Tabernacles (a valid biblical festival mentioned in Leviticus 23 and one which Zechariah 14:16-20 prophesies will be mandatory upon all nations when the Lord returns). I was assigned to what was called Booth City, a collection of small structures holding two people each. During one evening service (held in a large tent that could contain over 10,000 people), I was not feeling well and I stayed in my booth to rest. Then I saw odd flashes of intense lights out one window. I got up to see what it was and it was a detachment of people who were shining flashlights into each booth, apparently to see if anyone was skipping the mandatory services in the big tent. Not wanting to be discovered and labeled a malingerer, I squatted down at the bottom of the entry door to hide myself. Minutes later, the “security” detail arrived at my booth and began shining their flashlights all through it, scanning beds, desks, chairs, etc. as I pulled myself into a ball at the base of the door to escape detection. I felt like a Jew hiding from the Gestapo. I left that college soon afterward. Those who wish to know the full measure of the corruption and craziness that was rampant among the leaders of the WCG can read about it in the book, Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web, an exposé by David Robinson, a former high-ranking WCG pastor. Old copies or its text may be available on the internet.
Now for some further comments. I know that I have readers from a wide variety of Christian denominations and organizations, so I’ll comment on where I stand organizationally and doctrinally as some readers periodically ask me about this. I am a member of Church at the Gate, an independent Evangelical Church in Sioux Falls, SD. This church is very attuned to the fact that we live in the latter days, has a spirit-led membership, teaches solid Christian living principles and focuses above all on members being urged to seek a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I attend church on Sunday to hear excellent sermons by the pastor, Steve Hickey (for my Sabbath-keeping friends, the Bible does not forbid people to worship God and hear his word expounded on the 1st day of the week–or any other day of the week for that matter). However, I have a personal belief that the 7th Day of the week is the day God hallowed (Genesis 2:1-3), so I rest from “servile work” from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday—the biblical 7th Day of the week on the Sacred Calendar. An article at my website explains the biblical reasons for my choice not to eat pork and shellfish (my family also has some medically-confirmed allergic reactions to pork as one of my daughters carries an “epi-pen” from her MD due to allergic reactions whenever she is exposed to any pork product). These lifestyle choices are based on my understanding of the Bible, but I do not at all judge my fellow Christians based on whether they agree with or share my views on these personal lifestyle choices. Anyone who has accepted the blood and body of Jesus Christ given for us on the cross is my brother or sister in Christ—regardless of their denominational affiliations.
Finally, I am almost done with a new, in-depth research report entitled “A New Look at the Seven Churches of Revelation” which will examine modern Christianity in light of the clues given in Revelation 2-3 regarding the latter-day churches of Christianity which are prophesied to be very diverse in doctrine, organizational structure, practices, etc. Interestingly, in spite of their doctrinal diversity and the various criticisms that Jesus has for some of the latter-day Christian Churches, he still claims all of them as “his” churches, revealing that Jesus Christ has a more inclusive attitude toward who his followers are than do many denominationally-minded Christians today. Watch for this research report to be posted at this website before too long. I believe it will contain some major surprises for everyone!
P.S. Thanks to Scott for referring my website to others and for mentioning that many are praying for my seemingly-endless (and most frustrating) chronic pain and health problems. My latest problem is a loud and constant ringing of the ears (tinnitus) which came upon me very suddenly in mid-January and has been with me ever since. I’ve had surgeries on both ear-drums and any loud sounds are painful to me. I really should be well and traveling to other locations to speak about the information contained in my books. Please pray that God would grant wholeness to me so I can “hit the road” and speak to audiences again. Many thanks and may God bless and favor all of you!
hello mr.collins, I wanted to write you and to let you know that you are doing amazing work…Your Articles are well written and just wonderfull to read…you lay things out so clearly…I know that sometimes when you can not see the people you are reaching it sometimes my seen like your not getting threw…But I am here to let you know that you are getting through…you work very hard and with very little donations and its amazing what you can get done with what little you have.I went to world wide church of God as a kid..I know it a sore subject with you and it is with me also…I went threw a lot at that place as you did…But I found a great off shoot cog churches that still go to church on saturday and keeps the holy days..There is many of these smaller churche people that hate that arrogent chuch no it all attitute where there is a guy who rund the place like we are all slaves… and tries to scare the hell out of people..the reason I bring this up is I have
given your web add out to alot of people and tey all come back and say its good as gold…they love web site…and like I said your articles are just wonderfull…we give sermons on alot of them…we believe what you do about the magog alliance and have always known that the new ROMAN empire theory was hog wash…we have given your articles to people x WWC members attending larger WWCog Lite churches and they can not exsplain away your writing…they have been tought their whole lives that Germany is going to get us and there so stuck in there views…anyway I wanted you to know that all your hard work is paying off and to keep up you great work…you have 1000’s of sabbath keepers praying for your health and to give you wisdom and the energy to keep doing what your doing…I hope knowing that gives you a boost…with your health problems and low donations…its just amazing how well you are doing with your site…we all are very poor but will try to do what ever we can to help you out…may Good bless you Mr.collins keep up the great work…P.S. sorry I am not a very good typer forgive my misspellins and typos…just had to write you and let you know…you are a very talented person.