The notion that humans who have died can be resurrected by God is found in both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, and al...
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Back in August of 2012, Psychology Today posted a piece by former FBI Counterintelligence Agent Joe Navarro titled "Dangerous Cult Leaders, Clues to what makes for a pathological cult leader." Based on his observations and experiences during his tenure at the FBI, Navarro identified fifty personality traits that "stand out as the first warning to those who would associate with them." For those who are interested in viewing that original post in its entirety, you can find it here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/spycatcher/201208/dangerous-cult-leaders
I have included a few of Navarro's list of traits below that stood out to me as being applicable to Herbert W Armstrong:
He has a grandiose idea of who he is and what he can achieve.
Demands blind, unquestioned obedience.
Has a sense of entitlement—expecting to be treated as special at all times.
Is exploitative of others by asking for their money or that of relatives, putting others at financial risk.
Is arrogant and haughty in his behavior or attitude.
Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows him to bend rules and break laws.
Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs.
Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
Has insisted on always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain.
Anyone who criticizes or questions him is called an “enemy.”
Believes he possesses the answers and solutions to world problems.
Believes himself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.
Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think.
Has isolated members of his sect from contact with family or the outside world.
Monitors and/or restricts contact with family or outsiders.
Has taken away followers' freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life and liberty.
It seems to me that enough of these traits apply to HWA to identify him as a dangerous cult leader. And, in terms of my own experience (and the experiences of others known to me) within HWA's Worldwide Church of God, Navarro's final paragraph seemed to really hit the nail on the head. He wrote:
"When a cult or organizational leader has a preponderance of these traits then we can anticipate that at some point those who associate with him will likely suffer physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially. If these traits sound familiar to leaders, groups, sects, or organizations known to you, then expect those who associate with them to live in despair and to suffer, even if they don’t know yet that they will."
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Unfortunately, many of us have attributed things to God that humans have fashioned on their own. In other words, humans like to put words in God's mouth! We like to imagine that God sees things the way that we see things, or that God has inspired or caused us to think a certain way. In similar fashion, many of us like to take ancient cultural/societal norms recorded in Scripture and make them into universal principles that apply to all people and all times.
Take a moment to consider just a few of the things that many of us take for granted as being God-ordained: patriarchy (male led society), marriage, divorce, gender roles, paternalism, capitalism, heterosexual orientation, worship, parenting techniques, etc. But how much of the stuff that we associate with each of the things mentioned actually originated in the mind of God?
Is God actually a male? Does God have a penis? Weren't both genders (male and female) created in God's image? Doesn't the New Testament state that gender is irrelevant under the terms of the New Covenant? Was God the source of female silence in the Christian Church or was it Paul (and the Jewish traditions from which he came)?
Many Christians are surprised to learn that there is NO formula for a marriage ceremony given anywhere in Scripture! Marriage licenses are creations of the state. Likewise, the notion of a minister, judge or some other official performing the ceremony is a man-made tradition. Is jumping over a broom an acceptable marriage ceremony to God? Oh sure, the Bible does speak of marriage in the generic sense, but it also mentions concepts like polygamy and concubine marriages that most modern Christians have rejected.
What about divorce? The concept is mentioned in Scripture, but which of the formulas presented in those pages (Moses, Christ or Paul) reflects God's thinking on the subject? And, once again, does the state have any legitimate role in the process?
As for gender roles, does God define for us what is masculine and what is feminine? Does God really care if a woman wears pants or dresses? Likewise, does God really care about the length of a man's hair? Did God ordain that boys like trucks and girls like dolls? Did God ordain that men like football and women like nail salons?
Did God ordain that some men/nations should dominate and exploit their weaker neighbors? Did capitalism originate in the mind of God? Did socialism originate in the mind of Satan? Do either one of these man-made systems actually reflect God's thinking on the subject?
If a heterosexual attraction is the God-ordained formula, then why are so many folks attracted to members of their own gender? Is sexual orientation God-ordained? If it is something we choose, then why doesn't everyone go with their natural inclination - the path of least resistance?
As for worship, the only place in Scripture that attempts to define a God-ordained service is found in the Old Testament Pentateuch. There is no formula to be found in the entire New Testament for a Christian worship service! The pulpits, pews, stained-glass windows, hymns, pianos, guitars, sermons and sermonettes common in today's Christian worship services are all human notions of what that service should look like!
As for parenting techniques, how much of what we know about parenting has been derived from human trial and error over the centuries? Do we really believe that God has mandated corporal punishment for all children? Do we really believe that children have no rights? Do we believe that children who smart off to their parents should be stoned?
How can we tell whether something is man-made or God-ordained? While God may not have given us a marriage ceremony or a clear standard for divorce, we do have the principle laid down in Scripture that we must not be unfaithful to each other. While male and female clothing standards and hair styles have varied greatly among different cultures, Scripture extols the virtue of modesty. Moreover, Scripture makes plain that Christ taught that we should all treat others the way that we would like to be treated - with kindness, mercy and compassion. And, while the format of the worship service may not be important, Scripture teaches us that God must be loved, honored and respected above every other person, place or thing.
Do we begin to see that there is a profound difference between cultural norms and eternal/universal spiritual principles? Of course, the Fundamentalist Christian believes that Paul's statements about clothing, women and homosexuality also reflect God's will. Most of them believe that God actually wrote these epistles, not Paul. Likewise, they believe that God wrote the Pentateuch, not Moses. For them, the human authors of Scripture were magically immune from being influenced by their own culture/society, prejudices and feelings. For them, inspiration means Divine dictation - that the human authors were only acting in the capacity of scribes. For them everything that was penned by these humans IS the "word of God." For me, however, the likelihood that any human could be completely immune to any influence by their own experiences and circumstances stretches credibility. What about you? Are we following God-ordained rituals or man-made traditions?
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Tomorrow, African Americans will celebrate the liberation of their ancestors from slavery. However, Christians all over the world realize that we have been slaves to sin during our lifetimes on this planet. Even so, Paul explained to the saints at Rome that Christ has also liberated us from that bondage.
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Many modern Christian leaders are fond of pointing out that God is standing at the ready to punish the United States (and other Western nations) for its (their) sins. Of course, the majority of these prophets of doom have a few very specific sins in mind when they say such things.
Notice this exchange that recently took place on Pat Robertson's The 700 Club: