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Why Political Speech Is Inappropriate from the Pulpit!

For years now, I have been criticizing the preaching of politics from the pulpit. Why? What's so wrong with talking about issues and can...

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

I Don't Want to Read, Hear or Entertain Anything That Might Lead Me Away from the Truth!

In the past, I have commented about the self-reinforcing straitjacket which Herbert Armstrong devised for his followers. The psychology is simple, but it is also very powerful. It goes something like this: 1) Convince your followers that the majority of Christians are deceived, and that you alone have discovered the TRUE version of that faith. 2) Spoon feed them the cherry-picked Scriptural reasoning you employed to arrive at your system and convince them that they have proven these "truths" from their own Bible. 3) Convince them that their new understanding is the evidence that they have God's Holy Spirit. 4) Instill in them the fear that it is possible to lose some or all of that understanding and/or lose the "inspiration" of the Holy Spirit. This clever, yet subtle, conditioning of his followers allowed Armstrong to imprison his followers in a perpetual state of circular reasoning! "God has revealed his TRUTH to me, and I must hold on to it with all my might and strength." Research, questioning, and testing are no longer necessary - We've arrived at destination TRUTH. Hence, there is no longer any need to investigate or explore! Add to all of this being immersed in a culture of folks who think the same way, and the fact that they are all led by ministers who were trained to periodically remind them about the danger of losing this "treasure," and "abracadabra" you have a closed mind!

Of course, this all brings to mind Christ's Parable of the Talents. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read:

"'For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents,[a large amount of money] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" (Matthew 25:14-30, ESV) Question: What did Christ do to the servant who had protected his one talent (the one who had failed to increase what had been entrusted to him)? Answer: He took away what he had been given!

Moreover, these followers of Herbert Armstrong are WRONG about the evidence that someone has God's Holy Spirit. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ once said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35, ESV) Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Galatia that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV) Notice something missing in that list? Understanding isn't in the list! Indeed, Paul told the saints at Corinth that they could have prophetic powers, understand ALL mysteries, and enough faith to move mountains and still be NOTHING. (I Corinthians 13:2) He went on to say that "Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely." (I Corinthians 13:12, NLT) Did you catch that? In the present, WE (Christians) see things IMPERFECTLY! Likewise, in the second epistle of Peter, we read: "you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (II Peter 3:18, NLT) Doesn't that mean that we will always have MORE to learn? What do you think? Is the Armstrong template regarding understanding really consistent with Scripture?

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