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Friday, October 24, 2008

Armstrongism / Church of God / Ronald Weinland

Are you easily influenced? Do you have lots of heroes? Do you admire many charismatic people? Do you find it hard to criticize popular people, and is it easy for you to believe everything they say? Are you depressed because this is a low point in your life, and does it seem that everything is going wrong?

If so, it would not be a good idea to allow yourself to be *recruited* by any of the following churches. They are the main “splinter” groups formed at various times after certain doctrines were rejected by the Worldwide Church of God. The splinter groups have kept the doctrines of the original pastor-general, Herbert W. Armstrong. (The list below was compiled with assistance from an article about Armstrongism at the 4truth.net website.)

Church of God, International. (abbrev. CGI or COGI.)
-- Based in Tyler, Texas.
-- Armor of God television program and periodical.
-- Infuse magazine, and The International News.

Church of God, Pasadena. (abbrev. CGP or COGP)
-- Based in Pasadena, California.
-- Pastor is David Hulme.
-- Vision magazine and website

Church of God - Preparing for the Kingdom of God. (abbrev. COG-PKG)
-- Based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
-- Pastor is Ronald Weinland.
-- The Prophesied End-Time book.
-- 2008 - God's Final Witness book.
-- The-End website.
-- History of church and pastor - 'false prophet Ronald Weinland'
-- A critical book review - Christian Media Research
-- June 13, 2012 - Ronald Weinland was convicted for tax evasion.

Grace Communion International (abbrev. GCI)
Name changed in April 2009.
ex. Worldwide Church of God (abbrev. WCG or WCOG)
-- Based in Glendora, California.
-- Original pastor-general was Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
-- Second pastor-general was Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. (1927-1995).
-- Third pastor is Joseph W. Tkach, Jr.
-- The Plain Truth magazine, plus various booklets.
-- Christian Odyssey magazine, website, and Together (WCOG News).
-- In the 1990s several of the Armstrong doctrines were rejected.
-- In 1997 it was accepted into the National Association of Evangelicals.
-- This church now appears to be less extreme than the others listed here.

Intercontinental Church of God. (abbrev. ICG or ICOG)
-- Based in Tyler, Texas.
-- Original pastor was Garner Ted Armstrong (1930-2003).
-- Current pastor is Mark Armstrong.
-- Associated Ministry :- Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association.
-- 21st Century Watch magazine.

Living Church of God. (abbrev. LCG or LCOG)
-- Based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
-- Pastor is Roderick C. Meredith.
-- Tomorrow's World television program.
-- Tomorrow's World magazine, booklets, and bible study course.

Philadelphia Church of God. (abbrev. PCG or PCOG)
-- Based in Edmond, Oklahoma.
-- Pastor is Gerald Flurry.
-- The Key of David television program.
-- The Philadelphia Trumpet magazine.
-- The Wonderful World Tomorrow book.

Restored Church of God. (abbrev. RCG or RCOG)
-- Based in Wadsworth, Ohio.
-- Pastor is David C. Pack.
-- The Real Truth magazine
-- The World To Come videos
-- _A critical article_ on the 'Living Armstrongism' blog.

United Church of God. (abbrev. UCG or UCOG)
-- Based in Milford, Ohio - east of Cincinnati.
-- President is Clyde Kilough.
-- Pastor is Roy Holladay, amongst other elders.
-- The Good News magazine and bible reading program.
-- United News, and Vertical Thought, Virtual Christian magazines.
-- World News & Prophecy website.

(A more complete list is here.)

If I can’t convince you that being *recruited* by any of those churches would be a bad idea, please carefully consider the following questions and information :-

1/ When you first join the group do you get any ‘instant’ friends?
2/ Does everyone dress more or less the same, act the same, and talk the same?
3/ Is questioning the group, or the group leaders, discouraged or frowned upon?
4/ Does everyone in the group believe exactly the same things (i.e. what the leaders tell them to believe)? Is there no room for individual belief or opinion even in minor areas?
5/ Is reading any literature critical of the group discouraged?
6/ Does the group believe that it is an elite and exclusive organisation which alone has ‘the truth’ and answers to life’s questions?
7/ Does the group pour scorn upon, ‘attack,’ and mock other Christian churches and their interpretation of the Bible?
8/ Does the group discourage association with non-members (except, maybe for the possibility of converting them to the group)?
9/ Does the group give you ‘black and white answers’? -- What the group agrees with is right and what the group disagrees with is wrong.
10/ Does the group tend to withhold certain information from you? Are the more unusual doctrines of the group not discussed with you until you are more deeply involved in the movement?

If you answered ‘yes’ to more than (say) two of the above questions you are in danger of being manipulated by con men and women who use powerful mind control techniques which bypass your ability to critically evaluate and question the group.

If you stay with the group for longer than the indoctrination period, these questions will become more relevant :-

1/ Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, the ‘good deeds’ you perform for your group are never quite enough? As a result of this do you often feel plagued with feelings of guilt?
2/ Have you attempted to disable your own critical thinking abilities by ‘shelving’ various doubts about the group or group’s teachings?
3/ Are others in the group, who do not conform to the requirements of the movement’s teachings, treated with suspicion and treated like second class members?
4/ Do you feel fearful of leaving the group? Many ‘cults’ use subtle fear tactics to stop members from leaving. For example, the group may imply that those who leave will be attacked by the Devil, have a nasty accident, or at least not prosper because they have left ‘the truth’.

However, do not become depressed - because all is not lost!
The option to leave the cult will always be available.
The last three paragraphs in this blog page should help you achieve that aim: Mind Control by Cults

Professional help from Christian counselors is available through this site :- http://christiantherapist.com/
(If possible, it would be wise to check if counselors have relevant qualifications. Recommendations from previous patients would also be very valuable.)

(Questions above originally supplied by Spotlight Ministries - page - Used by permission.)


Anonymous said...

I belong to one of the groups you mentioned. After WCG changed their doctrines, I left the church. I didn't attend anywhere for a few years. I did feel I was missing something in my life though. After much soul searching, I returned to church, but with a different attitude...no MAN will make my spiritual decisions for me. Every decision I make is between me and God. And, my local pastor feels the exact same way. There are still some "old school" higher ups in our organization, but they do not influence my life. I actually prefer not to know what goes on at "HQ." Why? Because what they do is between themselves and God. I actually have come to peace with that. I don't always agree with what they say, but that is the case in any church. And, I am absolutely not easily influenced. I think for myself and if I felt I had to leave my church, I would do it.

Que said...

Hi, thanks for the comments.
Obviously I fell into the trap of making too many generalizations! :)
Not all affiliated churches are as extreme as the "HQ", and not all members are being manipulated by con men and women. It appears that the COGs are slowly being changed to milder versions of Armstrong's doctrine. I would be interested to hear from any other COG members who can confirm that their local church has a different attitude to the HQ.
=== Que ===

Anonymous said...

I belong to the Living Church of God and have for about 5 years now. I believe what Mr. HWA preached, that we prove ALL things. This church is run by human beings who make mistakes. However, I believe with all my heart, soul and mind that THIS is the Church that Jesus Christ is leading to do His end time work. If fact, I have proven it to myself. As it says in one of Mr. HWA's old publications "To neglect it (the truth) will be tragic beyond imagination! To heed it will bring blessings, happiness and GLORY beyond description! The decision in now yours!"

Que said...

Hi, I am wondering if the other COG splinters will also be able to assist with His end time work? I guess that would make sense because they are all descended from the original HWA CoG. Also, does your church specify an actual place of safety, or will you be protected wherever you are? Thanks for any information.
== Que ==

Anonymous said...

I have been a member of UCG since its forming in 1995. I can honestly say that the answers to the above questions are all "no".

In my congregation, there is a very wide variety of personalities. We all think for ourselves, don't badmouth other churches, and critique what's been taught (usually positively). All church doctrine is openly discussed and elaborated on.

Based on conversations I've had with other members, I can also say that there is a variety in individual beliefs. Not major doctrinal issues, but minor things, such as proper Sabbath conduct, like watching TV, eating out, that sort of thing.

Que said...

Hi, thanks for the comments. It is good that you can answer 'no' to all the questions. Are you perhaps a member of an affiliated church in a town or small city that is a distance from the headquarters? (See the first comment above.)

Maybe the only main splinter we need to worry about is COG-PKG. I suspect that somebody *recruited* into that group would answer 'yes' to most of the questions.

We have heard from people in LCG and UCG. Is there anybody out there in one of these churches :-
Please advise if you can answer yes or no to most of the questions. (People from other splinters not listed above are welcome as well.)
== Que ==

Anonymous said...


I'm the Anonymous from yesterday who attends UCG. I'm in a highly populous area, but not near the HQ in Cincinnati. I'm elsewhere in the US. The HQ sends out letters to the congregations on a regular basis, outlining what they're doing. While of course we're not to worship these guys or submit to them, we understand it's important to pray that they do the right thing and lead the church well.

Unfortunately, I have a family member in COG-PKG, so I have extensive knowledge on Weinland and his false prophecies. It's like the more wrong he is, the more they're sucked in. I've been hearing end of the world predictions since early 2007, but I've come to ignore them. As time goes on, that guy gets more and more wrong. It's continued so long, that I've found the whole thing funny. The more he continues this charade, the harder the fall will be. Also, because I want to keep tabs of his activities, I check sites like this.

As for PCG, I doubt anyone from that group would visit sites like these. Their church policy is that baptized members are forbidden to speak to other family members who are part of other COG groups. I have a friend in UCG who won't tell her grandmother that she's baptized and a member of UCG, otherwise the grandmother would stop talking to her. It's supposedly to shame outside family members into joining the "right" church. Other COGs of course, believe that's dead wrong.

Anonymous said...

I was in the WCG, and then UCG, and I left UCG recently. To be fair, I believe that UCG is probably the most moderate of the splinter groups. But even they are a type of Herbert Armstrong "lite", which is contrary to sound Biblical teaching. I also believe that most people would come to see this, if they would read the Bible for themselves, without the "aid" of church literature booklets. And this is the funny (not comical) thing about the questions. The people who are in the grip of these churches would answer "no" to most of the questions. It's only when they come to the true light of Christ, are they able to look back and realize that the answers were really "yes".

If there is anything from my experience with Herbert Armstrong that I wish people could understand, it would be this: Never underestimate the power of deception, and the control it can have over you and your entire life, when that deception comes to you in the Name of God.