Growing Up In the Worldwide Church of God Under Herbert W Armstrong

How To Fight the Modern Day Amalekites?

I’m not in the mood to pull punches today.  Some would rather forget Herbert W Armstrong’s legacy, some would rather idolize him and some would rather burn him in effigy.  All of these positions are dangerous ones.  Some that would criticize him and the Church, however, are way over the line, and they have allowed themselves to be used by Satan to build up resentment against God’s Church in these end times.

COGWriter Robert Thiel published that last Friday, 31 July, would have been the 117th birthday of Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) had he been alive today.  Frankly, I wasn’t aware of it until last week, seeing as the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) under HWA did not celebrate birthdays.

I am advising you to read Thiel’s article.  He makes some important points, especially about sola scriptura, aka “Scripture alone”.  HWA did a much better job of this than anyone else I’m aware of in the 20th century.

I would also like to point out what Thiel says about how, unlike Martin Luther, John Calvin and various popes, “Herbert Armstrong was not involved in getting people killed–the true church does not do that”.

Danger of Forgetting

There is a new generation arising.  While we should not do as some have done by idolizing a man, we should not forget our legacy either.  Remember what happened when a Pharaoh arose that did not know Joseph.  Remember what happened when a generation of Israelites arose that did not know Joshua.  Obviously, Joseph and Joshua were not perfect.  However, they were used mightily by God.

And, the websites that are critical of HWA and the WCG under HWA seem to not only be on the increase, but they seem to be stooping to new measures.  While there are those that repeat the fables that he liberally stole his theology from others, one went as far as to compare the WCG to the Church of Satan and even hinted that he had HIV.

Why bring all this up?  I feel that Satan is revving up for his next attack against the Church.  It could well be our young people that get used as pawns in his attack.

2 very contrasting articles have come across my computer screen within the last week.  In between the discussion of these articles, I want to state some things from my own experience.

Stephen Flurry’s Experience

The first one was written by Stephen Flurry.  Now, you might be thinking about how biased he would be and how he would have good reason to be biased, but I’m willing to hear him out.  I don’t think it is healthy to automatically suspect that he would portray his experience as anything other than it was.

He almost surely is reacting to some of the Internet articles out there.  I’m not sure which of the many Internet articles he is reacting to in his piece “Growing Up in the Worldwide Church of God”, but there are quite a few to choose from.  Flurry wrote about his excitement in participating in YOU basketball and softball games, even though they had to move at various times.  He spoke about track meets and talent shows.  He wrote about his participation in youth camps.

He didn’t dodge the issue of extracurricular activities at school, either.

My parents also encouraged my sister and me to participate in extracurricular activities at school. They always taught us to look upon our weekly Sabbath observance not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity. So what if I couldn’t play basketball games on Friday nights or with the concert band on Saturdays—I could do those things on Tuesdays or Thursdays!

He also wrote of his interest in learning more about HWA’s teachings, following his parents’ examples, and how that prepared him for Ambassador College.

My Experience Was Different

Let me just take this opportunity to remind you of my own story.  I did not attend YOU.  I did not attend youth camps.  My father was an alcoholic, and he did not set a very good example.  I believe all of these things led to a growing spiritual crisis that led me away from the Church for quite some time.

So, I was different when I grew up.  I did not celebrate birthdays.  I was different because I did not celebrate Christmas or Easter.  I often found myself in a study hall while others were gathered for some type of “winter assembly”.  Yet, that is what Paul talks about being a “peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Tit 2:14).  Peter also reminds us that we are “a holy nation, a peculiar people” (1Pe 2:9).  A Christian is called to be different, which is the only way to “be not conformed to this world” (Ro 12:2).

Now, I could be childish and blame the Church.  I could even, perhaps legitimately, blame a lot of my subsequent problems on my father.  However, at some point, I had to grow up.  I had to decide to take responsibility for my own life.

Even in the worst of it, I didn’t really blame the Church.  I did question if God existed, or if He did whether or not He cared.  However, I knew that many in the Church were simply doing the best they could to follow what the Bible really said.

The world talks a lot about individuality and being your own person, but then punishes you for being a nonconformist.  In fact, being “different” is not only what a Christian is all about, but it made me a much stronger person.  It gave me the freedom to search things out without reservation, do things that others have only dreamed of and to explore the best and the worst of my innermost being.  The world only talks about being an “individual”.  To be a full follower of Christ, you have no choice.

All in all, I am forced to ask the same question that Flurry asks:

…To this day, when I hear people parroting Tkachism propaganda about how horrible it was to be a member of the Worldwide Church of God, I have to wonder: Are they referring to the same church I grew up in?

It’s Time To Grow Up

Perhaps the article he was reacting to was “Best of ISA: On Being a Child in the WCG”, but I doubt it because of the dates.  It is quite the rant, actually, from a person who obviously never grew up and never accepted responsibility for their life.  Coming from a pretty seedy background myself, I can readily see and relate to:

  1. Resentment over being “different”.  Instead of making it a strength, they view it as a weakness.
  2. Resentment over hypocritical attitudes in the Church.  While this is somewhat normal, it really is put into perspective when you realize that all men are hypocrites (cf. Ps 116:11).  You know the old saying that if the Church if full of hypocrites, then you might as well join because one more won’t make it worse.
  3. Blaming parental attitudes upon the Church.

It took me a long time to overcome some of these attitudes, and there are some things that can still be hard.

I don’t want to sugar-coat that some ministers and some attitudes within the WCG were wrong.  It took me about 28 years, give or take, to really understand the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Yet, the article doesn’t stop there.  I remember someone once saying that there would come a time when people would accuse you of abusing your child by trying to raise them God’s way.  The article goes on to say:

But there are many splinters out there who still are trying to raise children in them, and it is to them that I addres these next paragraphs.

If you are trying to raise a child under armstrongism, you are a child abuser. You are a child abuser as surely as if you had taken Armstrong’s example and raped your daughter, you are a child abuser as surely as if you had fed them beer and burned them with cigarettes. YOU ARE ABUSING YOUR CHILD. I don’t want to hear any [manure] about how your child is happy, or that you are doing what you think is best for your child. I don’t want to hear it and you’d best not try to tell me it, because you are wrong wrong wrong. All you have to do is look in your child’s eyes and you will know that you are a child abuser.

In our present society of self-proclaimed “victims”, this shouldn’t be all that shocking.  It seems pretty clear to me that this was written by someone who truly has not been abused, does not understand being abused and probably has not even watched other family members being abused physically and emotionally.  Speaking as someone who has seen these things, it is obvious that this person has allowed Satan to distort their views beyond reality.

Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists have made the comment that raising a child in a religious environment is child abuse.  Of course, the Roman Catholics are a particular target in their sites, but let’s not deceive ourselves by thinking that they are their only targets.

I was once told years in advance that Germany would be quickly reunited once the process began.  Once the process really did start, even experts were talking about how many years the reunification would take.  Germany was determined.  It took 18 months.

I was also once told that enemies of the Church would, among other things, accuse brethren of child abuse even when there was none.  It is now evident that this was no fantasy either.  It is a very real danger that Satan could target our young, even as the Amalekites attacked the weak, elderly and very young when Israel was travelling the wilderness (Dt 25:17-19).  After all, he has no qualms about who he destroys to try to thwart God’s plan.

What To Do?

You know, this all brings up an interesting point.  Many COG organizations teach that you will go into a place of safety if you are in their group.  They will preach that you must be a “Philadelphian” in order to be protected during the Great Tribulation.  So, they fill their church services with people that are there to save their own hides.

Is this the proper response to the Gospel message?

I have a better idea.  Why not pray for the elderly, the sick, the young and the disabled that they go into the Place of Safety when things get really rough?  Why not pray that they not fall victim to the modern day Amalekites?


  1. Interestn post. Hope you don't mind I linked to it.

  2. John D Carmack

    I do not mind. In fact, I should be putting your blog on as a resource in the footer — unless you object, of course.

  3. John D Carmack

    I had to fix a couple of typos. This was a pretty emotional article for me, so I apologize if I didn't proofread as well as I should have.