Monday, March 8, 2010

True Christian Ministries: Another Armstrongite Offshoot

Another website I encountered in my early days with Armstrongism, True Christian Ministries.

It seems to be a one man show, led by one Joseph Santora.

It appears he had a negative reaction towards HWA at first but later came around to his line of thinking.
The first time I saw H.W. Armstrong on the "World Tomorrow" broadcast I laughed so hard at the things he said I almost fell off the sofa. I remember how ludicrous I thought everything he said was. If he's right, I thought, everything I was ever taught about Christianity is wrong.

Now, 16 years later, with the equivalent self-study to have probably earned doctorate degrees in Theology, History, Linguistics and the Migrations of Ancient Peoples - I realize - everything I was taught is wrong...

The Gospel Jesus preached during his Ministry has been syncretized to the core with pagan doctrines, and man-made traditions.
He claims that he predicted that there would be great changes upon HWA's death and that the Tkach changes fulfilled his inkling of dread.
It was a little more then a year later that the first signs of the changes that have since wreaked havoc on the W.W. Church became manifest.

A close friend and member of the WWCOG brought me a copy of the March 23, 1987 edition of the "World Wide News" - the Church's internal news journal which is distributed to members of the congregation for the purpose of keeping them informed of church activities.

Something she read in the lead article had surprised her - [This is the article which announced WCG's change concerning healing. Before this WCG had this horrific teaching which said one can only go to God to be healed of sickness. It seems to have been plagiarized by HWA from the Jehovah's Witnesses.]

She brought it to me, because she remembered something I had told her just days after Mr. Armstrong's death.

At that time I told her - "Within ten years this Church as it exists today will crumble to the ground, it will not hold to the ideals and truths that Mr. Armstrong had restored."

"How can you say that, this is God's True Church", she said at the time.

"After all", she argued, "Mr. Armstrong had hand picked Mr. Tkach as his successor -
And certainly after his 53 years of Church leadership, had established a precedent in which the Church would undoubtedly continue."
He then states how many teachings were rapidly changed within WCG.
In 1992 the Church published a booklet entitled - "God Is..." It was after reading this booklet that it became clear, the Church had indeed strayed far from the doctrine that had been.
The publication of this booklet has also been cited by Meredith as an important event that helped convince him that WCG had gone too far.
The brethren were baffled. Yet, few spoke out. According to several Church members, those who did were admonished or even expelled from their congregations.

Many became disheartened, and left of their own accord.

Others, though disillusioned remained, many hoping that some how the Church would turn back to the simple Truths once held by the entire Church membership, in the peace, joy and unity that is Christ.

But it was not to be -
He captures the sense of bewilderment that many WCG members experienced during these times.

He also states that during these changes WCG acted in a confusing manner. Sometimes it seemed like they had changed, other times they seemed to try to portray themselves as a continuation of WCG under HWA.

For years they had tip-toed around this - Criticizing the message while being careful not to be critical of the Messenger - who was still held in high regard by most of the Church.
I suppose, by now it no longer mattered - Tens of thousands had left the Church - The World Tomorrow was being broadcast on fewer and fewer stations. The Church's annual income had dropped to less than half of what it had been. Prime Church properties were being sold off one by one - Subscriptions to the Plain Truth had fallen off radically, there was even talk about charging people a subscription price for the magazine that Herbert Armstrong had so many times said proudly - "Was free for the asking".
In fact the Plain Truth was not free. It was paid for by the tithes WCG members were required to pay, tithes which many found to be a great financial burden. The Plain Truth was not free at all.

He then asserts that there is now a famine of the word, referring to Armstrongite 'truths'.
The World Wide Church's abandonment of their former beliefs and resulting Famine of the Word constitute the fulfillment of these End Time Prophecies - If not for the gallant effort of a few small off-shoot groups that are still struggling to re-establish themselves, God's Truth has all, but been silenced...

One need only to walk out of their house or try to shop in the stores around Christmas time to realize, there is no famine of the word that they're preaching. The World Wide Church of God proclaimed a different message than all others.
Actually there is no famine of COG preaching. I would argue that in some ways the transformation of WCG has actually encouraged greater distribution of Armstrongism. When WCG turned its back on its previous teachings many splinter groups emerged, all of them teaching some form of HWA's doctrines.

Indeed if WCG did not change its teachings, it might not have been possible for practically all of old WCG's writings to appear on the Internet. Today just about all of WCG's official writings, the Plain Truth, Good News, books, booklets, co-worker letters, and more are easily accessible on the Internet. I would argue there is no famine of the [Armstrongite] word.

He then ends by asserting that the Tkach changes fulfills the Great Falling Away and that this is a sign that Armageddon and Christ's return will soon occur.

In another page he speculates on what means the coming Beast dictator might be able to use when he (supposedly) will soon gain power.

It should be noted that in his portrayal of WCG under HWA contains many flaws and omissions which are all too common in standard, idealistic portrayals of old WCG.

There is no mention of WCG's dreadful practices like disfellowshipping, three tithes, divorce and remarriage, tragic failed healings, the observance of Monday Pentecost till 1974, turmoil within WCG under HWA's dictatorial rule, such as the departure of his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, and other mass defections, such as that of 1974. There is also no mention of his failed prophecies such as 1936, 1975, by 2005, etc. Also HWA's second wife, Ramona Martin, is also rendered invisible, there is no mention of her or the messy divorce which later occurred. I am always so amazed at how COG followers have seemed to just completely forgot about that.

So this is just another Armstrongite offshoot which I ran into early in my encounter with Armstrongism. Because it continues to spread the false doctrines of Armstrongism I cannot endorse it.

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