Another Blast from the Past: The historic WCG and The STP!

(This post supercedes the March 1st,2008 post that I have written about which now deleted. no longer has the link to the site but the Painful Truth website as of May 2011 does)

Yes–that STP  (Systematic Theology Project) which was nicknamed disparagingly for Slowly Turning Protestant by the ultra conservative wing in the historic WCG back in the 1970′s when the accusation was made that the Worldwide Church of God was becoming “too liberal”. HWA didn’t care for it either claiming to have read only the first few pages of it. He told fellow ministers at that time who had copies of the document to simply disregard it. This is a over a 400 page document and from just glancing it seems like a reiteration of the beliefs of the historic  WCG at that time back in 1978. I think HWA  didn’t care for it because it seemed he didn’t want his members to be a step above the game, meaning that to have all church doctrines codified in a document was not in his favour, it could point out contradictions and errors if necessary. In his perverse way, he wanted them confused and disoriented because this empowered him to make up the rules as he went along which ever the wind blew for him. Think of Janet Jackson’s 1986 tune “Control”. So to spite and frustrate the efforts of those who put together the STP, he made darn sure to put an end to it so he can confuse ministers and members for at least a few more years (thankfully not too many years).

My good old friend Mr.Douglas Becker had some stuff to say (as he always does) after his look at the 400 page long document:

“After scanning it, I found nothing which would set off any alarms of any of the true believers of the 1970s within the Worldwide Church of God — everything was entirely in line with every word out of the mouth of Herbert Armstrong.

It isn’t clear to any of us why Herbert Armstrong was so adamant against it: It was called liberal and heretical. None of that is at all true.

Control seems to be the best assessment.

Herbert Armstrong’s ultimate lifetime achievement goal was to be royalty. This is clearly seen in his later years where he managed to run through as much as $4 billion to get his fix to be with royalty, from the King of Norway to despots like Ferdinand Marcos. He spent enormous amounts of money to be seen with royals and to be perceived as an equal. He apparently had the seeds of this back in the 1920s when he wanted $10 white shirts as a status symbol amongst the then captains of corporate industry.

The idea that Herbert Armstrong wanted to be royalty certainly is one of the simplest explanations of what we have seen in the church corporate of the WCG. He had an aversion to manual labor as he mentioned in his autobiography because he was ashamed to be seen stacking firewood: It was so beneath him. And later, when he had access, the rest of us were beneath him as commoners. As has been observed elsewhere, he never lingered with the hoi polloi but surrounded himself with people of status and high falootin’ titles. He also had, as an act of faith no doubt, surrounded himself with bodyguards with real guns as he swept into the auditorium in his limo to be given a standing ovation by “the brethren”, his spiritually orphaned children.

I suppose the STP would have mitigated much of that: Instead of being spoon fed, people could get the whole picture of the belief system, check it out against Scripture and go out on their own without needing a cult leader who never got much beyond two trees and never had the courage to declare Jesus Christ and the word of repentance to those of royalty with whom he wanted to be considered equal.”

As usual, well said Douglas. You can now download the STP document on The Painful Truth here. It may take a minute to download, so you might want to be patient in the process.


5 thoughts on “Another Blast from the Past: The historic WCG and The STP!

  1. He also had, as an act of faith no doubt, surrounded himself with bodyguards with real guns as he swept into the auditorium in his limo to be given a standing ovation by “the brethren”, his spiritually orphaned children.

    Whoa! I never knew he ever went that far! What the hell did the sanctimonious bastard have to fear from loyal followers anyway? They loved him, feared him, practically worshipped him as a third person in the Godhead!

    I learn to hate this man more and more all the time. That I ever idolized him is bewildering to me now.

    1. This is one of the reasons why I hate totalitarian governments everywhere with a passion! May I get a chance to send some tyrants where devil and his demons are destined! HWA would have loved to please Charman Mao in more ways than one, if you know what i mean.

  2. I remember when Ron Lohr, the new pastor of the Tampa Florida WCG congregation came to town. It was the day after my wife and I were married by former Tampa Pastor, Roger Foster on June 11, 1977 who transferred out that same day. Lucky for him.

    One of the many leadership meetings Ron held, this particular one at the club house of the apartment complex where he rented an apartment near Busch Garden in Tampa, concerned the introduction of the Systematic Theology Project (STP) I was there in the second row of folding chairs among about 14 other men when he passed it around for any who cared to look it over. His attitude at the moment was clear. With unspoken words, his demeanor and body language carried a message, he was at least leary or at best trying to warn us of more to come without getting fired. During the 70’s the moral condition of Ambassador College in Pasadena was deteriorating to the point that most of the young people that went there from my home town church of Akron, Ohio during that time period just left the church and never came back.

    A lady friend I had known for many years in Akron went there in 1971 or 72 and wrote to me continually of the immoral behavior within the student body that was being tolerated. She actually warned me not to go there if I planned to. I wisely had other plans for college because I already knew that an Ambassador College education was a dead end, and that I could learn theology on my own. She is now a lead headquarters minister’s wife in the UCG. Many of those who left the WCG settled in the LA area. The Akron church was one of the largest in the US with over 600 in attendance, consequently there were many young high school grads that were accepted to the two AC campuses. Sadly to have their lives torn apart. The ones who came back to the local areas had no marketable skills holding a degree that was worthless in the world of business so most became laborers “window washers” and sales people. Most, not all, struggled financially and many ended up being a burden on the local congregations they returned to. Very few ever went to work for the church as most dreamed of.

    At that time Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA) was about to get the final boot by his dad for his conduct with the ladies, other that his own wife, and there was a lot of unrest in the church in general over the direction of the work. Dave Antion was the head of ministerial services at the and was trying to manage a mass-exodus of top ministry and head quarters employees. Many were resigning over the Divorce and Remarriage doctrine of the church and the corruption in many areas of “the work.” Al Carozzo, DA’s assistant has written a lot about what was going on behind the scenes. Herbert W. was ignoring the issues and DA was unable to get his attention. GTA had no sway with his dad and was no help either.

    The atmosphere in the church in the U.S. was one of doubt and suspicion. The grape vine in the church was an informational back channel that the church members began to rely on knowing what was coming out of Pasadena as “official” was unreliable, was in fact propaganda to keep the membership calm and keep the tithes and offerings flowing into Herbert’s coffers.

    When the STP was passed to me during that meeting I just passed it along without as much opening it. Ron Lohr saw that and looked down when we made eye contact. It was not as much what was written there in the pages contained in that white three ring binder, but what was not written there. I have always been inclined to read between the lines and take note of what is not said as a better indicator of what the truth really is, and this approach has always served me well.

    Eighteen years later, in 1995, what I had suspected as being the underlying, while unwritten, agenda of the STP came to pass, and many of the same players where there to implement the new theological direction in the Post Herbert WCG.

    In the interim, Ron left the ministry and the WCG in the 80’s and made a complete change in his belief system, though I have had no direct contact, just second hand information except for a couple emails in the early 90’s. I left the WCG in 1993 over the same issues that the STP had portended so many years before.

    The irony, I now know and believe that the Systematic Theology Project may have actually led to many doctrinal changes in the WCG after 1995 that were correct, they just went from one ditch to the other without touching down on the path to the Kingdom.

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