For those who were a part of the historic Worldwide Church of God, this man was a polarizing figure. There were some that loved him and some that hated him. For me, I admired him for standing up for historic Christian faith but at the same time disagreed with him on other things. I met him personally during his visit to Toronto, Ontario, Canada at The People’s Church back in 1999. He was very cordial and was nice enough to autograph his book Christianity In Crisis in which he bestowed God’s blessing for me. Hank Hanegraaff, President of the Christian Research Institute (an Christian apologetics ministry that focuses on cults and aberrant groups) since 1989 upon the death of it’s founder Walter Martin has reportedly became Eastern Orthodox . The staunch Reformed Calvinist blog Pulpit and Pen was not happy about the reports and treated this as if Hank left the “biblical faith”. One person who became Eastern Orthodox welcomed Hank with open arms. What’s my take? I say way to go! As we get older in age, we see the things very differently when we were young and we also understand things in a whole new light. Frankly, I have liked a lot of Eastern Orthodox doctrines regarding Ancestral Sin vs. Original Sin, their view on atonement (Christus Victor) vs. Penal Substitution and even if one can no longer be honestly annhilationist, their view of hell (sorry Dennis, I’m not taking the next step and becoming an absolute universalist) . Also, unlike what most in Evangelical Protestantism does is relegate the majority of the human race to hell and one a tiny select few is saved; whereas Eastern Orthodox does provide a righteous provision for those who have appeared not hear the gospel. Interesting that the Tkach family were Eastern Orthodox to begin with. Joseph W. Tkach Sr.’s father was Orthodox, believed in The Trinity but kept the peace and remained quiet about his belief. When Joe Sr. became Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God, discovered that the God Family doctrine was theologically bankrupt and had to replace it with something a lot more in line with scripture (he remembered his dad’s belief in the Godhead): One God, Three Hypostases (used the Greek word as opposed to person at first when changing the doctrine back in 1993). This led the Worldwide Church of God into being on orthodox (small o) Christian denomination. The rest they say is history. There was another cult (unrelated to Worldwide), The Holy Order of Man and they joined Eastern Orthodoxy. It seems the EO’s have a track record of bringing aberrant groups into “o”rthodoxy. May the track record continue. Hank’s conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy will bring a lot of his radio followers from The Bible Answer Man show to take a look for themselves. Good for them! This is only another testimony that American Evangelical Christianity as we know it is in crisis. To say otherwise is to be in denial. For Evangelicals to refuse to recognize this crisis, they do so at their peril.
Meet Rachel from Houston (Texas). The best day of her life is when she left a religious doomsday because it was a religious doomsday cult. She has found life after the Worldwide Church of God and more abundantly—with laughs. Here is one of her stand up routines discussing her life in “the religious doomsday cult”. May she go very far!
To all of those who work with youth and teenagers:
When your version of Christianity devolves into nothing more than prohibitions against rated R movies, secular music, and teenage dating, you really may want to reexamine the Gospel that you are preaching. When I was a teenager and attended various youth camps and youth conferences, it truly seemed as though the speakers only aim was to get teenagers to break up with their boyfriends and girlfriends, and to stop masturbating and looking at pornography. Those were the only things that really seemed to matter, as, apparently, those are things which God detests more than any other (sarcasm intended).
However, I watched such messages destroy lives all around me. Perhaps a middle aged man pretending to understand youth culture has forgotten, but puberty and the teenage years are not very kind to a person’s body. There are thoughts, feelings and emotions coursing through young people’s souls that are beyond their control, which they are far more frustrated with than any disgruntled youth pastor is. They are doing everything in their power in order to live a “life pleasing to God”, but must every week face a person who’s only goal seems to be to make them weep their way to the altar so that he can later brag about the “awesome presence of God” in the youth service that night.
I’ve been there, and I’ve done that myself, and trust me, it does not do anyone any good!
Our youth don’t need to be beat over the head with all of the things that they are doing wrong. They do not need 10,000 messages on how secular music is evil, and how lustful thoughts will send them to hell. They need a Gospel that assures them of their Father’s love, even in the midst of the internal chaos they are experiencing. The emotionally fragile creature that is the teenager does not need to be manipulated through fear and spiritual bullying tactics, they need to know and to experience the embrace of the Godhead! They do not need to be weekly berated for not being world changers, they need to be rooted and grounded in their identity as sons and daughters of God!
Enough with all of the pseudo radical youth services and messages! Away with every message that places burdens on an already over burdened generation! The “Rah Rah Rah – Change the world” culture has run its course, and the world is still not changed! We’ve condemned kids into action, only to lose them in their college years for far too long. It’s time to raise a generation to know the burning love, and unconditional acceptance of a God who is not counting their sins against them!
-A post of mine from 2013
NOTE: Isn’t this all too familiar with all of us who grew up in the historic Worldwide Church of God???
The basic problem with the way Armstrongism works on the human mind is that it conditions people to consider all possible outcomes to variable situations, and then to focus in on the worst or most negative scenario as being the probable outcome. Under such thought patterns, even the blessings for living a Christian lifestyle can’t be enjoyed in this lifetime as an example to others, you have to wait for the next life to enjoy them. Also, don’t even expect loving encouragement if you go in to counsel with your minister, expect a serious ration of crap, instead. And especially expect the worst if you need to interface with someone from “the world”!
When they are writing articles for their recruitment magazines, this negativity is just so ingrained, that they can’t suppress it! That is what flows outward as the takeaway. Who in their right mind would want such negativity in their homes, and in their minds? The people who don’t renew are most likely the positive thinkers who realize that mankind is capable of high level problem solving.
One of the aspects which makes churches grow today is a positive message, a message that people can influence the surrounding community or culture towards good. The example of Lot is cited, in which God promised to spare the majority for the sake of a small number of righteous, or where Israel and Judah had punishment postponed multiple times when God saw even encouraging signs of partial obedience. You just don’t walk into an ACOG sabbath service and hear a message about winning the community for Jesus Christ. Instead, the messages are about how minorities are going to start race wars for no reason, or how the homosexuals are going to convert everyone to their “lifestyle”, and then outraged and morally superior Germans are going to need to come over here and mop everything up for God. Droughts, floods, new diseases, and demon activity. They have all manner of toys or tools to use on the unsuspecting. People just do not respond positively to such negative coercion. Nobody wants to live in circumstances of entrapment. That is not what makes the human spirit thrive!
—Byker Bob on the Banned by HWA blog, rightfully critiquing Armstrongist Churches of God splinters for their negaholic addiction.
The false gospel of, what shall we call it, how about ‘groupie salvation’, is so pervasive. Not that people say or even consciously think it, but they act it. “I’m good with God because I belong to such and such a church.” “I believe because my friends are believers.” “My buddies aren’t any more serious than me about their faith, so I’m ok.” “I’m more righteous than all those Christians because I left the church.” “I’m Messianic, therefore I’ve arrived.” NOT! You’ve gotta believe God and follow Yeshua for yourself!
—a very smart comment, from a very smart person on a blog somewhere! LOL!!!
A man who is an evangelical Christian interested in apologetics goes to a Jehovah’s Witness convention and attempts to ask individual members, “Do you imitate Jesus?” The reason is that is theme at that convention. Notice how most ignore this man for asking a very simple, yet non-threatening question. Hopefully, in hindsight those Jehovah’s Witnesses who remember this man and decide one day to leave this religious doomsday cult. It will be the best part of their lives, for leaving a religious doomsday cult. 🙂