Best of the Letters From 2023

 

Fear Is the Greatest Factor that Keeps Members From Leaving:

January 1, 2023

Having only limited knowledge of the Bible as a teenager, I was intrigued when I first heard about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and that He would be ruling with His saints on Earth for a thousand years! So I wrote to Pasadena and read just about every booklet they published. It wasn’t long before I took the bait and was hooked.

I can attest to the fact that fear is definitely a factor—perhaps the greatest—that keeps members within these Armstrong cults from venturing out. This was especially true of those in WCG. Herbert Armstrong who was the master controller at the helm instilled that fear with the threat of the lake of fire if one “tastes the truth” and later walks away from it.

For all the years I remained in that cult, it was fear that kept me from stepping out or even raising any question to anyone inside the “church” or outside of it. We were warned that raising questions or having doubts was the first sign that Satan had a grip on us. We were constantly reminded that this was “God’s government,” and who are we to question those that were directly appointed by God? I remember the repetitious warnings of Gerald Waterhouse that we were to say, “Yes, sir!” to the boss no matter he said.

Sadly, this is how the WCG operated so successfully for decades. I dare to say that most of us suffered financially over the years, as we followed the dictates from above “seeking first the Kingdom of God” (i.e., the pocketbooks of those in charge). –Former WCG member

ESN is a Wonderful Resource:

January 31, 2023

I just read the article, “Why Did God Allow Me to Go In an Abusive Group?” It is definitely an encouragement for those of us who have become victims in the Worldwide Church of God over the years.

I really appreciate your time and effort to reach out to every one of us! I’m beginning to recognize that the Exit and Support Network™ is a wonderful resource and a beneficial tool for hundreds, if not thousands, of users. –Former member of WCG [name withheld]

HWA Sold Us an Empty Promise:

February 1, 2023

HWA was definitely a hard core salesman from the get go. The problem, though, was that he didn’t sell us a bag of used clothes, or used car, or a dilapidated house. Instead, he sold us an enormous empty promise that cost us many years of wasted time, energy, lives, and (most of all) hard earned money. –Ex WCG

Words of Classic Hymns Were Anathema to WCG/HWA Dogma:

February 6, 2023

I have picked up several key words and phrases from old hymns that are straight from the Bible, but are considered anathema to WCG/HWA dogma. Here are a few:

The fact that we can have a relationship with Jesus, that we can seek Him, and that He will respond.

The fact that Jesus loves us, cares for us, suffered and died for us.

The fact that we are lovingly under His grace.

HWA tried desperately to avoid the word “grace” in his writings and his preaching. Like other Biblical concepts, HWA criticized others outside of his organization for using terms like “saving grace” and “giving our hearts to Jesus.”

We all know the reason he asked his brother, Dwight, to compose a hymnal of his own. HWA admitted openly that he was afraid those of us whose backgrounds were from various Protestant denominations might be tempted to go back to “our old ways.”

Any mention of Jesus was only heard at the end of a prayer or in a sermon by the minister. I recall reading the booklet “The Real Jesus” that was promoted as much as “The Plain Truth About . . . [fill in the blank].”

Since my exit from the WCG after 25 years of membership, traditional Christian hymns have played a big part in my life. The real beauty of these classic hymns is the simplicity of the messages that are right out the pages of the Bible.

In all the years I was a part of that organization, we never once heard a single song from Handel’s Messiah, because HWA declared its connection with the celebration of Christmas and Easter.

Ironically, every word and phrase that Handel included in his composition are straight from the Bible. That in itself is a red flag that Armstrong had redefined, twisted, and distorted the writings of the prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles in the New Testament. –Former member of WCG

Comment: HWA scorned sacred church hymns and members were only to sing from the hymnal with songs predominantly written by Dwight Armstrong. Read the letters ESN posted in November 2005 regarding this matter.

Another Letter for “I Want to Sue the ESN”?

February 13, 2023

I read your page “I Want to Sue the ESN!” which was really good. But I remember years ago you telling me about a guy who emailed, threatening to sue because of one of your GTA articles. He had claimed that his name was Garner Ted–I think he said his last name was Armstrong–and we had no right using his name. It was really crazy. Do you still have that? It would be great to have that one be posted along with those other ones. –[name withheld]

Reply: Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have that correspondence anymore, but yes, it would have been a really good one to post as it was absolutely insane. He didn’t have a leg to stand on, though.

The Chosen is New Age:

February 15, 2023

[This is in regard to the links on Discernment & Research] I’ve seen snippets of The Chosen. It immediately seemed too “modern” on the scriptures–taking away from the original context, and making Jesus a feel-good character. If it’s leading people to Christ, it’s a false Christ–a buddy, and not a Savior. I picked up on that it was some of that “New Age” stuff right away. I’ve not bothered watching any of it. There will be lots of watering down of the Scriptures in these days, and there’s more to come. –W. G.

Comment: Dallas Jenkins, the creator, director, and co-writer of The Chosen, is a professing evangelical who has said that Christians and Mormons (LDS) “love the same Jesus,” which is not true as the Mormons have a false Christ. [Read article: “Why I Left The Mormon Church And Why It’s A Cult” and watch video: Four Major Differences | Mormons are NOT Christians (offsite links)] (Note: (To avoid any ads when watching this video download and use the Brave browser.) It was in 2012 when the Mormon Church began claiming that they were Christians.

Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay and Matthew Nelson do the music for “The Chosen.” Jars of Clay is a popular CCM Christian music band that has completely fallen away from God. This is only one of many objections.

Even though it is purported that “millions” are coming to Christ as a result of this TV series, others, after prayer and asking for discernment, have been convicted by the  Holy Spirit not to watch it, or to stop watching it. Some people who watched “The Chosen” have said they now are having difficulty not seeing Jonathan Roumie (a practicing Roman Catholic and becoming a Knights Templar) in their mind when they pray or when they try to study the Bible.

Since there is so much deception in the world today, especially in the churches, we need to always pray for discernment and test the spirits instead of going by our emotions. The Scriptures are what will reveal the true Jesus to us, the One who was very man and very God in the flesh.

Note: We now list more Articles and Videos on “The Chosen” TV series here on our Links.

Thankful God Gave Me Discernment About The Chosen:

February 25, 2023

I’m thankful God gave me discernment about “The Chosen.” I knew something wasn’t right the first time I watched some of it. It had a false spirit. I was convicted to not watch further. “The Chosen” is going to be used to usher in the Antichrist and the one world religion. So much deception and darkness in this world today. We must stay in the Word. –Former WCG member

Your Article About The Chosen Addresses Some Valid Points:

March 4, 2023

I just got through reading your article “What About the Chosen?” The article is not only very well written, but it clearly addresses some valid points about the series.

My interest has reached a peak to watch the entire YouTube video [The Chosen Exposen”] about the movie , now that I listened to the introductory comments by the man who raises the questions, “Did you know?…”

Since the video is very  long, it will take me some time to watch it. And I agree fully that we just don’t skip through it, but take time to absorb it.

Ever since last year when I heard a guest on a radio program about “The Chosen,” I became rather skeptical of the series. I’m sure that I will learn a lot about it as I take time to watch the YouTube video that you sent me to.

Again, thanks for sharing, and may the Holy Spirit continue to lead us and guide us through these last days of deception!

You have my prayers and support. –Former WCG member

People Who Are Convinced They Are Right:

March 7, 2023

There are some people who take the position that they are so right, and therefore, one who disagrees with them is wrong.

I’m convinced that many of the so-called “ministers” in the WCG took that position with anyone who had a different perspective than they did. They argued something like this: “Both of us cannot be right, and I know without any doubt that I am right! Therefore, you must be wrong!” [Note: This has been added to “Crazy Statements Made by WCG Ministers” #44)

Essentially, the Pharisees tried to argue that way many times with Jesus. For example, when He healed a man who was blind from birth on the Sabbath, they tried every way possible to prove the He had broken the law.

The hypocrisy on the part of the Pharisees became so obvious, and yet they refused to admit error. In their own minds, they thought themselves to be so knowledgeable of the Mosaic law, they reprimanded the blind man and accused Jesus that He was the sinner.

In much the same way, the Marxist Democrats in our day have a way of accusing conservatives of the very same things they themselves are doing. It happens all the time with people that are so convinced they are right. –Former WCG member

Focus on the Family is Now Marketing Novels, etc. About “The Chosen”:

March 7, 2023

Focus on the Family is now advertising (i.e., marketing) fiction novels about “The Chosen” by Jerry Jenkins [Left Behind co-author], a poster collection book, an eBook, and who knows what else they will come up with to market. –Former WCG member

Comment: See the transcript “Let’s Focus in on ‘Focus on the Family‘” which shows FOTF has been moving the Christian church in a New Age direction for years.

The Jesus Revolution Movie:

March 10, 2023

Jonathan Roumie plays Lonnie Frisbee, a hippie, in the movie “The Jesus Revolution.” Do you have anything that exposes this movie? –[name withheld]

Updated reply 3-15: See this video: “A Warning about the ‘Jesus Revolution’ Movie…” (Note: (To avoid any ads when watching this video download and use the Brave browser.) Also read the article: Jesus Revolution?

So Relieved to Have Found Your Site:

April 5, 2023

I have saved your website to my computer. I am so relieved to have found your site in order to make changes in the way I used to view my personal life. I became a member of Worldwide through my mother and sister who had joined the WCG back in the 60’s, I, too, feel that during that time I suffered from so called legal abuse from the WCG and ministers. I look forward to reading others’ experiences in Worldwide and or one of its sister churches [offshoots]. Again, thank you for your dedication to helping others find peace of mind. –L. (One Happy Survivor)

Keep Up Your Wonderful Work:

May 10, 2023

I would like to express my gratitude to you and your organization for exposing the cult. I didn’t know about them until my son told me that they are the Armstrong church from many years ago which my son attended. So when he reminded me that he had attended that cult many years ago I was shocked!!! After coming out of that cult, my son now serves the Lord Jesus Christ, as I do, with all his heart. Because of the bad experiences we have had with the churches we haven’t been to one for at least 15 years. In closing, keep up your wonderful work!!! –Regards, M. Z.

Watching “The Chosen Exposen” Was a Real Eye-Opener:

June 14, 2023

I finally found the time to listen to “The Chosen Exposen

in its entirety. I started about a month ago, but with my calendar completely open this afternoon, I took the time to devote a full 3-hour window without any interruptions.

Admittedly, it took almost four hours, because I paused frequently in order to take notes for future reference. I had suspected there was something to be wary of from the start, but it became more evident as I listened intently to what this man was revealing.

Moreover, it wasn’t just an attempt to discredit the creators of “The Chosen” with a long winded opinion by an anonymous source. Instead, what I found intriguing was the actual video footage directly from the two main players (Dallas Jenkins and Jonathan Roumie) neither of which spoke subtly about their affiliations with Mormonism and Catholicism.

In a sense, it was a real eye-opener to watch and listen to all of the players behind the scenes. But then again, I had wondered from the very beginning of the first season and the first few episodes if the authenticity of the Biblical characters—especially Jesus—was to be questioned.

Keep in mind that I’ve seen a handful of episodes here and there, so I cannot offer a credible film critique. But those episodes I watched raised an eyebrow or two. While the characters, the costumes, and the scenery seemed to play out quite well, it didn’t take long for me to question the authenticity of the characters and their roles.

Anyway, I am grateful to you for having provided the link to “The Chosen Exposen.” It has given me a firm grasp and a much better understanding.

By the way, I had mentioned my reservations of “The Chosen” to several people. While I don’t expect any repercussions from anyone, if I do get any questions, I will simply share the link you provided for me. –Former WCG member

Note: Also see ESN article: “What About the Chosen?

My Mom Believes Everything HWA wrote!

June 19, 2023

I am writing because my mom in her elderly years has become completely convinced that HWA was a prophet and believes everything he has written.

She convinced me to get his book Mystery Of The Ages. After reading some of it and sharing it with my husband, we realized this man was not who he said he was. I believe the Holy Spirit gave us a discernment and we ended up burning the book!

Now with that being said my mom is a believer but she is also a narcissist. I believe she can identify with HWA because he too was obviously narcissistic and so she thinks that everything he said was truth…sadly.

It is difficult for me to speak to my mom and unfortunately she thinks I just don’t have enough “understanding” and I don’t really know what I am reading when I disagree with what HWA says. My husband and I have used the Scriptures to refute many of his teachings and have seen how many of his teachings are taken from Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, etc. From the first time of getting that MOA book, something didn’t sit right with my spirit–and finally after studying it against the Bible, we realized it was evil!

I wish there was more I could do to show my mom the falseness of HWA’s doctrines, but she will not listen. I endure many conversations where I have to change the subject or tell her I just don’t agree and this is difficult for her because she wants me to believe like her and feels I am somehow “confused” and reading something wrong! Prayer is my best defense now and I have left it up to Yahweh.

Thank you for listening and if you have any suggestions as to how to deal with her, it would be most appreciated. Thank you for sharing your information and showing who and what this man was really all about. –[name withheld]

Comment: This person has received a personal reply.

UCG Article Tells How to Talk to Your Children About Frightening World Events:

June 24, 2023

I found an article in UCG’s magazine Beyond Today, “How to Talk With Your Children About Frightening World Events.” It was dated 9-8-22.

Here is what they say about how to help their kids not be afraid of scary events in the news:

“The most important information to relay to your kids is that Jesus Christ will return to establish the Kingdom of God and put an end to the trauma and suffering we’re seeing in the world today. Even young children can grasp that basic concept and be encouraged by it.”

I thought the Bible showed that the most important thing is how we can receive eternal life by believing and trusting in Jesus Christ? UCG does not relay that assurance to their children.

What else is this author leaving out? That the Bible speaks of cataclysmic events and chaos before Christ returns and before that “Kingdom of God” is established. But that isn’t brought out as it would not be encouragement but more fear for the children.

Why did the author not tell the truth? The main message in this article is “don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself.”

UCG doesn’t even reassure them about protection from the the Great Tribulation (which we know UCG talks about in their repulsive sermons which teach heretical doctrines). Could you please listen to their 2-11-23 sermon on the Place of Safety and add comments to your article on them. –A. R.

Comment by ESN: UCG sermons, when we know children are sitting in services listening with their parents, cover frightening things for a young child’s mind. We recently downloaded and listened to the 2-11-23 sermon by Dan Preston entitled “Where is the Place of Safety?” where he says such words as “not all will be protected and may have to endure the Tribulation; others will be martyred and die for the cause” but “once you’re dead nobody can hurt you” so “the grave may be one way God will keep us safe.” We have updated our UCG article with notes taken from this sermon under “Place of Safety.”

Been Following Christian Biblical Church of God:

July 2, 2023

I have been following CBCG for about 2 years now. I came across an article [Beware of Fred Coulter!] that tells me to beware of Fred as he is false and dangerous in his teachings. I have found fault in all Protestant churches, as well as Catholic, as well as 7th Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If Fred is wrong in his teachings then so are the Living Church of God, United Church of God, Restored Church of God and/or all the Churches of God. Goodness, where can I find a true church? –K.

Reply: I am very sorry to hear about your confusion. Unfortunately, there is much apostasy in the churches today. In addition, there are many deceptive and controlling churches/cultic groups in society that we must beware of, especially the ones that are following the false gospel of Herbert W. Armstrong. The Word of God warns us about false teachers and admonishes us to be discerning. See: “Where Is the True Church?

“You Should NOT Work FOR Money” / “Your Best Investment”:

July 8, 2023

I thought I recalled Garner Ted Armstrong writing the article, “You Should NOT Work FOR Money,” but come to find out it was Clint Zimmerman (died in 2012) who wrote it for the October 1966 Plain Truth.

This article contained gripping words such as, “God will see to it that the rising cost of living doesn’t leave you destitute. He will move you into a bigger, better and more challenging job.” And, “God wants you to have all of the really good things of life. He wants you to have money and the things which money buys!” [But what does he tell us we have to do in order to obtain these material things?] “But first, you must understand the importance of service — GIVING!” [That equaled giving money to WCG HQs.]

While searching for that first article from 1966, I discovered a 1977 booklet by GTA (published by the WCG), with the title, “Your Best Investment.” This booklet was far worse than what Zimmerman came up with and sounded exactly like HWA’s words pasted in, which probably were. I only skimmed it as it was the same nonsense. (And by the way, I did not see this booklet offered anywhere on the GTA site today.)

It covered such things as the “Giving Principle” where you “will receive back much more than you give”; “repenting of material idolatry”; “generosity is COMMANDED,” and “God has used many rich men in the service of His Word.” [Like who? HWA? See Herbert Armstrong: the Rich Apostle] He had an entire chapter devoted to “The Work of God” and the booklet was filled with manipulation and coercion from beginning to end (which both HWA and GTA were experts in). There was even a chapter on “Stealing from God” (withholding “God’s tithe”) and how it is a “very serious matter!” [I’m sure it is for those at HQs.]

The booklet was very telling in showing the thought reform methods of fear and guilt that these Armstrong cults use to cause someone to part with their money. For those who have been financially exploited by HWA, GTA, et al., they will find the words sickening. –A. R.

NOTE: Garner Ted Armstrong founded the Intercontinental Church of God and The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association in Tyler, TX. Also read: “GTA Knew About the Money Racket” (2012 letter to ESN) and the article: We Were Promised We Would Be Blessed by Tithing (We Put the Give Way to the Test).

Waste of Valuable Time to Continually Deride David Pack:

July 9, 2023

I’m glad for your exposure on David Pack and his RCG, especially with testimonials from former members. This is helping to warn others and keep them from joining this cult and having their lives ruined. But those former members that feel the need to continually deride Pack and what he is doing today, thinking they are “getting to him,” is a total waste of valuable time and energy. Since Pack is alleged to be a sociopath, he could care less what others write about him. Sociopaths have a total lack of empathy or recognizing what they have done wrong. They do not have attachments to others and treat them as objects. So it doesn’t affect them. Bitterness and attempts at revenge only hurts those who engage in it. –[name withheld]

Comment: Read: “Hanging on to Bitter, Angry Feelings” (10-30-2018 letter to ESN)

Became Disillusioned with David Pack:

July 23, 2023

I was in Pack’s cult for 11 1/2 years and left several years ago. I was just fine in it, believing it was the “true church” with a true apostle. Then his never ending prophetic gobbledygook started in 2015. I was fine with it until 2019 when he started predicting Jesus’ return. Pack’s spin was we could know the [exact] day. If he hadn’t gone off into wackyland, I’d probably still be there.

As he progressed in date setting, never apologizing or stopping permanently, I got more disillusioned. Until eventually I got so fed up in disgust I left. Many left before me and many have left after me.

There is a lot of negativity that permeates that cult. You are never good enough. They just devour people.

Now I’m free of the shackles on my mind and heart. Life is better than ever for me now. A great burden has lifted! The worst decision of my life was joining them. One of the best decisions was leaving them. –Former RCG member

Came From Three Generations of WCG:

August 1, 2023

I come from 3 generations of WWCG on both sides of my family. There are many things I would like to discuss but most people don’t want to talk about matters when it comes to the “church.” My father and mother met at Ambassador College in Pasadena. My mother aggressively turned down hard advances from Garner Ted Armstrong. Dan Rogers was our minister.

Thank you for your website. –Former WCG member [name withheld]

Found Your Site Extremely Helpful:

August 10, 2023

Hi!
I can’t believe I found this site after years of questioning my parents’ beliefs (ever since I was about 8). I grew up in the WWCG in [city withheld] and it turned into GCI. Anyway, I have found a lot of stuff on here extremely helpful. I am very much against the “church,” but I am a faithful Christian. Since I was a kid, I knew the “church” was wrong and it was the Word of God they were corrupting. I was sent to summer camps, have been dragged to hundreds of “weekends” in my parents’ effort to get me to be more enthusiastic, but I’m 20 now and in college. My parents are very understanding but I’ve tried to tell them how I feel about the “church” and how I’m a grown adult and I should be able to choose where I go to church (I found another church in my area I liked and they won’t budge on this). I want to leave so badly, but I also want to get baptized and commit to the Lord. I don’t want to get baptized in the “church” [GCI] because it feels wrong to me, but I still want to be able to commit myself to God. How do you think I should go about this? –Child survivor of WCG [name withheld]

Comment: This person has received a personal reply.

Jon Brisby Calls His Members Mentally Retarded:

August 14, 2023

Jon Brisby of Church of God, the Eternal, just produced a sermon titled “Love vs. Tolerance” in which he lectures his followers to love the church membership, not just tolerate them. At the 1:06:00 mark he calls his entire church “mentally retarded!” Unfortunately, people will keep sitting there and take his bullying, and force their children to endure his verbal abuse. –L. O.

Dangerous to Listen to Sermons by the Offshoots:

October 20, 2023

I never listened to HWA or any sermons by the offshoots except for critical examination. I think it would be dangerous to listen to any of them regularly, as it is easy to get wrapped up in what he and other offshoot leaders say. They are experts at planting “seeds” in the minds of their listeners and readers–that’s how they recruit their members. They’re subtle and shrewd. What they preach is garbage and spiritual confusion. –S. H.

Dad Leaving His Entire Estate to LCG:

December 11, 2023

I don’t know quite where to turn. For years my Dad has been talking about the the one true church but I just thought it was some sort of online church group where he could connect socially with like-minded people in spiritual way, especially during the lockdowns. But it’s been brought to my attention recently that he has left his entire estate to “the church” [Living Church of God] even though he had always intended to leave it (not at all a big estate) to his children. My dad is frail and vulnerable and truly believes the people who have been visiting him recently. They tell him he is chosen and a wise elder. He is totally on board with their teachings and cannot see anything other than that. But he’s my dad. and they are actively trying to keep him from me, I think. –B.

Comment: This person has received a personal reply.

When Was WCG Incorporated?

December 13, 2023

Hi,
I was in WCG and then UCG. I am trying to find out the date when WCG was incorporated. If you can let me know, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks. –J.

Reply: The Worldwide Church of God was incorporated in California in 1947.

WCG was first known as the Radio Church of God and was incorporated on March 3, 1946. It was renamed Worldwide Church of God in 1968.

 

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