Best of the Letters From 2019
I asked the Lord to Help Me Not to Be Deceived:
January 17, 2019
Hi, I just wanted to let you know that your site really helped me, hugely! I’ve been reading and listening to Tim Carpenter of “I Saw the Light Ministries.” I kept asking the Lord to help me not to be deceived and, today, I found your site. Phew! I have a bunch of reading to do, from your site, to get deprogrammed. I knew nothing about the Armstrong groups and I struggled with how he (Tim) was getting all this information that no one else seemed to have. I am thankful that your site is explaining the roots of the Armstrong beliefs. I’m wondering if he (Tim) just put his own spin on it when he created his own version of the Bible because he says all other versions are based on the Babylonian Hebrew while his is based on the original Greek Hebrew that Jesus spoke. My head has been in a whirl about what is truth and what isn’t anymore. Ugh!
I don’t even know if you have time to read this and answer but I could really use help right now to find my way back to the peace I used to have in Christ. –J. S.
Reply: I’m glad you found our site and that it helped you. Many of the offshoots usually say they have “the truth” and other churches are wrong. Christ warns us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Tim Carpenter claims to be an “Apostle” and a “Prophet” and his “I Saw the Light Ministries” holds to much of Herbert Armstrong dogma such as tithing and keeping the Law. He has given several false prophecies and is a false prophet, preaching a false gospel.
Christ is still there for you. He will never leave you. Just keep asking Him for discernment and to know more about His marvelous grace. It is only through Him that we can have lasting peace.
Frustrating Trying to Figure Out Which Church is Genuine:
January 30, 2019
Hi, I am glad I stumbled across your website. As a child I was in WCG until the age of 16 when I could make up my own mind and I left. But lately at 57 I am being pulled back to religion and God’s Word and laws. But do you know of a church I can go to that is not a cult or a false church as it is very frustrating trying to figure out which church is genuine. –Regards, M. C.
Reply: here is nothing wrong with being pulled back to God’s Word, but it is important to understand why we are not under the Mosaic Law today (see our Q&A under “Questions About the Law, Works or Salvation”) We need to be very discerning about which religious group we become involved with. Any church or ministry that attempts to control you emotionally, spiritually and financially, especially saying you must work for your salvation, or send lots of money to them in order to stay in God’s favor, are ones to stay away from.
February 24, 2019
One other important thing is that there was no input from members regarding the appointment of Greg Williams. Just the same old in-house cronyism. Tkach has also conveniently maintained a position on the advisory board with again no input from membership.
I recall the early days of the doctrinal changes and how many of the top brass rushed to get some sort of “shake and bake” PhD in theology. All done at the expense of the church so as to give the leadership more “street cred” among other theologians. As far as I can tell Greg Williams has no such credentials. –B. B.
Comment: Greg Williams went to AC in 1979; taught history and PE at Imperial Schools; in 1985 was hired as a full-time ministerial trainee, ordained in 1986; worked with Youth for Christ; received a MA from Liberty University, and a D. Min from Drew University in 2014. (Excerpts from GCI Update, 9-24-14 and About Us / Executive Leadership on GCI website).
I Was Raised in Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (founded by John Holdeman)
February 24, 2019
Hello, I was born and raised in what some consider a cultic group (left this group 13 years ago) known as the church of God in Christ, Mennonite, or Holdeman Mennonite Church, a little known Mennonite sect founded in 1859 by John Holdeman, who left the Old Mennonite Church.
I recently have given myself to the study of churches and started reading the Bible as I have never read it before and it seems that what I always considered to be a “critical spirit” from ex-members and their comments about the CGCM, may actually be true. So many things I have discovered about this church that while for years I had a niggling way back in my head, but was too fearful to “check it out,” have come to light!
But I have my father’s voice in my head telling me that because I have a television in my home, and certain other disobediences to the church, that I can’t be saved and also my grandmother’s voice who on her deathbed telling me if I didn’t go back to the church, that I would scream in hell someday.
Little by little, though, the chains are falling thanks be to God! They believe they are the one true visible church on earth and no salvation outside of it. Their way of life is what attracts people, it’s clean and separate from the world; however, a very high percentage of its members are people who have been born into it, In 160 years they only boast 25,000 members or so worldwide. I was just wondering if you could perhaps dive into the teachings of this group as well and I would love to know what you think of it. Thanks! –T. I.
Reply: Hi, in our article entitled, All or Nothing Statements (from those who have “the truth”) it lists: John Holdeman: Founder of Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (1832-1900): “Outside the true organized Church of God [CGCM] the whole truth has never been found and neither will ever be found outside of it.” That page has a link on it to: Comparing the One True Churches.
You will find many quotes from Holdeman on that site. Just do a search for the word Holdeman. There are also testimonies from ex-members of Holdeman’s church.
The group appears to have the characteristics of a Bible-based cult. Hope this is helpful.
My Heart Tells Me the Same:
(2nd email from person above)
February 25, 2019
Hi, yes I’ve read all that and I’ve even read some of his (Holdeman’s) writings and my heart tells me the same. I think I was just wanting someone’s unbiased and unadulterated opinion on them, so I appreciate that! Thanks for writing back –T. I.
Has Anyone Managed to Retrieve Funds from Restored Church of God?
February 26, 2019
I have just come across your website as I’m looking for help.
My dad recently passed away, but he became a member of the RCOG in 2017. He was depressed and lonely after 3 divorces, and moved in with me and started going to this group shortly afterwards.
It’s becoming apparent that his savings have all seemingly gone.
He did however grant Lasting Power of Attorney to me in 2015 before he joined RCG.
Do you have any experience of similar situations or of any solicitors that have managed to retrieve funds from RCOG in the past? I am in the UK.
Many thanks, –L.
Reply: I am sorry to hear about your father. Testimonies from former RCG members show that they have experienced loss, ruin and spiritual abuse from trusting this group. Unfortunately, I do not know of anyone who has been able to retrieve their funds once they send them to David Pack. RCG would simply say the person gave the money “willingly” even if it was actually coercion and deception.
March 10, 2019
Hi, thank you for your website. My boyfriend belongs currently to the LCG. It has only been in the last few years that he became involved with this. It all started after he began doing “research.”
My boyfriend is now completely obsessed with LCG, but not just that. He says he doesn’t believe “everything” LCG says and he does “his own research.” He always has an answer for everything and anything I say. He now believes he has been “grafted in” to Israel and says he’s a spiritual Jew or a Hebrew Israelite.
He has come upon Pastor Charles Dowell, Jr. of Straitway Truth Ministry and has been listening to him for some time now. I just finally got around to watching this man’s videos on my own and it’s like “WOW.” Everything my boyfriend has been spewing to me is coming directly from this man’s mouth! The ministry is on a compound in TN and my boyfriend has an invitation to go there for one of the feasts.
I want to know if you have any information on this place, advice for me, and just reaching out to anyone that can help me. I don’t want to lose him to all of this, but I’m starting to give up hope that I can get him out of this. He probably thinks I’m Satan. He actually thinks I will “come around,” but there is literally no chance of me ever believing any of this.
What can I do?!? Thank you for your time. –[name removed]
Comment: This person has received a personal reply.
Straitway Truth Ministry follows many of the teachings of Herbert Armstrong. There have been complaints against them. Any religious group that wants to control their members’ behavior, thoughts and information usually becomes financially exploitive.
Update; Read: “Straitway Truth Ministry Is a Dangerous Cult” (3-22-21 letter to ESN)
Your Website is Invaluable:
March 15, 2019
Greetings to all, I found your website today. An answer to prayer. I am currently in a written discussion with a man who is a member of the GCI (Grace Communion International). He is part of our creation study group in Greenville, SC. I am not a member of the GCI.
He has written a book entitled Why Believe It? His name is John Huffman. After chapter 5, something didn’t seem right. He is very smooth. Your site is invaluable. May the Lord bless your ministry. –South Carolina
Read Your Website With Keen Interest:
May 7, 2019
I just stumbled across your website a week ago, and I read with keen interest the articles, letters, etc. that you have shared with those of us who were once affiliated with the WCG cult. For one, my connection with this group began in 1970, when a co-worker in a local factory in my hometown of Chicago gave me a Plain Truth magazine. I was only 17 years old at the time.
I’m now 66 and recently retired, living in the area of Richmond, Virginia. The climax of my story was during the late 80s and early 90s, which involved a pastor by the name of John Ritenbaugh in Hammond, Indiana.
I intend on sharing with you the horrifying experience that I went through back then, and I’m not afraid to disclose my identity, if it can help a “wounded warrior” like myself.
Thank you for showing your courage in stepping up to the plate (or should I say, the microphone, even though it’s in writing)! –Former WCG member
Thank You for Exposing These “Churches”:
July 23, 2019
I just read some of the articles on your site and found them to be very encouraging. … I want to thank you whole heartedly for exposing these “churches” and their false doctrines so that people will be aware. If something just does not sit right, or if it blatantly contradicts Scripture, we need to listen to that voice within us and stay clear of those groups that promote errors and lies. Blessings to you all for your superb work. –Canada
August 19, 2019
I was raised in WCG in the 70’s and in later years was jumping between the splinters. I’m out of all of them now but I still get curious about what they’re saying. I’ve heard these ministers say that HWA was Elijah, Ezekiel, and everything else but one of these guys has topped them all. In his new book entitled A Peculiar Treasure by Jon W Brisby of Church of God, the Eternal [sold on Amazon] says that Armstrong was actually Jesus Christ that came in the flesh in the last days. I was not sure if you all were aware of this new book yet. I can’t tell what page in the ebook but it’s chapter 20, I believe, and I highlighted and snapshotted for you. –[name withheld]
NOTE from ESN: Following are the words from the Jon W. Brisby’s book which this person sent to us (bolding is ours):
“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:2-3) [emphasis mine].”
“The Apostle John was not saying that the proof was in agreeing that Christ had come to this earth almost 2,000 years ago. The test is admitting that ‘Christ is come in the flesh.’ The term is definitely present tense in the Greek, not past tense. It is an admonition for the last-day church–upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Corinthians 10:11)–that we accept that Christ did manifest Himself by the divine inspiration of a chosen human servant in these last days, and that His revelation was true from the beginning of that work. All those now claiming we had to change doctrine forty years later to correct errors made by Mr. Armstrong are only admitting that they think it was a man’s work all along, and not God’s work after all. Whether they know it or not, they are actually saying that they do not believe Jesus Christ is come in this last time, having put His doctrine in the Church! And that is calling him a liar.” [Excerpts from chapter 20 of A Peculiar Treasure by Jon W. Brisby]
Comment from ESN: John is meeting head on the early heresy of Gnosticism, one of the branches of which said that Christ came upon Jesus at His baptism and left Him at Calvary.” (By J. Vernon McGee, notes from I John 4:2) To correlate these scriptures with Herbert Armstrong (as Jon Brisby does in his book) is blasphemy!
Jon Brisby is Off the Deep End:
(2nd email from person above)
August 19, 2019
I could not believe what Brisby said. He is off the deep end for sure. I’ve met him several times but he definitely has gone crazy with such a statement. I’m glad you are posting my letter. –[name withheld]
Brisby Saying That Herbert Armstrong Was a Manifestation of Jesus is Lunacy:
August 21, 2019
To say that somehow Herbert Armstrong was a manifestation of Jesus runs along the same rails of lunacy that followers of such people as Charles Manson believed.
It also reminds me of the teaching many years ago explaining why Jesus did not return in 1975 as predicted. The idea was that because Armstrong figured out the time God was forced to change it. That way the teaching that no one knows the day nor the hour would be preserved. Jesus did not know, neither did the angels in heaven, but Herbert bested them all and nailed it. (Ha ha.) –B. B.
God Led Me Out of the WCG:
August 22, 2019
I would like to receive the ESN email list you referred to on your website. …
God led me out of the WCG and with the help of several Christian ministries I was soon hooked up with a solid Bible believing church where I eventually received the Lord Jesus as my Savior.
Thank you for your concern for these people and the work you are doing to reach out to them with support. I had an extremely difficult time trying to come to grips with the collapse of my worldview and I don’t think I could have made it if the Lord were not with me to lead me to others who could help me through. Thanks again. –[name withheld]
Have Questions About Sunday Worship:
September 12, 2019
There is so much confusion on the Saturday and Sunday. I have read your article on the Sabbath, which was very helpful. As I have studied a lot on this topic, I still have many questions:
Could you explain Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
Does this refer to Sunday worship?
Thank you. –J. Z.
Reply: The N. T. does not talk about Sunday worship. These verses in context show that Jesus was saying the Pharisees and Scribes were adhering to the traditions of men such as ceremonial cleansing. They were hypocrites and their worship was empty since the rules of men were being substituted for the Word of God. (Start reading from the first verse in Matthew 15 and Mark 7 to understand it in context.) Also see: H. A. Ironside’s notes on selected books.
September 18, 2019
I am trying to find out what material you have refuting the British-Israel legend of King Zedekiah’s daughters migrating to Ireland. –J.
Reply: The following is from Kelly Marshall, author of: Where Are the Tribes of Israel Located? (A Critique of Herman Hoeh’s Article)
Here is a link to List of legendary kings of Britain explaining the origins of the Tea Tephi legend and that it’s been debunked. (You’ll need to scroll down to the Subtitle “Tea Tephi”). Notice how it mentions that Herman Hoeh and Herbert Armstrong gave the legend its modern legs. You’ll readily recognize the book titles from which they plagiarized their material.
Every article I searched and found that promoted this belief was easily identified as an ex-WCG affiliate (through easily identifiable loaded language), or a White Supremacist website promoting the same ideology (which leads me to believe that they probably read HWA’s literature or adopted the beliefs of the British-Israelite society.) While reading some of these articles, I did notice the careful omission of corroborating timelines/dates, so plenty of supposition but no verifying evidence.
Just Stumbled Across Your Site:
September 27, 2019
I hope this email gets to your group. I recently stumbled upon your website. Briefly, my parents were a part of the Worldwide Church of God up until the schism in the mid 90’s, while I was only a small child. We lived in rural New Mexico at the time, and as the commute to the WCG was already several hours one way, my parents opted to raise my brother and I with many of the “biblical” teachings of Armstrong. I have only recently discovered the scope to which Worldwide has erred and that has left me asking many questions. I was wondering if there was someone in your group that I may get into contact with that has experience in these matters.
Comment: This person has received a personal reply and was put in touch with others.
Wife Chooses Restored Church of God over Husband:
October 3, 2019
My wife of 28 years told me 6 months ago that she was going to another church. We have for most of our marriage attended a non denomination church. Just a Bible believing and Bible taught church. We believe in the Trinity [Godhead] and hell. I didn’t think too much of it and just assumed she was unhappy with our church. I had no idea what was coming 6 months later. Everything I have read on this website is starting to happen. She will not listen to grace as found in the New Covenant. She insists on going back to the old Covenant with all its demands and is planning on attending the Feast this month. Our bank account has taken a hit and this “common tithe” hasn’t even started. I miss worshiping with my wife and she has already told not to make her choose between God and me. She will be choosing RCG, not God. I stay sick at my stomach with worry and now her mom is supposed to come here and stay who believes the same way as my wife. I know God hates divorce but the thought of this false doctrine being in my home is more than I can bear. –Desperate
Comment: This man has received a personal reply.
Dave Pack is a Fraud and False Prophet:
October 4, 2019
I fear more people will be falling prey to the splinter groups. Dave Pack has people convinced that he has “new understanding” based on a couple of obscure verses. He had them all worked up that Christ was returning on Feast of Trumpets (now passed), or next year at the latest. Of course, he’ll have an excuse then, when it doesn’t come to pass, but don’t call him a false prophet! Anyone that declares something will be done by God, with authority, is putting himself up as a prophet. Pack has done this numerous times! He is a fraud, pure and simple. He is living a life of luxury and power at the expense of the poor members. Not a single thing he has predicted has happened! –Impacted by RCG
November 7, 2019
I just want to thank you for your website. It was a plethora of information for me. I spent 30 years in WCG from birth until age 30. I’m a graduate of Ambassador College as well. My family left WCG in the late 90’s after our church struggled going through the changes. I was frankly sick of hearing how it was “our fault that WCG had found itself in error.” Of course, HWA had “errors” in his doctrine, but “the membership was culpable for believing and obeying it and not doing the work and study they should have been.” This idea was propagated by using the mind techniques that put us in the blame. HWA’s “errors” became our errors as if we were responsible for coming up with the heretical doctrine. HWA was kept in a good light and the explanations were that he just had made mistakes or errors. Never was it said that he was a false teacher or had heretical doctrines. The blame being put on us by the leadership of our local church that the church was breaking apart and it’s all our fault was a little more than I could take! So my family left WCG in the winter of 1997.
However, after 12 years, we got reconnected with WCG through their SEP summer camp [Note: All future SEP regional camps were cancelled by GCI in 2019] and then started attending and supporting a local GCI church. I had erroneously believed that with more than a decade of time, GCI had become solid theologically–that is until I started looking into their website that was spurred on by a seminar being given on spiritual formation in the Denver area. Their statement of beliefs on the GCI website at the time (2010) was solidly evangelical (the statement has been revised to reveal their heretical belief that all humanity are included in the atonement of Jesus Christ insinuating that all their sins are forgiven even if they continue to reject the Gospel). I was stunned to find out they were soft universalists, believed in universal reconciliation, spiritual formation, The Shack theology, inclusivism, anti-penal substitutionary atonement, incarnational Trinitarian theology. They promoted the neo-orthodoxy of Rob Bell, Karl Barth (Barthian theology) and the Torrance brothers, Baxter Kruger and Wm. Paul Young beliefs, as well as other emergent and ecumenical doctrines.
They were promoting postmortem salvation back in 2011 on their Surprising God blog. However, they have a new post from September 22, 2019 by Ted Johnson (“What about postmortem evangelism?”) allowing for the possibility of postmortem salvation while creating plausible deniability of such a doctrine.
They believe that Jesus is “the elect” of Scripture and that all humanity is therefore included in Christ as the one elect.
GCI’s churches in the U.S. are not very big nor are they growing much, but churches in the Philippines and Australia are increasing in numbers. I believe this is mainly because of their lean towards hyper-grace and their soft universalism.
It’s a tragedy to read about all the corruption that was going on in WCG while we all thought we were in God’s true church. Again, I appreciate the plethora of information that is contained on your website. Praying for your ministry and thankful for such a fantastic resource. –Ambassador College graduate [name withheld]
Comment: For more on the corruption that was going on in WCG, read: OIU 5, pt. 3 and OIU 6, pt. 3 (OIUs open as PDF). Also, read the following which involves their apostasy: Last Wake-Up Call to Joseph Tkach, Jr. Goes Unheeded with Update by ESN at the top; On Apostasy–A Radical Proposal; and GCI – New Age and Ecumenical Connections.
GCI is Still Shady:
November 8, 2019
I tried to question some of GCI’s representatives a long time ago using an alias. I got the runaround and finally they blocked me. GCI is still shady; they just got better at hiding it to the general public. –[name withheld]
RCG Members Must Listen to Extra Sermons Before Services:
November 30, 2019
David Pack must love the sound of his own voice. He sends out extra sermons to the members that they must listen to before services. He can drone on for hours. I suppose he realizes by now that Christ is not returning in November. Instead, he has worked out some kind of intricate timeline to distract from his false prophecy. Of course, righteousness is always measured by adherence to strict observance to Old Testament laws, as well as his own commands. –P. Y.
Comment: See: Expose` of Clarion Call–the Time is Now! under healing “When Will Jesus Return?” where David Pack said, “The latest that Christ can return is 2021.” Also see: David Pack Rewrites His Special Announcements After Prophecy Fails which shows how Pack is continually have to adjust his prophetic statements.