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(Note: Insertion of offsite links are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily mean an endorsement of all views or beliefs espoused on that site. Note: Use discernment with Questions & Answers site that we sometimes link to as we have discovered there are some Calvinistic leanings in some of their articles.

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Also see: Site Contents


Questions About Worldwide Church of God (GCI):

What information can you give me on the WCG (GCI)?

Worldwide Church of God Expose` (many articles & testimonies)

Booklist with books on HWA and WCG (especially the PDF books available as free downloads)

Has WCG (GCI) whitewashed Herbert W. Armstrong?

Transformed by Christ (a critical review of GCI’s booklet) (covers the massive distortions in the book and shows history revision and whitewashing of their founder.)

Worldwide Church of God Whitewashes Herbert Armstrong After New Changes

Why are you critical of the new WCG? (GCI)

In order to be discerning, one needs to look not only at the roots and fruits of an organization and its leaders but the methods used in making their changes, and the direction they are headed. If we see that it was necessary for the leaders to cover up the sins and hypocrisies of their founder, focusing mainly on his “doctrinal wrongs,” to whitewash him by using history revision and twisting of facts, to discount and denigrate any who would speak up and expose these things, including blaming the members for believing what they did, then we are seeing the same abusive methods that the old WCG has always resorted to.

Is WCG (GCI) Embracing New Age Teachers?

WCG (GCI) is now embracing New Age Teachers and philosophies and is part of the Emerging Church (although in their double-talk and ambivalence they will deny it). (See: GCI – New Age and Ecumenical Connections and this part in OIU 2, Pt. 1: “Getting Politically, Religiously Correct and ready for the NEW AGE.”

Also read: GCI Holding to Emergent and Ecumenical Doctrines (2019 letter)

Is WCG (GCI) allowing tongues-speaking in their services?

Yes, they are. Read this part in: What in the World is Worldwide Church of God Doing Now? (GCI) (“Tongues Speaking”) with also has a letter sent to ESN at the time of the changes about WCG allowing tongues speaking.

Also, go to the 2020 letters on our site, starting with Question on Tongues and read the comments and letters following that. There will be links to helpful articles.

The following two articles are posted on our site:

Tongues (Glossolalia & Charismatic Renewal In Light Of The Bible)

Ten Problems With the Present-Day Tongues Movement

Could you tell me when WCG’s first observance of the Feast of Tabernacles was and their timeline for moving away from the feast days?

Read reply to: WCG’s First Feast of Tabernacles and Moving Away From the Feast Days (September 19, 2021 letter)

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Questions About Herbert W. Armstrong:

What information do you have on Herbert Armstrong?

Herbert W. Armstrong (many articles)

What does the “W” in Herbert W. Armstrong’s name stand for?

It doesn’t stand for anything because he didn’t have a middle name. Most of the explanations on the web about this appear to be nothing but spin and misinformation, such as saying that Armstrong told someone he added the “W” because there were too many Herbert Armstrongs in Pasadena, CA (or Oregon) and also, since there was another man with the same name across the street from Ambassador College it caused problems with the mail delivery. This is almost ludicrous.

While there is no way of knowing exactly how many “Herbert Armstrongs” were living in Pasadena at the time he was there (unless a census can be checked), a recent search for those with the name Armstrong living in Pasadena, CA today brought up only three names and none of them started with Herbert!

The most valid answer is most likely that which is found in Ambassador Report #36, August 1986, “HWA remembered” and which follow: [excerpts]

Many who knew him personally say that HWA didn’t have a middle name. He adopted the W at some point (at least as far back as 1915) simply to add dignity, dimension or dressing to what he apparently thought was too ordinary a name. And why the W rather than some other letter? We really don’t know. But former WCG minister Gary Arvidson has theorized:

“First of all, as an advertising man HWA must have known that of all the letters in the alphabet W is visually the largest, phonetically the longest, and with its three sharp angles, symbolically assertive. Second, W was the middle initial of Henry Ward Beecher, one of the most famous and influential preachers in American history. I have wondered, frankly, if HWA was not unconsciously or even consciously modeling himself after Beecher.”

Henry Ward Beecher…had a large following, was rich and politically influential, traveled widely abroad, claimed to be a friend of U.S. presidents and European royalty, constantly sought the public limelight, has been called an opportunist and hypocrite, and made national headlines when he was put on trial for adultery in 1875. David R. Robinson, a devoted student of British and American history, and the author of a revealing book on HWA [Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web], told us:

“Henry Ward Beecher and Herbert Armstrong had much in common. The definitive biography of Beecher is Henry Ward Beecher. An American Portrait by Paxton Hibben. That biography, which can still be found in many libraries, first appeared in 1927, shortly before Herbert embarked on his career in religion. I really think Herbert read that book, or at least knew of Beecher’s life story. There are just so many similarities in their two lives.”

Why do the leaders of all the major offshoots use a middle initial?

Part of it would be to imitate how HWA used one for importance. (See previous question.)

“If you want people to think you’re an intellectual, use your middle initial.” ~Excerpted from: “Here’s Why Using Your Middle Initial Makes You Look Smarter” by Drake Baer.

So that is why we have/had: Gerald R. Flurry, David C. Pack, Fred R. Coulter, Roderick C. Meredith (deceased), Gerald E. Weston, Jon W. Brisby, John W. Ritenbaugh, Larry W. Wilson (deceased), Ronald L. Dart (deceased), Alton B Billingsley (deceased), William F. Dankenbring (deceased), et al.

In the WCG Joseph W. Tkach did not start using a “W” as his middle initial until after HWA died. (Refer to Ambassador Report #41, March 1989)

Wasn’t HWA just an imperfect man who made mistakes?

“None of God’s Servants Were Perfect” (for those who like to use this reasoning)

Why are you attacking a dead man?

It is common for those who have been conditioned by Herbert Armstrong to accuse and resist any who would expose him as “attacking a dead man.” This is a simple way of ignoring and dismissing the facts that he was a false teacher and false prophet who left a trail of destruction in people’s lives (many who still suffer to this day). Even decades ago when HWA was alive, there were a number of others who publically exposed and criticized him not only as a charlatan but as one who had altered and twisted the Word of God. (See Footnote #1 in Dropouts See Hucksterism Where They Once Saw God for a list of some who exposed him in those early days.) Any “attacks” on the site of HWA are backed up with supporting evidence.

Others have protested by saying “HWA is now dead and buried.” HWA may be “dead” in these people’s minds, but he continues to live on (especially through his copied and plagiarized doctrines) in hundreds of offshoots today.

Read: Loving What’s Right Means Hating What’s Wrong and What is “Agape” and How Did It Work? (Does love mean never saying a harsh word or stepping on the toes of others?)

Didn’t the organizations which HWA copied from have some of God’s truth?

Herbert Armstrong was known to say that certain churches (or organizations) had “some” of the truth, but not all of the truth (which only he had and which was revealed to him long before he ever read their material). Many of his followers still believe this today. But none of these groups had “the truth” in the first place and their destructive fruits bear this out. HWA plagiarized, borrowed and copied from several cultic groups, put it all together, and then simply added his own spin. This made it look like he had all the answers. This also served the purpose of controlling others in order to exploit them financially (which was what many of these other cultic groups were already doing).

Herbert Armstrong’s Religious Roots (The origin of Herbert’s unique doctrines)

Angels of Deceit: The Masterminds Behind Religious Deceptions by Richard Lee & Ed Hinson (Covers a number of false teachers and prophets, including Herbert W. Armstrong. Part one: “The Process of Spiritual Deception”; Part Two: “The Masters of Deception”)

Facts Seventh-day Adventists Won’t Tell You [offsite link]

Haven’t HWA’s prophecies just not come to pass yet?

This is an excuse which certain ministers in some of the WCG splinter groups (i.e., Church of the Great God, Philadelphia Church of God, The Church of God-PKG, etc.) use. The argument is that, given enough time, all the prophecies (or “predictions”) which HWA gave will eventually come to pass. It was HWA himself that first said only his “timing was wrong”–and this after giving 21+ prophetic failures during the 1930s and 40’s. (I supposed we could say Ellen G. White’s timing was off also–by 150 years plus.) What these ministers do not tell their members is that the prophets in O.T. times not only prophesied what was coming in the future, but they told what was going to happen locally in the immediate future. This was how people knew whether someone qualified as a true prophet of God. The local event had to transpire exactly as it was predicted. When it did, the people knew it was a true prophet compared to a false prophet.

Did Herbert Armstrong Set Dates? (several of his false prophecies)

Memories About Petra (Shows how false prophecies were excused away)

Where can I have the false teachings of Herbert Armstrong explained

In our section on Herbert W. Armstrong see this part: Questioning HWA’s doctrines.

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Questions About Philadelphia Church of God:

What can you tell me about Gerald Flurry and PCG?

Articles on Gerald Flurry

Philadelphia Church of God Articles

Philadelphia Church of God Info (Includes history & teachings)

Philadelphia Church of God and the Place of Safety

Mike’s Page (many expose` articles & testimonies)

Is the Philadelphia Church of God the Laodicean Church?

Is Philadelphia Church of God Now the Laodicean Church?

What is the “no-contact” ruling in PCG?

Gerald Flurry’s Sermon: Exposing Satan

How Does PCG Use its Third Tithe?

Where Most of PCG’s Third Tithe Fund Goes To

Why do members emphasize the “government of God”?

[Note: The phrase “government of God” is used in PCG and other controlling, totalistic offshoots and splinter groups of WCG.]

“Government of God” are words which are intended to connect with the group’s leader and its headquarters, which members are to unquestionably obey in all matters and at all times. Those who don’t are said to have “a government problem.” This total obedience opens the member up to the mind control abuse of the system.

See the lie along with the truth: “You have a government problem!

While the leader of the group will state that members are not “forced to obey,” but “choose to obey God’s government,” their minds are, in fact being influenced and programmed through fear to submit to the “authority.” This teaching has led to many abuses of those under the one in authority.

Members in PCG (as in all high demand groups) believe that to question Gerald Flurry is the same as questioning God. They believe they are building more and more of the “character of God,” when, in reality, they are only becoming more submissive to the government of the organization.

Note: PCG government was designed after communism. Read February 16, 2022 PCG letter, “Sickened to Find Out Where GF and HWA Modeled Their Organization After.”

Why doesn’t God correct the ministers?

First of all, we must ask ourselves, are these men truly “God’s ministers”? How can they be when they are not preaching the true gospel but are preaching a false gospel, a different gospel? The true gospel is explained in I Corinthians 15:1-4. To believe that we need to add anything to our faith in Jesus Christ destroys the true Gospel and will bring a curse. (Galatians 1:8)

Do these ministers preach the liberty we can have in Jesus Christ, or only about the Law? ( John 1:17)

What about the leaders’ fruits? Is cutting off friends and family a trait of “God’s true ministers”? God never casts off His children but continually cares for them and never forsakes them. (I Peter 5:7; Hebrews 13:5)

The “ministers” in PCG are not open to criticism but instead will freely criticize and blame the members.

PCG has all the traits of a destructive religious group. The “ministers” are groomed and trained through H. W. Armstrong College to follow methods of mind control aka thought reform. They are not called by God, neither have they been appointed by God.

Such a group cannot be reformed or “corrected” by God. We can only leave things in God’s hands and know He will judge all evil when the time comes.

Where Can I Email Former Members & Exiters of PCG?

Please go to this page: If You Would Like to Email Other Exiters

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Questions About WCG Offshoots:

Which offshoots have you posted information on?

We have many articles on the main offshoots of WCG. See the following section on our site:

Offshoots of Worldwide Church of God
(This section also includes letters & testimonies from exiters of certain offshoots.)

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Questions About Members:

What do I do if my loved one (or friend) has been deceived by one of these groups?

If You Have a Loved One in a Deceptive, Exploitive Group (Includes what to do and what not to do)

“If You Want to Save the Marriage If Your Mate Has Gone Into PCG” (Letter from former member)

How do I help a friend or loved one leave?

A person in any of these groups will probably not be able to leave until they start having doubts and/or questions. You should never try to force them out. Their decision to leave could come about by seeing a contradiction in what the leadership says in contrast to with what they are actually doing (hypocritical behavior, failed prophecies, etc.), discovering the real history of the group, including the history of WCG, or by being abused by the leadership. Furnishing information on the thought reform methods used by high demand groups may help if it causes them them to question. It is only through awareness and education, and learning the facts that they didn’t have upon joining, that an individual can regain his critical thinking skills. A thinking person can then make decisions to leave. Research in the United States has shown that if members have been away from the group for a period of time; i.e., three weeks or more, most of them tend to leave without exit counseling.

Members that are passive, positive, agreeable, lacking in critical thinking skills, having a need to be led, and who never cause any trouble to those in authority, are valuable assets to mind-controlling groups. The ones that speak up, or start asking too many uncomfortable questions, are soon gotten rid of. Those who are individualistic and inquisitive are more likely to leave.

People rarely come out of the deceptive and exploitive Armstrong groups (i.e., WCG offshoots) because they discover the theology is wrong (although some do). It is rather when they are so abused by the leadership that they finally say to themselves, “this all cannot be of God.” But if they do leave still believing the leader or founder was “a tool in God’s hands” and that “God’s true church” exists out there somewhere, they will most likely start looking for a suitable offshoot.

If you have left the group, don’t go back inside to try and “rescue” someone. It doesn’t work.

Why it’s Hard to Leave Philadelphia Church of God (focuses on the fear members experience; although written by ex-PCG member, it is applicable to those in any of the totalistic WCG offshoots that follow HWA’s teachings.)

God’s Timing For Our Loved Ones (if you’ve prayed for years)

What About Hindered Prayer and Unanswered Prayer? by Shawn Brasseaux [offsite link]

How do people get out of these groups?

Read: How Do People Get Out of Religious Cults? (Includes “Stages in Leaving the Cultic System”)

How can intelligent people become deceived?

Anyone can be susceptible to sophisticated thought reform methods. Leaders of deceptive, totalistic groups are skilled in coercive persuasion and mind control techniques. A number of them may exhibit the behavior characteristics of sociopaths and have no conscience or scruples whatsoever in regard to exploiting others. Setting themselves up as “spiritual authorities,” they take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities. Those who have carefully studied the literature of these groups will see that it is saturated with fear. This type of manipulation is called “fear phobia induction.” (Note: This is covered in our OIU Newsletters under OIU #4, pt. 3 [search for thsoe words when file opens as PDF]) Once the person is fear phobic, they become submissive to the authority in the group.

All human minds are open to influence and persuasion, including intelligent people that are simply looking for answers to the many problems they see in society. Some may have had a stressful event in their life; others are looking to serve a great cause; others were looking for friendship and community; while others may have been idealistic and naïve.

We should always take the time to research the background of any group we are becoming interested in, especially before sending them money This includes the founder and where he actually got his doctrines from. If they are legitimate they should be able to stand up to any historical and background check on them.

How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit People? (The step-by-step process; applies equally to those drawn into PCG, RCG, etc.)

What happens to their personality?

Members in the high demand, totalistic groups form what is known as a “cult personality,” or new personality, which is different than their personality before joining. (Refer to the book, Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change by Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman and the article Personality Changes From Cult Involvement.) This is also known as “doubling” and it can happen quickly or take approximately 3 l/2 years. They can also behave quite differently with the group (happy, upbeat), but switch and be totally different at home. They often become negative, sarcastic and judgmental toward “the world” and those outside their religious frame of mind. After exiting, the personality begins to re-organize itself. Reading some of the books on our Booklist will help you understand how these groups work and how people are being harmed psychologically and spiritually in such systems. Members become, in most cases, “religious addicts.” While very sincere in their desire to follow and obey God, their trust has been used against them in order to exploit and control them.

There is no unconditional love in these groups, only “love-bombing.” This is a manipulative technique where the new recruit is showered with positive attention and reinforcement which helps them to feel that joining is in their best interests. This “loving atmosphere” also enables the recruiters to access the psychological needs, fears, dependencies, and resistance of the person who is thinking of joining. Methods of shame and guilt are also used to keep them in line.

To have peace and contentment with one’s faith is entirely different than being tricked into believing (as a result of fear and coercion) that one is in “God’s one true Church,” and all others outside of it are lost and headed for the Great Tribulation or eternal death. Totalistic (authoritarian) groups have done great damage to individuals by causing them to hold to the belief of unconditional submission to a man that claims to be “God’s representative.” For anyone to manipulate another person’s mind for one’s own gain is a great evil.

Why do they stay in these groups?

They stay because they feel they have “proven” their beliefs, but in actuality, they are being held by certain fears: fear their mind will be taken over by Satan; fear of the Lake of Fire; fear they won’t be taken to the Place of Safety; fear of the Great Tribulation; fear of being cut off from family and friends in the group; fear they will cut themselves off from “the vine” and wither and die; fear of losing their salvation; fear of being cursed by God, fear of nowhere to go if they leave (they believe it is “the one true Church”) and fear that they will “cease to exist” if they find themselves on the outside, since their existence is in the group.

When taking on a new identity and new belief system after becoming a member (refer to the previous Q&A), they will become what the group leader desires–submissive, powerless, yet highly devoted and offering undying loyalty and servitude. In this state of mind, they discard and avoid all information which disagrees with what the leader teaches. They are taught to tell themselves and others (concerning whatever problems they see or experience as a result of their allegiance) that “God will take care of it” or “I’m leaving it in God’s hands.” Therefore they dismiss any thoughts that something may be amiss. Outside their awareness, they are being exploited and controlled for the leaders’ purposes.

Why do members meet in secret?

The leaders rely on secrecy to hide their control and financial exploitation. Members are taught to keep their core beliefs a secret, as “outsiders will not understand.” So to avoid “persecution” from the outside world, meeting places are kept secret and members will meet in such places as hotels, motels, Masonic lodges, schools, bridge clubs, cafeterias, etc. The leaders refrain from spending money for a building which would be too visible to the public.

Didn’t WCG promise members their own buildings?

After the WCG’s new changes were made, the leaders at HQs promised (in a Worldwide News, circa 1994) that they would begin building their own facilities for the members to meet in. This never happened. The main reason why is because Joseph Tkach started selling off their buildings. If they got sued by members over abuses, those are assets that can be seized. Therefore, no buildings, no assets that can be taken due to legal actions against them.

What is the spiritual status of those in the WCG offshoots?

What is the Spiritual Status of People in the WCG Offshoots? (Were They Ever Converted?) (answers from 3 people in ESN)

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Questions About Recovery:

How do I recover after exiting an abusive group?

The healthiest ex-members are those who have patiently studied their way through:

(1) Historical background and exposé info on Worldwide Church of God

(2) A full understanding of what an exploitive, abusive group is, how it functions in society, and the repercussions of involvement.

(3) Spiritual discernment which is gained by learning how the group used used techniques that spiritually damaged members (such as Scripture twisting)

Note: Scripture twisting is covered in the following two reviews:

Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)
Chapter by chapter review by Kelly Marshall in ESN; shows proof of HWA’s plagiarism from other groups; twisting of Scripture, contradictions, deceptions, and how people were set up.

Mystery of the Ages (a 2nd critical review)
Chapter by chapter review by William Hohmann; shows how HWA caused readers to rely on his teachings while abandoning critical thinking. The end result was a false gospel that diminished Christ.

(4) Networking with others who have experience and sensitivity with the understanding of GRACE vs. LAW and the Gospel as understood by traditional Christianity. [See: Getting the Group Out of Us]

(5) Following through on the Booklist provided which leads members into making solid decisions backed up by factual content and not just emotion, which often leads to toxic faith syndrome. [Note: Some of these books are available by PDF downloads.]

There is no particular order in the healing process. It has proven to be most successful when the exiter becomes responsible for his own recovery on his own time schedule (taking breaks when needed). Understanding of corruption and deception within the organization has proven to be instrumental in leading the exiter away from the Armstrong dogma and into clear traditional Christian understanding. Recovery consists of breaking down every facet of manipulation and lies and building a solid foundation on truth.

The following information on our site has proven to be especially helpful for exiters:

Healing From Emotional & Spiritual Abuse (many articles)

Where Do the Feelings Go? (feelings from hurtful stimulus were not allowed to be expressed in the group; covers  how to get the feelings out of our head and onto paper)

Where Is the True Church?

What do I do about phobias?

A phobia is a persistent, irrational fear that is being triggered. One of the main techniques mind manipulating groups use to control their members is fear. Their literature is saturated with it. Many of these fears may remain for years if the exiter doesn’t work on breaking free from them. (Read how WCG made use of fear phobia induction in OIU 4, Pt. 4 [OIUs available as PDF download]) Once a person becomes fear phobic, they become submissive to the authority of the group and are vulnerable to exploitation.

If one feels they need further help in recovering, cognitive therapy has been found to be helpful for phobias that resulted from the group’s spiritually abusive teachings. However, many exiters, especially child survivors, are unable to read, or hear quotes, from the Bible, due to it being used against them in the group. If the therapist or counselor is a Christian, they must understand this and pay heed to how the counselee is feeling about it. Therefore, when searching for a counselor the survivor should choose one that shows consideration in this regard, along with having a good understanding of abusive groups and/or trauma and methods of thought reform (or be willing to learn). The counselor should not try to control the exiter or blame their problems only on what happened before joining the group; otherwise, they could be harmed by the therapy.

It helps to be able to recognize the fear and then challenge it. For example, write the fear thoughts on the left side of the page in a column, and then on the right side in another column, challenge it by writing out what you rationally know is the truth of the situation.

Cognitive Behavioral Focusing for Exiters (An Approach to Handling Depression, Anxiety, Fear & Guilt)

How to Walk Yourself Through a Panic Attack

Some books that might prove helpful are:

Captive Hearts, Captive Minds (Freedom & Recovery From Cults & Abusive Relationships) by Madeline Tobias and Janja Lalich (Includes info on phobias)

How can I help my children overcome fear of Armstrong teachings?

Read: Any Ideas to Help Children Overcome Fear of Armstrong Teachings (includes letters from exiters)

Why do I have so much guilt?

In a system where perfection is the model, no human being can ever measure up.  On of the things leaders of abusive, high demand groups use in order to control people is guilt. A common characteristic is to blame the members when they don’t (or can’t) live up to expectations–or when the promised physical benefits never arrive, which is sure to happen sooner or later. The end result is that the person blames themselves and feels guilty for not measuring up to what the group expects and demands of them. What exiters almost always have is “false guilt.” To reverse this involves a process of unlearning false concepts (lies) that we have come to believe about ourselves. Understanding the love and grace of God and how He does not try to control us (as leaders in the abusive group did) can begin to erase those guilt feelings. It is also good to note that exiters may often feel they were sinning for going into the group; however, the truth is that those who went into the cult weren’t sinning, they were abused by sinners. Their trust in the leader’s words was used against them in order to exploit and control them.”

Getting the Group Out of Us

An End to Guilt

How can I untangle my mind from HWA’s dogma?

[Note: This answer can apply to the dogma of any of any of the authoritative WCG splinter groups.]

Untangling our mind from false teachings and lies about God and the Bible can take much time and effort.

Loyalty to the “Government of God” and unquestioned obedience to Herbert Armstrong was what was paramount in the group, and this “obedience” was always laced with fear. To understand this is very important before trying to “untangle the mind” from any teachings. (Read: Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform which shows how these methods are used in totalistic groups).

HWA taught that “salvation (and conversion) is a process.” That was not true. It was the mind control (thought reform; programming) that was the “process” and it will take time to undo it. If survivors fail to undo the programming they received, they will be vulnerable to joining another controlling, or exclusive, offshoot with similar methods.

In addition to redefining the entire Bible, Herbert Armstrong redefined history; i.e., his own personal history, biblical/church history and the history of the Worldwide Church of God. There is ample documentation to prove that his own history as reported by himself was a lie.

An individual may have left the group because they came to see the abuses, but the teachings (“God’s way”; “God’s truth”; “God’s Government”) can still be implanted in their mind. Many have not understood that these teachings were instilled in them in the first place for the sole purpose of controlling and exploiting them financially.

Recommended Letter: “HWA Was The False Teacher That The Bible Warns Against

Making the choice to read the Bible again:

When a survivor makes their own choice to read the Bible again, they often continue to see many parts of it through the lens of HWA’s dogma. It is suggested that they start in the New Testament epistles (especially Romans and Galatians; or they may begin with Colossians and Philippians) and stay out of the Old Testament for awhile. Read and believe what the Scriptures say, not what HWA said they mean. Pray for the spirit of discernment and ask God to reveal it to you so that you will understand. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal the meaning of Scripture.

However, since reading the Bible was always pushed in the group, reading a Bible commentary (the older ones are recommended) such as The Bible Knowledge Commentary or a Bible dictionary such as Unger’s Bible Dictionary may be less triggering. Even taking a Bible concordance and noticing how many times the word “grace” is mentioned in the New Testament, along with the context the verse is in, can be helpful. When doing this, notice how the focus is on the death and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The exiter can then go from there to read other Christian material on grace.

The messages of the late J. Vernon McGee can be very helpful as he reveals Christ as the centerpiece of Scripture and gives a true understanding of the grace and love of God and our position in Christ. He goes through each book of the Bible, alternating from the O. T. to the N. T., in a down to earth way. Q&A on Sundays. (One can choose to read a certain book or chapter from their website if they are unable to go through the entire Bible.)

Another very helpful ministry is Bob George Ministries. The late Bob George teaches a clear understanding of Grace and Law, our complete forgiveness in Christ and the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Many resources. Archives of daily Radio broadcasts, including call-ins on Thursday and Friday.

The following material on our site may prove helpful:

Getting the Group Out of Us

List of books refuting Armstrong’s doctrinal errors (from our Booklist)

Grace & Law (many articles)

Healing From Emotional & Spiritual Abuse (many articles)

Biblical Studies (from our Booklist)

Prayers For Freedom From Spiritual Strongholds

How can I love God again or know He loves me?

Along with reading the previous question and working on replacing the lies, the following is recommended:

Why Did God Allow Me to Go In an Abusive Group?

Comforting Words About the True God of Love

The Love of God

Because God Loves Me

What do I do if I’m finding it very hard to pray?

Many suffer CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after exiting these spiritually abusive groups.

Our article: The Way We Were Told to Pray includes at the end: “If you are finding it very hard to pray” and “If you can’t pray because you felt God betrayed you.”

How do I help someone recover?

Intense emotions are normal whenever anyone has been coerced, abused and exploited. Be willing to listen patiently and non-judgmentally whenever they desire to talk about their experience and that they feel safe. Avoid being confrontational. Never push anything on someone who has left an authoritarian group, as they are very sensitive to being controlled. It can also feel like a reprogramming of their minds if you try to force a particular belief system on them, or urge church attendance, no matter how correct you feel it is. Remember that survivors of mind-manipulating or high demand groups have had the Bible used (and pushed) on them in a very negative way. Therefore, it is normal for them to not be able (or even want) to open the Bible after exiting, due to triggers and fears, or to not trust any religious leaders or organizations. Refrain from using various Scriptures to correct them. Many survivors struggle with their faith at a very core level and it is common for them to find it hard to even trust God.

It is important to build trust, convey love, and offer support before issues of belief are broached. No one should insist on Bible reading for those who have been in any type of high demand religious group, as it takes years to undo the emotional and spiritual scars. Resolving spiritual issues is only part of the recovery process.

Give them time to rest; to evaluate their goals and identity. Encourage them to make simple decisions. Let them know that there is hope, and that you support them unconditionally.

When they have questions about the history of the group they were in and how mind manipulative groups (aka “cults”) function in our society, don’t feel you have to be the one to furnish all the information you can find, or it could prove overwhelming. Allow them to have an active part in their own recovery and to learn to make independent decisions. It is important for them to know they are not powerless.

Amazing Words That Have Been Said to Exiters -or- What Never to Say to Someone Who Has Been Deceived

Why is it hard for me to attend a mainstream church?

Exiters placed their trust in and were betrayed by spiritual leaders; therefore, it is very common for those who have exited any abusive, authoritarian group to have a deep fear and distrust of anyone in a position of spiritual authority, and not to be able to attend a church for quite awhile, perhaps never. Going to another church can also present many triggers and exiters need to be aware of what to expect. Even attempting to sing certain hymns in some churches can cause problems (i.e., cognitive dissonance) since HWA changed many words in sacred hymns, along with teaching that all churches were “false” and were “Satan’s churches.” HWA fostered many lies in order to keep others from leaving his exclusive “true” organization.

We need to very discerning today as most evangelical churches are now part of the church growth movement (incorporating New Age teachings), or the emergent church. Others are hyper-Charismatic, theologically liberal and apostate, or extremely controlling, even abusive, and focus on works in order to be saved (Lordship salvation). (See links under Discernment & Research)

If an exiter does decide to attend another church but finds they are having more and more problems, or they feel something isn’t right, they should not hesitate to leave instead of remaining and hoping things will get better.

Those who have suffered in a high demand group need time to rest, heal, become stronger, and then determine for themselves whom to trust again. It is more helpful to first spend time reading some books on mind control, spiritual abuse, and recovery.

Beware of the Organic Church and Frank Viola (letter to ESN)

How to Find a Good Church Home (good article; offsite link)

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Questions About Our Website:

Why are you critical of WCG and certain offshoots?

Worldwide Church of God destroyed thousands of innocent lives in the name of “god” through fraud, deception, intentional abuse and exploitation, using techniques of mind control. What happened is a holocaust that cannot be simply buried and forgotten. We expose them in order that the other side of the story may be known as a testimony to the victims and also that others may avoid going into the abusive and totalistic splinter groups that engage in the same practices. Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to suffer the same fate for lack of knowledge.

Did Herbert W. Armstrong Abuse His Flock?

Loving What’s Right Means Hating What’s Wrong (Includes “Is It Wrong to Judge?”)

What Is “Agape” and How Did It Work?

What are your beliefs?

First of all, we do not believe that doctrine should be used to control, deceive or exploit others. Neither do we believe that anyone should force their beliefs on survivors who have suffered exploitation and spiritual abuse, since their trust has been betrayed in the deepest sense of the word. Simply stated, we at ESN believe that eternal life is found through faith, by grace, in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Truth, not a particular church, denomination, or organization, and that He completed everything for us on the cross, which includes the forgiveness of all our sins.

Statement of Faith

Why do most former members and survivors choose to remain anonymous?

Pseudonyms, initials, or first names only, are often used on the site for two reasons: (1) Survivors of abusive and controlling religious groups have had their trust severely broken, and they do not wish to take the chance of being harassed or threatened by their former group, receive criticism from family still in, or have to explain their involvement to friends or employers. Therefore, anonymity is often chosen unless the former member or survivor requests their real name be used. (2) Basic Internet Security bulletins put out by officials, including police agencies, recommend several ways to stay safe on the Internet. One of these is to not give out personal information such as full names and/or addresses.

What are the journalistic standards of ESN when it comes to reporting information?

ESN is not a journalistic website. It is a website dedicated to the recovery of people who were involved in Herbert Armstrong’s WCG, along with offshoots that developed from it. As such, the website gathers information germane to mind control methods employed by cults, and also posts letters from ex-members who give their input as to the goings-on inside the various groups they were a part of, and what they are hearing from family members that remain in those cult groups. We will post encouragement and information regarding their recovery, and other information we deem useful to their recovery, such as articles refuting some of the beliefs taught their members which we believe to be untenable scripturally.

Information is not necessarily “news.” That we offer commentary regarding the letters sent to us, it can hardly be construed as being news in the sense of journalism that normally deals with a wide range of current events and commentary on that level and in that regard. – By William Hohmann, author of Mystery of the Ages (a 2nd critical review), et al.

Why don’t you have a forum?

Read: Why We Don’t Have a Forum

What is the purpose of your site?

We are basically a recovery site for those who have suffered spiritual, emotional and financial abuse as a result of their involvement with WCG or any of the controlling splinter groups. We have expose`and educational articles on these groups to help others understand what constitutes mind control and to assist people in becoming discerning enough to not join any religious group that is going to be harmful to them. We also post material to help exiters free themselves from the lies that were placed into their minds by the group leader. Also, see the above question: “What are the journalistic standards of ESN when it comes to reporting information?”

How long have you been around?

Since 1993. For more info, read our About page.

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Questions About the Law, Works or Salvation:

Note: Exiters of high demand groups have had the Bible used on them in order to control, coerce, manipulate and exploit them spiritually, emotionally and financially. (See our sections: Mind Control & Exploitation and Grace & Law) Sorting through one’s personal beliefs takes much time. The following information is posted for those who have expressed an interest in these subjects.

Doesn’t keeping the Ten Commandments play a part in salvation?

The Ten Commandments constituted the old covenant, and there is nothing in Scripture stating that they were ratified as a separate covenant. The Law of Moses (which the Ten Commandments are a part of) was given to the children of Israel. This Law consisted of 613 points of law. [See offsite article which lists all of them.] The “written Law” consisted of 10 commandments and the “oral law” consisted of 603 commandments. All is considered the Mosaic Law. All 613 points of law were/are “written” by Moses and recorded in the book of the law. Oral law are added “traditions” or commentaries on the written Law. The Scriptures state that one cannot pick and choose from these old covenant laws. If you are going to try and observe them, you are obligated to do the whole law, including the New Moons with their sacrifices. (See Galatians 3:10) After Christ came, there is no more need nor obligation for Christians to observe the Mosaic Law and the ceremonial types.

Besides, no one can keep the Law perfectly in thought, word or deed. Trying to keep it actually stirs up the sin nature. (Romans 7:8) It will always condemn us and say we are guilty. The Law is called “the ministry of death.” (II Corinthians 3:7-8) In contrast, the grace of God through Christ Jesus is what releases us from sin and death. The purpose of the Law is to lead the unconverted (those not under faith) to Christ. (See Galatians 3:24-25) We must not mix up this old covenant Law of the letter which brings condemnation and death with God’s spiritual law of faith which leads to life. (See Romans 3:27; Romans 7:6 and 8:2)

The Law of Moses and the Grace of God

The Sin Issue

Must We Keep the Law for Salvation? (many Q&A)

Is it essential that we keep the Sabbath?

The Sabbath was the sign between God and ancient Israel. It was part of the old covenant, which was a national, temporal law for a national, temporal purpose. The Israelites first received the Sabbath command from God through Moses. (See Nehemiah 9:13-14 and Deuteronomy 5:2-3). It was a covenant between God and the Israelites and no one else.

Leaders of certain authoritarian religious groups emphasize the Sabbath and teach that it is a “sign” of God’s “one true Church.” This serves to control members (in order to exploit them) and leads to a dogmatic insistence that one couldn’t be converted unless they were in this “one true Church.”

We find no mention of Paul instructing the Gentiles that they must keep the Sabbath. In fact, the Sabbath command is not mentioned at all in any of the Pauline epistles. Romans 13:8 mentions five of the Ten Commandments and then states, “if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” There is no mention of the fourth commandment and that Christians need to “keep it holy.” When our motive is love (the love of Christ in our hearts), there is no need for any other laws. The “law of Christ” mentioned in Galatians 6:2 refers to “love one another” (John 13:34; 15:12), not to the Ten Commandments. The Christian is to live on a much higher plane than the Ten Commandments, and that is love. (Romans 13:10: “Love is the fulfilling of the Law.”)

The early church fathers wrote that the observance of the Sabbath was demonstrated to have been temporary. (An Answer to the Jews 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, p. 155) [offsite link]

If one chooses to rest on the Sabbath, they are free to do so, but it does not affect one’s salvation. (Romans 14:5-6; I John 5:12a)

For further study:

Should the Sabbath Be Observed Today? (Will cover Colossians 2:16)

Sabbath and Sunday (Common Arguments & Misunderstandings) (Will also cover whether or not the Roman Catholic Church changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday; also quotes Justin Martyr who lived 150 years before the time of Constantine)

Was the Mosaic Sabbath Eternal and Unchangeable? [offsite link]

The Sabbath in the New Testament [offsite link]

The Sabbath Law (6 MP3 files) [offsite link] (Note: While this is an excellent study, listeners should be aware that Aaron Budjen of Living God Ministries has been questioned about some of his beliefs. Read this May 4, 2016 letter and our comments. which gives a disclaimer.)

A Critique of Which Day is the Christian Sabbath? by William Hohmann (PDF)

More articles on this subject can be found in Grace & Law and on our Booklist.

Can we ever lose our salvation?

Jesus tells us He is able to save to the uttermost all those that come unto God by Him. (Hebrews 7:25) All that come to Him, He will not cast out. (John 6:37) He also says that He gives us eternal life and we will never perish, neither is any man able to take us out of His hand. (John 10:28) We are sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. (II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30) We are preserved in Jesus Christ. (Jude 1) We have an inheritance (that does not fade away) reserved for us in heaven. (I Peter 1:4) We may backslide or stumble, but we will never perish because He holds on to us, not vice versa. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He will seek His lost sheep (those who wander away). He will not lose one of them. (John 6:39)

It is encouraging to know that when we turn to God and place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for the complete forgiveness of all our sins, we have assurance of eternal life now. (I John 5:13) To teach otherwise is to deny the finality of the cross.

“I Am a Forgiven Person” Q&A about Hebrews 6:4-6. Call-In Classic Christianity Radio with Bob George. The first question on this program covers Hebrews 6:4-6. Listen to the program or read the transcript below the program, where it says “Synopsis.” (MP3 file) [offsite link]

It is impossible to lose our salvation because Jesus took away the consequences of sin which is death.

Salvation is Easy
Many informative and encouraging videos by Gregg Jackson on numerous Bible subjects refuting legalism, Galatian error, eternal salvation, etc. Teaching grace alone through faith alone. [Note: This is Gregg’s new channel and more videos are being uploaded regularly.]

My Position in Christ (accepted and secure forever)

Leaders of totalistic religious groups redefine grace, salvation and faith. “License to sin” is covered in several places on our site; i.e., Mystery of the Ages (a critical review) by Kelly Marshall, Chapter 6, Pt. 4, “GRACE.” (PDF)

This does not mean we minimize grace or pervert its meaning, which is what HWA was known to do. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16 NKJV) The grace of God leads us into righteousness. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,” (Titus 2:11-12 NKJV)

Does “Once Saved, Always Saved” Entitle Us to Abuse God’s Grace? by Shawn Brasseaux [offsite link]

Can I commit the unpardonable sin?

There is no act of sin that you can commit for which there is no forgiveness because Christ died for all our sins–past, present and future–and, therefore, does not hold any sin against us anymore.

Read: Have I Blasphemed Against the Holy Ghost? by Shawn Brasseaux. Clearly explains about the “unpardonable sin” and tells why this does not apply to us today.

See: “Christ’s Finished Work on the Cross” by Bob George (Explains I John 1:9; includes MP3 file) [offsite link]

Listen to: “Forgiven Forever” Bob replies to a question about about I John 1:9 and Hebrews 10:26-29. Below the broadcast is a written recap of the message. (MP3 file] [offsite link]

The Holy Spirit cannot be lost (John 14:16), and if we have believed on, and trusted in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we have been reconciled to God (II Corinthians 5:18), and have the assurance of eternal life now. (I John 5:13) (See: How Do I Receive Eternal Life?)

Believing you have committed the “unpardonable sin” brings fear instead of peace and assurance. Such teaching is prevalent in groups which control members by fear and guilt.

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is covered in “Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)” by Kelly Marshall, Chapter 3. This also includes footnote #7, which quotes J. Vernon McGee from his notes on Matthew 12:29-32. (PDF) When this opens, just search for the words: “Accusing one of blaspheming the Holy Spirit”

Did Christ die for only our past sins?

HWA taught that Roman 3:25 means Christ only died for our past sins. Most of the WCG offshoots teach this view today. The 2020 PCG letter “Messed Up View of Sin by GF” will explain this verse. Also the letter “What the Real Truth Is” will cover what Christ meant when He said “It is finished.”

Is there a 100-year period? If not, what happens to people who never heard the Gospel? Are they thrown into the Lake of Fire?

There is no such thing as the “100-year period” and this is covered in our Critical Review of Mystery of the Ages, Chapter 7, “Mystery of the Kingdom of God,” Pt. 3 of 3. Go to “AFTER THE MILLENNIUM” and then scroll to “The Second Resurrection–The Great White Throne Judgment.” This will cover the so-called 100-year period.

Also, God has used dreams and visions (and still does) to those in pagan cultures to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ.

Whoever sincerely is seeking God, He will reveal Himself to them.

What about those who never heard? by Let Us Reason Ministries]

Where do we go when we die?

HWA got his teaching of heaven and hell from the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses). This is shown in “Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)” by Kelly Marshall, Chapter 3. Pt. 2 (PDF) [search for the words HEAVEN AND HELL].

If we have placed our faith in Christ as our Savior and His finished work on the cross, we go immediately upon death to be with the Lord:  “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8); “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (Philippians 1:23).

Those who have rejected Christ and His payment for their sins will go to Hell. J. Vernon McGee says in his comments on Jude 13 that the two symbols for hell are fire and the blackness of darkness (Jude 1:13). He feels darkness will be far more frightening. His message on Jude 1:12-1:25 may be listened to on in this video.

Aaron Budjen in his MP3 messages Eternal Punishment 1 of 2 and Eternal Punishment 2 of 2 explains how there is no closure for those in Hell and that God will forgot those who are there. [Note: While this is a very interesting study, listeners should be aware that Aaron Budjen of Living God Ministries has been questioned about some of his beliefs. Read this May 4, 2016 letter and our comments which gives a disclaimer.]

How Do I Receive Eternal Life?

Is it necessary to keep the O.T. Holy Days?

Why Church Leaders Demand Holy Days For Their Members (could it have anything to do with control?)

Should we observe “pagan” holidays?

Christmas and Easter:

Herbert Armstrong taught that Jeremiah 10:3-5 was talking about “Christmas trees”; however, if one reads the chapter in context, it is clear that God is speaking about the heathen custom of idolatry, not Christmas trees.

The verses are actually directed toward the house of Israel and refers to regulating one’s life according to the Zodiac or being troubled by such things as eclipses or comets, which were believed by these idolatrous nations to be signs of coming events given by the gods. Verse 5 is talking about how the idols they were carving out of trees had eyes, ears, mouth, legs and feet, but they could not speak and had to be carried from one place to another. Israel also covered these idols with blue and purple clothing (verse 9). A similar reference is seen in Habakkuk 2:19: “Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.”

Worldliness, drunkenness, revelry, covetousness and idolatry are condemned in the Bible, but HWA made it sound like everyone who did something on “pagan” holidays was guilty of such. HWA emphasized the negative elements in society in order to isolate people into his exclusive group. This fostered judgmental attitudes, self-righteousness, pride, and a lack of love and compassion toward others.

Christmas and Easter (aka “Resurrection Sunday”) can be used as a time to show love and kindness to friends and family if one chooses; i.e., eating dinner with others, or spending time together, something members avoided for many years while under the control of the group leader, and which caused much division and hurt feelings. They can also be an opportunity to help the less fortunate.

For more on Easter, see our article: The Nicene Council Concerning Easter

Pagan Day Associations  (making pagan associations with Christmas and Easter)

Links on Christmas:

It Was a Gradual Process to Bring Christmas Back Into Our Family (exiter’s story)

Christmas and Other Painful Memories (child survivor story)

We Thought the Feast Was “Better Than Christmas” (letter to ESN)

Finally Able to Enjoy the Christmas Season Again (PCG letter to ESN)

Equating Christmas Decorations With Evil (PCG letter to ESN)

Christmas and Christians by Eric Barger [offsite link]

Shepherds in the Field Were No Ordinary Shepherds (PCG letter to ESN)

Link on Birthdays and Christmas:

Christmas – The Birth of Christ Our Lord (will also cover birthdays) by Let Us Reason Ministries [offsite link]


Note: Halloween is a day that celebrates the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of death, and the kingdom of the Dragon.

The Halloween Compromise by Gregory Reid [offsite link].

Halloween Occult Origins by Josh Toupos (includes videos on this page) [offsite link]

Halloween: In case you were curious [offsite link]

Valentine’s Day:

Should Christians Celebrate Valentine’s Day? by Shawn Brasseaux [offsite link]


God accepts His children not because they don’t observe “pagan” days, but on the basis of what His Son Jesus has done for them on the cross of Calvary. The thing to remember is that Christ was born and He was resurrected, and we should remember that all year round, not just at specific times of the year.

Perhaps the main question we should ask is: which harmed us more–Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day (especially if we grew up observing them)–or leaders with deceitful motives who used days to control us, while they programmed our minds and exploited us in the process? (Read: Why Church Leaders Demand Holy Days For Their Members)

How can I observe Passover if I’ve left the group?

We need to first understand that the observance of festivals in high demand groups is for the purpose of controlling members. (See question above “Is it necessary to keep the O.T. Holy Days?”) It is much easier to have authority over someone if their lives are molded around the “church.”

Leaders of totalistic groups have always taught that if healthy members didn’t show up for the Passover service, they were gravely sinning and were in danger of “losing the Holy Spirit.” To the contrary, the Scriptures show that the Holy Spirit and eternal life cannot be lost or taken away, and we are sealed the moment we place our faith and trust in Christ. (See John 14:16; John 10:28; II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30)

Christ, our Passover, has already been offered. Therefore, to continue to observe the O.T. Passover is to say He never came.

Today many Christians observe what is called the “Lord’s Supper” (often referred to as Communion), but the issue is not whether we do or don’t observe a ritual and how often. It is about what Christ has already done for us and remembering that every day. He no longer holds our sins against us.

The Lord’s Supper by Aaron Budjen (2 MP3 files) (explains the Last Supper in the context of the Passover; also covers I Corinthians 11 in the 2nd message and how many people have twisted it today) [offsite link] Note: While this is an excellent study, listeners should be cautious of some of his teachings. Read this May 4, 2016 letter and our comments which gives a disclaimer.

On what day of the week was Jesus crucified, what year was it, and how long was He in the grave?

The exact year Jesus was crucified is unknown but it was between 30-31 AD. Some say 32 AD.

30AD was on April 5 which was a Wednesday. (He was in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights as He said He would be). He was born in 5 BC. on October 8.

31 AD (April 25) was also on a Wednesday.

Shawn Brasseaux says He was crucified on a Thursday in his article: Was Jesus Christ really crucified on A Friday? [offsite link]

Aaron Budjen also believes Jesus was crucified on a Thursday. Listen to: Accounting for the Three Days and Three Nights (4 part series by Aaron Budjen; mp3 files) Note: While this is a very interesting study, listeners should be aware that Aaron Budjen of Living God Ministries has been questioned about some of his beliefs. Read this May 4, 2016 letter and our comments which gives a disclaimer.]

What about not forsaking the assembling together?

We must not take one Scripture out of the Bible and try to use it in order to compel someone else to do what we think they should do. Verses in the Bible must also be viewed in the context of the historical and cultural context in which they were given in.

We must consider the many Christians who are unable to attend a church or even a visible fellowship due to living in countries where they are experiencing severe religious persecution (even from their own families). The only fellowship many have overseas is to listen to foreign Christian radio broadcasts with wind-up radios or solar powered radios.

In addition, most survivors of spiritual abuse are unable to attend a church due to it being too triggering for them, or because they have been unable to find a good Bible church. (Listen to this broadcast from Living God Ministries on Hebrews 10:25 [opens as MP file]) that says this verse is not a commandment but had to do with how it was very challenging for the Hebrews at that time to meet together with those who were free from the Law; that it was acceptable to meet outside the Temple. Also covers how those from a legalistic background may need a break from assembling. [Note: While this is a very good study, listeners should be aware that Aaron Budjen of Living God Ministries has been questioned about some of his beliefs. Read this May 4, 2016 letter and our comments which gives a disclaimer.]

Nevertheless, messages abound today from other Christians or Christian leaders (especially in the United States) to make exiters feel guilty if they aren’t “in church on Sunday.” This is similar to how members and children were made to feel guilty if they didn’t show up for Sabbath services in the WCG (or other offshoot).

We worship God in spirit and in truth, not at any particular church or location. (John 4:23-24) Since more and more churches today are being infiltrated by the church growth movement (including New Age elements), or are apostate, there are times when we have to stand alone for Christ.

Are We “Out of Fellowship With God” if We Don’t Attend a Church?

How to Find a Good Church Home (good article; offsite link)

Does Hebrews 12:6 mean that God punishes us for our sin?

At the death of Christ, God no longer holds our sins against us, nor ever will. The discipline of God is not punishment for a past event, it is preparation for a future event. The objective is clearly that we grow more in our relationship with Him.

Also read: Does God Chasten Us When We Sin? by Shawn Brasseaux [offsite link]

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Miscellaneous Questions:

Where do I find the one true church?

Where Is the True Church?

What is the gospel?

The Apostle Paul (who was personally taught and commissioned by Christ) said the Gospel was the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. (See I Corinthians 15:1-4) It’s the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ, what He has accomplished and how He has forgiven all our sins. To teach contrary to this is to deny the Gospel and to teach another gospel. (II Cor. 11:4; Galatians 1:6)

The Real Full Gospel (4 audio CD set) by Bob George Ministries [offsite link]

Salvation is Easy
Informative and encouraging videos by Gregg Jackson on numerous Bible subjects including the gospel, Galatian error, eternal salvation, etc. [Note: This is Gregg’s new channel and more videos are being uploaded regularly.]

Who are the sheep that were scattered?

It is a commonly held belief in the HWA offshoots (i.e., those who call themselves “churches of God”) that the true believers–those who believe Herbert Armstrong restored the true gospel–were all scattered (and continue to be scattered) when the WCG made their doctrinal changes. However, Jeremiah 23:1-2 (which they use) is not applying to them. The word “pastors” in these verses refers to the kings, politicians, those ruling at that time in history, the ones who were responsible for the laws of the land (and which God did later judge).

Ezekiel 34 is another chapter used where it talks about the “shepherds” and the flock being scattered and later regathered. But the “regathering” mentioned here and in other places is talking about the nation Israel, not those who left WCG, PCG, etc., and “shepherds” is what Israel’s rulers and leaders were often called.

In Matthew 26:31 Jesus quoted Zechariah 13:7. The “shepherd” in this verse is Christ who was smitten and the sheep that “shall be scattered” was the dispersion of the Jews after 70 A.D. It is blasphemous to even say that the word “shepherd” refers to Herbert Armstrong when he died.

None of these verses apply to any WCG or PCG, etc., pastor or teacher. Those in the offshoots who hold to British-Israelism have wrongly interpreted these scriptures to be speaking to them, especially if they were treated harshly by the leaders of the group they left.

What is the Mark of the Beast and how do we keep from being afraid?

The Bible doesn’t tell us what the Mark of the Beast will be. HWA, and leaders from several of the WCG offshoots, including Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) use fear to teach that the Mark is worshipping on Sunday instead of the Sabbath; however, there is no day mentioned in the book of Revelation in relation to worshipping the image of the beast.

Read: The Fallacy of the Mark of the Beast being Sunday Worship (2 part article from Let Us Reason Ministries).

Here are some reasons why we should not be fearful or concerned about it:

Christians will not experience the wrath of God (which the Mark of the Beast will lead to):

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10).

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (I Thessalonians 5:9).

God says He has not given us a spirit of fear:

“For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7).

There are many places in the Bible where God says to “fear not” or “be not afraid.”

He can deliver us from fear and give us peace:

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalms 34:4).

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

We do not need to worry about the Mark of the Beast or the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation is the time of “Jacob’s trouble.”  (See Jeremiah 30:7) Also read offsite article that clearly shows the church is not “spiritual Israel.”]

Our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life as a result of believing in and trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, not because of any works we might perform.

What is the Tribulation? How do we know the Tribulation will last seven years? [from Got Questions] (Note: Use discernment with this site as we have discovered there are some Calvinistic leanings in some of their articles.)

Why Jesus’ Church Will Not Go Through the Tribulation
Excellent video message by the late J. Vernon McGee. (also covers the different views people hold) [offsite video]

Do you have anything that substantiates the Pretribulation Rapture?

The Pretribulation rapture is also known as the blessed hope. (Titus 2:13)

The word “caught up” in I Thessalonians 4:17 is the Greek word harpazo which means “to lift, to snatch up, to draw up, to transport.” It has several meanings, and one meaning is “to rapture.” The word “rapture” comes from the Latin word rapios which is a translation of the Greek word harpazo.

HWA’s WCG and offshoots such as PCG, RCG, LCG, etc., teach that members will escape the Great Tribulation by fleeing to a “place of safety” and that the only ones going there will be those who are obedient to the “government of God” (which translates to their HQs and to what their leader teaches).

Offsite ARTICLES on the Pretribulation Rapture:

Imminency and the Any-Moment Rapture by Thomas D. Ice

In Defense of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture by David R. Reagan
This article is a rebuttal to the video album titled, “Left Behind or Led Astray?” Article will be the first 9 pages of the magazine Lamplighter. (includes pictures)

The Church like Enoch was born on Pentecost and may be Raptured on Pentecost by Don Koenig

Note: For more on the Rapture see End Times/Rapture on our Links.

Recommended Offsite VIDEO on the Pretribulation Rapture:

The Rapture Comes Next
J. Vernon McGee explains the rapture and when it occurs.

Book on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture:

Kept from the Hour by Gerald B. Stanton (may also be read online here)

How do we know we are not in the Tribulation?

It helps to understand that there are those who believe God’s Plan and Satan’s Counterfeit run side by side. (We are not referring to “God’s Plan” as taught by HWA.) We could be in the time of Satan’s Counterfeit Tribulation. Realize also that the Tribulation (which lasts seven years, not 3 l/2 years as taught by HWA) is referred to in the Bible as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and the N. T. church is not spiritual Israel, which we have covered on this site.

Recommended Articles for further study:

The Biblical Necessity of the Pretribulation Rapture by Jonathan Brentner (helpful for those who are worrying whether they are in the Tribulation now or will go through the Tribulation)

The Tribulation, the Anti-Christ and the Church (from Let Us Reason Ministries)

Why the tribulation did not happen in 70 AD! (from Let Us Reason Ministries)

What types of cults are there?

Here is a breakdown of most of them. For more details on each one, see the book, Captive Hearts, Captive Minds by Madeleine Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich, Chapter one.

Eastern meditation
Religious (i.e., apocalyptic; Bible-based)
Political, racist, terrorist
Psychotherapy/human potential (mass transformational)
Commercial (i.e., MLM)
New Age
Occult, satanic, black magic
Miscellaneous, or cult of personality (i.e., martial arts, dance, a type of healing or medicine)

How do I tell others I was in a cult?

It is not necessary to come out and tell others you were in a cult. Most won’t understand how you became involved in the first place, and if it is Christians you are telling this to, there is the very real possibility that they may unthinkingly say something hurtful, or look upon you as weak or inferior in some way. Read: Amazing Words That Have Been Said to Exiters -or- What Never to Say to Someone Who Has Been Deceived. Most Christians believe they can never be deceived.

If you feel you want to tell others something about your involvement (especially if you have been asked which church you were previously in), it is better to simply say you were in a “very controlling church.” You do not need to give them the name of your former group and can simply say you “don’t feel comfortable mentioning it.”

Sometimes you will run across those who have been in a controlling, or abusive church, and who can identify with much of what you have gone through. Other Christians, however, do not even know what the words “spiritual abuse” means and its damaging after effects. (If they are interested, we list titles of several good books on our Booklist.)

It might work okay to tell them that your group used methods of control, guilt and fear to enforce compliance to their dogma. It is best, however, not to blurt out your whole story to strangers, especially other Christians you do not know very well. Don’t blame yourself or say you were “stupid” when you are sharing your involvement, or they may feel they should agree with you. The people that will understand the most are those who have been in an abusive, controlling, or exploitive group.

While some exiters have found their new church caring and accepting (or at least one or two members who are understanding), this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless, it is recommended that exiters always wait until they feel strong enough to answer others concerning their involvement.

If Christianity is true, why are there so many denominations?

This question was first raised in our minds by Herbert Armstrong whose purpose was to try and plant a seed of doubt in the minds of those he was recruiting in order that they might come to distrust all other mainstream Christian churches and their literature and hold to the belief that he alone was God’s apostle of the “one and only true church” where he claimed God was working. An crucial question is, “What are the traits of churches that claim they are the “one true Church?” (Read All or Nothing Statements for a sample of how totalistic leaders talk.)

What is important is what is going on inside a church or Christian organization. Do they teach that one is saved by faith through grace but then go on to add works, rituals and conditions for salvation? Do they control their members with fear and guilt if they don’t obey the leadership? Do they hold to doctrines which center around the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, or do members believe that extra-revelations were given to their founder that must be used in addition to the Bible? Are their ministers humble, or do they have a proud, unteachable spirit? Can members question or doubt what their ministers teach? Have they given many prophecies or predictions that have failed to come to pass? Do the fruits of their own lives testify as to what they teach, or have they been found to be hypocrites and liars? Do they forbid their members to listen to former members (calling them “disgruntled,” “bitter,” “Laodicean,” etc.?) Do they practice history revision and gloss over the sins of their founder?

There has always been a false Christianity and a true Christianity. Doctrine is used by false teachers for the purpose of controlling their members and to distract others from their true agenda which is financial exploitation. Deceptive leaders (who are not held accountable) will control, abuse and exploit their members over the issue of doctrine in order to receive a following which brings them money and power. While there are many denominations, a false church will lack a basic fundamental understanding of the true Gospel, which centers around the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, His forgiveness for all our sins (I John 2:2) and His bodily resurrection. If their understanding of the Gospel is inaccurate, then their interpretation of other scriptures will be flawed (and in most cases taken out of context and twisted).

While it was placed in our minds to wonder “why there are so many denominations in Christianity,” today we find hundreds of Armstrong offshoots (calling themselves “churches of God”) with most of them claiming to be the “correct” or “true” one, yet differing or disagreeing on a number of points. (Read: May 18, 2011 PCG letter: No Good Fruit in the Splinter Groups)

Why Are There So Many Christian Denominations? [offsite link]

What is the Sacred Name Movement that some exiters have gotten caught up in?

This movement began in the 1930s among the Church of God (7th Day) and is similar to the Hebrew Roots Movement. It has grievous errors.

Other articles [offsite]:

What is the Sacred Name Movement? (from Got Questions)

If His name was Yeshua, why do we call Him Jesus? (from Got Questions)

The Sacred Name Movement (4 part series from Let Us Reason Ministries)

Why do some turn to atheism after leaving these groups:

Read: Why Do So Many Exiters of Armstrongism Turn to Atheism?

Do you have anything about what singles had/have to endure?

Read the following:

The Sad Singles Scene

Dating Rules for Singles According to Ryan Malone

Can we eat “unclean meats”?

“The New Testament teaching through the apostles explains that all food is now clean to eat, including pork” (1 Tim. 4:1-4; Rom. 14; Acts 10:9-16).

Under the Mosaic Covenant some meats were unclean. Lev.11. Today all are clean. (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

A very short article from Got Questions is: “What does the Bible say about what foods we should eat?

Another short article from Got Questions is: “Why did the Old Testament Law command against the eating of pork?

Do you have any information on “The Chosen”?

Read our article, “What About the Chosen?” (also has links at bottom to articles & videos on “The Chosen”) Will also cover why some have thought this series is good for exiters of the Armstrong offshoots and why we disagree.

Also see: Articles and Videos on our Links under Discernment.

Where Can I Email Former Members of WCG & Offshoots?

Please go to this page: If You Would Like to Email Other Exiters

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Note: Worldwide Church of God, Philadelphia Churchof God, and its authoritative offshoots teach a false, cruel God. Any articles on this website that mention God are those that reveal a God whose love is everlasting, and who is full of mercy, grace and compassion, giving Himself freely to meet our deepest needs. He manifested His love to us by revealing Himself through His Son, Christ Jesus, who saves us eternally by His grace and not by any works that we might try to do. This website gives credit to Him for inspiring the contents therein. It would not be possible without Him.


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