Worldwide Church of God collapse

by cog_survivor 42 Replies latest jw friends

  • cog_survivor

    On my introduction post a few people expressed interest in how the Worldwide Church of God (wwcg) imploded. I think maybe in hopes something similar will happen with the JWs. I think the JWs will also eventually experience a meltdown but probably not in the same way since the power structure was a bit different. This may be a bit long but I hope people find it useful

    The catalyst happened as a result of the transfer of power/authority

    WWCG was founded by Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) who was a egocentric in the extreme. He maintained near absolute power up to the very end of his life. I can't say what was in his mind but I suspect that his choice of sucessor was an attempt to ensure that his reputation as "God's endtime apostle" would be firmly in place. So even though dead his memory would continue to rule.

    In order to do that he needed a sychophant who he believed idolized him and would continue to idolize his memory. He had several to choose from. He wanted someone who seemed to demonstrate the proper humility in his presence. He thought he had that in Joseph Tkach Sr. (There were several accusations that Joe Tkach played the game for the position but that really doesn't matter in the end)

    The problem with choosing someone like that meant that the power structure couldn't be as easily maintained. It really took took someone charismatic and equally power mad as HWA to keep things running in the same manner. But I don't think HWA could broke any rivals while alive or after his death. He had to be top dog.

    When Tkach assumed authority he was more of a organizational leader. He didn't possess the personality to be the jet setting witness to world leaders as HWA posed to be. As a consequence he paid more attention to the church and its members. He began advocating a kinder gentler approach. "Less sheriff, more shepherd", was how he put it.

    Behind the scenes his son Tkach Jr and few other church leaders in rank just below Tkach Sr were beginning to explore church doctines. Other than the booklets/books written by him, HWA resisted any attempts to actually codify the churches beliefs by anyone else. As they began to study the churches beliefs they started feeling each other out to see they were seeing the same things. When they established trust with one another they began taking what they found to Tkach Sr who listened. They started gradually changing things.

    Its funny and sad in retrospect but the first firestorm of controversy was when they said it was no longer frowned upon to seek medical help (previously people were considered "weak in the faith" if they got medical care). Then they said women could wear makeup.

    It really hit the fan when they debunked British-Israelism. Because that meant that the 7th day sabbath and Old Testament holy days were no longer requirements for Christians.

    That was an agonizing time. About a third to half of the members were reactionary. They split off and formed splinter groups that adherred to "the faith once delivered" as they saw it. Families split along doctinal lines, marriages ended. A few people went off the deep end because the church was their control and they had little internal self control. Most of us who accepted what we were told about our former beliefs were shellshocked over realizing that we had been living a lie and the consequences.

    I stuck it out until about 2006. But eventually had to leave because even though the doctrines had changed for the better. The same old power structure was in place. Many of the same leaders who had rode roughshod over the members were still around. Sure many said they regreted their actions but they needed to learn better people skills. Like one former pastor who gave up on the whole mess (David Covington) said, "we're like a man who goes from beating his wife daily to once a week and are now holding marriage seminars"

    There were also problems with rewriting history to make the leaders look less culpable in how they handled changing things and commitments to the laity that were broken. So I had to get out so I could heal.

    I'm currently attending an Episcopal church. Talk about going to the opposite end of the spectrum:) But I deliberately chose them because of their liberal reputation. I thought it would give me the space the work things out yet provide me with a spiritual outlet. So far it is working out pretty well. But I still have a long way to go. And it is difficult at time because while they are often sympathetic people don't understand what its like to have been raised in a cult.

    Sorry if this was too long winded. If people are still interested, I can post another time about the abuses and control issues in wwcg so they can be compared to JWs

  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    I find this interesting. We who were JWs can see similarities between the 2 religions so it's something we can relate to.

    Feel free to start more threads if you want. I for one will be reading them.

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    It's interesting to hear your perspective on something many of us want.

    If the WT collapsed, my lot would have to confront some issues they have been avoiding for a long time. I have always assumed that they would be their own support group, but that doesn't seem to be what happened in your case, so now I wouldn't know what to expect.

    .... and welcome to the forum

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    Very interesting, thanks. And welcome!

  • Terry

    Much obliged for a thoroughly readable account.

    My grandmother use to listen to Herbert W. Armstrong and the World of Tomorrow broadcasts on radio.

    I sat and listened with her.

    HWA was one of the most charismatic plain-spoken evangelists I've ever heard because something personally magnetic came through.

    For one thing, he sounded like a common man and not a GAWD-speaking peacock. He enunciated clearly, was conversational in tone and

    established a mind-to-mind rapport with listeners.

    He was casual and yet forceful. He was persuasive and yet elusive.

    In later years I caught a few telecasts with Garner Ted Armstrong peddling old cassette tapes! He was doing his best Herbert W. imitation, too.

    The Plain Truth magazine came.......drum roll please....FREE! each month in the mailbox.

    Neither myself nor my grandmother understood any of the doctrine so much as we were by the semblance of scriptural EXPLANATIONS given by an authority.

    I'd describe it like knowing you will get a suntan if you stay out in the sun. It just happens!


    Looking back I see our ears were being "tickled".

    What has transformed the church (to whatever extent it changed) was a hunger provoked by Intellectual Honesty. And that is most refreshing.

    But, it is also a process of "lifting up a rock and observing what runs out from under" too.

    People (some/most) in such a church crave the weight of authority on top of them. They yearn for the shade and the cool protective covering.

    Being human, they are still rational creatures. So, there is a susceptibility toward the step-by-step courting of the mind by false facts.

    The Jehovah's Witness legacy continues, of course, without a central authoritative PERSONA.

    It is a corporate borg.

    There would need to develop a "critical mass" of inquisitive intellectually thirsty honest minds to create the implosive force for change.


  • panhandlegirl

    cog, welcome to the forum. My husband and I (and his parents) used to listen to HWA and later to his son, Ted. You are right about people not understanding what it's like being raised in a cult. It is not easy to overcome the damage done to your psyche. It's difficult to reorganize/reinvent your life after this type of loss. As Frazier would say "I'm [we're] listening". Look forward to more of your posts.

  • slimboyfat

    I am not so fond of this comparison actually, because as far as I can see COG leaders opportunistically swapped one ideology (non-Trinitarian/legalistic) for another (Trinitarian/predeterministic) when they came to realise that the old model was no longer viable from a business perspective. It's not the sort of reform or collapse I am interested in seeing. Either I'd like JWs to drop shunning, the blood doctrine and abuse policies, or I'd like to see them collapse entirely. Frankly I don't care what their doctrine of Christ is or their view on once saved always saved.

  • clarity

    Cog welcome to this place ... we DO understand ... unfortuneatly!

    Having the rug ripped out from underneath you is extremely painful ...

    Good luck with your healing. Feel free to continue writing your story.


  • donny

    Great post Cog. It was not too long at all. I look forward to hearing more about this JW like church. I remember a Witness who saw me with a Plain Truth magazine in the early 1980's commented that it was written by "the evil slave." It seems that a rumor was being passed around the Witness circles that H.W. Armstrong used to be a JW or International Bible Student and split after Russel passed. I believe Mr. Armstrong even had a small article in his magazine stating that he was never part of the Society.

  • blondie

    Hi, cog, what do you think of the Living Church of God and Roderick Meredith?

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