From Armstrongism to Jesus

 

 

I was raised attending and believing in the teachings of the pseudo-Christian cult, the Worldwide Church of God and its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.

When I met my future husband in college, I had temporarily stopped attending church, but I knew I had to get back to going. After we were married he began attending with me, and we were both baptized there a few months later. I don't remember ever doubting that it was God's one true church and that Herbert Armstrong was really the end-time apostle who we were to follow. Our strong beliefs that we were to observe the Old Testament Holy Days and the Saturday Sabbath were not to be compromised no matter what. Without these, we believed, there was no way we could understand God's plan or be a part of His family. They were our identity as the true people of God.

I know that many people today have seen the cheap-grace side of professing Christianity, but I spent nearly my whole life in the other ditch of legalism, and it is just as ugly and despicable and dangerous. It involves a hopeless system of trying to do every little thing right in order to appease God and make ourselves right in His eyes. My hope was that some day, by trying harder, I would achieve a state of being righteous enough. It really was a life of bondage, frustration, and discouragement. Needless to say, my "Christianity" didn't produce much joy.

We believed that Jesus was the Son of God, but we didn't believe in the triune God and didn't believe Jesus should be worshiped because that would elevate Him to equality with God. The whole concept of Jesus being "God With Us" was something I didn't really understand, and the idea of having salvation by trusting the finished work of Christ was foreign to me. Salvation was something I hoped to attain by doing the best I could, but there was never a time when I thought I had reached that. When I was most honest with myself, I despaired in wondering how I was ever going to make it.

In the late 1980's Herbert Armstrong died. Joseph Tkach, the man he had appointed to take his place, began making changes in the church, minor ones at first, and then around the mid-1990's, he made more substantial changes. People felt betrayed and began leaving and starting churches that held to the teachings of Mr. Armstrong. When the Trinity doctrine was introduced to the church and the idea that God didn't require us to observe the Holy Days and the Sabbath, my whole foundation, like nearly everyone else's there, was shaken. There was complete chaos in the church, and I didn't know where to turn. The people I had always looked to were in the same predicament I was in. I literally thought I was going crazy, and at times I wanted to die. Lifelong friendships and even families were splitting apart. For the first time in my life that I can remember, I started thinking we had been wrong, but I still didn't know what was right or what the truth was and furthermore, I doubted whether or not I would ever again be able to really believe or know anything for certain. Everything I had been so sure of was changing. It's really hard to describe the degree of hopelessness and confusion I felt. I would never have chosen to be thrown into a state like that. God could have let me have my way and not go through that crisis, but I'm eternally thankful now that He did not.

During this time, my husband went to Promise Keepers and heard a message that God used to change him. When someone invited him to a Baptist church in the area, he was ready to go, and I agreed to try it. It was scary, and I was torn. People were worshiping Jesus and singing to Him, and I wasn't sure about that.

Through a series of events, we got connected in a small group there, and for the first time in my life, I was around lots of real Christians, and even though I know they had to sometimes wonder what planet I was from, they never treated me that way. My husband had the unfortunate job of dealing with my instability. I struggled for months, going back and forth on things during a time in our lives which he now refers to as "The Great Roller Coaster Ride." He really did exhibit the patience of Christ, and he tried to help me, but he didn't know how. He gently but increasingly stated that he thought it would be best if we quit attending the Worldwide Church of God despite the positive changes that had taken place there, and go only to the Baptist church. Mostly because of me, were attended both places for six months. There were and still are lots of people I love in the Worldwide Church of God, but they didn't seem to have any more answers than I did. It was like we all had the same problems, but no one had the solution.

We did finally stop attending the Worldwide Church of God completely. We spent a lot of time at the new church, and my sister and I went to almost every event it offered. A little at a time my questions were being answered, and the bigger pieces of the puzzle were coming together. I had come to realize and firmly believe that Jesus is God and worthy to be worshiped, which was a big thing. People at this church talked a lot about salvation, but my ideas about what it was and how it was possible had been so twisted that it took awhile for me to understand that it truly is a free gift which comes to us through faith and that we can actually have it now.

One night the pastor preached on the Foolishness of the Cross. I knew that I had treated the cross and Jesus' work on the cross as foolishness my whole life and that I was therefore perishing. I desperately wanted to be saved from that, and I prayed and trusted in Jesus alone for eternal life.

Jesus Christ, the one I had denied my whole life, in His infinite love and mercy, was pleased to rescue me from the depths of darkness, deception, confusion, and hopelessness and become my Lord and Savior.


Nancy N.

 

 

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