This week we will examine the doctrines regarding healing and the strange contradictions in fact and logic that have entered the Churches of God over the last fifty years.
It was a matter of record that physicians were officers of the Church of God for centuries. From the time of Moses the conduct of medical matters was placed in the hands of the priesthood, and medicine was an organised structure of the faith for centuries. The priesthood was legally responsible for the determination of matters of quarantine and diagnosis of a number of serious disabilities or contagious diseases. As medical knowledge increased, the practice of medicine was conducted by specialists. These individuals ceased being priests in the normal sense. As education was also vested in the Levites and their supervised groups, these specialisations occurred more and more outside of the priesthood. Technically, the priesthood also supervised the penal system. Whilst prisons did not exist other than as holding places for the trial of the accused, there were cities of refuge. A resident priest supervised these cities. These priests in the cities of refuge were more specialised in their supervisory roles than they would be for example in areas such as medicine and sub-branches of education. They no doubt had experience in both aspects. The refugees were, by law, required to remain in these cities until the death of the ruling priest of the city.
In the same way quarantine restrictions were imposed at the order of the priest of the city in which the person lived, and it could only be lifted by a priest, and usually by the priest of the city in which the person lived. The person with the disease was required to be placed in quarantine until cured or dead.
The priests had an abysmal record of caring for the diseased and the sick as we see at the time of Christ up until the destruction of the Temple. Over the centuries, priests placed in charge of medical matters have often proved to be self-righteous and complete failures in the matters of the humane discharge of their responsibilities. That is one of the major thrusts of the Gospel criticisms of Christ levelled at the Levitical priesthood.
The extension of medical aid to the sick was a major function of the Church, and its extension of political influence was achieved by the caring and skilful assistance it gave to the infirm. The care of the aged and sick was a measure of its righteousness, and a source of criticism from other faiths and systems.
The Church was underground for many centuries, and was unable to undertake organised social programs without drawing persecution from the Trinitarian structures. Because of their disregard for the basics of biblical hygiene and health related matters in handling quarantine and food, there was a massive incidence of disease in their areas of power and responsibility.
An example is the massive incompetence of the medical profession in basic hygiene contrary to biblical law over the centuries. In Europe and the UK, before the understanding of bacteria, it was common for the doctors in training and in universities on staff to examine cadavers and then go and examine pregnant women without washing their hands. These women often contracted infections (termed puerperal fever) and died in hospital while confined to have their babies. It was so much so in the 18th century that people avoided, as far as possible, having their babies in hospital and used midwives. An intelligent medical practitioner studied this aspect and he observed that the process of the doctors not washing their hands was causing the disease. Today what he says is so obvious and so much a basis of common sense that it is difficult to imagine how doctors could be so negligent. However, he was condemned by the doctors and declared insane and placed in an asylum. It took some time for what he said to be proven and become part of medical practice in Trinitarian Europe.
The fact is that the Laws of God given to Moses outlawed such a practice. If they had declared every doctor who touched a corpse as unclean for the specified period, then they would never have been able to go in to touch a patient of any description for seven days (Num. 19:11-12). They would have had to purify themselves. The simple precautions of the Bible by and large prevent many of the diseases of the world. It took a great deal of trial and error to prove what the Bible says, and now we try to cover it up as new knowledge, and the laws of God are coincidental to any such discovery. How many people have died over the centuries due to failure to obey God’s Laws is anyone’s guess. The numbers are in the untold millions.
There is no doubt that medical incompetence kills vast numbers of people today. There is no doubt that some of us are almost killed by medical incompetence on a regular basis. It has been estimated that some one third of all deaths in hospital are due to medical error. The writer has been almost killed twice and has been condemned to an earlier death than he might otherwise expect, due to medical error and the attempts at denying him entitlements by high ranking medical incompetents, and their interference with his medical practitioners. The fact is that he is also alive due to the efforts of some very skilful surgeons. Without their intervention, and God’s oversight, he would no doubt be dead. In the same way, God has intervened to keep him alive on at least three identifiable occasions. In one example, members of a Church of God tried to persuade him not to have surgery when it was necessary. Fortunately he did not listen to them and is still alive now. As it was, he almost died.
The fact is that most people in hospital are there because they need urgent treatment and most might otherwise die if they did not get that treatment. Thus, the evaluation of such deaths is problematic.
The fact is that modern medicine is a very complex subject that requires intensive training by intelligent people, and some must specialise in areas because they cannot keep up with it all. It is quite beyond the realms of a GP, much less an administrator, to keep up with it all on a comprehensive basics. It is a matter of absurdity to suggest that a priest can be proficient in this area while conducting his normal duties.
No church can pronounce with any authority on medical matters on a comprehensive basis, and needs professional guidance and assistance.
From the 1950s, the Radio Church of God began to embrace a doctrine of healing that was contrary to Bible teaching and was in fact based on a misunderstanding of the NT pronouncements, which were in point of fact concerning the priests of the Greek god of healing, Aesculapius.
It was decided that because the Bible speaks of the practices of the Greeks and the earlier aberrations such as Asa, who turned to the physicians instead of to God and died for that fact, that it was contrary to faith to ask assistance from medical practitioners of whatever persuasion, even when they were not practicing the cult of a foreign god. From this basic and erroneous premise, a doctrine developed that caused untold suffering and death in the Churches of God, and is still causing suffering and death, and it must be exposed.
Many of the Church, if not most or all, have relatives in other churches. Some of those churches have rational approaches to medical practice and some do not. Some in CCG have relatives in the offshoots of the WCG system, and are faced with the false doctrine and erroneous practices of the WCG that were carried over into the offshoots such as UCG, PCG or LCG. In some, such as UCG, there appear to be mixed messages coming from them regarding these doctrines.
In these aspects these organisations can be very dangerous to the health and well being of our brethren through their teaching and influence.
Recently a CCG woman visited some of her family, who were in LCG, and she developed bronchitis. She was not given medical attention, and only after a month when she returned to her brethren was she taken to a doctor and given the medical attention she needed. She is in the process of recovery. She was quite advanced in years and could well have developed more serious complications, such as pneumonia, and died. As it was, she went through a month of misery without necessity, and seemingly due to false doctrine.
It appears that the LCG has embraced the doctrines espoused by its head Roderick Meredith when he was in the Radio Church of God. All this is in spite of the advances in understanding and the serious problems and suffering of the brethren over the intervening years. These doctrines and that position need to be examined and exposed so that the real dangers to the brethren of the Churches of God are understood. This is a serious matter.
To better understand the position, and see its enunciation, the following statements are important.
Doctrine of Healing from the Radio Church of God
The following quotes are examples of the published position of the RCG (WCG) on healing as espoused by its spokesman on the subject, Roderick C. Meredith, an evangelist of that organisation and now the head of the Living Church of God.
"Most people do not realize that a lack of faith is simply a disbelief that God will keep his promises or back up His word. Have you ever thought of it that way?”
"God has promised to heal His children through the prayers of His ministers (James 5:14). If you doubt this promise, you are making God a liar!"
"When you are sick, do you obey God's command to 'call for the elders of the church'? Or do you rush to the phone and call the doctor?”
"Do you completely TRUST God to keep His promise to heal, or do you trust in the painful, costly, and sometimes fatal method of doctors with their drugs and knives?”
"If you really believe God will heal, then trust Him to do it! Faith without works is dead (James 2:20)." (Roderick C. Meredith, “The Answer to Unanswered Prayer”, Plain Truth, January 1956)
This view was to lead to a crisis in the Radio Church of God in 1969, through the obvious and serious contradictions in the outcome of such a “faith-based health approach” that denied the legitimacy of the gathering of genuine qualified medical advice regarding the treatment of disease. All this was done in spite of the fact that the apostle Luke was a physician.
No one in their right mind claims that the medical practitioners of the Western world are infallible. The Eastern systems are even worse, and many are indeed allied to idolatrous religious systems as well as the problems they have in fact.
The statistics appear to indicate that in the USA medical incompetence accounts for some 33% of deaths in US hospitals.
To use that as an argument not to go to doctors is like saying that, “Because
I am sick, I will not go to doctors because there is a 30 % odd chance that
I will die.” The sad fact of the matter is that most people, who have medical
conditions requiring hospitalisation, will die if left untreated. Thus the facts
are that the medical profession’s incompetence results in the death of one third
of the people who sought treatment in hospital and might have died without treatment.
The facts are that two thirds survived to die naturally of their problems.
The counter problem that has arisen in the Churches of God, due to the teachings against registered Western medical practice is a “cult of the quack.” Naturopaths are consulted without regard to qualifications, and often simply because they are not qualified medical practitioners. This has led to another series of problems in the churches. The result has often been that unqualified ministry and quacks are placed in a position that their training, and often their intellect, does not equip them to handle. People regard taking quacks’ remedies as righteous, and the taking of prescriptions as sin.
The fact of the matter is that we should all have a healthy distrust of authority but use the technology available to the best of our ability. Certainly there is no excuse for letting someone we know and love die through a failure to seek proper medical attention.
The failure of the RCG/WCG to educate its people in the proper use of medical systems, and indeed to encourage proper and competent medical training and practice continued on into the 1980s. It was only after the death of Herbert Armstrong that the double standards and hypocrisy in medical practice under the WCG ministry was addressed.
The crisis in healing was not long coming. In 1969 people were dying because of this imbecility and they were angry about it. The following letter (R. C. Meredith) was sent to the ministry in 1969:
"Many, many others have serious cases of cancer or are afflicted with other serious ailments. And, as I mentioned recently, this seems to be a growing trend in the Church. Although the booklet on healing in its present form has been cancelled, we should continue to preach this doctrine to the converted members of God's Church with earnestness and fervency!" (The booklet was reportedly recalled due to threats of prosecution)
The problems aroused the interest and indignation of many members. We have all seen the doctrines misused and the results have often been serious. The work by CCG on Case Studies on the Healing Doctrine shows the problems. Interestingly enough, we had ex-WCG ministers of long standing in CCG who would not come to grips with the responsibility they had in this matter. Many would not address the case studies. A seminar was conducted on the Case Studies at a feast in North America not too long ago. Some there came and thanked us and said that the studies were a source of healing over many old wounds and issues. The ex-WCG officers that would not come to grips with these problems are no longer with us.
These problems became the cause of much dissention and bitterness. David Robinson, a dissident critic of the system, writes the following:
"The church taught against doctors and medicine. Resorting to either was grounds for disfellowship. In the spring of 1970 Rod Meredith, superintendent of all U.S. ministers, developed a serious problem with one of his eyes. The doctor discovered a detached retina. It was determined that an operation would 'save the eye.' He felt that in order for him to serve God properly, he would need both eyes! God would not want him handicapped with just one eye, as Rod was one of his principal tools in this age. The doctor had promised he could do the operation, and it would only be 'repair surgery,' not just surgery, which was forbidden by the church.
"Somehow 'repair surgery' was made to seem different from other surgery. Anyway, he discussed this at length with Mr. Armstrong, and it was 'all right.' Beside that, it would not take very long for the doctor to do the work. And remember, he, Rod, would then be in better condition to serve God. This was Rod Meredith's 'reasoning around' doctrine he himself taught. When health problems came home to him, an exception was made.
"There was quite an uproar. Ministers all over the country wondered what kind of surgery was not 'repair surgery.' They wanted a definition of terms. They wondered aloud if God was unable to heal an eye, but he was expected to heal cancer. They asked questions about what faith really was and if the top men who taught it were now not expected to demonstrate how it worked. How could Rod expect it of the little people and not hold himself to the same rules.
"Sid Cloud, a minister down from the Bay area of California, was indignant. He said there was a man in his area in central California who had the same thing wrong with one of his eyes, and he had not gone to the doctor because of church teaching, and he had lost his eye. Had he gone to a medical specialist, as Rod had done, he would still have his eye. Sid was hot!
"Ministers in the church still, ten years later, rankle over Rod's requiring one thing from the people and doing another himself." (David Robinson, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, 1980, 22-23).
It was not just Rod Meredith that carried this illogical doctrine and its contradictory implementation out. Herbert Armstrong also carried it out when it involved others, and reportedly allowed his wife to die in pain, but when he required attention the healing doctrines were changed.
This double standard seemed to apply to many of the ministry. A woman was told to stop taking her thyroid tablets by a minister so that she might be allowed to join the Church. It was later revealed that the minister himself was taking blood pressure tablets over that period. She would have been condemned to certain death if she had obeyed. Apparently he did not think that he needed to comply with the same doctrines he insisted others accept. These standards were common. The carnage they wrought was horrific. The Good News Magazine obituaries showed the death from cancer of many fine women who would have been perfectly healthy if allowed, or told, it was acceptable to have a curette after a miscarriage, or hysterectomy, and who died unnecessarily. Their families were robbed of mothers and wives and sisters by a false doctrine that was simply a silly policy of uninformed men.
Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that the people within our families and our congregations get the best and most up-to-date advice available. If a person purports to be a minister of God and tells you that you may or may not do something, and it affects your health and wellbeing or the health and wellbeing of your family, there is an action at law against them.
No officer of the Christian Churches of God is to advise a member or person anywhere not to seek medical attention and proper informed opinion, as to the treatment of any problem he or she faces. It is contrary to the spirit of the Bible and the proper doctrine of the Church of God. It is also contrary to law. If a person dies in the state of NSW for example and they have not had medical attention within the previous seven days, then the person responsible for that position is charged at law with an offence, and so they should be. Some years ago a woman who avoided doctors, and as a rule did not take medicine prescribed for her, consulted a medical practitioner who could do nothing to save her and she died some few days later. A blessing in that was that she had consulted a doctor within the seven days prior to her death. The police informed her daughter that if she had not done so, then she could have been charged over the matter. Each of us has a requirement to protect those whom we love even if we ourselves choose, as in this case, to die.
Each of us is responsible for the welfare of our brothers. If someone is in need, then we all have an obligation to provide whatever help we are able. The Church tries to assist where it can.
Other WCG quotes along these lines are:
"You can go to doctors for your healing if you want to-the Church of God advises you that this is not the way to be healed. It is just not within the power of another human being to forgive your sin and heal your body!" (David Jon Hill, The Good News, Aug. 1964, p. 8.).
"Jesus conferred this power on His Apostles and they continued-after His death-to heal in this same miraculous way. Throngs of people were raised up whole and sound because of the divine intervention of God. Those who asked in faith were healed!
"The ministry of God has the very same power today.... You can have faith God will heal you! But You May Die! (Clint C. Zimmerman, The Good News, Feb. 1965, p. 3.)
"To rely on any foods, supplements, medicines, drugs, knives, or even on fasting, for healing (and none of these can, ever have, or ever will heal!) is to break the commandment against idolatry!" (Garner Ted Armstrong, The Good News, June 1964, pp. 4, 22.)
Jon Trechak was to write in exposing these views as follows:
“Watching Out for the D.A. By continuing to embrace its bizarre healing doctrine, the Armstrong organization exposed itself to both serious legal difficulties and notoriety. Secrecy, therefore, enshrouded the church's belief in healing. Ministers were continually admonished by headquarters to use great care in the handling of medical problems.
The church's legal department helped prepare a list of instructions given to ministers in the late 1960s to help them handle these problems. In many ways the list of instructions, titled "How to Deal With Health and Medical Problems," amounted to nothing more than a crash course in how to lie effectively. The following excerpts shed a great deal of light on the methods used by the Armstrong organization in keeping both legal authorities and the news media ignorant of what was really occurring:
"I. Advising on Health Problems. Caution must always be exercised in advising on a person's health problems, lest you be found to be practicing medicine.... If a person practices medicine without a license, and the patient should die, the wrongdoer could be prosecuted for manslaughter or murder! Now you can see why extreme caution must be exercised in advising brethren in God's Church concerning their health problems...
"II. How Prosecution Begins in Case of Death. …As this type of case is not so well known as the obvious type of crime such as murder or robbery, there is always the possibility that he [the D.A.] might choose not to prosecute. This is the type of circumstance where a 'contact' is invaluable. The prosecutor might easily be persuaded by a friend to drop the matter so long as the newspapers have not made major news of it....
"III. Suggestions for Avoiding Prosecution... Don't
say anything!... Don't mention divine healing.... If legal circumstances or
wisdom demands that you answer, then be succinct and discreet.... If the investigator
should know something about anointing with oil, there is no need to assume that
he knows that the practice of medicine is held in disrepute. It might be good
to draw an analogy to the Catholic Church, and the fact that, 'We, as they,
anoint with oil.'...
"Do not mention faith healing under any circumstances.... Deny any knowledge that the ailment was serious. Or if this cannot be done, then: (a) Place the time when the seriousness first became apparent as close to the time of death as possible. (b) Take the shortest period of time possible for the length of illness. (c) If the question of a doctor should arise, it might be met with, 'If I had any idea that she was that sick and that a doctor could have healed her, I certainly would have called him immediately.'
"Befriend a doctor with at least an affinity for our religious beliefs.... a doctor might recommend some course of medical treatment that he feels would absolutely save the person's life, but which we would consider absolutely inimical to God's law. If the person died, then the doctor would be a powerful witness for the prosecution not only to prove gross neglect but Proximate cause as well. Also, unless the doctor held an affinity for our religious beliefs, he could contact the District Attorney if the patient was a minor and request that a court-appointed guardian be named. The court could then take custody of the child, and the guardian consent to such a course of medical treatment... When rejecting medical service or drugs, predicate the refusal on the grounds of risk or potential adverse results.... If the matter is serious enough and the particular doctor sees no possibility of adverse effect but only 100 percent success, then the patient or parent can merely state they would like to obtain further consultation and advice on the. subject...
"During the steps when an illness becomes serious, keep as many people out of the house as possible. Do not tell outsiders about the seriousness of an illness or your belief in divine healing. The more people that have knowledge of the subject, or are present during the final stages, the more potential adverse witnesses you have. Only one antagonistic person, with a sufficient amount of first-hand knowledge, can furnish enough testimony upon which to pass a successful prosecution....
"Do not attend an informal, requested hearing at the District Attorney's office, unless unusual circumstances dictate otherwise. A strong general rule is that a parent should never go to the office of the District Attorney to discuss such a case.... In one case the prosecutor admitted that he could never have tried the case without the statements given by the mother. After the child had died, she stopped in his office, at his request, and told him everything about the case. She even signed a statement to that effect. She also made statements to certain officials in the Coroner's office. They proved certain facts that he could not have proven otherwise.
"Don't involve the church.... When brought into contact with medical men, be friendly, but firm. Be careful not to mention the Bible, religion, or the Church of God.
"IV. What to Do in Case of an Untimely Death. When there is an untimely death in the Church with overtones of divine healing having been relied upon, prompt action is necessary in order to avoid prosecution and bad publicity... the local minister should immediately contact Headquarters by telephone and notify us of the circumstances... After receiving this information, either Mr. Rader or Mr. Helge [WCG attorneys] can consult with the local minister by telephone, and ascertain if there is potential criminal liability or bad publicity for the church member, the minister or the church."
Around 1968, to further conceal from the public its position on medicine, the Worldwide Church of God began to cease offering the Does God Heal Today? booklet on the church's "World Tomorrow" broadcast. For a time, if a listener were to somehow find out about the booklet, it was sent, but before long even this practice was discontinued. Eventually, those who requested it were simply informed that it was "out of print." Those of us who were ministerial students at Ambassador College in 1970, however, were still able to get copies of it from the college press, as were field ministers.
The booklet may have been declared "out of print," but the doctrine it taught was most certainly still in effect. A late 1969 letter to the entire United States ministry written by Roderick Meredith, then director of Church Administration, contained this statement:
"Many, many others have serious cases of cancer or are afflicted with other serious ailments. And, as I mentioned recently, this seems to be a growing trend in the Church. Although the booklet on healing in its present form has been cancelled, we should continue to preach this doctrine to the converted members of God's Church with earnestness and fervency!"
An Exercise in Doublethink. With few exceptions the Worldwide Church's ministry continued to preach and privately teach the healing doctrine exactly as Herbert Armstrong always had. The absence of a written doctrinal statement, however, did have an effect on members. Some began to study the subject on their own, and a number of "true believers" began to wonder whether the Armstrongs were not in fact watering down their healing doctrine.
The doubts increased when, in early 1970, Herbert Armstrong admitted that Roderick C. Meredith, the director of Church Administration, had recently undergone surgery to repair a detached retina. To many believers this seemed inconsistent with official church doctrine, and Meredith spent no small amount of time attempting to explain away the incongruity. He claimed repeatedly that it was only "repair surgery" that had been performed and that he had not looked to the medical profession for healing. In a letter to the church's ministry, dated March 9, 1970, he wrote:
"We knew God could, of course, heal the eye. But Mr. Armstrong felt that in this case it involved something we could do and probably should do under the present circumstances. Therefore, I arranged to get the best specialist available through a special eye institute attached to UCLA and had this repair surgery performed..." (p. 7).
Then on April 8, 1970, he wrote this regarding his eye operation and how the
ministers should explain it to church members:
"In explaining this matter, there are two principles to stress: first, we should never cut into the body in order to cut out part of the temple of God's Holy Spirit-that is, remove part of the liver, appendix, etc. Secondly, we are not to operate in order to 'heal' a disease of any sort" (p. 8).
Church members could not help but be totally confused. When, for instance, would one have surgery performed where the goal was not healing? And, how many types of surgery are not in reality for repair purposes? Church headquarters offered no concrete answers. Nor did Herbert Armstrong offer a change of doctrine to his church. By 1973, however, he did come to believe that the old booklet needed to be redone.
The Promise of More to Come. At the ministerial conference
of January 1973 a tape recorder caught Herbert Armstrong making these statements:
"We have a booklet on healing that we have called in and stopped circulating.... The information that's contained [in the healing booklet] is all right. I haven't read it for years and years, but I don't think I'm wrong about that. I think the information it has is all right. But it isn't properly written...
"I have no doubt in my mind that what is called medical science today has merely come on down to our time. It's the same old ancient thing that came out of paganism. It is not something that our God has supplied and heals through. It is something that the God of this world, Satan, has supplied, and he's got his little emblem doubly on their [the medical profession's] insignia-the two snakes...
"I don't think we ought to put in writing, for example, that any member in such a job [as registered nurse] ought to give it up, because some reporter would get hold of that-he could make something of it. But we can privately tell our people things like that. ...
"And while we have been practicing healing and we've had some miraculous examples of healing, for every one of those, I don't know whether there have been 10 or 100 others where we have not had it. Now there is one thing that we do not do and we can't do and this is to just come out and say in any way that would be open or public-and you have to be careful about even saying this in one of our own church services because it may be more public than you realize-that we forbid people to go to a doctor or to take medicine."
Herbert W. Armstrong worked on the new booklet for the entirety of 1973. Then on January 3, 1974, he declared:
"I have the booklet on healing almost complete, and it goes a little more thoroughly into these things than the other edition. The doctrine hasn't changed one iota. We have to clarify a lot of things about when do you go to a doctor and when don't you and a few things like that... don't go around doubting and thinking that maybe the church is wrong. Too many have been doing that, and you who do are the servants of Satan."
Herbert simply refused to believe that he could have been wrong for so many years on the healing doctrine and other doctrines such as divorce and remarriage. It was this attitude of obstinateness with regard to doctrinal change, which more than anything else brought about the church crisis of February 1974 when dozens of ministers and thousands of laymembers defected from the Worldwide Church of God to form the Associated Churches of God.
During the special ministerial conference of May 1974, the impression was given
that a clarification of the church's healing doctrine would soon be made following
a period of research. Then, in the September 23, 1974, issue of the church's
ministerial bulletin, there appeared an article on healing by Herman L. Hoeh,
a headquarters evangelist and for years a right-hand man to Herbert Armstrong.
To the casual observer unfamiliar with the Armstrong organization's public relations
methods, the article appears vague but innocuous. A casual reading might even
leave one with the misimpression that the church had changed its decades-old
position on medicine. The first half of the two-page article titled "Healing:
Teaching and Administration" mentions a number of modem medical tools:
X-rays, antibiotics, insulin, digitalis, and open heart surgery. None were actually
condemned, yet none were clearly approved within the context of the church's
teachings as found in Does God Heal Today?
Possibly what is most significant about the article is not what it said but what it didn't say. Only two months before, in July 1974, the Foundation for Biblical Research had published its 39-page booklet Healing, Medicine, Physicians. The booklet, written by the former head of Ambassador College's department of theology Dr. Ernest L. Martin, thoroughly debunked all the essential points of the Armstrong healing doctrine and took a sensible position on the subject, not unlike that held by the vast majority of Christians today.
The booklet was published and read by literally thousands of members and former members of the Worldwide Church of God. Yet Dr. Hoeh's article did not even mention it, nor did he refute its arguments. And, nowhere did he admit that the church's teachings as found in Does God Heal Today? were unfounded, biblically incorrect, or dangerous to the life and health of any who take them seriously. It is also important to realize that nowhere in his article did Herman Hoeh instruct the ministry to actually encourage laymembers who are ill to seek competent medical assistance. Instead, midway through the article we find these statements:
"God, who made everything, designed the interaction of chemicals in the human body to support life; but the most educated men are mere babes in understanding these interactions. How much better and easier to trust God for divine healing than to rely on the limitations of human skills. Perhaps more than anything else, healing expresses the deeply personal relationship between an individual and his God....
"Mr. Armstrong points out that the individual's faith and the minister's faith are paramount in how far one trusts God, or how far one entrusts himself to men with their varying degree of skills and knowledge (p. 495)."
(John Trechak, Ambassador Report).
Whilst the quote is extensive it is included without edit as it shows a clear progress in the deception of the Armstrong system. That system has resulted in the admitted deaths of between ten and one hundred times as many people as the successful faith healing initiatives reported. From the evidence available to us all, it appears that the Armstrong ministry repeatedly interfered with their members, and not only encouraged them not to seek treatment but also actually psychologically coerced them not to seek professional qualified medical treatment. The ex-officers of the WCG system are still carrying on this aberrant, unscriptural and unlawful doctrine. Only recently the LCG system and its teaching affected one of the CCG members. Instead of medical treatment from a lawfully qualified practitioner being obtained, a remedy was obtained reportedly from a “Naturopath” without even so much as a consultation with the individual.
The Philadelphia Church of God's Healing Doctrine
The doctrine is reported to continue in the PCG also as we see from this report of an ex-PCG member published on the web:
As a member of WCG/PCG for 30+ years, I wanted to share with those just now becoming interested in the PCG what they will be taught to believe about healing.
First, you will be taught that all sickness is the result of sin. You will be taught that sin must be repented of and forgiven in order to be healed. You will be quoted many Scriptures to back this up. You will not be quoted the following verse:
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, neither this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:2-3).
You will be quoted the following verse:
"Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14-15).
That huge word if in James 5:15 is covered over and ignored. Only rarely will a minister admit that you could be sick through no fault of your own. No matter if you step on a rusty nail that someone else left, or you get coughed on by the checker at the store, You must repent in order to be healed. You are told that colds are caused by too much sugar or too much red meat. Germs? What are germs? They seem to have nothing whatever to do with getting sick. Bitten by a tic? Too bad, you must repent. You will be taught that doctors are only to be used for a few physical repairs or procedures. You will be taught that it is idolatry to take an antibiotic or to get a vaccination. Your children are to be left defenceless against all manner of diseases. Somehow it is righteous to catch a disease and recover, but not to build up a natural immunity through a shot.
You will be taught that it is always God's will to heal. That you must wait in faith no matter what happens to you or your loved one. It all depends on your faith. If you die, well, you died either in faith, or you died because of lack of faith. You will be told, "If you do not have the faith to be healed, you do not have the faith to be saved." Yet, you are told you are allowed to go to a doctor if you do not have enough faith. You should know, however, that if you go to a doctor, the brethren are instructed not to pray for your healing, because you have committed a sin. On the other hand, you may go to a "natural" healer who can pump you full of all manner of unregulated substances of unknown strength, as long as you depend on God to heal you. Only medical doctors represent idolatry, it seems.
The result of this teaching is tragic. Every member knows (knew) several others who died slow and horrible deaths, often in great agony. It has become the policy at Headquarters not to announce who has asked for prayer from the brethren unless that person is well known around the world. This happened because they would have to make another announcement that the person had died. Honestly, If this were God's one true church, wouldn't we hear happy announcements of miraculous healings every week? Such announcements are extremely rare.
Once a person is a member of PCG, he must stop watching all other church TV programs or reading their material. He is taught that all other churches are false "churches of the world."
Perhaps the worst offense (sic) against God is the fact that the members are taught that the healing done in other churches are false miracles performed by the devil and they are to ignore all other miracles anywhere as works of the devil! There are other churches whose members did not fall over backwards in a wild frenzy, but who were healed. They simply believed in the Grace of God, and He healed them. Many have gone to doctors and were scheduled for surgery that did not have to be performed. Even the doctors had to admit it was a miracle. How could these all be "false healings"?
The leadership of the PCG know that the members will walk out and shake the dust off their feet, if they know about these healings. They know the teaching of Matthew 12:24-32. What they are doing to the members is pure evil. Please, if you are thinking about calling for a visit from these ministers or reading the material, stop and think while you still can! They are extremely clever and can make you believe that you would be honored to die for their beliefs. They know it is a LIE. Once, when I was extremely ill and ready to die, our minister told my husband that I was "too young to die" and to "get her to a doctor." Believe me, they know. Don't fall for it.
By K .J. (former member of PCG, March 3 2004).
We know of a PCG member whose wife was dying of cancer. The PCG magazine announced that she had been miraculously cured. A CCG officer who was a friend of the man contacted their mutual friend to find out if it were so and if they could be helped. It was not and she died soon after. The man simply announced it in denial. We know of many bogus healings.
It is a matter of fact that we all know of massive numbers of people who died needless and horrible deaths due to the bizarre and unscriptural teachings of Herbert Armstrong and his senior ministry. That ministry included men such as Roderick Meredith, Herman Hoeh, David Hulme, Gerald Flurry, and a myriad of even lesser intellectual lights than these. These men have taken these doctrines into their offshoots and they are placing at risk the thousands who follow them. Sometimes we have people come to us for healing from these offshoots. One man whose wife was dying from cancer and who could not be healed by WCG, or UCG, or medical science, asked us for healing. The church prayed for her and she was miraculously healed. At her next test we were informed there was no cancer evident at all. The husband thanked us. The woman did not come near us and offered no thanks or even acknowledgment. We never saw them again. It would have been too embarrassing perhaps for her to admit that it was God that healed her through CCG intervention.
In spite of the many healings we have, we do not play God, but insist that any of the sick and infirm seek qualified advice in testing and diagnosis, and we encourage multiple diagnoses if in doubt. The faith of the elect is not in question. Our people die, one might say like many others. Some of the righteous die in accordance with Isaiah 57:1-2.
The Bible is full of healing and the taking of remedies. David said “purge me thoroughly with Hyssop”, indicating the use of a purgative Hyssop in the life of Israel at the time. Israel took remedies for all manner of things including worms, and the failure to rid oneself of worms was taken to be a punishment as was death itself (Isa. 66:24; cf. Ex 16:20; Job 7:5; 17:14; 19:26; 21:26; 24:20; Isa. 14:11). This text is repeated in the NT at Mark 9:44 and 46 in the NT Syriac and appears in the Receptus (but is not in the texts by Tregelles or Wescott-Hort or R).
The text regarding the healing by anointing in James 5:14-15 says IF a man has sinned he shall be forgiven. Thus illness need not be the result of sin. The anointing is for the fact and the conference of healing. We are expected to take whatever action we can take to recover or save ourselves in these matters.
This world is dying in sin but illness is often not connected with the sins of any of individuals, but rather passes on to them from the sins of the world. In no doctrine more than this is the Love of God expressed by the love of the brethren for each other. Love one another and pray for one another and do not be self-righteous.
The Culture of Death
One might well ask why this bizarre and unscriptural doctrine was pursued even when it was known to be incorrect and legally dangerous.
Why such subterfuge in maintaining the doctrines?
Only when the full history is explained does the complex problem emerge.
In 1969, Herbert Armstrong certified under penalty of perjury to the State of California, that a referendum of the Church (to be named the Worldwide Church of God) had taken place at 300 West Green St Pasadena. No such referendum took place.
From the changes to the articles of incorporation, the constitution was effectively written off and the articles of incorporation vested sole ownership in Herbert Armstrong.
Not long after the changes were set in place, a meeting of all the employees of the church was called at 300 West Green St., Pasadena.
The legal officers of the WCG reportedly instructed the field ministry and the employees of the administration and colleges to instruct the members of the WCG to leave their estates to the church. This was in direct contradiction to biblical law and was akin to the sin of Onan. (See the paper The Sin of Onan (No. 162)).
One of the few ministers allegedly to disregard this instruction was an Australian who returned home and instructed his congregation not to leave their estates to the church. He subsequently resigned from the church. He later disclosed the entire procedure to the CCG.
Some of the legal cases that were fought over the issue of estates in those years were scandalous.
There was thus a very great financial incentive not to correct the doctrines.
Doctrine in the Churches of God
This is doctrine in the Churches of God.
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