After 30 years
of being a member of the
of God, and the Worldwide Church of God, as its name
was changed, I was ejected -- catapulted -- out of the Church
in a bizarre power play by the new "Church leaders." This
painful experience has taught me several important lessons,
ones we would all do well to learn very deeply. In this article
I will tell all -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. It will make
the Iran-Contragate hearings seem like mild soap opera by
comparison! [This article was written in 1987.]
William F. Dankenbring
After being a member of the Worldwide Church of God for 30 years, after having attended Ambassador College from 1959 to 1963, and receiving a Master of Arts degree from that institution in 1970, and after having written scores of articles, booklets and Correspondence Course lessons for publications of the Church, including the PLAIN TRUTH, GOOD NEWS, TOMORROW'S WORLD magazines and the Bible Correspondence Course, in January, 1987, I suddenly found myself "out"of the Church --suspended one week, and summarily "disfellowshipped" the next week --all without the benefit of a single "hearing," or "trial," or opportunity to defend myself or to answer the "charges" brought against me!
How did such an incredible thing happen? How did it occur?
Why, after being a faithful and long-time member of the Church for 30 years, and after enduring such heart-wrenching events as the crisis in 1974 when over 150 ministers left the Church, and the Receivership crisis of 1979-1980, when the state of California took over the Church operations to determine the truth regarding alleged improprieties in management and misuse of tithes and Church funds --why did I exit the Church in the opening month of 1987?
No story is more saddening, more heart-rending, and more terrible to contemplate. And yet
The Strange and Unbelievable Scene
At one time I was one of the leading writers for the PLAIN TRUTH magazine. I was assistant to the Managing Editor, Dr. Herman L. Hoeh; and supervised the editorial staff, ran the editorial planning meetings, and wrote from one to three articles every issue of the magazine. My title was "Associate Editor," but it did not begin to describe all the various duties which I performed.
During those halcyon years the
future seemed bright and beautiful. But even then storm clouds were gathering
on the horizon, and the
In 1972, when the
On top of that major
disappointment, the news broke in 1972 that Garner Ted Armstrong had been
guilty of a problem of long-standing --adultery and fornication on a massive
scale. Although the news did not reach the Church membership, because Herbert Armstrong
covered it up by use of apostolic authority , and
threatened to put anybody out of the Church who tried to pry into the matter,
because of the severity of the problem Garner Ted was temporarily
disfellowshipped from the Church, and sent into exile in
Ted's "love life" was later the center of attention in an article which ran in Penthouse, a leading pornographic "girly" magazine. At the same time a thick, full color magazine called "Ambassador Review" ran a feature cover article entitled "In Bed with Garner Ted." Apparently, after all the facts were in and witnesses and ministers finally went public, the truth of the matter was that Ted had been sleeping with various babysitters, Ambassador College co-eds, and various harlots and whores from Hawaii to Mexico City, from Nevada to India! In Hawaii a young prostitute with whom he was about to have a secret "tryst" suddenly recognized him as the speaker on the "World Tomorrow" television show, and the sudden realization virtually "blew" her mind!
This example of rampant hypocrisy startled the ministry, as well as the fact that Ted had begun a serious [to him] "affair" with a stewardess on the Falcon Jet, owned and operated by the Worldwide Church of God. In fact, at one point he was thinking seriously of divorcing his wife Shirley and marrying Gail. The Church shipped Gail off to parts unknown and forbad Ted to ever get in touch with her again. [Gail died not long ago. A friend of hers avows that she was never Ted’s girlfriend, but that he raped her and the Church covered it up!]
After his short sojourn in exile, Ted was brought back into the Church, and was put back into high office, resuming all his former duties. In the meantime, however, over 150-200 ministers defected from the Church, including evangelists Albert J. Portune and Charles Hunting.
The year of the massive
defection was 1974. This was the year when Ted returned to power, and began to
consolidate his position in the Church by removing from high office all those
whom he did not consider to be "loyal" to him, personally. Rod
Meredith was shipped off to
Ted set about to create a new "team" at headquarters which would be loyal to him. In the process he removed Herman Hoeh from managing the PLAIN TRUTH, and allowed his own appointed replacement, Art Ferdig, to terminate the entire full-time PLAIN TRUTH writing staff, including myself, Pat Parnell, Rick Peterson, and Bill Whikehart. I was replaced by two individuals --one who was later confirmed to have been a blatant homosexual and who shortly thereafter left the Church, and the other who was later indicted by the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion and fraud, who spent time in jail, and who finally escaped a long prison term by turning state's evidence against his associate in the tax scheme. Their particular rip off was to sell phony "ministerial credentials" by mail and help people set up phony religious institutions, to evade taxes.
I had been on a trip for the
PLAIN TRUTH to
It was at that time that God led me to begin Triumph Publishing Company, on a shoestring of money and lots of shoestring "faith." I first published THE KEYS TO RADIANT HEALTH, and followed that with THE FIRST GENESIS: A NEW CASE FOR CREATION. Then I published a full color book for children called CREATION BOOK FOR CHILDREN, shortly followed by a book on Bible prophecy entitled THE LAST DAYS. About this time, Raymond McNair agreed for me to publish his manuscript on the LOST TEN TRIBES, but wanted to rewrite portions of it first As he plunged into the task, he became absorbed in writing an entirely new book, which I published as ASCENT TO GREATNESS.
Later, when I was about to
publish the sequel to that volume, entitled IN SEARCH OF THE LOST TEN TRIBES,
he reneged on our agreement, and backed down, costing me several thousands of
dollars for money spent in promotion and type-setting. By this time he had been
brought back from exile in
During these years, the
The Disaster of the Receivership -Crisis
Meanwhile, in 1979-80 the
Church experienced its worst disaster ever --the Receivership crisis, when the
At this time Joseph Tkach, a
local elder in the
After the retirement of
Stanley Rader, Herbert Armstrong began to depend more and more on Joseph Tkach
and Ellis LaRavia. Both of these men were elevated to the office of evangelist
by Herbert Armstrong, at the same time Stanley Rader was, during the Receivership
crisis. When Rod Meredith protested the ordination of Stanley Rader, Herbert
Armstrong “disfellowshipped” him for six months, and exiled him to
Since being appointed over the entire Church Administration, under Herbert Armstrong, in 1981, Joseph Tkach has been the effectual ruler and leader of the Worldwide Church of God, although he carefully cleared everything he did with Herbert Armstrong. He did not want to lose his job as all his myriad predecessors had. The job of being in charge of Church Administration had historically been a short-tenured one! A veritable "musical chairs" of successors had come and gone, beginning with Raymond C. Cole, David Antion, Wayne C. Cole, Roderick C. Meredith, and now --Joseph Tkach!
The Beginnings of Persecution!
It was after this change took place that I began noticing a new spirit or attitude on the part of the Church toward Triumph Publishing and the books I published.
First, in a Pastor
General's Report dated
"Mr. Dankenbring is classified as a member of God's Church.
But that does not imply his privately-sold writings have the
approval or endorsement of the Church."
The author went on to castigate me with a literary whip, accusing,
“Human nature seems to want to use God or God's Church, for
personal gain or profit."
He then lumped me in
with the moneychangers in the
"The moneychangers used God's temple as a place of business
to sell at a profit to God's people." The author went even further,
lumping me together with false ministers who make merchandise
of the people of God. He quoted, "In II Peter 2:3 God warns, I
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make
merchandise of you.' Yes, SELLING FOR PROFIT their words
in writing to the members of God's Church."
"Perhaps the selling of doves and things for sacrifice was not in
itself wrong, but exploiting God's HOUSE as a place or means
of selling to God's people was. "
Obviously, the attitude of Church leaders toward the books published by Triumph Publishing had noticeably changed -- for the worse!
This nasty diatribe was sent out to the entire ministry of the Church; but the Church leaders never, never, never contacted me about it first! If they had such a grievance against me, should they not have spoken with me about it first? Didn't Jesus say, "Moreover, IF thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault BETWEEN THEE AND HIM ALONE. . ."? (Matt.18:15).
But they never did this! And when I called Joseph Tkach about it on the telephone, he did not return my call. When I called him a time, he merely promised that he and Ellis LaRavia would get together with me about it --but he never kept his promise! At the time, of course, I did not know or realize that it was HE or his office who were responsible for the article!
Et tu, Brute!
Have you ever been viciously stabbed in the back, by a supposed "friend"?
Finally, just before the death of Herbert Armstrong in January, 1987, he appointed the man
whom he had come to rely on to manage Church Administration to be his successor, and apparently gave him his own authority, offices and titles, including "Pastor General" over the Worldwide Church of God. Thus in just a few short years a man rose from the position of lowly local elder to the supreme human position over the entire Worldwide Church of God, with an annual income of $150-200 million!
At this time it still remained to be seen how Joseph Tkach would handle his new responsibilities. At the funeral of Herbert Armstrong he said, "I cannot hope to fill his shoes, but I can follow in his steps." But has he been really doing that?
During the year and one half since he took over as the head of the Worldwide Church of God, great changes have begun to take place.
Where is it all leading?
What kind of leader is Joseph Tkach? On the surface he appears smiling, kind, humble, friendly and gregarious. But what is he underneath the pleasant exterior? What is he REALLY like?
Jesus Christ said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in SHEEP'S CLOTHING, but inwardly they are RAVENING WOLVES.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits " (Matt. -16).
Famous Last Words --"I Can Follow In His Steps "
I do not wish to speak evil of anybody, much less anybody in a position of authority. Even Christ, when He was prosecuted by the Pharisees and the High Priest, men in high authority , opened not his mouth and did not revile them, or rebuke them at that time. He suffered at their hands, even unto death (1 Pet2:21-23).
I do not despise government in the Church. I have been subject to Church government, within the laws of God, for over a quarter of a century , and never rebelled against government Contrary to what some may accuse, or assume, government is not my problem. But abusive government IS the problem of those who abuse authority! I followed orders, and "proved" myself, for years, even in areas and things where it was not necessarily required. I worked for six months watering, mowing and weeding the lawn of a minister of the Church, while being an "assistant" in the field ministry. I "PROVED" MYSELF, my loyalty to God and to His truth!
But the greatest test came when the CHURCH LEADERSHIP ITSELF DEPARTED FROM THE TRUTH OF GOD, and hurled me out of the Church without a hearing, in a vicious kangaroo court, and denied proven TRUTH of God!
My problem was not "Church government "
Christ's problem was not government.
But what happened? The very Church Jesus built -- the "church in the wilderness" (Acts ) – by the time of Christ had fallen into the hands of apostate Pharisees and Sadducees, and its leaders SLEW HIM! The very Church leadership crucified the Messiah!
Peter said to the assembled Pharisees, and members of the "CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS," on the day of Pentecost, 31 A.D.,
"Men and brethren. ...God has made that same Jesus,
WHOM YE HAVE CRUCIFIED, both Lord and Christ"
(Acts , 36).
It was the very Church, of God that went astray, and with selfish, self-seeking, self-appointed leaders, they rejected the Messiah, the Son of God, and killed Him! The "Government of God" was abused, misused, and perverted!
Jesus ALLOWED this to happen!
He allowed the "government of God," established of God, to condemn Him wrongfully, and to murder Him. Why? So He could pay the penalty of our sins. Also, although few realize it, so He could set us and EXAMPLE, that we might follow His steps, and thereby develop the same kind of holy, righteous character as He has!
I do not "despise government" Nor do I wish to ever "speak evil of dignities" (II Pet2:10). However, even as Christ did not fear to rebuke and blast the Pharisees, in Matthew 23, nor do I fear to call a spade a spade, and to denounce evil where and when I see it --even inside the Worldwide Church of God!
The REAL Problem -- CHURCH GOVERNMENT Gone Awry!
The tragic truth is, that even today, as 2,000 years ago, it is the CHURCH GOVERNMENT WHICH HAS DETERIORATED, AND GONE ASTRAY, AND FORSAKEN THE TRUTH OF GOD! And it has begun on a wide basis to CAST OUT all people who refuse to go along with its insidious and nefarious changes in doctrine, and "new truth," which is really apostasy in the GUISE of "truth"!
If I see someone going the way of Cain, or running greedily after the error of Balaam, for physical wealth and reward, it is my duty to point out the sin (Jude 11).
When Paul was being judged by the Pharisaical court, and the high priest commanded an officer to smite him on the mouth after Paul had proclaimed his own personal sincerity (Acts 23:1-2), Paul said to him, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?"
Those who were present said to Paul, "Revilest thou God's high priest?"
Paul replied, "I wist not, brethren, that was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people" (verse 5).
Even so, even though I
was cast out of the
When I was told of the
decision, which was based on a catalogue which I had sent to my mailing list
containing an article on the 2300 days prophecy -- though much of this material
had been previously presented to many ministers in the Church, and none had
disagreed with it or told me of any disagreement, including Joseph Tkach and
Herman L. Hoeh!) -- I immediately phoned to set up an appointment with Dr.
Hoeh, or Mr. Salyer. Neither one returned my phone calls. I asked Mr. Reier,
the local pastor of the
Was this a shocking, reprehensible, blatant miscarriage of justice
inside the very
Was I a "wheat" being victimized by a sinister cabal of cruel, lustful, greedy, proud "tares"?
The truth will become known. Jesus Christ said that ALL the wicked deeds of men will be exposed to the bright light of day. He warned, "Beware of the LEA YEN of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is NOTHING COVERED that shall not be revealed; neither HID that sha1l not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be PROCLAIMED UPON THE HOUSETOPS" (Luke 12:1-3).
Those who seek to cover over their sins, and to exercise hypocrisy in judgment, shall all be exposed and revealed, eventually, for the entire world to see -- just as all the tares will be bound up in bundles and cast into the fire, in front of the eyes of all the righteous!
Moses wrote it so plainly, "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
There will be no hiding these enormous sins from the searchlight of the Word of God. As Paul wrote, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; either is there any creature that is not MANIFEST in his sight: but all things are NAKED AND OPENED unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Heb.4:l2-13).
Nothing can be hidden, or swept under the carpet, from the gaze of Almighty God!
Why is there such gross
mismanagement and error being committed in the Worldwide Church of God, today?
Clearly, the Church shows forth all the fruits of the
Jesus Christ knew it would become thus in these "last days," the generation living at His return. He declared, "But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues (churches)" (Matt.10:17). Such a church council condemned me -- in absentia, behind my back! Such a synagogue or Church, the Worldwide Church of God, “scourged” me and whipped me right out of the Church!
Can we grasp the enormity of such a crime? Can we grasp the shocking horror of such an egregious miscarriage of justice?
Can we remember the words of Christ, who said, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall REVILE you, and persecute you, and shall say ALL MANNER OF EVIL AGAINST YOU FALSELY, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the PROPHETS which were before you" (Matt5:ll-l2).
Luke records the words of Christ:
"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they
shall SEP ARA TE YOU FROM THEIR COMP ANY, and
shall REPROACH you, and cast out your name AS EVIL,
for the Son of man's sake. RFJOICE ye in that day, and
LEAP FOR JOY:. for, behold, your reward is great in
heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the
prophets" (Luke -230.
These things do happen, today. Times have not changed. The more things" change, " the more they stay the same. True servants of God suffer being CAST OUT, reproached, denigrated, falsely accused, slandered, reviled, and persecuted, today, so ostensible, so-called "ministers" of God, and those in spiritual authority supposedly in "high places," just as happened two to three thousand years ago!
Therefore, when these things happen to me, I do rejoice, knowing that God will make everything right, in His own time.
It is an "ugly" thing to have to describe such a terrible miscarriage of justice. I know that God will defend me, when the time comes, however. He will be the Defense Attorney and prosecute the false witnesses who lined up against me! I would hate to be in their shoes! Christ will both defend me, and judge the wicked false accusers, one by one. The wicked Pharisees, the evil tares, He will have His angels gather together, and cast them screaming into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone and sulfur.
It is a "bad" thing
to realize that during the past 20 years, the Worldwide Church of God has gone
so far downhill, so far astray. It was a gradual, almost imperceptible, thing.
But as Herbert Armstrong got older, and missed the steadying influence of his
remarkable wife, people began to misinform and mislead him. He was always
susceptible, it is said, to flattery, and the devil sure knows how to take
advantage of a person's weaknesses! The flatterers began to creep out of the
woodwork and to shovel it on him with buckets and trowels. They worked on his
vanity, and told him how great and wonderful he was. They bowed and scraped and
competed among themselves in showing how "loyal" and
"humble" and "subject" they were. They out did themselves
and each other in their sickening display of saccharine sweetness and smiling
flattery. Thus the "politicians " arose to high office in the
Right now before our eyes there is a "great falling away" occurring (II Thess.2:3). Only this "falling away" or apostasy is not of people from the Church, but of THE CHURCH from God's truth!
History shows this has happened in every church age!
During the past 19 years the Church has become totally confused over the divorce and remarriage question. It has become totally confused as to what constitutes sin, throwing out the definition Herbert Armstrong often used and understood.
It has rejected truth on divine healing, and totally embraced all the surgeries and methodologies and techniques of modern medicine, accusing Herbert Armstrong of being misinformed and totally wrong. In so doing, it has said that any and all medical practices are all right, and nothing to be rejected --it is up to the individual! By so ruling, recently, it has said that all those who "died in faith" -- including Mrs. Lorna D. Armstrong in 1967 -- died needlessly, foolishly, and should have resorted to surgery performed by the doctors of the world!
Thus, during the past 19 years, the Church has strayed far from the simple truths and commandments of God. Especially during the past year and a half it has plunged recklessly, headfirst into error and disobedience to God's law!
"When Wil1 They EVER Learn?"
As the folk song of the 1960's goes, "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?" Yes, WHEN?
Are your eyes open to perceive the truth?
Jesus Christ said to His disciples, "1 thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast HID these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto BABES: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight" (Luke 10:21).
He added, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see" (verse 23).
Your eyes are indeed "blessed" if your sight has been spiritually restored, so that you can see and understand the true nature of the Worldwide Church of God, and its leadership, today! This is no small revelation. It is a truth that the majority are not privy to understand. For this reason you have much to be thankful for!
But once we see this truth, clearly, what should we do about it?
Should you fellowship with such a Church? Should you remain a member?
The truth should be plain: Those who attend the
Laodicean! “Birds of a feather flock
together!” “He that walketh with wise
men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”
(Prov.13:20). There is little choice in
the matter. The whole influence of the fellowship and the ministry is to encourage
“the Spirit of:
In order to overcome the Laodicean syndrome, one
must COME OUT of
But how can you do that? How can you REPENT of being Laodicean?
In other words, those who remain IN Laodicea need to “BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, AND REPENTI!” (Revelation 3:19). Repent of the sins of that Church -- the blindness, the nakedness, the commandment-breaking, the self-righteousness. To do that, one must reject the errors in the Church -- and if you do that, and don't leave, willingly, then they will surely put you out once they find out about it!
Don't kid yourself. You cannot
play with fire, and not become burned. You cannot fellowship with a straying,
Sooner or later, you must face up to the facts and COME OUT of it!
Paul wrote, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees (do you feel weak?); and make straight paths for your feet (in the laws of God), lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be HEALED” (Heb.12:11-13).
If you have been Laodicean, or fellowshipping with Laodiceans, then YOU NEED TO BE HEALED! You need spiritual tonic -- the Word of God. You need to BATHE yourself in the Word of God, and it alone. You need to draw close to God. You need to come out of and forsake SIN!
Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: IF ANY MAN HEAR MY VOICE (most are not listening, yet!), and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”! That is, your fellowship -- rather than being with like-minded compromising Laodiceans -- will be direct with CHRIST HIMSELF, through His Word!
Christ continued, “To him that OVERCOMETH (comes out of Laodicea and that blind, stupor-like, naked condition) will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev.3:20-2l).
Should You Continue in FELLOWSHIP with the
Do you need to fellowship with Laodiceans in order to be saved? Be very careful how you answer that! As I wrote before, God says, “He that walketh with WISE MEN shaIl be wise: but a COMPANION OF FOOLS shall be DESTROYED” (Prov.13:20).
Do you want to be destroyed? Do you want to imbibe the Laodicean spirit and attitude of, “I’m all right, Jack!”? Do you want to earn the wrath of God, and be thrust straight into the Great Tribulation?
What does God say about our fellowship? Should you continue fellowshipping with LUKE-WARM, INSIPID, TEPID, SPIRITUALLY SHALLOW “CHRISTIANS” -- EVEN WHEN JESUS CHRIST IS ABOUT TO “SPEW” THEM OUT OF HIS MOUTH? (Rev.3:16).
Should you continue to listen to their sermons week after week, month after month, just because you don't know where to go, or where else you might find “fellowship”?
GOD says --
"Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth thee to err from the words of KNOWLEDGE" (Prov.19:27). If you listen to erroneous doctrine, and sweet platitudes, and spiritual “tripe,” would you not gradually absorb it into your being, and become like it? Would it not insidiously, gradually, like a cancer, begin to destroy your spiritual body -- your spiritual “cells” -- and ultimately take your life?
Fellowship is a very important matter. But most important is with WHOM we fellowship! Our most important fellowship is not with each other, but with God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Saviour, through His written Word! As the apostle John wrote, “And truly OUR fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 J ohn 1:3).
IT IS BETTER TO STAY AT HOME, AND STUDY PROPHECY FLASH, AND LISTEN TO OUR TAPED BIBLE STUDIES, THAN TO FELLOWSHIP WITH SPIRITUAL “NERDS” AND NINCOMPOOPS HEADED FOR THE GREAT TRIBULATION!!!
If we are close to God, and studying His Word daily, as we ought, is it always necessary that we also attend weekly Sabbath services, especially if there are none in our area where we can be assured of hearing truth unmixed with error?
OF COURST NOT!
It is better to draw close to God, and to depart from the evil congregation, which God calls the I! congregation of the dead. I! Otherwise, you will be influenced by those around you, and you, too, will become more and more tepid, lukewarm, justify changes, accommodate yourself to doctrinal errors, and rationalize and explain them away. You will gradually lose your fear of God, and become deadened to sin, insensitive and unfeeling. You will gradually turn into a spiritual robot
“The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall REMAIN in the congregation of the dead” (Prov.21:16).
Don't let that happen to you! Your eternal LIFE and salvation are at stake!