Regarding My Background

Hi D____,

Thank you for your question. I would ask the same one if I were in your place. I have been asked this question before, and in the interest of time I am going to send you a copy of a letter I sent to another young man. What isn’t mentioned in this letter is the fact that I was reared in a Pentecostal church and had ‘received’ the ‘gifts’ of ‘tongues’ and the ‘gift of interpretation of tongues.’ Please read the letters on the subject of ‘gifts and tongues’ on the web site

This young man has since seen the light on this subject but at the time of the writing of this letter, he was attending a charismatic church, and had come out of the World Wide Church Of God. My experience was in the opposite direction; I went from the Pentecostal to the WCG.

I hope this letter answers your questions. If not, let me know.

Mike Vinson

Hi M____,

I started listening to the Armstrong broadcasts for the first time back about 1969. Actually, it was my father who made me listen.

At that time I was only twelve years old, and the speaker was Herbert himself doing the broadcast. Ted had not started doing the broadcast at that time. It was still called ‘the Radio Church Of God.’ Dad listened for several years, but quit listening when Mr. Armstrong quoted Ezekiel 18:4 and 20 “the soul that sinneth shall die.”

By then I had taken an interest in the broadcast and kept listening. I wrote off for the ‘Bible Correspondence Course’ in 1963 and ended up going to the Big Sandy, Texas campus in 1965. I graduated in 1969 and went to Pasadena, where I worked on the ‘mail analysis team’ for the next four years.

Working on that team turned out to be more of an education than my college experience in some ways. Our main function was to analyze what had been said by Mr. Armstrong in His letters and programs that had prompted any donations. Our team was answerable to Mr. David Jon Hill, who died just a couple of weeks ago. I really liked Mr. Hill, but looking back I am disappointed at how blatantly money oriented we all were. Mr. Hill would joke that he would hate to see what would happen if any of the ‘sheep in the field’ ever got to read the minutes of our meetings. It was always entirely about how to increase donations. At the time I left the church in 1973, we were taking in 55 million dollars a year. By the time Mr. Tkach, who succeeded Mr. Armstrong after his death, tried to bring everyone into the orthodox fold, it was up to over 125 million per year.

While working on that team I had access to the ‘micro- film’ department. This was in the days before we had everything on computer files. I would sit for hours in the micro- film department reading Mr Armstrong’s very earliest writings.

One day I happened upon an article in a very early edition of ‘The Good News’ magazine, entitled ‘What Is God’s Form of Church Government?’ Mr. Armstrong was at that time just coming out of the Stanbury Conference Seventh Day Church Of God.

That Church was a splinter from the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Mr. Armstrong’s reason for leaving that Conference was that the leaders of the Stanbury Conference wanted to establish a ‘pyramid’ form of church government. I couldn’t believe what I was reading! The WCG was a pyramid form of government. The very first words I heard out of the mouth of Mr. Herbert Armstrong at my freshman year orientation were, “Don’t you think that you as a freshman student are going to teach me or any faculty member any new truths. That is not the way God works. God works from the top down. So if you think that you are going to be revealing any new truths to anyone, you need to just pack your bags right now and go on back home.”

At that time I agreed with every word spoken. I had no doubt where I had learned so many truths that I had come to see.

But now, here I was, reading an article written by this same man, pointing out that Christ had said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Joh 15:5).

Mr. Armstrong pointed out to the Stanbury ministers that the reason God had used the example of a ‘vine’ was that that was the only plant in nature where every branch on the vine had equal access to the ‘vine,’ Christ. He then quoted:

Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them [ His disciples] unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Mat 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

He went on to point out that a pyramid form of government in the church was essentially just following in the steps of the Popes of Rome, injecting the priesthood in between the laity and a personal relationship with Christ. Be sure to read ‘The Elders That Rule Well’ on the web page for a thorough treatment of the fable of ‘ministerial authority.’ “It shall not be so among you.”

It was a very effective article. It certainly affected me. I wish I could say that I went immediately to Mr. Armstrong and demanded an answer as to why he was no longer teaching these “plain truths.” That did not happen, but I did start from that moment being far more careful of what I just accepted as truth. To make a long story a little shorter, I made the mistake of voicing my questions about several doctrines to several of my co- workers. Word got back to the head of the mail department, and he called me in for a conference. His name was Richard Rice. Mr. Rice was kind enough to allow me to take a severance package and move back to Georgia. I am to this day thankful for that. I have been in the construction and remodeling business ever since.

You asked what truths I had retained from that experience. I have retained only two doctrines from ten years of that experience.

They are the doctrine of a mortal versus an immortal soul, based on the verses in Ezekiel 18:4 and 20, along with a host of other scriptures which state plainly that the dead “know not anything” and are “asleep.”

Ecc 3:18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
Ecc 3:19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all [ is] vanity.
Ecc 3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Ecc 9:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [ thing] that is done under the sun.
Ecc 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
Ecc 9:8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
1Co 15:18 Then [ if there is no resurrection] they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
1Co 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
1Co 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [ and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.
1Co 15:21 For since by man [ came] death, by man [ came] also the resurrection of the dead.
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The other is the teaching that a Christian is an “ambassador” on this earth and therefore should not get involved in either the politics or the military of their host countries. But I have also retained my wife, the former Sandra Wolf from Oregon. We have reared three boys and two girls who are all now grown.

You mentioned the fact that the WCG did not believe in the trinity. That is true they did not at that time believe in the trinity. At the time, Mr. Armstrong believed in a ‘binity’, a two- part Godhead. I cannot harmonize this teaching with 1Co 8:6; “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and [ besides this “one God of whom are all things” there is also] one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” For a thorough treatment of this subject read, ‘Is God A Trinity?’ on the web page. Today, the very small part of the church that has remained faithful to Tkach and Co. believes in the trinity.

To my knowledge, the vast majority of the splinter groups, who are still under the law, still also believe in a ‘binity’.

You also mentioned that we believed in a second chance at the second resurrection. We were quick to say that we did not consider it a second chance. We saw clearly that Christ spoke in parables “lest they should be converted and I should heal them.”

Mat 13:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

So, we considered this their first chance at salvation. But we were completely orthodox when it came to the ‘almighty’ power of the beast within God’s temple being the greatest single factor in the salvation equation. The unscriptural doctrine of ‘free will’ was and still is, just as much a part of the WCG and all of it’s offshoots, as it is of orthodox Christianity. No one is willing to dethrone the ‘beast within,’ the ‘man of sin,… sitting in the temple of God.’ For a thorough discussion on this subject read ‘After The Counsel of His Own Will,’ on the web page.

That covers everything you asked about. I am delighted that you are reading ‘The Restitution of All Things’ by Andrew Jukes. He also has written a worthy book, ‘The Four Views of Christ’ which deals with the distinctive character of each of the gospels. It gives you a greater appreciation for the multifaceted function of Jesus Christ, our Savior. You will know God better by just reading these writings of Andrew Jukes, and learning of the true nature of the God and Father of this universe than I learned in four years at Ambassador College.

I am extremely privileged to be allowed by God to share these resources with those who want to avail themselves of them over the internet. I am much encouraged by your interest and enthusiasm.

Keep digging. The treasures of God are indeed “hidden,” but for those who are willing to dig, there are “rivers of living waters” just below the surface.

Your brother in Georgia,

Mike

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