Thursday, June 23, 2005

Robert Brinsmead, Barefoot Bushman and a Church Picnic

Australia is a beautiful country. It's a contrast of tropical coastlines and hot dry desert. I hope to travel there someday to view first-hand its natural beauty. There are two Australians I would visit if I had the chance. The first owns a crocodile farm and I watch him frequently on television--The Barefoot Bushman. He's just plain cool, and it would be a great time just to follow him around for a day. The second played a large part in helping me think straight after many years of Armstrongism, his name is Robert Brinsmead.

Some reading this blog may know a bit about Robert Brinsmead. He was a Seventh Day Adventist minister, and a scholar of sorts. He made several religious transitions in his life, and published important articles on Christianity, the sabbath, and the historical Jesus. I believe that he transitioned to another world view since those articles were published in Verdict, but the material in those writings challenges the reader to think differently about Christianity. His writings are particularly relevant to Armstrongites given the historical relationship between the Chuch of God and the Seventh Day Adventist movement. Do a search on Gilbert Cranmer, William Miller and 1844, the "Great Disappointment" if you would like more information.

During the summer of 2001 I attended a local PCG church picnic. It was OK as far as picnics go, lots of food and a few interesting things to do. One of the activities was a softball game. I have played a lot of softball in my previous life as a non-cogger and I have always enjoyed the sport. This day, I thought, would be a great chance to play with my new found friends and share some laughs and a little exercise. Well it didn't quite work out that way. I had never played with a group of such bickering, whiny crybabies in my whole life! They complained about the teams they were on, they complained about the rulings of the umpire, they heckled each other on the field. I was shocked, expecting well-behaved, sportsperson-like behaviour and getting the opposite. I never forgot that moment and I think it served to drive a wedge between the PCG's false front and the real deal.

I couldn't resolve how people with the "Holy Spirit" would behave way worse than someone who didn't. It just didn't make sense. That's when things started to turn around and I began reading "outside" material and checking the facts more thoroughly. The PCG would claim that Satan got to me. I reviewed Church History, British Israelism (at the time there was new DNA-based evidence to the contrary), and finally Herbert Armstrong's sordid personal behaviour along with Garner Ted's history of debauchery. These men lived like millionaires on the tithes of others, some who lived in abject poverty and persecution. It never did make sense, and I was finally admitting it to myself. I was sorry for the things I inflicted on my family and friends in the name of this religion. Unfortunately, we can't relive history.

I did not go back. It was difficult for many months, internally rehashing the threats of eternal death and disgrace. Some things were actually true: was Satan really getting the best of me? Time passed and for once in a long while I felt truly free, like a great burden had been removed from my life. I had made the right choice.

Thanks Mr. Brinsmead for giving me the courage to question.



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