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Herbert W. Armstrong and disillusionment

By Ronald Dart

Some of the things I have been reading lately on this board prompt me to post a message I wrote in another circumstance, but that seems entirely relevant in this environment.

In the past years I have heard endless discussions about what is "required for salvation." In the late 1970s I came across a requirement for salvation that I had never considered. In the normal course of events, one would never think of it. If you will bear with me, I would like to share it with you.

I will criticize no living person, organization or doctrine, nor will I make an appeal for my church over others. It is just that there is something I know that I think you ought to know. It is this:

Disillusionment is required for salvation.

Clean sweep

To whatever extent we have illusions about our church, our leaders, ourselves or our God, those illusions must be swept away. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that the sweeping process is going to be painful. I will tell you my story and then I will leave it at that.

Herbert W. Armstrong was a great man and a personal friend of mine. He was my mentor, my teacher and like a father to me in many ways. I loved him then and at the hour of his death, and I cherish his memory to this day. He was also, as many great men are, flawed.

During much of our acquaintance, I did not see his flaws. Then I saw them, but overlooked them. Then I saw them closer and denied them.

Like a lot of people, I had an illusion of the man. Late in 1978 those illusions were shattered.

I won't go into details now, but I had to sit alone in my study and speak aloud to myself the truth about the man. I had to do it to save my sanity and perhaps my salvation.

Mr. Armstrong's good advice

I still believe that Mr. Armstrong was a great man. I still love him, I am grateful to him, and I cherish his memory. But I have no illusions about him. As for the things I suffered at his hands, I have only myself to blame. After all, he always told me to prove all things and to be like the Bereans.

I probably got hurt because I depended on him too much.

I was deeply touched by a letter from a man in another forum who described himself as a "nobody." He said that the church had been like a rock to him, and now that rock was gone.

I expect that reflected the feelings of many who read it. But, when you think about it, what should we expect if we have come to trust a rock other than the Rock? I doubt that God will allow us to enter His Kingdom, His family, with any of our illusions left.

Salvation can never be based on something that is not true. As King David said, deep in the throes of repentance, "You desire truth in the inward parts."

Since no man is without illusions, I said that disillusionment is required for salvation. If God cares for us, He will no doubt sweep them away.

The sound I hear on this board, along with the anger, is the sound of illusions shattering.

But take heart. There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. And all things really do work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

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