I did act in lawlessness, never keeping track of the holy days, falling prey to the pagan festivals of mainline Christianity, not observing the dietary laws. These are sins I ask forgiveness for daily as I proceed once more into the faith of the truth once delivered.
Professing Christianity infuses much of the Western world, to the point that the only escape from it, if one has fallen away from the church, is into atheism.
This is not as terrible a choice as it sounds, or was not in my life. My atheism/skepticism of all the world's religions (as well as for a brief period of darkness my own) was the Most High God's instrument for keeping my feet out of the net.
Of the many systems, powers and principalities I dabbled in, all of the followers of same eventually came to cast me out from their midst.
I thought at the time that this was because I was too questioning of their blind assumptions.
God was preserving
I know now that God was preserving me from harm, from going down the dark path of worshiping idols, and that my God, alone, stopped me from bending my knee to the god(s) of this world and prevented me from opening my mind to dark influences.
Even my rejection of the very Father was used, by Him, to keep me safe from the predation of those with demonic spirits!
I write you this letter now, brethren, as encouragement and warning to those who have gone down the same path as I after falling away from the church.
I wish to encourage you that--despite what others tell you, even those who were baptized in the Bridegroom before He left the church (Matthew 9:15)--your atheism is not a descent into evil.
The real danger
The professing Christians are the ones who will cry out the loudest, with empty words, saying "Only believe, and you will be saved in that instant!"
We know that is wrong, and it is of no consequence for all truly in the faith to immediately reject such falsehoods. Such inaccuracies and false doctrines are not what I want to warn you of today.
The real danger lies in the black-and-white paradigm that professing Christians will force you into confessing to in their attempts to make you twice as much a son of hell as themselves (Matthew 23:15).
Their unbalanced, dark thoughts immediately try to sway you to the idea that their way (the way of man) is the "true" option, and the only other option is to be "angry" at their (false) god, which is what they label you if you reject their pagan doctrines and misinterpretations of God's Word.
They may also call you an atheist. You may, for a time, believe you are one--for when presented with a pagan Christ, or no Christ at all, what is a formerly devout and righteous child of God to do?
"Hold fast to the faith once delivered" is the right answer, but to think that any who have fallen away from that will never return is incorrect.
Even my rejection of all doctrine was better than being swayed this way and that by whatever religion, system, theology or work of man that caught my attention.
Skepticism can be a refuge
It was the dark and devoted attentions of Christians, falsely so called, that led to my thinking that the faith of our fathers was as false as the rest of the religions of the world.
I saw several warning signs but did not (could not, through the grace of God?) see they were drawing me into a more fundamentalist mind-set than even the fundamentalists themselves are capable of!
Pray and examine
Professing Christians like to make absolute statements about the church. Thinking that God had rejected His church, or that His church had rejected Him, I started to believe these things they said.
I urge you to pray and truly examine your memories of your days in the church (and not with any of the groups that have scattered out of her since).
I think you will find your memories are not nearly so bad as the picture the Christians, falsely so called, would wish you to believe.
For a time, though, I believed these things too, in contradiction to my own memories and the truth of my happy life in the church. Search your hearts and I think you will find the same.
While abuses did occur in the church, I need only point towards Rome for a scene of carnage far worse than any hardships we may have been blessed with as trials to build our character when we lived our lives in fear and awe of the Lord.
Examine your memories of your own congregation and your own church family when you read accusations by the Christians, falsely so called, of things that have been done "in the name of Herbert Armstrong."
Ask yourself: Did I see those things?
If the answer is yes, it is important not to stop your mind up at that point. Ask yourself the next logical question: Were the ones who committed these acts that I witnessed in unity with the church?
I think you will find that the answer will always be no.
Were we the fundamentalists?
Professing Christians like to make absolute statements about what the church taught about the Bible. They will accuse us of being the literalists, the fundamentalists, when they are the very embodiment of literalism and fundamentalism.
I urge those with an open mind and clarity of heart to read the original church literature. It's available on the Internet for all to read.
Professing Christians state that we take the Bible "too literally" when it is they who will proof-text, who will attempt to twist and manipulate God's inspired Word to mean things that it never said nor will ever say.
I urge all to seek out "How to Study the Bible" by David Jon Hill.
When the Christians throw single verses at you, and exhort you to "only believe," ask them to read with you the context of the verses they are holding up to you.
The meaning becomes instantly clear if you manage to keep your heart free from the bitterness and hardness that they will try to bring upon you.
In fact, the church has never said the Bible was 100 percent literally true. The church always taught us that the Bible was inspired by God, not "God-breathed," as the professing Christians insist (even as they distort the very Word they hold up as infallible).
The church has always taught us there are translation errors, authorial prejudice and other gaps that argue against a fundamentalist mind-set.
"The Bible" is not a single book to be read "as is"; it was written by many authors over the span of centuries, translated to and from many languages and back again, and in some cases it survives only as fragments that were barely legible.
Professing Christianity will tell you that "the God of the Old Testament" and "Jesus of the New Testament" are two different gods. They will attempt to draw you into discussion (as they did me) with this dichotomy firmly in place.
The Logos and YHVH were, are and will be the same God throughout all ages, with the Logos incarnated in the world to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Professing Christians want you to reject this so they can bolster up their cardboard idols, comprised mainly of a few verses from the Pauline texts and nothing further.
Trinity no longer as fundamental
They will claim we are "binitarians" or "Arians" or use similar Greek-based theological terms to tear us down, to place doubt in the faith that was once delivered to us in unity.
The booklet Was God a Trinity? makes this more than clear and offers several verses and biblical context you can use in defending your mind against the evil spirit of the Trinitarian teachings.
Even mainline Christian scholars, it must be noted, are starting to admit the Trinity is not the fundamental doctrine it has for centuries been held up as.
The same twisting of truth takes place when they argue with you about the one covenant. They will break it in two and insist there are two covenants, one for them and one for "the Jews."
They will also speak of what they snidely call "the Old Covenant" as being one of "death." Yet it is death they glorify under their "New" Covenant, not seeing the hand of God at work now, forever and always.
Professing Christianity offers only two options: their "light" or a godless existence.
They are so certain of their false, fundamentalist teachings that they refuse to acknowledge even the other gods of this world or its other religions.
It is right to reject their false doctrine, this worshiping of idols, this glorification of death. But by far the most egregious of their false teachings has to do with sin.
They will cry loudly and beat their breasts and say: "I have sinned! I am a sinner!"
But listen closely to the outrageous claim that follows and you will see just how misleading and harmful this pagan doctrine really is--for they will cry aloud and say, "I have sinned, I am sinning," and even, "I will continue to sin," and then follow it up with "But I am forgiven."
Excuse for bad behavior
Professing Christianity offers up neither redemption nor salvation. It offers merely an excuse for bad behavior.
The prisons of the world are evidence enough for that. Look how many inmates are turned towards false Christianity after having committed deeds that will surely consign them to the pit.
Yet the leaders of men who would turn the hearts of their fellowman towards this darkness and away from the True God encourage it all the more.
They are the vipers, the snakes, the sons of hell that the Son of God so railed against in all the world during His lifetime.
They, not Jews, are the ones who are the "Christ killers" as they reenact and reglorify the Son of Man's death instead of making even the smallest attempt to live by even the broadest of principles of His life.
Atheism isn't the end of the world
Take heart and be of good courage in the midst of this darkness!
Even through this the Lord of Hosts can use these perversions as a teachable moment to bring your heart back into unity with the whole teachings of the Lord.
Even if you are led astray by professing Christians, whether into atheism or into their falsehoods, have faith for your future.
God's ways are not the ways of man, and we cannot know what uses God has even for those who stray so far from His truth.
In my own case, my atheism and the bitterness that was engendered in me by the professing Christians and their bad fruits are what eventually prompted my lightbulb moment and led me back to the truth.
I offer you this testimony now as both warning and encouragement.
The grander plan
If you have been brought low for not seeking after false gods, and you find the rejection of all gods, even our own God, to be better, I tell you now and truly that this is part of a grander plan for your life that will eventually bring you back to peace and into freedom from fear.
Only pray and fast and remember the True Church as it really was, not as they would have you believe it was.
Study the Word of God and its truths as revealed through His church and be steadfast.
We may no longer know with certainty what God's master plan is, but perhaps our former absolute certainty is what has brought us low and to the place of humility in which we now find ourselves.