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What do latter-day prophets
and witnesses have in common?

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What do latter-day prophets
and witnesses have in common?

by Dennis Diehl
The writer was a pastor of the Worldwide Church of God for 26 years in Ohio, Kentucky, New York and South Carolina. Reach Mr. Diehl, who has nothing for you to join, at

GREENVILLE, S.C.--Before the age of television, radio and the Internet, a charismatic minister--one who by the power of his personality and ego and even his mental quirkiness or illnesses--tended to influence a relatively few people.

Since these modern inventions, times have changed. Now the sincerely misguided can bombard us with their ideas, opinions, inspirations, knowings and outright stupidity.

The problem is that they reach millions and are supported by people who buy into their ideas but never meet the man, attend his church or know what might be going on behind the scenes of the organization he has created.

Such men build megachurches in their communities, and the sheer size of their congregations seems proof enough that the pastor must be right, must be speaking for God and must be doing God's for-sure, real, end-time work on the planet.

Right and true

Surely something this big and with this many resources--which are mainly the tithes the members give the man, who then decides just how to spend them with little oversight--has to be right and true.

For better or worse the religious texts often provide such men more than they need to create a powerful and misguided belief system that then replicates itself and furnishes pleasurable ego-pumping to the man while he weaves his tale.

These men look into the Bible, Old and New Testaments, and what do they see? Themselves!

They see that, sure enough, the sayings of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are exactly the same as these pastors' sayings.

These misguided and often dangerous pastor types often anoint themselves with titles such as Evangelist, Apostle, Prophet and Watchman (watch out for this one because it's not what they watch that is so dangerous but how they interpret what they watch to the faithful).

Seeing through a glass fondly

Elections might work well to weed out the wackos in worldly government, but they're not compatible with these men's ministries. These are one-man shows.

These narcissists feel grandiose and self-important. They exaggerate their accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts and personality traits to the point of lying. They demand recognition as superior beings without commensurate achievements.

Such a one is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequaled brilliance, bodily beauty or sexual performance or everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.

He requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation. Failing that, he wishes to be feared and to be notorious.

Special and favorable

Furthermore, he feels entitled. He demands automatic and full compliance with his (or her) unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment.

He is "interpersonally exploitative." That is, he uses others to achieve his own ends.

He is devoid of empathy and unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities and choices of others.

He envies others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his frustration. He suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions because he believes others feel the same about him as he feels about them and are likely to act similarly.

He behaves arrogantly and haughtily. He feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, above the law and omnipresent (magical thinking).

High positions

Ministers and CEOs with many or all of these traits can rise to high positions in the world of religion, government and business on the backs and at the expense of those who would not be inclined to think this way.

The world has paid a big price for allowing such people--who may be genetically predisposed to this type of behavior and thinking outlined here--to include us in their exploits.

They rarely if ever seek professional help, and to suggest to them that they get such assistance can get you fired, disfellowshipped or even killed.

So what are some specific problems with a church or other ministry headed up by Mr. Prophet, the Rev. Apostle, Brother or Sister Watcher, the One-Man Show or the Two Witnesses?

Good science, bad science

  • The minister, used to being believed in every area he cares to comment on, is an impediment to good science.

One such minister, the Rev. Walter Lang, is on the record as saying: "We really have dinosaurs today, without any question. You just need the right weather conditions, as I see it, to get huge creatures. And in the ocean, of course, we have huge creatures ... This is where the plesiosauruses seem to be today, and perhaps also this fire-breathing dragon is still down there--very rare, but occasionally there."

Learning experience

  • The minister or Christian zealot who goes unchallenged because he is the minister or zealot is a threat to a good education.

These leaders bolster their own pronouncements by making fun of a formal education. They mock Plato, Socrates and others who are symbols to them of "human reasoning." They give the impression that God pours His mind on a regular basis into their mind, but I strongly suspect that this is an illusion, maybe even a delusion.

Said Robert T. Lee, an antieducation Christian leader: "When you take into account what the so-called 'educated' people don't know that's essential to know, and compare it with the vain 'education' they do have, it becomes clear that they are quite dumb."

When cornered, these guys come back with "Well, the wisdom of man is foolishness with God," and "God's thoughts [which usually means his thoughts at the moment you are questioning] are higher than yours." End of discussion.

Mad about your flat?

  • Many one-man churches are a threat to your good health. They tend to stress that ill health is a function of the devil in your life or mind, when it really might be that one lives as if sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are the four food groups and spends a lot of money to support that belief.

Anointing an obese person for bad knees is like painting a car with flat tires. It still won't move.

These spokesmen for God emphasize that having hands laid on the ill takes the place of a checkup or treatment of maladies contracted in the course of living on earth as a human or even old age.

When these ministers contract an illness themselves, they tend to reread the Scriptures and hear the voice of God telling them that it's now okay to seek professional help.

Blessed are the poor

  • Charismatic and one-man shows aren't accountable for their use of your generous tithes and offerings. As such, they are a threat to your finances.

Their members often tell themselves after they send in their money, "I just obey God and tithe, and what Mr. One-Man Show does with it is none of my business. I trust God and His church."

That gives Mr. Charisma a free hand, which is why we see televangelists and religious CEOs sporting hot cars, pricey watches and amazingly expensive homes in exclusive neighborhoods.

Even the original scripture that advises us that "blessed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" was changed in antiquity to "Blessed are the poor in spirit."

This little emendation has given wealthy and materialistic ministers and churches wiggle room down through history. It doesn't help the situation that sheeple apparently, for whatever reason, love shenanigans.

Watch world events

  • Mr. One-Man Show can define the world for the members as it serves him.

He can shout out why the world is this or that way and just what exactly God does and thinks.

He can motivate the masses with the imminent--and reimminent--return of Jesus.

Watch world events with bated breath and our help and salvation will be just around the corner. The world can't go on for more than three or five or, at the most, 10 or 15 more years, so give till it aches.

The number of years "just ahead" never changes much and often matches the number of years the minister wants the show to go on for him. But few notice or seem to care.

It's a dangerous and discouraging world, but frankly it is the Christian, Jewish and Islamic religions that want their form of peace on earth to come that are pushing us towards the edge.

No Plan B

  • The Rev. Charisma can leave you high and dry when he dies. Uh-oh. Now what?

These men of the cloth often act as if they simply can't die "before all be fulfilled," and they rarely make provision for a change in leadership.

Why would you have to make provision for new leadership when you are the End-Time Apostle or both of the Two Witnesses of Revelation?

I once asked a group that was smitten with the talent and "knowledge" of its pastor if the group's members had a Plan B. I asked what they would do if he failed to live up to his own press or died.

They simply informed me that that would never happen.

Of course, life is choices, and we make our choices, don't we? If your grand pooh-bah does not plan for a replacement, you need to lay a plan--for your own good and spiritual safety. If he refuses to entertain the idea, doesn't that tell you he's a fool and you need to vote with your feet?

This is his life

  • The one-man show presupposes that you must see life--and your religion, God, the Bible, the world, your family, your thoughts, your finances and every other aspect of your personal freedom to be who you are--through his eyes.

You don't have a life. You have his life. You aren't a player in your own life. You are a player in his life. You can't see the world and receive knowledge as you see fit.

In short, you have given up your mind, and now you are an inveterate agree-er. You simply agree to agree with your minister's views, opinions and perspectives on who and what God is and when Jesus must come back. If he says dinosaurs are less than 6,000 years old and fossils are deceptions, as is any book outside of the Bible, you just say, "Yes, sir."

If you are really hooked on the one-man show, you become a virus for him and spread it to others. If he says one man is God's political leader but the other is Satan's, you just say, "Well, okay," and vote, as the minister says you should, for God.

It's all balderdash or even poppycock or bushwa, but many love balderdash and smear it on themselves every week in church as a holy excrement, I mean sacrament.

Living unreasonably

  • Finally, the One Man of the one-man show is dangerous because men are men (and women are women), and when they fall from grace they tend to take everyone with them in one way or another.

People are people and get involved with all sorts of wants, needs, desires, lusts and experiences.

No one is above being normal, but the demands of religious obedience are abnormal in a real world.

The congregation can "sin" until the cows come home and often, but they expect the pastor to be their sacrifice for sin by his living an unreasonable life full of unreasonable expectations and unresolved personal needs.

The reason so many ministers fall from grace is that few can live up to the expectations of religion. The few who think they can can't but won't admit it.

Many are pushed from grace by ego. When the One-Man Show is caught in sexual, financial or philosophical "sin," things get messy.

Better to be one of many equals than the grand-better-never-be-merely-human pooh-bah. The folks in the congregation will tear you to pieces for failing to do well what they don't wish to do at all.

Ask questions

Don't be overly impressed by the religious who know everything and demand you pay, obey, pray and stay just because they say so.

Question religious authority and those who demand your righteousness at the expense of your sanity.

The person who demands your devotion or obedience is just a human being as well, with all the foibles that go along with that. If you belong to a church with a one-man show, ask the powers that be what Plan B is for the church should the leader fall on his face.

Often they don't have one because they don't believe he can. Believe it. We all can, and we all do.


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