Having read a number of testimonies from former members dating back from the
70's til a few years ago is more informative than what someone may currently say
since similar things would have been stated then by people from the Lenox era of TBS
who now have the advantage of hindsight. This begs the question, what happend to the
beliefs of the people from previous dispensations of tbs/ggwo? After all almost
everyone would claim to belief the same finished work biblical things preached at
the time by CHS (talking about basic Christian doctrines, not controversial
delegated authority things which have been discussed here for years).
Neither do I mean whatever happened to the girl who worked in the bookstore
or the groundskeeper etc. Rather do they still belief what they did then in a basic way?
There seem to be 3 main changes you will see and they fall into 3 basic camps with
The True Believers - these are the ones who think and act like it is still 1977
They are the ones who think that only those disloyal people around Carl Stevens
(including his whole family and every Pastor or leader) were the one who should
be thought of as against the gospel for publishing an evil report. Often they will admit
that Stevens may have done some bad things in a very general way. The response
will be to examine the fruit and it was worth it because good came out of it in the
form of bible preaching. Problem is that Carl Stevens will be the only one who gets
that kind of recollective grace. Anybody else who did those things should have been
thrown out. These are the ones who attend bible believing churches today and will
never give up. They believe every bible story including the talking donkey and
Elisha calling bears out to devour 42 children who made fun of him etc. You know how
we tend to freeze people in our mind from years ago and are surprised when we run
into them and realize how much they've changed? These aren't them, they think and
act the same. Onandup would be the most familiar one to fit this kind.
The Lukewarm Christians - these are the ones who have left the pond but still keep
their toe in the water and pretend they are still there swimming. Most embace a
self help form of Christianity such as Joyce Meyer or Joe Osteen and similar ones.
They often hold more liberal social views than before.. Most of the men are only doing
it because they have a wife to be with and a family to raise and feel they must keep
at least some of their previous ways and beliefs. Were they on their own. previous
beliefs would have been left behind like their disco shirts from the era.
They harbor doubts about biblical stories and if they occured. These are the pew
warmers who never really leave but are a far cry from the dedicated soul winners
they once were. There are TBS pastors who still are ministers but will do things like
perform gay marriages and embrace liberal theological beliefs they would have laughed
at back in Lenox. Some invested a lot of time and effort and gave up school, jobs etc
and would hate to think they lost those years for a series of fairy tales. By continuing
they keep up the ruse that it was somehow worth it, after all they met their wife in TBS,
didn't they? Self help, TV preacher watching, Christianity is a good alternative to forgetting
the whole thing. These people have a religious bent they don't want to completely give up
as well but edit out the bible, keeping what they like not realizing if part isn't true it
can all be questioned.
The Forsakers - The third group left and went on to read Dawkins, Barker, Loftus
etc and came to the conclusion that they whole thing was nothing more than
a delusional fairy tail believed when they were young, lacking direction, and followed
someone who seemed to have all the answers. Unlike the others it often takes years
for this group to come to their ultimate conclusion. Stevens was a religious huckster
in the pre internet era who could pull off things due to the lack of information at the time.
Since they left most of these are guilt free since there was nothing to belief in the first
place and there won't be a judgement of anyone after life is over. A few might go to a
Unitarian church but most will never attend again. There are many lukewarmers who
believe this way but continue for their wife and family, some are clergy. There is
something called the Clergy project that tries to help the many non believing ministers
who have changed beliefs but keep at it due to many years of investment and
If you were transported back in time to Lenox in the late 1970's you would see
yourself believing that there was almost total uniformity in everyones beliefs about
the main doctrines of the bible. Looking back you would know that wasn't true.
People either hide or change their basic beliefs over time, no secret there.
It may sound like we are stating the obvious here and it would be to someone older
but remember, you didn't think like this then. Who would think that a well respected
Pastor could not believe the bible or a lesser version in a short 5-10 years?
To anyone young in ggwo now, that type of Christianity tends to dominate your time,
political and religious beliefs etc and you will make decisions based on what your
church and pastors say. Beware as you and they could think something different
later AFTER you gave up your best years to be a missionary, quickly marry someone
where you won't much in common later etc. Read the testimonies
of those who went before you. I can remember a thread here discussing how so many
people left but never spoke to anyone else about their misgivings about either tbs
or Christianity itself. Some said they wished someone had spoken to them as they
might have listened as they were questioning it themselves at the time.
Well if anyone is now, here is your chance. If you want to continue, go right ahead
Maybe you just attend a branch bible study and your investment is small. Just take
your time before giving anything up for bible school marring someone early in life,
donating money etc. Pluralistic ignorance can be a very bad thing, if you are
leaving, speak to someone who may be wavering, they may thank you forever.
If they think you are now evil who cares? You won't see them again. If their beliefs
can't stand a little challenging they don't really have any anyway.
Many people are in various stages on their way from one category to another. It takes time. I am talking about where they end up and usually stay. People in normal less demanding churches
are ususally content, TBS is/was another story, very life demanding at the time.
Take a look around current members. Someday you and everyone there will fall into one of the 3
categories Will you have regret in 2035 or so?
Not many post here but many look in according to the numbers.
Perhaps posts that ask tough questions about the place will give them
the push they need to leave. Nothing quite like the internet in the 70's
and 80's. You had to learn the hard way.
If this is the last post/warning in the Discuss GGWO forum so be it.
No one can say they weren't warned before getting involved.
People can have quite an ability to twist truth and deny reality when they
want something bad enough or to justify their investment, especially
when it feels like its too late to turn back. Hopefully we'e done some good here.