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   Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God presents Garner Ted Armstrong. All literature offered on this program will be sent free of cost to anyone requesting it.

   Did you get the news about the energy crisis approaching from your minister or your newscaster? Did you understand about the Middle Eastern crisis as a continuing hot spot of the world which could well bear your close attention from your minister or from the newscasters and the news magazines? Did you get information about pollution, overpopulation, dwindling Earth's resources, non-renewable ones? Did you get word about crops and blight and natural disaster, impending flood or fire, storm or typhoon and hurricane from your minister or from the weatherman or the newscaster?

   Are you led to understand today's world news, changing trends in climates inside the United States, the economy, the geopolitical situation, the attacks upon the dollar, America's dwindling gold reserves, our inability to compete abroad, the rising super giants of Japan and Europe, the interplay between the cutbacks of Arab oil and the United States economy and energy crisis, as well as the diplomatic difficulties between Japan and the United States as a direct result, between Europe and the United States as a direct result, from your minister or from your newscaster?

   And you might ask, what in the world would a minister be doing talking about all of those things? What has the Bible got to do? What has the ministry got to do with world conditions anyway? And if you're talking about the mainstream religions of the world, that's my question exactly.

   What in the world would a clergyman be talking about world conditions for? About impending drought or famine or attacks upon individuals because of rising crime?

   Why would he be talking about some of the consequences of ghettos or inner urban living or the shift of populaces to rural America, about the new land rush that is underway, about the things that you talk about? The average person during the rest of the six days of the week is talking about everything from the price of beans and beef to the price of gas, to rationing, to energy crisis, to problems of the kids on the way home from school, to the weather. Why don't the clergyman talk about those things?

   Well, they live in a different world than you do. You see, they're on cloud nine. When you go into church, you're generally going to hear a lot of 12-minute lofty pronouncements about the other you, the inner you, the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps way to conquer your problems. Usually, in very polished terminology, sometimes in quite fiery language, it is hauled away from a very big and clapping emotional experience to a sedate, quiet, very respectable treatise or dissertation, including perhaps even a few poems or a few quotations from famous philosophers or people in the past.

   But the point is, the pulpit in the United States of America has lost its power. You know, and I know, that the commission to cry aloud, spare not, and show my people their sins is not being fulfilled by the average pulpit in our country. Because mostly, if the preacher is being paid by the congregation or by the organization or by the people whom he represents or preaches to, he's going to be fairly careful to be sure to say what they want to hear. That's kind of like politicians; they're not going to get into office unless they say what most of the people want to hear. A politician would become very unpopular very quickly if he started stepping on all sorts of toes.

   That's why we hear politicians being interviewed on TV programs that you almost never understand what they say. That's why the news media seems to believe that you must always interpret what a politician says to the general public because the public otherwise won't understand. Actually, I take a little bit of exception to that once in a while, like instant analysis and understanding who it was originally came up with that statement. But anyhow, following a presidential news conference, when you hear people come back on and say the president said, I think, well, yeah, ok, if you want to go on and tell me what you think he said, that's fine.

   But I heard what he said. Why don't you go on with something else? Analyze what he said if you wish, but don't tell me what he said because I just heard what he said. But, sometimes politicians need explaining. What they say needs explaining. The same thing is true sometimes with preachers because they can be very ambiguous and unclear, and no one is really sure what they're trying to get across.

   I'm not sure whether some of the babylon sermons that come on Sunday morning comic hour are not just stomach upset, dyspepsia, or maybe a little bit of dysentery. It's something very bad that the person needs to have looked into or taken care of in some way or another because there's a kind of a stomach upset. You can tell—the look is there, the shadows under the eyes, the kind of weeping, wailing, whining voice, the pleading with the audience. Or sometimes the person just wasn't happy. Got a Pogo stick for Christmas, and he was bouncing inside the cave. Aside from a few knocks on his head, he's out there screeching and screaming and saying, "Let's hear it for the Cadillac."

   I'm not talking about any one individual, am I? If I am, I've never heard him. I've heard of him, and people have told me that there is a minister—is that the word? Does he call himself a minister? I think so—who actually preaches to congregations about? The only thing that is really important is money. And "Send me your money" and this and that and "Spend thousands of dollars on clothing" and this type of thing, and the people just really eat it up. They just really enjoy it.

   So, I think at every conceivable range, color, shading, extreme of emotion, from total respectability—which, when a maverick evangelist type might finally affiliate himself with it, he gets overnight acceptability and respect—mainstream church and churches. In other words, the Christian churches down to the very maverick ones that are supposed to be sects and more or less on the outside independents. And I guess a lot of people figure that I'm one of those and therefore quite dangerous. You can take your pick.

   It's exactly like politicians. It's like soap ads. It's like no wonder they have all the church ads on the church page where you can conveniently see them lumped together. It's exactly like the classifieds. They kind of lump them together and categorize them for you. And the same thing with the movie page. You expect it all together—the sports in the sports section and the preachers on the church page because they're in competition, one with another, and that's where they belong.

   Well, why is it then, if the ministry is supposed to cry aloud, spare not, and show God's people what is wrong with them, that there's precious little correcting? That there is precious little overcoming of what is wrong. That instead of the combined force of the clergy keeping crime down, we're in the midst of a spiraling crime rate that is out of all proportion to the population. The population can go up by 4%, and crime is up by 100% or something. It's all out of proportion to the growth of the population.

   Why is it if the clergy should be in the forefront of establishing honorable parents and obedient children and sound, solid marriages and home life—and the family life ought to be emphasized as it is in the Bible—that today, as never before, with more preaching than ever before, more religious publications than ever before, more churches and church attendance perhaps than ever before, we've got more divorce than ever before? Is there any causal factor here? Is there cause and effect?

   In a moment, I'm going to show you that even the ministry does admit its weakness, that there are large percentages of active ministers considering resignation, and that among all other professions, the ministry ranks perhaps among the very highest of those in need of psychiatric care.

   We live in a world of many different religions. While teaching peace and harmony among men, their people are led to war against one another. Witness the Hindu-Muslim conflict in India-Pakistan, the Protestant-Catholic confrontation in Northern Ireland, and the Jew-Arab crisis. All believing they have true religion. Ironic, isn't it? With over 400 denominations in the Western Christian world?

   Haven't you ever wondered which one is right? Who teaches what Jesus did? The truth of Christ's message to man can be found in eyewitness accounts in your Bible. This free article can help you understand that message. For your free copy of this booklet, "What Is the True Gospel?," write to Ambassador College, Box 345, GPO Sydney.

   What in the world is a minister supposed to do but inspire faith and belief in the Bible? I can't understand what in the world a minister would do talking to somebody from a pulpit, or door to door, or in writings or tracts about the Bible when he cheerfully admits he's not even sure it is the word of God. It ought to be edited with a blue pencil. You can't accept half of it, or most of it, or whatever.

   And just to impress upon you this point, you know that there are major mainstream religions which totally reject all of the Old Testament as being valid, accurate, inspired, and really meaningful for us today. There are others that selectively reject portions of the New Testament. Clear back during the day of Martin Luther and the Reformation. Martin Luther called the Book of James in the New Testament, written by the Lord's brother, it says, a "book of straw." And so, men decide to elevate themselves above the Bible, look down upon the Bible. It's called higher criticism to do that. Actually, I think it's lower criticism. And yet at the same time, try to convince the average layman and the general public that they are practitioners of the Bible, that they are experts on the Bible, that they understand and believe and practice and are preaching the Bible. And it's hard for me to swallow.

   It's like a guy showing up at the front door that is a vacuum cleaner salesman, let's say, and though you hate to have the guy intrude—and I would never buy anything on a door-to-door salesman basis myself, that's my own personal preference—however, I figure if I can do, I'll go down and find it. At any rate, let's say you invite the guy into your home because, well, maybe some people do it because their rug is dirty. "Yeah, I got a free sweeping, fine." He comes in, he's got a handbook with him. He doesn't know how to plug it in, doesn't know how to turn it on, how to change the bag, how to adjust the various connections that come along with it, the various adapters and this and that. Knows nothing about it. Can't tell you where the factory is and doesn't know what the price is. Fairly ineffectual, wouldn't you say he would be as a salesman of a product?

   Now, isn't the minister in a sense a salesman, just as much a salesman as a salesman? Isn't he trying to sell people on belief in God and Bible and hereafter? Isn't he supposed to believe in his message? Or at least if he doesn't believe in it, pretend like he does. I think a lot of people do pretend like they do and don't really. As a matter of fact, I'm coming to that because some of them have admitted raging doubts about what they themselves preach, and sometimes they have been maverick enough to say so and get themselves in trouble with their own church organizations.

   So even the ministry does begin sometimes to admit its own ineffectuality and its own weaknesses. The percentage of active ministers who have seriously considered resigning their ministerial responsibilities are, for the Protestants, 33%. And among the Catholics, believe it or not, a very staunch group, 23%. Among Jewish people, 43% of Rabbis thinking about resignation from their clerical duties. And in recent years, the number of resignations has increased remarkably. At present, in excess of 20,000 men, for one reason or another, resign from the ministry every single year.

   Now maybe if you're not acquainted with a preacher or a minister personally, and most people are to a greater or lesser degree, you don't really understand the way it can be. These people have very real problems just like anybody else. Ministers have home problems, family problems, economic problems, problems of health. They've got worries and nervousness and night sweats, and they are also afflicted with disease. They can be down in bed with sore throats and flu just as quickly as anybody else. They've got lives and kids and families.

   And sometimes, I think, because the spotlight, let's say, of attention and therefore an expected pattern of life, which is supposed to be totally superior and almost angelic and completely above the general lay man, constitutes an unusual psychological pressure upon the ministry. It certainly does upon his children. As a preacher's boy growing up in Oregon, I decided that since I had heard the news that all preacher's boys were dirty little unprintable blah, blah, blankety-blank dust and such, that I was going to set out to be precisely what people expected me to be. And I did it with the ease of falling off a log on a greased banana peel because there's no problem at all of being the grubbiest, dirtiest, most hard-to-get-along-with little kid in the neighborhood. And that is exactly what people expected of me. So, you know, I couldn't care less. So, I grew up as a boy with the stigma of being a preacher's kid.

   And it was a stigma too because, you see, my father preached a lot of things people didn't like. He preached a lot of things people didn't want to believe. And consequently, he was pretty much poorly thought of in many, many circles of his earlier place of residence.

   Well, as the years went by and the church gradually, grew, and became larger and larger, at least to its general size and impact upon the public, some of that individual shame and so on have gradually gone. But not some of the other problems of growing attacks, criticism, or persecution in the form of literature, books, pamphlets, and tracts.

   And it's always amazed me as I look into religion that not only are ministers under the gun from the general public and laymen and certainly their own congregation, but they like to attack each other. I don't think that as a profession, you find that in insurance very much. You don't find it in stockbrokers. In the automotive industry, though, you find comparisons and you see a kind of a relaxation of some of the earlier protocol in advertising these days where one manufacturer would never use the name in vain of the other manufacturer. Where today, they'll park the Chevy Nova and maybe the Volkswagen side by side and let you compare and talk about them both.

   Well, there is an increasing trend among ministers to attack one another. Of course, I don't know if it's increasing or decreasing. It's just always been there. But it seems one of the great pastimes of religious types is attacking one another. You know, they just love to do that. And for some reason, they like to attack each other within an existing church.

   A person can have right in his hand a book that tells him that God's word says that he is to have love, joy, and peace. That one of the most predominant characteristics of a Christian is an attitude of forgiveness. "If you love your friends only, what do you more than others? You ought to even pray for your enemies and those that despitefully use you and persecute you." Let me tell you, there is nobody who can get more vicious like ravening beasts than people within religious organizations who tend to begin to disagree about some philosophical doctrine.

   The other side of the millennium, people can practically come to blows. I remember a book that was so excellent, so well done. I hope it's still in print. It was by a favorite cynic of mine, Philip Wylie. And I forget the name of it, but it was a very small little book. It went into an imagined nuclear explosion out in Bikini of some fictitious island. And they go out in the jeep afterward, and they discover this creature lying there with bent wings. And he's got this eerie glow, and obviously, it's an angel of some sort, perhaps some kind of an archangel. You aren't told this, but you learn it.

   And so, a very high government official and a military man are ushered out there—maybe some of you have read this book, you write in and tell me the name of it so I can tell other people. I don't want to advertise it necessarily. I just thought it made an excellent point.

   And so, the story goes on. This was an American test explosion, and this was back during the Cold War when he wrote it. And so, it got to the highest circles, and it was a cable that went to Washington about this strange creature and a message that he had and this and that. And they put him aboard a military jet, and he was on his way to Washington. The body, the people who had seen it and heard what he said and this and that, they never made it and mysteriously disappeared.

   And then they discovered in a deep inland nuclear test explosion somewhere in Siberia, the Russians—all the way at that time, Khrushchev was in power—were notified. There was this creature with wings glowing with a kind of a luminescent radiance or a phosphorescent glow lying out in the field, almost dead. This huge bomb explosion had gone up into the heavens, you know, about 40 some thousand feet or something. And finally, they got the word back in Washington and Moscow that this had happened, and they're all abuzz about it in the nation's capital.

   And so, the president calls in all sorts of specialists. And among these specialists were the nation's leading religionists, the leading preachers and evangelists, and the most respected ones that conduct presidential prayer breakfasts and our presidential conferences and this type of thing. They all got into this big parley over it. I mean, they loosened neckties and undid shirt cuffs and so on, took off their jackets, and really got down and thrashing through the Bible, discussing what this could mean and what it was. And finally, it came to blows. They began to disagree.

   The book was so eloquent, so beautifully done, that these preachers were grabbing one another by the shirt, laying it on there you know, and just having a big fight about it. Well, at the end of the whole thing, it came out that the message had finally been translated. And really, he said, "Love one another." But I thought it was so well done that here were these two nations exploding hydrogen bombs, a message coming from heaven, but the clergy couldn't even agree on what it was.

   To me, it characterized what you see going on around you in the clerical world of today, where disagreement and vicious attacks seem to characterize the religious climate almost as much as love and forgiveness of fellow man.

   The Bible is the most widely distributed and misunderstood book in the world. Can you imagine the following discussion taking place over the literary classic, "Gone With The Wind?"

   They say, "It's pretty good. It looks awfully dull to me. I never read it, and I don't like books about foreign countries. I wonder what it's all about."

   "I saw the movie."

   "Hey, hey, wait a minute. Read the Book." That's all it would take to understand "Gone with the Wind."

   The same solution works equally well with the Bible. If you just read the book, we can't send you a Bible, but we can help you understand it with the keys explained in this free booklet. "Read the Book." For your free copy of "Read the Book," write to Ambassador College, Box 345, GPO, Sydney.

   You know, it would be amazing if we really knew what the beliefs are of some of the ministers in the United States. A tremendous percentages of them who do not believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. They do not believe in the virgin birth. They do not believe Jesus Christ is alive today. They do not believe he is coming again. In short, they believe Christ was either just a well-intentioned person who was mistaken, which is certainly a kind view, or, to carry it one step further, maybe they think he is a liar.

   Now, I know I might get some letters. People are going to say, "Now, look, you talk about preachers attacking one another, and you're attacking all these preachers." No, I'm not attacking anybody. I am merely trying to point out to you that there is a grave and serious responsibility that is levied upon anybody who would dare take the word of God in his mouth and pretend to preach it to somebody else. That he is required to be accurate, he is required to be faithful, he is required to know what he's talking about, and he is required to preach a certain kind of message that has to do with a warning as well as a witness, not platitudes and lofty poetry and songs and just quaint little thoughts about the inner you, but meaningful, day-to-day, a nitty-gritty, grassroots language about how to solve your individual and personal problems.

   That's why people, I think, when they get angry with this program, they do so because perhaps it's an X-rated program, like the one that I read to you last time. I'm going to repeat just briefly what I said last time. Hats off to the First Baptist Church in Pocatello, Idaho, and its pastor Wilbur Rees, who said that he felt sermons ought to be given a kind of categorization just like motion pictures. He said G would be generally acceptable, inoffensive, and a kind of a piece of motherhood. M would be more mature, sometimes even relevant to today's way of things, and may even contain mild suggestions for change. R would be restricted to those who are not upset by the truth—somebody who is telling it like it is. The X, he said, would be limited positively to those who can handle explosive ideas. This kind really socks it to them. It's the kind of sermon that landed Jeremiah in the well, got Amos run out of town, and set things up for the stoning of Stephen. He said it's always described best as shocking or in poor taste. The minister who preaches this sermon had better have his suitcase packed and his life insurance paid up.

   But there's another category, perhaps. And that's the one who can preach controversial sermons, powerful sermons, messages of warning, can be totally relevant to what is happening in the world today, can warn about fuel shortages, energy crisis, rationing, the dollar and gold outflow, attacks upon the economy, national moral resolve being broken down, the morals crisis, or the toboggan slide in the country of the so-called ethic of the new morality, which is immorality. Can attack everything from crime to pollution, and you know what's going to happen. A prophecy is going to come to pass, and that's found in Ezekiel, the 33rd chapter. There will be literally millions who will enjoy that kind of an X-rated sermon and who will do precisely nothing about it.

   Now, let me take a look at Ezekiel 33, the 33rd chapter, and prove that to you. Here is a prophecy about how a preacher is like a watchman in olden days. As they say, he would have been up on the watchtower, lacking a pair of binoculars, looking over the hill and down the dell and up the creek to try to find out where the enemy was coming from. It's kind of like the D.C., you know, or maybe the wizard of good and rob me in the tower, and five o'clock and all is well, except in this case, he sees the sword come upon the land.

   Now, what is preliminary to the sword coming upon the land? In other words, a biblical sign of war, if it is not economic difficulty, a breakdown in diplomatic and political relationships, nations stepping on one another's toes from political ideologies, religious differences, but mostly from territorial desires and designs, expansionist aims, and so on, and especially from basic philosophical, moral, and spiritual differences in the makeup of their minds, a very way of thinking and approaching things.

   So today, you have Japan and the United States more and more cooling toward each other and drifting further apart, and that's dangerous. And somebody ought to see that and ought to warn our people that the overtures to World War II were just exactly like those that we see around us today. People sitting in their rocking chairs reading, oh my, look at that, prices are going out of sight. Milk has gone up to 11 cents a quart." Well, in a lesser way, with different dollar signs on it, you can look around the world and see Hitler.

   I remember as a boy listening over a shortwave, hearing the rantings and ravings of that idiotic maniacal—was he illegitimate? I don't know. I'm tempted to call him that—son of a paper hanger over there in Austria who was claiming that he's gonna, you know, ravage the whole world, soak it in blood, rule the world. The Germans are the super this and that. Everybody just passed it off as kind of like Elvis. They thought he'd leave with time, and he didn't. He came back.

   Well, Hitler didn't just go away. I remember so well the United States sitting it out. Did anybody really know in 1939 when Hitler was already beginning to attack Poland that the United States by 1942 would be in one of the darkest hours in all of its history? When the car escaping from Corregidor and Bataan falling with the entirety of the South Pacific gobbled up by the Japanese, with most of Europe gobbled up by the armies of Hitler, with Britain practically on her knees and barely hanging on by the skin of her teeth after the Battle of Britain in 1940. You know, they didn't know that. Why didn't they? There were hundreds of thousands of lines of newspaper print, and there was at least one minister I know of warning about it.

   Well, here we are today. All the signs are there. The overtures of a nuclear bomb, World War III, are so obvious to us. We can wrap them up and put them in the pipes and smoke them, but nobody pays attention to it. And the clergy, in general, is not lifting up a voice of alarm. But it says here in the book of Ezekiel, in the 33rd chapter, "If when he sees the sword come upon the land, he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whosoever hears the sound of the trumpet and takes not warning..." Remember how it says in Isaiah 58, "Lift up your voice like a trumpet," and here it says, "hear the sound of the trumpet."

   Well, a trumpet was a voice of alarm. It was merely an archaic kind of air raid siren, so to speak. Somebody got up on the wall and blew the trumpet. People knew that an attacking army was on the way. So, it says his blood is on his own head if he rejects it. But his blood is on the head of the prophet who will refuse to take that warning message if he sees it and knows it and he doesn't take it. And to repeat it over and over and over again in that chapter.

   And it says repeatedly, "As I live," says the Lord Eternal, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn you, turn you from your evil ways of breaking God's Ten Commandments, his laws. For why will you die?" That's the question. Of course, it's directed to the house of Israel, but by broader application to God's people. Those were God's people then; they are God's people today. If you feel you are one of God's people, that means you.

   But the important thing is, in this chapter, perhaps in the latter part, it says, "Son of man, the children of your people are talking about you as they stand in the doorways, and they speak to one another, everybody and his brother saying, 'Hey, come on and hear the word of the Eternal. This guy, he's quite a speaker. He's quite a preacher. He really does a job.' And they come unto you as the people come, they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words—they listen—but they will not do them. For with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness. And lo, you are unto them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument. Just like a song, you know, and people listen, and nothing happens. 'Oh, you ought to hear that guy. He's really great. He's quite a speaker.' Well, they hear your words, but they do them not."

   I said just one little thing I'll pick out of the air. Years ago, I said, if Americans knew how critical our food supplies are going to become, they'd be out plowing up their front yards and planting carrots. I don't know of a single American who did it. But I'll tell you, I bet there are gonna be millions who wish they had.

   Well, you'll have to judge for yourself about this thing of ministers—true and false—ministers who believe in what they're doing, who actually are unafraid to speak out without fear or favor and make up your own mind about it. That's for you to do and not for me to attack anybody.

   If you write for these two booklets, I believe you will be able to open up your Bible, which we feel is the most ancient and the most accurate record after all, and look into it for yourself. There free of charge. Until next time, Garner Ted Armstrong, goodbye, friend.

   All literature offered on the Garner Ted Armstrong program is sent free of cost to anyone requesting it. For your free copy of these booklets, "What is the True Gospel?" and "Read the Book," write to Ambassador College, Box 345, GPO, Sydney. Be sure to watch Garner Ted Armstrong again next week at this time, brought to you by Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God.

Please Note: The FREE literature offered on this program are no longer available through the Address and Phone Number given, please visit www.hwalibrary.com for all FREE literature offered on this program.

Broadcast Date: 1977