• James Eichenlaub

A Dulcet Philippic - A Prophet Without Credentials

Updated: May 13

How does a friendship end? Who, in reality, ends it?

Did a behavioral change cause a rift? Or did one change their behavior so the other would leave? Or both? In other words, do seemingly compatible people become incompatible, or did they merely feign compatibility at the outset, desiring the other's company? Questions rarely answered.

Before becoming king of Israel, young David developed an extremely close friendship with Jonathan, the son of King Saul. So close were they that Jonathan's father was jealous (or maybe feared that Jonathan was "peculiar"). Regardless, Saul tried several times to murder David. Instead, both Jonathan and his father, Saul, were killed in battle, and there is no mention of David ever having another friendship like it.

Do you have that type of bond with someone? A rarity even among married couples and familial relationships. Selfish interests and desires, personality traits, boredom, petty jealousies, or animosities nurtured by real or presumed affronts have separated many lives.

After knowing him from the earliest of our school days, my closest friend and I recently went our separate ways, presumably, because of our religious views. I, however, happen to know irrefutably, that is not the case, even if he believes it to be so.

The fact of the matter is, there never was a true friendship. The debate about that would be nothing more than an "I said," "you said," pissing match. Aging brought us to discover things that we did not like about one another, and that changed the dynamic of our friendship entirely. We had a school relationship as children based on similar social status and a few personality flaws that put us in a situation where we were drawn to one another.

The kids of our ilk, back then as it is now, were generally rejected; lower-income class, low fashion, nerds. We had compatible personalities and shared many of the same interests. Unfortunately, these commonalities lasted for a short time until, in middle school, his musical talent blossomed, and as a performer, his popularity along with it.

After I dropped out of school and enlisted with the U.S. Navy in 1969, we lost touch with one another. After high school graduation, his dream of being a professional musician put him on the road and providentially landed him in Florida. After a few years remaining incommunicado, circumstance brought us together once more when I was transferred to a Naval base near where he lived.

He was proselytizing for his newfound faith while, at the same time, I was undergoing some severe depression and other neuro issues. He invited us to visit and wanted to share his faith with us. So, one weekend in 1973, my wife and I packed the boys into the car and drove three hours or so to see him.

He talked about his beliefs throughout that night, and he pressed the importance of 1975 as a marked year in Bible chronology. As we prepared to leave, he remarked, "If things don't start happening soon, I'm going to be very disappointed." He fully expected this world to see its end at that time. As a consequence of our discussion, we left the next day with my head spinning, and all I could think of was how to refute the things I'd learned.

Is being an iconoclast by nature my greatest downfall or my best trait; I'm not sure which, i.e., I do not and have never trusted people in general and keep them, so to speak, at arms length. What is in their minds and hearts, ideologies, beliefs, religious and political leanings, social personality and biases, likes and dislikes, hygiene, personal habits, and other traits that cause me to scrutinize and shy away from everyone?

People, in general, take too much for granted and are consequently often duped and misled. But who was being deceived, him or me or both?

We live in a disgusting world where people "hook up." People who know nothing about one another and nothing about whom or with whom they've had relationships. They have no idea of what crawls on or inside this other person. Yet, for the sake of companionship and selfish pleasure, they compromise their health and morality and ultimately drag one another through the mire of their personal deficiencies.

By contrast, many who fear death or feel desperate over life's vagaries attached themselves to organizations that appear altruistic and holy, each claiming to speak for God in the name of Christ, accepting the Bible as though explicitly written for them, much like the fundamentalists.

This organization interprets and dispenses their information as though they are of direct ascendancy of the chosen of God and Christ, namely, Christ's apostles, disciples, and the anointed followers appointed by Jesus while he was here on the Earth. Those whom he, Jesus, specifically chose to rule with Him in God's Kingdom to restore Earth to its intended purpose and condition.

C.T. Russell
Charles Taze Russell, c1900

In doing so, they take on the selfish and self-appointed responsibility of claiming to speak for God! Not through divine revelation or direct communication, but by inspiration. A man named C. T. Russell saw the fallacy of the churches, the hypocrisy and, the perversion of God's word and began a movement that became a new schism.

According to 'Brittanica' online: "By the time he was 20, Russell had left both Presbyterianism and Congregationalism because he could not reconcile the idea of an eternal hell with God’s mercy. He had drifted into skepticism when a chance encounter with some followers of the Adventist movement begun by William Miller introduced him to the idea that the Bible could be used to predict God’s plan of salvation, especially as the plan related to the end of the world."

Although never claiming to be a prophet, Russell was quickly painted as a prophet by his sycophants, who attached themselves to him and his preaching. But was it truly inspiration? Inspiration is a simple notion by which those who have an epiphany or seemingly miraculous revelation of thought claim that God moved them to do so. I could claim the same for this writing, and nobody can refute it. (A claim which, of course, I do not make.)

Unlike most religions who claim Heaven to be their common goal, this man-made theocracy, created by the organization that came behind Russell, claims to be preparing those who will repopulate a "New Earth" under Christ's rulership as spoken of Biblically. Ergo they have established a Theocracy that rules over the lives of those who are baptized in subjection to it. As such, they are consequently subjected to the rigors of attaining perfection to the best of their ability. If asked, such a claim will be denied, of course. But you would better understand had you lived it with their collective conscience imposing itself upon you.

As I mentioned earlier, a severe psychological condition predicated my advent into the organization. Before 1980 the term PTSD did not exist. However, because I exhibited all its varied symptoms, the U.S. Navy felt obligated to discharge me two years early, absolving itself of any liability. With a wife and two children to care for, my illness became my impetus to run to God for healing. So I turned to what I felt most likely to be true. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

After I began trusting what I was taught, and in my desperation to be healed, in November of 1975, I was baptized and joined the throng of happy people. Sadly, nothing changed, and no healing took place. Despite constant prayer, crying, and struggling daily, I sank deeper into self-doubt, guilt and experienced years of overwhelming depression. It wasn't until the late '1990s that, well, a sudden epiphany broke the cycle, and reality began to set in.

After forty years of observing the behaviors of those within the congregations; seeing the often false or misleading predictions of events-and-times (a constant shift in predictions referred to as "the light becoming brighter"); the behaviors of those within the congregations, and the expectations of "service" laid upon the congregations as the organization grew monetarily FAT, it was apparent that something was amiss with "God's people," as they refer to themselves.

The expectations laid upon the congregations can, essentially, be viewed as a new Law Covenant wherein everyone is expected to live by a code of conduct that is impossible to comply with within today's world, just as it was impossible before Christ's ascension. Theirs is a prescribed daily regimen of a nearly monastic lifestyle that, if strictly adhered to, when not walking from house-to-house preaching, would consistently keep one on their knees in prayer.

Whereas, in his letter to the Roman Congregation, Paul said:

" 20 Therefore, no one will be justified in His sight by works of the law. For the law merely brings awareness of sin. 21 But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, as attested by the Law and the Prophets. 22 And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."

Is it not true that the very reason Christ had to die was as a sacrifice of compensation because of our inability to live by the law, ergo, to live without sin? One source describes thirty-six (36) Biblical references that indicate "God wants obedience, not sacrifice."

Obedience, according to Jesus, identifies with "Love." Even as the scripture says, "37 Jesus declared the greatest commandment to be; “‘Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

As I prayed and cried and tortured myself over my inability to be joyful and love preaching as so many "appeared" to, I began recognizing the hypocrisies, especially those of my 'friend.' The pretentious air of righteousness of those who preached one thing and did the opposite made me realize that they were as much a cause of the pain as anything else. I cannot be perfect, not in this world. My brain, my condition, is far too corrupted. I must depend on Christ to rescue me.

C.T. Russell did as many do, as I do, recognized that religion is a scam and a falsehood and proclaims it to be so. Unfortunately, by doing so, he unwittingly established yet another belief system that is as misled and every bit misleading as any other: nothing more than another schism and a concoction of a man who set himself up as a prophet without credentials.

That, and so much more, helped me realize how badly they are deceiving themselves and how they have interpreted yet another "time of the end," which has been predicted for thousands of years and is chanted during every period of history experiencing difficult times. THE DAY AND THE HOUR NOBODY KNOWS. That's a fact. They are building an ark that will never float.

They fail to see that we began living in the time of the end when Christ left Earth two thousand years ago. Jesus told his followers:

"as long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9:4)

After the Romans murdered Jesus in 33 CE, and subsequently all of his anointed followers, spiritual darkness fell. To quell the uprisings in Rome, Emporer Constantine established his Roman religion as the Antichrist! Rome stole and corrupted true Christianity, perverting and twisting it into an unrecognizable wrangle of falsehood and misconception that became the seven-headed hydra (the churches and religions) that rules over the hearts and minds of humanity today. Satan's world!

We today are no longer privy to the true faith but only a mockery of God's Kingdom's reality. Our Bible is nothing more than what it claims to be: "A tutor to bring us to the Christ." To make us recognize our sinful state and recognize Christ Jesus, whose salvation is now all that we have to count upon to escape the madness of this world.

The churches are a falsehood, yes, but Christ is a reality. We are given enough of His history and teaching to know what is right. We know that it is our responsibility to show love toward one another. We need to live by those things to the best of our ability until such time, until that 'unknown' time, has come for His renewal of things through God's Kingdom. No earthly organization, in particular, represents that truth because "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God."

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