HWA, for those who don't know, is Mike Vinson's former spiritual mentor, Herbert Walker Armstrong and the one time leader of the World Wide Church of God.
Mike Vinson actually served in the mail room of this organisation, as he freely admits on his iswasandwillbe.com website. Here are Mike Vinson's own words regarding his apprentice-ship under HWA.
I started listening to the Armstrong broadcasts for the first time back about 1969. Actually, it was my father who made me listen. At that time I was only twelve years old, and the speaker was Herbert himself doing the broadcast. Ted had not started doing the broadcast at that time. It was still called 'the Radio Church Of God.' Dad listened for several years, but quit listening when Mr. Armstrong quoted Ezekiel 18:4 and 20 "the soul that sinneth shall die."
By then I had taken an interest in the broadcast and kept listening. I wrote off for the 'Bible Correspondence Course' in 1963 and ended up going to the Big Sandy, Texas campus in 1965. I graduated in 1969 and went to Pasadena, where I worked on the 'mail analysis team' for the next four years.
Working on that team turned out to be more of an education than my college experience in some ways. Our main function was to analyse what had been said by Mr. Armstrong in His letters and programs that had prompted any donations. Our team was answerable to Mr. David Jon Hill, who died just a couple of weeks ago. I really liked Mr. Hill, but looking back I am disappointed at how blatantly money oriented we all were. Mr. Hill would joke that he would hate to see what would happen if any of the 'sheep in the field' ever got to read the minutes of our meetings. It was always entirely about how to increase donations. At the time I left the church in 1973, we were taking in 55 million dollars a year. By the time Mr. Tkach, who succeeded Mr. Armstrong after his death, tried to bring everyone into the orthodox fold, it was up to over 125 million per year.
While working on that team I had access to the 'micro-film' department. This was in the days before we had everything on computer files. I would sit for hours in the micro-film department reading Mr Armstrong's very earliest writings.
One day I happened upon an article in a very early edition of 'The Good News' magazine, entitled 'What Is God's Form of Church Government?' Mr. Armstrong was at that time just coming out of the Stanbury Conference Seventh Day Church Of God.
That Church was a splinter from the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Mr. Armstrong's reason for leaving that Conference was that the leaders of the Stanbury Conference wanted to establish a 'pyramid' form of church government. I couldn't believe what I was reading! The WCG was a pyramid form of government. The very first words I heard out of the mouth of Mr. Herbert Armstrong at my freshman year orientation were, "Don't you think that you as a freshman student are going to teach me or any faculty member any new truths. That is not the way God works. God works from the top down. So if you think that you are going to be revealing any new truths to anyone, you need to just pack your bags right now and go on back home."
At that time I agreed with every word spoken. I had no doubt where I had learned so many truths that I had come to see.Right there is the admission that Vinson's formative years were spent under the shelter of the WWCG cult. Should it really be a surprise then that the doctrines Vinson was fed all of those years, are yet clinging to him like a stale fart? Probably not.
Interesting as well that Vinson lambasted Herb for adhering to a pyramid form of governance when Vinson's IWWB cult endorses exactly the same thing with their "multitude of counsellors" fallacy. This is where Vinson refuses to consider another point of view on a matter because, he and his elders have conferred and the matter is already decided, their minds are made up and therefore, that's it - case settled.
Indeed, it seems that you can take the boy out of the WWCG but you cannot take the WWCG out of the boy.
The similarities between Vinson's IWWB have also been spotted by the author of Banned by HWA who notes the following in his blog post:
First we had Spanky Meredith declare that he has not committed a major sin since baptism Now we have another splinter cult leader who has take it a step further. Mike Vinson declares he is incapable of sinning now since sin no longer has dominion over him. Mike is the leader of an extremely small splinter cult of Armstrong-ism that is unique in many aspects.For those not in the know, "Spanky Meredith" is apparently, WWCG splinter leader Rod Meredith, now CEO of the Living Church of God. He acquired the alias of "spanky" because allegedly, he admitted to spanking his teenage daughter on a regular basis - nice.
Anyway, the blog poster is referring to Vinson's admission that supposedly, he has "overcome" sin. Sounds legit doesn't it? Hear Vinson incriminate himself here and here.
Carrying on, the blogger at Banned by HWA has this to say as well:
For starters he did not take the name "Church of God" to use in his cult's title. Instead, he calls his group, "Is, Was, and Will Be." That alone should have people running the opposite direction! He has also surrounded himself with young men in their 20's as his ministers. Apparently these young men are a multitude of "saviours" that have come with the truth to redeem the heathens. A group of young virile young men around an old man There is something really wrong with that picture. Both from having inexperienced boys telling followers what to do, but also the fact of an older man surrounding himself with young guys.This was one of the issues I had when I was being discreetly elbowed out of the door of IWWB. Vinson's doting fan-boys (the very same ones who were elbowing me out the door) were all very immature men in their late 20's, one of which I had suspected for a while of being a closeted homosexual. All had very little in the way of "hard knocks" or actual life experience. Homo-boy never really had any time for me in the 6 years I was involved in the cult but when I left, all of a sudden, out of the blue, I received condemning chats and emails from him, telling me I had apparently placed Vinson on a pedestal and was spitting on Christ.
The blogger at Banned by HWA also says this:
The Bible has two meanings. For those "mature" there is one meaning, and for those immature, there is a second meaning. Armstrong-ism and other cults have always made a point of claiming that their organisation was privy to secrets of the Bible hidden from humanity till revealed to the leader. Vinson also believes Jesus is a created creature as do a few Armstrongite diehards that hold annual meetings around the country trying to prove their point.So true, all of this. Vinson and his elect band of giddy eyed fan boys and girls truly believe they are in on something that everyone else isn't. Little do they know that, yes they are in on something but that this entire "something" is a cult, no less!
Lastly, said blogger concludes with this statement:
The craziness of the splinter cults of Armstrongism seems to have no end! The good thing about all of this is that the more stupid things they say and do the more they discredit all the other COG's, who for some reason seem to think of these nutjobs as brothers in the faith.So it's not just me who has identified Vinson as the spiritual reprobate that he is. Others who have had experience with WWCG cults easily identify this man and his teachings as certifiably off the freaking chain.