The following is Whistler's response to Jim Baldwin's letter, published in the MD Mailbag November 24, 2002.
In response to Jim Baldwin’s critique of my
article, I must say that Jim didn’t do much to gain my confidence when his
very first point was to misinterpret the meaning of the title, “Regaining One’s
Sanity After Worldwide.” He for some strange reason assumed that it implied
that we were sane while in the cult, and now somehow had to try to regain that
sanity now that we’re out. I thought it would be apparent to most readers that
I was stating that now that we were out of the cult, it was now possible to
regain the sanity we had BEFORE the WCG experience.
Jim goes on to build the bulk of his condemnation of all that came from the pen of Peale by associating him with New Age thought and with another gospel. He accuses me of doing too much whistling and too little research in supposedly not having known this. Apparently Jim overlooked the 11th paragraph of my article, which stated:
In his later life, it has been asserted by some that he believed in a rather all-inclusive gospel, with more emphasis being placed on being a good person than on having the correct gospel. This may or may not be true. These same things have also been rumored about Billy Graham, but few would argue that Graham preaches the biblical gospel. I have found no evidence of a false gospel in Peale’s books, for I have found them to be very effective in bringing people to a relationship with Christ and God, through biblically sound teachings. I think some may have confused “presenting the gospel in a different way” with “presenting a different gospel.”
This was taken directly from the website that Jim quoted (actually, misquoted, as the web address he gave didn’t work – be careful Jim – these mistakes can cause credibility slippage ;o) at the end of his letter. [MD comment: the letter, as published in the mailbag, has the correct URL.] Notice that I gave the reader fair warning that Peale was a controversial figure later in life, but that I found nothing that would contradict the gospel in his writings – not the writings of those he may later in life appear to endorse.
Mr. Baldwin seems to have a real problem with Peale’s urging the reader to “believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities.” He apparently interprets this to mean that one can’t believe in ones self and have faith in ones abilities and at the same time trust in God and in the Bible. I think even Mr. Baldwin would have to agree that most of the people who eventually joined Worldwide did so after having had their normal self confidence systematically destroyed over a period of months and years by HWA, mainly by the misuse of the verse telling us to not trust in our own understanding. This, of course, left us open to trusting in someone else’s understanding! God wants us to have GREAT confidence. Confidence in God builds self-assuredness and calm. The Bible doesn’t condemn inner strength and self-confidence, as long as it’s foundation is built upon Christ.
Mr. Baldwin states, “In his column, Whistler quotes two fictional stories from Peale’s PPT.” How does Jim know these are fictional stories – on what basis does he go out on such an obvious limb to assume that these events never happened? Has he researched them, and has proof that they didn’t happen? Or is he just pooh-poohing them because if true they show that God actually used Mr. Peale to reach people? If Jim wants us to be thorough in our research and factual in our statements, he also needs to toe the same line.
Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate Jim taking the time to state his opinion. I appreciate anyone who attempts to uphold truth. But “methinks you protest too much,” Jim. Reading Norman Vincent Peale’s books, which focus on throwing off negative attitudes, is not going to lead anyone off into the New Age movement. Focusing on positive thoughts and scriptures is not going to lead one off into following Shirley MacLaine. I stand by my belief that Mr. Peale’s books are a real aid to those who are still on a downer from Armstrongism.
Lighten up, Jim! Maybe a chapter or two from “The Power of Positive Thinking” would help! ;o)