There is an interesting letter on Exit and Support from a woman who finally had the courage to leave the Philadelphia Church of God. Her route out was exacerbated by Gerald Flurry's obscene "no contact" rule that has ripped families apart. Because her parents were always good to her and because she loved them she refused to separate herself from her them. This eventually led her away from the PCG cult.
One thing she eventually did was start reading about Christian history WITHOUT a little COG penned book by her side.
The healing finally started--after what felt like eternity--when I at last found the courage to start asking hard questions, questions I would never have dared to ask while within the organization. They were questions that would sometimes come up in the past but were always brushed aside. Questions like: How can they demand I go against my conscience or be put out of the "church"? Isn't my first loyalty supposed to be towards God? And eventually I dared to ask, by what authority do those men really have the right to stand up and teach me God's truth? Who appointed them? And actually, who appointed Herbert Armstrong? Lots of religious leaders believe that they alone speak for God. Why did I really believe he was the only one used by God? Is it just because that is what we were told, or is there a better reason? Because I thought it all "made sense"?
For the first time in my life I timidly began to study church history--objectively study it--not with the "assistance" of a tiny WCG-printed booklet that would gloss over centuries in a few paragraphs. Coming to Herbert Armstrong's place in it, I had to honestly admit that his claims were largely unfounded. How could we dare dismiss the thousands who throughout history have shed their blood for their (Christian) faith as being "deceived," thinking ourselves to be so much more faithful and understanding? And how could we really accept that when Christ so clearly commanded His disciples to "go into all the world" 2000 years ago, that that command wasn't fulfilled, and the church just basically fell off a cliff, only to unexpectedly resurface in the 1900s after endless disputes between men who thought they were called by God?
One of the first things I did exiting Armstrongism was take a four year course on the study of Hebrew, Christian scriptures, church history and Christian thought. It was a mind shattering experience that easily debunked everything about Armstrong, long held beliefs of what scripture was supposed to mean and opened the door to church history unlike ANYTHING I ever read in Armstrongism.
The writer above is correct to question above the long held belief that Herbert Armstrong restored church history and doctrine that God had somehow let get lost for 1,900 years. Seriously, what kind of an impotent god would allow such a thing to happen? Armstrong's god, apparently.
Is church history filled with corruption, greed, averse and destruction? Absolutely, just like Armstrongism is filled with it to this day. However, through it all there were faithful men and women who struggled with the Word they claimed to follow, struggled with doubt, struggled with failure and yet went to the four corners of the earth sharing a story they had that brought meaning to their lives. They lived and died, many times murdered for their beliefs, yet the Church of God writes these people off as "deceived." Or, as false prophet Bob Theil calls then, "so-called Christians." These "deceived" and "so-called" Christans make the works of Theil, Flurry, Pack and Meredith look like baby pablum instead of the truth they claim it to be.
If you need some interesting reading for the summer then consider these books:
A New History of Early Christianity by Charles Freeman
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch
The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez
A History of Christian Thought by Justo Gonzalez
Documents of the Christian Church edited by Henry Betttenson and Chris Maunder
The Early Christan Fathers edited by Cyril Richardson
Reading just one of these books quickly points out that Armstrongism is nothing more than an insignificant blip on the timeline.