The Children of God
The Inside Story By The Daughter Of The Founder, Moses David Berg
by Deborah (Linda Berg) Davis with Bill Davis, 1984

Chapter 12
"If We Have An Order To Believe, We Will Believe!"

During my first three years outside the Children of God, I did not understand either my role in the cult, or my responsibility for it. Then a story told by Richard Wurmbrand opened up the truth to me.
    My husband and I were studying the tapes and writings of this Christian pastor who had suffered at the hands of the Communists. Wurmbrand was a Christian pastor at the time of the Russian invasion of his Rumanian homeland in 1948. During a national convention of the leading clergy, sponsored by the newly imposed totalitarian government, Wurmbrand was the only one out of the four thousand priests and pastors to speak out publicly against the Communists. He was imprisoned and tortured for fourteen years. Hundreds of thousands died in Communist prisons of Eastern Europe during the years after World War II, but Wurmbrand miraculously survived.*

*Many Americans are familiar with Wurmbrand's exposure of the barbarity of the Communist regime in Russia and its brutal treatment of both Christians and non-Christians behind the Iron Curtain. In May 1966 he testified in Washington, D.C., before a Congressional Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to reveal eighteen deep torture wounds covering his body. His story is told most completely in his book In God's Underground, formerly entitled Christ In The Communist Prison, published by Diana Books.

    This is the story: Wurmbrand was talking one day with one of the Russian soldiers who had invaded his country, identified as an intellectual by nature of his rank. Wurmbrand asked him, "Do you believe in God?".
    Wurmbrand explained that if the man had answered 'No', it would have been understandable—there are many who don't believe in God."But," he recalled, "when I asked him, 'Do you believe in God?', he lifted toward me eyes without understanding, and gave me an answer which rent my heart in pieces. He said, 'We have no order to believe; if we have an order from Stalin, we will believe.'"
    Wurmbrand continued, "I am a man who has passed through Nazi prisons and through Communist prisons. We have known what it means to lose six children in one day. But if you were to ask me what has been the most dramatic moment in my life, I would say this.
    "Tears ran down my cheeks. I had seen for the first time a man who was no more man. He was a brainwashed tool in the hands of the Communists. He had lost the greatest gift which God has given to a man: To be a personality of his own, who can say yes or no to his fellowman, who can say yes or no, even to God! This Russian soldier could say neither yes nor no. He expected from Stalin his order to believe."
    There stood before Wurmbrand a man who had forfeited his right to be an individual. Communism seeks to destroy the possibility of fellowship with God by destroying the personality. The Russian soldier was not a man; he was an empty shell, a living corpse, because the cord that connects humanity with the Godhead had been severed: he had no mind to make moral decisions.
   When an individual is destroyed like that Russian soldier, he loses his moral character and the ability to know God. He becomes capable of the most heinous crimes and sins. People are shocked at Hitler's crimes, yet Stalin was responsible for killing five times the number of people killed by Hitler's regime. Stalin had more than thirty million people put to death in Russia alone. How did he do it? Not with his own hands. No, the lone Russian soldier, waiting for his order to believe, did it.
    In the Children of God, I became like that lone Russian soldier. Our Stalin had a different name; we did not wear uniforms or carry guns; we did not use violence or force to enslave. Yet our movement rested on the same evil. Each disciple of the COG waits daily for "his order to believe" from Moses David. Throughout the world thousands of COG disciples anxiously await their orders to believe in the form of the latest Mo Letter.

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Three years after I had left the movement, I clearly saw that I was ultimately responsible for joining the COG, for choosing to follow my father, for choosing to believe that Moses David was God's Endtime Prophet. I could so easily blame my father; after all, he had influenced and dominated me since birth. It would be only natural that I follow in his footsteps. However, to place the blame on him would be to deny my individuality. Have I been all my life a robot incapable of making moral choices?
    A man who forfeits or will not accept the responsibility of his moral decisions is no longer a man. In seeing myself as that Russian soldier, I painfully realized that to know God, I must be an individual; and to be an individual, I must be willing to accept the responsibility for my actions.
    I thought long and hard about why the soldier's answer had such an intense effect on Richard Wurmbrand. Stating that Communism's aim is the destruction of the individual, the dissolution of the personality for the sake of the state, Wurmbrand continued by recalling the relationship of God and Moses in the Old Testament. In the Bible, it is written that "God spoke to Moses face to face" (Exodus 33:1 1). Wurmbrand, being of Jewish origin and fluent in Hebrew, explained that the phrase "face to face" is an old Hebraic expression meaning that God spoke to Moses "as a person to a person".
    "Suppose for an instant," Wurmbrand explained, "that Moses did not have a face. Suppose that Moses did not have a personality of his own. God could not have spoken to him anymore."
    Moses was an individual, and consequently was able to have an individual, personal relationship with God. God can no more have fellowship with us if we are not individuals, than we can have a personal relationship with a stone.
    There is a platform of evil from which Communism derives its power. A cult derives its power from the same source. There is an evil inherent in both Communism and cults that renders them synonomous: they seek to destroy our individuality before God.
    This truth can be seen in the story of David and Bathsheba. King David of Israel was an individual. He was also a man who made mistakes. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had her husband murdered to cover up the sin. When Nathan the prophet confronted the king with his crimes, the only words out of David's mouth were: "I have sinned." That is all he said. There was no making excuses, no attempt to justify himself, no explaining away the sin or the guilt or the responsibility. In a dramatically profound admission of responsibility he stated, "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:13). This rings loudly of individuality. The "I" says, "No one else made me sin. It is true that Bathsheba was a beautiful woman and I was tempted, but I, and only I, allowed my lusts to conceive in my mind and bring forth sin within me. That sin overpowered me, and I sent for her, and carried it to its logical conclusion. Yes, I have sinned. Therefore I am responsible. I am subject to the consequences of my sin."
    David accepted his guilt, his responsibility—and he remained an individual. What if he had said, "I am not responsible—I was tempted and lured by that woman; after all, it was she that consented"? In doing so, he would have surrendered a moral choice. In refusing to accept his responsibility and guilt, he would have rendered himself a non individual, just like the Russian soldier, a person incapable of knowing God. But the Bible records that David was "a man after God's own heart", a truly remarkable characteristic. David understood something keenly important in the mystery of life; he was aware of the relationship of God to man, of judgment to mercy. In accepting his responsibility, he walked boldly to the throne of judgment, knowing full well that he was guilty and deserving of death. What was the source of his confidence? He believed in the mercy of God and cast himself upon it.
    In Psalm 51, David prays for the remission of his sins after being confronted by Nathan the prophet. This prayer reveals the depth of David's understanding of the nature of God. By confessing and acknowledging his terrible sin, David voluntarily faced the imminent wrath of God; but instead of judgment, he experienced an amazing outpouring of God's mercy. Through it all, David came to a realization of what God truly wants from us. He writes:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. . . .
    For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. . . .
    Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden parts thou shalt make me to know wisdom. . . .
    For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
    The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51)
David knew what God wanted. He knew that the God of judgment is also the God of mercy.
    I began to see an important principle at work here. It is the same principle that Wurmbrand perceived, and the same one that established God's personal relationship with Moses: If I accept the guilt of my sin, I acknowledge God's sovereign right of judgment, which in turn frees Him to reveal and extend His mercy to me. Expressed negatively the statement reads: If I attempt to cover or hide my sin, if I refuse to acknowledge my responsibility and guilt, I am foolishly denying the omnipotence of God and His obligation to pass judgment; this nullifies God's ability to reveal mercy. To cover my guilt is to despise, to spit upon, the very mercy God would so willingly extend.
    At this point in my life, the message of the Gospel was revealed in a manner I had never known. God wants and expects us to be honest with ourselves, to accept our guilt; it is our link with humanity, the anchor of individuality. It keeps us from becoming heinous killers like Stalin; through it we remain individual per- sonalities; and ultimately it is our link with God. It is confessed guilt that opens our eyes to the reality of judgment and mercy. To know God I must be an individual. . . .
    To be an individual I must be willing to accept the respon- responsibility of my actions. . . .
    In accepting the responsibility of my actions, I must be willing to admit my guilt.
Human nature is ever intent upon avoiding guilt, yet the greatest tormentor of ex-cult victims is guilt. Its weight can drive a person to the doorstep of insanity, and sometimes beyond. My guilt seemed overwhelming. To consider the thousands of lives that have been ruined by my father's doctrines, the spiritual and moral atrocities that have been and are still being committed in the name of Jesus, and the physical deaths and suicides that have occurred as a result of the ministry of Moses David is more than one can bear. The realization that I helped to found that movement led me into mental states of isolation. Seeing the effects of the Children of God on my own children often pushed me into unbearable states of depression. Then a marvelous illumination occurred. The very guilt that was pushing me ever closer to the brink of destruction became my most wonderful ally, bringing me to a place of hitherto unreachable joy and peace.
    In looking at the Children of God and my father and my relationship to them, I realized that a cult could not exist but for the cult in my heart.
    Many parents and well-meaning friends have viewed my situation and lovingly tried to vindicate me, saying "It never would have happened—it was your father's fault." I am grateful for their kindness and concern; but unknowingly, they are denying my right to be a responsible individual as acutely as the cult denied it. To become a whole person, I had to see and accept my personal responsibility and guilt in joining and living in the COG. In accepting this fact, I was no longer that Russian soldier. I had re- gained my individuality, that priceless gift I forfeited when I chose to follow Moses David.

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    In taking this moral step, I faced a new question and another trauma. The subconscious guilt that haunted me and nearly drove me insane was now visibly before me. The weight was unbearable; I could not live with it. I had regained my individuality, but unless I were healed from the burden of guilt, I would not be able to go on living. The question was, What do I do with my guilt? Where do I go from here?
    At this point a wonderful experience occurred, one that I had never known in a conscious, real way. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I had painfully regained my individuality, but was a miserably guilty individual. I saw no purpose in living. My life had been ruined, shattered. Moreover, I was responsible! Then God revealed the meaning of Grace in a most unimaginable way.
    Through His grace, I recalled all my childhood training and experiences in Christianity, and what they meant to me; the different stories, the parables, the birth of Christ, His healing ministry; and finally, I arrived at the foot of the Cross. As I lifted my eyes slowly to Him, I perceived for the first time, a Man suffering and bleeding, in an agony of unparalleled love, dying on the Cross for me. In my hands I held the very sins which had placed Him there. It was not the sins of my father, of Moses David, or of anyone else. I had crucified my Lord. For an instance—yet an eternity—there existed no one else in the world but Christ and me. It was for me that He suffered and died, for it was I who had placed Him there. I had heard countless stories and sermons about Jesus dying for the sins of the world, but never had the reality of Calvary become so personal. Clearly, it was I who had caused this horrible event.
    The sins and the guilt that I held before me began to tear my heart in pieces. I hated myself and my sins: how could I have been so wicked?
    And then the mystery unfolded. 'Those very sins had brought me to Him. My sins, so horrible, so painful, had led me to Him. That which had threatened my sanity, which drove me to the depths of depression and nearly to the point of ending it all, had brought me to Christ. There was nowhere else to go. The mystery was clear: Christ died for guilty individuals.
    This is why the cults struggle so earnestly to justify sin, to rationalize guilt, to destroy the individual through benign decep- tion. If I try to remove the burden of guilt artificially, I will not need my Savior. But one does not remove guilt by any means. Guilt becomes a part of us, and there is no separating it from our being. One deceives himself to think that it can be reasoned away.
    Guilt had become my ally, my link with reality—the Divine Reality. It was indeed the anchor of my soul; for it brought me face to face with God. To sever that cord through false reasoning, sets one adrift upon the sea of eternal frustration and alienation.
    As I stood quietly at the foot of the Cross, the words that will echo throughout eternity fell on my soul, filling it with joy and peace: "Father, forgive. . : ." I laid my guilt, my sins, my responsibility at His feet. I became a forgiven individual.
    Christ restored my fellowship with God. Like David of old, I glimpsed for the first time the relationship of God to man, of judgment to mercy. I cried for a long, long while. Tears of sorrow turned to tears of thankfulness, a thankfulness I had never known or experienced, for which I was altogether unworthy. I was beginning to see through my tears what David was referring to when he wrote, "God desires a broken and a contrite heart." The lone Russian soldier could not have a broken heart. A non individual cannot have a broken heart. One who refuses to accept guilt and responsibility will never know truth in the inward parts; to him the mystery of the Cross will remain hidden.
    Because the pain and the shame of facing my guilt and admitting my responsibility were incredibly intense, I was afraid to face that. I did not know then that God's comfort—His grace—was waiting to come crashing down like a mountain of snow to encompass and strengthen my soul. Confession was the key that triggered the avalanche.
    By accepting my own guilt and responsibility, I unknowingly set myself free from the snares of bitterness, resentment, and alienation. There exist many unforeseen blessings in obeying God's principles. If I had been intent on blaming my father or anyone else for my involvement in the COG in order to reason away my guilt, resentment would have permeated my mind; the destructive seeds of bitterness would have grown deep within me.
    A response of bitterness is an instinctive means of revenge toward the one whom we feel has wronged us. Only God has the right to punish. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord". Man's attitude is expressed in bitterness; God's, in mercy. Bitterness is a strong sign that a person is harboring unconfessed guilt. A person who has not yet received divine forgiveness finds it difficult to show mercy to anyone else. A bitter person tries to relieve the pain of unconfessed guilt by focusing resentment against the person or object that offended him. The tragedy is that it is forgiveness, not vengeance, that sets a person free. Indeed, forgiveness is the most divine quality known to man. It sets one free to love.
    In studying Richard Wurmbrand's writings, I found that I had a great deal in common with him. In what way? How can that be when he was suffering torment and deprivation in a Communist prison, while I was enjoying much physical freedom and pleasure in the Children of God? Our common experience is this: we were both prisoners. He was a prisoner of Communist tyrants for fourteen years; I was a prisoner of a cult for thirteen years.
    Richard Wurmbrand was arrested, tortured, and imprisoned because he was a Christian and lived by his Christian principles in the face of opposition. He was in prison because he knew God, had courage, and believed that suffering and loving God are synonymous. I was in prison because I did not truly know God, was filled with fear and self, and followed my own image of Christ. A common captivity, for opposite reasons.

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Guilt. Responsibility. Individuality. The principle linking the relationship of these three words is ultimately responsible for my total deliverance from the cultic phenomenon. It broke the invisible chains that kept me bound to a life of frustration, mental torment, and spiritual confusion for a period of three years after I had physically left the cult.
chapter 13

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