Different ministers in the group I exited would use various stories that were intended to place fear in those attending services. It was always something bad with a person being killed in an unpleasant way. Or perhaps God smote them with an illness or disease, like my former pastor said of a son-in-law, who developed a brain tumor. Some recall stories of car accidents and train wrecks. I won’t even get into all of the rapture drills and end time scare tactics that really do a number on children.
There is one story that still remains partly in my memory, though all the details are no longer there. My former pastor knew Nathaniel Urshan, being from South Bend, Indiana. (Urshan was a long-time General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church.) One story was about young guys who were at some service where Urshan was speaking.
I believe they supposedly made fun in some way, may have been spoken to by Urshan and warned. They left the service and were killed in an automobile accident. The hidden message was that you do not come against a minister or God may kill you.
These stories work in a couple ways. The one I shared can be used to place fear in anyone, who would in any way, come against a minister. God will strike you down! I well remember the biblical story with the she bears from the Old Testament being told to also reinforce such a thought.
The scare tactics also help to manipulate people into doing whatever it is that the pastor wants, including following all the rules, attending every service and tithing. It can be made to feel like God is just chomping at the bit for you to mess up so that He can swoop down on you in His wrath and make you pay. Or perhaps instead, He will blow the trumpet and you will be left behind with all the unbelievers.
These stories also create an unhealthy fear of God and help to distort your image of Him. Here again we see the view of God as a harsh taskmaster, just waiting so He can somehow punish or kill someone who has upset Him. Get out of line, don’t follow the rules, leave this church, and God will see that you die in a nasty traffic accident (or some other way just as unpleasant). So much for a loving God, who isn’t willing that any should perish. That’s all over with now that you are a believer.
Fear, fear, fear, fear…….I will never stop saying it until it is no longer true…….fear permeates the teachings.
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For those who are not easily triggered, below is a great example of how some ministers use these scare tactics. It is the late L.E. Westberg, who was a well known United Pentecostal Church minister. In this sermon, he proclaims that in two separate incidents, people who had backslid died in fiery car accidents. According to him, God rejected those people, turning against them and he thinks when the preacher’s son was dying and calling out to God, that he heard God laugh at him. Tongues and interpretation are also used in an attempt to make it appear God is behind the fearful message, speaking for the last time to someone at that service. This is sick stuff.