Summary: There are all kinds of teaching available to us today, but God's Word will keep us from getting trapped and wrapped up in teaching that is contradictory to His Truth.
STUDY THE WORD
To Avoid The Absurd
He was born deep in the heart of Texas, San Antonio to be exact. His daddy was a preacher who had a gift for communicating God's Word, and the people would come from near and far to hear him Sunday after Sunday.
The family moved from San Antonio to Corpus Christi in the mid-40's because dad felt called to begin a new church. He worked hard and God blessed. Today, the church started by the aspiring and tireless preacher is known as The Parkway Presbyterian Church. The family liked Corpus Christi and they enjoyed the fellowship of their new friends.
Their son adjusted well to his new school and neighborhood. The boy was mesmerized by his father's ability to touch people's hearts with the spoken word. Herff was a chip off of the old block as everyone around him recognized his charisma and personable way with people. One of his high school classmates said that he was certainly the most likely to succeed at Corpus Christi High.
In high school he was a member of the National Honor Society, the Bible Club, and the Science Club. He sang in the choir and worked on the school's newspaper all throughout high school.
When he graduated from high school in 1948, Herff chose to attend Austin College, a Presbyterian college in Sherman, Texas. He was one of the most popular boys on campus. He was the president of the freshman class, president of the organization of students who planned to join the ministry, a student council member throughout his college days, and an honor student who always made the dean's list. His college roommate remembers Herff for "his popularity with women, his singing in school productions, and their late-night 'bull' sessions." Herff was seriously considering following in his father's footsteps and becoming a minister. While he was wrestling with the decision as to whether or not he would commit his life to ministry, Herff chose to major in Philosophy and minor in English. As time progressed he found a deep love for music which caught his attention. As a result of his love for music, Herff sang in the choir, he played the lead roles in the Broadway-style musicals, "Brigadoon" and "Oklahoma!"
In 1952, the year following his graduation from Austin College, Herff enrolled in the Union Theological Seminary to study for the ministry. After one year he was recruited to become the minister of music at the First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, N.C. Herff was married and he and his wife stayed at First Presbyterian until Herff entered the military.
In 1960 Herff became the a professor of music at the University of Alabama. Things were going well for him. He had a beautiful, two beautiful children, a beautiful singing voice, and he even cut an album with the Crimson Tide marching band. Prosperity and good times were short-lived for Herff. His marriage broke up and he left Alabama under the suspicion of having a homosexual affair with a student.
Herff took another job at the University of St. Thomas teaching music in the mid 60's where he produced upbeat musicals and tried to put his life back together. College records show that he left the school in 1970 because of health problems of an emotional nature.
With his life unraveling at the seams, Herff checked into a hospital suffering from severe depression and shame. He was hearing voices and praying to be cured from his homosexual tendencies. Some of his friends at the time say that he was also suffering from drug use which was causing him to hear voices.
While he was in the hospital Herff met Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles, a nurse who dabbled in astrology and far-out religious movements. Herff was desperate in his search for happiness and peace and Bonnie had answers that she was willing to share with him. The two of them ran off together and began to share their strange religious ideas of escaping this world's fleshly desires.
The rest of the story has been told over and over again during the course of the past two weeks as Herff, today known as "Do" and 39 of his followers committed suicide in a Rancho Sante Fe mansion.
How can someone who has so much going for them end up so far out in left field? How can someone raised in the home of a passionate preacher of the Gospel, an honor roll student, college professor, and concert performer end up searching for a space ship trailing the tail of a comet? It's not as difficult as you might think.
In our study for today I want us to take very seriously what has happened and look to God's Word for answers as to how we might avoid the absurd snares of deception which are waiting for us. Take a look at 1 Timothy 4:1-11.