So I was organizing things in my garage when I opened up a box I forgot I had, and what (among other things) did I find in it? Still more things that I forgot I had, including a pile of literature from Tony Alamo‘s Alamo Christian Ministries. It’s pretty cheesy stuff, at least in terms of the quality of writing, not to mention the You’ve-Got-To-Be-Kidding Madame Tussauds-esque photographs of Alamo. Most of the pile consists of newsletters that usually contain a single rambling article by Alamo surrounded by correspondence from a dozen or so sycophantic followers.
Apparently I got on his mailing list in 2001, which was when most of the newsletters are dated. I probably filled out some online form because I was curious about allegations I’d heard about his cultic tendencies. Most of the allegations revolved around Alamo’s bizarre behavior, but his teachings have been a matter of concern as well. The main entry for Alamo on the Apologetics Index quotes H. Wayne House as saying, “… it appears Alamo teaches many orthodoxy Christian doctrines, yet deviates on a few key issues such as salvation by grace alone.” This seems corroborated by the following statement on page 8 of his October 2001 newsletter:
Every moment we continue taking up our cross to follow Christ, we remind Satan of Christ’s victory over him on the cross at Calvary, where Jesus shed His precious blood so that our FORMER SINS could all be washed away and we might live the sinless, selfless cross-life required to enter Heaven.
The capitalized, underscored emphasis of the phrase “former sins” is in Alamo’s original text. He obviously wanted to make the point that while Christ’s death is good enough to wash away the sins we committed before we became Christians, it’s not good enough to take care of the sins we commit afterward. It seems that Alamo actually believes that the cross only puts us on probation, and does not completely save us. And not only that, but he sure makes the terms of probation awfully stiff! The Apostle John, for one, seemed to have a different opinion (1 John 1:8-2:1).
The issues that have actually earned headlines for Alamo (who was born as Bernie LaZar Hoffman) have been legal in nature. Rick Ross’s cult information web site also features information about him. It’s sometimes useful to keep literature from aberrant groups and individuals for reference purposes, but this is not one of those cases. There’s more than enough information about Alamo online, and in the great ocean of cults, he’s just a minnow anyway.