Gwen Shamblin. It’s a wonderful name, isn’t it? Starts out all picket-fency and then turns abruptly golemish, with overtones of a hillbillyian Frankenstein monster. It’s a perfect name for the actual Gwen Shamblin, a registered dietician with a master’s degree in food and nutrition who, back in the Greatest Decade, created the Weigh Down Workshop and Ministries, and the Weigh Down Diet book too, to show you how to lose weight in accordance with God’s Will (sic). Because God is a god-damned fat shamer.
The year was 1986. The video is up there with Prancercize for sheer, unselfconscious, selling it.
As with Prancercize, the Internet is now rediscovering these glorious videos thanks to the work of the good people at Everything is Terrible. Thusly:
I don’t know what she weighs, but in less than two weeks she’s gained 22,400 views and growing. That swelling viewership might develop a taste for Shamblin, in which case there are many other dainty morsels on YouTube to discover. The Weigh Down juggernaut is a perrennial, and has been served up continuously for 28 (very) straight years. Just don’t binge-view; God prefers his women a little hungry.
Naturally, a good Christian woman like Gwen can’t be in
business ministry almost three decades without attracting some repulsion; the Christian Research Institute did an epic takedown, scripture by scripture, of her teachings. First, it runs down how her Weigh Down program grew. And it IS impressive.
In 1992, Shamblin began distributing audio and videocassettes and workbooks of her program. Twenty churches signed up almost immediately. The program quickly crossed denominational lines and throughout 1992 it added about 20 churches per month. By January of 1993, this number grew to 60 per month and the secular media started to pay attention. Over the next several years, Shamblin was featured in a number of major periodicals and newspapers, such as Woman’s Day, the New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, Self, USA Today, and National Enquirer. In 1997 her first book, The Weigh Down Diet, was published by Doubleday and sold more than a million copies. Soon thereafter she appeared on Hard Copy, A Current Affair, James Robison, The 700 Club, ABC’s The View, 20/20, and Larry King Live. She gained international renown by being interviewed on foreign media outlets. In 1998 she launched a second program called Out of Egypt to deal with other addictions.
Then it gets juicy, the way duelling theologians can. Shamblin specifically denies the existence of the Holy Trinity, which is sort of un-Christian of her, and a lot more Jehovian Witnesserian if you know what I mean. Then they call her a — gasp! — liberal!
Shamblin could produce liberal scholars who deny the Trinity, but she would be hard pressed to find even one example of a conservative scholar who rejects the doctrine. Even liberals generally agree that the doctrine is taught in Scripture, although they may personally reject it.
Then they catch her out on calling Jesus the first of creation; in other words, not divine. Why yes, Christians do take issue with that. They might just quibble a bit.
Then they get her to admit, on the record, that she created Weigh Down Ministries as a way to ingratiate herself into churches she saw as “apostate” and convert them to her worldview.
According to Shamblin, it has been her goal all along to evangelize the apostate churches and bring in her version of the gospel. Since the churches were unlikely to allow her to come right in and openly expose them as “counterfeits,” she was forced to use stealth. She says: “For the last twenty years I’ve had concerns about the state of the church and my first response was Weigh Down which was a message that sent lordship, total lordship, into the back door really of churches.”13
Which brings us back to the whole point of Weigh Down Ministries. Is it to use the vulnerabilities of the weak to enact some sort of ecclesiastical coup? “What kind of teacher sneaks into the “back door” of churches in order to introduce “another gospel” to the flock? False brethren do such things!” Oh, I love the sound when doves cry!
Then Shamblin denies the existence of the Grace of God. At this point you could stick a fork into her, for she is very done, although it would probably just make a sound like you’d pronged a stack of china plates.
While submitting to God’s Lordship is a Christian’s joyful and loving response to the gospel, no one has ever been saved by their efforts in this regard. Shamblin’s “Lordship” teaching puts the cart before the horse — one subjects his or her will wholly (and without the slightest reservation) to God in order to earn salvation. She claims that anyone who disputes her interpretation is suffering from an alleged “works phobia” that has reached its zenith in our time.17
[Shamblin says] “After conceiving this truth, stay in God’s Word, and stay in your workbook, the tapes, the videos, and the class, all the while continuing to ignore the lies and letting this truth grow. Repeat it every day, all the time. Believe it, and after five weeks you will have been born again of Holy Seed.”18 Born again of Holy Seed — somehow we doubt that the Apostle Peter had the Weigh Down Workshop in mind when he penned those words in 1 Peter 1:23.
And, finally, because this is America and not Paris, cherchez l’argent!
Shamblin sees God as the Great CEO in the sky and all of us as His employees; but anyone who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ is not merely an employee — he or she is a child of God. Even the best employees don’t enjoy absolute security, but sons and daughters are forever.
And never, ever forget the #1 commandment: The higher the hair, the closer to God!