Oh, my poor neglected blog. I’ve had so much in my head running around that I would love to spend some time talking about, but I am prevented by the same reason I haven’t written much over the last couple of weeks — being blessed with work!
However, today I did want to say a few words on the anniversary of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s death, which occurred 26 years ago, today. I wish I had time to think it through more clearly so that I could write something more eloquent, but I hope this will still communicate what’s on my mind to say well enough, however imperfectly.
I remember seeing Mr. Armstrong on television so long ago, now, and being astounded at what was in my Bible that I had never seen before. I knew, however, that he was wrong on some things — like keeping that old Sabbath day! — but I was also intrigued by how much he got right. Then came his challenge (new to me, old to so many before) on the Sabbath: Don’t take my word for it! Sunday-keeping is not in the Bible–look for yourself!
It worked. “Well, I will look for myself, sir — I’ll show you!” I just knew that I had read somewhere in Scripture about why we should go to Church on Sunday. But while I did, indeed, come across many of the verses most use (and stretch!) to justify keeping Sunday instead of the seventh-day Sabbath, it was clear to me that I was wrong, and that the Sabbath deserved more attention than I had thought. (Feel free and begin taking a look for yourself.) It would be hard to describe all the feelings I experienced at that moment, but there were many.
So many years later, I look at the life I now have — and, most importantly, the God I now know — and I have so many reasons to be thankful. But today, I want to simply say that I am thankful to Herbert W. Armstrong for his willingness to do God’s Work.
He is, sadly, so carelessly appropriated by those who would use his name to validate themselves and their own, personal work and ministry. I’ve covered this on several different occasions (e.g., “Recreating Herbert W Armstrong in their own image” and “Herbert W Armstrong and the ‘Whole, Pure Gospel’”), and I’m sure it will come up again. So many of those who piously wrap themselves in flags bearing his face and name seem to so consistently discredit him in the way they twist his words. They limit the gospel he preached. They limit what he said the Church should do. They limit how he said the Church would grow. While he was alive, he vehemently and publicly condemned spending time, money, and energy trying to pull members away from other Church of God fellowships, and yet many of those pretenders claiming his name spit in his eye and do exactly what he condemned. (That the letters are easily proven false and are generally ineffective does not reduce their shame.) They claim whatever links to him they can, hoping some of his authority will be seen to have rubbed off on them. (“I married someone who worked for him!” “I used to drive for him!” “I… er… have a cousin with the same name as him!”) They throw around deceptive and misleading “statistics” trying to say they have matched the fruit God produced through him. (They haven’t.) Some commit atrocities against their own members, claiming that this is how he would have had it done if he were still alive. Some have turned him into a Pope, or a Joseph W. Smith, or an Ellen G. White — acts which he warned against while he was alive. Some treat his writings as if they were scripture — denying they do this with their words but confirming they do their with their practice. Some are preaching the weirdest things in his name (e.g., anti-501(c)(3) silliness) when he, himself, would not recognize those teachings and, in some cases (e.g., anti-501(c)(3) silliness) condemns their ideas posthumously by his own recorded decisions (e.g., he personally made the WCG a 501(c)(3) compliant church until his death). The list goes on and on and on and on.
How shocked will Herbert W. Armstrong be in the resurrection when he learns about how his name was used and abused after he died?
In the world, how many times have humans killed each other on the battlefield, claiming to do so in the name of “Jesus”? In nominal Christianity, how much doctrinal deception has been foisted on the world in the name of “Paul”? And in the collection of those with a background in the old WCG, how many delusional despots and deceived-and-deceiving, self-appointed False Apostles, False Prophets, and False Witnesses have claimed their lying title in the name of “Armstrong”?
Yet, just as the atrocities claimed to be committed in Jesus’ name do not take away from the real Jesus Christ, and the false doctrines claimed to be taught in Paul’s name do not take away from the real Paul of Tarsus, the delusions of a few vainglorious, self-serving men claiming authority in the name of Armstrong do not take away from the real Herbert W. Armstrong.
I am so very thankful for Mr. Armstrong, and his willingness to allow God to do something through him that benefits so many to this day. I am thankful that he sought to found the Church on the solid rock of God’s Word. I am thankful for the work he did to spread what he called the “whole, pure Gospel” — the gospel of the Kingdom of God, including everything that gospel entails — so that I could learn it myself and pass it on to others.
I am thankful that Mr. Roderick C. Meredith has so faithfully continued the work Mr. Armstrong — and God through Mr. Armstrong — commissioned him to do. In the work it accomplishes, the truth it preaches, and the government it practices, I see no other organization anywhere on earth that better represents what God did through Mr. Armstrong than the Living Church of God. If I did, I would be there instead of here. Some claim to do so here and there, but their fruits show otherwise (no matter how hard they try to disguise those fruits from the public and from their members). More importantly, God’s Word shows otherwise.
Is that boasting? I hope not. But we all have to call them as we see them. Let God test those works — and He will (cf. 1 Cor. 3). Regardless, I absolutely know that I am not worthy of being where I am, knowing what I know, and getting to do what I do. I am just thankful.
And while he may (or may not) be shocked to see how many have used his name since his death to glorify themselves and act on their own ambitions, surely he will be overjoyed to see how many more people were added to the called-out saints and to the Family of God after his death through those who continued to do just as he had taught them from God’s Word and to see how his efforts continued to have an impact in the world in that way — all the way up to the return of the Savior he had come to know and love so thoroughly.
Although he won’t hear this until after the resurrection to glory, please allow me to say it here, even if it is a bit early…
Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.