Recreating Herbert W Armstrong in their own image

Herbert and Loma Armstrong (from Autobiography, Vol 1)
One of my favorite pictures of Mr. Armstrong, taken from the first volume of his autobiography.

I thought this would be a good place to follow up on some comments I made in a recent Bible study in our area. Wyatt Ciesielka’s excellent commentary out today has prodded me, as well (read here: “Are you being taught a false gospel?”).

One thing I appreciate about the Living Church of God — and something that I do not find anyplace else I have looked — is an effective dedication to the Bible above all else and to the proper respect for the teachings and work of Herbert W Armstrong. These intersect, of course, in the fact that Mr. Armstrong taught all of us — often before we even had attended, though watching him on television or reading his many (many!) writings — to look to the Bible for our source. He frequently said as we continue to say on the Tomorrow’s World program: “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible!”

Consequently, we use God’s Word as the foundation for what we teach and practice, and what we teach and practice is a continuation of what we learned under Herbert Armstrong. We continue in the dedication he instilled in us: If we find a practice or belief that we hold actually disagrees with Scripture, we are committed to change it. Thankfully, that’s a rare occasion, indeed, due in great part to the Bible-based foundation God laid in the Church through Mr. Armstrong, himself! However, Mr. Armstrong stressed that such an attitude would be a hallmark of the true Church of God, and we believe him to be correct.

All of this said, when we are justifying our beliefs it is sufficient to point out the Scriptural basis. The Bible is our foundation, and if what we say and do is in accordance with God’s Word, then we need no other justification: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Yet, our (very appropriate) love and fondness for Mr. Armstrong, a man we rightly believe to have been a modern day apostle, is used by many to turn some away from the truth — and even from what he, himself, taught — in subtle, deceptive ways. They do this by recreating Herbert W Armstrong in their own image.

Many do this these days. Tellingly, they do not agree with each other. I remember driving down Central Expressway once in Dallas (actually, it could have been the 635 loop–it’s been a while!) and almost running off the road when I saw a giant billboard with Mr. Armstrong’s face on it. I actually exited the highway, looped around, and got back on to look at it again. It was an advertisement for some sort of public presentation by one of the many “pretenders to the throne” (“graspers of the mantle”?) out there claiming to stand for what Mr. Armstrong preached and taught and claiming that a man who can no longer speak for himself would completely endorse what the pretender had to say.

This fellow is not alone. Many like to parade an image of Mr. Armstrong and claim his posthumous endorsement. Logically they cannot all be right, given how much they despise and disagree each other, yet logically they can all be wrong. The latter would be the case. (Some reading this may disagree. “Well, welcome to my blog,” he says, with emphasis on the word “my.”)

What they do is recreate Mr. Armstrong in their own image. They tend to take the things he said that they wish to emphasize and highlight those things (often with a great deal of bluster and chest thumping), while they tend to diminish, minimize, or explain away those things he said that clearly disagree with their personal doctrinal obsession or their justification for self-promotion. They do this in a variety of ways.

One way is to take advantage of the fact that Mr. Armstrong wrote a lot — and I mean a lot! Consequently, there are many, many, many quotes one can collect from Mr. Armstrong to give weight to your perspective. And for most, you can count on readers not to actually look up the original books and booklets and to read more than the quoted sections to gain a larger, more accurate perspective of what Mr. Armstrong believed and taught. For instance, this happens a lot with the Gospel, which Mr. Ciesielka discussed today in his commentary. For those who actually read what Mr. Armstrong wrote and not just the parts quoted by those who would twist him for their own purposes, Herbert W Armstrong’s view of just how encompassing the gospel of the Kingdom of God was is plain and clear. In his own words, he makes his thoughts clear. The Living Church of God is not only right with Scripture in its presentation of the Gospel, but it is also in perfect harmony with the writings of Herbert W Armstrong. I’ve read more than the quote — I’ve read the whole article, the whole booklet. I’ve read more than the passages — I’ve read the whole book. I won’t be fooled by those who will parade many of his statements around in an effort to contradict the additional statements he made which they will not provide — at least not without deceptive commentary of their own added, which I’ll discuss in a moment — and I am humbled to be a part of the continuation of his efforts to preach the very same gospel to the world via television and other media.

Another way they deceive those who love Herbert W Armstrong and recreate him in their own image is to “enhance” his own words with their own personal commentary. I’ve seen at least one hilarious version of this taken to a ridiculous extreme, in which an incredibly clear statement made by Mr. Armstrong concerning the fullness of the gospel’s content is twisted by inserting the deceptive teacher’s own words and explanation into Mr. Armstrong’s words so as to make Mr. Armstrong’s original writing incoherent. Even today, more than 25 years after his death, Herbert Armstrong remains one of the clearest writers I have ever read — there’s a reason he called his magazine the Plain Truth! Yet this one deceptive “augmented” quote I have in mind would have us believe the man couldn’t put two sentences together without our needing him to explain why the two sentences are self-contradictory. Unbelievable. (And, frankly, a sign of how desperate and self-deceived some people can be.)

While I said it’s “hilarious” it really isn’t, because it’s well-crafted lies like that which are used to deceive individuals of good intention. And, actually, it isn’t “unbelievable” either, since such actions and manipulations are necessary if one is to effectively deceive. For instance, the “teacher” I referenced just above has no choice but to effectively undermine Mr. Armstrong’s ability to string three understandable sentences together meaningfully, because in those three sentences the entire argument of this “teacher” falls apart. But, let’s not let Mr. Armstrong’s gift for clarity get in the way of a good deceptive rant, hmm?

It’s sad, especially given the fact that many of those who do such violence to Mr. Armstrong’s writings would also rail against Protestant scholars and the like who do the very same thing to biblical writers, such as the Apostle Paul! Who couldn’t go through the writings of Paul — inspired, inerrant writings, at that! — and easily pull a volume of selected quotes and passages that seem to confirm every false teaching that law-hating antinomians try to place in Paul’s mouth? Then, we could turn around — like so many do — and use that volume to (deceptively) contradict the other things Paul said, explaining (for instance), “Well, don’t read that the way it sounds, since we know he can’t mean that the law is still to be kept today!” and “enhancing” those passages with their own commentary to make them say something they clearly don’t. They have done this with Paul for almost 1900 years (something Peter warned about: 2 Peter 3:15-17). With so much available in the many, many writings of Herbert W Armstrong, whose amazing writing career as a minister of Jesus Christ stretched over the better part of a century, is it surprising that it’s done today? Nope. But it is surprising that those who rail in particular against the techniques of deceived and deceptive scholars are so quick to use the very same technique themselves. Surprising and shameful.

Now, on one hand, it’s easy to say, “So what?” After all, we know what the Bible teaches, and we are dedicated to teaching what God said. And we know what Mr. Armstrong really believed, regardless of how he is distorted. Why worry about how others are twisting Mr. Armstrong’s words as long as we know the truth?

There is truth in that thought. However, as I mentioned before, there are those — some somewhat innocent and either self-deceived or deceived by others, and others not so innocent who should know better — who would take advantage of a Church member’s good and right loyalty to Mr. Armstrong to lure them away from God’s Word as they seek followers for themselves or as they seek validation for the private religion they have crafted out of their filtered collection of Mr. Armstrong’s teachings and their own opinions.

It’s one thing to differ with Mr. Armstrong over what the Bible said and to discuss that topic together to see the plain truth of the matter, knowing that that is exactly what Mr. Armstrong would want us to do. We should be willing to do that if such times arise as Jesus Christ continues to lead His Church. Should a difference be discovered between those things we teach now in Mr. Armstrong’s footsteps and what the Bible says, that difference should be examined and the truth determined beyond doubt. It is, frankly, exactly what he taught us to do, and I am thankful to be a part of an organization that understands that — that understands this practice which, again, Herbert Armstrong called one of the key hallmarks of the True Church: the willingness to change when we discover error.

But it is another thing entirely to actually agree with Mr. Armstrong and then to have individuals and organizations twist what he said to paint a deceptive picture of disagreement in order to gain followers for themselves or to satisfy their own egos. Such lies should be exposed for what they are.

I am thankful to God that the Living Church of God is currently being run under Jesus Christ by someone, Mr. Roderick C. Meredith, who actually knew Herbert W Armstrong — who worked closely with him, who loved him, who respects him, and who has demonstrated over a lifetime his willingness in the face of attack and accusation to follow in Mr. Armstrong’s footsteps as he followed Christ. I am thankful to be a part of a Church which recognizes Mr. Armstrong for being the apostle he was, restoring fundamental biblical truths to the Church and beginning a work which continues today and which will continue up to the return of Jesus Christ. I am thankful to be a part of a Church which doesn’t feel the need to toss Mr. Armstrong’s teachings and guidance out the window, as if doing something new or doing something differently than he did is somehow a virtue in itself. I am thankful to be a part of a Church that recognizes one of the greatest gifts he left us: a devotion to the truth of the Bible above all else, in which we change whenever we need to do so — however rarely that may be — in order to better live and teach in accordance to God’s Word, as Jesus Christ continues to lead His Church.

And I am thankful that Mr. Meredith and the organization he runs under Jesus Christ hasn’t fallen into the trap that so many have by recreating Herbert W Armstrong in their own images. And how many different images they have created!

One day Mr. Armstrong will live again in the Kingdom of God. Consequently, I imagine a day is coming when he and those who have used his own words to deceive others and or to satisfy their own egos will find themselves having a very interesting conversation…

Until then, I am thankful to be a part of the Living Church of God, where I can honor the memory of the man God used to call me into His truth — by continuing to live that truth, by continuing to teach it to others, by continuing to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered” (Jude 6), and by refusing to reshape that man in my own image to suit my own purposes.

31 thoughts on “Recreating Herbert W Armstrong in their own image

  1. Michael O'Byrne

    I must say I concur with what you say about Wyatt Ciesielka’s commentary, Are You Being Taught a False Gospel, your analysis of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s legacy, what the standing of the Living Church of God in the light of that inheritance as compared to some other religious groups that have usurped the title of God’s Church to their own deceptive ends. One religious entity feels justified in using a cartoon rendition of Mr. Armstrong’s appearance to get attention and has an article entitled Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong in juxtaposition with another article called Who Is D……… – going on to name the ” leader ” of the church in question. This man and the church which he appears to dominate attacks the Living Church of God and the Presiding Evangelist, Roderick C. Meredith, who is the currect human leader appointed by God to lead His Church and the primary focus of the attack is an untrue accusation that the Living Church of God and Dr. Meredith is preaching a false gospel. Herbert W. Armstrong might have had an article on the internet entitled Who Was Jesus Christ, but would most certainly not have one named Who Is Herbert W. Armstrong. And why not? Because he was a humble and faithful servant of God and not an apparently proud and self-promoting man. I have no doubt that the Living Church of God is God’s true Church and that Dr. Merdith is following in the steps of his mentor Herbert W. Armstrong who in turn walked in the steps of Jesus Christ, as does Dr. Merdith today. The rallying cry, ” Don’t believe me/is, believe the Bible ” is the hallmark of authenticity when uttered by the men God has raised up to carry out the Great Commission and they are to be found in the Living Church of God.

  2. texasborn

    Excellent commentary, Mr. Smith! One thing should be noticed, also: deceptive ministers(?) quote Mr. Armstrong on things he wrote during the Radio Church of God days about which he changed his beliefs later, such as the organization of God’s government, makeup and the day to observe Pentecost. Technically, they aren’t lying since they use quotes by Mr. Armstrong from his writings at that time–they ARE the ACTUAL quotes; however their intent is deceptive when they do not date the quotes, expecting, as you so excellently state, that the reader will not “dredge up” the actual writings of him in order to verify the timing. So, those detractors of Mr. Armstrong make him out to be two-faced and hypocritical! (I apologize for the turning from the purpose of your post, but I thought it might be important to mention.) In their own perverted way, they, too, are “creating Herbert W. Armstrong in their own image.” How sad! One of Ronald Reagan’s famous quotes is, “Trust–but verify!” (Hmm; I can’t help but wonder if he had read I Thess. 5:21 just before he composed that thought.)

  3. Excellent blog, Mr. Smith!

    It is a fine balance… either people idolize him or hold him in contempt, it seems. I too am thankful to be a part of the organization that respects him properly in the fear of the Ever Living One.

    Warm Regards,
    Deano

  4. ptgauthor

    Thank you Mr. Smith for a very good and balanced post.

    You are right about some people trying to remake Mr. Armstrong in their own image. For example, some say that his teachings must never be changed, but this itself is an obvious change to his teachings because he taught that his teachings COULD be changed and SHOULD be changed if God uses the Bible to show us that they are in error, and Mr. Armstrong set the example by being willing to be corrected by the Bible and change his own teachings when necessary.

    This sort of reminds me of the way many in the world have tried to remake Jesus Christ and his teachings in their own image. Mr. Armstrong said that they exalt the person of Christ but reject His message and what He stood for. Likewise, some today exalt the person of Mr. Armstrong, but reject what he really taught and stood for. What he really stood for more than anything else, first in importance, is believing the Bible and being willing to change ourselves and our doctrines to be corrected by the Bible and to learn new knowledge from the Bible. Without that foundational belief, he never would have been able to restore any truths to the Church.

  5. John Wheeler (יוחנן רכב)

    When one reads the early Ante-Nicene Fathers one gets a similar impression: most of them were re-creating the original apostles and their teachings in their own image and unsurprisingly they disagreed with each other just as much. I’ve long thought that Mr. John H. Ogwyn was making such a thinly veiled comparison in his booklet on the history of God’s Church, when he discussed that period of time.

    Claiming to speak on Mr. Armstrong’s authority, his would-be heir apparents really speak on their own and Jesus Christ had something to say about that:

    (John 7:16 RSV) So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me;
    (John 7:17 RSV) if any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
    (John 7:18 RSV) He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

    So did commentator John Gill, and I think you’ll appreciate what he wrote:

    Joh 7:18 He that speaketh of himself,….. What he himself has devised, and is a scheme of his own; for which he has no divine warrant and commission:
    seeketh his own glory; honour and applause from men; as did the Scribes and Pharisees, who taught for doctrines the commandments of men, the traditions of the elders, their own glosses upon the law, and their own decisions and determinations: and as did the false teachers, who had nothing else in view but themselves, their worldly interest, or vain glory; these suited their doctrines to the minds and lusts of men, in order to gain their point:
    but he that seeketh his glory that sent him; that gave him in commission what he should say and speak, and his only; as did Christ, and so his apostles after him:
    the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him; he is an upright and faithful man, and what he says is truth; he brings true doctrine along with him, and there is no fraud or imposture in him; nor any insincerity “in his heart”, as the Syriac and Persic versions render it; nor any dishonesty in his conduct; he is no cheat or deceiver; was he, he would seek his own glory and interest; but as he appears to be a man of no design, his doctrine is to be depended on and received; and such was Christ.

  6. Michael O'Byrne

    TEXASBORN, You are right in saying Ronald Reagan used the words, ” Trust, but verify “. However I believe he was quoting an old Russian proverb although I may be in error, but I don’t think so.. Nonetheless they are words of wisdom and perhaps were inspired by the Bible. On the person of Mr. Armstrong as a whole, he never claimed to be perfect and he admitted he made mistakes, just as Roderick C. Meredith does frequently. Nevertheless the words ” Don’t believe me, believe your Bible ” ring out as clearly now as when he first uttered them and their autheticity and his credibility are likewise confirmed by time and events since then.

  7. Thomas

    Glad to see us countering some of the ridiculous assertions that have been made and circulated about Mr. Armstrong, about the Gospel, and about Jesus Christ, Himself. Well done, Mr. Ciesielka! Well done, Mr. Smith!

  8. Wow, Mr. Kitchen. I don’t mind allowing posts that disagree with me (poke around the blog to see), but your comments are just plain senseless. For instance, you say “All of these Church’s have the 501c3 status. With this status they are thereby controlled by the Government. They can’t preach what Herbert W Armstrong taught, because that is one of the requirements for that status.”

    This is illogical on multiple levels, and Mr. Armstrong, himself, disagrees with you as demonstrated by his own statements and choices. He made the Worldwide Church of God a 501c3 organization. So you are saying Mr. Armstrong was “controlled by the Government”? You’re saying that Herbert W Armstrong was not allowed to preach what Herbert W Armstrong taught? And to what “requirement” are you are referring? Instead of making an unproven assertion, can you back it up? And can you demonstrate how that limits us but it did not limit Mr. Armstrong?

    Again, I don’t mind disagreement but I won’t be a party to spreading deception, even if it is humorously irrational.

  9. Always the right thing said at the right time and in he best possible way it can be said. Thank you Mr. Wallace Smith for this article and your comment back to irrational.
    I always enjoy your posts, some more than others, this is truly good.

  10. Timothy Kitchen Jr

    Thank you for your post Mr. Smith,
    I have a few questions for you,
    Question 1): Does The Living Church of God have the 501c3 Tax Status?
    Question 2): is there any one in the ministry or in the Church that has any say or influence in the decision process in the Living Church of God, that is any way connected to the US Government?
    Question 3) You stated, “This is illogical on multiple levels, and Mr. Armstrong, himself, disagrees with you as demonstrated by his own statements and choices.”How does Mr. Armstrong disagree? Can you show examples where Mr. Armstrong stood on this?
    We don’t believe Mr. Armstrong was controlled by the Government. But the Government attempted to forcibly take over the Worldwide Church of god inc.
    Question 3): If the Church at that point was a 501c3 entity, then how did Mr. Armstrong successfully fight against the takeover?
    First of All , I am not saying, that Mr Armstrong was controlled. I don’t believe he was controlled by the Government, do You? But I do believe that Churches in this country, after Mr. Armstrong died, in varying times, signed on to 501c3. Perhaps they had to, perhaps they didn’t. Did you have to(the Living Church of God)?
    You said, “…can you demonstrate how that limits us but it did not limit Mr. Armstrong?”. Mr. Armstrong was ahead of all the Churches. All the Splinter Churches are after him. So, the rules of 501c3(to my understanding), is that A Splinter Church cannot teach the exact teaching’s of the parent Church (HWA). That would be one difference but perhaps not the only one. The Requirement that restricts the splinter Churches, is 501c3.
    How is 501c3 implemented in Your Church?
    I appreciate the unwillingness to spread deception, as I am against that also. That also applies to the teaching’s of Mr. Armstrong, prophesies, and carrying on of that Truth. This applies to everyone(including the Churches claiming to be following that teaching), not just me. Do you agree?

    Here a link to the requirements for 501c3 in contrast with the First amendment.
    [EDIT: Link to housewife’s horrifically inaccurate blog post about 501c3’s removed; see my comment below — WGS]

    Do you have any more detailed information, such as a manual that you can post?
    Thank you very much for your input.

  11. [EDIT: After someone brought it to my attention offline (thanks!), I thought this would be a good place to apologize for potentially being too snarky in the response below. I’ve faced baseless 501(c)(3) questions, before, and I suspect that I let my frustration with those questions spill out into this answer. Also, parts of my response can seem confusing since they refer to an earlier post that was not published. Mr. Kitchen: I do hope this response was helpful to you and that you’ve been able to begin educating yourself on the topic; AND I hope you will forgive me if I let some of my weariness on this topic flavor my response in a mean way. Given the option, I’d much rather respond with kindness than in kind, and I’m not so sure I did so this time! Again, I hope you’ll forgive me if I got too snarky, and my thanks to the one who brought this to my attention! We all need brothers and sisters willing to be friends for us in the way Proverbs 27:6 talks about. 🙂 ]

    Howdy, Mr. Kitchen, and thanks for writing back.

    I’d be happy to respond to your comments. After that, I’ll allow no more such comments since I think they are a waste of time. However, your questions and these answers might be helpful to not only you but also to others so that they can answer when similar distractions to God’s Work come up. Hopefully this will help, since it seems you’ve allowed others to mess with your thinking and haven’t researched legitimate sources (which I’ll touch on at the end).

    (1) Yes: Just as Mr. Armstrong ensured that the WCG had this status, we also have done so for the LCG. It makes a great deal of sense, and his thinking was sound.

    (2) No, I can’t think of anyone at all. I suppose that would depend on what you mean by “connected to the US Government,” since, in a way, we’re all connected to the US Government if we are US citizens. 🙂 But are you asking whether our Presiding Evangelist or anyone in our Council of Elders or Board of Directors is connected to the US Government, I do not know of a single soul. Our Presiding Evangelist is Mr. Meredith, and all of our Council members are easy to contact, so you could ask them, yourself; and since Mr. Meredith — working with his Council of Elders — determine the doctrines and direction of the Church, I can’t think of anyone else who would fit your question. Feel free to contact them yourself to prove this is the case; but if you are unwilling to do so, please avoid making unfounded accusations that you are unwilling to research.

    (3 #1) [You have two “Question 3s” listed, so I am differentiating between them this way.] Yes: I proceeded to give you a big one in my comment: The fact that Mr. Armstrong, himself, made the Church he ran a 501c3 organization disproves everything you said in your first unpublished comment. And since you say that you do not believe that Mr. Armstrong was controlled by the government, you’ve admitted that you agree with my point. Thanks! 🙂

    [In between point: You’re correct — the government did try to forcibly take over the Church. Yet, this did not change the church’s status: it was 5013c before and even afterward, per Mr. Armstrong’s desires. Clearly Mr. Armstrong did not think that being a 501c3 was the problem, so why do you disagree with him?]

    (3 #2) Haven’t you actually read the accounts of that event? Your words show that you’ve assumed a lot! The fight was on First Amendment grounds, among other fronts. 501c3 does not remove First Amendment protections, though it is often painted as such by conspiracy-minded folks. Really, Mr. Kitchen (and I am not being snarky, here): Your words indicate that you (A) really do not understand the history of the attempted “takeover,” (B) really do not understand what the 501c3 code actually requires, and (C) really need to stop reading conspiracy-minded websites that promote gibberish to gullible people. The website you passed along in your comment (which I deleted) is an excellent example, as it displays an incredible ignorance of 501c3 requirements — easily proven by anyone who will simply dig into it themselves without a mind ready to believe the worst. You prove that you have these issues in one statement: “If the Church at that point was a 501c3 entity, then how did Mr. Armstrong successfully fight against the takeover?” If you don’t understand how this is possible, then you clearly need to do your homework (Note: real homework with real resources, not just reading the bad non-sources you’ve read so far, such as the goofy, Xomba blog “reference” you passed along).

    (Post 3 #2 comment #1) “But I do believe that Churches in this country, after Mr. Armstrong died, in varying times, signed on to 501c3.” Really, Mr. Kitchen: Again, you expose the fact that you aren’t doing your homework. 501c3 has been around since WAY before Mr. Armstrong’s death (about 1956, I think – hard to remember), and it is a matter of public record that Mr. Armstrong, himself, chose to make the WCG such an organization. You say, “I do believe,” but — as Mr. Armstrong taught you — you need to be willing to test those beliefs against facts and toss them if they don’t agree. Your beliefs are irrelevant: what are the facts? For instance, look up the Sep. 1968 amendment to WCG’s articles of incorporation, signed by both Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Portune, mentioning that the Church was a 501c3 organization, more than 13 years before Mr. Armstrong died. But, please: look something up. 🙂

    (Post 3 #2 comment #2) “So, the rules of 501c3(to my understanding), is that A Splinter Church cannot teach the exact teaching’s of the parent Church (HWA).” THe key here is your statement, “to my understanding.” You again demonstrate that you haven’t actually read any relevant code. There is nothing demanding that we teach differently that Mr. Armstrong did. If there is, please show me the regulation (not another Xomba blog, but a real resource). And, even if you were right, the beliefs professed by the Worldwide Church of God at the time we left were different than Mr. Armstrong’s, so differing from him would not be necessary! Do you see, Mr. Kitchen? Your argument falls apart at every level, even when some of your falsehoods are granted. (Note: When I say “falsehoods” I don’t mean to imply you are lying, just that you are clearly ignorant of what the regulations actually say and of their actual ramifications.)

    Thanks for asking for a recommendation. I refuse to do your homework for you, however, I am happy to get you started! First: Stop reading garbage. (You give me a Xomba blog post by no one with any credentials or experience whatsoever as some sort of evidence about regulations? Really? One easily proven false by the WCG’s own history? Really? Stop reading garbage!) Second: Go to real sources, real regulations, and real records. Here’s a great place to start: actually reading the 501(c)(3) code, itself, from a reputable source. It can be found here:

    § 501. EXEMPTION FROM TAX ON CORPORATIONS, CERTAIN TRUSTS, ETC.

    In conclusion (as I’ve already written so much — sorry for being so excessively verbal!): Yes, just like Mr. Armstrong’s WCG, we are a 501c3 organization. No, it doesn’t impact anything we seek to say or prevent us fro preaching the truth, just like it did not prevent him from doing so. I have been censored more by WGN (who banned me once) and a TV station in Phoenix, Arizona (who banned me recently) than I ever have been by the government (zero instances of banning me). Yes, your understanding of 501c3 regulations is horribly flawed and is unsupported by any facts. No, I will not let you comment further on the topic here until you do the homework. Yes, these things are fairly easy to research. No, I won’t entertain comments on this post by you until you demonstrate a willingness to look at facts instead of standing on baseless opinion.

    Thanks for writing, Mr. Kitchen, and I do hope that this is helpful, both for you and for those who may come up against this 5013c silliness in the future. I know I’ve written a lot here, but I did so as an investment, hoping to address something once and for all. And if you’ve learned something, it will have been worth it.

  12. Mark

    Reading what some write about Mr. Armstrong (especially in regards to the Gospel) can only lead to two conclusions: (1) Mr. Armstong’s teachings are different from the Bible or (2) these people writing about Mr. Armstrong are misrepresenting him. I feel fairly confident that conclusion 2 is the accurate one, but it is sad that number 1 is even on the table.

  13. Howdy, Mark! What I said in many words, you have said in few. 🙂 I don’t think that all of them are misrepresenting him, though it’s hard to see how some do not realize what they are doing.

    And thanks for being so concise! I need to learn how to do that…

  14. John Wheeler (יוחנן רכב)

    Howdy, Mr. Smith! Every strength has a weakness and vice versa. So if one is good at either verbal “shock and awe” or in verbal “dazzle-baffle” (you will understand if I don’t spell out the latter epigram), that is a strength; the weakness is that one has to learn how to condense the exposition as far as he thinks possible, and then arbitrarily cut it by one-third. (That’s my policy in sermonettes, and even then the MEGO Syndrome – My Eyes Glaze Over – sometimes affects my audience.)

    Sometimes, however, verbal carpet-bombing supported by sound logic and data is the only way to go, and you needn’t apologize for doing it then. If you’d been as concise as Mark has just been in your original post, probably you would’ve needed to be just as verbose in these comments.

  15. Indeed, Mr. Wheeler, and thanks for the comment. Though I am inefficiently verbose, what Blaise Pascal said of one of his letters to a friend is often true of my comments, as well:

    Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte. [I made this very long, because I have not had time to make it shorter.] 🙂

  16. Zono Riggs

    Just about every thing has been said that needs to be said. I have one observation to make.
    From my friendships with those brethren that are in other organizations outside LCG, I have realized that many believe Mr. Armstrong was responsible for the break up of WCG. This was caused by his naming Mr.Tkach as the administrator upon HWA’s death. They also ultimately blame him for the scattering/break up of the brethren. Many have (whether consciously or not) rejected hierarchal government as well as other foundational teachings understood because of HWA’s great ability to process the words of God and teach them to us. He made things easy to understand. Thus too many of us became lazy and sadly many have remained so to this day. They are letting themselves be taught without being a Berean.
    The greatest lesson learned from the apostasy: I alone am responsible for my salvation, through the grace of God and his mercies. Does it mean I walk alone. NO. It means that I am responsible to search the scriptures daily and
    test all who preach in His name.
    Mr. John Ogwyn’s book “The Church Through The Ages” was a great help for me to be able to understand how God has used apostasy through the ages to test His people and cull the bad fruit.
    Is is sad that one whom God used so mightily to establish the Philadelphia era of the church has been abused in so many ways. It is not surprising, though. Our Christ was abused and warned us that we would be also.

  17. Norbert

    I’ve seen similiar advertising on one of the internets’ most popular Christian sites. My initial impression was to ask:

    Would it not follow that sound doctrine build on a solid foundation is something that can stand without the need to associate a man’s name or face with it?

    In my view there is there are some who believe it necessary to preach to the choir because it does not dance to their own specific chorus (Mt 11:16-19).

  18. I found this comment on an MSNBC article about Steve Jobs regarding some final advice he gave to the current CEO: “[Tim] Cook also divulged some of the last advice Jobs gave him, which he said was ‘to never ask what he would do, just do what’s right.'” This was pertaining to how, he felt, the Disney Corporation tried to base everything they did off of Walt Disney’s vision after he died, but Steve didn’t want Apple to get stuck in that rut.

    It’s interesting how that pertains to this blog post (not to mention the one after this one). While honoring a man and his vision–even his God-inspired actions as in Mr. Armstrong’s case–we must still look to what God would have us do today based on his living word. One could look to how Mr. Armstrong handled specific situations or derive general principles from his actions, but it’s far better to point our eyes in the same direction as his gaze was for our instruction.

  19. Howdy, Mike, and thanks for your insightful comment. I apologize that it sat in my queue so long, unnoticed!

    Your point is well-taken. In fact, it’s funny: Every one of those bickering accusers out there claiming “purity” in how they follow the teachings of Mr. Herbert Armstrong — literally, every single one I’ve ever seen, from leaders of organizations to individuals, every single one of them — does violence to some of Mr. Armstrong’s teachings in their own stances, regardless of their loud protests to the contrary. In following your advice (which happens to correspond to exactly what Mr. Armstrong taught us to do, by the way), we find ourselves faithful not only to God’s Word (ultimately, the only true measure) but also to the man God used to point so many of us to it.

    Thanks, again, for a great comment, and I’m so sorry I accidentally allowed it to languish in comment limbo for so long!

  20. Donald Raymond Wheatley

    Recreating Herbert W Armstrong in their own image…

    I remember about 26 years ago, hearing someone in my home almost cheering as she proclaimed…”Armstrong’s dead!”…. That was not the best way to learn about Mr. Armstrong’s death, but God knows what is best for each of us. My mother was so glad that Mr. Armstrong was dead and that maybe her religious crazy son would give up all these “false doctrines” and “false teachings” that she had believed from a child–she was a Roman Catholic. She was so ecstatic and couldn’t contain her joy at hearing of his death!

    God used Mr. Armstrong to call many of us into the Truth and no other man has come close to the authority and power Mr. Armstrong once had. Someone handed me his booklet–Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath– while I was at work one day and my life has been changed forever.

    Mr. Armstrong was a fallible human being but God and Jesus Christ were unmistakably working through him to do the great Work that was done starting in the early 1930’s on up through the end of his life in 1986. When he died, church government got weaker and weaker each passing day until we are in the condition we see now–scattered all over the place physically and doctrinally…

    As far as recreating Mr. Armstrong, I never let his authority go. I listened to others but only up to the point where their course deviated from the teachings of Mr. Armstrong. He is still the Apostle, the end-time Elijah, the Zerubbabel, the Moses…the one to lead us on….His words still unlock the mysteries of the Bible and make the prophecies come alive for our time today….You change ANY doctrine that Mr. Armstrong had in place in 1986 and you’ve got problems–whether it is something as “minor” as make-up or “major” like accepting the Trinity doctrine….

  21. Thank you, again, Mr. Wheatley, for another comment on my blog. However, I must say that everyone I’ve ever met who claims to agree with every iota of everything Mr. Armstrong wrote as if it were scripture always contradict themselves. For instance, considering your other comment, as well, you don’t seem to believe what Mr. Armstrong said when he taught on numerous occasions that a coordinated,global Work of preaching the truth to the world would continue all the way up to within days of the Great Tribulation. Yet, according to the view you have taken, there is no organization doing such an active Work. Believe that if you like, but don’t claim that Mr. Armstrong taught it or that you have faith in every “jot or tittle” of Mr. Armstrong’s writings — you’re stuck between one or the other. Make you’re choice, but don’t pretend that you are making that choice on any authority but your own. (This doesn’t even get into the fact that claiming the Church cannot learn anything about prophecy, et al. since Mr. Armstrong’s death also goes against Mr. Armstrong’s teachings.)

    Thanks for writing, but I believe that Mr. Armstrong was right and that the Kingdom of God will be preached to the world through the active Work of the Great Commission until days before the Great Tribulation. Feel free to believe he was wrong if you like, but don’t pretend that’s not what you are doing.

  22. Donald Raymond Wheatley

    I believe that Mr. Armstrong would carry on the work as long as it is possible. I believe if you sincerely believe in what he taught you will be doing the same.

    Yet there are organizations that compromise on the doctrines he taught. If you fellowship with these people you will have problems. My holding fast to what Mr. Armstrong taught is a problem to some. They are constantly trying to belittle me and point out my failures and their whole mindset becomes of one looking for errors to discredit me and my beliefs.

    And there are those who hold fast to all that Mr. Armstrong taught and act as if the work is over and all we have to do is prepare to go to a place of safety. That’s wrong! There a millions of people who have never even heard of Mr. Armstrong and the work of preaching the Gospel is just as important or probably even more important now than it was when Mr. Armstrong was alive!

    I am for Mr. Armstrong and I am for preaching the Gospel to the entire world. I personally am trying to publish all his material every day I have left on this earth. I am not a minister and was never called to be one. But that doesn’t give me the right to abandon ship and give up and quit. I will keep going until God decides that my efforts must come to an end.

    I was working with the PT distribution and waiting room programs in my area while in the WCG. God was working through those efforts and have seen several instances where God intevened and opened the doors even after the death of Mr. Armstrong.

  23. Thanks, again, Mr. Wheatley. And I appreciate your honesty when you point out twice, “I believe… I believe…” Again, if you want to believe it that’s fine, it just isn’t what Mr. Armstrong taught.

    And you are correct: A whole generation or two has sprung up since Mr. Armstrong’s death, and they, too, need to hear the Gospel.

  24. Donald Raymond Wheatley

    Thank you Mr. Smith for not throwing my comments off. Most people ignore me or have me removed from their forums especially those out in the world. They are brutal in their manners and in their rejection of my beliefs and they reject the concept of freedom of speech.

    I have been a coworker with [EDIT: Please forgive the edit, here, Mr. Wheatley, and I appreciate your kind words. Yet, it’s part of my Comment Policy not to advertise certain other organizations which I believe the Bible condemns (and, for that matter, Mr. Armstrong would condemn), even as God loves the people trapped in them. While I can’t support giving to some of those organizations, as I believe they are truly insulting Christ and harming God’s people, I do appreciate the spirit in which you’ve written, as well as your desire to demonstrate that you do believe in supporting a work. Thanks, and I do hope you’ll understand and forgive the need for this edit. — WGS] I will have to summarize the rest and say I appreciate all their efforts to continue the work of God until Christ returns.

    But each has a limit of what changes they will allow. Mine stop with no doctrines that Mr. Armstrong should be compromised. Doctrines against make up, birthdays, etc are just as important to me as doctrines against the Trinity and Born Again. Any compromise leads to sin in my eyes. I experienced that first-hand in the apostasy that developed in the WCG and do not want to try to appear to agree with those doctrines that inwardly I am opposed to.

    To me that is real character. To stand up for priniciples when it is not popular to stand up.

    Thanks again….

  25. You’re welcome, Mr. Wheatley, and I’m glad that we can agreeably disagree. Although, we do, indeed, disagree, in that, as I’ve mentioned already, you do compromise and in some ways represent the very problem this post was meant to address.

    I certainly don’t mind allowing comments that disagree with me, although I’m never interested in one of those “back and forth” threads that never seems to end (there are other blogs out there for those so inclined). As I mention in my Comment Policy, it’s my blog and I will generally use whatever comments that are left here to serve my own purposes, much like talk show folks do.

    Disagreeing so agreeably and keeping your accusations to a minimum is part of why your comments have been allowed. 🙂 I’ve had rude individuals try to use the comments section for their own preaching platform, and I generally do not allow that, any more than we would allow them to have the lectern at church services. This blog is free to me, meaning they, too, can get one for free if they’d like. Freedom of speech certainly doesn’t mean that we have to allow unfettered access to our every forum or platform — else the boy scouts would have to allow homosexual activists speak to their group, etc., etc. This being my lectern, as it were, I am responsible for whom I allow behind it, including in the comments section. To do less would be to ignore obligations God makes clear.

    And finally, you are correct, again: It does, in most cases, take character to stand up for unpopular principles. And I hope that in the near (rather than distant) future you grow to be able to identify more clearly the right set of unpopular principles to stand for, including some fundamental principles Mr. Armstrong taught out of God’s Word, which your current position denies.

  26. David

    “I have said through the years, over the air and in print and before audiences, ‘ Don’t believe me because I say it – look in your own Bible and believe what you find there!’ But I DO NOT – or, at least, SHOULD NOT HAVE ever said “that to our own brethren!” (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Good News, April, 1979, page 24, right column) You might want to feature this quote in your writings. It is actually what he believed and practiced his entire ministry.

  27. Thanks for the suggestion. Regrettably, using the quote in isolation and without context it can be taken by some to mean something other than what it does. As an encouragement to remember the truth of Eph. 4:11ff and the admonition of 2 Peter 1:20 and 1 Cor. 1:10, which the context makes clear that it is, it is true. But it was not meant as an excuse, for instance, to ignore 1 Cor. 11:1 or Mr. Armstrong’s comments about the Church’s growing in understanding (re: 2 Peter 3:18), etc., as some would try to use it.

    Though if anyone wants to look up the article and read it within context, I encourage them to do so! Thanks, again, for the suggestion.

  28. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Mr. Smith: Thumbs up for that last reply! For those interested, the PDF file of that issue is found here (low-bandwidth users: the file is in the high 20’s of megabytes in size):

    [EDIT: Sorry, Mr. Wheeler, for the edit. But I don’t link to that website for various reasons (legal and otherwise, related to my comment policy). However, I find that most interested parties can Google it and look it up just fine, which is a real help!]

    Simply taking that citation in isolation is, IMO and most regrettably, a severe misrepresentation of Mr. Armstrong’s intent. His article concerns how the Church achieves and maintains doctrinal unity – not through individuals “thinking for themselves” apart from Church government, but through the offices of Church government. The immediate context of the above citation is that an individual needs to have gone through that process of “believing what he finds written in the Bible” already, even before being baptized, because “Christ commands that we all speak the same thing. That becomes a qualification for membership!” (same page, column c).

    There are procedures that need to be followed and even “eager beavers” like me who are allowed to give input from below in doctrinal matters can sometimes forget them. It does no good to be right – trust me, ladies and germs! 😀 – if one is wrong in how one tries to help the Church grow in understanding.

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