Thank you, Mr. Armstrong

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!

[Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?]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.

As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite pictures of Mr. Herbert 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.

18 thoughts on “Thank you, Mr. Armstrong

  1. Michael O'Byrne

    And thank you, Mr. Smith for this blog. What you’ve said needed to be said. Regretfully I never heard Mr. Armstrong on radio when he was alive, but I read some of what he wrote having begun to get the Plain Truth in September ’68. I’m looking forward to your future blogs on the many subjects that are going to crop up as the end-time events speed up. Keep up the good work!

  2. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Just for the record, Mr. Smith, for the sake of a soi-disant “Herbert W. Armstrong” group on Facebook, I linked both of your blogs above in response to the very sort of anti-501(c)(3)… ideology (to use a less “loaded” term, although I agree with the “caliber loaded” in your verbal elephant gun) and to the very person who was arguing with you about it at such length here on your blog. Hopefully someone (even more than one) there will compare the arguments you and he gave, and recognize which “rings true” and which doesn’t.

    And then I walked away from that group. I’m not quite sure now how I got in it in the first place (by invitation, I think). There is a Proverb which inspired the decision: in effect, when you don’t see words of wisdom being discussed, walk away. I don’t mean thanks to any one person or ideology, either (would it were that simple).

    People do express their appreciation to me (one did just today) that I can take the time to set many matters straight on Facebook, where I have the knowledge to do so – but I don’t have the time or the knowledge to do what you do in that area. And if I did I think my particular mental makeup would go crazy trying to fulfill your part in the Body of Christ. You can do things no one else can – which is true of all of us, of course. But I think you deserve a special note of thanks, at least from someone who’s profited by your willingness to follow the real pattern that Mr. Armstrong intended. And I always try to give thanks to others who do the same, such as those you’ve mentioned in the senior ministry of Living.

    Never underestimate, Dear Sir, what God can do through you despite yourself, if necessary. Mr. Armstrong came to understand that and that would be one of the chief lessons he’d want us to remember from his example.

  3. Deanne Baum

    Just over 5 years ago I was called directly by God through reading literature from UCG. God called me first in the part of Australia I live in. There were Sabbatarian keepers in LCG in Adelaide, however I did not know of them. I kept the Sabbath by myself until others followed from overseas by God directing them to Adelaide. Together we have kept the Sabbath over the last 4 years. Only a couple of others have joined us.

    What I am saying is that I never knew Mr. Armstrong. I was not part of any splits (1995) and more recently overseas. Our little group of 10 are a tight little group. God wants us where He needs us. We are all developing our spiritual maturity and gain strength week by week.

    I have friends/acquaintances in LCG overseas through attending FOT in the USA and via facebook, no doubt, from people being in LCG and UCG and moving between the two groups.

    I have a dream that we could all be one united group because I want to please God. However I am just a spiritual widow – the weakest of the weak, if you like. I have no position of authority or power; I am truly grateful to God for the position I have, as a member of the body of Christ. The 10 Commandments and the Sabbath are the most important guidelines He has given to us, along with the whole of the Holy Bible (of course).

    Am I naieve/misguided thinking that man can put away all differences and pride and join as one mighty group able to do a far greater work for the benefit of mankind? Can we not resist and overcome the wiles of the devil? God allows what He allows.

    All I can do is say I so want things to be different so that the Churches of God combine to be a mighty force proclaiming the good news of the gospel that the Kingdom of God is at hand, to repent and be baptised, and to await Christ’s coming by taking up our cross each and every day. To shine our lights as brightness in a dark world.

    There is one more thing I can do. That is, to pray. Heartfelt prayer avails much. I consider my life now, since putting on the new man, an utter miracle. The daily blessings astonish me when I should not be astonished. It is just after 46 years of living as a pagan; as the heathen do, the contrast is so great.

    So I will pray for God to unite us all; nevertheless Your will be done, not my will Father.


  4. Randy Martens

    I think one of the biggest impacts Mr. Armstrong had on my mind after I started reading WCG literature way back in 1974 was his habit of stepping back and surveying what he always referred to as “the big picture” – viewing immediate topics at hand against the larger backdrop of history, and eternity. This is clearly evident in what I feel was his best written work, The Incredible Human Potential. I do this all the time now, and openly acknowledge that I first saw the habit demonstrated in action and expounded upon in words by HWA. I don’t worship the man nor his memory, as many seem to be doing these days, but I do give credit where credit is due. My life has been greatly enriched as a result of this and many other things I learned as a young man from Mr. Armstrong. Hard to believe that he’s been dead now for 26 years. Wow.

  5. Thank you for sharing your thankfullness for them. Thank you for being one of those who has allowed God to use you for our in the Living Church of God and the greater world population who have opportunity to hear you and the rest so that we can feed from the truth. I am thankful for our present leadership, and for all who work so diligently in the work and for you sir.

  6. Wow! My apologies to all who have posted but have been waiting for their comments to show. I had no idea so many were reading this so quickly, and even less that many would stop by to say something. I appreciate all of your comments, and thanks so much for sharing them with me, and each other.

    In particular, let me add a couple of brief comments.

    First, to Ms. Deanne Baum: Thanks so much for commenting, and I am happy that you have become a part of the family, no matter how you were called! I have many friends I love and respect in UCG, and in other fellowships as well, and I am thankful to consider them brothers and sisters, as I do you. It would, indeed, be wonderful to be all together. I do not believe that God is pleased by the splits, yet I do believe that it serves His purpose at this time (else He would not allow it) and I do believe that he would not have anyone compromise what they know to be true for the sake of a unity that is simply pretense. Sometimes allowing a choice serves God’s purpose, as it did in the beginning when he planted two trees instead of one. To go into this topic further would distract from the purpose of the post, but suffice it to say that I greatly appreciate your observations and your prayers, and I empathize with your astonishment! 🙂 God is good, and I hope that all of us are continually praying and examining ourselves to ensure we are where He would have us be or else to find anew where that might be.

    Second, to Mr. Martens: Thanks for your comment, and I do wholeheartedly agree. I thought I was a big thinker until God used Mr. Armstrong to teach me that I had no idea what big thinking really was! The Incredible Human Potential is my favorite, as well. Thanks, again.

    Really, to each of you: thanks for stopping by and saying a few words.

  7. In 1991 at the age of 17, I played bass trombone in a jazz concert at the Ambassador Auditorium. I had no idea there was a college there or that any church was associated with that hall. I did note the beauty of the hall and the wonderful acoustics. At that time I was a “Jewish” atheist, who was getting ready to vote for President Bill Clinton for the first time. I voted for Clinton again in 1996.

    In 2004 I saw Dr. Roderick C. Meredith and Mr. Richard Ames on the Tomorrow’s World telecast at 3am in Los Angeles on WGN out of Chicago, after hearing about the incredible truth the “Bible Guys” were telling from my good friend and the guitarist in my rock band, Keith Rideau. I bought my first Bible, and stared reading Matthew — the first time in my life I had ever read from scripture.

    It wasn’t until I started attending Church that summer that I first heard the name, Herbert W. Armstrong. After a few Sabbaths of hearing his name I went on ebay and spent over $100 buying up old literature, which I was surprised to see when I received it was all marked, “Not to be Sold”.

    I thank God that He chose Mr. Armstrong to teach so many, and that He allowed a small flock to remain and finish His Work. I thank God for those who showed me the way. People like Dr. Meredith, John Ogwyn, Mr. Ames, and those who were patient, loving, and kind to an ignorant sinner walking into Church in Los Angeles out of the darkest of dark places in Hollyweird. I was shown Godly love from the first day I attended LCG!

    I knew I was in the right place the very first Sabbath I attended in 2004. I knew that it was God’s true Church. It was the very first time I had been to any church, other than attending attending a Catholic mass with a friend a few years before, taking “communion” by mistake, and being shunned by my friend for doing so. Anyway, that’s another story.

    I’m looking forward to meeting Mr. Armstrong, and I can’t wait to tell him how thankful I am that a few of his students stuck with the Bible through thick and thin, and never gave up. It’s because of God working through them that I got to know a little bit about the man, Herbert W. Armstrong. And from all that I’ve read from Mr. Armstrong over these few years that I’ve been in God’s Church, HWA wouldn’t care if I ever heard his name at all, but he would be happy to know that another person got called to know the true, Ever Living One and Jesus Christ, Savior of the world!

  8. I often have thought back to my early years in God’s church. My first Feast (1972) in Lake Ozarks,Mo where Mr Armstrong spoke. Never minded that he talked too long, as some today would say. You didn’t want to miss a word.
    Very thankful I got to know him and learn from the knowledge that God gave to him.
    Baptized (1970) on the date you remember, which reminds me yearly of my commitment to obey God’s Laws.

  9. I can’t say much about Mr. Armstrong, I’ve heard a few of his sermons and of course I hear what everyone is saying about him. I’m glad that he followed God and allowed God to use him so that I can be where I am today. I guess as a newbie I’m just as happy that Mr. Meredith picked up the baton and is continuing the race as well as many others who also have picked it up, Mr. Appartian, Mr. Hernandez, Mr. Ames, Mr. League and the list goes on and on….oh and then there’s the other guy too, what’s his name? Oh Yes, Mr. Wallace Smith. I think that Mr. Armstrong won’t much care about those who used and abused, when we are all brought to life in God’s Kingdom I think he will just weep and rejoice to see that because he was obedient so many were able to be taught the proper way of living a “Christian” life and honoring God in the ways that He wants to be honored and therefore will be able to serve as kings and priests.

  10. Michael O'Byrne

    My thought when I read what you wrote, Dylan, was ” Now there’s a testimony. ” Thank you for sharing your experience!

  11. Zono Riggs

    So many wonderful comments. Thanks for starting the memories flowing. Who would have ever thought we would all still be waiting for Christ’s return 26 years later. But I am grateful for all the new brothers and sisters we have and all the ones who will come. Thank you Lord Jesus.

  12. jerry holloway

    thank you, mr. armstrong. for all the did for me. you are a father to me. i’ll remember you till the day i die.

  13. I commented on the post in 2012 as Michael O’Byrne. I haven’t much to add, except to say that one particular thing struck me about how Herbert W. Armstrong expressed himself in his written work! It is the sheer simplicity of his language. He obviously recognized and mastered the one essential and basic ingredient to effective truly communication: Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs. Naturally he used that formula in his sermons and telecasts as well. There is no doubt in my mind that the Living Church of God carries on the work for which Herbert W. Armstrong was called almost 100 years ago. Today the Presiding Evangelist, Dr. Meredith, displays servant leadership and continues to faithfully deliver the message of repentence, preach the Gospel of the soon-coming Kingdom of God and deliver the Ezekiel warning to the Israelite descended nations and the world. He is clearly inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit and carries out that Great Commission with increasing power and conviction. However, he is not alone in doing that great work. All the other ministers and elders are likewise making an impact which belies the fact that it is still a ” little flock “. I said, at the beginning, I hadn’t much to add, but I under-estimated what I wanted to say. I hope I haven’t ended up sounding long-winded!

  14. D Crockett

    HWA had a huge impact in my life. We still have people coming into the Church directly from his efforts.

  15. Richard and Rosie Liter

    Thank you Mr. Smith for the encouraging post about Mr. HWA. It has brought back a flood of memories! Good memories. And as you said, to know why we are where we are now. The continuation of what GOD started through Mr. Armstrong is evident in the LCG, or we would not be here. And a thank you to DR. Meredith, Mr. Ames, and all that can keep their focus on the big picture and stick together to finish the job GOD has given us to do.

  16. John from Australia

    Mr Smith asks: “How shocked will Herbert W. Armstrong be in the resurrection when he learns about how his name was used and abused after he died?”

    I would suggest not much.

    In the special edition of The World Wide News entitled “Recent History of the Philadelphia Era of the Worldwide Church of God”, June 24, 1985, HWA wrote:

    “The apostle Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus that grievous wolves would enter in among them to destroy the flock, and also of their own selves some would seek to draw away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:29-30).

    “Why is this so? Why has God’s church in the Philadelphia era gone through a period of friction, controversy within the Church and split-offs, with certain ministers leaving the Church to take followers after themselves during the 1970s? It was even so during the preceding Sardis-era… (p.1)

    “I want you, brethren, to think about and understand what happened to God’s Church in the 1970s lest history repeats itself!…” (p.4).

    Mentioning the 1970s introduces an interest typology.

    The David/HWA typology suggested that the Church would break up not that long after HWA’s death.

    A few of the types are presented to introduce this typology.

    The OT types may be classified as ‘physical’ and the NT as ‘spiritual’; not that some of the spiritual were/are that spiritual at times. I know this first hand, when I look in the mirror I see one of them.

    Probably the best type to introduce the typology is from Stanley Rader (Ahithophel) in his book “Against the Gates of Hell”. In the chapter entitled “Conspiracy” there is a sub-heading entitled O Absalom!. Here Rader writes:

    “A startling parallel to the Garner Ted-Herbert Armstrong tragedy – no softer word will do – can be found in the biblical story of King David and his son Absalom…” (p.107).

    Another is in their ‘first’ wives. David is promised to an elder sister but ends up marrying the younger sister. In the account in 1 Samuel the elder sister is introduced first.

    In HWA’s autobiography the chapter entitled “How I Met My Wife” there is a subheading I Meet Two Pretty Girls, Vol.1, p.184). In this account he meets first the younger of two sisters but ends up marrying the older.

    David had three nephews that were involved in his administration; HWA also had three ‘spiritual’ nephews involved in his administration.

    Just as one of David’s nephews was head of the army, one of HWA ‘nephews’ was head of Church Administration.

    Not that long after David’s death Israel the Kingdom entered the time of the divided kingdom; not long after HWA’s death Israel the Church entered the time of the divided church.

    It was some time into the divided kingdom that Ahab and Jezebel, types of the beast and false prophet, appeared on the scene. This was also the time of Elijah the Tishbite.

    We in the time of the divided church are awaiting Elijah the prophet:

    Mt 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

    Perhaps the reference to restoring all things should be a warning against complacency in the Churches of God. Maybe the Churches have not got it “all” together doctrinally.

    1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

    If the examples in the time of Moses are relevant for today are the examples from the time of the ‘second Moses’ also relevant for today?

    The expectation of the Old Covenant people of God concerning the kingdom was a little different to the reality that Christ revealed at His first advent. Could the expectation of the New Covenant people of God concerning the kingdom be a little different to the reality that Christ will reveal at his second advent?

    Typology suggests YES.

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