Zombie ministers: How some abuse the dead

As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite pictures of Mr. Herbert Armstrong.
One day some folks are going to have to answer to Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Ogwyn, Mr. McNair, and others for what they have done with their good names since their deaths.

There is a tendency out there amongst some that I find very frustrating, but I’m learning to be more balanced about it. It’s the tendency of those who wish to go their own way in the COGiverse to abuse the dead in their own cause.

Energetic, unstoppable zombies have become all the rage in movies and literature these days, but the classic zombie was supposed to be something quite different: The body of someone who had died but which is reanimated by a practitioner of some “dark arts” to serve as a sort of lumbering, mindless slave to support the dark one’s evil purposes. The convenient dictionary.com entry on zombie reads: “the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.”

That is what some have done to well-respected ministers now that they have died. There is a good number of them. Mr. John Ogwyn is one. I saw someone a few weeks ago try to recruit him from the dead to support their own ideas. Mr. Carl McNair is another. I know of some who regularly use old video sermons from those men to create their own “church”—installing them as “virtual ministers”—something that those men, were they alive, would find appalling and would never condone.

And like the perfect zombie, these “virtual ministers” do nothing but their animator’s bidding. In the videos chosen, they “preach” only the messages that their “congregants” want to hear, never having the opportunity to consider, identify, and address their hearers’ actual needs.

Having been blessed with the humbling task of pastoring churches for a while, now, I can say that such a circumstance s a farce. As a pastor, you don’t just preach on topics, you preach to people. You seek to know your flock (cf. Prov. 27:23) and to serve them—and specifically them—with your messages, as best you can. Some who hear me give the same sermon in different locations tell me that the message often differs from place to place, and I do pray that God is willing to vary my messages according to who is hearing it and according to their needs. Even DVDs from our Headquarters are given by men who know the state of the Church and their sermons are given with that awareness in mind. Yet these good men I mentioned above are pressed in this way after their deaths into service by a “congregation” they have never truly known and into circumstances they cannot adapt to. What they would really say to those sitting in front of their DVD players or listening to their CDs is withheld, awaiting a day when they truly will see life again, and when they will be made aware of what was done in their name and how their credibility was stolen to lend credence to the choices of those with whom they would very likely greatly and passionately disagree.

But of all the ministers in the modern era of the Church who have died before us and whose names are misused and abused without their permission, none in the Church of God is so abused as is Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.

How many are there in this world who use Mr. Armstrong’s name to support their own personal causes and to inflate their own sense of self-approval, self-importance, and pride?

I have been accosted by a few people over the years on my blog and on Facebook (people who, I should add, would disagree with each other to the bitter end) who take me to task for not fitting into their own personal “vision” based on their own personal version of Mr. Armstrong—often because of, frankly, stupid reasons. Yet, what used to amaze me (it used to amaze me much, now only a little) how they, themselves, fail to see how they, in every case, have come to differ so much more powerfully from the teachings of Mr. Armstrong even compared to their own misguided accusations of me. Many of them have thrown out his teachings about government, about the Work, about the purpose of the Church, about being “independent Christians,” about one of the major signs of the true Church of God, about how to understand prophecy, about (believe it or not) birth control, about his own teachings and writings—about a countless host of things. Yet, somehow, the Church I love is apostate because it doesn’t teach that make up is always a sin. Or because we’ve come to see something in prophecy based on how history has developed. Or because of, well, whatever. As an ex-Marine friend of mine once told me, when you want your way any excuse will do. And what is very clear about these fellows from the outset is they want their way above all.

Of course, it isn’t Herbert Armstrong they are supporting. It is their version of Herbert Armstrong: A version that says only the things they want him to say but none of the things they don’t want him to say. A version whose words can be interpreted in the way they like, because he isn’t around to tell anyone any different. They never have to compare themselves to the things he said and wrote that they don’t like or to defend how they apply what he said (and how they discard many things he said), because he’s dead and now he only “says” what they want him to. They have made him a zombie minister—dutifully “saying” whatever they need him to in order for them to feel empowered, emboldened, and, frankly, better than everyone else.

In my experience, if you confront them with something that Mr. Armstrong said that contradicts their own personal teaching and practice (which they would never quote themselves), they bob and weave—huff and puff—and then change the subject. Oddly, when I confront them with the Bible—always my first choice—they generally don’t answer back with the Bible. In fact, some have adamantly refused to discuss the Bible with me. Weird. What a dishonor to Mr. Armstrong.

[Aside: Actually, in one case (which I believe I have mentioned before), I know of one self-appointed apostle who could not avoid what Mr. Armstrong said that destroys his position on the Gospel, because the quote is so damning of his own, personal interpretation. So he works hard to twist what Mr. Armstrong said by breaking up what he wrote and inserting his own commentary—in the end making Mr. Armstrong seem like one of the worst writers in history, who can’t even string even two sentences together sensibly. When you let Mr. Armstrong speak for himself, he does just fine. No help needed, Mr. Self-Appointed Apostle. Thanks anyway. Instead of twisting his words, try reading them. For any confused about where Mr. Armstrong stood on the Gospel, this post might be helpful: “Herbert W. Armstrong and the ‘Whole, Pure Gospel’.” It puts the lie to those who pervert what Mr. Armstrong said about the gospel and provides links to sources so that no one can claim that the quotes are out of context. The proof of the message of the Gospel is in the Bible, but those who zombify Mr. Armstrong to make him seem to disagree with the Bible and agree, instead, with their own personal heresies and “idea babies” will have a lot to answer for.]

Not only does virtually every little personal ministry out there claiming to carry Mr. Armstrong’s banner (odd, that, since Mr. Armstrong sought to carry Christ’s, not his own) twist or cherry-pick what Mr. Armstrong wrote for their own benefit, but even if they didn’t, it still would not be sufficient to demonstrate where Mr. Armstrong would be and what he would say today.

Mr. Armstrong died in 1986. My desire to know where Christ is, aside (though, of course, never actually aside, for it is the main thing!), where Mr. Armstrong would be in 2014—28 years later?

What would he have grown to see over those almost 30 years? In what ways would he have brought the Church even closer to God’s Word in those almost three decades? That was his pattern, that was his passion, and that was his practice: Closer and closer to God’s Word. It was Herbert Armstrong, himself, who stressed 2 Peter 3:18 was a matter of doctrine and self-correction, and he practiced what he preached—even declaring it a major sign of the true Church of God.

When you subtract the 1986-2014 difference of 28 years from 1986, you get 1958. How much did the Church grow in understanding between 1958 and 1986? While we shouldn’t expect that much growth in the last 28 years, at the same time is it even remotely reasonable that the Church now under those he personally trained would learn absolutely nothing at all in the 28 years after 1986? No growth in even the tiniest amount in the understanding of prophecy as time has moved on? No added wisdom in the application of even a single element of God’s beautiful way of life? I’m sorry, but that is not the biblical Church that Mr. Armstrong described and fought for, nor the one he worked so hard to invigorate—the one he poured his very life into.

I hope I don’t come across wrong. I am equally irritated by those who far too easily toss out those things Mr. Armstrong and the Church learned through hard work and sacrifice—not just doctrine, but tradition and practice. It is as if some have forgotten that there was ever an apostle in our midst. When Mr. Armstrong listed what he felt God had helped him to restore to the Church, those things continue to stand. They have been attacked and belittled, yet they mock those who assail them and they continue to stand the test of time. We continue to stand and build on the foundation Jesus Christ laid down in the Church through that man, and his work continues to be an incredible blessing to the Church. We continue to have people contact us after seeing us on television or the Internet, or after coming across one of our magazines, saying, “I remember when I heard Herbert Armstrong preaching those things!” While much time has passed and many who come with us have never heard of him and were born after his death, the work God did through him still impacts their lives through the work Christ is doing in His Church today.

But at the same time, it is also as if some have forgotten that Jesus Christ, to whom Mr. Armstrong passionately pointed all of us, is the living and active Head of the Church. Jesus Christ is still alive. And He is still in charge. And He is still active.

What I see in our leadership—in Mr. Meredith and in those who advise him in the Council of Elders—is exactly what I have always hoped I would see: a group of men who are striving to lead the Church as they believe Mr. Armstrong would have them lead it were he alive today. More importantly, what I see is what I’ve prayed for: Men striving to lead the Church wherever they see Jesus Christ leading it and who are passionately devoted to God’s Word as their guide.

And what a blessing it is to have the experience of men like the late Mr. Dibar Apartian and Mr. Roderick Meredith, who aren’t stuck with merely the printed words of Mr. Armstrong and a few recordings—who aren’t stuck crafting a zombie or Frankenstein’s monster out of the man, recrafting him in their own different, individual images. They had so much more than the writings. They had the man. They knew him. Like no one else alive today, they could speak with authority about what Mr. Armstrong actually would do if he were alive today.

None of the quote jugglers out there can come within miles of their credibility concerning what a living Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong would say today.

Truly, no one out there spouting their quotes of choice and linking to their favorite articles and boasting about their own imagined credentials as Mr. Armstrong’s supposed “successor” even matches a tenth of their credibility—let alone their faithfulness.

My every experience with Mr. Meredith and the Council of Elders is only additional confirmation of the fact. Thank God for Mr. Meredith. And I pray that those so obsessed with making zombies of dead ministers merely so they can support their own personal ministries or their own personal brand of rebellion eventually learn what it means to truly respect those men. After all, those men will one day live again. And they will have something to say about how their good names have been treated.

22 thoughts on “Zombie ministers: How some abuse the dead

  1. Reblogged this on The Hind of the Dawn and commented:
    It seems some who try to draw God’s people after themselves with their own “tweaked” ideas have raised up at least Four Horsemen of the Zombie Apocalypse: deceased ministers (Mr. Smith mentions three, but there are undoubtedly more) who would be appalled at how their good names and their messages are being used by some today. I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with such perversity very often (I’m asked to help with other things).

  2. 2 Peter 2:17 These are the wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. (unless they repent of course) v18 for when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. v19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

  3. An excellent blog, Mr. Smith. Although I never heard Mr. Armstrong speak live, I have heard I have heard some of his sermons, watched some of his telecasts, read his autobiography, the Mystery of the Ages, his booklets and articles. They still exude the power with which he taught and as a servant leader of God’s people espoused that Jesus Christ preached. The simpicity of his speaking writing retains the power of the message he preached. Dr. Meredith, as Mr. Armstrong did, delivers the word of God increasingly powerfully, despite the stroke to which he fell victim and the recent loss of his beloved Sheryl! Thank you for writing this testimony on the legacy of Mr. Armstrong and making it plain that this legacy is alive and well in the Living Church of God through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

  4. Glen Gilchrist

    Great posting, Mr Smith. I’ve often said much the same thing, but you said it better. It amazes me when people who never knew HWA try to tell me what he said or didn’t say. I thank God for the seven years I spent learning directly from Mr Armstrong in Pasadena. I KNOW what he said. You do the Church a service with a posting like this, & I can only imagine the twisted knickers & teeth grinding going on in some quarters in response!

  5. Thanks for the encouragement, Mr. Gilchrist! It really is amazing, isn’t it? Yet, I suppose that the Apostle Paul has been abused this way for more that 1900 years, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. Thanks, again, for the kind words!

  6. “It’s the tendency of those who wish to go their own way in the COGiverse to abuse the dead in their own cause.”

    I may be misunderstanding you, but it sounds as if you might be saying, or implying, that any Church of God person, fellowship, or organization outside of Living Church of God that discusses in their teaching Mr. Armstrong’s life and writings and sermons, quoting them or referring to events in his life as described in his autobiography, along with scripture, to help make or illustrate points of doctrine, policy, or practice in the Church of God, is making a “zombie” out of him (figuratively speaking) as you describe in the rest of your post. I say that because you do not define your term, “those who wish to go their own way in the COGiverse” and because you do not qualify this “tendency” as applying to some, but not necessarily all in that category of “those who go their own way”. Does that include everyone who claims to be part of the Church of God but is not part of Living Church of God?

    If you had said, “It’s the tendency of SOME (or “many”) who wish to go their own way…”, I probably would have interpreted your statement differently.

    Tell me if I am wrong about what you meant. I hope I have misunderstood you.

    By the way, I agree that Mr. Armstrong’s name and words are misused by various groups and individuals outside of Living Church of God, just as you describe, but I do not see it as universal. There are some, even outside of LCG, that may use his teachings and example honestly and in a balanced way. For example, if someone outside of LCG says that Mr. Armstrong’s example helps to show why the gospel should still be preached today, because if it were not for Mr. Armstrong’s zeal for preaching the gospel, we would not have the truth we have today, I don’t think that would be a misuse, especially since LCG also believes the gospel should be preached.

  7. Good points, Glen Gilchrist! Especially your declaration that you knew what Mr. Armstrong really taught and said. I smiled when I saw your final telling barb at the self-appointed apostles and their ” twisted knickers & teeth grinding “. Perhaps a forerunning even to the future ” griding and gnashing of teeth and the casting out into outer darkness. “

  8. Howdy, author. That’s part of the challenge with a post like this. I reference what Mr. Armstrong has said, myself, as well. There is no foul in doing so, in and of itself, and the simple act of quoting a man does not, in and of itself, prove that he is trying to make a zombie of him. Yes, I do believe that we should all be together in one place where Christ is working and I do believe that other efforts, on the whole, end up taking away from the effort rather than adding to. And, yes, some individuals misuse Mr. Armstrong’s words to justify their ironic-if-unrecognized rebellion against much of what he stood for. However, not all who are seeking to go their “own way” are using him in this manner so fully—some are simply sincerely confused and don’t know where to turn. Others are at least honest enough to be upfront and express what they are doing: Using the voices and words of these men where they agree and ignoring them where they disagree. Few are that honest, but I have seen them. But most really do seem to simply want their own, personal ministry or their own organization or their own liberty to be an “individual Christian” and find the existence of printed or recorded words of men like Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Ogwyn, and others as a tool to enable them to do that, even though what they are doing would meet with the strong displeasure of these men were they alive. That was generally the spirit of the post.

    There certainly is a spectrum in such “minister quoting” circumstances. On one end there are the self-appointed prophets and self-appointed apostles that liter the landscape and the Facebook fanatics who are so deep into their self-idolatry it may take Christ’s return to shake them out of it. On the far end is the Work Christ fully endorses. And, yes, I do believe with my whole heart that that Work is found in the Living Church of God. If I saw it elsewhere, I would go there, instead. And it is not that God cannot use the efforts of others not in LCG—I’ve certainly seen him do it. Yet, just as God served His people through Moses, even in Moses’ rebellion, by providing water from the rock when Moses struck it instead of spoke to it, God retains the right to work where He will and when He will without intending that work to be an endorsement of an individual’s choices. The seven sons of Sceva eventually found that out. To be sure, God does do things despite individuals’ choices, at times, and not because they are actually in complete concert with His desires—and He can be trusted in His choices, as the only One who can see all consequences and ramifications. I think Paul saw this and it, at least in part, fueled his statement of Philippians 1:15-18.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled and gotten a bit off track. As usual. 🙂 That might be a discussion for another time. Regardless—to answer your question, there are those more innocent than others in their choices, to be sure. Someone who sincerely uses Mr. Armstrong’s words to add to their argument that the gospel must be preached is not necessarily twisting his words or being dishonest; yet, at the same time, if Mr. Armstrong, were he alive, would then want to turn to that person and explain to him or her that he or she should stop using his words to equip his or her individual ministry and should start jumping in “whole hog” where Christ is most actively working, leading, and ministering today, does he have the chance to do that? That person’s sincerity and even his accurate quoting of Mr. Armstrong’s passion for preaching the gospel does not negate the fact that he may have “zombified” him to a certain extent—however innocently and however well-intentioned. He (and others) are treated like zombies when they are conjured to make our points, but not given the opportunity to truly speak to our circumstances. Instead of standing next to his conjurers, for instance, and telling others that the Work of preaching the gospel must be done, were the zombie HWA the real HWA he might choose, instead, to turn to the conjurer, himself, and tell him to find where Christ is working and be wholeheartedly a part of it instead of being so determined to captain his own ship. Zombies don’t get to make those choices. They don’t get to correct their masters—they simply do their master’s bidding.

    The target I had in mind in my post were those who use the words of these men in the manner I described to justify and enable their own individual works and seeking after glory and self-importance as if these men would approve of their works and choices when they heartily would not. I meant to highlight the error of using these men as if they stand beside those quoting them or as if that is the sermon they would give the assembled “congregation” when, in reality, they would not be willing to stand beside or endorse those quoting them and would give a very different (and less pleasant) sermon to those who meet and watch their videos if they were there alive and in person. I do not mean to put into disrepute every desire to quote these men—Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Ogwyn, and the like—as evidence of their teachings and stands. Not at all, else I would be guilty of the very thing I am talking about. 🙂 It is more a matter of what these individuals are using these men to justify: Actions, choices, “ministries,” “apostleships,” “prophethoods,” self-satisfied independence, etc. that the men being quoted would passionately disapprove of. Hopefully that is clearer.

  9. Dave Machanick

    One of Mr. Armstrong’s points he used to thunder out regularly in sermons was “you are just following a man!”.
    I came to understand years later how unfortunately right he was about most of us, and I pray I do not fall into that trap. I am in Living, not because of any man, but because of the Work, and my belief that this is where the Work is being done.
    You definitely have a talent for bringing out a message in an interesting and compelling way.

  10. Steve

    I still watch Mr Armstrong’s videos and listen to his sermons. On a somewhat frequent basis. Does that mean I put him on a pedestal? Nothing like that, whatsoever. He had a gift for explaining the gospel in simple terms that anybody could understand. And he did a work on a scope that none of the COG groups have matched since. I think there’s some value to that. A touchstone to understand our current era.

    You’re right about some using his words to pursue their own agendas. I agree absolutely. But I don’t want to go into the other extreme of “forget about him; he’s dead and buried.” (I don’t believe that’s what you’re saying).

    Do you want to know my honest opinion? I’m sick and tired of various COG groups getting into hissy fits over this or that minor detail. It’s like a bunch guys running around in a darkened barn after midnight, flashlights in the hands, arguing this and that about some little piece of shard lying on the floor. It gets stupid after awhile.

    Can we stick to the trunk of the tree? Climbing out there on the twigs and leaves could get a little dangerous.

  11. Good words, Steve, and thanks. I agree — some can’t help but fall into one ditch while fleeing the other. Pervert Mr. Armstrong’s memory and legacy vs ignore him altogether… Ignore our differences as if none of them meant anything at all vs treating every minuscule mote of difference as if it represented a chasm full of demons… (Mixed metaphor there, I know.) I appreciate the balance that Mr. Meredith represents and the path he has walked between those ditches — frankly, the path I believe Christ, Himself, walks.

    Thanks, again, and have a great Sabbath!

  12. Thank you for clarifying. I did misunderstand somewhat. I understand your position much better now.

    And as usual, we agree more than we disagree.

    I agree, and have seen, that many abuse Mr. Armstrong’s teaching, making a “zombie” out of him. That is a good analogy. One of the most common ways this is done is to say that we should never change his teachings, even in small details, which is ridiculous because Mr. Armstrong himself taught the Church of God to be willing to grow in knowledge and understanding of the Bible and even changed his own teachings when he was corrected by the Bible. That is not the only abuse of his teachings, but it is one of the more common. I also agree that Living Church of God seems to be doing a better job of feeding the flock and preaching the gospel than any major Church of God fellowship right now, and if someone tells me he is looking for a place to attend and support and asks for my recommendation, I do not hesitate to recommend Living Church of God as the best place I am aware of, at this time, for a new prospective member or scattered member who needs a place to attend.

    And I think we agree that not every quote of Mr. Armstrong is intended to imply that he endorses all the views and practices of the one doing the quoting. Also,one may point out events in his life according to his autobiography that show how God can sometimes work, yet without suggesting that Mr. Armstrong himself would agree with the way the writer is applying those lessons.

    A couple of points to consider, though.

    John told Jesus that they forbade someone casting out demons in Christ’s name because “he does not follow with us”, but Jesus replied, don’t forbid him, for he who is not against us “is on our side” (Luke 9:49-50, Mark 9:38-41). This example of Christ may indicate that those who work effectively to serve Christ, though not part of one’s organization, can be viewed as an allies, “on our side”, not as competitors to be resisted, and that God can work through more than one person or leader or organization at a time. (I am not talking about individuals or groups that have serious doctrinal errors). There is nothing in these passages that indicate the individual John referred to was wrong or confused not to join with the disciples, unless I missed something here. I haven’t found that elsewhere in the New Testament either – tell me if you know of something in the N.T. that indicates such an “independent” is wrong, and I will look at it and reconsider.

    Also, there are practical effects of the view that everyone in the Church of God should be in the same place right now, in LCG, and that those who are someplace else are confused at best. There may be individuals or groups outside of LCG that may, as circumstances change, want to join with or return to LCG, but that becomes more difficult if they expect the reception from brethren and ministers to be, “you should have been with us all along” (probably unspoken, but in the thoughts and attitude, anyway).

    I do not claim to have all the answers. There are aspects of the divided state of the Church and how God is working that I freely admit I do not understand.

    There is certainly a thing called “rebellion”, in which a member or minister in LCG (or maybe in other organizations) stirs up trouble, criticizes the leadership’s teaching, recruits members, then resigns and takes those members with him to start a new organization, but without God’s approval for what he does. I am not endorsing that.

  13. Well, I think some people quote HWA far too much, and yes it usually is a misquote. One famous quoter likes to take everything he said out of context, along with everyone else and even the Bible, it seems. It says something about a man when he gives a very long sermon and quotes HWA twice as much as the Bible!

    I’m not suggesting we forget our heritage, of course. If you don’t know where you came from, can you really know where you are or where you are going? Yet, it seems everyone either wants to put him on a pedestal and make an idol of him (almost always with a subtle shift of attention upon themselves) or totally disparage him. I don’t see how either is godly conduct.

    He does have one quote I love, though, and it seems to be the one that so many want to forget off the bat: “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible! Believe God!” If only more took that approach with a humble attitude.

  14. author: We do seem to agree more than we disagree, and even in what we disagree about I always appreciate your polite manner. Thank you!

    iammarchhare: Indeed! That’s part of what seems to get me the most about those few here and there who have sought me out to accost me directly: Why they won’t talk about the Bible? Their adamant refusal to actually discuss the Scriptures is startling. I do try to point out where they get Mr. Armstrong wrong, as it adds to the case and illustrates how so many of them, in the end, are dishonoring the very man they claim to be honoring (in truth: he is often simply their means for honoring and praising themselves), but at the same time why not talk about the Bible? What’s to be afraid of? The idea that some are using his name to actually avoid a Bible-based discussion would be a real irritant to Mr. Armstrong, methinks.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    [And to both of you: My apologies for the delay in posting your comments. I am on a pastoral trip with my wife and in my phone-checking in the car I missed your comments and saw Steve’s next. I’ve adjusted the time stamp of your comments to ensure that they both are located close to my response. A little thing, I know, but to quote the great philosopher Han Solo, “It’s me!” Have a great Sabbath!]

  15. It’s vitally important that we follow no man, but since we may follow Herbert W. Armstrong as he followed Christ or follow Roderick C. Meredith as he followed Christ, we must know and understand what it means to follow Christ. Just as those of the New Testament followed Paul, Peter, John and others as they followed Christ. These three didn’t make themselves through self-declaration apostles or prophets. What they were God made them, not themselves or other men!

  16. After reading your post and the comments, I find it difficult to know exactly what to comment about. Having known Mr. Armstrong personally, and in public and in private, along with most every well known minister of [group names redacted — Ed], I feel personally torn internally. What I have found over the years, as the era of Mr. Armstrong recedes into the past is that the critics don’t want to hear what he was really like, and that those who respect Mr. Armstrong today also are afraid to hear what he was really like.

    He was a human with faults. How do I know that? He said so.

    I just wish it would be possible to tell it like it was, as I experienced knowing him. But it scares people today. Why? I could explain that but don’t know if it would help right now. However, I do have a thought that hopefully could be a terrific lesson for all of us.

    It has been 28 years, as has been mentioned since his death. Most of us today know the “turmoil” since then. Well, we live, in a sense, in the last generation before the Messiah returns. And, if that is the case, which I believe it is, think of the lessons we are observing. What we see today is in a sense a “replay” of the first centrury experience of the ecclesia following the death of the Messiah. Look what happened then. Paul’s first letters were, instead of 28 years after, were within 15 to 17 or so years after the Messiah’s death. And what was Paul writing about? One author I know presents a terrific case of Galatians actually being Paul’s first letter instead of I Thess. Either way, read them and look at the parallels of then and now.

    Herbert W. Armstrong was a man with conviction! He was also a STANDARD of how to look at and respond to Scripture. This is why both the good and bad quote him. No one that I know of made the impact on the world as a Bible authority in modern times as he did. And, therefore, many wish to hang on to that and take on that quality of conviction themselves. The problem is, I have met none who even comes close to that.

    One thing I do know with that association with a convicted man is this: With all his admitted warts, and all the humanity he had, he is the one man in my life that drove me to study the Bible, and still does.

    I would suggest that if he could speak one more time today, knowing what has happened he would still say, as has been mentioned, DON’T believe me, open your Bible and BELIEVE what it says.

    And, as I heard him tell Stan Rader, “Stan, that’s NOT TRUE, I did none of these things, this college and this work is not my doing, it is the work of God, HE DID IT, I was just an instrument.”

    As Mr. Gilcrist implied, I know one thing that is important for me, I was there and knew him personally. What I experienced cannot be over ridden by Johnny come latelys who wish to diminish or exaggerate the man for personal gain.

  17. Thanks, Robert. One of the things I am thankful for about Mr. Meredith is his personal experience with Mr. Armstrong, next to which most everyone else’s pales in comparison, and his balanced, honoring viewpoint on Mr. Armstrong’s work and legacy.

  18. I knew of and still know of a good many people who I believe match Mr. Armstrong’s conviction about the truth (male and female). What they weren’t called to do was to combine genius-level capacity for “connecting the dots” with a good-parental role in “recapturing true values” (that’s where his style of conviction came in), and then use that combo to impact the world (and that was just Mr. Armstrong’s “leading punch” as God’s servant).

    Mr. Armstrong likened himself to the piano, not the Pianist. But what a piano! But the piano is the lead instrument in the piano concerto. That doesn’t make the rest of the instruments in the orchestra less important from another point of view or demand less of them in fulfilling their own roles under the Great Concertmaster. Now it’s time for other instruments to take up the melody and the harmony and the rhythm, while the piano rests.

    Sometimes we confuse or conflate personality, character and role in one’s calling with each other. It’s enough that we’re like Mr. Armstrong in the way he was like Christ and that we can ALL achieve. (I mean no buttering up, Mr. Smith, but I believe you strive to be exactly that, hammer and tongs. You just have your own style.) We’re not asked to be his successor as apostle. If you want someone to help you “hold fast what you have, that no one seize your crown”, you need an evangelist with particular gifts and I’ve told Mr. Meredith face-to-face that I believe he is exactly that. Jesus Christ knows what He’s doing in this. It’s those who aren’t listening to what the Spirit really is saying to the Churches who don’t “get it”.

    Paul the apostle wrote to Timothy the evangelist in these terms and I wish more of us had remembered the real implications when things started “going south”:

    (2 Timothy 2:1 RSV) You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
    (2 Timothy 2:2 RSV) and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

  19. Mr. Smith, thanks for the response. There is a sad part about Mr. Meredith which is this. Sadly, he is the remaining student of the first four at college under Mr. Armstrong.

    He and David Jon Hill baptized me decades ago in the fountain of the lower garden.

    Went to him for anointing a few times. Once for an old judo injury. The problem was gone by the time I went out his office door and has never returned.

    Be that as it may, he should be appreciated as a true “elder,” not just as a minister only. Just think, he has every right to just sit down, relax, and enjoy all the effort put forth. But, there he is, still pushing. And with experience that none of the rest of us will ever have in this lifetime.

    Even those who are his critics today should sit up and honor his commitment.

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