Is our society just one big conspiracy?

Great commentary this Sabbath out on the Tomorrow’s World and Living Church of God websites: “Is it a conspiracy?” by Mr. Glen Gilchrist. I know a few folks here and there (not in our Church, BTW) who are too focused on conspiracy theories and who need to read it. A few of them even check out this blog on occasion.

So hang up your tin foil hat for a while, sit down with your coffee, and let Mr. Gilchrist explain the facts of life. Here’s the first paragraph and a link to the rest:

For thousands of years, mankind has been fascinated with the roles of real or imagined conspiracies in the lives of individuals and societies. It’s no different today. When we look at the evils and failings of our present Western societies, it’s easy to wonder if some variety of conspiracies are involved in perpetuating things as they are. The rich seem to get richer; the poor seem only to get poorer. Food prices rise rapidly; gasoline prices rise even faster. Could it be that some master “Oz” character hides behind the curtains somewhere, manipulating prices for the benefit of some cabal of the rich and powerful?

Read more here: “Is it a conspiracy?”

Herbert W. Armstrong and the “Whole, Pure Gospel”

Herbert and Loma Armstrong (from Autobiography, Vol 1)
What an incredible amount of abuse Mr. Armstrong is taking from those who claim to be "following" him. I suspect he will "have words" with some in the resurrection....

Well, thank God for Roderick C. Meredith. His article in this month’s Living Church News, “Which ‘Armstrong’ Do You Follow?” not only made the same point I did back in my “Recreating Herbert W Armstrong in their own image” post, but he said it better. (Go figure!) More importantly, as someone who spent so much of his life working with Mr. Armstrong so intimately, he said it more authoritatively than I–or, really, anyone else–ever could.

God’s Word is incredibly clear. It is a lie that the gospel is simply a story about Christ’s life. That’s not the gospel of the Bible. Even secular resources recognize the vital and central position that the Kingdom of God had in the message of Jesus Christ and the apostles. For anyone actually reading the Bible, the Kingdom of God cannot be escaped in the teachings of Jesus, and it is a scandal that mainstream Christianity neglects it so. It is also a lie to say that salvation through Jesus Christ is not a part of that gospel of the Kingdom of God and is not to be preached to the nations. It is. Don’t believe me, believe your Bible. And it is also a great lie to say that Jesus taught nothing about Himself in the message He brought from God. He did. Again, just read your Bible. Really, try to read the book of John while skipping over all of the teaching Christ gave about who He was to the masses. He truly was going to be the King of that coming Kingdom. He didn’t walk around telling everyone stories about His birth, etc., yet He truly did explain His role as the King of the kingdom and His role as the Way to that Kingdom.

When one reads the Bible—actually paying attention to it the way Mr. Armstrong taught us to do instead of simply trying to grab from it what they already agree with and ignoring the rest—the gospel brought by Jesus Christ and taught by His disciples, and by His Church today, is one of the greatest subjects ever discussed, truly vast in its scope, implications, and power.

Really, the Bible is clear, and that should be enough for us. But there are those who are so enamored by their own version of Mr. Armstrong and how their version of him emboldens them in their own stances and pursuits that they fail to see the truth of the Bible that Mr. Armstrong taught us so much about. They fail to see the man through the caricature they’ve created.

But Mr. Armstrong was clear, too. He preached the whole gospel. Indeed, I wouldn’t understand any of the gospel at all save for what God taught me, and many of us, through the words of Mr. Herbert W Armstrong.

Did Mr. Armstrong recognize that the gospel taught by mainstream Christianity was disastrously off? Of course! If anyone reads anything Mr. Armstrong wrote and doesn’t pick that up, they haven’t read much at all! He recognized that the “gospel” being touted by most was simply a story about Christ—not the actual Divine Message that He preached at all! Most cut the very heart of the gospel right out: the coming Kingdom of God! And the part they tried to teach about salvation, he recognized was a counterfeit that didn’t explain salvation, at all!

Plenty of quotes could be provided from Mr. Armstrong demonstrating that he understood this—and many provide such quotes. That Mr. Armstrong recognized that the shallow “gospel” about Christ had replaced the actual gospel OF Christ is a given, as easily demonstrated by ample amounts of “quotable quotes.” Who disputes that? I don’t. No one I know in the Church does.

But what about the quotes that those who attack the gospel don’t give? What about the quotes that illustrate Mr. Armstrong understood the gospel more fully than those who attack his message (while claiming to believe in it) give him credit for? Why don’t they provide those quotes, as well? And in the rare case when they do provide one of them, why do they insert their own commentary into the middle of Mr. Armstrong’s words, making him out to be the world’s worst writer instead of the powerfully effective “plain truth” preacher that he really was?

Again, for the sake of emphasis: The Bible record is clear about the gospel brought by Jesus Christ, and I am humbled to be allowed to be a part of a Work that continues—just as Herbert Armstrong did—to preach that gospel. If anyone would like to prove to me that what we preach is not that gospel, they are free to open their Bibles and try. I’d rather be shown to be wrong and be right with God, than to be declared right but be wrong with God. Really: Show me. Put your Bible where your mouth is.

However, this post isn’t about that. It’s about the fact that many continue to, in effect, slander Herbert W Armstrong by saying that he preached an incomplete gospel—all while claiming to “stand for Herbert W Armstrong.” Some seem to do so with good intention, being honestly deceived by those skilled at quoting a lot without (wink, wink) quoting too much (nudge, nudge). Those who are self-deceived by their Jeremiah 17:9 hearts are another matter. It’s one matter to believe a lie out of confusion, but another entirely to continue in a lie because it serves one’s ego. As for which category one falls into, thankfully it is not my task to judge, but His. I’d rather assume the best until I have good reason to believe otherwise.

So, in the interest of serving those who can be served and of showing deception about a man many of us love and learned so much from for what it truly is, I provide the following far-from-exhaustive list of…

QUOTES THEY “FORGOT”

Mr. Armstrong’s emphasis on the coming Kingdom of God is legendary—he restored to the gospel what was lost or, worse, covered up. Quotes could be piled up forever to demonstrate that. But he also clarified and rectified that part of the gospel that others claimed to preach but corrupted and counterfeited. Here are some quotes a few seem to have forgotten and some self-appointed teachers seem to ignore. If you’ve never seen them before, perhaps they will help.

(Note: Where possible, I provide a link to the source, as well, so that you can also examine the quote in context. Many deceptively claim that the context changes the meaning of these quotes—I invite everyone to check the context for themselves to prove that this is not the case. In most cases, you can click on the title of the work or the date of the letters to see the whole file for yourself.)

In each case the emphasis is Mr. Armstrong’s except for any underlining I might use to draw attention to the parts relevant to the point at hand–which I will try to avoid, tempting as it may be!

“Now for centuries that Gospel has not been preached! It’s the ONLY true Gospel–the Message Jesus brought and preached–the one His first-century disciples DID carry to all the world of that day. Today that which is being preached around the world is a DIFFERENT gospel–a preaching which DENIES the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM. The Message of this KINGDOM is the Message of Christ as Saviour, but it’s MORE than that. It’s the Message of the coming KING, to establish GOD’S KINGDOM, which shall replace all present kingdoms and governments on earth, and rule over all peoples. The whole, pure Gospel OF THE KINGDOM is not being preached today to all the world for a witness to ALL NATIONS, and it has not been preached since Jesus’ first-century disciples carried it!”

(from September 21, 1944 co-worker letter)

Yes, the message preached by the world’s Christianity is, indeed, a “DIFFERENT gospel.” But does that mean that Christ’s role as Saviour is not a part of the message? Well, not according to Mr. Armstrong: “The Message of this KINGDOM is the Message of Christ as Saviour, but it’s MORE than that.” Wow. You’d think Mr. Meredith had written that very statement today. Those who erect a version of Mr. Armstrong in their own image try to make one part of the gospel replace the other, but—as Mr. Armstrong understood—they are part of the same gospel together!  It’s not that “Christ as Saviour” is NOT part of the gospel (as some would say)—rather, there is so much more to the gospel!

Read it again if you didn’t get it the first time: “The Message of this KINGDOM is the Message of Christ as Saviour, but it’s MORE than that. It’s the Message of the coming KING, to establish GOD’S KINGDOM, which shall replace all present kingdoms and governments on earth, and rule over all peoples.” Note: “MORE than that,” not one instead of the other. This is exactly what we are saying, and it is exactly as Mr. Armstrong understood: we are to preach, in his words, not mine, “The whole, pure Gospel OF THE KINGDOM.” To completely leave out “Christ as Saviour” from the message would FAIL to be the “whole, pure” gospel just as leaving out the Kingdom of God. Why should we make EITHER error? The first century Church didn’t. Mr. Armstrong didn’t. And we won’t. Why won’t others preach the whole gospel? I don’t know, but they certainly can’t claim Mr. Armstrong as their reason (let alone the Bible).

(And in case someone claims that the context changes the meaning of the quote, please feel free to read the entire letter. It’s clickable there at the date under the quote.)

“The Message of this KINGDOM is the Message of Christ as Saviour, but it’s MORE than that.” Thanks, Mr. Armstrong—we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

“THE TRUE GOSPEL

“Over 1900 years ago Jesus Christ came into this world with a Message direct from GOD. His Message was the GOOD NEWS (Gospel) of His coming WORLD GOVERNMENT to abolish all present governments, to rule the whole earth, and bring, at last, PEACE, PROSPERITY, HAPPINESS, JOY, to sin-cursed suffering humanity.

“He proclaimed Himself the future KING of that world-ruling Kingdom of God. He revealed plainly WHY we have no peace today–no real happiness or joy! The ways of God are the TRUE values. But men are living wrong. Jesus taught men how to live–revealed and taught the LAWS of His coming millennial Kingdom. He called on men everywhere to REPENT of the ways they live now, to live by the laws of God, to accept Him as Saviour, High Priest, and coming King, that we might be converted–CHANGED by the power of God from sinning mortal flesh into righteous immortal spirits.”

(from June 9, 1947 co-worker letter)

So, the “Message direct from GOD” that Jesus came into the world to give about the Kingdom of God included a lot of things, didn’t it!  Mr. Armstrong says that Jesus “proclaimed Himself the future KING of that world-ruling Kingdom… revealed plainly WHY we have no peace today… called on men everywhere to REPENT… to live by the laws of God, to accept Him as Saviour, High Priest, and coming King, that we might be converted…”

Just to be clear, Mr. Armstrong says here that Jesus Christ’s message to those who heard Him included—among many things—that they should repent, live by God’s laws, and accept Him as Saviour.  Don’t believe me, believe Mr. Armstrong! (Of course, believe your Bible, but notice how Mr. Armstrong’s message matches that Bible.) Those who claim that Mr. Armstrong denied part of the gospel or that he taught that teaching “men everywhere” Christ as our Savior has no part in the gospel brought by Christ really have no leg to stand on.

Some try to make this mean that Christ had two “good news” messages (despite Mr. Armstrong’s statement that “Christ Brought No Other Gospel” on p.13 of The Incredible Human Potential) or that salvation and Christ as Savior is only taught to those who’ve been called and have responded (despite his comment that Christ taught these things to “men everywhere” and despite the fact that our booklets included Mr. Armstrong’s wonderful “Just what do you mean… SALVATION” (linked to below) which was offered publically and which tied in the truth about salvation and the kingdom of God nicely).

In the event that this quote from that letter doesn’t do the trick, Mr. Armstrong makes it explicit later:

“THIS is the TRUE GOSPEL–the Good News of the Kingdom of God, its Message of the right way to live, its Message of redemption thru Christ, and God’s gift of eternal life! Yes, THIS is the KINGDOM OF GOD which Christ revealed over 1900 years ago–THIS is the true NEW TESTAMENT GOSPEL–the true GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!”

(from same June 9, 1947 co-worker letter)

(By the way, I’d like to see a certain self-appointed apostle stick some commentary into the middle of that sentence and change its meaning.)

Who can read that sentence and claim that Mr. Armstrong thought that the “TRUE GOSPEL”—“the Good News of the Kingdom of God”—did not also include the “Message of redemption thru Christ, and God’s gift of eternal life”? Notice, he calls redemption through Christ and salvation “its Message of redemption thru Christ, and God’s gift of eternal life!” The “its” refers back to the “Good News of the Kingdom of God”! If it isn’t clear enough, after mentioning the Message about the right way to live, redemption through Christ, God’s gift of eternal life, Mr. Armstrong says immediately after: “Yes, THIS is the KINGDOM OF GOD which Christ revealed over 1900 years ago—THIS is the true NEW TESTAMENT GOSPEL—the true GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!”

Don’t read my commentary—read what Mr. Armstrong wrote! Don’t believe what I say that he said, read what he said! And don’t fall for the line that the quote is out of context—click on the date and read the entire letter. You tell me if the context changes anything. (Hint: It doesn’t.)

The letter explains how the false “gospel” of mainstream Christianity has rejected the Kingdom of God and perverted that portion of the gospel—“salvation”—which they claim to retain. Mr. Armstrong explains that “They [ministers today] have, thru deception and without knowing it in most instances, rejected the true way of salvation and entrance into that Kingdom!” He continues, explaining that they pervert “born again” and try to do way with God’s law. It’s good stuff! And stuff we preach, ourselves. To say that Mr. Armstrong’s condemnation of the world’s counterfeit “gospel” meant that he did not preach the whole gospel, himself, is to tell a lie. Or, at best, it is to mistake what he powerfully emphasized for the whole. (I may emphasize to my wife over wine and candlelight that she is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t a smart cookie, too. Don’t mistake emphasis for entirety—Mr. Armstrong didn’t. Many who boast of carrying his banner do.)

“Back in 1934 God began RESTORING the knowledge of THE KINGDOM of GOD to those who would listen. That knowledge–the true GOSPEL of Jesus Christ–is being thundered with constantly multiplied power over ever-increasing areas, now WORLD-WIDE. God is now pleading with people around the world, THRU PREACHING–by A MESSAGE OF LOVE–to REPENT, surrender and return to GOD in obedience thru Jesus Christ as Saviour and High Priest and soon-coming KING.”

(from November 27, 1958 “Dear Friend” letter)

So, preaching the “true GOSPEL of Jesus Christ” means preaching “A MESSAGE OF LOVE—to REPENT, surrender and return to GOD in obedience thru Jesus Christ as Saviour and High Priest and soon-coming KING.”

How does this differ from the gospel we are preaching? Not a bit. Why do some want to perform a “Saviorectomy” on the gospel—as if “soon-coming KING” is a part of the gospel, but “Jesus Christ as Saviour and High Priest” is not. Sure they have the right to claim that. But it’s not in the Bible. And it’s not in the writings of Herbert W Armstrong.

“Yes, what GOOD NEWS! A world filled with good, sound, vigorous HEALTH—beaming, happy faces—PEACE—prosperity—JOY—SALVATION! It is to be real UTOPIA. It’s not impossible! ALL things are possible with GOD, and this is the DOING OF GOD.

“The original apostles carried on GOD’S WORK thru their lifetime. They preached this GOOD NEWS. They preached OBEDIENCE to GOD! They preached, not only believing in Christ—not only believing He is the divine Saviour—but also BELIEVING CHRIST— that is, believing what He preached and taught.”

(from January 8, 1958 co-worker letter)

How crucial a “not only” can be, hmmm? Apparently, it has the ability to make certain words invisible to some people. “Not only” implies a “this too” not a “that instead.”  Mr. Armstrong understood.

“Yes, JESUS CHRIST is opening doors–SPEEDING UP His powerful Message to a dying world. As world events hurl a helpless humanity faster and faster toward DESTRUCTION, so CHRIST hurls to a deceived world, faster and faster, His Message of PEACE, and SALVATION by God’s GRACE (those who try to deceive people into thinking we preach a gospel of salvation “by works” are deceived or deliberately misrepresenting to serve Satan)! The way is being prepared before CHRIST’S RETURN TO EARTH! Christ’s own Gospel is being RESTORED!”

(from April 18, 1961 co-worker letter)

So, Christ’s own Gospel, His Message, included “SALVATION by God’s GRACE.” For those who do not include it, as Christ’s gospel did, what does that say about their gospel?

 “Christ’s new Message for this hour — His TRUE Gospel — is going to ALL THE WORLD, into all nations, where it HAS NOT GONE, and could go in NO OTHER WAY, than this way God has opened up — of giving me such providential FAVOR in the eyes of heads of state — of delivering the Message through the very TOP officials in these nations. It is the MESSAGE OF WORLD PEACE — for universal PROSPERITY — and of salvation and ETERNAL LIFE — the Message of THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

“NOBODY ELSE is carrying this Message to these nations! NOBODY!!!”

(from July 25, 1974 co-worker letter)

So the “Message of the KINGDOM OF GOD” that we are to preach to “ALL THE WORLD” is the Message of “salvation and ETERNAL LIFE” – pretty clear. They are a part of the Message about that coming Kingdom.

I could quote letters all day—the point would be the same. YES, Mr. Armstrong condemned the false gospel of his (and our) day. YES, he pointed out that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God was not being preached, and that he was restoring what so many had rejected or lost—and how thankful we should be that he did! YES, he illustrated that the “substitute” gospel about the person of Christ instead of the message of Christ was a deceptive slight-of-hand by Satan the devil! YES, he pointed out that the world’s version of “salvation” is corrupt and degraded and that the true Way to salvation is not truly taught, unlike the vibrant fullness of salvation as described in the Bible and the true Way revealed there!

But, YES, he also understood that true salvation and redemption through Christ by grace, acceptance of Jesus Christ as our perfect Savior, the gift of eternal life and the true WAY to eternal life were all a part of that Message, as well—the Message Christ brought of the coming Kingdom of God. No one can legitimately deny that Mr. Herbert Armstrong believed these things. And though he recognized, as we recognize, that not all would “get it”—that not all would understand in this age—he also recognized that the mission to preach these things is still our mission, and that the Gospel will go out as a witness to the entire world, whether believed or not!

Since the theme of this (long) post is the “Quotes They ‘Forgot’” let’s look at a few others from the literature Mr. Armstrong produced.

One I won’t quote from because it would be too much, but here is a link to it: “Just what do you mean… SALVATION?” In this booklet offered to the public, Mr. Armstrong explains the topic SO plainly and he ties it in with the Kingdom of God. Anyone who does not believe that preaching the gospel does not involve preaching forgiveness through Christ’s blood on repentance and the unearned gift of eternal life (including what both of those things actually MEAN) either haven’t read this booklet in too long or else are in denial.  Feel free and read it for yourself.

Then there’s Herbert W Armstrong’s booklet “What Is the True Gospel?” In it, like Mr. Meredith does in our booklet “Do You Believe the True Gospel,” Mr. Armstrong makes the powerful case that the Message of Christ was the Message of the Kingdom of God! Makes sense to quote from this one, huh? But why is page 10 avoided?

“Conditions of Entering

“Now, HOW do we enter into that glorious KINGDOM? Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, ‘REPENT,’ and ‘BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.’

“Just TWO things we do – REPENT and BELIEVE. We must BELIEVE the Gospel, and that means also believing on JESUS CHRIST, the KING of the Kingdom of God, and coming KING of kings over all the families of the earth. It means believing in Him as personal SAVIOUR, as High Priest now, and as coming KING.”

(What Is the TRUE GOSPEL?, p.10)

So believing the Gospel includes “believing on JESUS CHRIST” and “believing in Him as personal SAVIOUR” (Mr. Armstrong’s emphasis, not mine). This makes no sense whatsoever if Christ’s role as our personal Savior were not a part of the Gospel.

Feel free to read the entire booklet. Get all the context you want. Nowhere does it contradict the idea that Christ’s role as our Savior, yours and mine, is, indeed, a part of the Gospel.

Mr. Armstrong makes the inclusion of these things even more explicit in his article “Seven Keys to Understanding the Bible”—published no less than FIVE TIMES while he was alive (July 1949, July 1953, July 1959, January 1971, January 1980) [Note: The one I link to is the original July 1949 publication, but feel free to look any of them up that you like in various resources on the Internet. If anyone claims that one of them says something different, I will happily post it here, too.]

Read what Mr. Armstrong says so clearly in the section titled “The True Gospel”—I will quote a large section partially because some say that we’ve taken his statement out of context and partially because some have inserted their own commentary into Mr. Armstrong’s plain words so as to twist what he says. Read it for yourself—no twists, just the facts:

“What is Christ’s Gospel? What is the Message God sent to mankind by Jesus Christ? It is the GOOD NEWS of the KINGDOM OF GOD! ‘Kingdom’ means GOVERNMENT! It is the Message of Divine Government–government by GOD’S LAWS!

“It is the prophetic proclamation of the coming WORLD GOVERNMENT to rule all nations and bring today’s confused, chaotic, war-weary earth PEACE, and JOY! It is the vital, dynamic, powerful living Message of GOD’S GOVERNMENT, first in individual hearts now in this world, later over all nations internationally in The WORLD TOMORROW!

“Of course that power-filled Message includes the knowledge about the Saviour, High Priest and coming King! Of course it includes the true way of salvation, which the churches seem to have lost! And it includes also knowledge of the location of the TERRITORY to be ruled over by the King of the coming Kingdom–the fact it is this earth, and not heaven! But there can be no GOVERNMENT without LAWS, and so the TRUE GOSPEL also must proclaim the LAW of God, which alone can bring peace to the world and success, happiness and joy to the individual!”

(Plain Truth, July 1949, “The Seven Keys to Understanding the Bible”)

Again, if you don’t trust the context, read the whole article. Nothing in that context changes the simple truth of what Mr. Armstrong says. And, just as importantly, the actual context completely disproves the silly commentary that certain pretenders have inserted themselves, as if Mr. Armstrong couldn’t carry a coherent thought through a handful of paragraphs. Unbelievable.

Reading the whole helps to shine light on the deception in some who claim that somehow in that entire passage, “Message” means Gospel except for the one sentence where Mr. Armstrong says that the Message includes “the knowledge about the Saviour” and “the true way of salvation.” Look at the VERY NEXT SENTENCE: “And it includes also knowledge of the location of the TERRITORY to be ruled over by the King of the coming Kingdom…” The “it” refers to the Message just discussed—you know, the one that “of course” includes the knowledge of the Savior and the true way to salvation. Was Mr. Armstrong truly the worst writer in the world, or did he actually mean what he said? Did he actually write an entire section about the “Message” of the Gospel, but—in one, single, weird non sequitur sentence—change “Message” to mean something else, and then CHANGE RIGHT BACK to meaning the Gospel, again?!? In the very next sentence?!? Did Mr. Armstrong use “Message” five times in one small section of an article and mean “Gospel” in four of them and “Not Gospel” in one of them—and changing the meaning without notifying the reader that he had done so, and then changing it back, all in the space of two or three sentences?

One who claims this is either a deceiver or self-deceived (cf. 2 Tim 3:13). Regardless, they insult Mr. Herbert W Armstrong.

The fact is, those things—“knowledge about the Saviour” and “the true way of salvation” are so obviously a part of the Gospel that Mr. Armstrong prefaces each statement with an “Of course”: “Of course that power-filled Message includes the knowledge about the Saviour, High Priest and coming King! Of course it includes the true way of salvation, which the churches seem to have lost!”

No wonder particular deceivers have to insert commentary into Mr. Armstrong’s words and fail to quote the entire passage. Mr. Armstrong really did write the plain truth. Why are we criticized for including something in the Gospel that Mr. Armstrong said was included “of course”?

Again, the Bible is clear. But, for the record, so is Mr. Armstrong.

I know this has been a long post, and I do beg your forgiveness, but given the way a tiny few desire to twist and pervert Mr. Armstrong’s words, this topic gets me rather riled up. While we could swim in quotes forever, let me just give you one more reference: the first two chapters of Mr. Armstrong’s amazing book The Incredible Human Potential, both of which cover the Gospel.

There is WAY too much to quote from this source, and I encourage the reader to obtain a copy of this magnificent book. You can find it on Amazon or Ebay at times. My copy is the orange-covered “Special Commemorative Edition” from the 1978 Feast of Tabernacles. Rather than link to the entire book (though I do encourage you to read the entire book!), let me provide a link to a copy of the first two chapters.

Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights that put the lie to the idea of a narrow Gospel that has no room for salvation, and Jesus Christ as our Saviour and the true way to salvation…

“I must call the reader’s attention again at this point to the fact that a full and complete understanding of the message sent by God to all mankind, by His Divine Messenger Jesus Christ, involves a vast comprehension of God’s great purpose, and of events prehistoric, historic, present and future.

“I might say that it means an overall understanding of everything!

(The Incredible Human Potential, p.15)

Interesting that it somehow isn’t supposed to include the meaning of or need for Christ’s sacrifice for us, huh? I suppose that “everything” doesn’t include those things. (I hope you note that my tongue is in my cheek.)

Please note this passage on p.16.  Those who believe that preaching the truth about Jesus Christ or about salvation or about a right understanding of grace (which Mr. Armstrong explained thoroughly) need to understand the real problem Mr. Armstrong saw in the world’s “gospel”! The following passage has his usual emphases (with full caps for small caps, though), but the underlining is mine to highlight what so many seem to miss:

“I have said that you hear many gospel programs today. One uses the slogan, ‘Preaching Christ to the Nations.’ One might ask, ‘Well what’s WRONG about preaching ABOUT Christ?’ Or, ‘Well what’s wrong about preaching a gospel of grace?’ Or, ‘What’s wrong about proclaiming a message about salvation?’

“I have shown you the scriptures showing they started, even in the first century, preaching about a DIFFERENT Jesus – a Jesus supposed to have abolished His Father’s commandments – who turned ‘grace’ into license to disobey (II Cor. 11:4, 13-15 and Jude 4). They do not today preach the REAL Jesus, who said, ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments,’ setting us an example that we should keep them also.

If those who claim to preach a gospel of SALVATION understood and proclaimed WHAT salvation really is – whether it is going to a PLACE, being changed into a different CONDITION, or WHAT – or WHERE – and HOW it may be obtained, it might be a part of the true gospel. But today’s ‘gospel’ programs do not teach what salvation really is or how one may receive it. Then the blind lead the blind, they all fall into the ditch.”

(The Incredible Human Potential, p.16)

How much plainer can Mr. Armstrong make it? In fact, if you’ve actually read his booklet on Salvation, linked to above, then you know this is EXACTLY WHAT HE DID PREACH ABOUT SALVATION! By his own words, if the TRUTH about salvation—what it really is, what it truly means, and how it is truly obtained—were taught, then it could be—according to Mr. Armstrong—a part of the true gospel! Did he teach correctly about these things? Yes, he did! Then they were a part of the true gospel!

He didn’t take issue with the fact that Jesus and salvation were being talked about, in and of themselves. Rather, that a DIFFERENT Jesus and a COUNTERFEIT salvation were being preached!  Not only were these things, alone, insufficient to encompass the Kingdom of God, they were counterfeits of the truth! And he showed repeatedly the plain truth of this in his own writings.

For anyone to say that teaching biblically and accurately who Jesus Christ was and what salvation truly means and how salvation may truly be received is somehow NOT part of the gospel, they disagree with Mr. Armstrong.  Again (again, again, again,), the most important thing is whether or not the BIBLE says these things! But for those who are smearing Mr. Armstrong by claiming that he preached otherwise, it’s important to know that he preached them, too.

Really, read both of those chapters from The Incredible Human Potential—if not the whole book.

For those who are simply confused about how salvation through Jesus Christ relates to the Kingdom of God, Mr. Armstrong touches on this in his last section of Chapter 2 (pp.18-19):

What Christ’s Gospel Was All About

“I say Christ’s gospel – the message He brought from God – as the advance good news of the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

“But just what does that include?

“And why is the Kingdom of God necessary?

“Just how does it affect and relate directly to your personal and individual life?

“Actually, Christ’s message of God’s coming Kingdom is directly concerned with world origins as they are – with human nature – its source and origin – with world evils, suffering, unhappiness – with world peace. It’s concerned with government – with the reason present human governments fail to be the benefactors of their peoples they are supposed to be.

“His message hits directly at the very roots of individual personal happiness and at the awesome transcendent potential of each human life. It is concerned with the CAUSES of present conditions that affect every human and with the WAY that will solve all problems.

“But it is concerned with far, far more.

“It is concerned with God’s tremendous, overwhelming, overall purpose a Creator of the entire universe. It’s concerned with the entire vast universe, filled with its uncountable galaxies, nebulae, suns, stars, planets, and with God’s purpose for them. It’s concerned with all the angels – with the fact that one third of all God’s created angels turned to SIN from which there can be no redemption, and God’s great purpose and plan to prevent such a catastrophe happening to the other two thirds.

“Most of these things are never remotely considered in religious teachings in this world. God’s message is concerned with overall truth.

“What has been covered so far should be considered as merely the introduction to the entire story of Christ’s gospel message.”

(The Incredible Human Potential, pp.18-19)

Wow. The purpose of man, his whole history, the way he has failed and the Way to succeed—the universe in all its created majesty and all it contains…  All of this, “merely the introduction to the entire story of Christ’s gospel message.”

Those who claim—against all evidence—that the sacrifice of Christ, His living in us, and the way of salvation are no part of the gospel should be ashamed. The Bible shows them to be wrong. Mr. Armstrong’s words show them to be wrong. The Gospel that Jesus Christ brought to mankind and asks us to proclaim really is, as Mr. Armstrong described it, “all-encompassing subject that can enter the mind of man.”

For those who’ve too quickly taken the word of confused individuals concerning what Mr. Herbert Armstrong said about these things, I hope this is a help.

There are so many more quotes we could go through, but this post is gigantic as it is.

In conclusion:

  • Thank God for Mr. Roderick Meredith and his willingness to be faithful to the Bible, which just so happens to mean being faithful to Mr. Armstrong in this vital issue, as well. Thank God for his friendship with Mr. Armstrong, and for living long enough to provide a living link to the man instead of the false images of the man crafted by others.
  • Thank God that Mr. Herbert Armstrong did not match any of the caricatures his supposed, self-appointed “standard bearers” make of him.
  • Thank God for the truth about what Mr. Armstrong called “the whole, pure gospel.”
  • Don’t let anyone slander Mr. Herbert W Armstrong by saying he only preached part of the gospel—waving their hands like a magician and trying to turn what he powerfully emphasized in the gospel into the “only” thing he taught of the gospel.
  • Don’t let anyone perform any similar “hand waving” to make you think that Mr. Armstrong said something other than what he actually said. Don’t take their word for it—read the original in context and without their inserted commentary.
  • Don’t let anyone take advantage of your love for Mr. Armstrong and what God did through him in such a way that they ironically pull you away from the very gospel he, himself, preached.
  • If anyone can prove to me from God’s Word that the gospel is somehow different than what we are proclaiming, they are free to do so. I’m all ears. Until then, we’ll preach the same biblical message Mr. Armstrong believed and preached in. Thanks.
  • And, as always, don’t believe me—believe your Bible.

I do believe that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was used as an Apostle by Jesus Christ. It is a shame to those who would twist his words today while professing some sort of weird faithfulness to him.

And Roderick C. Meredith is still doing exactly that

Roderick C Meredith on the "Tomorrow's World" set

We had a wonderful weekend this Sabbath and today. Services in Cincinnati and Columbus were fantastic, and we enjoyed getting to touch bases again with everyone and talk about Feast experiences. Then a hot dog roast Saturday night, followed by a stay with the Monsons made for a wonderful time. And today both types of Smith chromosome sets were satisfied, with a baby shower that my wife attended and bit of rifle shooting for me and the boys. Thanks to all who planned various parts of a weekend we thoroughly enjoyed!

I was moved to post this before I go to bed. I came across a comment in one of Mr. Herbert W Armstrong’s old letters from 1960 that I thought was neat upon reflection, reminding me of the “Behind the Work” film we saw this Feast. Mr. Armstrong wrote:

During this summer our evangelistic team headed by Roderick C. Meredith has held three dynamic campaigns in England–in Bristol, in Birmingham, and in Manchester–with from 40 to 65 added for God’s Kingdom in each campaign. And let me add that this does not mean a mere “accepting Christ,” or “professing Christ,” or “decision for Christ.” It means full REPENTANCE of sin, and full FAITH in Christ as Saviour not only from past sins, but from any continuance in sin! It means a completely CHANGED LIFE! It means complete CONVERSION, a change from the carnal to a spiritual MIND–from a worldly to a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led LIFE. It means being BEGOTTEN by God’s Holy Spirit as a child of God.

I read that and I thought, “And 51 years later, Roderick C. Meredith is still doing exactly that.”

May all of God’s people be so steadfast.

The Fast before the Feast

Lion and LambGreetings to all out there who are keeping the Day of Atonement tomorrow! Are you motivated to drink a little extra water today? Subconsciously? I freely admit that I feel that urge. I feel that way before every fast, except for those emergency fasts that sort of sneak up on you the day before.

What a remarkable day tomorrow is. It’s often easy to overlook the significance of the Day of Atonement, with the Feast coming so quickly on its heels, but the Feast could not happen without the Fast! That remarkable Millennial rule of Jesus Christ and the glorified saints and all the beautiful things the Scriptures say in describing that reign and that time would not be possible without the binding of Satan the devil during that time, as described in Revelation 20:1-3.

I remember when I was first studying the Holy Days as a teenager, and of all of them it was the Day of Atonement that fascinated me the most — chiefly because the ceremony of that day, depicted in Leviticus 16, pictures the removal of Satan by a “suitable man” so perfectly, showing, too, that even though man may have no excuse for his choices, the devil will bear his guilt for the part he has played. I read those passages in awe back then. For the first time, I began to get a glimpse of a God who had lovingly woven the details of His incredible plan into the religion of ancient Israel thousands of years before those events would happen. I know this is just as obvious in other days, such as Passover, Pentecost, and Trumpets, but it hit me in a way the others didn’t as I studied the Day of Atonement and its fulfillment. The reality of God’s plan came into sharper view — and, perhaps more importantly, the reality that He really did have a plan, at all.

God has a plan. It is a plan that has been in place since before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). And it is a plan in which you and I have a part.

It’s hard to overstate just how amazing that realization was to me. And when I begin to slip and think of God’s Holy Days as just part of the annual “routine” it does me good to remember those days of discovery, when the spark of that first love began to be blown and fed into flame. After all, first loves are important (Rev. 2:4).

No, the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ and the Children of God in peace, truth, and abundant blessings for the entire world would not be possible if the roaring lion that is Satan the devil were allowed to continue roaming among the nations — deceiving, lying, poisoning, and seeking to devour all he can. No, that lion will be replaced by the Lion of Judah, and He will ensure that…

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

“The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Isaiah 11:6-9

As the next verse says, “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”

Amen to that.

What a world it will be with the predator, the deceiver of the nations locked away. So, bring on the Fast! — and thank God for the beautiful truth it represents.

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.