"and he's not just whistling dixie either!"
Do We Hate Herbert W. Armstrong and His Followers?
We on this website are continually holding Herbert W. Armstrong’s life, teachings and offshoot churches up for examination under a critical microscope – this is no secret. Most readers of this Missing Dimension website understand the heart and motives of those of us who contribute in this ongoing inspection of Armstrongism. But occasionally we, and those who contribute to similar websites, are accused by some of being mean-spirited and full of hatred toward this man and his followers, and of having a corresponding blindness to the good that Herbert Armstrong did in his lifetime.
For example, not long ago there appeared in the Oct 4th edition of Missing Dimension’s Mailbag a letter from Stephen, a reader in Vermont. He took the time from his no doubt busy schedule to let us know that he sincerely feels that “all (our) hate mongering has been clarified for years,” and he suggests that we at MD “stop (our) character assassination and practice some Christ like behavior.” There are even those who feel that we will be used as Satan’s tool in the persecution of true Christians in the future. Many view us as being obsessed with destroying the memory of a man who was human and fallible, just as we all are, but used mightily of God.
Could this be true? Do Stephen, and others like him have a valid point when they accuse us of doing evil in the name of good? Are we practicing unchristian behavior each time we address Armstrongism and its cultic spin-offs?
To understand where we are coming from – what motivates us – and to more correctly evaluate the rightness or wrongness of our actions, those who feel that Herbert Armstrong is their spiritual leader need to step back, relax, and do an exercise that requires using the imagination.
First, find a quiet room with no distractions – one equipped with a comfortable chair or sofa. Be seated, elevate your feet if possible, and let your whole body relax as you breath deeply for a moment or so. Say a short prayer asking that God allow your mind to perceive truths that you may have been blocking out subconsciously, or even consciously – and really mean it, from the depths of your heart. Next, empty your mind of all thoughts. Do not think of HWA or anything that he taught, leave him completely out of the picture – just accept for the moment that EVERYTHING I am saying is absolutely true, just for this exercise. Pretend that I am speaking about someone you never knew nor had heard of.
Imagine a man coming onto the scene in America in the early 1900’s who misleads many people through false religious teachings and false prophecies. This man builds up a following in the early 1930’s and into the 40’s. (Come on now, keep a neutral attitude and an open mind - it’s a strain, but you can do it!) He becomes so convinced of his own importance that he actually uses his own daughter for his sexual needs, even as he announces to the world that he is starting to proclaim a gospel that has not been preached for 1900 years.
He believes that God is using him to restore truths that have been lost to a so-called Christian world, even though he knows that the Bible says that one must keep God’s commandments to have “a good understand” and be used by God. But his adultery/incest is just a weakness, he believes, and God will still continue to reveal new truths through him, and him alone! After all, he is God’s apostle, and character doesn’t matter, just intent (remind you of any presidents we’ve had?).
Things go along smoothly until the mid 1940’s, when his prophecies about Hitler being the Beast of Revelation, and that the U.S. could not possibly win the war, and dozens of other false prophecies cause his followers to desert him. He has to move to another part of the country where he is basically unknown to re-establish his credibility. This “man of God” continues on for the next 40 years to build a church based on fear and guilt, old covenant doctrine that can be proven to be false, and prophecies that continue to fail. Numerous incidents of drunkenness, fraudulent use of money, etc., are swept under the carpet but become general knowledge just a few years after the man’s death.
Imagine having been a member of such a church, and the relief you must have felt when God graciously revealed your error to you. Also imagine having your own spouse still believing that such a man was of God, in spite of all the evidence, and seeing it basically destroy your family life.
Imagine that many of your relatives still hung on to the teachings of this man, and that their lives were bordering on the neurotic due to those teachings. These multiple relatives continued to live mildly to severely dysfunctional lives, ascribing every new event in the news to possibly the event that would trigger the end of the world and the rush to the place of safety. Some were not even able to hold down a steady job, as every potential job opening was refused because it was somehow too worldly and Satan-influenced.
Visualize trying your best to help these relatives realize that they have been duped, that they don’t have to continue to live a life with nothing to look forward to but the dream outlined for them of the “wonderful world tomorrow,” (which is usually depicted as always “just around the corner”). Imagine trying to convince them that are not being judged by how well they keep obsolete old covenant ways regarding foods and days and Jewish laws, but can have assurance in their salvation by faith in Christ alone.
Picture in your mind how it feels to try to explain to them that they are not enjoying “the peace that passes all understanding,” but have become mentally frozen in their false religion, rendered unable to function, and yet unable to escape. Imagine them now looking down upon you as “the one who has lost the truth,” when in fact just the opposite is the case.
If all of the above had happened to you, would you sit idly by and keep your mouth shut so as to preserve the memory of this “honorable man of God”? Imagine how deeply deceived his followers would have to be to discount all the evil that this man did!
The ONLY reason these followers refuse to face what kind of man their founder was is because to admit it would lead to the next logical question – how could such a discredited man EVER be used by God to restore true religion when credibility is of the HIGHEST necessity?
This would force them to re-examine all their doctrines – something they would rather not do. For to do so and to find that they were in error would mean in many cases to write off the last 25 or 30 years as totally lost and wasted. They would be forced to acknowledge that the tens of thousands of dollars in “tithes” and offerings that they sacrificed to give had actually promoted evil instead of good. This would just be too great an emotional pain for most to bear.
You have doubts about Herbert Armstrong being guilty of incest? His son Garner Ted knew about it (as did a number of others), as his sister told him face to face. Read below how GTA responded to questions about that incest if you still have doubts. It kind of reminds one of how a guilty child would respond when questioned by a parent!
Below is GTA’s response to a person’s inquiry about the Kessler letter and the naturally resulting questions regarding HWA’s incest with his daughter Dorothy.
The Church of God International
Post Office Box 2530
Tyler, Texas 75710
Garner Ted Armstrong, Founder
July 28, 1997
Dear Mr. (Name Withheld by Request),
I’m sorry, but I really have no comment about the very lengthy letter from Jack Kessler. The entire situation is completely moot at this time, of course. [Don’t you wish!] My father died at age 93 ½ back in 1986, eleven years ago, and I certainly have no desire to resurrect a lot of ancient ghouls from their graves and engage in a lot of criticism involving the actions of individuals in that organization decades ago. [Of course you wouldn’t, Ted. After all, your whole claim to fame, your whole ministry, is based on your ordination by your father.]
Nothing my father did, negative or positive, matters to my personal salvation, or to yours. [Really! If he taught false doctrine, and many still adhere to it, it no longer matters to one’s salvation?]
For the last twenty years, I have continued to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God as a witness and a warning to the world, and I have never engaged in the kind of “grave robbing” that exhumes ancient sins of fifty or sixty years ago, and attempts to defile and defame the memory of individuals who themselves are long since dead. [Riiight! You seem to prefer engaging in a different kind of “robbing” and “defiling”.]
Sorry if this proves disappointing to you, but I simply have no further comment.
[Notice that he doesn’t say that it never happened, that his sister has denied it ever happened, or that his father was a fine, upstanding man who would never do anything like that. Hey GTA, we’re not disappointed in your response at all! What you DON’T say speaks volumes.]
Garner Ted Armstrong
Some members of the WCG split-off
churches are going to have a hard time reconciling the fact that Herbert
Armstrong was involved in incest even as he was establishing “God’s true
Church.” God was revealing to him alone truths that had been hidden from the
world for 19 centuries – and we all know that God only reveals greater
understanding to those who keep his commandments!
As the United Church of God / An International Association (adherents to Armstrong’s teachings) so well states it in the Sep/Oct 97 edition of their magazine “The Good News,” in the article entitled How To Understand The Bible, on page E5, under the subheading “Second Key: Obedience brings understanding,” we are instructed that “We must begin to live what we learn for God to grant us continued understanding. If we refuse to accept the understanding God reveals to us, He ceases to give us more of it . . . We read a summary of this principle in Psalms 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do his commandments . . “ Therefore, to understand revealed spiritual truth requires the 2nd key, which is faithful obedience to God’s perfect laws and instruction as shown in scripture.”
Apparently this principle applies to everyone except Mr. Armstrong! Or maybe, just maybe, this principle is always valid and does apply to Mr. Armstrong – and his “new understanding” was just plain old uninspired error!
We who contribute to this website don’t hate Herbert Armstrong or his followers. We love all people. But to sit idly by and say nothing would be a form of hatred. Doesn’t the Bible say that a father that doesn’t correct his son hates him? Ephesians 5:11-13 commands that we “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”
We on this and other sites have chosen to keep these issues alive in the hope that the Armstrong-following reader will be inspired, if only out anger, to investigate what we say and to attempt to prove us wrong. If the reader takes even this first step, we will have accomplished what we have set out to do. We will leave the accomplishing of the next step toward true freedom in Christ in God’s capable hands.
Till next time, here’s whistlin’ at ya! ;o)