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False Prophet of the Month: Herbert W. Armstrong

Mat_24:24  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 

I thought I'd begin a new monthly series on False Prophets, starting first with some groups that are less familiar than the cults we're used to. Each month we'll introduce a new false prophet and his teachings, and follow up with posts that answer specific doctrinal claims made by these individuals or their followers.

Our first "False Prophet of the Month" is Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God (HRM). The World Wide Church of God as it once existed is now dead and gone, replaced by an orthodox organization that has returned to the teachings of the Trinity and other essentials of the faith. The true followers of the Armstrong cult, after the death of their odious founder, have since split into a seemingly endless number of sects who tend to retain the name "Church of God" in some fashion.

The two most prominent:

1) The Restored Church of God, headquartered in Wadsworth, Ohio, claims to have reached over 45 million people through congregations spread across 60 different countries. It is led by David C. Pack, who tries very hard to convince you that all the other Church of God variants are apostate. According to their church website, the RCG is the "only organization that upholds the standards and truth God instituted through Mr. Armstrong in the Philadelphian era... [and] the only organization through which God is revealing additional prophetic understanding."

As an aside, the Philadelphian era is a reference to the 6th of the seven churches in Revelation, which they interpret in terms of periods of time. According to Herbert Armstrong himself, the Philadelphian era was started in 1933 by "Jesus Christ... through me, as His chosen apostle" (What Is a Liberal?” The Worldwide News, Feb. 19, 1979).

Interestingly, though the RCG boasts that they do not engage in politics (as do most Armstrong cults), virtually every member of theirs I have ever met has been on political forums.

They have a magazine and an internet TV program which they claim reaches millions of people across the world.

2) The United Church of God (UCG-AIA) claims 400+ congregations that are spread across the entire United States, and also into Latin America as far as Argentina. They also have some congregations in Europe and in Australia. Their chief headquarters appears to be in Texas, where they have a 1 million+ dollar church, but they boast a large number of offices spread throughout the world. The UCG is currently run by Victor Kubik, who controls a website with a very distinct Scientology feel (in how they suck you in).

About their network of propaganda, here is an excerpt from the Exit Support Network:
UCG has an array of glossy and slick "free" literature; e. g., World News and Prophecy (to "discern the times...in light of Bible prophecy"); The Good News ("a magazine of understanding"); Vertical Thought ("magazine of understanding for tomorrow's leaders") and Virtual Christian Magazine("Hope and Encouragement For the Real World"). The United News is the church-wide newsletter for members and their radio program is called Good News Radio Program. They even have a "Ambassador Bible Center" (ABC) which teaches the same "theology" classes that were formerly taught at Ambassador College (founded by HWA in 1947). Their TV program is "Beyond Today."

UCG is eager to introduce people to their "free Bible Study Course" (which is also online), including "Sabbath School Lessons" and a "Teen Bible Study Guide" for the youth. This Bible course (which emphasizes that "obedience brings understanding" and presents several other "keys" to Bible understanding that Herbert Armstrong taught) is one of the first steps to getting people to believe their teachings are truly Bible-based and, as a result, end up joining. (HWA also made use of these same tactics. See: How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit Others?)

If one carefully examines United Church of God's "free" literature (including their free 12-lesson Bible Study Course), they can clearly discern that it is filled with mind control methods of guilt, striving for perfection, preoccupation with sin and repentance, fear, and "true church" dogma.

You might also encounter the UCG-AIA through front groups like "Lifenets" on facebook or other websites.

This group is the most insidious and active of the two (at least from my experience), as its members seem to be trained to be as deceptive as possible about who they are and what they really teach. Of course, this is generally true of all cult groups, and only the Mormons rival them in what often feels like organized deception and obfuscation.

 One last amusing/depressing tidbit from the Exit Support link:
While United Church of God boldly claims: "no one is ever asked for donations"; "no offering is collected at services" and "we do not solicit the general public for funds," these are the exact same words HWA used for years through his "free" Plain Truth, World Tomorrow and Bible Correspondenceprogram. However, once ensnared within Herbert Armstrong's "one true church," members were commanded to save more than a first tithe. There was a second and third tithe to be paid, plusseven holy day offerings a year, as well as numerous other "needs" such as a building fund and emergencies. UCG members likewise are told it is biblical to pay headquarters a first tithe on their net income (along with offerings) for the "furtherance of the Work." To fail to do so is considered "stealing from God," yet, in the same breath they go on to say that they are "free to tithe on grossincome if they so choose" and can even "give contributions above their tithes."7 (This is nothing more than manipulation.)
The Restored Church of God uses the same rhetoric.

About Herbert W. Armstrong


Herbert W. Armstrong began his ministry in the 1930s after being expelled from the Seventh Day Adventists due to his frequent contradiction of their doctrines. Having a background in media and print, Armstrong founded a very successful radio ministry (The Radio Church of God, known later as The World Tomorrow), ranked number 2 for religious programs in its heyday during the 50s and 60s. The Worldwide Church of God also boasted a successful magazine known as The Plain Truth.

According to Walter Martin's book, The Kingdom of the Cults, Armstrong believed that:

“... biblical truth had been lost from the first century and rediscovered by him in 1927. He wrote about himself as the ‘Elijah’ who would preach before the second advent of Jesus Christ. He also taught that he was unique in the human race as Christ’s new ‘Apostle’ and that he had ‘restored’ essential truths to Christianity. He championed his work in gloating terms... saying, ‘I candidly feel it may be the most important book since the Bible!’” (Walter Martin, Ed. Hank Hanegraaff, The Kingdom of the Cults, pg. 482).

Similar to other leaders of cults, Armstrong believed he was recovering the "true" Gospel that had been lost for nearly 2000 years, a tragedy that would not be rectified until his advent. 

From Armstrong directly:

“I know of no other who has ever become a founder of a religion... who ever came into the truth the way God brought me into it... God brought me through a process that erased former misknowledge — and, as it were, gave me a clear start from ‘scratch.’ I wonder if you realize that every truth of God, accepted as truth doctrine and belief in the Worldwide Church of God, came from Christ through me, or was finally approved and made official through me... I was appointed by Jesus Christ, the head of the church.” (Herbert Armstrong, “Personal From...” The Plain Truth (Feb. 1967): 47.)

On interpreting the scripture, it was “like a jigsaw puzzle that must be assembled piece by biblical piece... and since before AD 70, it has been entirely suppressed.” (H. Armstrong, “How far can you get from being a Prophet of Doom?” The Plain Truth (Oct/Nov 1977): 3.)

He also taught British Israelism, and even claimed that he was a descendant of King David on his mother’s side. In keeping with his theory that the British are the lost 10 tribes of Israel, one of the primary traits of Herbert's cult is its insistence on following certain of the laws of Moses. According to the Armstrongites, it is necessary to keep God's dietary laws, sabbaths and holy festivals--as prescribed in the Old Testament--in order to gain future salvation. A failure to keep the Passover, or any of God's laws, is horrible sin in the sight of God that brings you back under the automatic sentence of death that you first escaped through an initial faith. While most Armstrongites will assert that they believe men are saved by "grace," they actually believe that justification (the moment we have faith in Christ) only covers "past law-breaking," and must be subsequently followed by "love" for God, love defined as having the ability to keep all of God's commandments.

Besides the typical works-righteousness of cult groups, Armstrong also taught a unique view of the Godhead that absorbed elements of Mormonism. According to Armstrong, the purpose of salvation is to elevate man to Godhood:

“By a resurrection, we become born God personages — personages just as our God the Father and Christ the Son! We shall have the entire universe put beneath our feet (Hebrews 2:8).” (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth (September 1980): 40)

"We grow spiritually more and more like God, until at the time of the resurrection we shall then be born of God-we shall then be God" (The U.S. and British Commonwealth, p. 9).

According to Herbert, there are currently two "Gods," who nevertheless make up a single "God Family." The Father and the Son are the first of these God personages, while the Holy Spirit is more of a force. Believers who achieve salvation will become God personages and members of the one God Family, where they will rule as Gods for eternity. This means that every verse that says there is but one God, the Armstrongites read as "One [God Family]." 

False Predictions 

Armstrong predicted that Christ would return by 1972, and when this event failed to come to pass, revised his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy

Truth Magazine here provides examples of these revisions. The 1962 edition is listed first, the 1972 follows immediately, and is in bold:

"Events of the next five years may prove this to be the most significant book of this century. People of the Western World would be STUNNED! - DUMBFOUNDED! - if they knew! . . ." (Foreword of book)

"People of the Western world would be stunned - dumbfounded - if they knew! . . ." (Foreword of book)


"A STAGGERING TURN in world events in due to erupt in the next four to seven years" (p. ix)

"A STAGGERING TURN in world events is due to erupt in the next few years" (p. ix)


"The great world Powers are formulating their policies - laying their plans. But the next five to seven years will see astounding events explode in a manner very different than the nations plan! WHY?" (pg. x, xi)

"The great world powers are formulating their policies - laying their plans. But the next few years will see astounding events explode in a manner very different than the nation plan! Why?" (pg. x, xi)


"The events prophesied to strike the American and British peoples in the next four to seven years are SURE!" (p. xii)

"The events prophesied to strike the American and British peoples in the next few years are SURE!" (p. xii)


"It bears repeating! Events of the next five years may prove this to be the most significant book of this century!" (p. 10)

(This space is blank! It did not "bear repeating"!)


"You need to look at prophecies of Jesus of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, and others, describing HOW much more INTENSE is to be the punishment God is going to lay on the British and American people in five to seven more years" (p. 185)

"You need to look at prophecies of Jesus of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, and others, describing how much more intense is to be the punishment God is going to lay on the British and American people" (p. 163, quotes from 1980 printing)

Armstrong blamed his members for misunderstanding his date-setting. From the Exit Support Network (ESN): 


"Yet some members totally misconstrued what I did say, and took it to mean definite date settings for end of this world and coming of Christ for the new World Tomorrow...I never did, and do not now set dates--even as to the year." (Pastor General's Report, LOOKING INTO THE NEXT FOUR YEARS AND NINE YEARS OF DECADE OF EIGHTIES, by Herbert W. Armstrong, January 23, 1981)

The ESN, in that same link above, documents 200 other incidents of date setting by Herbert Armstrong-- all of which failed to come to pass.


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4 comments :

  1. To all who are in or are thinking of attending The Restored Church of God please watch these videos. You will hear in his own words Dave Pack prove he is a false prophet, call himself the prophet elijah and say he is a TYPE OF CHRIST! Please spread this far and wide so no one else will be a victim. Thank you

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXZjxKew67A
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhSMyD58ryQ

    ReplyDelete
  2. To all who are in or are thinking of attending The Restored Church of God please watch these videos. You will hear in his own words Dave Pack prove he is a false prophet, call himself the prophet elijah and say he is a TYPE OF CHRIST! Please spread this far and wide so no one else will be a victim. Thank you NEW ONE

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO6jg4HcN3Q

    ReplyDelete
  3. How does one become the human lie detector? In recent history, the lie detector was a machine that reads electronic readings (heartbeats, variances in electric impulses from the brain, emotional nuances) and crunches the numbers and tells if someone is lying or not. www.liedetector.uk

    ReplyDelete
  4. Learn about Armstrongism at the Painful Truth.
    http://www.hwarmstrong.com/

    ReplyDelete


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