Letters & Responses
We print a representative sampling of our mail—both positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print.
HWA Prophecy Article Correction
Letter:March 26, 1999
Dear Servants’ News,
I commend Servants’ News for the fine job of exposing the ridiculously poor track record of one Herbert W. Armstrong in the areas of date-settings, misuse of biblical authority, mental-emotional-spiritual extortion (co-worker letters!), excessive personal lifestyle, etc.
I do want to point out that this same Herbert W. Armstrong did set dates prominently after "1975 in Prophecy." Please correct this error as stated on your page 31 of the December 1998 SN.
See the following (from my upcoming article on MYSTERY OF THE AGES):
Also on pages 297-298, Mr. Armstrong claims that one of the reasons for the revelations expounded to Nebuchadnezzar was "to reveal—preserved in writing for us TODAY—what is to happen ‘in the latter days’—actually within the next two decades—THIS LAST HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY!"
Those events (including Christ’s Return, Daniel 2:44), therefore, must come to pass by December 31, 2000 A.D. This is another example of Mr. Armstrong setting dates.
Page 301: "Now here (Daniel 2) we have described FOUR universal world empires—the only four that ever existed!"
This is gross historical inaccuracy! This time he says "universal world" empires. This is even stronger than his previous simple "universal" empires he wrote about in 1978 (when he also set a date for the end-time events).
The reference to his setting a date in 1978 is, of course, found in his book, The Incredible Human Potential, on page 191.
So, even up to a few months before his death in January 1986, Herbert W. Armstrong published in his so-called "magnum opus" a date for the end-time events (which culminate in the return of Christ) by the end of year 2000 at the very latest.
He never did learn! Nor have some thousands of the brethren who seems oblivious to this and many other obvious errors in the legacy of this man.
Deuteronomy 18:22 has excellent application here!
—Bruce Lyon, California
Response:Thank you for the correction. Herbert Armstrong certainly "set dates" less often after 1972, but you have obviously shown that he still did. Certainly Mr. Armstrong did not stop Gerald Waterhouse and other WCG preachers from setting dates. We need the faith to believe that the Eternal will take care of us, not that we can follow the man who runs the group that has "the understanding" of prophecy.
New Name for Servants’ News?
Letter:March 22, 1999
I got an idea for a new and more appropriate name you can give the Servants’ News. How about the Let’s Rip Herbert W. Armstrong Apart News?
—DC, New York
Response:We could also change Matthew 23 to the Let’s Rip the Scribes and Pharisees Apart Gospel. While Servants’ News is not the Bible, we see nothing wrong with using the Bible principle of a balance of spiritual teaching, and pointing out the errors of teachers who are leading others astray. We did not try to attack Herbert Armstrong, but we printed his own writings for the purpose of "proving all things". For years, I and many other WCG members considered Mr. Armstrong "God’s apostle", and we would not even begin to look at anything negative about him—even if it was true. Similarly, in Jesus time, the scribes and Pharisees were considered righteous by many people, so Jesus had to show their error in order to teach His truth.
Liked the HWA Articles
Letter:January 5, 1999
I’ve read your Servants’ News with relief and joy that someone has the courage to tell the truth about HWA. Seems the same thing happened to him as did Solomon. Sad! We should stick to the truths he taught and discard the errors, which are many. Keep up the good work.
I read your November ‘98 issue of the SN and was surprised at the comment on page 29, talking about the strength of HWA’s arm. It compares to Zachariah 11:16 about idle shepherds. I think GTA has the same problems. When will people learn this is God we are dealing with?
[Literature request omitted].
—Martha Schimmel, Arizona
Response:In a society that tends to paint most people as either "good guys" or "bad guys", it is often difficult for us to recognize that significant people have done a mixture of both good and bad. Yet the Bible is very consistent in revealing the mistakes of mostly "good" people, and the occasional good things that mostly "bad" people do. Solomon is probably the ultimate example of someone who did both. He built the Temple, wrote songs and proverbs, rendered righteous judgments and many other good things. Yet he also multiplied horses and wives for himself and eventually turned after idols—all of which the Eternal said kings should not do.
Was Herbert Armstrong Elijah?
Letter:January 14, 1999:
I am inclined to think not, but the following comments may put the issue into somewhat different perspective. Though I am not an HWA worshipper, nor was I ever a member of WCG, I think the underlying motivation behind this thinking has some merit. Consider that since as far back as the 2nd century A.D. (maybe even the 1st century!) what Christian figure has there been who has dispensed so much truth about scripture? Luther and Calvin, for example, even though they were towering religious figures, were unable to see the truth of the Sabbath and the ‘Holy Trinity’. There is no other Christian teacher I have ever heard of since the earliest days of Christianity who has taught the foundational truths he did. This may not make HWA Elijah, but in correcting 2000 years of doctrinal error he certainly has a very special status among God’s servants.
I do not think HWA was a prophet—good, bad or indifferent. I am not aware that he ever claimed to be speaking the word of the Lord as he heard it directly from God. The many false predictions he made based on his understanding of scripture do not in my view make him a false prophet.
—Dale Heslin, Canberra, Australia
Response:Herbert Armstrong certainly preached a lot of truth to a lot of people who had never heard it before. However, there were some doctrines where Mr. Armstrong’s teaching "went backwards" from the truth taught by most Protestants. His most obvious error was in the area of government where, toward the end of his life, he taught the "primacy of Peter" doctrine, something long held by the Roman Catholic Church, but rejected by most of the groups that left it and reformed. Elijah was supposed to come and restore "all things", which Herbert Armstrong did not do.
It was the fact that Herbert Armstrong combined these true doctrines with the mass media and the false doctrine of hierarchical government that makes him appear unique in the field of evangelism. The articles current Servants’ News issues show that many other people have understood many similar truths. But since they did not create a big church organization or followers loyal to themselves, there is no way to count how many people they reached. These groups taught people, who taught other people; they did not feel that they needed to keep track of them all or try to make all of them loyal to a human headquarters.
Even Herbert Armstrong wrote that most of the history of the "true church" was written by its enemies and that the "true church" was rarely ever one centralized human organization. What he did not freely acknowledge is that the church was still that way during his time. There were many others with similar doctrinal understanding whom he knew about or could have known about, but he never mentioned them to the WCG membership. Ellen G. White’s work (Seventh Day Adventist) taught far more people to keep the Sabbath than Herbert Armstrong did. When the WCG mentioned Ellen White, it was usually about her prophetic or doctrinal error.
Christ knows His Body—he knows how many people have His Spirit. Of all the truly converted believers during the last 50 years, we have no way of knowing what percentage were in the WCG. For most of his life, Herbert Armstrong taught that all converted people had to be in his group. Up to a few years ago, I would have thought that the majority in Christ’s body were also WCG members. But after continually researching other groups with similar teachings, after meeting many people who have come to an understanding on their own, and after seeing the many different things that WCG members believe now, I cannot make any broad conclusion about where all the members the true Church really are. But Christ knows every one of them!
I agree that Herbert Armstrong never claimed to be a prophet or to hear directly from God. However, he frequently claimed that he, as the head of the one True Church, had been given Biblical understanding by God. He told people that they needed to sacrifice for the work because "time was short"—only a few years. Most of this proved to be untrue.
Did HWA Believe There Were Converted People in other Groups?
Letter:December 30, 1998:
Dear Servants’ News,
I read your News regularly. Today I was reading your take on HWA’s teaching (starts on the front page, top) and found that you have once again taken his words and twisted them. Then you continue for 2 more pages making your point, based on taking his words out of context, ALL of which you printed. You were around him a lot more than I. In fact, I am relatively new to the church, but I still think that you know as well as I that HWA believed there were other of God’s people around besides WCG. Why lambaste him as though he didn’t believe so? And spend 2 pages doing it? What is the reason to so skew what you quoted on page 33?
Each place that HWA states (in your quote) that WCG is the only true body he adds a phrase about the work it is doing. Basically he is saying that WCG is the only Church of God carrying out the work at this time. Now we all know that he is speaking of the work of warning the world and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Whether or not that is the work of God at this time or not, is not relevant to what I am writing about. Much argument has gone on, over the last 5 years especially, as to whether there is a work to do, what the work is, who is doing it, even what is the Gospel. None of those things am I addressing. What I want to know is why you insist on portraying HWA as such an elitist person that he didn’t even accept any others as Christians or even as God’s church when you know that is not true? HWA often spoke of the Sardis era of God’s church as being here in the present. He also knew of folks in South America and some over in Ireland or was it Scotland. In the words you quoted, he is referring to being the only church doing the work of God, and again we all know what HE meant by "the work".
Now one might argue that he was not the only one doing that work, but from my own perspective he was. I grew up in the Congregational Church. When I was 16 I was baptized into a non-denominational Full Gospel church. I graduated in 1971 from Wheaton College, Billy Graham’s Alma Mater, with a degree in Christian Education. At Wheaton we had to attend "Chapel" every day. And every day there was another speaker, most from Evangelical Christian groups and services, missionaries, just all kinds of "Christian" fellowships. Within 2 years I became a member of a very interesting group which has no name. Some call them the "no-Namers" others call them the "Black Stockings". They trace themselves back the same way we do, to the Mt’s of Switzerland and beyond and do not consider themselves Protestant. I was a member of that group for 12 years. You would like how that group does things, you really would. I even like it, still. They aren’t Sabbath keepers, but had a great manner of operation (government as some wd. call it)...well, no time for that. They were 150,000 strong back in the mid ‘80’s and were in almost every country of the world and had been for years. I want to tell you that with all that exposure and training I never once was taught about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and what it meant, including the warning of how it is to come about, until I read Herbert W. Armstrong in 1985! Seems to me he was the only one doing that work at that time, at least in a way many, many could hear.
I think that with the correct understanding of the quote on page 33, that is, reading all of his words and not taking one phrase out of context, one would have to conclude that HWA was right.
Thanks for your time,
—Diana W. Roach, Albuquerque, NM
Response:I think we represented Mr. Armstrong’s approach to other believers very fairly. I have heard from old time church members that he did allow members to fellowship with the Church of God 7th Day in the 1940’s, but that seems to have disappeared completely by the 1960’s. I spent some time looking for <any> quotation from Herbert Armstrong’s writings where he acknowledges that there are brethren outside his organization. All I found was a report by Al Portune dated July 1960 about a group of congregations in the Philippines (called the Salem Church of God) that they said were from "the Sardis era". The group joined the WCG. I could not find any other groups that did not join the WCG acknowledged as being the Church of God. If you can find any, let us know and we will print them.
Lesson 53 of the old correspondence course leads a reader to believe that the Church of God 7th Day (which it calls the Sardis Era) ended in 1933. We quote a paragraph under the subheading: "End of the Sardis Era" of that correspondence course: "The reorganization by men in 1933 was never to be a success. In just a few years that Church had permanently disintegrated into several ineffective fragments, neglecting much of God’s truth."
The reality has been that there are several branches of the Church of God 7th Day that have continuously published literature since that time. Leaders within the Church of God 7th day have given me estimates of the combined size of their groups: between 100,000 and 200,000, most of which are outside the USA. It is possible that combined membership of these Church of God 7th Day groups has always been larger than Armstrong’s groups (though the income was certainly smaller) The Bible Advocate has been published continually since 1867, and has been offered free since the 1950’s. I have attended several different Church of God 7th day congregations and found some "dead" but others very much alive.
In many of his writings, Herbert Armstrong specifically declares his organization to be "the one and only true church". These claims are made in the context of doctrine, as well as the context of "his work". Armstrong taught that the only way for people who left his work to be saved was for them to rejoin it. Notice the special edition of the Worldwide News, June 24, 1985, written by Herbert Armstrong shortly before his death:
We who remain in the one and only true Church grieve over the loss of those who are so far failing in their final exams....
Now one final reminder to the Church and all loyal ministers. If any who have gone out from this wonderful fellowship that we have in God’s one and only true Church, profess repentance and wish to come back, they must now, as John the Baptist said, "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance" or prove their repentance by performance over an adequate period of time. I personally do, and hope all of our loyal members will, pray for their repentance and ultimate return.
The Church is the embryo of the coming Kingdom of God, which is the family of God. There will be no divisions in that Kingdom. There must be none in the Church."
Notice that Mr. Armstrong’s last statement is very different from 1 Corinthians 11:18-19: "For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you."
It is not surprising that you attended a very serious religious group for 12 years, and they never come upon various truths of the Bible. You indicated that you had many good experiences there, just as many did in Mr Armstrong’s organizations. Yet, if you were to go back to that organization and talk about the Sabbath and Holy Days with them, people would begin to shun you or you might be asked to leave if you made yourself a nuisance. But under Mr. Armstrong, you would probably be asked to leave as soon as you let it be known that you have a doctrine different than his.
The current issues of Servants’ News show that there have been many who taught most of the truths that Herbert Armstrong taught, without teaching his error of hierarchical government. If the group you were a member of had 150,000 members and most people never heard of it, it should not be surprising to find many thousands of Sabbatarians that "nobody has ever heard of". The church groups that most people know about are either those that are extremely large, or those that are hierarchical and direct a large amount of money to a central place for a big media outreach. Those teachers who simply taught other brethren and taught them to teach others often never make a big name for themselves, but they may well be serving Christ as He directs.
Wanted: A little More Dogmatism
Letter:February 1, 1999
After reading the last issue of The Servants’ News I could not help but notice there seems to be a problem of strength in what is said.
No absolutes, no affirmations, just many suppositions, "probablies", "I thinks", or "maybes". This is definitely a problem for Christian people seeking a firm foundation of what is preached.
It’s very popular to not know anything for sure and patting everybody on the back as there is very little responsibility in that.
But to Know something for sure is what Christ teaches as a strong foundation. (Those are the things Christians are hated for.)
Another thing I noticed is you are preaching around people like Jim Rector. A man that teaches Christ is going to return and rule with a Shepherds crook and hug this world? I’m afraid your Servants new is become a lot rice pudding.
—Eugene Crawford, Pennsylvania
Response:I authoritatively say that mankind has sinned, does not measure up to the righteous standard of the Eternal, needs to repent, and needs a Savior. I say that all men will be judged for what they have done in this life. I say that the vast majority of judgment scriptures talk about how we treat our neighbors, not about what doctrines we believe or practice.
I do not make authoritative statements about prophecies or other doctrines where the scripture is not clear and where we have no revelation from the Eternal. Further more, I am now encouraging people to be careful about the authoritative statements of "church leaders" when they have obviously spoken many untruths in the name of the Eternal.
There is no doubt that Christ will return and rule some with a "rod of Iron". There are always some who think they know better than He does, and will only respond to a "rod of iron." On the other hand, the Bible speaks of God’s rule in terms of His "bride" and caring for lambs. Most people who are successful at being a husband or a shepherd have learned that "hugs" are much more effective than beatings—especially if one intends to live forever without crying.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matt 23:37.)
Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young (Is 40:10-11).
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev 21:2-4).
We could debate that exact time that these prophecies are going to be fulfilled, but the reality is that our Father and His Son want to deal with compassion and love toward us. There are hundreds of other scriptures like these.
Toleration in 1st Century Church
Letter:November 2, 1996:
I hope y’all had a rewarding FOT. We certainly did.
Just before the FOT we received the Aug 1996 issue of Servant’s News. In it you wrote an article on Toleration. I sincerely believe you mis-used a scripture in justifying your stance. That scripture is Titus 1:10. You seemed to use it to justify tolerating some fairly serious differences of doctrine. If you will read Titus 1:5-13, I think you will see the context is not one of tolerating these people that were in error (according to Paul) but what was at issue was for Titus to 1) set in order the things that were in error (v5), 2) stopping the mouths of those who were subverting whole houses by teaching error and 3) rebuking them sharply so they might be sound in the faith. Quite a difference!
Paul told Titus not to tolerate these people but to correct them. I believe this is completely different from the picture of tolerance you were trying to paint with this scripture.
One thing I have become very sensitized to is the mis-use of scripture. Some of it I believe is done innocently, but that doesn’t excuse it and correction should be made when it is noted. Other times mis-use occurs to support a pet theory or through complete lack of caring for the proper use of God’s Word. This is a dangerous attitude to have. I hope it was an innocent error on your part and I would appreciate your feed back on this issue.
—Jim Alexander, San Angelo, Texas
Response:Jim, I know this is over 2 years old, but it became lost in my e-mail:
I used Titus 1:10 on page 10 of that issue to show that there were still people "of the circumcision" even though the apostles wrote years ago (in Acts 15) that it was not necessary to be circumcised for salvation. Paul clearly believed this to be an error—both in Acts and when he wrote to Timothy. Nevertheless, he writes to Timothy and tells him to give correction to those "of the circumcision" . They were still considered to be "in the church". Whereas in most "Church of God groups, anyone who openly believed a significantly different doctrine would receive rejection—they would be told that they are no longer welcome in that church group.
An even better example of Christ himself allowing those with doctrinal error to remain in the fellowship is found in Revelation 2 and 3. These seven churches really existed at that time. They were within 100 miles of each other—brethren traveling between cities would have visited each other’s congregations. Yet, several of the congregations held different doctrines from each other, and in some cases individuals within one congregation also held different doctrines (Rev 2:24, 3:4). Christ makes no command for the righteous people to leave or reject the unrighteous people, but commands each individual to repent, to overcome and to listen all of the messages to all of the churches.
I am constantly amazed at how many teachers and groups discover a new doctrine, and then insist that anyone who does not believe that doctrine is not part of the true church. Yet, they did not believe that doctrine themselves only a few years ago—and they were not "rebaptized" when they came into a knowledge of that doctrine. In other words, they did not consider themselves "unconverted" for the 10, 20 or 30 years in which they did not understand that doctrine. But why do they not realize that Christ may take 10, 20 or more years to reveal the doctrine to others? Christ runs His work, not the man who knows (or thinks he knows) the most truth!
Comments on Using Sacred Names
Letter:January 30, 1999
Hi everyone at Servants’ News,
I in no way want anyone to feel judged or offended by my following comments: it’s just something I felt compelled to say after reading several letters in Servants’ News
From personal experience: I have prayed to God; Our Father; the Eternal; Almighty; Most High and my prayers have been answered. I still pray as such, sometimes adding YHWH, etc. and many times all the above. God is still showing me that He is involved in my daily life.
I also personally feel, from what I have read in scripture, that everything will be new; the old will have passed away (Isa 65:17, NKJ).
Also: "Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1Cor 2:9, NKJ).
God, the Eternal, YHWH, places us in the body as it pleases Him (1Cor 12:18, NKJ). He has a job/purpose for each of us (1Cor 12:4-6,11, NKJ) regardless of our understandings. We must yield to Him.
May all find the peace that transcends understanding.
Response:Thank you for your kind words. There are many thousands of people through the ages who sought to obey God and never had any way to even get an idea of how the Eternal’s name may have been pronounced in Hebrew.
Is Germany Judah?
Letter:February 8, 1999
I am writing in search of material that might help me in one of my studies, in the area of prophecy. Years ago, someone suggested to me the idea that Germany equals Judah. But I have lacked sufficient material to really get into the subject. It seems like a worthwhile effort, however, since The Thirteenth Tribe (Arthur Koestler, 1976) makes an apparently convincing case that the modern Israelis are not Judah. If true, it reverses the current interpretation of some major end time prophecies. It will leave those, taught by HWA that Germany equals Assyria, shamed and embarrassed if the major bad guy turns out to be a good guy!
Have any of your readers submitted papers on the subject of Germany equals Judah? If so, can you share copies with me?
The New Testament makes clear that Jesus was a Jew, and that he "came to his own and his own received him not". The writings of Josephus and Philo as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls make it very clear that the Jews responsible for Talmudic Judaism are the clear descendants of the Jews that were alive at the time of Christ. A person who "converts" to Judaism is treated as a Jew no matter what he believers, so there may be many people from many other backgrounds now mixed in among the Jews. A branch of these Jews may have moved to Germany, but to say that those who claim to be Jews today are not is a mistake. There are Jews who were cut off from mainstream Judaism for hundreds of years that have essentially the same beliefs.
Only Farmers Tithe for Feasts?
Letter:September 26, 1998:
The Eternal did seem to command tithe for the farmer to go to the Feast, but I guess all the non-farmers were not required to go to the Feast since they were not required to tithe. I see absolutely no scriptures to indicate the festival portion of the single tithe to be allocated to non-strangers, non-widow, non-fatherless or to anyone else. The Eternal said to the farmer alone that he was to satisfy his heart’s desires with, not foot the bill for everyone else. So history gives us a clear and straightforward command from the Eternal to keep the Feast only if you are a farmer. I’m not a farmer so I don’t have to keep the Feasts.
I’m sorry to take so long to reply. I had over 5000 e-mail messages in my in-basket a month ago and many things got lost. I am now down to about 300. I do not believe you are a Servants’ News subscriber. If you would like to be, please send us your address, and we will send it to you.
If you will feel comfortable in the judgment explaining to Christ that the Bible teaches that Feasts are only for farmers, then you should not keep the Feasts (Rom 14:23).
However, I think you should consider Leviticus 23 and the other scriptures which command the keeping of the Feasts without any mention of tithes. Certainly the tithe from the land God gave had specific uses, one of which was the Feasts. But there is no scripture that says those without tithes need not keep the feasts. Indeed, those who did not keep the Passover were commanded to be "cut off" from their people (Num 9:13). There is much evidence that all Israel sometimes kept the Feast (1Kngs 8:2,65; 2Kngs 23:21; 2Chr 5:3; 7:8; 30:1,5,18). In the New Testament, Christ and his apostles were not farmers, but we have records of Feasts that they kept. The scripture certainly says that one can buy whatever food they desire at the feast (Deut 14:26). But the idea of extravagance is not in the Bible—it may have come from the poor KJV translation of this verse ("whatsoever thy soul lusteth after"), or simple human greed. Most Israelites dwelt in booths or tents, not expensive Jerusalem hotels during the Feasts. You can attend a feast without second tithe—by planning for its cost just like you plan for your food, shelter, transportation and other necessities.
Seeks Understanding on Global
Letter:February 10, 1999
Dear Mr. Norman Edwards,
I have to say at this time I have been so upset with what has been taking place in the churches, now for me in the past two and three years, starting with the Worldwide and now with Global. I was so impressed with your letters and what I have read. I have been asking for sometime now, what was the real reason for the split in Global, I felt I knew, which was really no more than a power struggle, but they never did say just what the problem was or why.
And what bothered me most was these people who were servants and shepherds of God, supposedly having understanding and walking in the spirit of God, would carry on in a carnal mind. These men break up the church and they preach to the brethren, asking the brethren to walk in the spirit, putting the load on their shoulders, asking the brethren to understand and support them as leaders of God.
I am so upset and feel so let down because I think we need to keep things in perspective (in love for God and His Word). People who are supporting His church have to be living proof of loving and walking in the spirit of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
And speaking of the spirit of God, I don’t know how anyone can grieve or could grieve the Holy Spirit more than these people who claim to be leaders have. The shepherds are having less respect and love for God and His way of life, than the sheep.
I am so grateful for what I have seen and read about the Global Church and also of Mr. Armstrong in your writings. I have been with the Worldwide and a member since the early 80’s and would not want to have missed out on anything. I have worked for and fought for understanding. But again you have explained it. Thank you so much.
Response:The basic problem is quite simple. These leaders see their church organization as "the Work of God". Therefore, they think that anything they do to help their organization is approved of God and anyone who opposes their organization is evil and their is no reason to deal with them in a Christian manner. The Bible, of course, says nothing about church organizations. I hope that these men soon realize that they will be judged for how they treat everyone, not for how they perpetuate their own organization.
Open Letter to Both the Global & Living Churches of God
Letter:January 3, 1999
I’ve read all the Letters (the garbage) from both sides, and I’m really not impressed. Neither seems to have a Christian attitude, it’s just "he said- she said". Like a bunch of little kids. Where’s the Humility that one would expect from the very ones that we are looking to for Spiritual guidance?? Anybody with a ounce of brains can see the politics involved in this whole thing.
I see what I feel is a problem that really needs to be addressed, and the sooner the better (my opinion). That of the understanding of the word "work". I think the real problem here is not totally one of Government, but one of which direction the Church should be headed! By this I mean, do we "Try" to preach the Gospel to the world (a sick and dying world, one that God does "not" care about at this time) or prepare the Church to be acceptable as the Bride of Christ??
Most (even some ministers) still think of the word "Work", in the way that it was pounded into us under Mr. Armstrong, to Preach the Gospel in all the World to the end. Where in scripture does it say this ? This is not possible!! Maybe we really need to look into what Truly constitutes the Work—what the "Work" is at this time, the END Time—what the Church should be doing at this time—where we are in time!
Mr. Armstrong ushered in the Philadelphia Era. The Philadelphia Era was given an open door according to Rev.3:7. In 1981, I think the March issue of the W.W.N. Mr. Armstrong stated something like—I think when I die, the work that God called me to do will be finished. God gave Mr. Armstrong an "Open Door" to go to (in) the World and Preach, Proclaim, and Publish, the Gospel, Rev. 3:8. In verse 7, it states "he (God) that opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens". Obviously showing that there will be a time when "He" (God) will open a Door which no one (man or otherwise) can shut, (this was the time while under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership) the other side of the coin is that God (can) will close that Door and no "man" can reopen it. At Mr. Armstrong’s death that Door was closed, and man, no matter how much he tries, will not reopen it. That door "is" closed! The Fruits produced by the Church since his death is proof enough. 13 yrs, multiple millions of dollars spent on radio and T.V., with what as a result? 45 or so people called, that had no previous contact with God’s Church! How many have been lost? At Mr. Armstrong’s death the Church (body of Christ) was approximately 135,000+- strong, now 13 yrs later, the body (in all the off-shoots) may be as high as 30,000,+-, this is a loss of over 100,000 people. Does this sound like an open Door? Does this sound like God is blessing the Church? Does this look like it is bearing fruit? I think not!
The Philadelphian "Church"?, during the Laodicean Era, has a different "work" to do! I think some of the Churches, splinter groups, right now are just spinning their wheels trying to reopen that Door. Trying to regain the membership they once had instead of moving on with job at hand. Which should be preparing the Church to be the Bride of Christ.
Now the way most seem to read the statement in Matthew 24:14 is "to Preach the Gospel to the whole World". I’ve heard this time and time again, even from H.Q., but that’s not what it says,—it says "in" all the World!! (KJV) There is no way possible, to preach the Gospel "to" the whole World, it can’t physically be done. And scripture backs this up.
First you have a scripture that states—a famine of the word, Amos 8:11, how can you have famine of the word if the gospel is preached till Christ returns? Then you have the Two Witnesses, they too, will be doing a end time work, "not" the Church. Matt 24:14 will not even be completed by the two witnesses, as it won’t be complete until after the 7th Trump! Scripture goes on to say (Rev. 10:11) that an Angel will prophesy again before, peoples, nations, and kings. Showing that an Angel at the very end will also be doing the "Work", again "not" the Church. God will not allow the Church to do something (work) He (God) has scheduled for an Angel, the two witnesses or anyone else. With this in mind how is it possible for the Church to be doing the "Work" like it was being done by Mr. Armstrong, to the very return of Jesus Christ?? Matt 24:14—states (really reads) "and this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached "in" all the world (not "to" all the world) for a witness in all nations!"—end of thought—then it goes on to say,—"after" some period (possibly years) of time !, "then the end will come".
It’s very obvious that the 50 some odd years that God used Mr. Armstrong to preach in the World, was through this open Door, and then it was closed, at his death! And no matter how hard Man (or who-ever) tries, it will not be reopened. There’s no reason to reopen it, the Gospel was taken (by Mr. Armstrong) around the world (for the first time). That’s all Matt 24:14 says: Preached "in" all the World, not "to" all the World, which again, is a physical impossibility. How about all of those who died before Christ, and all the 3rd World nations now in our time, that will never hear the Truth, or the Gospel?? There’s no way that Matt 24:14 can mean that the Church will preach the Gospel to the whole World, or till Christ returns!!
Now this is not to say that the Church shouldn’t be doing a Work, it should be warning the Ezekiel warning, and "most" importantly, "feeding the flock"!! I feel the Church (the Body of Christ) at this time should be getting itself ready to be the Bride of Christ!! This is the "work" the Philadelphians should be doing at this time! Mr. Armstrong told us many times—"I laid the foundation, now you build on it", he also said that we should be getting the spots and wrinkles out, out of what?? You only get spots and wrinkles in clothing,—if we are told we are to be the bride of Christ, it then is very obvious that the Spots and Wrinkles are in the Wedding Gown. We the Church (the Body of Christ) need to be getting these Spots and Wrinkles out!
Did Christ babysit the people or did He tell it like it was?? The people of His day either accepted what He had to say or walked away. If the Ministry keeps showing (telling) the people what to do, and when to do it, leading them by the hand so to speak, they will never be able to see what’s really going on. There are still people in Gods Church, both in Living and Global, that don’t know why they left W.W, they’re just following men. Let the chips fall where they may. When is the Church (Ministry) going to quite treating us like a bunch of Babies. "Where’s the beef?"—we need meat, not milk! For example we go to the Feast every year and spend 2/3 days being told why we are there. Then Christian living Sermons. Then they Lie to us about the conditions of the Churches so as not to offend the $$’s. Aren’t we adults? Do we need to be treated with kid gloves? I think not! If there are people in the Church that can’t handle the Truth, or what’s going on, "so be it", then they better grow up or move on. If they don’t know why they are here, they don’t belong here! There are "NO" corporations in God’s eyes, only those who have His Holy spirit and are part of the spiritual body of Christ!
The solid "Bible based" people who (are becoming fewer and fewer) do read the scriptures and discern the Truth and can easily see the error in what the Shepherds are trying to do in both the Global and the Living, and the other COGs.
These Churches, GCG, LCG, are (through their childish antics) losing those who are not well grounded in the real understanding of God’s Truth. This "is" the fault of those Shepherds, those who are too busy playing Politics, "I want to lead, No, I want to", from both sides, the Brethren are the ones who are getting the short end of the stick!
Wake up people before it’s to late!! You people need to make a decision as to where "you are" not which group to belong too! It’s time you stand up for yourselves.
Jerry D Pollock—JDP, Washington
Response:We completely agree with your observations on the lack of success of the various COG’s. The same statistic has been reported to us: the Global Church of God baptized only 45 people in over 5 years who were not friends or relatives of already existing members—even though they have spent many millions on TV and magazines. However, they have baptized over 500 relatives and friends of members. Most of these people would have been baptized whether or not their local congregation was affiliated with a big organization and whether or not it had a big-dollar "work".
We would hope that most "Church of God" brethren would realize that the Eternal is not blessing any "big work" efforts, but is, in some places, drawing people to congregations where they have friends and relatives. The worst thing about many of these local congregations is that there are so many sermons and so much debate about "loyalty" and "government", that people actually leave because there is no spiritual food for either the long-time member the new believer.
We disagree with your interpretation of Revelation 3, claiming that Herbert Armstrong’s organizations were the "church in Philadelphia". It is characterized by "brotherly love" and having a "little strength". Mr. Armstrong probably had more money and media power concentrated in one place than any other Sabbatarian group we know about. From the 1950’s onward, the organization was not characterized by brotherly love, but by the false concept that Mr. Armstrong was head of the "government of God" on earth and anyone who disagreed with his decision was disagreeing with God and should be put out of "the church" and was forever lost if they did not "repent" and come back.
Nevertheless, we agree that Mr. Armstrong’s mission has not fallen to any successor. Mr. Tkach, whom he named, reversed many of Mr. Armstrong’s doctrines and none of the other groups is growing anywhere near the way the WCG did. None of the others who claim to be his successor are doing a similar work. We believe that no one should try to repeat Armstrong’s work. His prophetic mistakes, and his non-biblical badgering of co-workers for more money are mistakes that all of us should know to avoid.
We hope those in the Church of God groups will read your letter and learn. We have talked to dozens of people who decided to drop out of both when the GCG/LCG split.