Sunday, March 10, 2013

HWA Cannot Be Accused of False Prophecies Because He Never Said He Was A Prophet

Did you know that Herbert Armstrong was NOT a false prophet?  The logic behind this is that since HWA never claimed to be "prophet" he therefore cannot be a false prophet. The Preaching
 the Gospel blog is promoting this "truth."

One of the accusations against Mr. Armstrong is that he was a false prophet who made predictions about the future that failed.

But Mr. Armstrong could not have been a false prophet because he was never a prophet at all, and he never claimed to be.

Mr. Armstrong taught, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible, believe God."

Obviously we are supposed to  believe that God did not speak to HWA at anytime.  According to the writer HWA only learned from the Bible.  I guess we should forget about his selfish six month study in a public library when he should have been out supporting his family.  Six months day and night going over scores of books in order to find his true knowledge.  In essence he spend half of a freshman year in a Bible school.  Freshman don't learn very much in 6 months of school and neither did HWA.

God gives examples in the Bible of how He communicated with His prophets. God spoke to Samuel with an audible voice, and the first time this happened, Samuel thought he was hearing the voice of a man calling him (1 Samuel 3:1-19). Christ spoke to Moses face to face (Exodus 33:11). Others experienced dreams or visions in which God spoke to them (Genesis 28:10-15, Ezekiel 1:1-3, 2:1-5, Daniel 10:1-14). Perhaps others received direct revelation from God in other ways.

But these things did not happen to Mr. Armstrong. He didn't learn the truth from God in this way. Instead, he learned the truth from the Bible, just as we should do.
Mr. Armstrong learned the doctrines he taught from the Bible, not by direct revelation from God as the prophets did. He was not a prophet.
Apparently God did not reveal to him after 1,900 years the lost knowledge that the rest of the world had no idea about.  HWA found that in a public library.  Anyone copula have found it there, but God gave HWA  special dispensation to receive certain hidden knowledge.  Only HWA had his mind opened for the knowledge, the regular church member was too stupid to receive it.

God opens our minds, those of us called by God, to be able to understand the Bible. That does not make us prophets. God also opened Mr. Armstrong's mind to understand the Bible. What is the difference between how God opened Mr. Armstrong's mind to understand and how He opens our minds? The difference is degree, not kind. God gave Mr. Armstrong spiritual gifts for the work he was to do. God gave him wisdom and understanding in learning new doctrines in the Bible without a man to guide him. I do not have that gift to the same degree and neither do most of you, I would think. I would not have learned the true doctrines just by studying the Bible alone without the teaching of Mr. Armstrong to help me find the scriptures that apply to each doctrine.

But God does give us enough help to understand the scriptures for each doctrine as we study the Bible so we can prove the doctrines Mr. Armstrong taught.

More circular reasoning:

When Mr. Armstrong speaks of his own opinion, even if he makes a dogmatic statement about doctrine or about future events, he is like Nathan telling David to go ahead and build the temple. But if Mr. Armstrong was a prophet, God would give him direct messages as he gave to Nathan when he told him that David was not to build the temple. Has God ever given Mr. Armstrong such a direct message about doctrine or prophetic events? No. Therefore Mr. Armstrong was never a prophet. Did Mr. Armstrong ever claim that he received a special message from God by a vision, a dream, a voice, or a face-to-face meeting with God? No. Therefore he never claimed to be a prophet.

HWA never made any false prophecies.  He only made mistakes:

Mr. Armstrong sometimes made mistakes when he estimated how soon prophetic events would occur. But he never claimed to receive any message from God setting dates. Otherwise, why would he say he is not a prophet if he thought or claimed that God was giving him messages? Why would he say, don't believe me, believe your Bible?

Mr. Armstrong made mistakes in estimating how soon prophetic events would occur. He was wrong in many cases when he said in his writings that something would happen "in ten to fifteen years" or something like that. He made other mistakes too. As he has pointed out, he learned the doctrines of the Church little-by-little over a long period of time, and he had to correct his mistakes.

But you could always tell in reading his literature what he was teaching from the Bible and what was his human opinion and estimate. If you followed the FIRST PRINCIPLE of his teaching, don't believe me, believe the Bible, you would not be confused and could not be deceived.

Using this reasoning it is easy to gloss over the humongous errors in the US&BC booklet from the 1960's:

When Mr. Armstrong taught, he gave his reasons, mostly from the scriptures, and if he said something that he did not prove from the Bible, then it is understood that it was his opinion, which could be mistaken. You could tell in his writings what was opinion and what was doctrine proved from scripture.

For example, I remember the front pages of Mr. Armstrong's book, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, saying something like this, " sure to happen in the next 10 to 15 years..." or something similar. I don't remember the exact number of years, but the copyright of the book was in the 1960s I think, or some date that made the statement turn out not to be true.

But those statements were not backed up with scripture in the rest of the book. That is how I knew they were Mr. Armstrong's opinion.
 I remember that some of the dates the literature either stated or implied were wrong. But Mr. Armstrong never said that God gave him any message about exact dates. The literature proved the doctrines from the Bible. Anything not backed up by scripture was understood to be opinion. That is the way I understood it. So when I saw the front of the United States in prophecy book say these events were sure to happen in a certain number of years, all I had to do was read the book, look up all the scriptures, and remember that Mr. Armstrong said, don't believe me, believe the Bible. When I did that, I saw that no scripture set any exact date, nor did Mr. Armstrong say in the book that any scripture set any exact dates. From that, it was easy to see that the statement in the front of the book about x number of years was just opinion.

If you really believe that HWA made mistakes you should remember we are not to judge, but if you still insist, then please cut him some slack!  Just count it all an honest mistake!
Before we judge Mr. Armstrong for his errors, we should remind ourselves what Christ said about judging. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2). None of us would like to be called a false teacher for the mistakes we make in the things we say or teach. And we all make mistakes.

If you see that Mr. Armstrong made a mistake, be merciful, as you want God to be merciful to you. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Cut him some slack, as they say. Just count it as an honest mistake that he made, and believe what the Bible really says.
  So there you have it.  Armstrongism was an honest mistake!  Get over it!


Anonymous said...

Mhmm. And a drunk driver cannot be accused of drunk driving because he isn't licensed to drive.


Anonymous said...

In Egypt there is no law against driving under the influence of alcohol because nobody drinks alcohol in Islamic countries.

Anonymous said...

Who wrote this, NO2? What a hoot.

Joe Moeller said...

HWA , by inference , claimed sacred holy mantles though.

He claimed to be an apostle, the endtime Elijah, and certainly did not stop nor suppress those who promoted him as either one of the two witnesses, (Gerald Watherhouse) or Zechariah, or a John the Baptist.

It is certainly true that he never promoted himself as a prophet. However, he claimed authority in the name of Jesus Christ very often , along again with the above named titles.

Thus, all the mysticism of someone who had the sacred authority and right to make the prophetic pronouncements, but with the weasel clause that "I am not a prophet".

HWA was wrong repeatedly in news event speculation. It is a documented fact.

The future for the COG should be to get away from speculative news, world politics drama, and stick to the core of personal repentance and relationship to Jesus Christ.

Why knowing when "the end is" has any bearing in the walk of a Christian is beyond me, and frankly , always has. Under Christian dogma, without Christ , you are a dead man anyway.

We all die ugly deaths. Car wrecks, cancer, heart attacks. We all face our own personal "tribulations". We dont need to pile on about the Germans raping everyone to be an additional motivator , do we?

I have found that nearly every person that came into the church because of the idea of finding "refuge" from the end times, has not endured in lasting faith towards God.

It was and is, a bad primary marketing approach. Im not against prophecy, and I do believe in Revelation and the like, but I do not see how it is relevant to the personal Christian walk, as it is something that NO ONE has any personal control over.

We are judged, and watched by the Eternal over the things we have control over in our own personal domains. When the "End" comes is not one of them.

Salvation is relationship with God, NOT trying to save ones neck from a tribulation.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Corky said...

Well, you could say the whole new testament was an honest mistake too. They clearly thought that the end of the world and Jesus' return and judgment day was imminent in their lifetime. They were merely mistaken and it was just their opinion.

But, what has been the consequences of those honest mistakes?

And, it seems that everybody forgets that it is at the end time that God makes the new covenant with his people. Since it wasn't the end time in the first century...well, then, what can you say other than it wasn't yet time for the new covenant and Jesus wasn't the bearer of the new covenant?

It was predicted, it didn't happen, and that's what people need to get over. It was just an honest mistake, get over it.

RSK said...

I've seen that excuse (or maybe "workaround" is a better term) for a few years. Since I don't read COG literature regularly its probably been around longer. (And Joe, you forgot Zerubbabel)

Just a few points to make -

1) Malachi's Elijah (the same personage/role/type/whatever) that HWA was claiming to be is explicitly described as "Elijah the prophet". So is HWA only Elijah and not a prophet for these folks?

2) As far as I know, HWA never claimed the title of "prophet" in his corpus of writings, and in later life wrote against people using the term (MOA). However, I have also often heard that he used "prophet" in the pre-"apostle" days. JohnO at the Painful Truth has an article on that very topic, claiming that HWA used the title while working with COG7.

3) The delineation of "having to see visions, etc" to be a "prophet" seems flimsy to me. Amos? Haggai? Micah? They're not recorded as seeing or hearing supernatural stuff. And then theres Gerald Flurry and Bob Thiel... ha.

4) Does it matter? It's not necessarily faith in the man himself that drives the COGs, it's the belief in the worldview, false history and tortured legalism he taught... all in the name of a deity whose existence/interest/usefulness is debatable in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Joe said: "Why knowing when "the end is" has any bearing in the walk of a Christian is beyond me, and frankly , always has."
C'mon Joe, you've been around the block enough to know this is critical to gaining a following. "The End Is Near!!! I have special knowledge about these things. If you want to save your skin, follow me! If you do, you will be the elite of the elite! Can you believe all these other idiots out there? You want to be special, don't you? Well, just follow me! Oh, and you want to save others, too, right? Then send in the dough."
Herbert Armstrong did this. Rod Meredith, Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, even the pitiful James Malm uses this technique. "I'm the only one who knows about new moons. Follow me or else you'll be keeping the wrong calendar and will be left behind with the rest of the COG scum!"
Joe, even your beloved UCG would be doing the same thing, but it seems they drove all the sociopaths to COGWA.

Anonymous said...

♥I have a crush on Corky.♥
I think mainly its the name.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

For someone who was dubbed "The End Time Elijah", we sure heard Amos 3:7 preached often from WCG pulpits in reference to "The Work" and Bible prophecy.

Amos 3:7

English Standard Version (ESV)

7 “For the Lord God does nothing
without revealing his secret
to his servants the prophets.


Anonymous said...

This guy who writes this blog is sorely misguided like plenty of those who think of HWA as more than just a man--and a very fallible man at that! I got into a debate with him back in February on his post re Don't play with fire. In the end like so many others who can't handle the truth (biblical or historical) about HWA's life and teachings they end up censoring your voice as they can't win the debate! I had posted a final comment obliterating his quasi-religious idol-worship of the man using Bible passages and primary documents of HWA's own statements and he refused to publish it! I wonder why...?

Anonymous said...

I think it's because these types of people are-- as Byker Bob put it elsewhere on another post--"trapped"! Gotta feel sorry for them as the saying goes: "There, but for the grace of God go I..."

Steve Kisack said...

Anonymous said...
"even your beloved UCG would be doing the same thing, but it seems they drove all the sociopaths to COGWA."

MY COMMENT: What do you mean, "would be"? They use and always have used the same tactics as Flurry, Pack, and Meredith. Believe me, UCG still has it's fair share of sociopaths. COGWA and UCG are two peas in the same pod. The reason some of the sociopaths are split peas is because all the peas want to be in charge.

Byker Bob said...

We've been over this one time and time again. They just don't want the latter verses of Deut. 18 to apply to their apostle. So, "they" say he never claimed to be a prophet. The, "we" say that it doesn't matter how one self-identifies, if they prophesy, by definition they are a prophet. Then "they" say, that HWA didn't prophesy, he analyzed the news from a Biblical perspective. Then, "we" say that someone should be held accountable for the lost lives of a whole generation of young people who grew up believing HWA's analysis that the tribulation would begin in 1972, with Jesus making His appearance in 1975. Then, "they" point out that these lives were not thrown away, because the people involved were in "God's True Church".

Bottom line is that the whole Armstrong movement is based on a farce. Whether you look at British Israelism, ruining the New Covenant by mixing it with the shadows of the Old, a bogus prophecy timeline, Assyrians undergoing a racial transformation to become Nordic or Aryan Germans, or the usurping of the job of the Holy Spirit to produce a cruel and intrusive government from the top down, Armstrongism is and was a bogus system, incapable of delivering a genuine spiritual experience.

Don Henley and the Eagles sang something that ACOG members could very truthfully sing: "We are all just prisoners here of our own device"


Anonymous said...

"Has God ever given Mr. Armstrong such a direct message about doctrine or prophetic events? No. Therefore Mr. Armstrong was never a prophet."

HWA claimed he got a direct message from God to build the "House of God." Read about it in the co-worker letters, I forget which one. It was the last page of an 8-page letter, November. 1979 I think.

"Did Mr. Armstrong ever claim that he received a special message from God by a vision, a dream, a voice, or a face-to-face meeting with God? No."

No, he claimed his wife had a dream that launched his ministry. Read about it in MOA. Well, I guess SHE was the false prophet! Close enough.

Further, he claimed to be an apostle. In the NT, the apostles did the prophecy, not prophets. He prophesied falsely, so he was a false apostle. Even worse than being a false prophet.

Anonymous said...

He claimed he was the end time John the Baptist, and the Bible calls John a prophet. So he claimed to be a prophet.

He claimed he was Ezekiel, and Ezekiel was a prophet, so he claimed to be a prophet.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Yeah, he also claimed to be Elijah the PROPHET.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say BB that your first paragraph sums up the entire mindset of the Armstrongists P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y!! How can we reach them when they think they have the answer for everything? And in truth they don't!! I guess they have to tell themselves these things to help them sleep at night otherwise the truth would be far too disturbing for them to deal with--even though it is the power that distinguishes between freedom on one hand and a slave on the other. They're slaves of HWA and his brainwashing and are afraid to think for themselves.

Crimson said...

Am reading Robinson's expose of HWA and just came across an insightful observation re Waterhouse that most definitely can be applied to all these Armstrong apologists:

(page 235)
"He [Waterhouse] said he had heard a rumor once and had decided to never listen to one again. If he thought [HWA] or [GTA] did anything wrong, it would destroy his faith. He just could not afford to even think any such thing. I told him the Bible said we must look to God and not tomen so much. He disagreed and left.
I think this provides an insight into Gerald's makeup and explains him as well as anything can. Since that time, the more evidence that appears and calls HWA into question, the more Gerald deifies him. It is as if his idol is in danger and he, instinctively, must protect that idol."

Methinks like all these HWA worshippers he suffered cognitive dissonance.

Velvet said...

"No, he claimed his wife had a dream that launched his ministry. Read about it in MOA"

Isn't that in the autobiography, not MoA?