Monday, March 4, 2013

Is It Wrong To Judge Herbert Armstrong?


Below are several choice comments from a blog entry that makes excuses as to why HWA should not be judged for personal failures, but only for doctrinal errors (of which he seems to have committed none.)  The standard excuse in Armstrongism is the "David Defense."  No human leader can be worse than David and his horrendous sins, yet in spite of it all God still loved and used him, and the same also applies to HWA and other COG ministers.

Is this the proper kind of thinking a person should have? What say ye?


"If I followed Mr. Armstrong's advice, don't believe me - believe the Bible, then I have already proved the doctrines I believe from the Bible. If that is the case (it is), why should I care now if Mr. Armstrong did something wrong?

What would be my motive for wanting to know? Morbid curiosity? It won't affect my faith in God, or the Bible, or the doctrines I have proved from the Bible, so why would I be interested? For the sake of gossip? To feed my vanity, to feel superior to Mr. Armstrong in some way, or to distract myself from my own sins?"

"But do I have any business judging Mr. Armstrong? Where does it say in the Bible that I have been given that job? Would I serve on a jury if I was assigned jury duty? Would I not ask for exemption based on my religious beliefs that Christ said, "judge not" (Matthew 7:1-5)? What a hypocrite I would be if I refused jury duty, yet set myself up to judge if Mr. Armstrong was guilty in one thing or another that his accusers charge him with! What he did or did not do is absolutely none of my business. Christ will judge him. I only need to check up his doctrines in the Bible and believe the Bible. And I need to respect the office he has held and obey the biblical command, "esteem them highly", referring to the ministry (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). That's kind of hard to do if I am looking for his faults. "

"Someone took an inheritance issue to Christ to resolve, but Jesus said, "who made me a judge over you?" (Luke 12:13-14). Should I not follow Christ's example? Who made me a judge of Mr. Armstrong? I will judge his doctrines, because I have to, but I don't have to judge the man himself. Christ will do that."

"I know from Mr. Armstrong's teachings and from the history of the Church that God has used him in a VERY powerful way. Mr. Armstrong has borne a lot of good fruit that far outweighs anything bad he might have done (Matthew 7:15-20). Even if he were an unrighteous sinner, I am a witness that he taught the Bible more accurately and preached the true gospel more effectively than anyone else in his time. And I do not believe he was an unrighteous sinner.

Of course he was not perfect. I don't know his faults, but God does. But the Bible shows that many servants of God had serious faults, and yet that did not prevent God from using them for His work."

"Did Mr. Armstrong ever commit adultery with another man's wife, then have that man killed to cover it up, then marry his widow? I don't think so, but David did. Did he frequent whore houses? I don't think so, but Samson did, and Samson is listed in the faith chapter of Hebrews. Did he ever tell someone his wife was his sister because he didn't trust God to protect him from those who might want his wife? Abraham did that, and Isaac too.

How many times did David, a man after God's heart, tell a lie? I already mentioned the half-truth Abraham told about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife. But look at David. When he first fled from Saul, he told the priest, "I am on the king's business", but he wasn't. The priest gave him food and a sword, then later Saul killed the priest for it. David later admitted he caused the death of God's priest (1 Samuel 20:28-42, 21:1-9, 22:6-22). Then David fled and lived with the Philistines for a while. His men and he would go out raiding various cities and villages, some of which may have been allied with the Philistines, killing all the men and women so no one would be alive to tell on him, then go back to the Philistine ruler and say, "we went raiding the cities of Judah today", or something like that (1 Samuel 27:1-12). "
"It is a deadly trap for any one of us to compare ourselves with others in the Church or to judge others if we don't have to judge them to make a decision. We end up thinking too well of ourselves when we look at the faults of others in comparison. "...But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (2 Corinthians 10:12). Judging others is a sure recipe for becoming Laodicean."

"Do you or I have a reason to judge Mr. Armstrong? Only his doctrines, and I can judge that by studying my Bible. I don't have to judge his behavior, so I will try not to. Maybe I can look at the history of how he has administrated the Church during his life, and I might look at and evaluate his mistakes in the sense of understanding how Christ is working with the Church, or in the sense of learning lessons that can be applied today, but I do not want to judge him personally as far as how he "measures up". I will just give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he did the best he could and leave it at that."
 "Now, in saying I have no right or good reason to judge Mr. Armstrong, I am not saying I think any of allegations against him have any truth in them. I am only saying that even if they might be true, I have no right or reason to try to investigate in order to judge Mr. Armstrong's personal character because it won't affect my doctrinal beliefs I have proved in the Bible. But in my opinion, Mr. Armstrong probably is not guilty of any of the sins of which he is accused."
 "So I have the assurance that, regardless of any false accusations made against Mr. Armstrong by his enemies, I do not need to be discouraged or troubled about the doctrines I have proved from the Bible, the work God has done through Mr. Armstrong, or the work that must still be done by all of us in the Church today (God has put a heavy responsibility on our shoulders, to warn the world, and we are accountable to God for how we fulfill our responsibility)."

56 comments:

Jachin said...

So by their thinking if i prove to myself that 1+1=3 as taught by prophet X and believe the holy book he uses teaches it so in spite of what others say i.e. 1) that it's totally false and proven so by the same holy book and 2) that the concept was created to furnish and feed X's personal fantasies in maintaining a certain lifestyle, cult following or status, and/or psychological control, etc. as amply demonstrated by X's own private and public life or those once closely connected to X and part of his circle of trust; then i'm forbidden to question X's authority or teachings because that would be the same as sin?

Such a mental framework is a recipe for disaster--and that's putting it mildly!--as it lends itself to cognitive dissonance and dissociation, and ultimately spiritual abuse. No one is above questioning and, therefore, judgment; especially those who claim to act as God's mouthpiece or come in His name. As St Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 the true origin of these so-called apostles or prophets will be proven over time. How? By their "works" or "fruits" (cf. Matthew 7:15-23).

In the case of HWA his legacy, "fruits" or "works"--and those who have succeeded him--has demonstrated it was ultimately of carnal men and not of God as day by day, year by year it is coming to nothing (Acts 5:38-39). If we can look at anyone else in Christendom with the benefit of hindsight like William Miller, for example, and judge the man, his teachings and the movement he gave rise to--even though he too, like HWA, admitted error (which some unwisely deem as "proof" of being a bonafide servant from God!)--then why can't we do the same when it comes to HWA and his own theology whose own church no longer exists as he founded it?!

Anonymous said...

There were false teachers in the church from the very beginning (Acts 20:28) and we were told repeatedly to judge, but not to do it as a hypocrit. I tim 3 gives the qualifications for a church leader. How many of the top people in the WCG would meet those qualifications? Above reproach? Sober?
Is there a more misused passage in the Bible than the one cited, "judge not"?
Now, just because a preacher is corrupt that does not mean that his message is necessarily corrupt. In the case of some leaders in the WCG both their message and their lives were corrupt.

G.G. said...

One goes not prove an idea true by citing false or deeply flawed evidence. You don 't prove something from the bible is true or that ideas based on the bible are true by using the bible as evidence. That is circular reasoning.

Anonymous said...

How many ministers in any church fit I Timothy's view? Not to mention any members. Would someone please name just ONE true minister for me, who is all these things? Just name one and be specific please. Where in the world are thes I Timothy folk?

Anonymous said...

please name me one true church by name.

Anonymous said...

I'm Sparticus! No, I'm Sparticus

Douglas Becker said...

Just as we should not judge L. Ron Hubbard.

Do you not know you shall judge angels? (Well, as a matter of fact, up until you mentioned that, we didn't, but what they Hoeh).

Christians are supposed to render judgment and mark those who cause division. That would certainly be Herbert Armstrong and now all the leaders of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong who have run off from the Church of God Seventh Day.

I suppose that we could apply the same principle to Ronald Weinland. Yes, yes, continue to follow a dead false prophet who gave us lies in Jesus' name and corrupted generations of innocents.

Do ignore the damage he did.

And as for the David Defense, was Herbert Armstrong a King over Israel? For heaven's sake, can you actually even say that he was a minister instead of an opportunistic ad copy writer with a huge ego and a penchant for money grubbing to live the high life off the poor to surround himself with gold, silver, crystal and evil men he associated with because they were the greats of Satan's world. He was addicted to that stuff.

By his fruit we know him: He has left chaos, confusion, division and ruined lies behind in his wake. What he has not left is the legacy he built. You'd expect that Ambassador College would survive his death but it didn't.

Hello?!!?

Could God be telling you something here (if He exists).

No matter.

I have found it profitless to continue to explain rainbows to earthworms (but continue to explain quantum mechanics to my cat, who just has to understand, since he purrs at all the right moments).

Morons.

Go learn science.

Douglas Becker said...

The Lord's Supper and the Days of Unleavened Bread are coming up shortly. It's time to do some Spring Cleaning and get the leavening out.

That means you need to get the leavening of Herbert Armstrong out of your lives. He was the man of sin, being a false prophet and all.

In order to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread properly, you will need to remove anything of Herbert Armstrong from your property and your mind. British Israelism, false prophecy, the lies of church history, heresies -- they all have to be gone.

That means that you will need to stop attending all of the spit-offs of Herbert Armstrong to escape his protesting daughters. You will have to give up the lying ministers and those who abuse true religion and abuse you. You will have to give up the addiction of listening to utter nonsense which never happened and never will.

So sweep out the leaven from the darkest recesses of your perverted minds -- perverted by that man of rebellion against God, Herbert Armstrong. Put out the love of money with which you have been tainted by associating with any part of him. Throw out "The Mystery of the Ages", "The Autobiography of Herbert Armstrong", "The Plain Truth", "The Good News" and all the other cesspool of crap you wallow in.

Be washed in the blood of Christ so you can be pure and white (and no, I don't know how that would work out, but it's supposed to -- maybe a good dry cleaning would be better).

Because if you do not put sin out of your life, you will be stuck with Herbert Armstrong forever.

Anonymous said...

so what you folks are trying to say is....that since HWA was a sinner, the bible is irrelevant.

the only way HWA's sins can negate my salvation is if I let them keep me from obeying God's instructions.

HWA's sins are between him and God....actually, that applies to everyone.

does anyone really want to say to God "I'm not going to obey you because HWA didn't" ????

c'mon folks....you're letting your hatred of a man make your lives miserable....why not look forward for a change, and be happy with the time you have left.

Joe Moeller said...

It is obvious, and self evident that the Armstrongs had lots of dysfunctions, sins, foibles and goofiness in many areas.

The biggest sin was the Church Government idea , of one man rule, autocratic , unaccountable rule. Placing themselves permanently between men and God, without any recourse.

Such is ALWAYS a road to sociopathy, in any human arena.

Well, there it is , all wrapped up for you in a tight little package. JUDGEMENT PASSED.

Well, now what do we do?

Whether HWA was good, or whether he was bad, whether we benefitted or whether we have suffered (and btw, I have been on the bad end of the WCG and its whackiness, believe me!) , there is not much benefit from this judgement once we have passed it , looked at it and realized it.

If it becomes nothing but an endless loop of thought and replay, then for us, it is a waste of the present opportunity of the NOW.

We only possess the NOW. We can regret the past, and fantasize about the future, but if we spend too much do either , the sands of time of the present just evaporate through our fingers.

Life is a strange thing, make the most of everyday and realize that the little things each day, both in discipline and delight add up over time. Ponder your last day and ask yourself... did I live it to the fullest.

I am not denying people their pain. But dont go to your end without a full cup of other thoughts, motivations, dreams, thoughts, adventures.

HWA sucks as a hobby and a past time. Realize that he never even knew YOUR name, and you likely never even spoke to him in person, even once. He is a dead man, a phantom, a menagerie, a concept, a ghost.

If you are a believer, plug into the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ. Everyone else is guaranteed to fail you, every person and that includes yourself. Dont be disillusioned when this happens for too long.

For me, what was a breakthrough in paradigm was learning to "not get mad" but instead "be fascinated". The WCG experience is indeed fascinating, and a real trip, this I confess. I am not mad any longer, but indeed only fascinated. Not all learning experiences are fun, but a learning experience it certainly was.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

DennisCDiehl said...

Joe said


For me, what was a breakthrough in paradigm was learning to "not get mad" but instead "be fascinated". The WCG experience is indeed fascinating, and a real trip, this I confess.

What's the point of judging anyone? You're never going to get it right and it isn't going to make anyone feel any better. I don't like having to play out the results of others ways of being, but that applies to me to.

I have found that even if the most high deity answered my question of "why" I would not be satisfied. I'd probably say, "why that!" It never ends.

While I have things I have to deal with and live with, I find it also a fascinating study in both myself and others.

I made my choices and back when one could not have talked me out of it. It is what it is and not accepting it is not going to hurt anyone else but me. And it does try as I might to drop it.

Maybe somehow I agreed to this experience. Maybe somehow it was provided to me to learn about myself. Perhaps I wrote this script myself (was I on drugs? lol)

But I find no sense in judging people who are now long dead. What's the point?

Ok...I judge HWA as....... Now, do I feel better? Am I better now? Do I feel better? not really....

Douglas Becker said...

Is it wrong to commit idolatry by having Herbert Armstrong as an idol?

Douglas Becker said...

Don't be distracted by the misdirection:

It's all about the fact that Herbert Armstrong taught crap.

Anonymous said...

Joe wrote, "The biggest sin[of HWA] was the Church Government idea..."

Lol, should we have a contest to see WHO guesses HWA's greatest sin?

Will it be HWA's "Church Government idea"?

Will it be that he rammed his pecker into his daughter's vagina so many times?

Will it be that he's a mass murderer?

In a way, it doesn't matter. Just because Ted Bundy, Herbert Armstrong, Charles Manson, or Adolph Hitler existed, does not mean we shouldn't have fun anyway.
Heck, most of them have been dead long enough that it's ok now to make jokes about them! And in a few years, even Dennis Luker won't be exempt!

Douglas Becker said...

One measure of Herbert Armstrong should be what proportion of members he influenced to become atheists and agnostics.

Anonymous said...

One measure of HWA should be the number of times he screwed his own daughter.

Anonymous said...

Joe wrote, "The biggest sin[of HWA] was the Church Government idea..."

His biggest sin was his false allegation that Hitler killed 6 million Jews. He used that to scare the shit out of us--we were next. But it's all crap, a pile of easily disproven bunk promulgated by the Zionist controlled USA government and news media.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, promulgating such woppers is probably why the Jews let him preach his crap on TV (which they control, and sometimes admit to controlling).

Head Usher said...

There are different types of "judging." Do I judge HWA regarding his salvation? No. (Especially since I think "salvation" is a bunch of hooey.) Do I call a spade a spade? Yes. I have to. And that means judging the enigma that was HWA--the man and his message--based upon the "fruit."

I observe that HWA was in the business of putting monkeys on other people's backs for fun and profit. When you're born into a system like WCG and it begins putting its monkey on your back from day one, it takes some work to get that monkey off. You can't get it off if you can't identify it. So I judge HWA--the man and his message--to identify both him and the many negative effects he has wrought upon my life, so that I can devalue his wrong principles, contradict his false messages, and replace them.

Having been born in WCG, there were many things I was taught to practice that did not prove to be beneficial. There were many principles that I was taught were godly principles, but when I followed them, they did not have beneficial effects. HWA was a false prophet whose fearmongering persuaded many to hold wrong expectations for the future. In these ways and more, HWA and his cronies put a monkey on my back. All for a few bucks, HWA sabotaged my life. He gave me countless bum steers, bad advice, and generally made it hard to make good decisions. My life is my responsibility and so I owe it to myself to get Armstrongism out for very practical reasons.

For example, HWA taught me to be a perfectionist through all that focus on perfect lawkeeping, perfection in symbolic things, and perfection in ritual. However, I have come to see the ways in which perfectionism, which I was taught was next to godliness by HWA, has caused me a lot of unnecessary trouble in many areas of my life, because I wrongly believed that was a "godly" principle. It isn't.

For example, HWA taught me to be an intolerant, judgmental, self-righteous bastard. He taught me to believe that I was special, that I had access to the creator of the universe, and that I had his favor, where others did not. I was taught that I possessed special, esoteric "truth" that others did not have because their minds were "darkened." I was taught that I was better than other people. I was taught to be an insufferable asshole, and to confuse that with "righteousness."

For example, I remember, even as a young child, all the kids my age at church did not see the point preparing for college. We all knew that this world wasn't going to last long enough for us to go to college anyway. We'd all be in Petra by then. What a horrible way to sabotage young lives, and for what reason? So he could con my parents out of a few bucks.

I can't make up for lost time, but I can do my best never to make these mistakes, or those of my parents again.

Also, it is a public service to tell our stories, so that others might not waste their lives falling prey to the many mental viruses that HWA spread. HWA's machine is still pumping out his garbage, laying traps for the unsuspecting, so long after his death. Oh, the man was good at what he did. He was very good at it.

Could judging HWA be merely a gripe-fest, in which I excuse my own complicity in my enslavement and pass off my responsibility to others? Yeah, it could. It might be that for some. For me, it is a healing exercise. I’m sorting through and filtering out the mental snares and harnesses HWA used to subjugate and control me. I do it because I have to take responsibility for my future. I cannot continue to do the bidding of a dead man.

Do I judge HWA? Yes I do. I judge him to clearly identify him and his message for pernicious and destructive things they were/are. I label all things Armstrong to get the monkey of Armstrongism off of my own back as well as to do my small part to ensure that the monkey of Armstrongism does not get on the backs of others.

Head Usher said...

P.S. When people say not to judge HWA, they'll always claim that the only thing they meant was that there is no benefit in just complaining that somebody dun you wrong. Not going to dispute the validity of that...

BUT...

When people say not to judge HWA, all I hear is, "Don't learn anything from your experience." I think it's a little hard to deny that this is the effect of accepting "Don't judge HWA" (or anyone else) as a rule to live by. And when you are prevented from learning from your experience, that's a control move, a setup for keeping you in the same rut, making all the same mistakes over and over, hopefully, for the rest of your life.

No one should prevent you from learning from your experience. I think it is inexcusable that people package that mental virus in a scriptural shell to suggest "god" doesn't want you to learn from your bad experiences with Armstrongism, thereby passing it right through the gaping, unguarded hole in the defenses of the religious mind.

This is why you have to be critical and think for yourself. People are constantly selling bad ideas masquerading as good ones. I think most people, most of the time, are not even aware when they're doing it. Especially since there are so many bad ideas in the bible already.

Anonymous said...

HWA and his minister were extremely judgmental themselves.

Questeruk said...

Look folks, we are talking about two different things here aren’t we. We are taking what a particular man (in this case HWA) said the bible said, and then judging what he said by looking at how he lived his life.

This isn’t done in other areas. Do we judge the laws of relativity by how Einstein lived his life? Or judge the earlier laws of motion by the way Isaac Newton lived? (There is some thought that he died a virgin, so does this possibility add weight to the accuracy of his laws do you think?)

How about Charles Darwin – do we judge the truth or not of evolution by examining the private life of Darwin.

It would be nonsense to do that.

In the same way, from an investigative point of view, what HWA taught should be judged by the Bible.

Of course what he taught had a lot to do with how he said people should live their lives, so it is valid to check if he was also living by these standards himself.

It would seem that he was not living by his standards, to some degree or another. To what degree depends who you ask. The truth is probably that some of the many accusations are true, but others are urban myths, that have multiplied in their telling over the years.

How HWA lived his life is not criteria of the truth or lack of truth of his teachings. However, it is criteria of how much, or how little, HWA may have be a hypocrite in his own life.

Head Usher said...

I disagree with Questeruk on several levels.

First, there is no such thing in practice as "the bible." There are only interpretations of the bible. Even though the text might be exactly the same (which it isn't necessarily) the Jews, the Catholics, the Protestants and the Armstrongites, are each going to be reading very different books, because they will all be interpreting that text through VERY different lenses. So, if I compare HWA's life, and/or HWA's doctrines, as viewed through an Armstrongist lens, to "the bible" also viewed through an Armstrongist lens, I am going to think HWA must have been god's very own end-time elijiah who spoke nothing but "the truth." He'll come off smelling like a rose. However, if one uses different lenses, both the man and his doctrines generally come off smelling like poo.

Next, This subject, treated properly, is NOT one big ad hominem fallacy, for several reasons. HWA claimed to be someone and something he was not. He claimed to be a conduit to god, and he claimed to possess an esoteric interpretation of the bible via that conduit which was commonly referred to as "the truth." He claimed this was available only through association with him, and that everyone else in the world could read the bible, but that god was preventing all others from understanding it. HWA was NOT who he claimed to be and did not have any special connection to any deity. So, his interpretation of the bible was not dispensed by any deity, it was plagiarized from other men and stitched together into a theological Frankenstein's monster. To compare this to Einstein, Darwin, or Newton is comparing apples and oranges. Einstein never claimed that god sent him E=mc2. Darwin never claimed that god told him that species evolved. Newton never claimed god told him about gravity. Moreover, none of them claimed that they were sent by any deity or had any connection to a supernatural source that made them and their "work" more special than anyone else. Yes, they may have been smart, famous, and had big egos, but they never claimed to be anything more than just a man, acting alone.

Finally, I will go so far as to agree for a moment, that it isn't a very meritorious line of reasoning to suggest that we should debunk what Armstrong taught based upon how he lived his life. However, Questeruk seems to be committing a fallacy of his or her own here, by setting up a straw man, painting with a broad brush, and insinuating that everyone here has been judging HWA's doctrines by his personal life. I'm certainly NOT doing that. We should judge what he taught on its own merits. IMHO, I don't see much merit in what he taught, and believe it ranged from harmless fiction to the very harmful. Please see my post above for a little more information about how being raised steeped in the principles of Armstrongism has been a detrimental force in my life.

Questeruk said...

Hi Head Usher,

You said “However, Questeruk seems to be committing a fallacy,by setting up a straw man, painting with a broad brush, and insinuating that everyone here has been judging HWA's doctrines by his personal life.”

No, not at all – the subject of this particular posting was “Is it wrong to judge Herbert Armstrong”, where NO2HWA quotes from a blog entry “that makes excuses as to why HWA should not be judged for personal failures, but only for doctrinal errors”

This is what I was commenting on, not some general thing that ‘everyone judges HWA‘s doctrines by his personal life’, which clearly is not true

Questeruk said...

Head Usher also said ‘there is no such thing in practice as "the bible." There are only interpretations of the bible’.

Again, I agree with you in a general way. Everyone here has their own idea of what the bible is. I am saying that each individual should judge HWA’s doctrines by what they read in the bible themselves. Obviously if they discount the bible anyway, then there is little point in doing this.

Having said that, there are a number of things that need little ‘interpretation’. For example, virtually all of Christianity worships on a Sunday. HWA claimed the bible does not sanction this. This puts him into a tiny minority view of what the bible says. But on this particular subject, the bible doesn’t really need any ‘interpretations’, it is pretty clear in what it says.

Byker Bob said...

I believe most of us recognize the comments of those on the blog cited as rationalization. They idolize a very flawed man, and they practice some very flawed teaching, and probably struggle inwardly themselves over these very flaws flaws every time someone calls them to attention.

We've certainly all run across people in our forum and blog experiences who would like to suppress any legitimate critique of HWA and WCG, unless we apply the standards of HWA and WCG to the discussion. Unless we see the reasonableness of that, we are said to be in the bonds of Satan, possibly even demon possessed, or at the very least, bitter.

This is yet another of the "ostrich" devices Armstrongites employ in order to maintain their sanity. Probably any number of them believe that sooner or later, we'll all realize that they were right, only won't acknowledge that they were until the second ressurrection.

BB

Anonymous said...

David was deeply repentive. HWA was not! HWA never openly in a letter or sermon openly admitted his sins. On the contrary he silenced those who exposed his sins of screwing his daughter with disfellowship or threats of disfellowship.

My question is--Would you follow the man next door as your religious leader if you knew he was having sex with his daughter for 10 years?

Would you regard him as a man "powerfully" being used by God or would you call the police and have him arrested?

Byker Bob said...

Owen Bytheway,

Is it wrong to apply Deut. 18:20-22 to Herbert W. Armstrong? I think not!

BB

Head Usher said...


In response to Questeruk:

"NO2HWA quotes from a blog entry 'that makes excuses as to why HWA should not be judged for personal failures, but only for doctrinal errors' ... This is what I was commenting on, not some general thing that ‘everyone judges HWA‘s doctrines by his personal life’, which clearly is not true."

I see, and stand corrected relative to the straw man accusation, and retract that. My other disagreements still stand.


"For example, virtually all of Christianity worships on a Sunday. HWA claimed the bible does not sanction this. This puts him into a tiny minority view of what the bible says. But on this particular subject, the bible doesn’t really need any 'interpretations,' it is pretty clear in what it says."

Yes and no. You can't treat these things so simply and assume you're going to be stating anything that holds up under scrutiny. What the bible can be made to sanction is much more malleable than you're assuming.

The Catholics do not dispute that "clear interpretation" of what you're suggesting the bible says regarding which day is the "christian sabbath." They just don't believe that's the most important thing. Instead, they believe the popes are given the authority by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 16:19 to change whatever they wish, including the day of worship. So the pope is a higher authority than the bible is. So, in this case, it's not a matter of the interpretation of a specific prooftext or set of prooftexts, but rather the prioritization of this prooftext vs. that prooftext, which is also a part of "interpretation."

The Protestants don't have the luxury of the Catholic's line of reasoning, because they reject the authority of the pope. I figure they probably ought to worship on Saturday, as you argue, but that's untenable because of 2,000 years of anti-semitic polemics. I imagine they've got to have some sort of sola scriptura schema to justify their Sunday worship as well, though I don't know what it is. The Catholics have criticized the Protestants over this point, btw.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately we do what we feel like doing, and then we basically lie, and pretend that we decided to do what we've done because because it was the obvious, rational, and sensible thing to do. The Catholics do it, the Protestants do it, and boy has it ever been done in Armstrongism.

Church Trek said...

For with what judgment HWA judged, so he shall be judged.

James said...

Head Usher wrote: Also, it is a public service to tell our stories, so that others might not waste their lives falling prey to the many mental viruses that HWA spread. HWA's machine is still pumping out his garbage, laying traps for the unsuspecting, so long after his death. Oh, the man was good at what he did. He was very good at it.'
__________________
Yes, what all of us anti-armstrongist are doing is saving others from the traps we fell into. If we can save people from ruined lives then our reward is in that!

Byker Bob said...

A kind of a nice, built-in timebomb, James, is that HWA's successors don't repent of HWA's sins. Given the increased scrutiny and deeper science of law enforcement, this practically guarantees that some of them are going to get busted, as we now know from the tragic ministry of Weinerdude. It'd be nice if they went to jail for being arrogant, thieving false teachers and false prophets, but I'll settle for their convictions for tax evasion, DUI, etc.

BB

Stan said...

Questeruk said: "Having said that, there are a number of things that need little ‘interpretation’. For example, virtually all of Christianity worships on a Sunday. HWA claimed the bible does not sanction this. This puts him into a tiny minority view of what the bible says. But on this particular subject, the bible doesn’t really need any ‘interpretations’, it is pretty clear in what it says."

I'm no longer so sure it's as clear-cut as we think it is:

One group of Christians believe Sunday is the Sabbath for NT Christians citing historical records from the 1st century onwards as evidence that early gentile Christians worshipped on Sunday in commemoration of Christ's resurrection. Sunday trading laws don't really affect first-day Sabbatarians as they acknowledge Sunday observance as a tradition rather than a command.

Another group believes that Saturday is the Sabbath for NT Christians citing the many references to the Sabbath in the OT; the silence of the NT epistles; and the references to Paul preaching on the Sabbaths in Acts; all as evidence that early Christians worshipped on Saturday not Sunday. Blue laws adversely affected seventh-day Sabbatarians in America who found it challenging to hold down a job and not work on Saturday. Nowadays the 24/7/365 day working world still makes it difficult for such Christians who believe Saturday Sabbath observance to be a command.

HWA was in the latter camp after associating with the Church of God (Seventh Day)--which was itself an offshoot of the Millerite movement. HWA also subscribed to the Adventist doctrine that Sunday was the mark of the Beast.

However, there is another small group of Christians who believe that no day is authorized as the NT day of worship. They cite the fact that the Sabbath was given as a sign of the Mosaic Covenant to the nation of Israel (not any gentile nation) while the seal (or sign) of the New Covenant is the Holy Spirit not any day; that the NT is silent about any Sabbath or Sunday observance or work conflicts; and that Paul's preaching in Acts aren't examples of him keeping the day holy, but simply using it as a day to prosyletize to the Jews at their synagogues while preaching every other day in the markets and public halls to the gentiles. This group has no issue with working on Saturdays or Sundays as they believe we are meant to worship God every day.

Deep down I really don't know, but am inclined to agree with either group 2 or 3.

Head Usher said...

I don't disagree with Stan, but the Catholics in the past have acknowledged that if they were to solely go by the bible, they would have to say that saturday is the sabbath, but that they changed it to sunday by the authority given to them by Jesus in Matthew 16:19. That might not be the only Catholic opinion though.

Anonymous said...

"so what you folks are trying to say is....that since HWA was a sinner, the bible is irrelevant."

No, the bible is irrelevant because of what is written in it.

I keep wondering who was the more moral being- HWA or the god he worshipped? After all, HWA doesn't have planetary genocide on his resume.

Paul Ray

Velvet said...

"Is it wrong to judge Herbert Armstrong?"

(Note: I haven't read the post or the comments yet am just replying to the headline.)

No. And I say this as a fully-believing member of the WCG, born and raised in the 70s-80s in the Church.

That said, Matt. 7:1 says it's wrong to judge, period.

Is it wrong to say Armstrong had faults? No, he said himself he wasn't perfect, and when I was growing up, both he and the ministers I dealt with, made it an especial point to say that he was just as much a flawed human being as anyone else.

Needless to say, the blind idol-worshippers disagreed. And continue to disagree, thus the splinter groups and Six-Pack's "He was right!" Google ads. Not all the time, Six-Pack, and that was THE POINT.

I do think it's wrong to go to the other extreme and vilify Armstrong as the devil incarnate. Watch any recent documentary on the Catholics, and yeah, there are more qualified contenders, IMO. Plus, as I've said so often before, the more you vilify the man, the more the idol-worshippers will dig in their heels and deify him even more. Which the Evangelicals in the Church use to their advantage, to try and twist peoples' heads up like pretzels.

Velvet said...

"Is it wrong to commit idolatry by having Herbert Armstrong as an idol?"

Yes. That's why the Church was punished by God and taken into captivity.

Velvet said...

And Gary, can you please muzzle the anti-Semitic Holocaust denier? Or doesn't Blogger let you block by IP address?

Velvet said...

"How HWA lived his life is not criteria of the truth or lack of truth of his teachings. However, it is criteria of how much, or how little, HWA may have be a hypocrite in his own life."

Very well put, Q, and I think that's true of ALL of us, regardless. Nice to see you again, btw.

Velvet said...

"This is yet another of the "ostrich" devices Armstrongites employ"

I also agree with Bob, and I have seen the very same idolatrous attitude of which he speaks. For good or for ill, there were attempts to discourage this. Or see any of the Feast films in the 1980s, where Armstrong said it was the work that was important, not the man who did it.

That said, I think very few in the Church really understood what that meant, until after the changes. I certainly would have fallen into the same kind of head-in-the-sand, self-righteous judgementalism, if the changes hadn't occurred, my family hadn't fallen away, and status remained quo.

Sadly, too few in the splinter groups have learned that lesson at all. And hardly anyone in the Church seems to have, as they alternate between either vilifying or deifying the man with not much of a moderate view in between the two extremes; although there are some who at least make the attempt.

Velvet said...

"The Catholics have criticized the Protestants over this point, btw."

And the Church pointed that out, for over fifty years.

Velvet said...

"This group has no issue with working on Saturdays or Sundays as they believe we are meant to worship God every day."

Right, and this is what we (who keep the Sabbath) are accused of; that we DON'T worship God every day. Which is blatantly untrue, but it makes a good-sounding argument for the professing Christians to criticize us with.

The Sabbath is to be remembered as a sign, to keep IT holy; nowhere in any verse of the Bible, "old testament" books or "new testament" books, does it say "You are to ONLY worship God on this day." In fact, the Bible says the opposite, and when I was growing up, the Church absolutely taught that we were to have a DAILY, personal relationship with God. (Which they now play down, or try to conflate with their idol-worship, but that's neither here nor there because it doesn't impact on how I choose to lead my life.)

Steve Kisack said...

Velvet said...
The Sabbath is to be remembered as a sign, to keep IT holy

MY COMMENT: Ooops! That's Old Covenant.

Questeruk said...

Hi Velvet.

Nice to see you around. I don’t think we have hit the same post since you PH days!

Byker Bob said...

Commenting on Stan's post, I tend to come in on category 3. The same type of language is used regarding perpetuity in the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants for circumcision as is used for the sabbath. Paul, with the backing of the Jerusalem Council, recognized that circumcision is of the heart under the New, and no longer a physical ritual. For any who have studied the OC, you realize that uncircumcised individuals were proscribed from participating in all of the Old Covenant worship practices.

God is described as having rested from his work (rested also could mean finished in ancient Hebrew) on the sabbath, having finished His work of the previous 6 days. Jesus finished His work on the cross at Calvary on the seventh day, and entered His rest sometime between sunset Saturday and sunrise on Sunday.

Paul speaks of a Christian's new life as his "sabbath rest". At baptism, the old self dies, and the new Christ-centered self comes to life, resting from our old sinful ways. In a sense, every single day of existence becomes part of the Christian's sabbath rest.

These spiritual concepts are very difficult to understand for those who place their primary emphasis on the physical aspects of the Old Covenant. Works are actually the good, Godly things which the Holy Spirit leads us to do for others, and the way in which we impact those around us.

BB

Questeruk said...

Byker Bob said..

“Jesus finished His work on the cross at Calvary on the seventh day, and entered His rest sometime between sunset Saturday and sunrise on Sunday.”

So Jesus was crucified on a Saturday? This obviously flies in the face of traditional COG thought, but also goes against all conventional Christian thought, as well as disagreeing with the Bible, which states that they were hurrying to bury Christ before the onset of the Sabbath.

Was this just a typo, or a new Byker Bob doctrine?

Just wondering..

RSK said...

(chuckle) I was wandering around Portland, Oregon last year and stumbled into the neighborhood that Armstrong lived in at one time (which was not intended, I just realized it when I saw several of the street names). The old "Coon Chicken Inn" was located not far from there. Wonder if he patronized it?

Velvet said...

"Jesus finished His work on the cross"

Which is where the death-cult aspect of professing Christianity comes in. Unlike the Church, which always taught that Jesus' true work BEGAN with His resurrection...and THAT is what we should celebrate on a daily basis, even as we (I mean the general we, not mean personally) are baptized through Jesus' death (through...it's transitory) and INTO His LIFE. NOT His death.

Velvet said...

Steve,

Not when the Sabbath existed before any of the covenants, it isn't.

Q,

I think our last encounter was on one of Jeff Miller's blogs (his second-to-last or third-to-last one he deleted, I forget which), at which time I was trying my best to refute his and Bill. H.'s arguments from Baptist theology, AND trying to work out the quasi-universalism I had fallen into, in my own head, at the time. Nice to see none of it stuck to you! As I recall, we were both quite stuck in, to the conversation.

Until, that is, Jeff realized he couldn't provide a justification for his arguments from the Bible, so he deleted the whole blog in a fit of pique.

Church Trek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Church Trek said...

Velvet said:
For good or for ill, there were attempts to discourage this. Or see any of the Feast films in the 1980s, where Armstrong said it was the work that was important, not the man who did it.

Kind of like how the popes would describe themselves as mere “humble servants” … while they simultaneously call themselves “Vicar of Christ” (Christ substitute), live in a palace, sit on a throne, get carried about on a litter, and have people kiss their feet all the time.

It's evident that HWA fully enjoyed and fully exploited the idolatry – occasional disclaimer aside. (As an advertising man, he may have realized how the clever use of such disclaimers would actually enhance his credibility, maintaining the illusion of choice, even as he applied the deception, abuse, and manipulation.)

Is every one (adult) responsible for his own choices? Yes.
Do leaders bear even MORE responsibility for how they lead, or mislead, others? YES.

It is impossible but that offenses will come, but woe unto him through whom they come.

Stan said...

I totally understand your points Byker Bob.

And re Velvet's comment that the Sabbath existed before any of the covenants the problem (among others) I face with category 2, which is why I am inclined to agree to a certain degree with cat. 3, is that in the Gen. account the seventh day actually starts the Sabbath, but note that unlike the other 6 days, which have a beginning and end (i.e. "there was evening and there was morning") there is no end or similar description for the seventh day. To those who subscribe to the view of cat. 3 the weekly Sabbath imposed upon the Israelites under the Mosaic Covenant was a type of the endless creation or sabbath rest that the entire world experienced prior to Adam & Eve's sin. And the prohibitions or commands for the weekly Sabbath reflect the experience that Adam & Eve would surely have had in Eden (e.g. no work, no cooking, no buying or selling, no fires, no leaving your home, no carrying loads, etc). And it is this endless sabbath rest that is alluded to in Heb 4:9-11 and Rom 8:19-23 and is found alone in Christ who promises rest for his followers (Mat 11:28-30)--rest from the rituals, routines and rigors of religion (or the "works of the law") since He has started and finished the means of salvation being the captain, and the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 2:10; 12:2). Does this mean that as NT gentile Christians we no longer need to observe any day as the Israelites and Jews did except for the Lord's Supper (be it annual or whenever we so choose)? I don't know. And another problem I face is well how did the people of Nineveh repent who were gentiles and yet saved from the destruction Jonah prophesied against them? Surely they didn't have to observe the weekly and annual sabbaths like the Jews? Surely they didn't have to be circumcised? Surely they didn't suddenly have to restrict their diet to only clean meats? So how exactly did they "repent"? Was their repentance different to the repentance a NT gentile Christian needs to go through?

Church Trek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Church Trek said...

Velvet: Er, I meant to say something like:


clever use of such disclaimers would actually enhance his credibility, maintaining the illusion of humility on his part and free choice on the part of his hearers, even as he abused their trust with deception and manipulation.

Steve Kisack said...

Velvet said...
Steve,

Not when the Sabbath existed before any of the covenants, it isn't.


MY COMMENT: The sabbath command did not come into existence until Ex. 16. That's when God was going to make His covenant with Israel. He NEVER commanded Adam and Eve to keep the sabbath. He introduced the sabbath command to Israel. They never kept it before this time. Neither did their ancestors. Prove otherwise.