Is Herbert W. Armstrong God's Prophet?
Facts Of Our Faith
“Year of Judgment”
Not a Popular Task
When we pointed out certain flaws in the teachings of another religious body, we were taken to task by some of our brethren for not just “preaching the Gospel,” leaving other matters alone. It was thought more dignified, more profitable, and less reprehensible to simply leave out references to others.
In the first place, much of the Bible – New Testament especially- is taken up refuting the beliefs of other bodies who believed in God, some of who were Christian, and others, which were simply various sects of the Jews. Of all the examples we know about, it would seem appropriate to take a cue from Paul’s writings, and from the council of elders which met in Jerusalem, and follow their example of answering problems which threaten to infect the body with false teachings.
We do not offer the evidences to be found in this tract with any sense of “glee” or “We told you so!” The Scriptures are quite clear in denouncing the practice of railing against dignitaries. We do not even hope that these matters will be the “downfall” of the work of the “Worldwide Church of God”; but if it does help bring pressure to bear in a manner to encourage them to make amends for certain false practices and teachings, we will be glad for that. If it is the Lord’s will that spots, wrinkles and blemishes be removed from those who name the (pg2) name of Christ and we are able to help accomplish that, we will have served the Lord’s purpose.
Further, since we believe that they have fallen into a trap of their own devising, no doubt quite sincerely, we hope that our efforts help in bringing them closer to God.
They have made a basic error in their orientation to prophecy which amounts for the main portion of this pitfall, consisting of mainly supposing that the English-speaking peoples are the main body of the “lost ten tribes” of Israel. Supposing that to be so, they apply many Scriptures to our own era of time which were actually fulfilled prior to the first coming of Christ, or in His first coming.
We hope that because the evidences given in this article you will take another look at the “British-Israel “teaching.”
We will not expect, n this tract, to discuss the Worldwide Church of God’s wrong doctrines as such; but rather indicate how that through flare for exciting headlines, italics, bold-faced type, capital letters, exciting pictures and “scare” tactics they have caught the attention of many people and have mislead them into support of a very obviously wrong interpretation of Scriptures. They are obviously wrong because the time has come for the fulfillment of some of their teachings – prophecies – and they simply have not come to pass.
An apologetic was offered in February, 1972 Tomorrow’s World by H.W. Armstrong in which he sought to justify the positions which have they have taken. We suggest that you read the article, beginning on page one. We would suppose it represents a far statement of their position on the matter.
Not Prophets, Not Date Setters
Two particular points we would like for you to keep in mind as you read these proofs: First, that although a disclaimer is published in the TOMORROW’S WORLD, February, 1972, for Herbert W. Armstrong’s status as prophet, this is not in accord with previous statements published as their PROOF that the work of their organization was indeed “THE VERY WORK OF GOD.” Second, that although they now are ready to say, “As of the present I, and the majority of our historians in Ambassador College, and researchers in the School of Theology, feel that it is utterly unsafe to try to set dates in regard to future prophesied events…” that HAS NOT been their position. In fact, as you will plainly see, they have put themselves in the clear position of self-condemnation for their previous statements.
Rather than an apologetic, they should have published an apology. It is not enough for them to say, “We got a bit over-enthusiastic,” but a plain statement, “We have been dreadfully wrong” would help clear the air.
“Utterly unsafe to try to set dates” – they have learned a bit from their own experiences. This is not so much because they have allowed this as a principle over the years, but it is a sad lesson which they have had to face up to IN SOME manner. They have a distance to go yet on that. It may take some hundred years or so, as has been the case with another Sabbath-keeping organization, to show how their prophetess was not actually wrong even when some of her prophecies failed. How much less work, how much more honorable, just to acknowledge quilt when one is guilty!
Others Challenged to “Be Specific”
In August, 1957, Roderick C Meredith wrote an article entitles, “America, Wake Up!” This was published in the PLAIN TRUTH. The statements following are from that article, pages 3, 5, 6:
“Where are God’s true prophets today? In this age of world chaos and sudden death, you had better rid your mind of preconceived ideas and prejudice and honestly seek to find out!” “Listen! This work has been warning America of definite and tremendous events to come for many years!”
“The popular, denominationally-supported evangelists often make statements like this: ‘I believe that God MAT use Russia to punish America for her sins.’ Or again, ‘you had better accept Jesus Christ now because he MAY come back to earth tonight, tomorrow night, or sometime very soon.’”
“They use the words ‘MAY,’ ‘COULD,’ pr ‘MIGHT.’ They are AFRAID to be DEFINITE and SPECIFIC.” “The truth of the matter is that they dare not be specific about the future because they just do not know what the Bible says is going to happen!” “But on ‘The World Tomorrow’ broadcast and in this magazine we have dared to unlock the Bible prophecies and apply them to specific nations and events that are now being affected. DO you grasp the significance of this?”
In the June, 1948 issue of this magazine, Mr. Armstrong was definite and specific on this point! On page 4 of that issue, he wrote: “No such war between Russia and the Untied States is prophesied, contrary to many who profess to understand Bible prophecy!” “Here is something TANGIBLE! It is either so or it isn’t so!” “Here is something DEFINITE! Here is something you can TEST and PROVE!”
On page five o that same article Mr. Meredith refers to earlier predictions of disease, followed by plagues or rabid animals, to take place during seven years which were to make up the punishment for the sins of America. Then on page six he says: “But in the meantime, these prophecies are REAL! They are (pg 5) DEFINITE and SPECIFIC, They WILL come to pass!” “You had better heed the warning!” “There is no other church or work on the face of this earth that either understands or dares to proclaim these vital warning signs.” “But God has said that his true ministers WILL warn the people before He intervenes in world affairs. THIS IS THE VERY WORK OF GOD!”
When Mr. Meredith challenges other religious leaders to be specific and definite he needs to be reminded of several definite, specific predictions of Mr. H.W. Armstrong’s which have failed, several even back when he penned his article extolling Mr. Armstrong. In the August-September, 1940 issue of the PLAIN TRUTH, Mr. Armstrong unequivocally declared, ‘The Italians will capture both Palestine and Egypt,” Which of course they did not do! From the December, 1956 issue of the PLAIN TRUTH, “This is now you can know who is teaching the truth today-when what he says comes to pass.” On page four of this same issue, this was stated, “China will not revolt as the nations in Eastern Europe are recently doing.” Mr. Armstrong was wrong again.
Another definite prediction for Mr. Armstrong’s which has failed regards his statement that Britain would not join the European Common Market of Nations: “Probably Germany will lead and dominate the coming United States of Europe. But Britain will be no part of it!” 1974 In Prophecy! Pages 4 and 5. : But your Bible reveals Britain will not be one of the ultimate ten nations that will untie to resurrect the finale restoration of this prophesied Roman Empire.” PLAIN TRUTH, October 1967, page 32
One Third to Die Within Fifteen Years
Garner Ted Armstrong wrote, in an article titled “America Is Losing a War,” PLAIN TRUTH, December, 1957, page 23” “Two years ago, Mr. Herman Hoeh showed in this magazine how God’s Word prophesied DISEASE EPIDEMICS would strike the United States in TWO SHORT YEARS!” “THOSE EPIDEMICS ARE BEGINNING NOW!”
“And they will grow MUCH WORSE!”
The fact of the matter is that the time within which that was predicted by them to happen has come and gone without anything (pg 6) happening which people would have though out of the ordinary, it someone had not been picking out isolated incidents claiming them to depict fulfillment! That article was written or published in 1957. Seven years later would have ended in a year no later than 1964
These statements were made by Mr. Roderick Meredith about Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s predictions, with in a context of answering the question, “Where are God’s true prophets today!” Mr. Meredith was obviously implying that the fulfillment of Mr. Armstrong’s definite predictions would establish him as a “true prophet of God.”
Mr. H.W. Armstrong, being editor of the PLAIN TRUTH, by consenting to the publication of that article was granting approval to those references of himself as a true prophet. “God prophesies that finally, within the next fifteen years, fully ONE THIRD of our whole population will die of disease and famine!” (Shall we remind-that IS specific? Add fifteen years to December, 1957 – this takes you to December, 1972. You will see in later quotations the significance they attached to the year 1972.) He continued: “While we are so weakened – with a monstrous problem of dead and dying in our lands, we will ‘call upon our ‘hired lovers’ such as Germany.” NO SUCH FAMINE OR EPIDEMIC OCCURRED!
Gospel Not To Be Preached After 1972
Rod Meredith’s article, “Man’s Greatest Battle,” printed in the PLAIN TRUTH, June, 1953, stated: “When we shall be so weakened by this terrible drought and starvation at home, our nation will be destroyed and conquered by a revival of Fascism in the coming great war.” “Now if you will add these years of famine, tribulation and captivity, they will amount to at least ten years just prior to the ending of the times of the Gentiles. That would mean that these events would probably begin about 1972, after which preaching the true gospel will no longer be possible.”
“This is a very significant date – 1972.” “It is only 19 years from 1953, the year that the ‘World Tomorrow’ broadcast first reached Europe! If you read the February issue of the ‘Good News’ you will recall that Mr. Armstrong wrote that (pg 7) January of this year, 1953, marked the completion of the first 19-year cycle which began in January 1934, when the ‘World Tomorrow’ broadcast first went on the air carrying the gospel of the Kingdom of God to North America.”
“Yes, it seems that God is allowing us another 19-year cycle to COMPLETE THE CARRYING OF HIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM TO THIS SICK AND DYING WORLD. Since the beginning of January, nearly six months of these 19 years have already passed. There is a tremendous job to be done in the very short period that lies ahead of us.” (Printed June, 1953)
U.S. OUT of Water; In Slavery, 20 Years from 1955
“Worst Weather Ever” was the title of an article written by Herman L. Hoeh, published in the October, 1955 PLAIN TRUTH, in which he warned: “God almighty has spoken through His servants the prophets that He will punish our people for their sins. He will let our own lust cause such droughts, floods, pestilence and famines that we will be totally consumed and carried away to captive to other nations as SLAVES WITHIN TWENTY YEARS.” These prophecies cannot be understood UNLESS YOU WRITE FOR MR. ARMSTRONG’S FREE BOOKLET “The United States and Great Britain.” “None of the dozens of prophecies relating to these catastrophic occurrences, already commencing have been understood because the ministers have been unwilling to admit our national identity – that the English speaking people ARE THE ‘LOST’ TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL.”
We wish to call your attention – at that point – to the fact that not just wee, but publishers of the PLAIN TRUTH also recognize that their “interpretations” of prophecy hinge upon identifying the English-speaking peoples as the Ten Lost Tribes.
Earlier that same year, in January, 1955, Mr. Hoeh wrote in an article titled “Weather Changes Threaten Disaster for the U.S.A.,” that “…it is the coming dry cycle in the early 1970’s that…ought to frighten us all! BY THE TIME rural, city and industrial demands WILL HAVE DEPLETED OUR REMAINING UNDERGROUND RESOURCES.” (Again, THAT IS rather specific! “In the early 1970’s cannot mean after 1975) “With the final drought coming unexpectedly – as most droughts do – we WILL HAVE NO RESERVE! So terrible will it become that (pg 8) ONE THIRD OF THE ENTIRE POPULATION WILL DIE OF FAMINE AND DISEASE.” These statements are found on page two if the January, 1955 PLAIN TRUTH. The “early 1970’s” have passed, and no such events have occurred!
Carried Away Captive by 1975
On page fifteen of that same January, 1956 issue, Mr. Herman Hoeh stated, “God almighty has spoken through His servants the prophets that He will punish our people for their sins. He will let our own lust cause such droughts, floods, pestilences and famines that we will be totally consumed and carried away captive to other nations as SLAVES WITHIN 20 YEARS.” That also is specific enough to understand, and clear enough to judge by the Biblical standard, and command not to fear such prophets (meaning RESPECT or ATTACH significance to their words as though true).
Not Just by His “Underlings”
It cannot be claimed by anyone of repute within their organization that only “uniformed, over-zealous underlings” were responsible for such statements. Consider what Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, himself, stated in an article titles “U.S.A. Riding to Total Collapse in 20 Short Years!: published in the PLAIN TRUTH, page 11, January, 1956: “I’ve shown you from the very word of God what is next coming in prophesied events – the famine, disease epidemic to be followed almost immediately by WORLD WAR III! It’s prophesied for 15 to 20 years or less.” Again, that is very specific – “It’s prophesied for 15 or 20 years OR LESS.” No wonder he now considers that “…the whole question of chronology is in confusion, and no one can be positively SURE of dates,” and that his commission “…is NOT to become an infallible expert on, or to preach, chronology,” and it “…is utterly unsafe to try and SET DATES in regard (pg 9) to future prophesied events.” (H.W. Armstrong’s “Personal,” TOMORROW’S WORLD, February, 1972, page 2.)
Epidemic – To Have Been April, 1958
Mr. Hoeh’s article, “Disease Epidemics Threaten U.S.A. in 2 Years,” in the PLAIN TRUTH, April 1956, page 3, stated” “Man-created PLAGUES are just around the corner! The news headlines of the pulsating present and a devastating future were written millenniums ago AS A DANGER SIGNAL and WARNING FOR US TODAY. If we would have heeded this warning, we would not have had to endure these past five years of drought and intermittent floods.”
:” If we continue to disregard this warning,” he adds, “we will find ourselves surrounded by the worst epidemics that have ever struck this generation – AND THAT BEGINNING ABOUT TWO YEARS FROM NOW.” The question arises, since those things did not happen in 1958 – nor indeed within the many years SINCE hen – was America alerted? Did America Quit sinning AND ESCAPE? Or, WERE MR. HOEH and MR. ARMSTRONG (et. al.,) SIMPLY WRONG? On page twenty –two he continued to the theme: “We are already beginning to bring upon ourselves man-made diseases. But that is not all! PLAGUES ARE COMING – and according to this prophetic warning, IN ABOUT TWO YEARS FROM NOW!” No such events occurred – instead, steady progress has been made in disease control!
Perhaps we should caution you at this point, however. Mr. H. W. Armstrong ha some very strong words to use against anyone who may disagree with him. He seems to be consistent in his condemnation of any who have disagreed with him or opposed him. Early chapters of his autobiography (pg 16) reveal his uncharitable attitude toward all who did not fall in with his ministry or who disagreed with him.
Examples of what we are talking about were several statements found in Mr. Armstrong’s article in the February 1972 issue of TOMORROW’S WORLD which we referred to early in this article. For instance, he had a very excellent article in that same issue entitled “The Tongues Question.” Many good points were made in the article. Something’s were also misrepresented in the article. But when it came time to draw a summation of what he had been saying, Mr. Armstrong has this to say: “And the greater pity is that the very ones most deceived are the ones who RESENT having the Scriptures opened to CORRECT them, to REPROVE, and to set them right! IF YOU FEEL RESENTMENT OF THESE WORDS, IT IS THE SUREST BIBLE EVIDENCE THAT YOU ARE UNDER THE DECEPTIVE POWER OF SATAN< THE DEVIL< AND YOU SHOULD FLEE THE INFLUENCE HE HAS OVER YOU, and ask God to renew a RIGHT spirit within you.” TOMORROW’S WORLD, February 1972, page 29, col. 2, 3.
In other words, to disagree with Mr. Armstrong is to be deceived of the devil; but when Mr. Armstrong makes mistakes, he is just “still human,” by his own admission. A very untenable position, to refuse to be judged by the same standards used for others, but God will not allow such double standard: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” Matthew 7:2
From the same issue of TOMORROW’S WORLD, is another example of Mr. Armstrong’s attitude toward those who have disagreed with him. On page three he says, “There were at least two occasions when I was accused by hostile women, bent on discrediting me, or error. On more thorough research, in these two instances, I discovered I had unknowingly been in error – and they were correct. Humiliating or not, I openly and publicly corrected these errors at once.”TOMORROW’S WORLD, February 1972, page three. Notice that Mr. Armstrong interprets criticism as meaning that people are out to destroy his work or discredit him.
How does Mr. Armstrong prove for our benefit that these ladies were in fact “hostile,” people who were only out to (pg 17) “discredit him? How does he know that they were not just indignant at his teachings? In this same quotation he admits that he had been “ignorantly” teaching false doctrines. Why the need to slander these ladies, who had done enough Bible Study to know the true from the false, just because they had pointed out his errors?
True humility requires that one admit one’s own mistakes without trying to impugn the motives of those who point out errors.
In this same issue of TOMORROW’S WORLD, is another example of Mr. Armstrong’s attitude toward those who disagree with him: “We do not set dates!” “Yet, in out human zeal and enthusiasm for getting this greatest mission on earth done, we have a few times come close to or appeared to – and that we deeply regret.” “emphatically, it we-in our dedicated enthusiastic ZEAL to get God’s WARNING of the end of mankind’s world before this sick, sick world-DO, even though we intend not to, appear to set a date, I FEEL I DO NOT NEED TO APOLOGIZE! No one but the enemies of ALL GOOD will accuse!” TOMORROW’S WORLD February 1972 pages 30, 31.