Exit and Support Network

Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)

By Kelly Marshall

 

Chapter Six - Mystery of the Church (Pt. 5 of 5)

SEVEN ERAS OF THE CHURCH

Another fable generated by HWA is the belief of the "Seven Church Eras"29 listed in the second and third chapters of Revelation. Every Bible-based cult has their "sacred myths" and "sacred roots" and this teaching is another example. HWA will trace his present day organization back to the original church through these "eras."

The unwary reader does not understand the significance of these "church eras" until he becomes a convert. Once in the organization, he will learn that this present era is considered "Philadelphian." This Philadelphian era was commissioned by HWA to "finish the Work" in order for Christ to return. The convert will be trapped, in stages, to a grueling "financial plan" that will supposedly support this "End Time Work." What began as a work "supported through voluntary contributions of the members and co-workers" has now become a burdensome obligation, lest one be accused of "stealing from God." HWA will also extrapolate his sole authority from this era as the one that Christ had set before an open door that "no man can shut." Following the Philadelphian era is the Laodicean era. During the Laodicean era, those members who are lukewarm, will not "qualify" to go to the place of safety, and will be left behind to suffer through the Great Tribulation. Needless to say, converts will be suckered into adopting this erroneous view out of fear. Again the options are narrowed: Either be a Philadelphian (and be part of the most blessed era by funding it) or be a Laodicean (and suffer agonizing pain).

Ephesian Era

Let us return and closely examine each of these eras to see whether HWA's theory stands up to scrutiny. Once again, the reader will think he is being given detailed and thorough knowledge of biblical history, but upon closer examination, the opposite will be proven true. HWA claims that:

The history of the Church would fall into seven distinct eras—each with its own strengths and weaknesses and its own special trials and problems. (p. 283)

With an introduction like that, one would think that HWA would provide all the information one would need in order to prove him true. Let's see how "distinct" this information is when it comes to revealing these particular eras:

Some time during the early decades of the second century, the baton was passed from the Ephesian era to the people that God had called to the Smyrna era of his Church.
Powerless, often persecuted, and rejected as heretics, the world lost sight of them. (p. 283)

Curiously, HWA mentions that the baton passed from the Ephesian era to the Smyrna era during the early decades of the 2nd century, but gives no specific identities of the groups from which this "baton exchange" had occurred. If the eras are so distinct, why is HWA so vague? Why does he not reveal the names of specific groups and give specific dates? He avoids mentioning names until he arrives at Peter Waldo, three church eras and ten centuries later. So enraptured is the reader concerning the significance of the "seven eras" that he scarcely noticed that HWA glossed over a millennia of historical data! But this matters little to HWA—he is looking for those who believe in him and will take him at his word.

If the Ephesian era of the church is the first era, then it is important to ask when was the church founded? HWA informs readers that the church was founded in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 31 (pp. 233, 283), when the Holy Spirit came (Acts 2:1-4). One would think this first church era would plainly be named the "Jerusalem era" of the church, but historical inconsistencies never stopped HWA from declaring them as fact, especially if it plays to his advantage. Why does he avoid giving information about the churches that these verses in Revelation are actually referring to? Simply because the reader would discover that the history of the church was never really lost, which would, in turn, debunk his myths.

Smyrna Era

No specific details are given concerning the Smyrna church either. HWA simply marches forward two hundred years to A.D. 365, quoting the decree from the Catholic Council of Laodicea.

This decree of A.D. 365 definitely shows that there were true Christians observing the Sabbath.
The small remnant of Christians of the Smyrna era fled once more—to seek the religious freedom they needed to practice their beliefs.
They left few records. Occasionally they appear as a footnote of history, rejected as heretics, ridiculed, and hounded by their enemies. (pp. 284-285)

HWA informs readers that the Smyrna age began around A.D. 110-130 (sometime during the early decades of the second century) and after the Council of Laodicea in A.D. 365, the Smyrna Christians fled. Carefully note the complete lack of details and footnotes to corroborate these claims. Why doesn't he reveal this little "footnote of history"? If these "facts" are indeed historical, then HWA should be excited to share them with his readers. Below, we have supplied the full quote of the "famous canon" of the Catholic Council of Laodicea. The red type is the quote found in the MOA, and the bold type is what HWA conveniently omitted:

THE CANONS OF THE SYNOD OF LAODICEA IN PHRYGIA PACATIANA

CANON XXIX.

CHRISTIANS must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ. (Canon XXIX)

Why can't HWA give a simple historical quote without tampering with it? He didn't bother inserting the usual ellipses ("…") to show that this information was omitted. Evidently he altered this decree to make it sound more sensational than it actually was, giving the impression of a state-enforced, strict Sunday observance.

Since HWA frequently quotes Philip Schaff, a renowned church historian, let's see what else was written concerning this decree that HWA conveniently omitted:

Notes:

ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXIX.

A Christian shall not stop work on the Sabbath, but on the Lord's Day.

BALSAMON.

Here the Fathers order that no one of the faithful shall stop work on the Sabbath as do the Jews, but that they should honour the Lord's Day, on account of the Lord's resurrection, and that on that day they should abstain from manual labour and go to church. But thus abstaining from work on Sunday they do not lay down as a necessity, but they add, "if they can." For if through need or any other necessity anyone worked on the Lord's day this was not reckoned against him. (Canon XXIX)

Notice the clear distinction between Christians (the faithful) and the Jews (not to be confused with Jewish believers). Historians have documented the vehemence of the Jews against the Messiah (the early church fathers also bear record to this). This is one of the reasons for the purposeful distinctions placed between the believer and the Jew in this particular canon. The Jews do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Savior, they do not acknowledge His Resurrection; therefore, they do not recognize the authority of the Sunday remembrance of His Resurrection. They still keep the Sabbath and wait for the Messiah to come.

Does being anathematized from the church mean an automatic death sentence? During this Laodicean Council, several decrees were made that could get one anathematized (see Canons 34, 35 and 36), but HWA does not mention this.

Canon XXXIV
No Christian shall forsake the martyrs of Christ, and turn to false martyrs, that is, to those of the heretics, or those who formerly were heretics; for they are aliens from God. Let those, therefore, who go after them, be anathema.
Canon XXXV
Christians must not forsake the Church of God, and go away and invoke angels and gather assemblies, which things are forbidden. If, therefore, anyone shall be found engaged in this covert idolatry, let him be anathema; for he has forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and has gone over to idolatry.
Canon XXXVI
They who are of the priesthood, or of the clergy, shall not be magicians, enchanters, mathematicians, or astrologers; nor shall they make what are called amulets, which are chains for their own souls. And those who wear such, we command to be cast out of the Church.

In Canon 34 and 35, we see other conditions for being declared "anathema." The tone of these two Canons in comparison to the tone of Canon 36, appear to be less reprimanding. In Canon 36, the punishment of the clergy for engaging in the magical arts is severe—they are "cast out of the Church." So being anathematized may have gotten one excommunicated, but the door of repentance, reconciliation and restoration remained open. The clergy did not seem to have this option since they were "learned" shepherds and should know better than to engage in sorcery. Their punishment was harsh and appears to be permanent.

Although HWA claims that Canon 29 caused these "Judaizers" to be tortured, or put to death, he gives no historical data to back this claim! Had there been such an event, it would not have escaped the attention of historians, and HWA would have readily seized the opportunity to bring this to everyone's attention. But as usual, the silence speaks volumes. After charging hateful murders to the established church (without giving proof), HWA simply skips along to his summary of this canon: "This decree shows that there were true Christians observing the Sabbath." (p. 284-285) HWA qualifies "true Christians" as those who "observe the Sabbath" and not as those who "believe in Christ as Savior."

There are other interesting points that HWA failed to bring to his members' attention. There were over 50 canons declared during this Council of Laodicea. If the established church wanted to stamp out any vestiges of religious activities on the Sabbath day (the word "Saturday" in brackets is not mine but in the original), then let's look at Canons 16, 49 and 51:

Canon XVI
The Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath [i.e. Saturday], with the other Scriptures.
Canon XLIX
During Lent the Bread must not be offered except on the Sabbath Day and on the Lord's Day only.
Canon LI
The nativities of Martyrs are not to be celebrated in Lent, but commemorations of the holy Martyrs are to be made on the Sabbaths and Lord's days.

From these Canons, we can easily ascertain that religious observances were not completely banned on the Sabbath. Why didn't HWA bring this to the reader's attention? In Canon 29 (the one partially quoted in the MOA), Christians were not limited to, nor commanded to a "strict Sunday observance." What was banned was the practice of Judaizing—declaring that one must practice the Jewish law in order to be saved! Judaizers not only held to a strict Sabbath observance (and demanded others do the same), but they also held to circumcision, and other Jewish practices. HWA wanted his readers to believe that Sabbath-keepers were the "true Christians," but did not distinguish between "Christians" and "Judaizers," because to him, they were one and the same. He did not qualify Christians as "believers in Christ," but clearly alleged true Christians were "believers in Judaism"!

The Gentile churches were faithful to the teachings of Paul, making it clear that Sunday would be kept as the Lord's Day in honor of His Resurrection. This practice is in harmony with the early church fathers (of whom HWA avoids quoting). HWA purposefully wanted to depict a "blood-thirsty, Sunday-keeping, false Church" that would execute "true Christians" for "being faithful to the Sabbath" (which is not the same as being faithful to Christ—one is faithful to a "day," the other is faithful to the "Savior"). All this is done in order to continually provoke an emotional response in the reader so he would side with the "faithful underdogs" and jump on the bandwagon with HWA.

Pergamos Era

Continuing with the Smyrna church passing the baton, HWA paints a picture of valiant heroism by the faithful few in the Pergamos era (p. 285):

And so the baton was passed from the Smyrna Christians to those of the Pergamos era.
These had been called to carry the truth through one of history's most difficult periods—the Dark Ages.
But they were never far from the threat of persecution and martyrdom.
And so very few of the Pergamos Christians remained faithful. One thousand years after Jesus had founded his Church, the exhausted remnant of the Pergamos era handed over the baton.

Once again, there are no specific details given. HWA glibly jumps forward from the Council of Laodicea (365 A.D.) to the Dark Ages and pronounces this period as the Pergamos era. (HWA does not supply any dates, but history records this as the time from 410-800 A.D.) From here, he jumps forward again to "a thousand years after Jesus had founded his Church" and states that the "exhausted Pergamos era handed over the baton." Once again, observe the complete lack of dates or details. If HWA knew that there were martyrs during this period, then who were they? Who are these "very few" that remained faithful? Why doesn't he name them? He had to have had some group in mind, or he would not have made this statement. But details (let alone accurate information) matter little to HWA. He is too busy perpetuating his sacred myths to be bothered with details.

Thyatiran Era

Somewhere around 1000 A.D., the Pergamos era hands over the baton to the Thyatiran era. Of this era, HWA says:

The Thyatiran era got off to a vigorous start, preaching repentance throughout the Alpine Valleys of Southern France and Northern Italy. Many heard and were converted.
The religious authorities quickly reacted to this challenge. Leaders of the true Church were arrested. Some were martyred.
After the death of its first leaders, the Church went into a temporary decline—but emerged once more under the dynamic leadership of Peter Waldo. For several years in the 12th century, these Waldensians flourished in the Alpine Valleys, preaching what truth they had. Booklets and articles were written and copied by hand. This was still before the days of printing. (pp. 285-286)
But once again, persecution followed, as the full force of the Inquisition was felt in the peaceful valleys that had once provided a safe haven for the work of God.

Once again, witness the lack of corroboration to these claims. Why can't HWA give the names of the leaders that were martyred? Where are the dates? If they "got off to a vigorous start" then who were these hardy members? The reader must wait another two hundred years before HWA reveals the name of Peter Waldo in the 12th century. Finally, HWA gives a name and a date—but not without an interesting qualifier. HWA quickly inserts that these Waldensians preached "what truth they had." Why would HWA make this peculiar statement? Finally revealing a name and date, HWA knew that history buffs would look this up and question why there weren't any similar teachings between the Waldensians and his church.

The Inquisition began in 1232, but HWA doesn't offer up any historical details, let alone the date. He simply jumps forward to the 15th-16th centuries (another date he doesn't reveal) to the Protestant Reformation stating that it "broke the monopoly of the Church of Rome." Whizzing past this significant piece of history, he jumps into the 17th century England, which he states "Jesus was raising up the fifth era of his church— Sardis. (In the book Daughter of Babylon: The True History of the Worldwide Church of God, Bruce Renehan details in chapter 9 and chapter 10, the discoveries he had made concerning Stephen Mumford and Roger Williams.) (Note that ESN does not endorse the atheistic views on this website.)

Sardis Era

Now church history gets very interesting as HWA begins to give a few details. Remember, it's what HWA doesn't say that's more important than what he does say. HWA states that William Miller was part of this Sardis era in the mid-1800s. William Miller was a false prophet—not a single one of his prophecies came to pass. Why would HWA consider him part of the true Church? Then he mentions Ellen G. White and some of her bizarre doctrines, but fails to mention that she also was a false prophetess. (See the chart: Worldwide Church of God Roots.) Why would God trace His church through false prophets? A true church can't hold false beliefs, let alone a false prophet at the helm. But that doesn't faze HWA. Without skipping a beat, he runs along, evading important details, into the 19th century to his church, where the baton will now be exchanged from the Sardis era to the Philadelphian era.

Philadelphian Era

Once at the Philadelphia era, the focus will now be turned back to HWA as he invokes the "principle of duality" to interpret the Greek word aggelos:

This word angel is translated from the Greek aggelos means messenger or agent. This is not necessarily always referring to a spirit angel but can refer as well to a human agent. It is possible that God's principle of duality may apply here. (p. 289)
Or it may also apply to the human messenger or agent God has raised up to lead this era of his Church. (p. 290)
It may apply to the Church of this era as a whole, and also it could apply to the human leader God had raised up to this ear of his Church. (p. 290)
To this era—or to its human leader—God had set before it an open door. (p. 290)
The human leader to be raised up somewhat shortly prior to Christ's Second Coming was to prepare the way —prepare the Church—for Christ's coming…(p. 290)

The set-ups get easier to discern. HWA has appointed himself as this special "human leader" that was to prepare the way for Christ's coming. Is anybody really surprised? He appropriated all the authority and privileges of the Philadelphian church described in Revelation 3:7-12. Of course, many of the splinter groups today want to believe that they, too, are this dynamic Philadelphian church—and certainly none of them are calling themselves the Laodicean church!

Laodicean Era—Any Volunteers?

Even though HWA lists the Seven Church Eras by name at the beginning of this section, he never expounds upon the seventh and final era—the Laodicean Era. HWA has the reader so absorbed in the Philadelphian era, and on himself as the special "human messenger" of this era, that he never notices absolutely nothing is written in this chapter about the final era of the church! As we have shown throughout this review, when it comes to HWA, what the reader doesn't know can hurt him. There are two reasons why HWA never gives details about this particular era. The first reason is that he made members believe that he was going to lead them to the place of safety before the Great Tribulation began. He was seen as a type of Moses who would lead his people to the promised land (the World Tomorrow). Just as Moses journeyed through the wilderness with the children of Israel, members would journey with HWA (and HQ's personnel) to the wilderness of Petra, where they would undergo their "final training" while awaiting for the returning of Christ. Those in the Philadelphian era were considered "worthy to escape" the coming worldwide destruction—if they "qualified." Of course, HWA died in 1986 and none of these prophecies ever transpired.

The second reason is that HWA used this Laodicean era as a type of punishment. Those who didn't support HWA financially, who were "lukewarm" and not "on fire" for the Work, would be left behind when it came time to "flee." These "worldly" members would comprise the Laodicean church and would have to suffer through the Great Tribulation. The Laodicean Era is looked upon with contempt. This is why nobody wants to be a part of this era, and precisely why the various splinters refuse to acknowledge themselves as the "next era"! They try to justify their "defection" from the mother church by using HWA's personal example when he defected from the Sardis church in Oregon. But what they failed to see is that HWA claimed that the Sardis era ended and the Philadelphian era began when he defected. If they are truly following HWA's example, these splinters need to see that their defection signals the beginning of the Laodicean era!

Calling the original parent church that HWA founded as the present Laodicean church, the splinter groups fail to explain how the church eras have fallen out of sequence. The baton is supposed to be handed from the Philadelphian church to the Laodicean church. But the splinters are claiming that the Philadelphian church era of HWA has now become Laodicean, becoming the only church era that has handed the baton back to themselves! [Read: Is the Philadelphia Church of God Now the Laodicean Church?] The splinters are reluctant to admit that this baton has to be passed forward (according to HWA's historical accounts) to the next generation. Here, we see the splinters taking the Philadelphian baton forward and passing the Laodicean baton backward! Why? Because none of them want to bear the description of "lukewarm, wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked"!! How do you recruit people into that kind of a group?

HWA also proclaimed that there is only one church, but the splinters ignore that there are many groups today who are claiming to be this Philadelphian era. There are virtually hundreds of Philadelphian batons being carried. If one believes the claim, they are going to have to figure out which one is the real one, since they all claim to be it. Once again, HWA's theory has crumbled.

When speaking of the original apostles, HWA makes his readers believe that although they would be astonished at the size and scope of the Work, other things would be surprisingly familiar:

But some things would not be strange —the Sabbath and Holy Days, the name, the Church of God, and the gospel of the kingdom—these they would recognize—handed down through the ages from the time of Christ to the end of time. (p. 292)

On the last page of this chapter, HWA claims that, "the name, the Church of God [has been] handed down through the ages from the time of Christ to the end of time." This is clearly not the case and neither did HWA give concrete proof of this. HWA never once has shown an unbroken continuation of the name "Church of God" through these seven church eras. He quoted twelve Scriptures on pages 248-249 showing the name "Church of God" as proof of the "one true church," and then thirty-four pages later, he used the name "Church of God" when speaking of his fledgling church in Oregon. He simply let our imaginations fill in what wasn't there! Go back and read the section about the Seven Church Eras (pages 282-288) and you will not see him once give any proof that these groups handed down the name "Church of God" through history. He so enraptured readers with the heroic story of the "passing of the baton" that they failed to notice the missing details!

It is interesting to note that HWA does not invite readers to write away for a booklet that gives concrete proof that his church has descended from these eras. Why didn't the WCG print a booklet called "The Seven Eras of the True Church"? If this information is truly factual, then HWA would have undoubtedly printed such a booklet (and distributed it for FREE to every household at the Feast). Is there a real reason why a booklet of this importance never existed? Certainly, every other subject under the sun was written about—from nutrition, marriage, child-rearing, doctrines, and every "mystery" covered in the MOA—but not a specific booklet concerning the seven eras. Why? Because HWA did not get this privy information from the mouth of Jesus, but from his past associates in the Church of God 7th Day. None who entered the WCG during the early 1980s were aware of a big skeleton hiding in the WCG's dark closet of deceit. In 1959, church "historian" Herman Hoeh, wrote a booklet entitled, A True History of the True Church. The historical information in this booklet by Hoeh was stolen from HWA's ex-affiliates, A. N. Dugger and C.O. Dodd (See chart: Roots of Worldwide Church of God). In 1936 Dugger and Dodd published "A History of the True Church"30 , over two decades before Hoeh published his booklet with a similar title. Since this booklet was proven fictitious—even publicly denounced by HWA's son, Garner Ted,31 it was quietly dropped from publication, unbeknownst to the general membership. Instead, HWA heavily promoted and perpetuated this myth to the members through "church history" sermons, even producing a video shown at the Feast of Tabernacles depicting scenes with the "passing of the baton." Not wanting to come under public scrutiny, nor wanting to abandon this sacred myth (which was very useful in keeping the members focused on him as the undisputed carrier of the Philadelphian baton), HWA cleverly provided a "sanitized" version in the MOA.

When Ronald Kelly ran a 12-part series in The Plain Truth magazine in 1990-1991 about the history of the "true church" and the seven eras, the WCG received outcries for their inaccurate information and outright falsifications. Kelly had to provide historical details for these articles, which, in turn, were easily proven false. (See Bruce Renehan's book: Daughter of Babylon, The True History of the Worldwide Church of God).

It is also of great interest to note that HWA plainly states on the very first page of this chapter that "the true gospel hadn't been preached from 50A.D. until 1953." If this statement is true, then why is HWA bothering to trace his church's roots back through these eras? If the true gospel wasn't preached until 1953, then what gospel was Peter Waldo preaching? What gospel was William Miller and Ellen G. White preaching? If HWA charged "traditional Christianity" for preaching a false gospel, how are they any different than Waldo, Miller, and White? According to HWA, it was all a false gospel until 1953! The "seven Church eras" is just another example of where HWA adds in more complicated details to keep the reader preoccupied and confused.

When one gives their trust and allegiance to an organization, they are subject to the fickle and arbitrary man-made rules. When one gives their trust and allegiance to Jesus Christ, they are subject to a loving Savior that never changes. One only needs to look at all the endless requirements placed on the convert by HWA's "enlightened" government. Thus far in the MOA, we have seen how one must change their diet, their dress, the way they spend their free time and money, spurning the medical establishment, the cross, adopting a whole new belief system, isolating themselves from society, believe in a false history and a false gospel, etc. so one day they can become God as God is God9 (and there is no guarantee of this). HWA has been proven a con man and a liar, misrepresenting traditional doctrines, misquoting resources, and outright lying about history and his own roots for his own financial gain. Instead of the simplicity of the gospel, Herbert Armstrong has lead the reader into the twisted labyrinth of lies, confusing him at each and every turn, until he consigns himself to completely trust his evil guide.

By Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
June 2005
Updated February 21, 2014

Next to MOA Chapter Seven

Pt. 1 | Pt. 2 | Pt. 3 | Pt. 4 | Pt. 5

Preface | Intro | Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5 | Chap. 6 | Chap 7

Footnotes for Chapter Six:

1 Some prefer the word "target" instead of "victim" which denotes powerlessness. Tim Field, author of Bully in Sight has this to say: "The word 'victim' allows disingenuous people to tap into and stimulate other people's misconceptions and prejudices of victimhood. 'Target' correctly identifies that it is the choice of the bully to bully, it is not the choice of the target to be targeted." Read: From Victim to Survivor (Take Back the Power).

2 Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1966, Lesson 15, p. 3.

3 The Incredible Human Potential, Herbert W. Armstrong, 1978, p. 72.

4 "Man is FLESH and BLOOD—composed wholly of MATTER—and that living matter IS a living soul." (Ibid. p. 72.)

5 Ibid. p. 71.

6 Ibid. p. 164.

7 Ibid. p. 67.

8 "...the Son of God, (was) no longer human, but composed of SPIRIT—a Spirit Being. ... Christ's body did disappear. Christ was raised as a divine spirit being!" (Reprint of WCG article "If You Die…Will You Live Again?" Herbert W. Armstrong, p. 5.)

9 "The purpose of your being alive is that finally you be born into the Kingdom of God, when you will actually be God, even as Jesus was and is God, and His Father, a different Person, also is God! You are setting out on a training to become creator--to become God!" (Why Were You Born? Herbert W. Armstrong, pp. 21,22)

"In man is God reproducing himself. We shall be as much God as God Himself is God, a God Family. God the Father will always be at the head of that whole Family. Jesus Christ will always be next in that Family. The rest of us at the resurrection, at the time of the Second Coming of Christ, will be the Bride marrying Him." (Transformed by Truth, Joseph Tkach, Jr. quoting Herbert Armstrong, p. 153) The footnote given in the back of TBT for this quote of HWA's was: Armstrong, "CONGRESS OF LEADING MINISTERS," 2.

"The PURPOSE of life is that in us God is really re-creating His own kind—reproducing Himself after His own kind— ...we shall be instantaneously CHANGED from mortal to immortal—we shall then be BORN of God—WE SHALL THEN BE GOD! ...The PURPOSE of your being alive is that finally you will be BORN into the Kingdom of God, when you will actually BE GOD!..."What it means to be glorified...brought to the very rank of God." ("Plan of God," Herbert W. Armstrong, Feast of Tabernacles, Big Sandy, October 1957)

"And the second thing to be restored is the PURPOSE of God. And the gospel has to do with that. That God IS reproducing us and that MAN CAN BECOME God!" ("Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era," sermon given by Herbert W. Armstrong on December 17, 1983.)

"This great false church is going to be made to come and worship at the feet of the saints who at that time will be gods." (Richard Frankel, Worldwide Church of God sermon, "Petra," November 8, 1980. [Copy of sermon with ESN])

"You are destined to become God! Shocking? Unbelievable? If you understand the purpose of God's government, you will not be surprised... God is in the process of reproducing Himself in you! ... You will be what he is--God." (Good News, Nov./Dec. 1988, p. 5)

"God is a family: God is reproducing Himself and man was created to literally become God." (What It Means to Be Equal with God, p. 43.) "We were born for the express purpose of literally becoming equal with the Creator of the universe...(Tomorrow's World, April 1971, "What It Means To Be Equal With God," Robert L. Kuhn, p. 43, 44.)

Note: Referring to the previous quote in Tomorrow's World by Robert L. Kuhn, Dr. Robert L. Sumner says, "Yet Kuhn backs off and says he really doesn't mean what he is saying. He [Kuhn] wrote: 'When mankind is promised to be made 'equal with God,' that of course means that individual human beings will eventually become qualitatively equal with God—and obviously does not mean that individual human beings will eventually become quantitatively equal with either God the Father or Jesus Christ. Being 'equal with God' only means that we will be in the same God Family...and has nothing to do with an equality of power, authority, intelligence, etc. with the family.' " (Ibid., p. 44). Dr. Sumner goes on to say, "So this is a horse of a different color and the equality offered is divided between what he calls qualitative and quantitative.' " (Armstrongism: The "Worldwide Church of God" Examined in the Searching Light of Scripture, Robert L. Sumner, 1974, pp. 126-127.)

NOTE FROM ESN: To believe that we will "be God as God is God," is an occult/New Age teaching. See our article: Did Herbert Armstrong Have God's Truth?

10 The Incredible Human Potential, Herbert W. Armstrong, 1978, p. 72.

11 "...God will provide a SPIRIT BODY, formed and shaped by the Spirit mold. The resurrected being will be COMPOSED of SPIRIT, not matter as the human model was. In the resurrected SPIRIT form he will suddenly come ALIVE. It will seem like the next flash of a second from his loss of consciousness at time of death. He will have all his memory intact. He will look as he did in human life in form and shape. Even his fingerprints will be the same." (Ibid., p. 87.)

12 The Great Doctrines of the Bible, 1974, p. 154.

13 Ibid. p. 155

14 Charles Hunting, former Worldwide Church of God evangelist, discussed this and other double standards of Herbert Armstrong on The Clyde Thomas Show, WKIS, Orlando, FL, 1988. Read this part in "History of the Worldwide Church of God" which tells how HWA and other evangelists were seeing doctors and taking medicine while forbidding members to do so and see: Herbert Armstrong Received a Bag of Medicine and Had a Parade of Doctors (Letter to ESN from an area sales manager who worked for a pharmaceutical company at the time)

15 Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses, Bill and Joan Cetnar, 1983, p. 13. [Note: In his book, De Cruse Liber Primus & De Cruse Liber Secundus, Justus Lipsius documents his research by quoting many of the early church Fathers.]

16 The Watchtower Society's Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is distributed to members training for field work and is not available to the general public.

17 This is known as the bait and switch tactic. It is characteristic of destructive religious groups.

18 Basil Wolverton (a comic artist and WCG elder) was behind the grotesque and horrifying pictures in 1975 in Prophecy and other WCG literature. Read more about Wolverton.

19 "And after period of growth and overcoming, then shall come their spiritual salvation with no Satan around to deceive them!" (The Incredible Human Potential, 1978, p. 164.)

20 "Then finally there will be a last resurrection of those who HAD been called by God in their mortal human life, but had rejected or turned from the truth. They…will be in the lake of fire, which is the second death." (Ibid., p. 88) "…there will then be a last, final resurrection of the incorrigible who have rejected the eternal salvation offered them. They, with any such living at the end of the Millennium, will then die the second death—utter extinction—in the lake of fire, described by Peter as the face of the earth becoming a molten mass." (Ibid., p. 164.)

21 The definition of biblical grace is "unearned, unmerited favor from God."

22 Herbert Armstrong taught that there would be a 2nd resurrection called the "Great White Throne" resurrection. This would be for "all those who never had a chance to hear the true gospel." The 3rd resurrection would be of all those who had rejected "the truth," and who would be thrown into the Lake of Fire to be annihilated.

23 Herbert Armstrong changed the name of his Radio Church of God to Worldwide Church of God on January 5, 1968.

24 Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong, 1985, p. 252.

25 "Just as one John the Baptist prepared Christ's way the first time, so one messenger [HWA] has prepared the way for Christ's Second Coming." (Malachi's Message, Gerald Flurry, p. 8.)

26 Herbert W. Armstrong claimed many times that he was God's Apostle (a.k.a. "Christ's apostle"): Notice just a few quotes from him (bolding ours): "The author, Christ's apostle, can say emphatically that the apostles, evangelists, pastors and elders could not carry on the work of God without the loyal backing and continued encouragement of the lay members." (Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong, p. 267) "And finally, Christ's apostle sends out monthly a mimeographed Co-Worker letter to all members and co-workers reporting on progress in the work, current activities and needs." (Ibid., p. 269) "And please state in your letter, in your own words, that this money is your endorsement of my apostleship, and the money is to be used for defending God's Work as I, Christ's Apostle, deem best." (January 14, 1979 Dear Brethren letter) "Naturally, it is incumbent on me as God's Apostle, to protect His 'sheepfold' He has placed under my care." (July 31, 1978 Dear Brethren letter) "I call upon all of you in the name of Jesus Christ, as God's Apostle, and your Minister, be careful!" (March 29, 1957, Dear Brethren letter)

27 William Fitzgerald was the Bishop of Killaloe and Clonfert, Ireland. He held a Doctorate of Divinity, and was a Professor at the University of Dublin. His Lectures are contained in 2 volumes. The library was able to locate this book for me through an interlibrary loan. Because of its publishing date of 1885, there are only 33 copies of this book in the United States. Many libraries will not release their copies to the public, and those that do will charge a fee. This book can also be found on microfilm, which may be easier to obtain. (I took a photograph of the volumes and photocopied the needed pages.)

28 The word "Catholic" as used here means "Universal," and the early church fathers used that term.

29 Herman Hoeh, evangelist in Worldwide Church of God, was the one who began teaching the 7 church eras to members in 1958 (with WCG supposedly being the Philadelphia era).

30 Ambassador Report #2, 1977, "The Booklets Nobody Wants to Talk About." 

31 Ibid.


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