Exit and Support Network

Mystery of the Ages
(a 2nd critical review)

By William Hohmann


Chapter One - Who and What is God?

Nevertheless Adam had cut himself off from God his Creator. Undoubtedly, some of the knowledge that God had imparted to Adam was successfully imparted from father to son for many generations. Jesus had called Abel, Adam's second son, "righteous Abel." He did the right thing in offering a lamb in sacrifice. Later, Enoch "walked with God." God spoke to Noah and gave him instructions for the building of the ark. (p. 33)

In the theology of Herbert Armstrong, it is acts or "deeds" of the Law wherein lies righteousness. Abel is seen by HWA as being righteous because he offered up sacrifices acceptable to God, whereas Cain's sacrifices were not.

HWA assumes Abel offered a lamb in sacrifice, and in other writings claimed Cain's sacrifices were agricultural and not of livestock. There is no support for either, as the narrative of Scripture is not so specific. Genesis chapter 4 states Abel gave sacrifices of the firstlings of his flock, and does not specify the nature of Cain's sacrifice(s) beyond their being agricultural in nature. In regards to Abel’s offering, the author of Hebrews brings out an aspect of Abel’s righteousness that HWA overlooks:

Hebrews 11:4: "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh."

After the Flood certain historic accounts imply that Shem, one of Noah's three sons, had some knowledge of the true God. But undoubtedly, as generation succeeded generation of humanity, knowledge of God had become greatly distorted. (pp. 33-34)

It was typical of HWA to make claim to sources of information that somehow never got cited. What could these "historical accounts" be? And although HWA can be regarded as correct in that succeeding generations lost sight of God, he does so with a specific intent in order to draw certain conclusions that were evident in his writings.

The creation is material, visible, and therefore seems real. The system of modern education has become entirely materialistic. The modern scientific concept denies the invisible and the spiritual as having existence. Yet all our seemingly unsolvable problems and the evils in this world are spiritual in nature. (pp. 35-6)

This was another favorite claim of HWA; that mankind's problems are spiritual in nature. If human nature is "spiritual" then mankind's problems would be spiritual; but human nature is far from spiritual, and this is the basis of mankind's problem; his nature; his lineage.

Romans 5:12-14: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come."

I am not condemning or judging these people—and I presume they are as well-meaning as any people. God is not judging them NOW—as I shall explain later. Neither is he condemning them. He loves them and will call them all to eternal salvation in his own time. But they DO NOT know WHO or WHAT God is. (p. 37)

Acts 17:29-30: "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:"

HWA did not understand God's judgment regarding humanity. Neither did HWA fulfill the requirement of those who would preach the gospel. He never mentioned Christ and His sacrifice and that only in and through Him one has salvation when he (HWA) went to the nations, speaking to their leaders.

John 3:18: "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

Those in the world are under condemnation until such time they believe the gospel, and believe Jesus Christ as the Messiah; the Saviour of mankind.

In other words, the average person has an unrealized passive hostility against God. Without realizing it actively, they want God to "keep his nose out of their business"—except at a time when they are in deep trouble and they cry out for God's help. (p. 38)

Welcome to Religious Freudian Psychology 101.

Spiritual things—invisible things—are a mystery to them. They do not understand those things, real though they are, because they cannot see them. They remain a deep mystery so they deny their existence. (p. 38)

Another aspect here concerning spiritual things is that, if a person is not led by the Spirit of God, they would perceive physical things as being spiritual instead; for in that they truly do not comprehend the spiritual, they create a substitute spiritual. In the case of HWA, he concluded the Law given to Israel was spiritual, and that that law had to be kept in order to be spiritual.

When Jesus Christ spoke on earth 4,000 years later, only 120 people believed what he said (Acts 1:15), though he preached his message from God to multiple thousands. (p. 38)

Acts 1:15: "And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)"

These were Jesus' disciples. To exclude everyone else outside this group as having not believed Jesus and his preaching is inaccurate, to say the least.

No wonder, then, not one of these religions, sects and denominations, except the small and persecuted Church founded by Jesus Christ (A.D. 31), starting with that 120, believes God, which means these others do not believe what God says in his Word. (pp. 38-39)

What other religions, sects, and denominations were extant? A faulty premise is followed by a faulty conclusion. What happened that first day; that day of Pentecost? About 3000 were added to them. Why? Because they believed. Believed what? What was this "mystery" they believed? That this Jesus was risen from the dead and was/is the Savior of mankind. They were baptized and received the Holy Spirit. Did HWA understand this mystery? NO! He believed one had to learn about the Law and start keeping the Sabbath before they could be baptized; before they could understand these "mysteries" of his. Belief in Jesus and Him crucified was ancillary to HWA's gospel.

That is what God is—what he does. He creates! He designs, forms and shapes He gives Life! He is the great giver. And his law—his way of life— is the way of giving, not getting, which is the way of this world. (p. 40)

God's way of life is based upon a law of love. Again, "giving" poorly explains God and what He is. God is love.1 (I John 4:8;16)

But the generally accepted teaching of traditional Christianity is that God is a Trinity—God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which they call a "Ghost." The word trinity is not found in the Bible, nor does the Bible teach this doctrine. But more about that later. (p. 40)

The author feels qualified to define what other people believe and what he rejects. Just because the word "trinity" is not in the Bible does not invalidate the concept.2 The author then relates the doctrine is not in Scripture, then washes his hands of the subject by dropping it here, claiming he will cover it later.

Are these three "persons" or manifestations of God mentioned in Scripture? Yes. The real problem is man's way of trying to understand this Trinity. It is questionable if man can truly comprehend this in its fullness.

In the author's attempt to answer the mystery of who and what God is, one can only wonder if he even had a clue.

So here we find revealed originally two Personages. One is God. And with God in that prehistoric time was another Personage who also was God—one who later was begotten and born as Jesus Christ. But these two Personages were spirit, which is invisible to human eyes unless supernaturally manifested. Yet at the time described in verse one [of John chapter 1] Jesus was not the Son of God and God was not the Father. (p. 42)

The author went to the opening chapter of John in order to state there were originally two Personages, ignoring the statements found in the beginning of Genesis.

Genesis 1:2: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

The above verse says it the Spirit of God that moved upon the face of the waters. It does not say God moved upon the face of the waters. But we read in Isaiah 45:18 that God created the heavens and earth: "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it." Then John 1:1 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So all three are mentioned in the creation of the heavens and the earth.

Jesus said that He and the Father were one. If you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father. (John 14:9) It is also written that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was made pregnant by the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit). (Matthew 1:18) And the same thing is mentioned in verse 20: "...fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."

The author wants to narrow the focus to two "Personages," Jesus and the Father. Because the nature of who and what God is, is not understood by the author, the author attempts to make God over into his conception of God. The author, who was physical, was trying to comprehend God who is spiritual.

Christians have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. Jesus also said that He and the Father would make their dwelling with the Christian.

John 14:23: "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

Human rationale tries to determine how these aspects of God are different and distinct. Jesus appears to constantly be explaining they are one. Humanly it can be a hard concept to understand.

The false Trinity teaching does limit God to three Persons. But God is not limited. As God repeatedly reveals, his purpose it to reproduce himself into what well may become billions of God persons. It is the false Trinity teaching that limits God, denies God's purpose and has palpably deceived the whole Christian world. (p. 45)

The concept of God as a Trinity [i. e., the Father as God, Jesus as God and the Holy Spirit as God] does not limit God any more than HWA declaring God is a family of two. How the Trinity teaching "limits God and denies God's purpose" is not explained. It is put forth as fact, and left at that.

In Genesis 1:26, "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." We know the form and shape of man. That is the image, likeness, form and shape of God. (p. 46)

The author just finished declaring God was composed of spirit. Form and shape are used to describe things physical. What the author fails to consider (seeing as he tends to look to the physical as spiritual when it comes to the Law) is that this "image" man is made similar to could be a non-physical trait, and not a physical one; i. e., personality. Man is not like animals. Man is capable of complex thought and reason. Man has mind. God has mind. Man could be made in God's mental image.

One of Jesus' disciples asked him what God the Father looked like. Jesus replied: "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father..." (John 14:9). Jesus looked like the Father. Jesus was, actually, "God with us" (Matt. 1:23). Jesus was the begotten and born Son of God. (p. 47)

First off, Philip didn't ask Jesus what God looked like. He asked that Jesus show him (them) the Father. Jesus did not respond by saying the Father's physical form looked like Jesus. His response is that Jesus and the Father are one. If you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father.

Does the Father look like a thirty-three year old Jewish man of average features, or is there more to it than skin deep? The physical matters nothing. The description of Jesus given in Revelation 1 is no doubt much different than how he appeared to his disciples.

That character3 [of God] might be summed up in the one word Love, defined as an outflowing, loving concern. It is the way of giving, serving, helping, sharing, not the "Get" way. (p. 48)

The contrast to love is hate. The fruits of hate are, in part, living a life of "get" but it is much more. It is a disregard for others. It is a behavior of being willing to harm others and use others in order to fulfill your own desires and ambitions.

Why does the author insist on defining the opposite of love (which he usually opts for the term "give") as "get" instead of hate? The answer will be a bitter pill for some, and others a validation of their own experiences. The author did not love those who supported him. He hated them. He was willing to use them and make merchandise of them to further his own desires and ambitions.

II Peter 2:3: "And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."

The author was consummately an expert at this.

Their way of life produced perfect peace, cooperation, happiness, accomplishment. This WAY of life became a LAW. Law is a code of conduct, or relationship, between two or more. One might call the rules of a sports contest the "law" of the game. The presence of law requires a penalty for infraction. There can be no law without a penalty for its violation. (p. 48)

John 8:44: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

It is interesting to note that Jesus says Satan did not abide in the truth; not that he broke a law.

John 1:17: "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Satan did not violate some "law," rather he abandoned truth. He abandoned God to do his own will, and went off on his own, seeking a following after himself. He wanted to be his own "god." (Isaiah 14:12-24) Satan rejected God.

As a contrast to this, we see a gospel that asks us to trust Jesus as our Savior. Out of love, we are to embrace God; the God who loved us so much that he demonstrated it by having Jesus (willingly) suffer and die in our place in order to get the message across to us how much He loves His creation: us. One can either accept the truth — Jesus Christ, or reject Him even as Satan did, and suffer the consequences. Law has nothing to do with it in this light.

The very fact of law presupposes GOVERNMENT. Government is the administration and enforcement of law by one in authority. This necessitates authoritative leadership—one in command.
When the only conscious Life-Beings existed, God was leader- in authoritative command. Thus, even when the only conscious Life-Beings were God and the Word, there was GOVERNMENT, with God in supreme command. The government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be "government by the consent of the governed." Its laws originate and are handed down from God—never legislated by the people—never dictated by the governed how the government over them shall rule them. Since they created other conscious, thinking life-beings, this very fact of necessity put the GOVERNMENT of God over all creation, with God supreme Ruler. (pp. 48-49)

HWA sees a supposed chain of command between God and the Word which he calls the "government of God."4

Elsewhere, the author described the relationship between God and those He created to be His children and as a family. A family consists of a relationship, not a government. But if one wanted to justify how they ran a church, for example, you could see why they would want to describe it this way, and claim the church is but the government of God, in "embryo." Those who come into the group are to be good little minions and do as they are told, shut up and pay tithes and offerings, or be cast out into outer darkness.

Matthew 17:25-26: "He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free."

God's law is spiritual and can be summed up in one simple but all-inclusive word—love. His law for the guidance of human conduct is subdivided into the two great commandments, love toward God and love toward neighbor. These, in turn, are subdivided into the 10 Commandments. Jesus magnified this law by showing how its principle expands to cover virtually every possible human infraction. (pp. 49-50)

Scripture does not say that the Ten Commandments are a subdivision of the two great commandments. Jesus said:

Matthew 22:40: "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Not only does the rest of the Law hang on these two great commandments, but the prophets as well. This is the summation of all the Law and the prophets. In love we have the fulfillment of the Law, for love bears no ill to his neighbor. (Romans 13:10)

But without the Law, there is no government in the sense the author claims. And there is no wielding of control and power over others.

...But IF the Holy Spirit of God dwells in someone, and he is being led by God's Spirit, then (Rom. 8:14) he is a begotten son of God. But, at the time of Christ's return to earth in supreme power and glory to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, restoring the GOVERNMENT OF GOD abolished by Lucifer, then all being filled and led by God's Spirit shall become BORN sons of God. The GOD FAMILY will then RULE ALL NATIONS with the GOVERNMENT OF GOD RESTORED! (pp. 50-51)

Romans 8:14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

1 John 3:2: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."

Those in Christ now are the sons of God now. Why do you suppose the author insists on making a distinction between begotten and born? Because he paints the scenario that a begotten child of God is analogous to being like in the womb, not yet fully born, with the possibility of a spontaneous abortion. If we don't keep this law he speaks of now, in this life, we abort; we don't make it. In other words, it is a sword held over the heads of those who follow him in order to make the followers quietly compliant and to suffer hardship and deprivation at the hands of the wolf in sheep's clothing.

John 5:24: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath [possesses now] everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

One needs to understand the nature of the word, "verily" used here. It is a word of absolute assurance, and it is used twice.

But a false religious leader has no power over those that understand this. There must always be the threat and fear of losing out on salvation.

The Trinity doctrine limits God to a supposed three Persons. It DESTROYS the very gospel of Jesus Christ! His gospel is the good news of the now soon-coming KINGDOM OF GOD—the only hope of this world and its mixed-up mankind! (p. 51)

Preaching the gospel as being "the kingdom of God coming" leaves a lot of room for interpretation and misinterpretation. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the gospel then took on its full meaning and implication. But the author doesn't preach the gospel the apostles taught. It was a gospel about salvation being found in Jesus Christ alone. Understanding fully what God is like does not change this fact one bit.

This gospel without the Law was anathema to many of the Jews the apostles preached to, including those Paul preached to. Their righteousness, therefore their salvation was bound with the Law. So the Jews rejected the gospel. Can we believe the Jews rejected the fact that this Jesus was killed and was resurrected with credible witnesses to the events? It would have been a simple matter to examine the prophesies surrounding the birth, life, and death of the Messiah, but when it came to being a matter of belief in Him only for salvation, they did not believe. They had the law and Moses to save them. They had invested a lifetime of keeping the Law, which for many of them had been elevated to the status of a god itself.

Satan has deceived the entire world in regard to the very nature of WHO and WHAT God is—as well as of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Also of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, based on the spiritual LAW OF GOD. And further, of WHAT and WHY man is, what salvation is, how it is received, what is the true gospel, what and why the church is and what of the future! (p. 54)
Instead of writing about who and what God is, the author went off on a tangent, claiming nearly everything known as Christian is actually false Christianity, especially in regards to the gospel and the "government" and "law" of God. He claims a false gospel was preached in place of the true gospel. What he has done is make accusations without much solid support of facts.
You will find a prophecy of these two churches in the book of Revelation. In the 12th chapter is the prophecy of the true Church of God, greatly persecuted. Jesus called it "the little flock." In the 17th chapter you will find the prophecy of the counterfeit church—a very great church, named by God "Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots" (verse 5). (p. 55)

Jesus did not call the church in chapter 12 of Revelation a little flock. This comment is made in Luke 12:32 before there even was a church. He was referring to his disciples. (v.22)

Finally, in briefest summary: God is a FAMILY composed at present of the TWO Persons of John 1:1-4, but with many thousands, already begotten by God's Spirit, in God's true Church, soon to be born into that divine family at Christ's return to earth. Jesus Christ, by his resurrection, was BORN a divine Son of God (Rom. 1:4)—the first so born into the God family (Rom. 8:29). (p. 57)

John 1:14: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

John 1:18: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

I John 4:9: "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."

The author makes a distinction between being "born" and being "begotten." He claims Jesus was "born" God's Son when he was born of Mary, yet Scripture says He was the only begotten of the Father. This may seem like a minor point, but it has great implications in the theology of HWA regarding the Law.

God cannot change. Christians will not, and cannot, be born into a "God family.":

Hebrews 1:12-14: "And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"

Luke 20:36: "Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection."

Romans 8:17: "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ";

The author spent much time in this first chapter describing law, and attempting to claim what he feels God is not (a Trinity).5

The Trinity is seen as the basic false doctrine of the false churches. What the author does not touch on, is what gospel was being introduced into the church in the first century that Paul was vehement enough as to doubly curse those who were preaching it. (Galatians 1:8-9)

Did the author uncover anything heretofore unknown regarding who and what God is? No. All the author was interested in was refuting the belief in the Trinity.

By William Hohmann
Exit & Support Network™
April 2004

Next to MOA Chapter Two

Table of Contents & Intro | Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5 | Chap. 6Chap 7

Footnotes for Chapter One:

1 God's love is also a holy love; He hates sin. But that is why He provided a Savior who died in our place while we were yet sinners. (See Romans 5:8)

2 Refer to: The Holy Trinity by H. A. Ironside (Uses key verses from both Old and New Testaments showing the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture.) Also see our article, "Is the Holy Spirit Only the Power of God?" which references many scriptures.

3 Character was a word that HWA continually emphasized. The Scriptures describe the attributes and personality of God. "Character" is usually a word applied to humans.

4 "Government of God" translated into absolute obedience to whatever HWA taught. HWA's purpose for placing so much emphasis on "government" and "power" enabled him to use his own power and church government to control members.

5 "Contrary to popular misconception, Constantine did not have a vote, nor did he participate in the arguments for or against the Trinity. After the council of Nicaea, Constantine converted to Arianism. Soon after, anyone who opposed the Arian doctrine was exiled. … It is commonly taught that Constantine instituted the Trinity doctrine into the church. History reveals that the opposite is true. Constantine was baptized as an Arian. The Arians were anti-Trinitarians. The change in the church was not as the result of the Council of Nicaea. At the council, the historic position of the church was affirmed and written into a creed. It was after this council that historic Christianity was exiled and replaced with the Arian heresy." (Excerpted from: Heresies Confronted by the Early Church, p. 5, by Eddie Snipes, Exchanged Life ministries)

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