Exit and Support Network

Mystery of the Ages
(a 2nd critical review)

By William Hohmann

 

Chapter Four - Mystery of Civilization

Chapter 4 purports to reveal the mystery of civilization. Again, as in previous chapters, there is no mystery. What we read are personal opinions and suppositions regarding civilizations made by the author, some of them utterly preposterous.

The author begins (again) by offering up his view of an advanced civilization unable to cope with or solve man's basic problems. If the reader is familiar with the movie, "The Music Man" you should get an idea of what is going on here. If you want to motivate people to some action, then you can do this by convincing them there is some problem that must needs be solved. In the movie, the main character, a band instrument salesman, convinces a small community they have a problem with their youth, and that the problem can be solved by starting a band for the kids, so as to occupy their time and liberate them from the evils that were just then taking hold of them, personified by a pool table.

HWA offers up his solution to all of man's woes: join his church and become a part of the solution, otherwise you remain a part of the problem, and God is going to wipe out the remnants of the problem at His return, that is to say, all those who manage to survive the Great Tribulation, which will include those who "knew the truth, but did not respond to it."

One of the most sure ways to believe false doctrines and concepts is to accept assumptions: Beliefs stated that sound reasonable and logical, but are still groundless, lacking spiritual support.

As earlier, HWA repeats statements he has made so as to drum them into the head of the reader. It has been said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.

Here then are some of the claims HWA reiterates at the beginning of chapter 4:

God is reproducing Himself.

Man was placed on the earth to restore the government of God on earth.

(The implications of restoring law follows closely.)

Angels, and then man, were to "finish" the creation of the earth.

God gave the angels his government (and law) for this purpose (finish the earth). (pp.137,138)

Following this are blanket statements that are not entirely true.

Man has made ugly, polluted, defiled, profaned everything his hands have touched. He has polluted the air, befouled the water in the rivers, lakes and seas. He has deteriorated the land, denuded the forests, thus altering rainfall and causing the expansion of deserts. He has worn out the soil by neglecting to give it its sabbaths of rest every seven years. Man has built cities and allowed them to deteriorate into slums, filth and squalor. (p.139)

To those unfamiliar with cult tactics, this is commonly referred to as "black and white thinking" where everything is handled with absolutes; there are no shades of gray and everything has simplistic solutions (in this case, the author's solutions).

Man not only has ruined the earth he should have developed and improved, he has destroyed his own health by wrong living, and degraded and perverted his own spiritual character. (p.139)

People today (at least in the "developed" countries) are expected to live twice as long as their ancestors just 200 years ago. As far as any spiritual character, it could be argued that those who do not have the Holy Spirit have no spiritual character.

Those devoid of the Holy Spirit try to develop in themselves (and others) a moral sense of behavior that is often hypocritical in nature ("do as I say, not as I do"). HWA was guilty of this. There is ample evidence that he had a 10 year incestuous relationship during his early ministry with his daughter Dorothy.

In these last days, according to biblical prophecy, knowledge, spiritual as well as material, was to be increased. The true church of God was to be set back on track, restoring the glorious knowledge of the faith once delivered to the saints in the days of the original apostles. (pp. 139-140)

Knowledge was prophesied to increase (Daniel 12:4). Whether this includes spiritual knowledge is debatable. What is definitely debatable is the claim that "the church" was going to be put back on the right path of faith as originally delivered to the saints that was extant during the apostolic era.

This view ignores much. First, there was quite a bit of misunderstanding even during the times of the apostles. A number of zealous Jews were going around after Paul telling Gentile converts they had to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. Acts 15 concludes that Gentiles were not required to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. This "minor" fact was lost on HWA, who insisted that the faith once delivered was a Judaistic Christianity bound in the Law.

Beginning on page 140, HWA asks what would have happened if Adam had taken of the tree of life, then claims the course of mankind would have been—"entirely different. Peace, happiness, joy, health and abundance would have spread over the earth."

HWA appears to be blind to the real story being related to us in Genesis. We are led to believe God didn't know that Adam would choose wrong. HWA does not understand that God knew ahead of time that Adam would choose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that His purpose and plan for mankind would come to fruition. (I Peter 1:20; Matt. 25:34; Rev. 13:8)

Adam took to himself the knowledge of good as well as evil. But it was only human good, no higher than the carnal human level of the human spirit within him. He rejected reliance on God and relied on himself for knowledge, ability and power—all limited to the fleshly human plane, deceived and led by the perverted Satan. (p.141)

Genesis 3:22-24: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

Adam, in taking of this tree1, was now like God in respect to knowing good and evil. HWA claims "it was only human good..."

Thus the first created human disbelieved God, disobeyed God, chose to go HIS OWN WAY, do his own thing. Adam did it willingly, but not apparently willfully or with malicious intent. (p.141)

The reader needs to be reminded that it was God who made the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and placed it in the garden. It was God who allowed Satan to "interfere" and influence them to eat of that tree. Adam hardly went his own way, rather he chose another way, wherein he would learn a very valuable lesson; separation from God leads to a miserable life.2

Page 141 finishes up with a reiteration of HWA propaganda concerning man and Satan, and man choosing the way of "get" instead of God's way of "give." It was pointed out earlier, but bears repeating. God's way is not the way of "give" it is the way of love. Even evil people know how to "give" good gifts, for example.

Matthew 7:11: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

HWA used the same argument the detractors of Paul used; "if there is no law, then there is no sin, and we can do as we desire, for there is no penalty." In other words, "let us sin so that grace may abound."

But still, none could ever be born of God until God's holy and perfect spiritual character had been instilled within, by individual choice and proof by performance. (p.143)

HWA does not attempt here in the book to qualify what this "proof by performance" is. He has already done so, and will again, but at this point, he allows the reader to stew on this alone.

The Christian, under this scenario, chooses to repent (of breaking the Law) and the proof of performance is in keeping the Law. It is all so well packaged that it is easy for the unwary to accept as true. It sounds all too logical. If breaking the Law brought about condemnation and a penalty, then keeping the Law must result in reward for doing so. But Scripture does not teach this. Scripture teaches that all the Law could do was condemn the one who was trying to live by it. There is no reward for keeping it. There never was. Any righteousness found in the Law is self-righteousness, and does not result in salvation.

Philippians 3:9: "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:"

Galatians 2:21: "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."

Galatians 3:21: "Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."

And so a world—a civilization—developed from the original Adam and Eve. When God shut off the tree of life, that act marked the foundation of the world. It was founded on rejection of God, on disobedience to God's law, which defines God's way of life. And all the evils, sorrows, pain and suffering in 6,000 years of civilization have resulted. (p.144)

With boring regularity, HWA continues to hammer on it being a violation of the Law wherein man's condemnation results. God and the Law are related as one. In the theology of HWA, the Law actually takes on the personification of God. HWA insisted the law was eternal; yet it is only God who is eternal. He says people are to cease from sin and turn to the Law as well as turn to God. Yet God is a "jealous God" and will not allow man to have any other gods "besides" Him, and HWA places the Law beside God. This condition is spiritual idolatry, and what the apostle Paul brings out in Romans chapter 7 is that it is also spiritual adultery. You can only be bound to one; the Law or Jesus Christ, and not both.

God had designed a 7,000-year master plan for accomplishing his tremendous purpose. (p.144)

Many of the claims made by HWA that he had personal revelations from God are nothing more than a collection of eclectic teachings of his contemporaries and those fringe groups that preceded him. For a more in-depth coverage of where HWA came up with many of his teachings of this nature, read Kelly's critical review of Mystery of the Ages located on this website. [Note: Refer to chapter three, pt. 2 and chapter six of Kelly's review (search for the word "Watchtower") and chapter two of the same review (search for the words "Latter Day Saints").]

The first 6,000 years were allotted to allow Satan to remain on earth's throne, and for humanity to learn the bitter lesson, through experience, that Satan's way of self-centeredness in opposition to God's law leads only to pain, suffering, anguish and death. (p.144)

Mankind was not shut off from the Law, leading to pain, suffering, etc. Mankind was shut off from God. Mankind was driven away from the garden of Eden so as to remove him from the presence of the tree of life. The lesson learned is one of being separated from God.

There was no law then. The law, embodied in the Ten Commandments, did not come about until the children of Israel left Egypt, led by Moses, who was the mediator of that law. The law does not precede the mediator or those who were a party to the covenant containing the Law. It is only through constant repetition that HWA tries to establish the Law as having existed from the beginning.

The world, from its foundation, was cut off from God the Father. Jesus came to reconcile repentant believers to the Father (Rom. 5:10). (p.145)

Romans 5:10: "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

There is no mention here of repentance being part of the equation. The other item that needs to be pointed out is that mankind was cut off from God; not God the Father without the Son.3 These may seem like minor points, but the consequences are far reaching. Repentant believers are not believers who repented of breaking the Law. Their repentance is a result of belief and turning to God, thereby abandoning a lifestyle devoid of God; not turning to the Law. Secondly, Jesus IS God and not some other entity separate from God. As is common in all cults, Jesus is diminished to some degree. Most all cults agree that it is Jesus who is the Savior, but that, somehow, He accomplishes this without being fully God.4 If the reader is well acquainted with the teachings of HWA, you may recall that HWA refers to Jesus as "merely" the messenger of the gospel, and that the gospel was not about Him. If you believe this, I suggest you read the accounts of the gospel being preached by the apostles, notably Paul.

Even though by the closing off of the tree of life they were cut off from God the Father, the "Word" (the "Lord" or the "Eternal" in English) spoke to Cain and warned him. (p.145)

Mankind was indeed cut off from God, but not in the way or totality that HWA insists. So when he comes to a place where God is talking to Cain, and why would He, seeing as man was "cut off" from God, instead of altering his understanding regarding what it meant to be removed from God's salvation, he resorts to separating "God" from the "Word" in order to keep his appearance of being "infallible" in his theology.

Toward the end of page 145, HWA makes a reiteration of his teaching that humanity rejected God. This statement and so many like it, are made so matter-of-factly that they are easy to overlook. Did Adam and Eve truly believe or know that by partaking of that tree, they were rejecting God? Did they believe they were causing all of humanity that was to follow to be rejecting God also? The claim is far-fetched, and would be difficult to defend, so HWA doesn't even try to defend it, he just states it in passing in the hopes that no one will dwell on it long enough to see it for what it is: a claim without support. No matter though, for he knows that once people agree with his assumptions concerning repentance being related to the Law, people's critical thinking skills are reduced to the point they will not critically examine such statements made in such a subtle manner as this. On the next page, he makes another "innocent" comment that:

Mankind was making progress in material development, even though growing further from God spiritually. (p. 146)

This implies there are degrees of spirituality. If one can grow further from God spiritually, then one can grow closer to God spiritually, and how do you suppose HWA claims one can do this, and yet still not be saved? In keeping the Law. He taught if you don't keep the Law well enough—and it is never qualified as to how much is enough—you would have grown closer spiritually, yet still insufficiently.

There was a population explosion, but humanity had turned to evil continually. (p.146)

At first glance, the reader has no problem with this statement, but watch how it plays out further on. (Hint: there is a real problem with the above statement)

On page 147, HWA makes the case that Noah was "perfect" in his generations because of his heredity! In other words, he was "unblemished" genetically.5

The subject matter of the chapter [Genesis 6] is the generations ancestry of Noah. (p.147)

The claim here is laughable. One need only read Genesis chapter 6, and pay attention to the context.

Instead of quoting HWA here on pages 147 and 148, it will be easier to summate. HWA claims that their evil was associated with "eating, drinking, and marrying—the evil was in the manner, and in the extent of eating, drinking and marrying."

The reader is being set up to accept HWA's artificial standards regarding these things. How much is too much eating? How much is too much drinking? And marriage? The reader, once he accepts this premise, will next find himself being told what is acceptable and what is not on this constantly sliding scale of acceptable human behavior from the pulpit. It is but another tool used by HWA to control and manipulate people.

Marriage, under this scenario, can be a sticky proposition, but HWA manages. He claims the problem was one of interracial marriages.

It is amply evident that by the time of Noah there were at least the three primary or major racial strains on earth, the white, yellow and black, although interracial marriage produced many racial mixtures.
God does not reveal in the Bible the precise origin of the different races. It is evident that Adam and Eve were created white. (p.148)

There are a great many hurtles to be overcome in order to accept all of this. Notice though HWA again, when on shaky ground, resorts to emphatic statements: "It is amply evident..."

There is only one place these different races could have originated: with Adam and Eve. Careful though, for to go here is to avail one's self of critical thinking, and that is the one thing HWA cannot afford to have his readers resort to.

If the races came from Adam and Eve, then we are all one race with varying characteristics, some of which are color.

If there were at the time of Noah white, yellow, and black "races" and only Noah and his family were saved from the flood, then these other races would have been eliminated. No problem though, for HWA just goes ahead with another emphatic statement without any proof. He claims that the sons of Noah had interracial marriages! (p.149)

If the reader of this critique is familiar with cognitive dissonance, you will see that it is now overflowing.

If mankind was being destroyed because of interracial marriages, along with other indulgences, then why would God have allowed the sons of Noah and their wives to survive, seeing as they were part of the problem?

One last observation on this subject. How is it HWA knows it is "evident" Adam and Eve were white? How does he know Noah was of the "original" white strain? Why is it "evident" that Japheth married an oriental woman, or Ham a black woman? What evidence do we have that mankind had separated widely enough to create these variations prior to the flood? The insult to the injury here is HWA's remark on all this on page 149:

We know little more than stated above about civilized development prior to the Flood.

In other words, what HWA wrote was true, and we don't know much more of that time prior to the flood. Good thing for him, for it conveniently closes the door on looking for evidence to the contrary to his claims. It is as though he is saying, "You can't prove me wrong." But the burden of proof of a claim lies with the one making the claim, and not those who question it.

HWA closes the thought on this line of reasoning by declaring that we live in times now similar to those just prior to the flood, only this time God will intervene in the destruction of all mankind for the sake of the elect. Care to be part of the elect? Simple. Become a member of "God's true Church."

Do you remember that I mentioned at the beginning of this section that there was a problem with the statement made by HWA? He declared the reason for the destruction had to do with excesses of eating and drinking and interracial marriages. Even though he quoted the Scripture that states the problem was about mankind's thoughts and intents being evil continuously, he sidesteps it and focuses in on these other matters that, if they were abuses, they were because of the evil thoughts and intentions, and not the actions that followed. In the theology of HWA, it is a matter of avoiding sin by keeping the Law. Even if one does comply with the Law, it is no guarantee the person's thoughts and intentions are not evil. Those of us who have had the Armstrong experience have seen the results of this. Abusive and hateful people who were within the group that thought all they had to do was jump through the right hoops and they would have salvation as a result of keeping the Law; proving their "performance" as HWA cited it. The heart of a man is not addressed.

On page 150, HWA cites C. Paul Meredith as an authority to back up his claims concerning the beginnings of city-states. What HWA fails to notify us of is who exactly C. Paul Meredith was. He was an HWA "yes man" who was responsible for putting together much of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course that was instrumental in getting many a person to join HWA's church. If C. Paul Meredith were of some other persuasion, we might well give him some credibility. Rather, he parrots the beliefs and teachings of HWA with his own embellishments, devoid of historical backing beyond speculation.

This thesis insists Nimrod gathered people together into cities, and organized them for the purpose of fighting "wild ferocious beasts." If we were to bother with critically evaluating this claim, one would wonder if there was another reason that he was called "a mighty hunter."6

The tower of Babylon then is seen as the people attempting to build said tower tall enough so as to remain above the flood waters should God decide to do a repeat of the flood, seeing as these people had no desire to obey God.

Did these people honestly believe they could build a tower higher than the mountains? Did they believe that all the people could assemble at the top in case of a flood? This is all fanciful speculation.

Seeing as the scenario of the people being one people with one language shortly after the flood would put a damper on HWA's teaching that the wives of Noah's sons were of other races, HWA just makes another declaration to the contrary:

These people were not only of one language, they were of three races or families—white, yellow and black. (p.151)
God intended to prevent racial intermarriages. But man has always wanted to violate God's laws, intentions and ways. (p.151)

Where is the command in Scripture that people are not to have "racial intermarriages?" But HWA covers himself here by using the term, "intentions." It was God's intent. When we start building our beliefs based upon intentions and assumptions, you can be sure error and heresy follow closely behind.

On page 154, HWA claims the "so-called Christian observances as Christmas, New Year's and Easter emerged from the false religious system she [Semiramis] developed."

So because pagan religious festivals preceded these "Christian" observances, they are invalidated. The birth of Christ is historically unimportant, especially because we don't know the actual date. Easter is invalidated because the Bible does not command any observance of Christ's death and resurrection, even though it is an important event. Faith means nothing in this regard.

Yet there is a bit of hypocrisy here, for if we are going to avoid these celebrations because of their pagan roots, then we should avoid all celebrations that have their originations in pagan religious practices.

Parades using floats were a part of pagan religious practices in ancient Mesopotamia. So why did "the church" and Ambassador college participate in the Rose Bowl parade every year? The reason is quite simple: $. Why then would HWA not want his followers to participate in the aforementioned practices? The same reason: $. But then, the $ wasn't coming in to HWA.

But no man really walked with God until Abraham. To Abraham, God made all the promises on which ultimate human salvation depends, as well as the material and economic prosperity that has come to the United States and the British. (pp.155-6

The promises made to Abraham, because of his faith and not through law (Rom. 4:13,16) were materialistic in nature, and were to encompass all nations.

Genesis 18:18: "Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?"

Galatians 3:8: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. "

Chapter 4 closes with HWA proclaiming that all mankind would be destroyed unless God intervenes on behalf of His Church. He does not use the term "elect" as found in Scripture. (Rom. 8:33; I Peter 1:2, etc.) This is psychological warfare HWA wages against the unwary and idealistic reader.

By William Hohmann
Exit & Support Network™
July 2004

Next to MOA Chapter Five

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

Footnotes for Chapter Four:

1 When the first Adam was tempted in the garden, he yielded and fell. When Christ, the last Adam, was tempted (through his humanity) in the wilderness, he was triumph and gained the victory over Satan.

2 God revealed the doctrine of redemption when he clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals. This pictured: "(1) Man must have adequate covering to approach God. You cannot come to God on the basis of your good works. You must come just as you are--a sinner. (2) Fig leaves are unacceptable; they are homemade. God does not take a homemade garment. (3) God must provide the covering. (4) The covering is only obtained through the death of the Lord Jesus." (Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee, Vol. 1, p. 27-28)

3 The Scriptures affirm that Jesus, in His incarnation, was God. This is thoroughly expounded on in the book Jesus Christ IS God! by Robert L. Sumner.

4 HWA (and the Worldwide Church of God) taught that Jesus "could have sinned" because he was only human like us, but since he kept close to God, He didn't sin. This is an outright denial of Jesus' deity and being the God-Man in His virgin birth. "Ancient Jewish Rabbis in their mystic writings, as well as the Prophets in the Old Testament, believed that Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel, is none other but God." (The Evangelical Christian, Toronto, Canada, December, 1950; "The Pre-Existent Christ is God" by M. Ziedman; pp. 578-579.)

5 HWA shows his racism at this point in the book. The Scripture cited has nothing to do with hereditary or genes. "[Noah] was righteous in his moral relations to God; blameless in his character and conduct. His righteousness and integrity were manifested in his walking with God." (Unger's Bible Dictionary, p. 797)

6 Many Bible commentators and scholars agree that the Scripture referring to Nimrod being a mighty hunter (Gen. 10:8-9) does not refer to his hunting abilities; i. e., "...he was a violent invader of his neighbours' rights and properties, and a persecutor of innocent men, carrying all before him, and endeavouring to make all his own by force and violence"; (Matthew Henry's Commentary) "He was a hunter of men's souls--that is the thought in this passage." (J. Vernon McGee, Vol. 1, p. 51).


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