Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today?

By COGwriter

In 2007, I was asked a few questions about Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) and how those in the Churches of God (COGs), and such as the Continuing Church of God, view him.

This article is intended to give some background on Herbert W. Armstrong (much of which will be from his own writings, including his actual Autobiography), what he did, how he is viewed by the COGs, how he should be viewed by the COGs, and some of what his legacy should mean for those in the COGs.

I should mention at the beginning that while I respect what God accomplished through him, I (and others in the real Church of God) do not worship Herbert W. Armstrong, consider that his writings are on par with scripture, nor treat him like some groups (the Seventh-day Adventists with Ellen White come to mind) treat some of their leaders.

Those not interested in background information may wish to scroll through the first several pages which are almost exclusively autobiographical quotes on Herbert W. Armstrong's early life, meeting his wife, his life, his conversion, and entering the ministry.

Note: As used in this article, the expressions Churches of God (COGs) or Church of God (COG) refer to seventh-day Sabbath-observing groups that had some relationship with the Church of God, 7th Day and do not include Sunday or Pentecostal groups that sometimes use those terms.

Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? The Early Years: Growing Up and Getting into Advertising and Learning the Seven Laws of Success.

The following is basically from the 1973 edition of The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong (note: although in most places the 1973 and 1986 editions of Volume 1 are the same, the 1986 version was edited after Herbert Armstrong's death by people who apparently wanted to modify some of his teachings so the 1973 edition will be relied on in this article--more on that is documented in the article Did You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?):

I was born July 31, 1892, of respected and upright parents who were of solid Quaker stock. My ancestors had emigrated from England to Pennsylvania with William Penn, a hundred years before the United States became a nation. My ancestry, through a paternal great-grandmother, traces back to Edward I, King of England.

I first saw the light of day in a red brick two-apartment flat on the northwest corner of East 14th and Grand Avenue, in Des Moines, Iowa. Of course I remember absolutely nothing of the day of my birth -- even as you remember nothing of the day you were born...

When I was 6 the family moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, where my father entered the flour milling business...

Back to Des Moines we moved again in 1901, in early fall, after a year and a half in Union, this time near East 13th and Walker. I was now in the 4th grade. We lived a short distance from a Seventh-Day Adventist Sanitarium, with a bakery shop near the front entrance. I remember being sent often to this bakery for special "health" bread -- probably whole wheat. The thing that most impressed me, however, was the impression on my boyish mind that these Adventists must be some kind of odd religious people, because they "kept Saturday for their Sunday." Even at that age, anything different from common custom and general social acceptance automatically seemed strange -- and if strange, then of course it seemed WRONG. Why do people assume that the rank-and-file of PEOPLE can't be wrong?...

Our transportation, 1903-4, was horse and buggy -- and my bicycle. Going to the factory in the morning, we had to use the whip on the horse occasionally to keep him trotting. But returning home in the evening, it was necessary to hold tight rein on him. He needed no urging to trot. He seemed to know his oats were waiting for him in our barn...

From earliest memory I was kept regularly in the Sunday school and church services of the First Friends Church in Des Moines...

During the years between 12 and 16, besides school, I had many Saturday and vacation jobs. I carried a paper route, was errand boy for a grocery store, special delivery boy for a dry goods store, spent one summer vacation as draftsman for a furnace company, and there were other odd jobs.

But at age 16, during summer vacation, I obtained my first job away from home. The job was waiting on tables in the dining room of a semi-resort hotel in Altoona, the next town east of Des Moines...

Of course, as yet, at age 16, there had formulated no definite GOAL to work toward, further than the general ambition to SUCCEED. Of what that success was to consist had to crystalize later.

Also, so far, it was pure VANITY. But it was a positive vanity, and that might be vastly preferable to a negative, purposeless humility. It was the first start toward later accomplishment...

In track I went out for the mile run in my Sophomore year only, but never was entered in the state meet. The best time I ever made was 5 minutes flat, on the Drake track, where the annual Drake Relays, nationally famous, are still run. Today the world's best milers run the mile under 4 minutes!

I was an average student in school. But in final exams I always got grades of 95% to 98%...

AT AGE 18 I found a book in the public library, titled, "Choosing a Vocation." It took the reader through a searching self-analysis, and a survey of vocations, occupations and professions, to place the candidate where he best fit.

A thorough study of this self-analysis and survey indicated that I would probably be most successful in the profession of journalism and advertising. And this, to me, was one of the truly exciting, thrilling professions.

It so happened that my uncle in Des Moines, Frank Armstrong, my father's younger brother, was the most prominent advertising man in the state. He had led the movement of establishing Ad-Clubs in other cities over the state, and he was the first president of the state association.

I went to my uncle for counsel and advice. From that time, since I had chosen his field, he practically steered my life for the next eleven years, and I owe much to him. To me he seemed like a sort of second Benjamin Franklin, and on the whole I felt he had unusual insight, understanding, and sound judgment.

The place to begin in the advertising profession, he advised, was the want-ad department of a daily newspaper. This was the freshman class of the advertising school of hard knocks.

It was late December, 1910. Now the big question came: should I stay in school, and take courses in advertising and journalism in college or university?

"Well, Herbert," he counseled, "that depends on you and how much ambition and drive you have. It happens that no college or university in the country has yet offered a course in this profession that is worth a plug nickel.

"Now I know," he continued, "that nearly everybody has the delusion that an education is something you get at school -- and higher education at the university. It's like going to a hardware store or department store to purchase a lawn mower. People seem to have the idea that an education is something they have all wrapped up at the university, ready to hand it over to you when you buy it by paying the tuition. But it has always seemed to me that traipsing across the door-sill of a college classroom, or sitting in an arm-chair, is not putting an education into your mind. Education comes from study -- from books -- from lectures -- from contacts -- from travel -- from thinking about what you see and hear and read -- and from experience..."

I went home and thought it over thoroughly. Ambition is not only the DESIRE, but the determination and the will to achieve the desired goal. For two years ambition had burned fiercely within me. I wanted both success and to become a well-educated person. I knew I wanted these goals intensively enough to drive myself to any needed extent to succeed.

I told my uncle my decision. He assigned me to one year's experience in want ads, and advised that I get a job in the want-ad department of the Des Moines Daily Capital, then published by Lafe Young, senior United States Senator from Iowa...

I did not ask The Capital if they needed any help. That was too negative -- might have resulted in being turned down. I went straight to the manager of the want-ad department, told him I was entering the advertising profession, and had decided to join his staff because it offered the best opportunity to LEARN, and to advance. I got the job. The starting salary was $6 per week.

I had no conception, then, that the advertising profession was not, after all, to be my final life profession -- or that this experience was merely the preliminary training needed for the ultimate bigger job later in life.

In those days I had developed a very excessive case of self-confidence. I was snappy, confident, self-assured -- yet sincere, and in the intent of heart, honest.

On this want-ad job I soon became known as a "hustler." On the street I hurried -- walked rapidly. I was a dynamo of energy. Off nights I studied. Books were procured on advertising, on psychology, merchandising, business management, and English. All the leading trade journals were subscribed to and diligently read -- primarily "Printers Ink," and "Advertising & Selling," the two leading trade journals of the profession.

My uncle directed the training in learning an effective style in writing...

...I was given a Real Estate beat, and the salary raised to $8 per week...

It was not long until Ivan Coolidge, then want-ad manager over at the "R & L," asked me to drop over and see him. He offered me $10 a week if I'd leave The Capital and join the Register staff...

I had started out to spend one year in want ads at the Capital. The temptation had come to weaken and get off that schedule.

I took my uncle's advice and stayed on the schedule.

Learning Rules of Success

Thus, at the early age of 18, some of the seven important rules of success were being learned.

The first success rule -- I emphasize by repeating it -- is fixing the right GOAL. Avoid fitting the "square peg in the round hole." I was yet to learn the real PURPOSE of life, and the one true supreme GOAL. Actually I had set out on a wrong goal -- that of becoming someone "important," achieving business success and status for the purpose of making money. But at least I had made the self-analysis and the survey of vocations to find where I should fit within the realm of business, the field of this goal.

At least, ambition had been kindled. And, though little realized at the time, all this experience was building the necessary foundation for the worldwide activities of later life.

The second success rule is EDUCATION -- fitting oneself for the achievement of the goal. I was getting, not mere impractical and theoretical classroom book education, but the combined education of book study at night and practical experience in the daytime. And even here, the self-education being received was precisely that required to properly prepare me for this present worldwide Work of God, without which this Work today could not have become a success.

The third rule of success is good, vigorous HEALTH. Food plays a major part in this, and I was not to learn of the importance of food and diet until I was 38 years old. But I had learned the importance of sufficient exercise, deep breathing, daily bathing and elimination, and sufficient sleep.

The fourth rule, drive, putting a constant prod on oneself, seems to have come naturally as a result of the ambition that had been generated at sixteen. There was always the sense that I had to hurry! I was learning to plunge into a task with dynamic energy.

The fifth, resourcefulness, or thinking about the problem at hand, was unconsciously being developed by experience. For example, the experience of the "goat work" job, and then in finding a way to get in room-for-rent ads faster by telephone, was an example of learning this rule by experience -- thinking through and applying initiative, to a better way of solving a problem. Most people do such a job just as they are shown, without ever applying thought or resourcefulness to the activity.

And now, the sixth rule, perseverance, never quitting when it appears to everyone else one has failed, was being learned at the very low price of $2 per weekly lesson.

In 1947, and again in 1948, Ambassador College appeared hopelessly to have failed. It seemed everyone else knew we had come to the "end of our rope." It has happened many times. But that $2 per week lesson learned at 18 turned a seeming hopeless failure into a worldwide ever-expanding success.

The seventh and most important rule, Divine Guidance, I was not to learn until much later...

For something like a year and a half I was kept in the Service Department of The Journal. There I received a most intensive and practical basic training in the true psychological principles of writing and designing advertisements...

I was never insincere. True, I had swung from a sense of inferiority, to one of supreme self-confidence.

But I was entirely sincere. Usually a bragging, conceited young lad who is cocky, is also an insincere flippant smart aleck. I was not. It seems I was, by nature, deeply sincere and in earnest, and although excessively self-confident, even snappy and cocky in manner, there was always with it a sense of earnestness and dignity. At least I thought I was right, and in my heart meant to be. Human nature wants to be good -- but seldom does it want to do good. That natural desire in one to wish to consider himself good, I suppose, led to an attitude of sincerity.

Later, God had to take the self-confidence, conceit, and cockiness out of me. He replaced it with a different kind of confidence -- an unbounded FAITH in God. I have far more ASSURANCE for the future today than I had then -- many times over. But today it is based on what God is going to do -- not what I am able to do...

After about one and a half to two years of training in advertising copy writing and layout, selling advertising space, office work in dictating and letter-answering, and composing room makeup with The Merchants Trade Journal, I was put on a new and unique activity.

I have never heard of anything like it. I became The Journal's "Idea Man."...

The Journal maintained an "Idea Man" who travelled all over the country, visiting stores in all lines, discussing problems and methods with merchants, checking on community and social conditions. The actual experiences of successful merchants, as sought out and reported by the "Idea Man" were written up by the editors into article form in the magazine.

The first "Idea Man" tour took me to New York state and back. This trip started in November, 1913.

I must have visited a number of towns across Iowa and Illinois, but the first that comes back to mind, now, is traveling across southern Michigan...

Perhaps I was entirely too proud in those days. Actually there is no "perhaps" about it. I was! Later I was forced to suffer for years to have this vanity and conceit crushed out, before I could ever have been fully prepared for the responsibilities of today.

But I was young then. And I have often wondered if it is not really better for a young upstart to be conceited, self-confident, cocky -- and with it, ambitious, energetic in trying to accomplish something, than to be an ambitionless, spineless, lazy, shiftless fellow utterly lacking in spark, drive, and the zeal to try to accomplish something worthwhile.

Such ambitious fellows, of course, may not have right goals -- they may not know the real PURPOSE of life, or the true way of life, and they may be energetically pressing on only toward more vanity, and "a striving after wind," as Solomon puts it. But at least they are mentally ALIVE, and not dead! And once circumstances do shake them and bring them to themselves, and humble them and open their minds to the true values, they are already in the habit of exerting enough energy so that, turned at last in the right direction, something is REALLY accomplished.

At least one reader of this autobiography -- and so far as I know, only one -- has written very disapprovingly of it, condemning me for having been vain and conceited in those early formative years. I have stated all the facts about that over-abundance of self-assurance. Indeed I have put emphasis on it.

This, then, is one of the things I had to be changed from! This is a candid and true life story, and the bad is being told along with what good there may have been. But, if there was ego and cocky conceit, there also was ambition, determination, fire, drive, and honest and sincere effort toward what then seemed to be a right goal...

FOLLOWING the original survey of business conditions in Richmond, Kentucky, instructions came from the home office of The Merchants Trade Journal to do another investigation. They wanted this one from a larger town. Lansing, Michigan, was suggested...I continued on to Lansing, state capital of Michigan, to put on the second survey of retail business conditions...

IT WAS now the fall of 1915. By this time I had a considerable amount of valuable experience behind me...

The nation's advertising headquarters centered in two cities -- New York and Chicago. After a month or two of developing a few accounts in Iowa, chief of which had been the Lytle Company and the Fisher Company, I moved into Chicago.

I made my home at the old Hotel Del Prado, a south side residential hotel on the Midway, adjacent to the University of Chicago. The one personal friend I had in Chicago at the time was Ralph G. Johnson, manager of the Merchant's Trade Journal's Chicago office, and I moved into the Del Prado because he lived there...I lived at the Del Prado almost two years -- until a certain Iowa girl came to Chicago to become my wife...I myself smoked in those days...

Meeting Loma Dillon, Who Became His Wife

More from The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong:

Up until 1917 I had never thought really seriously of any girl. I liked the company of girls.

In my vanity I fancied that I had been dating the real "cream-of-the-crop" -- girls considerably superior to the average. But during these years I was still "going to school" -- in the way I had decided was best for me -- acquiring knowledge of my chosen field, gaining experience, preparing myself to make BIG MONEY later.

In my foolish conceit of those days, I was cocksure that I was headed for outstanding success. But I had certain ideals and convictions, and one of them was that a young man ought not to think of marriage until he was prepared to assume the responsibilities of marriage -- especially that of supporting a wife! The idea of my wife having to get a job to help earn the living would have crushed my spirit -- would have been the supreme disgrace!...

My mother had written that her twin sister, my Aunt Emma Morrow, was stricken with pneumonia, and asked me to visit her on this trip. So I took the short side-trip to the Morrow farm, 30 miles southeast of Des Moines, and a short mile north of the crossroads town called Motor, which consisted only of a store, schoolhouse, church, and two or three houses I found my aunt considerably improved, and convalescing. During the afternoon a girl from Motor, two years younger than I, came to see my aunt...Her name was Bertha Dillon, and her father owned the store at Motor...

I was enjoying a conversation with her, when, about 4:30 in the afternoon, her older sister, Loma -- just my age -- came bounding in. That's not an exaggeration. I hadn't seen such fresh, joyous, "zip and go" in a long time. She literally exuded energy, sparkle, good cheer, the friendly warmth of a sincere, outgoing personality...

I took her to luncheon at Des Moines' nicest place at that time -- the Harris-Emery department store Tea Room. It was one of the finest department store tea rooms in the nation.

I was really enjoying this date. She didn't know it then, but Loma was being intensively analyzed. No thought of marriage, you understand -- just routine, as I always did on a first date. She seemed to be a girl of sound-minded good sense and high ideals. She had superior intelligence. There was a mental depth most girls lacked. I was well aware that she was utterly lacking in sophistication. She was not, in fact, completely "city broke." There was none of the haughty social veneer -- none of the acquired artificial mannerisms of the eastern "finishing school" products or the social debutante. Indeed, I perceived she was a bit naive. She was completely sincere in trusting and believing in people. She had not seen or learned much of the rottenness and evils of this world. She had that innocent, completely unspoiled freshness of a breath of spring...

If I were to have another date with this very attractive young lady any time soon, I decided it had to be next day!

Accordingly I hopped the morning train, called my cousin Bert Morrow to drive over to Beech after me, and, to everybody's surprise, here I was to "see my aunt" again! I don't remember, now, how I maneuvered to get Loma up to my aunt's, but I do remember spending considerable time with her there. And she remembers a walk out on the country road in the deep snow...

After I left, they began to warn her against me.

"Now Loma," they admonished, "you'd better let Herbert alone. He reads those magazines written by that awful Elbert Hubbard, and he's probably an atheist. He probably doesn't ever go to church anymore!"

But I had asked Loma to write, and she said she would. So now the "dating" was continued by mail. I must have had her a great deal on my mind, for I wrote to her almost every day, and received several letters a week in return...

As we continued the acquaintance by correspondence, we exchanged ideas on many subjects. I wanted to know what she was interested in -- what she believed -- what her ideas were. She seemed to have high ideals, and I discovered that she was seriously concerned about religious truth -- more so than I. I had virtually no interest in religion...

The next Iowa trip seems to have been some time in February...Business seemed to require my presence in Iowa again in early April, and then the first week in May...

It was the night of May 13th. We walked down the roadside, past the old Quaker Church building and graveyard. I told Loma that I knew, now, that I was in love with her...

This seemed to come like a shock to her. Apparently she had not thought of it in just this way before, but now, suddenly, it dawned on her that if we were married it meant living in Chicago, in more cultural and, as she supposed, sophisticated surroundings than she had known. This sudden realization frightened her.

She stammered that she was not sure. That statement fell on me like a ton of bricks! I had never doubted, in my confident conceit, that if and when I ever did fall in love it would be mutual...

"In that case, Loma," I said regretfully, soberly, but firmly, "I don't want to ever see you again -- that is, not unless, or until you find that you, too, are in love. I certainly wouldn't ask you to marry me if you don't love me. It would only wreck both our lives -- and I love you too much to ruin your life."

We were walking back to her home, which was on the second floor over the store. We sat down for a while on the steps of the store...

I asked Loma for an explanation. She explained, then, how the sudden thought of marriage had frightened her. She and I had lived in two different worlds. I had been city born and city reared. I had travelled a great deal. I was worldly wise. I knew the world and was a part of it. I lived in one of the world's largest and most metropolitan cities. She was a country girl. How would she be able to act and live in the sophistication of a city like Chicago?

"Loma," I said seriously, "you're a real diamond. Maybe you haven't had the exterior polish of an eastern finishing school applied. Most of those girls have outer polish, but no qualities underneath...Just one thing I want you to promise me. As soon as you're SURE, in your own mind, whether you're in love -- either way -- I want you to telegraph me just one word -- 'YES' or 'NO' -- and I'll understand."

She promised. I walked away toward my aunt's house, a mile down the road...

I HAD no intention of returning to the store at the crossroads "town" called Motor. But next morning my Aunt Emma Morrow found it necessary to do some shopping, and asked me if I would drive her in their Model T Ford.

How my aunt maneuvered me into the upstairs rooms I do not remember. But I distinctly remember sitting on the bed in a bedroom, my aunt in front of me on a chair, and Loma Dillon sitting beside me, with the box of old family pictures on her lap...

As we were looking over the family pictures, my Aunt Emma told us that my Uncle George had courted her and that they became engaged to be married in those same upstairs rooms, over the store. Then suddenly, when my aunt and Bertha had their eyes on a picture, Loma leaned over and whispered in my ear that she had something to tell me, a big secret. I "got the message" and squeezed her hand, but neither of us gave the others any idea of what had happened under their very eyes.

Not a word was spoken at the moment. But of course Loma and I knew I had received the unspoken answer. She was now sure. And the following morning, waiting at the depot for the train to take me to Des Moines, we agreed we were engaged to be married.

Actually, I had never proposed -- that is, in so many words. We simply KNEW -- and verbally agreed that we were engaged...Loma and I became engaged on May 15th...

We decided to be married as soon as possible. She needed a week to make all preparations to come to Chicago. I needed a week to locate a place for us to live. It was now July 21st...

FOR SOME four months after our wedding day we lived on the North Side of Chicago, near the lake. During that brief period we had occupied two furnished apartments and one furnished room.

About Thanksgiving time, 1917, we moved into a single room on the South Side. We sub-rented this room from Charley and Viva Hyle in their apartment some short distance south of 63rd Street...

SHORTLY after our second daughter, Dorothy, was born, I persuaded my younger brother, Russell, then twenty, to come back to Chicago and join me in the advertising business. He had been employed in an office job with the Portland Gas & Coke Company in Portland, Oregon...

The Armstrongs also had two sons: Garner Ted who for a while was the main voice of the church's radio broadcast, and Richard David who died in a car accident on July 30, 1958, about an hour from where I (COGwriter) live.

What Got Herbert W. Armstrong Interested in Religion?

More from The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong:

Before our marriage my wife had been quite interested in Bible study. She had been for years an active Methodist.

After marriage, although she had not lost her interest in the Christian life and the Bible, she had not had the same opportunity to express it, or participate in religious fellowship with others. While we lived in Maywood, suburb of Chicago, we had joined the River Forest Methodist Church. The fellowship there had been more social than spiritual or Biblical.

But all Mrs. Armstrong's active interest in things Biblical was reawakened when she became acquainted with Mrs. Runcorn. One day Mrs. Runcorn gave her a Bible study. She asked my wife to turn to a certain passage and read it. Then a second, then a third, and so on for about an hour. Mrs. Runcorn made no comment -- gave no explanation or argument -- just asked my wife to read aloud a series of Biblical passages.

"Why!" exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong in amazement, "do all these Scriptures say that I've been keeping the wrong day as the Sabbath all my life?"

"Well, do they?" asked Mrs. Runcorn. "Don't ask me whether you have been wrong -- you shouldn't believe what any person tells you, but only what GOD tells you through the Bible. What does He tell you, there? What do you see there with your own eyes?"

"Why, it's as plain as anything could be!" exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong. "Why, this is a wonderful discovery. I must rush back to tell my husband the good news. I know he'll be overjoyed!"

A minute or so later, Mrs. Armstrong came running into my parents' home, with the "good news."

My jaw dropped! This was the worst news I had ever heard! My wife gone into religious fanaticism!

"Have you gone CRAZY?" I asked, incredulously. "Of course not! I was never more sure of anything in my life," responded my wife with enthusiasm.

Indeed, I wondered if she really had lost her mind! Deciding to "keep Saturday for Sunday!" Why, that seemed like rank FANATICISM! And my wife had always had such a sound mind! There was nothing shallow about her. She had always had a well-balanced mind, with depth.

But now, suddenly -- THIS! It seemed incredible -- preposterous! "Loma," I said sternly, "this is simply too ridiculous to believe! I am certainly not going to tolerate any such religious fanaticism in our family! You'll have to give that up right here and now!"

But she wouldn't! "Doesn't the Bible say that wives must be obedient to their husbands?" I asked.

"Yes, in the Lord, but not contrary to the Lord," she came back.

It was amazing how many logical arguments came to my mind. But always she had the answer.

I felt I could not tolerate such humiliation. What would my friends say? What would former business acquaintances think? Nothing had ever hit me where it hurt so much -- right smack in the heart of all my pride and vanity and conceit! And this mortifying blow had to fall immediately on top of confidence-crushing financial reverses!

In desperation, I said: "Loma, you can't tell me that all these churches have been wrong all these hundreds of years! Why, aren't these all CHRIST'S churches?"

"Then," came back Mrs. Armstrong, "why do they all disagree on so many doctrines? Why does each one teach differently than the others?"

"But," I still contended, "Isn't the Bible the very source of the teaching of all these Christian churches? And they do all agree on observing Sunday! I'm sure the Bible says, 'Thou shalt keep SUNDAY!' "

"Well, does it?" smiled my wife, handing me a Bible. "Show it to me, if it does -- and I'll do what it says."

"I don't know where to find it. You know I'm no Bible student, I could never understand the Bible. But I know the Bible must command the observance of Sunday, because all the churches observe Sunday, except the Seventh-Day Adventists, and they're regarded as fanatics. The Sabbath was the day for the Jews."

I even threatened divorce, if my wife refused to give up this fanaticism, though in my heart I didn't really mean it. In our family divorce was a thing unheard of -- and beside, I was very much in love with my wife -- though at the moment I was boiling over with anger.

"If you can prove by the Bible that Christians are commanded to observe Sunday, then of course I'll do what I see in the Bible!"

This was her challenge. "O.K.," I answered, "I'll make you this proposition: I don't know much about the Bible -- I just never could seem to understand it. But I do have an analytical mind. I've become experienced in research into business problems, getting the facts and analyzing them. Now I'll make a complete and thorough study of this question in the Bible. All these churches can't be wrong. I'll prove to you in the Bible that you are mistaken!"

This was in the autumn of 1926...

WE HAD MOVED TO the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 1924. My wife's brother, Walter Dillon, and her sister Bertha, had driven Walter's Model T Ford back to Iowa in August...In June, 1925, Walter and his young wife, together with Bertha and my wife's father, had returned to Oregon...

Walter's wife had been indoctrinated with the theory of evolution in college. One day she and I became engaged in a discussion. The evolutionary doctrine came into the conversation. I mentioned that I was not convinced of its validity.

"Herbert Armstrong, you are simply IGNORANT!" accused Hertha. Her words stabbed deeply into what was left of my ego. "One is uneducated, and ignorant, unless he believes in evolution. All educated people now believe it."

That accusation came hot on the heels of this Sabbath challenge from my wife. Of course, Bertha was only about 19, and had had but her freshman year in college. She was yet immature enough to be a bit oversold on what had been presented to her as a mark of intellectual distinction. Nevertheless, her manner was cutting, and a bit sarcastic, and I accepted it as a challenge.

"Hertha," I responded, "I am just starting a study of the Bible. I intend to include in this research a thorough study of the Biblical account of creation. Since it is admittedly one of the two -- evolution or special creation -- I will include an in-depth study of evolution. I feel sure that a thorough study into both sides will show that it is you who are ignorant, and that you merely studied one side of a two-sided question in freshman biology, and accepted what was funneled into your mind without question. And if and when I do, I'm going to make you EAT those words!"

And so it developed that I now had a double challenge to go to work on -- a dual subject involving both the Biblical claims for special creation, and also a more in-depth study than before into texts on biology, geology, paleontology, and the various works on the theory of evolution.

As one exposed to a fair amount of the worlds' education, I would simply state here that most who claim evolution as truth simply have not studied into it enough. Two articles of related interest may include Is God's Existence Logical? and Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God's Existence Logical? Part II.

Part of Herbert W. Armstrong's legacy is that he took the Bible to be the word of God and taught:

...the Bible tells us to PROVE all things (Armstrong HW. The RESURRECTION was NOT on Sunday. 1952).

Which of course, it does as the Apostle Paul wrote:

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV).

Herbert W. Armstrong Studied Evolution, Creation, Sabbath, Sunday, Law, and Grace, Then Converted

The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong continues with:

Actually, this is simply the study into the TWO possibilities of origins. It threw me directly into an in-depth research of what is perhaps the most BASIC of all knowledge -- the very starting point in the acquisition of knowledge -- the search for the correct concept through which to VIEW all facts.

The two subjects -- or, rather, the two sides of the same subject of origins -- should be unprejudicially and objectively studied together, yet seldom are!

Most believers in the Bible and in the existence of God have probably just grown up believing it, because they were reared in an atmosphere where it was believed. But perhaps few ever studied into it deeply enough to obtain irrefutable PROOF.

Likewise, the educated, who have gone on through college or university, have, in the main, been taught the theory of evolution as a BELIEF. They have accepted it, in all probability, without having given any serious or thorough study of the Biblical claims.

I had come to the point where I wanted THE TRUTH! I now had the time on my hands. I was willing to pay the price of thorough and in-depth research to BE SURE!

The reader is reminded that I had chosen, instead of the university, the process of self-education, selecting my own courses of study. I had studied diligently, after leaving high school at age 18, and continuously up to this incident in 1926. But I was now entering on a field of research in which previous study had been minimal.

I began this intensified study by obtaining everything I could find in the way of books, pamphlets and other literature both for and against what was often called "the Jewish Sabbath." I wanted, not only everything I could lay hands on, on the case for Sunday, and against the 7th-day Sabbath. I wanted, also, the arguments or proponents for it, which I hoped to be able honestly to refute.

At the same time, I found, in the Portland Public Library, many scientific works either directly on evolution, or as a teaching in textbooks on biology, paleontology and geology. Also I found books by scientists and doctors of philosophy puncturing many holes in the evolutionary hypothesis. Strangely, even the critics of evolution, being themselves scientific men, paradoxically accepted the very theory they so ably refuted.

But, reading first the works of Darwin, Haeckel, Spencer, Huxley, Vogt, and more recent and modern authorities, the evolutionary postulate began to become very convincing.

It became apparent early that the real and thorough-going evolutionists universally agreed that evolution excluded the possibility of the existence of GOD! While some of the lesser lights professed a sort of fence-straddling theistic evolution, I soon learned that the real dyed-in-the-wool evolutionists all were atheists. Evolution could not honestly be reconciled with the first chapter of Genesis!

And so it came about that, very early in this study of evolution and of the Bible, actual doubts came into my mind as to the existence of God!

In a very real sense, this was a good thing. I had always assumed the existence of God because I had been taught it from childhood. I had grown up in Sunday school. I simply took it for granted.

Now, suddenly, I realized I had never PROVED whether there is a God. Since the existence of God is the very first BASIS for religious belief and authority -- and since the inspiration of the Bible by such a God as His revelation to mankind is the secondary and companion basis for faith and practice, I realized that the place to start was to PROVE whether God exists and whether the Holy Bible is His revelation of knowledge and information for mankind.

I had nothing but TIME on my hands. I rose early and STUDIED. Most mornings I was standing at the front entrance of the Public Library when its doors were opened. Most evenings I left the Library at 9 p.m., closing time. Most nights I continued study at home until my wife, at 1 a.m. or later, would waken from her sleep and urge me to break off and get to bed.

I delved into science. I learned the facts about radioactive elements. I learned how radioactivity proves there has been no past eternity of matter. There was a time when matter did not exist. Then there came a time when matter came into existence. This was CREATION, one of several proofs of GOD.

By the laws of science, including the law of bio-genesis, that only LIFE can beget life -- that dead matter cannot produce life -- that the living cannot come from the not-living, by these laws came PROOF that God exists. In the Bible I found one quoted, saying in the first person, "I am GOD." This God was quoted directly in Scriptures, proved to have been written hundreds of years before Christ, pronouncing the future fates of every major city and nation in the ancient world. I delved into HISTORY. I learned that these prophecies, in every instance (except in prophecies pertaining to a time yet future), had come to pass precisely as written!...

I studied the creation account in the Bible. It is not all in Genesis 1. I studied it all! I studied evolution. At first the evolutionary theory seemed very convincing -- just as it does to freshmen students in most colleges and universities.

I noted evidences of comparative anatomy. But these evidences were not, in themselves, PROOF. They merely tended to make the theory appear more reasonable IF proved. I noted tests and discoveries of embryology. These, too, were not PROOF, but only supporting evidence IF evolution were proved.

I noticed that Lamarck's original theory of use and disuse, once accepted as science, had been laughed out of school. I learned that the once scientific spiral-nebular theory of the earth's existence had become the present-day laughing stock, supplanted by (in 1926) Professor Chamberlin's planetesimal hypothesis. I sought out the facts of Darwin's life. I learned the facts about his continual sickness -- about his preconceived theory and inductive process of reasoning in searching only for such facts and arguments as would sustain his theory. I researched the facts about his tour on the good ship Beagle. I read of how he admitted there were perplexing problems in his theories and in what he had written, but that he nevertheless continued to promulgate evolution. I learned how his colleagues glossed over these perplexing problems and propagandized his theory into scientific acceptance.

Then I came to the matter of the human mind. As far back as 1926 I was concerned about the vast GULF between animal brain and human mind. Could that gulf have been bridged by evolution? It appeared that, even if the evolutionary process were possible, in reality the TIME required to bridge this gulf in intellectual development would have been millions of times longer than between the anthropoid ape and the next lowest animal...

But, most important, I knew that I, with my mind, am superior to anything my mind can devise, and that I can make. Likewise, it became axiomatic that nothing less than the intelligence of my mind could have produced something SUPERIOR to itself -- my mind! Of necessity, the very presence of human intellect necessitates a superior and greater Intellect to have designed, devised, and produced the human mind! It could not have been produced by natural causes, and resident forces, as evolution presupposes. Unintelligence could not produce intelligence superior to itself! Rational common sense demanded a Creator of SUPERIOR MIND!

I came to see that there was only one possible proof of evolution as a fact. That was the assumption that, in the study of paleontology, the most simple fossils were always in the oldest strata, laid down first; while, as we progress into strata of later deposition, the fossils found in them become gradually more complex, tending toward advancing intelligence.

That one claim, I finally determined, was the TRUNK of the tree of evolution. If the trunk stood, the theory appeared proved. If I could chop down the trunk, the entire tree would fall with it.

I began a search to learn HOW these scientists determined the age of strata. I was months finding it. None of the texts I searched seemed to explain anything about it. This TRUNK of the tree was carelessly assumed -- without proof.

Were the oldest strata always on the bottom -- the next oldest next to the bottom, the most recent on the top? Finally I found it in a recognized text on geology authored by Prof. Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin. No, sometimes the most recent were actually below the most ancient strata. The age of strata was not determined by stages of depth. The depth of strata varied in different parts of the world.

How, then, was the age of strata determined? Why, I finally discovered in this very reputable authority, their age was determined by the FOSSILS found in them. Since the geologists "knew" their evolutionary theory was true, and since they had estimated how many millions of years ago a certain fossil specimen might have lived, that age determined the age of the strata!

In other words, they ASSUMED the age of the strata by the supposition that their theory of evolution was true. And they "PROVED" their theory was true by the supposition of the progressive ages of the strata in which fossil remains had been found! This was arguing in a circle!

The TRUNK of the evolutionary tree was chopped down. There WAS NO PROOF!

I wrote a short paper on this discovery. I showed it to the head librarian of the technical and science department of a very large library.

"Mr. Armstrong," she said, "you have an uncanny knack of getting right to the crux of a problem. Yes, I have to admit you have chopped down the trunk of the tree. You have robbed me of PROOF! But, Mr. Armstrong, I still have to go on believing in evolution. I have done graduate work at Columbia, at the University of Chicago, and other top-level institutions. I have spent my life in the atmosphere of science and in the company of scientific people. I am so STEEPED in it that I could not root it from my mind!"

What a pitiful confession, from one so steeped in "the wisdom of this world."

I had disproved the theory of evolution. I had found PROOF of CREATION -- PROOF of the existence of GOD -- PROOF of the divine inspiration of the BIBLE.

Now I had a BASIS for belief. Now I had a solid FOUNDATION on which to build. The BIBLE had proved itself to contain AUTHORITY. I had now studied far enough to know that I must LIVE by it, and that I shall finally be JUDGED by it -- not by men, nor by man's church denominations, theories, theologies, tenets, doctrines, or pronouncements. I would be judged by Almighty GOD finally, and according to the BIBLE!

So now I began to study further into this Sabbath question.

Of course I had procured all the pamphlets, books and booklets I could find in defense of Sunday observance, and purporting to refute the "Jewish Sabbath."

Especially I sought out eagerly everything claiming apostolic observance of Sunday as "the Christian Sabbath." Early in my study, I learned about the many Bible helps -- the concordances, which list alphabetically all the words used in the Bible, showing where they are used, and what Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic word was originally written -- the Bible Dictionaries, the Bible encyclopedias, the commentaries, etc., etc.

From the exhaustive concordances I soon learned that the command I sought, "Thou shalt keep Sunday," was nowhere to be found in the Bible. In fact the word "Sunday" was not used in the Bible. That surprised me.

I really became excited, however, when I learned that there are eight places in the New Testament where the phrase "first day of the week" appears. And I read eagerly arguments in tracts or booklets claiming that these established that the original apostles were holding their weekly worship services on "the first day of the week" -- which is Sunday.

But I became painfully disappointed on learning by more careful study, that there was not a single instance of a religious service being held on the hours we call Sunday -- Saturday midnight to Sunday midnight. The Apostle Paul, after spending a "Saturday" Sabbath with the church at Troas, preached to them Saturday night until midnight. But although, in the Biblical manner of ending each day and beginning the next at sunset, that was -- Biblically speaking -- on "the first day of the week," it was not Sunday, but Saturday night, lasting until Sunday began at midnight.

I was further disappointed in this case, when I discovered on careful study, that on that Sunday Paul indulged in the labor of walking some 19 miles to Assos. The others of Paul's company had sailed, beginning sunset when the Sabbath ended, around the peninsula, some 65 miles to Assos. By walking the 19 miles straight across, on Sunday, Paul had gained the extra time to continue speaking to the people Saturday night.

So my effort to find a command to observe Sunday met with disappointment.

I found there is no command to observe Sunday. Sunday is nowhere called holy time, but to my chagrin, I found this "Jewish Sabbath" is, and is said to be holy to God. There was not even a single example of any religious meeting having been held on the hours called Sunday!

On the other hand, I had to learn, like it or not, that Jesus kept the Sabbath day "as His custom was," and the Apostle Paul kept it "as his manner was." Also Paul spent many Sabbath days preaching and holding weekly services, and in one instance the Gentiles waited a whole week in order to be able to come and hear Paul preach the same words on the following Sabbath!

I learned that CREATION is the very PROOF of GOD! A heathen comes along, pointing to an idol made by man's hands out of wood, stone or marble or gold.

"This idol is the real god," he says. "How can you prove your God is superior to this idol that I worship?"

"Why," I answer, "My God is the CREATOR. He created the wood, stone, marble or gold that your god is made of. He created MAN, and man, a created being, MADE that idol. Therefore my God is greater than your idol because it is only a particle of what my God MADE!

Another comes along and says, "I worship the SUN. We get our light from the sun. It warms the earth and makes vegetation grow. I think the SUN is God."

"But," I reply, "the true God CREATED the sun. He created light. He created force, energy, and LIFE. He makes the sun shine on the earth. He CONTROLS the sun, because He controls all the forces of His creation. He is supreme RULER over His universe."

Then I began to see that on the very seventh day of creation week, God set that day aside from other days. On that day He RESTED from all He had created by WORK. On that day he created the Sabbath, not by work, but by REST, putting His divine presence in it! He made it HOLY TIME. No man has authority to make future time holy. No group of men -- no church! Only GOD is HOLY! Only GOD can make things HOLY. The Sabbath is a constantly recurring space of time, marked off by the setting of the sun. God made every recurring Sabbath HOLY, and commanded man (Exodus 20) to keep it holy.

WHY did He do it? WHY does it make any difference? I found it in the SPECIAL SABBATH COVENANT in Exodus 31:12-18. He made it the SIGN between Him and His people. A SIGN is a mark of identity. First, it is a sign that GOD is the CREATOR, because it is a MEMORIAL OF CREATION -- the CREATION is the PROOF of God -- it identifies Him. No other space of time could be a memorial of CREATION. Thus God chose that very space of time for man to assemble for worship which KEEPS MAN IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE IDENTITY OF GOD AS THE CREATOR. Every nation which has NOT kept the Sabbath has worshipped the created rather than the Creator. It is a sign that identifies God's own people, because it is they who OBEY God in this commandment, while this is the very commandment which everyone else regards as the LEAST of the commandments -- which they REBEL against obeying!

GOD is the one you OBEY. The word LORD means MASTER -- the one you OBEY! This is the one point on which the largest number of people refuse to OBEY the true GOD, thus proving they are not His people!

I studied carefully everything I could obtain which attempted to refute the Sabbath. I wanted, more than anything on earth, to refute it -- to prove that SUNDAY was the true Christian Sabbath, or "Lord's Day."

I read the arguments about "law or grace." I was pointed to, and read, Romans 3:20: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight."

But I looked into the BIBLE, and found the pamphlet had left out the rest of the verse which says: "for by the law is the knowledge of sin." That is true, because I read in I John 3:4 that the Bible definition of SIN is NOT man's conscience, or his church "DON'TS," but "Sin is the transgression of the law." Naturally, then, the KNOWLEDGE of sin comes by the LAW.

And I discovered the pamphlet forgot to quote the 31st verse:

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."

I read in a pamphlet, " ... the law worketh WRATH" (Rom. 4:15).

I turned to my Bible and read the rest of the same verse: "for where no law is, there is no transgression." Of course! Because the law DEFINES sin. Sin is disobedience of the law!

I read in one of the pamphlets that the law was an evil thing, contrary to our best interests. But then I read in Romans 7: "Is the law sin? God forbid! Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said 'Thou shalt not covet.' " And "Wherefore the law is HOLY, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." And again, "For we know that the law is spiritual" (verses 7,12,14).

I learned that GRACE is PARDON, through the blood of Christ, for having transgressed the law. But if a human judge pardons a man for breaking a civil or criminal law, that pardon does not repeal the law. The man is pardoned so that he may now OBEY the law. And GOD pardons only after we REPENT of sin!

But do not suppose I quickly or easily came to admit my wife had been right, or to accept the seventh-day Sabbath as the truth of the Bible.

I spent a solid SIX MONTHS of virtual night-and-day, seven-day-a-week STUDY and research, in a determined effort to find just the opposite.

I searched IN VAIN for any authority in the Bible to establish SUNDAY as the day for Christian worship. I even studied Greek sufficiently to run down every possible questionable text in the original Greek.

I studied the Commentaries. I studied the Lexicons and Robertsons's Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Then I studied HISTORY. I delved into encyclopedias -- the "Britannica", the "Americana", and several religious encyclopedias. I searched the Jewish Encyclopedia, and the Catholic Encyclopedia. I read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, especially his chapter 15 dealing with the religious history of the first four hundred years after Christ. And one of the most convincing evidences against Sunday was in the history of how and when it began.

I left no stone unturned.

I found clever arguments. I will confess that, so eager was I to overthrow this Sabbath belief of my wife, at one point in this intensive study I believed I might possibly have been able to use arguments to confuse and upset my wife on the Sabbath question. But there was no temptation to try to do it. I knew these arguments were not honest! I could not deliberately try to deceive my wife with dishonest arguments. The thought was immediately pushed aside. I know now she could not have been deceived.

Finally, after six months, the TRUTH had become crystal clear. At last I KNEW what was the truth. Once again, GOD had taken me to a licking!

It had been bewildering -- utterly frustrating! It seemed as if some mysterious, invisible hand was disintegrating every business I started!

That was precisely what was happening! The hand of God was taking away every activity on which my heart had been set -- the business success before whose shrine I had worshipped. This zeal to become important in the business world had become an idol. God was destroying the idol. He was knocking me down -- again and again! He was puncturing the ego, deflating the vanity...

I counted the cost!

But then, I had been beaten down. I had been humiliated. I had been broken in spirit, frustrated. I had come to look on this formerly esteemed self as a failure. I now took another good look at myself.

And I acknowledged: "I'm nothing but a burned-out old hunk of junk."

I realized I had been a swellheaded egotistical...Finally, in desperation, I threw myself on God's mercy. I said to God that I knew, now, that I was nothing but a burned-out hunk of junk. My life was worth nothing more to ME. I said to God that I knew now I had nothing to offer HIM -- but if He would forgive me -- if He could have any use whatsoever for such a worthless dreg of humanity, that He could have my life; I knew it was worthless, but if He could do anything with it, He could have it -- I was willing to give this worthless self to HIM -- I wanted to accept Jesus Christ as personal Saviour!

I meant it! It was the toughest battle I ever fought. It was a battle for LIFE. I lost that battle, as I had been recently losing all battles. I realized Jesus Christ had bought and paid for my life. I gave in. I surrendered, unconditionally. I told Christ He could have what was left of me! I didn't think I was worth saving!

Jesus said, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." I then and there gave up my life -- not knowing that this was the ONLY way to really find it!

It was humiliating to have to admit my wife had been right, and I had been wrong. It was disillusioning to learn, on studying the BIBLE for the first time, that what I had been taught in Sunday school was, in so many basic instances, the very opposite of what the Bible plainly states. It was shocking to learn that "all these churches were wrong" after all!...

But to my utter disappointed astonishment, I found that much of the popular church teachings and practices were not based on the Bible. They had originated, as research in history had revealed, in paganism. Numerous Bible prophecies foretold it. The amazing, unbelievable TRUTH was, the SOURCE of these popular beliefs and practices of professing Christianity was, quite largely, paganism and human reasoning and custom, NOT the Bible!

I had first doubted, then searched for evidence, and found PROOF that God exists -- that the Holy Bible is, literally, His divinely inspired revelation and instruction to mankind. I had learned that one's God is what a person OBEYS. The word LORD means MASTER -- the one you OBEY! Most people, I had discovered, are obeying false gods, rebelling against the one true CREATOR who is the supreme RULER of the universe.

The argument was over a point of OBEDIENCE to GOD. The opening of my eyes to the TRUTH brought me to the crossroads of my life. To accept it meant to throw in my lot with a class of humble and unpretentious people I had always looked upon as inferior. It meant being cut off from the high and the mighty and the wealthy of this world, to which I had aspired. It meant the final crushing of VANITY. It meant a total change of life!...

Additional information on days of worship can be found in the articles The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad, Sunday and Christianity, and Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible?

Herbert W. Armstrong and the Gospel

Many people have misunderstandings about Herbert W. Armstrong and the gospel.

So before resuming reading from his autobiography, let's look at the following from Herbert Armstrong's What is the True Gospel? booklet:

Which Gospel Did Jesus Preach?...

Notice, Jesus said, "Believe THE GOSPEL!"

WHAT Gospel? the one He was proclaiming—"the Gospel of the Kingdom of God."

But, one may ask, don't we need to believe on Jesus? Of course. Other scriptures teach that. but at this particular time Jesus said we must believe Him --believe what He said—believe the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!

Some believed on Jesus, but did not believe Jesus --did not believe what He SAID (John 7:31; 8:30, 31, 46).

What About the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

But if the one and only TRUE Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, what about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is that a false gospel?

Not at all. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel He brought as God's Messenger—the Gospel He proclaimed is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS NOT man's gospel ABOUT THE PERSON of Christ. It is CHRIST'S Gospel—the Gospel Jesus PREACHED—the Gospel GOD SENT by Him, and therefore it is also called, in Scripture, the Gospel of God. The Gospel of God is God's GOSPEL—His Message—His Good News which He sent by Jesus.

Also the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Christ's Gospel—the Gospel Christ brought from God—the Gospel He proclaimed.

We hear a great deal today of the gospel of MEN about the PERSON of Jesus Christ—confining the message solely to the things ABOUT Jesus. As a result, millions believe on Christ, who do not BELIEVE CHRIST! But Jesus' Gospel IS HIS MESSAGE!...

Conditions of Entering

Now, HOW do we enter into that glorious KINGDOM? Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, "REPENT," and "BELIEVE THE GOSPEL."

Just TWO things we do—REPENT, and BELIEVE. We must BELIEVE the Gospel, and that means also believing on JESUS CHRIST, the KING of the Kingdom of God, and coming KING of kings over all the families of the earth. It means believing in Him as personal SAVIOUR, as High Priest now, and as coming KING.

But to repent is to completely CHANGE THE MIND in respect to SIN, and "sin is the transgression of the LAW" (I John 3:4)—the law of God by which God RULES the Kingdom.

It means a total, complete CHANGE OF MIND AND OF LIFE. It means we REPENT of transgressing the rule, the will, the laws, of GOD. What did Jesus say to the young man who asked Him HOW to inherit eternal life? He said, "IF thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Matthew 19:17) (Armstrong HW. What is the True Gospel? WCG booklet, 1972, p.6).

The kingdom of God is what Herbert Armstrong also taught as the wonderful world tomorrow (and actually he wrote a book on it titled The Wonderful World Tomorrow: What Will it be Like?).

Here is some of what he learned about the gospel as written in The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong:

My shocking, disappointing, eye-opening discovery, upon looking into the Bible for myself, had revealed in stark plainness that the teachings of traditional Christianity were, in most basic points, the very opposite of the teachings of Christ, of Paul, and of the original true Church!

Could the original and only true Church have disintegrated and disappeared? Could it have ceased to exist? No, for I read where Jesus said the gates of the grave would never prevail against it. Also He had said to His disciples who formed His Church, "Lo, I am with you always."

Then I saw that the very PURPOSE of the Church was to preach Christ's GOSPEL! It is HIS BODY -- His instrument by which HE carries on GOD'S WORK!

I looked carefully at that Gospel as Christ Himself preached it, and taught it to His first ministers. It is recorded in the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At almost every point of teaching that Jesus enunciated, the teachings of traditional Christian bodies today are just the opposite.

THEY WERE NOT PREACHING THE SAME GOSPEL AT ALL, BUT A TOTALLY OPPOSITE MESSAGE! This was shocking -- incredible -- unbelievable! Yet I was compelled to see it was true!

Jesus began the work of preaching the very Gospel which GOD the Father had sent to mankind through Him. He commissioned His disciples -- His Church -- to carry this same Gospel to all the world. And He had said He would never drop the Work He had begun! But WHERE was it going on today?

I knew now that when I found the one and only true Church, I would find a Church obedient to God -- keeping His commandments -- having the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the TRUTH of the Scriptures.

I had been much impressed by a description of the true Church, as it is to be found in our time -- just before the second coming of Christ. It is found in Revelation 12...

My intensive study had revealed one thing plainly: "the commandments of God" mean "Sabbath keeping" to most traditional denominations. They say, "The commandments are done away!" They reject "the commandments of God."

That automatically ruled out all churches observing Sunday. So far as I could learn, it reduced the search to three small groups -- the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Seventh-Day Baptists, and a little, almost unheard-of church called the Church of God, which maintained a small publishing-house headquarters at Stanberry, Missouri...

It seems necessary to add here that I have never been a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination...Next, I looked into the teaching of the Seventh-Day Baptists. I found it to be virtually identical, except for observing a different day of the week, with other Protestant denominations -- especially the Baptists.

But of these three churches to which the search had been narrowed, only one had the right NAME for the true Church. This was the small, little-heard-of Church of God whose headquarters were at Stanberry, Missouri.

Two articles of related interest may include The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church and Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?

Herbert W. Armstrong's Early Church of God Contacts

More from The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong:

During my initial six months' study, I had studied not only the Bible, but every book, booklet or tract I could get on the religious subjects under study. On the Sabbath question, I had sought out eagerly and studied avidly everything I could find against the Sabbath and supporting Sunday as the "Lord's Day." But I had tried to be fair, and searched also the literature on the other side of the question. But always the BIBLE was the sole authority. Thus I became quite familiar with Seventh-Day Adventist literature.

Never, however, did I attend any Seventh-Day Adventist church service.

Also I checked over carefully the literature of the Church of God, with headquarters at Stanberry, Missouri.

Upon surrender to God, I had lost all sense of animosity toward Mrs. O. J. Runcorn, the elderly lady who had started my wife on the religious "fanaticism" which proved to be God's TRUTH. We even came to call her and her husband our spiritual parents. Mrs. Armstrong and I visited with her frequently when in Salem at the home of my parents. Through her and her husband we became acquainted with a small group of "Church of God people" in Salem and near Jefferson, Oregon.

One day when we were in Salem we learned that a preacher of this Church of God had just arrived from Texas, an Elder Unzicker. He and his wife were staying at the home of a neighbor, member of the Church of God. Mrs. Armstrong and I walked across the street to this neighbor's house to see him. I wanted to ask him questions about water baptism...

Twelve times in the New Testament, I found the NAME of the Church which Christ established plainly stated as "The CHURCH OF GOD." I looked into this word "church." It is the English word translated from the Greek word ekklesia. It merely means a congregation, an assembly, or group or crowd of people. I found that the word, by itself, had no divine or spiritual connotation whatever...

The only thing that adds sacredness to the word "church" is the true name "Church of GOD." That is not any man's church -- but GOD'S congregation -- those owned, and governed by GOD whom they worship and follow.

In Ephesians 3:15, speaking of the FATHER of our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 14), we read: " ... of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."

Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, but it is named after God the Father. Although Jesus is Head of the Church, "the head of Christ is GOD" (I Cor. 11:3).

In His last prayer for His Church, before being seized to be crucified, Jesus prayed: "I have manifested THY NAME unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word ... Holy Father, keep through THINE OWN NAME those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are ... While I was with them in the world, I kept them in THY NAME" (John 17:6-12).

Those in the true Church are begotten children of God. They become the affianced Bride of Christ. Christ is the Son of God. It is a FAMILY. The family, is, properly, named after its Father. The 12 passages, aside from these Scriptures here quoted, which plainly call the true Church "The Church of God," or, collectively as local congregations, "The Churches of God," establish the true NAME.

The only Church I had so far found which "kept the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ," and at the same time bore the NAME of the original true Church, was this almost unknown little Church of God with its small publishing house in Stanberry, Missouri.

But this left me quite confused. For this was a little Church, especially compared to the Roman Catholic, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Presbyterian, the Lutheran, or other large churches numbering millions of members. Then I saw where Jesus called His Church the "little flock."

But still I was not completely satisfied. I was deeply concerned. I prayed a great deal over it. For here was a church, which, compared to the large-scale activities of the Catholic and big Protestant bodies, was ineffective. I could see that it was imperfect. It wielded no great power...

I was deeply perplexed. Here was a little church, with scattered members probably numbering less than 2,000 -- mostly in rural areas. Apparently, as nearly as I could learn, it had only a very limited number of local churches, none as large as 100 members. As I began to come in contact with some of its leaders, they seemed to be men of little education -- no college degrees -- its ministry could hardly be described as an educated ministry. Their preaching had a certain fire, yet seemed totally to lack the POWER that attracts sizable audiences, that moves people, stirs hearts, and changes lives. I could see no visible results.

Could this be God's one and only true Church on earth? The very question seemed preposterous!

And yet --

Yes and yet, small, powerless, resultless, impotent though it appeared to be, here was a church with the right name, "keeping the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ," and closer, in its doctrines and teachings, to what God had been opening my eyes to see plainly in His Word than any other church of which I knew! Small and impotent though it appeared, it had more Bible TRUTH than any church I could find!

At this time, God was opening my understanding to some Biblical TRUTHS which this church did not accept; and also to some errors, even though minor, which it did embrace. Plainly, it was not perfect. It merely appeared to be more nearly so, and less imperfect, in its beliefs and practice, than any other. COULD such a church -- imperfect, fruitless, feeble, lacking in any sizable accomplishment, be the TRUE Church of God? Could this be Christ's INSTRUMENT through whom He worked, in carrying on GOD'S WORK on earth? Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." Its fruits were not evil -- it simply did not seem to produce fruit!

I was bewildered. I was unable to come to the answer then -- or until many years later.

The real answer to this perplexing question will come out in this Autobiography later, at the account of the time when I myself found the true answer. I will state here, however, that I did learn later that it was merely the remnant of a church that had been more alive many years before.

Meanwhile, what was I to do? I was not at all convinced this was the one and only true Church. Yet, if it was not, which one was? This one came closer to the Bible qualifications than any I knew.

Therefore, I began to fellowship with their scattered and few members in Oregon, while at the same time refraining from acknowledging membership.

We were living in Portland, Oregon, at the time. I knew of no members of this church in Portland, but there was a sprinkling of them through the Willamette Valley between Salem and Eugene, in Oregon -- mostly farmers or truck gardeners. They welcomed the fellowship of myself and Mrs. Armstrong.

We found them to be simple, plain and humble people, hard working and industrious, and loving the Bible TRUTH -- as much as they had -- willing to suffer persecution for it.

And so it was, in this detached fellowship, that Mrs. Armstrong and I continued the first three and a half years of my ceaseless night-and-day STUDY of the Bible -- of history, especially as connected with Biblical history and prophecy -- and of pertinent allied subjects.

Even though Herbert W. Armstrong was attending with the Church of God Seventh Day (CG7) he told them that there were problems. This is clearly documented in a front page article in CG7's The Bible Advocate in 1928, by Herbert Armstrong, who wrote:

...the Adventists and the Church of God...Have either of these bodies been, so far, winning converts to the message by the thousands--by whole cities? Has this message, so far, gone forth with the POWER, the BOLDNESS, and the results in converts...?...It can't be because God is not doing His part...Folks, let's come to life! Let's awake from this state of coma. Let's tear away from the inertia that holds us...Perhaps we need MORE POWER! (Armstrong H.W. Have we tarried for the power to carry the third angel's message? The Bible Advocate, LXII, 41, October 16, 1928, pp. 431-434).

Herbert W. Armstrong Was Ordained by the Church of God, Seventh Day

More from The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong:

Being ordained and entering the ministry full time meant a complete change in my life. In former years the idea of becoming a minister was the very last thing I should have wanted to do. But by June, 1931, I had been preaching a great deal for three and a half years. By this time my whole heart was in it...

This ordination took place at, or very near, the Day of Pentecost in 1931. I do not remember the exact day of the month of this ordination...But the date was June, 1931.

Back in those days, ordination's were reissued annually. Below is a copy of the second one issued to Herbert W. Armstrong by the Church of God:

Herbert W. Armstrong Ministerial License

Why Herbert W. Armstrong Left the Church of God, Seventh Day

Herbert W. Armstrong explained why he left CG7 in The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong Volume 1, 1973 edition:

So, as the first step in this test, I wrote up an exposition of some 16 typewritten pages proving clearly, plainly, and beyond contradiction that a certain minor point of doctrine proclaimed by this church, based on an erroneous interpretation of a certain verse of Scripture, was in error. This was mailed to the Stanberry, Missouri, headquarters to see whether their leaders would confess error and change.

The answer came back from their head man, editor of their paper and president of their "General Conference." He was forced to admit, in plain words, that their teaching on this point was false and in error. But, he explained, he feared that if any attempt was made to correct this false doctrine and publicly confess the truth, many of their members, especially those of older standing and heavy tithe payers, would be unable to accept it. He feared they would lose confidence in the Church if they found it had been in error on any point. He said he feared many would withdraw their financial support, and it might divide the Church. And therefore he felt the Church could do nothing but continue to teach and preach this doctrine which he admitted in writing to be false.

Naturally, this shook my confidence considerably. This church leader, if not the church itself, was looking to people as the SOURCE of belief, instead of to God! Yet, here was the only Church holding to the one greatest basic truth of the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, kept in the NAME of God, and in spite of this and a few other erroneous teachings, nevertheless being closer to the whole truth than any church I had found.

If this was not the true Church of God, then where was it? (Autobiography, 1973 ed. pages 315-316).

After about two week of our Umapine meetings, a letter from Mrs. Florence Curtis, secretary of the State Conference, informed us that a business meeting had been called...At precisely 5:30 the next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Preston and I bade Elder Dailey goodbye...

This Umapine experience was one more in which no fruit could be borne as long as I teamed with one of the ministers of this church, connected with, or springing from the Stanberry, Missouri, political center.

Years later, still in my search for the one true church, still questioning whether this could be that church, still not having found it elsewhere, I asked Mrs. Runcorn (whom Mrs. Armstrong and I looked upon as our "spiritual mother") if she could point out a single real bonafide convert, brought in from the outside, resulting from the ministry of any of the preachers affiliated with "Stanberry." She thought seriously for quite a while. Then she slowly shook her head. She knew of none. I asked several others who had been in the church for years. Their answers were the same (pages 383-385).

This was the crossroads -- the final pivotal, crucial test before the living Christ began opening the doors of mass communication through which GOD'S WORK at last could come to life after centuries of sleeping, and go forth in mighty power to all the world, preparing the way before Christ's return to earth as Ruler over all nations.

I did not fully realize, then, that this was a crucial turning point in the history of the Church of God. My wife and I did not leave the Church. This was God's Church. Of that I was not, then, completely sure. They came closer to Biblical truth than any other -- but I was seriously disturbed by their lack of power and accomplishment.

What actually was happening, though we did not understand it then, was that a NEW ERA was dawning in the history of the Church of God. The words of Christ are quoted in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Book of Revelation, foretelling the history of God's Church in seven successive eras, or phases. Events since that time have revealed was the transition from the 'Sardis' (Rev. 3:1-5) into the beginning of the 'Philadelphia era'.

Mrs. Armstrong and I continued to fellowship with these brethren. I continued to work with them, and with their ministers, as far as that was possible. The lay brethren continued to look to me for the leadership for getting the Work of God going to the world. But from that "all-day wrangle" I was independent of them and their ministers, financially. From that time I was dependent, solely, on God. We did not ask or solicit financial contributions from any except those who voluntarily became financial co-workers with us. And that has been the policy ever since" (page 448).

Now the living Christ began opening DOORS!

Later research into church history identified where we stood, at the moment, in the prophecy concerning the seven stages, or eras of God's Church from the time of the original apostles, up to Christ's return to earth and establishment of the Kingdom of God. I had been fellowshipping with, working with, the latter part of the Sardis era, as described in Christ's own words in Revelation 3:1-5.

The time had come for the Philadelphia era to begin. It did begin a week later, with the ending of the Firbutte meetings, and establishment of a new local Church of God starting out with 19 members! It is to the Philadelphia era that Christ said He would OPEN DOORS that His Gospel might be worldwide, into all nations, in power. This could not have started as long as I was being employed by MEN, ruled by MEN, not free to serve God FULLY, His way!" (page 450).

As shown in the preceding quotes, Herbert Armstrong left CG7 primarily because of doctrine as well as the fact that to him CG7 did not seem to feel that its top priority should be to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness. His autobiography contains a letter one of CG7's top leaders wrote that CG7 would not teach British Commonwealth and United States peoples were descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, even though that leader believed what Herbert Armstrong had written on that subject was true.

The reality is that former CG7 leader A.N. Dugger had problems in being unwilling to change incorrect doctrine, proclaim certain doctrines publicly that he agreed were right, boldly try to fulfill Matthew 24:14, etc. And although Herbert Armstrong did not directly mention it, according to another former CG7 President Robert Coulter, A.N. Dugger also had some serious personal integrity issues around this time that Herbert W. Armstrong would have likely known about (Robert Coulter not only told me this personally, it is documented in his book The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day) pp. 262, 271, 283-285, etc.). So, because of doctrinal and integrity issues, Herbert W. Armstrong left CG7 and formed a group he named the Radio Church of God (interestingly the same type of issues many decades later resulted in the formation of the Continuing Church of God, see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).

Below is a letter from A.N. Dugger to Herbert W. Armstrong dated July 28, 1929 where A.N. Dugger admits that Herbert Armstrong was correct about the identity of the British peoples but that the Church of God Seventh Day would not teach this (note that this was removed from the 1986 edition edited by the Tkach WCG):

A.N. Dugger British Israel Letter

The reasons Herbert Armstrong gave for leaving are consistent with what CG7 has officially stated.

For documentation, here is what CG7's Bible Advocate Press reported about Herbert Armstrong's departure:

In 1933 the Church of God (Seventh Day) suffered a severe schism, dividing right down the middle. The half that severed (both in members and ministers) established their headquarters in Salem, West Virginia. This new organization was headed by Andrew N. Dugger, who had served as president of the old conference from 1914 to 1928 and as editor of the Bible Advocate from 1914 to 1932. The two divisions reunited in 1949, eventually establishing new headquarters in Denver, Colorado. A small number of dissidents remained separate from the reorganized body, and kept a skeletal work in Salem. Mr. Armstrong gravitated toward the Salem movement. He had aligned himself with A. N. Dugger, thus following Elder Dugger in that association. By 1934, Mr. Armstrong had accepted appointment as one of "the seventy," a group of ministers and church leaders who were charged with "the message for the last days."... Mr. Armstrong was granted ministerial credentials at that time. It was also about this time that Mr. Armstrong began a radio broadcast ministry which he identified as "The Radio Church of God," and which he later contended to be independent of the Salem body’s support or endorsement. Interestingly enough, the Salem body was publishing his reports and articles at the time, so apparently they did not share his understanding. He was carrying the highest documentation that the Church bestows. During the ensuing months and years, Mr. Armstrong began to take an outspoken view on his understanding of British Israelism and the Hebrew feasts. The brethren encouraged him to present to the ministerial body as a whole his views on those subjects, rather than to continue preaching and promoting most forcefully his personal position. It was at Detroit, Michigan, that Mr. Armstrong’s material on the Hebrew festivals was presented. The ministerial body gave full treatment to the positions of Mr. Armstrong and a majority rejected the doctrine as unscriptural. But Mr. Armstrong was most insistent and continued to present his viewpoints in an antagonistic manner. So, in 1938 the Salem organization revoked Mr. Armstrong’s credentials. Official records show the doctrinal dispute to be the reason for the severance" (Quoted in Transformed by Truth, Chapter 12).

An individual who was part of CG7's publishing arm when Herbert W. Armstrong left wrote the following:

It was in the fall of 1937 when Elder Armstrong’s credentials were revoked by the Salem Church of God organization. The reason given by the Board of Twelve for this action was because he taught and kept the annual Feast days. (Kiesz J. The Worldwide Church Of God Vs. The Church Of God (7th Day). http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/rcogvscog7.html 6/24/06).

The holy days are still a major difference between CG7 and the other COGs. This is documented in the article Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? But in the 21st centurt, CG7 modified its anti-holy day stance to a small degree (please see the article Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings).

Here is some of what Herbert Armstrong taught about the Holy Days, with more detail on the last one:

Now in like manner, when God gave His Church seven annual Sabbaths, God, in His wisdom, had a great purpose. These days, too, were given to keep God's children in the true memory and worship of God by keeping us constantly in the understanding of God's great plan of redemption. For these annual days picture the different epochs in the plan of spiritual creation mark the dispensations, and picture their meaning…To what extent shall we put away sin? Not partially, but completely! And, as leaven is also a type of sin (I Corinthians 5:8) leaven puffs up, and so does sin and, as seven is God's number symbolizing completeness, we are to follow the Passover with seven days of unleavened bread! The picture the meaning the symbolism, is not complete with Passover alone. Passover pictures the acceptance of Christ's blood for the remission of past sins. It pictures the crucified the dead Christ. Shall we leave Christ symbolically hanging on the cross? The seven days of unleavened bread following Passover picture to us the complete putting away of sin, the keeping of the Commandments after past sins are forgiven...The New Testament Church continued, year after year, to keep this annual Sabbath, Pentecost, as we shall show. And God gave this festival to His people in order to reveal, and to keep them continually informed, that the present dispensation is only the first, preliminary "harvest of souls."

As already explained, God's purpose in giving His Church His annual holy days was to keep His children constantly in true understanding of God's great plan. To accomplish this, God took the yearly material harvest seasons in ancient Israel as the picture of the spiritual harvest of souls. In the Holy Land there are two annual harvests. First, is the spring grain harvest. Second, comes the fall harvest. God intended His holy days to picture to His Church repeatedly year by year the fact that only those He Himself calls during this age can become His begotten children now! And we are merely the firstfruits of the great spiritual harvest!…

This eighth day, technically a separate feast, is called "the last day, that great day of the feast" (John 7:37).

What does this final holy day represent?

Notice what Jesus preached about on that day: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink . . . out of his belly [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive . . .)" (John 7:37-39).

This was Jesus' sermon giving the meaning of the last great day!

Now turn to Revelation 20. After the Millennium, what happens? A resurrection! The dead stand before God. This couldn't include true Christians today, as they will appear before the judgment seat when Christ returns. It couldn't refer to those converted during the Millennium. They have already inherited the Kingdom during the Millennium, after living out a normal life-span. Those in this resurrection must be those who died in ignorance in past ages! They are not brought to life until after the Millennium (Revelation 20:5).

This is that judgment day mentioned in Matthew 10: 15. It is a time when Gentiles who died in ignorance will be given an opportunity to receive salvation. Ezekiel 16:53-55 makes this very plain. Even those in Israel who died in their sins will be given their first opportunity to understand the truth of God and His way (Ezekiel 37). The prophet wrote that God would pour out His Spirit on those resurrected (verse 14). This is precisely the salvation that Jesus mentioned in His sermon on that great day of the feast in the autumn of AD 30.

This eighth day, which immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, pictures the completion of the plan of redemption. It is just prior to the new heaven and the new earth. All parents and children, young and old will be resurrected. Notice that the "book of life" typifying salvation is opened (Revelation 20:12). Revelation presents the final view of the "judgment day" as the present material heaven and earth are perishing and the faithful are receiving their eternal reward at the throne of Christ. The wicked those who disobey are seen perishing in the lake of fire! What a marvelous plan! All will have an equal opportunity (Armstrong HW. Pagan Holidays--or God’s Holy Days—Which?, booklet, 1976).

Notice the following from Herbert Armstrong's book The Mystery of the Ages:

True religion--God's truth empowered with the love of God imparted by the Holy Spirit...JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ--of knowing TRUTH--and the warmth of God's divine LOVE!...

"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."... And what was Jesus' appearance? It was that of a human man, for he also was the Son of man...

Most important of all however is what is God's nature--his CHARACTER--like? One cannot know what God is unless he know what his CHARACTER is!

THE CHARACTER of both God the Father and Christ the Son is that of spiritual holiness, righteousness and absolute perfection.

That character 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.

It is the way devoid of coveting, lust and greed, vanity and selfishness, competition, strife, violence and destruction, envy and jealousy, resentment and bitterness...

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...

Bear in mind the government of God is based on the LAW of God, which is the way of life of outflowing LOVE, cooperation, concern for the good of the governed...

Full comprehension of God's LAW (his way of life) is imparted by God through the Holy Spirit. But the law of God requires action and performance, and LOVE is the fulfilling of God's law (Rom. 13:10), and it can be fulfilled only by the love of and from God (Rom. 5:5)...

In the plagues God caused against Egypt, God was turning the Egyptian gods and objects of worship against them to show them that these were not gods. Even the plagues were sent in LOVE for the Egyptians...

A Christian must grow and develop in grace, spiritual knowledge and godly character... showing more love or outgoing concern toward others...

The very basic teaching, belief AND DOCTRINE OF God's true Church therefore is based on the righteousness of and obedience to the law of God. That law is LOVE. But it is not human love. Human love cannot rise above the level of human self-centeredness. It must be "the love of God...shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit]" (Rom. 5:5). Ancient Israel could not really obey God's law--they could have kept it according to the strict letter of the law. But since love is the fulfilling of the law and they had only human self-centered love, they could not have kept the law according to the spirit--because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given.

This basic teaching includes, therefore, all the "fruits of the Holy Spirit"--love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, etc.

The teachings of God's true Church are simply those of "living by every word" of the Holy Bible...

Men shall turn from the way of "get" to the way of "give"--God's way of love.

A NEW CIVILIZATION shall now grip the earth!

A major reason that I became part of the old WCG and continue as part of the genuine Church of God is that in addition to proving all things from the Bible, I truly believe that since "God is love" (1 John 4:16) that He has a plan of salvation that will ultimately result in everyone being called and nearly every one who ever lived being saved.

Two must read articles to demonstrate that are Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants and Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis.

God Used Herbert W. Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God

I, and others, believe that God used Herbert W. Armstrong to raise up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God. In the book of Revelation, chapters 1-3, seven overlapping but essentially consecutive churches are shown (more information is in the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3).

One of those eras (Philadelphia) was given an open door by Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel and that era needed to begin in the 1930s.

Although Herbert Armstrong had not realized it at first, this is why God led him away from the Church of God, Seventh Day (who Herbert Armstrong finally realized represented the Sardis era of the Church of God).

At risk of repeating some writings, notice the following quotes from the The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume 1, 1973 edition (note, all of these were changed or removed in the 1986 edition, which is why I do not consider it to properly be The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong):

"I did not fully realize, then, that this was a crucial turning point in the history of the Church of God...What was actually happening was that a NEW ERA was dawning in the history of the Church of God. The words of Christ are quoted in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Book of Revelation, foretelling the history of God's Church in seven successive eras, or phases. Events of the 38 years since that time have revealed that this was the transition from the 'Sardis era' (Rev. 3:1-5) into the beginning of the 'Philadelphia era.'" (1973 ed., page 448)

"Now the living Christ began opening DOORS! Later research into church history identified where we stood, at the moment, in the prophecy concerning the seven stages, or eras of God's Church from the time of the original apostles, up to Christ's return to earth and establishment of the Kingdom of God. I had been fellowshipping with, working with, the latter part of the Sardis era, as described in Christ's own words in Revelation 3:1-5. The time had come for the Philadelphia era to begin. It did begin a week later, with the ending of the Firbutte meetings, and establishment of a new local Church of God starting out with 19 members! It is to the Philadelphia era that Christ said He would OPEN DOORS that His Gospel might be worldwide, into all nations, in power. This could not have started as long as I was being employed by MEN, ruled by MEN, not free to serve God FULLY, His way!" (1973 ed., page 450).

"Actually, although we did not know it then, Christ Himself had started the 'Philadelphia' era or phase of His Church with the organization of that little Church of God now meeting at Jeans school, following the meetings in the Firbutte school, and following the rejection of the salary and authority of men resulting from the 'All-Day Wrangle.'" (1973 ed., page 473)

Amazingly, the leader of CG7 at the time, seemed to understand that a new era was beginning that involved Herbert W. Armstrong as he wrote (bolding mine):

Dear Brother Armstrong:

I presume you think I am very neglectful of duty in not answering your letter before this, but it was a long time since your manuscript reached me...

I feel we are entering into a new era for this message and that it is going to take on new life. In fact the time for the message is now here (Dugger A.N. Letter to HW Armstrong, February 26, 1929).

And while some may claim that A.N. Dugger probably did not mean it in the manner I and others like me understand, notice the parallel from the Bible:

If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish." Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad (John 11:48-52).

Hence, I do believe that since A.N. Dugger may have been the top true religious leader at that time (though he was to be replaced in a few years in God's eyes by Herbert W. Armstrong, similar to how Caiaphas the high priest was replaced by Jesus), that God had him write what he did to help establish the fact that God was going to have Herbert W. Armstrong raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God.

Herbert Armstrong himself later wrote:

"God used me in raising up the first and parent church of this 'Philadelphia era' (Rev. 3:7-13)" (Armstrong, H. Why Many Don't Understand Pentecost. Good News, May 1981).

"From the year 1931, exactly 1,900 years (a century of time cycles) from the foundation of the Church, this small remnant of the original true Church of God began to take on new life as the Philadelphia era… This era of the Church was to produce fruit…" (Mystery of the Ages, 1986 ed., pp. 289-290).

A remnant of the Philadelphia era still exists and is currently best represented by the Continuing Church of God.

Some of What Herbert W. Armstrong Accomplished

Herbert Armstrong was the most effective Church of God leader in centuries. He essentially had four major accomplishments in that role in the opinion of many:

  1. God used him to raise up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God. People who surrendered to God and repented were converted.
  2. God used him to restore at least 18 truths that the previous church era (Sardis) no longer had.
  3. God allowed him to have an insight into many prophetic matters that the previous church era (Sardis) did not have and the final church era (Laodicea), to a signficant degree, has lost.
  4. God used him to preach the Gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness through electronic media (radio and television), print media (booklets, magazines, and books), and personal contact--Herbert Armstrong met personally with many world leaders to share some of the good news of the Kingdom of God (a photo of him after being honored by the Emperor of Japan is in the article titled Japan, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 1: Any Witness?).

Approximately 20 million people per month read the old WCG magazine The Plain Truth (which now has no COG affiliation and no longer teaches the same doctrines that it once did). For a short while after Herbert W. Armstrong's death, the World Tomorrow telecast was the number one rated religious telecast in the whole United States of America--a major accomplishment for a relatively small church.

In addition, to the 18 restored truths, I believe that much of Herbert Armstrong's doctrinal and prophetic teachings have helped the COGs better understand the Bible and world events. Yet, nearly all of the churches that formed after his death have failed to understand so many prophetic matters (see The Laodicean Church Era) that unless they change they will not know when the Great Tribulation will begin.

I also personally and specifically believe that God used Herbert W. Armstrong to help establish a firm foundation for Philadelphia portion of the Church of God so that its remnant will be able to continue to fulfill Matthew 24:14 to preach the Gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness so that the end of this age will come, the two witnesses will arise from our midst, the final phase of the work will be accomplished, and the kingdom of God will be established.

Was Herbert W. Armstrong a Prophet?

Unlike Joseph Smith (Five Dissimilarities Between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Church of God) or Ellen White (SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666), Herbert W. Armstrong did not claim to have massive amounts of biblical truth instantly revealed to him by God or an angel.

He documented in his autobiography how he engaged himself in a six-month study of the Bible after being challenged on the Sabbath and other issues--and then later a 3 1/2 year study. He also wrote:

"Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one to whom God speaks directly, revealing personally a future event to happen or new truth, or new or special instruction from God--separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be" (Personal from the Editor, The 19 Year Time Cycles. The Good News of Tomorrow's World. February, 1972, p. 1).

An unlikely source to back Herbert W. Armstrong's claim in this regard is Joseph Tkach Jr. Yet, here is some of what he wrote about Herbert W. Armstrong and the subject of divine revelation in Transformed by Truth:

Mr. Armstrong used the term revealed in a way substantially different from how one might see it defined in most dictionaries or seminary textbooks. When he said something had been revealed to him, he did not mean that God had poured the new understanding directly into his waiting mind. No, whatever the new teaching happened to be, it usually came through a more human channel. "When some people hear this for the first time, they wrongly assume that Mr. Armstrong knowingly talked about 'new revelation' in a deceitfully malicious way. When he'd talk about ideas being revealed to him, most people automatically assumed he meant revealed in the sense of Paul's experience on the Damascus road or Isaiah's experience when he was called into ministry as described in Isaiah 6. But this would be to misunderstand. "Mr. Armstrong's use of the term revealed was a good deal more elastic than that, and I don't believe it was deliberately deceitful or malicious . . . Regardless of what you may personally think of Herbert W. Armstrong, one fact is incontrovertible: The overriding reason our reforms have developed and taken root is that Mr. Armstrong himself always insisted that those who want to follow God must find out what God's Word really says, then go and do it.

After making a particular theological mistake, Herbert Armstrong wrote:

All of us have carelessly assumed, taken for granted, accepted and followed more customs, ideas and ways than we realize. As the years have raced by, I have learned to be much more careful to check and prove all beliefs and practices (Autobiography, 1973 edition, page 466).

Herbert W. Armstrong himself personally taught to listen and believe the Bible and not him. Herbert W. Armstrong frequently taught:

Don't believe me BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE BELIEVE GOD!

Herbert W. Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, Sept. 1963, Personal pg.1

 

That is fabulous advice. And I would tell Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, LDS, and everyone else the same thing. Here is my own slightly expanded version of the above:

Don't simply believe me Believe what the Bible really Teaches Believe the Truth Prove all things – Believe God!

Now in that same 1963 issue of the old Plain Truth shows a bit more for that quote from Herbert Armstrong, plus notice something he wrote nine years later:

Don't believe me – BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE – BELIEVE GOD! I always say...check up! Listen without prejudice, with open mind, then check up--go to your BIBLE, and BELIEVE what you read there. (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth. September 1963.)

The Bible is the written Word of God - and, for our time now, it is COMPLETE! Never have I believed or claimed that God reveals to me new truths not contained in the Bible - in addition to, or apart from the Bible. (Armstrong H. Personal from the Editor, The 19 Year Time Cycles. The Good News of Tomorrow's World. February, 1972, p. 1)

This is what follower of Jesus Christ should do. Sadly, many in groups like RCG, PCG, etc., and various "independents," etc. have not paid sufficient attention to this and believe that Herbert Armstrong's teachings are somewhat on par with the Bible. His writings were definitely not and should not be viewed that way.

Perhaps I should also add here that many have made a variety of accusations against Herbert W. Armstrong that I have investigated and often found to be without proof or proper substantiation (an article of related interest may include 15 Accusations and Truthful Responses About Herbert Armstrong.

Was Herbert W. Armstrong the Final Elijah?

Herbert Armstrong himself wrote:

Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349).  

The longer it takes from the death of Herbert W. Armstrong until it is time to flee (please see the article There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra), the more likely it will be that there must be one other than Herbert W. Armstrong to fulfill the Elijah role (with another option perhaps being that the entire Philadelphia portion of the COG could be fulfilling that role).  

While Herbert W. Armstrong believed that God allowed him to restore many things, he never stated that there was nothing else that needed to be restored! Nor did he ever claim to restore all things as Jesus said the final Elijah would (Matthew 17:11).

Notice something that HWA actually wrote about him being Elijah:

I have been asked "Are you the Elijah?"  And I say "No." (Armstrong, Herbert W.  Congress of Leading Ministers Hears Defined and Reemphasized Spiritual Organization of Church.  Worldwide News, March 6, 1981, p. 10)

Herbert Armstrong himself stated in a sermon given on the last day of Unleavened Bread in April 1985,

You know there is a prophecy about John the Baptist, while the prophecy is talking about Elijah.  But if you read in {Herbert W. Armstrong apparently meant “about”} Elijah {“in Malachi”} 3 and verses 1-5, it is talking, not  about  someone preparing the way for Christ’s first coming, but when Christ comes to set on the throne of the earth and remove Satan.  You read verse 1 and you can apply that to John the Baptist.  But you read on through verses 2,3,4, and 5 and you find its talking about the second coming of Christ.  The things He will do then, but He did none of those things that are in verse 2,3,4, and 5 when He came the first time.  Now John the Baptist did fulfill verse 1.  Even Jesus said so.  Jesus said that he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah.  Was he Elijah?  No he wasn’t.  They asked John the Baptist, ‘Are you Elijah?’  He said, ‘No I am not’.  He wasn’t a liar.  He knew the truth.  He was not Elijah.  Am I Elijah?  No, definitely not!  Now I met Elijah.  Elijah has come to me and announced that he was Elijah, but I showed him the way out of the office.  I did not believe him.

Although he sometimes believed he was the final Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong admitted to Aaron Dean, his long-time personal aide (and Aaron Dean told me this personally) that he might not have understood the biblical passages on the Elijah correctly before he died, and that God could raise someone else up to fulfill the Elijah role.  Furthermore, Evangelist Dibar Apartian (who knew Herbert W. Armstrong for decades) told me personally that Herbert W. Armstrong specifically expressed doubt to that he (Herbert W. Armstrong) was Elijah. 

While there are some groups and independents who cling to the idea that Herbert W. Armstrong must be the final Elijah, neither he nor the real Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God (nor most other groups that had some origins with the old Worldwide Church of God) believe that this is what the Bible teaches. This is documented in much more detail in the article titled The Elijah Heresies.

Those who cling to the Elijah heresies often do not view Herbert W. Armstrong's writings or legacy properly (they tend to overstate their interpretations of his writings above the Bible--which is wrong).

Was Herbert W. Armstrong 'Zerbubbal'?

Some have speculated that the late Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) was a type of Zerubbabel and that God using him to establish the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God was a type of laying the foundation for the spiritual temple.

Yet, since he did not finish the work, it was not him (he also quoted that scripture, Zechariah 4:9 on p. 38 of the Plain Truth in August 1979). Of course, presuming the two witnesses saw the work of his day, they would obviously preach a message consistent with the message that HWA himself did, which would be one consistent with the truths he felt God had him restore to the COG. Notice what Herbert Armstrong wrote:

Read what God says of those who say and do that Now WHEN is the TIME of this prophecy in Revelation? Read right on. Chapter 11 is merely a chapter division written by MEN. But John's book of Revelation continues right on. The apostle, in his vision, is told now by this same angel to rise and MEASURE THE TEMPLE. But LEAVE OUT the court which is for the Gentiles, for they shall tread down the Holy City for 3 1/2 years. So the TIME of our prophecy is at least 3 1/2 YEARS before Christ's coming--before THE GREAT TRIBULATION before the beginning of the DAY OF THE LORD and before the seventh angel blows the last trumpet! Then it continues on into the massage of the TWO WITNESSES--also referred to and perhaps identified in Haggai and Zechariah. And THEY SHALL PREACH A LAST WARNING TO THE WHOLE WORLD FOR 3 1/2 YEARS! (Armstrong HW. Co-worker letter, November 19, 1976)

Since Herbert Armstrong died, he obviously was not one of the two witnesses, and his reference to those two identified in Haggai and Zechariah is a reference to an end time Zerubbabel and Joshua. Thus, Herbert Armstrong was not Zerubbabel.

Herbert W. Armstrong Met With World Leaders and Others

In order to get the gospel out and attempt to fulfill Matthew 24:14, Herbert Armstrong met with leaders around the world. He met with top governmental officials including presidents, kings/queens, prime minister, princes, and ambassadors.

He also spoke before others. Perhaps the first major start was in the Philippines, on May 12, 1974:

Sunday, he spoke before 200 members of the Knights of Columbus and Daughters of Isabel...May 13...he hosted a dinner for Mrs. Josefa E. Marcos, mother of the President...At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Mr. Armstrong left Manilla and traveled north to Angeles City to visit Angeles City to visit Angeles University where an honorary doctorate was conferred upon him...On Friday, President Ferdand Marcos warmly received Mr. Armstrong at the Malacknang Palace...On Monday morning, May 20, Mr. Armstrong went to Malacknang Palace to say goodbye to Mrs. Josefa E. Marcos before leaving for Bangcock Thailand (Adair C. Manila. Good News magazine, August 1974, pp. 19-21)

While in Thailand, Herbert Armstrong he met with leaders there. He was also honored by the top governmental leaders with a type of knighthood:

Thailand's Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda personally congratulates Mr. Armstrong for the royal Thai decoration conferred on behalf of Thailand's King Bhumibol. Mr. Armstrong received the royal honor of "Commander of Our Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand" through an official proxy in a formal ceremony in Bangkok...

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, honoring Herbert W. Armstrong through an official proxy, conferred the royal Thai decoration of "Commander of Our Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand" in a formal ceremony in Bangkok. (AMBASSADOR FOUNDATION Presents Herbert W. Armstrong - Ambassador for World Peace. 1983, p. 29-31)

Note: Some on the internet have improperly said that this 'Order' was the Catholic Knights of Columbus, it was not. It was, and is, an order of the Thailand government:

The Order was established in 1869 by King Rama V to be bestowed onto Thai and foreign dignitaries for their services to the Kingdom. (http://www.cabinet.thaigov.go.th/eng/d_Crown00.htm viewed 06/29/13)

Herbert Armstrong met many world leaders and accepted awards and titles when he felt they could help him open doors that may have otherwise been closed.

Was Herbert W. Armstrong an Apostle? How is He Viewed?

This section was essentially inspired by some emails I received from a reader who had had some affiliation with the Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) (essentially my responses to him follow):

I don't really know about Armstrong and shy away from a lot of additional writings (White, Armstrong, etc). I am seeking and will study more. I find your writings helpful-- A UCG and a LCG guy called me- they both were nice- both said to stay away from the Philadelphia COG breakaway group. All I could really see a difference in was in the way they are governed- I find that one person as Armstrong and White, or any others that ENHANCE the bible, and followed are a little off track, BUT I am an open minded seeker and an independent researcher. All I could really see a difference in was in the way they are governed- I find that one person as Armstrong and White, or any others that ENHANCE the bible, and followed are a little off track, BUT I am an open minded seeker and an independent researcher. I also don't know much about the armstrong Israel thing or the triple tithe thing. The feast days, I know very little about. I do believe that it is clear in the bible about no sunday rising or Wed crucifixion- that doesn't take much to figure- I also know that the trinity thing as most Christendom accepts is pagan and of Rome. If there are any clear teachings that are salvational that armstrong taught, let me know. ...

I appreciate all your writing, your research and knowledge. I was an independent SDA(non-conference) for several years after I dropped my conference membership and the ones I associated with promoted that White was a messenger, inspired of God--I gather, BUT may be wrong in that I see that many COG's that broke away from the WWCG may see Armstrong in the same way- Am I wrong? and if so please inform me where I may really study him out by an unbiased writer. I guess one question would help me in this matter- can a person be a baptized member of the LCG or UCG if they leave Armstrong out of their beliefs and studies and just go by the bible only- As an example I learned of the Wed crucif by the bible only, not from anyone else. I know that conference SDA's have to accept the writings of White. Respectfully, GH

The PCG and RCG and some others, do wrongly hold Herbert W. Armstrong in a similar light as SDAs do Ellen White.

We in the Continuing Church of God do not.

Those in charge at various COG groups somewhat knew Herbert W. Armstrong and hold no illusions to him being perfect or close to it. We in the CCOG tend to consider that God sent Herbert W. Armstrong (hence the "apostle" title, as apostle means "one sent") to raise up the Philadelphia portion of the COG.

But even as Paul chastised the Apostle Peter for error (Galatians 2:14-21), we do not feel that Herbert W. Armstrong was perfect, nor that he intended his writings to be on par with scripture. Herbert W. Armstrong himself often publicly stated not to believe him but believe what it is written in the Bible. So, though we in the COGs that came from the old Worldwide Church of God do believe that God used Herbert W. Armstrong to restore a lot of truth to the COG, we do not believe that he was without error or that he intended his writings to be considered nearly sacred. Nor did HWA consider he was without error or his writings sacred.

We in the Continuing Church of God recognize that it is only the name of Jesus that is necessary for salvation (see Acts 4:9-12). As far as baptism goes, one does not even need to have ever heard the name Herbert W. Armstrong for baptism in the CCOG or LCG or UCG or COGWA (this differs from PCG and some others). Though, most groups would expect that you agree with their official doctrines (which we in the CCOG believe we have documented from the Bible).

It may also be of interest to note that Herbert W. Armstrong's ministerial license does state that he was ordained to be an apostle. And although that was commonly on the old CG7 licenses, I believe that the fruits of Herbert Armstrong's ministry show that he, and possibly he alone, of the CG7 ordained ministers, fulfilled that office (A.N. Dugger, and or one or more others, may have, though I have had concerns about him).

If you read my article on the SDAs, you will see that we in the CCOG DO NOT treat Herbert W. Armstrong's writings like the SDAs treat Ellen White's (please see the article SDA/CCOG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666).

An another email the same reader who asked about Herbert Armstrong stated:

"Also why did the wwcg (in your opinion) not grow past 100-120 thousand in over 50 years with their prophet Armstrong, when the SDA with their prophet White amazingly grew?"

Herbert W. Armstrong said that he was not a prophet (see previous section). We in the CCOG do not consider him to have been a prophet.

As far as growth, the SDAs sadly normally have a false message as that is based upon Ellen White's interpretation of why Jesus did not return in 1844 (please see the article SDA/CCOG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666). Furthermore, because of various changes, SDAs the do not really understand the Godhead and nor do they properly teach Christ's gospel of the kingdom, even though they do keep the ten commandments and the Sabbath. The Bible shows that Jesus taught that the true COG would be a "little flock". While there MAY be some in the SDA groups (perhaps in smaller fringe groups) that are part of the COG, I do not consider that SDAs in general are part of the COG.

Two articles of related interest may include SDA/CCOG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 and the History of Early Christianity.

Speaking of false messages, it should be understood that Herbert W. Armstrong intentionally did NOT appoint nor anoint anyone to hold the office or title of apostle after him, and we in the CCOG do not believe that our top leader needs to have that title. The four or more people who claim COG affiliation yet also claim to be apostles now (David Pack of RCG comes to mind) are NOT considered to be valid apostles by any except their followers.

Later Years, Garner Ted Armstrong, and Joseph Tkach

Garner Ted Armstrong was considered by many to be Herbert Armstrong's "heir apparent" to run the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Listening to Garner Ted Armstrong on the radio was my (COGwriter) first contact with any from the COG. My earliest recollections involved him teaching against evolution (which I also taught against) and asking about the fate of babies and small children who die (an area of doctrinal teaching that Protestants and Roman Catholics, in my opinion then and now, were in biblical error--even though the Catholic position has recently changed it to be closer to the biblical truth than its previous position). These two subjects got my attention, and spurred my interest in the Church of God.

However, because of his own personal impropriety and rebellion, Garner Ted Armstrong was properly put out of the WCG by his father (some of this is discussed in the article on the Intercontinental Church of God). Some comments Garner Ted Armstrong made on CBS's 60 Minutes telecast in the late 1970s that I saw convinced me that Garner Ted Armstrong was properly put out (as did subsequent news stories in the decades that followed).

Although some claim that Garner Ted Armstrong had accused Herbert Armstrong of a particular serious impropriety, when I personally called his (Garner Ted Armstrong) office to check into that charge, Garner Ted Armstrong would NOT stand by any of the statements attributed to him in that matter (more information on that is included in the article 15 Accusations and Truthful Responses About Herbert Armstrong) and instead responded with:

"everything you really need to know about my father is contained within the Autobiography" (Response to B. Thiel from the Intercontinental Church of God, December 12, 2002).

After Garner Ted Armstrong was put out of WCG, Herbert Armstrong, though of an advanced age, began again to make television and radio broadcasts. Herbert Armstrong died on January 16, 1986, at age 93 1/2.

Here is a brief account of some of Herbert Armstrong's later years:

By the time he finally died in 1986—at 93 years of age—the church’s annual income had about tripled. And after taking over responsibilities as full-time presenter on The World Tomorrow at age 85, the program became one of the highest-rated religious programs on television. The Plain Truth, Good News and Youth circulations all skyrocketed.

In 1985, while nearly blind, Mr. Armstrong began yet another monumental project. “With the writing of the new book Mystery of the Ages,” he wrote, “God has helped me this year to do the best work of my 93 years of life!” He did his best work during his 90s! In fact, before he died, Mr. Armstrong said he had understood more in the last 10 years of his life than he had all the previous decades put together.

That’s a tremendous level of achievement for a man who would have rather died at the age of 85. “It would be so nice if I could retire,” Mr. Armstrong told a group of ministers in 1981, “because it’s a pretty heavy load I have to carry. But I’m not thinking of myself, I’m thinking of what I’ve been called to do. And it must be done.”

Mr. Armstrong kept right on serving God even as an elderly, blind man. And in doing so, he got the Worldwide Church of God back on track, defeated the state of California in a nationally known lawsuit, became one of the most popular religious personalities on television, nearly quadrupled the church’s growth in every major category, raised up and promoted numerous youth programs, traveled the world to meet with presidents and prime ministers and wrote a 363-page book.

For Many People

Herbert W. Armstrong prepared his last will and testament on Jan. 12, 1986—four days before he died. Knowing he was near death, his first directive was that Herman Hoeh officiate the funeral “without pomp and undue ceremony.”

In his second directive, he bequeathed all his property of “every kind and nature” to the Worldwide Church of God. Think about that. He had been pastor general of that church for more than 50 years. And though it started pitifully small, at the time of his death, the church’s annual income was $164 million. As founder and pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong could have amassed a personal fortune by the time he died. As it was, the house he died in belonged to the church. The plane he traveled in belonged to the church. The cars he commuted in belonged to the church. And what he actually did own at the time of his death—even though he had three living children—he left to the church.

Had he been in it for the extravagant opulence that Tkach Jr. accused him of, can you imagine what kind of retirement package he could have set up for himself after 30 or 40 years as pastor general? Yet, he served God and tirelessly worked right up until the day he died. And at his death, every material possession he owned went right back to the church.

In his will, he explained that he chose not to leave his descendants anything—not because of any ill will toward them—but because he believed they had “adequate means of their own” and because leaving what he had to the church would ensure that it “be put to more permanent and beneficial use for many people.”

That about sums up Herbert W. Armstrong’s legacy.

Even on his deathbed, his final wish was for everything he owned to go toward the work so that “many people” might benefit.

Mr. Armstrong put God’s Family and God’s work first. And as difficult as that might be to grasp, looking at it humanly, isn’t that what we should expect from a man of God? Jesus Christ, after all, said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” That’s what Jesus taught—and lived.

Wouldn’t you expect Jesus Christ to put God’s Family and God’s work first? “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work,” Christ said. It wasn’t an option for Him—He had to work. He never considered retirement. He kept right on working until the day mankind murdered Him for putting God first.

Putting God and His work first is the basic theme of the Bible.

Herbert W. Armstrong put this principle—this law—into action. He gave and gave and gave and gave. Then he died (Flurry S. Stewardship, Part II. The Trumpet, Nov-Dec 2007. p. 31).

Just prior to his death, Herbert Armstrong announced that Joseph Tkach would succeed him in running the church, though NOT as an apostle, but as an evangelist.

Although Joseph Tkach publicly pledged to continue with the same doctrines and practices that Herbert Armstrong had done, after a few years he made many changes and essentially taught against many of the teachings that Herbert Armstrong once embraced. About two months before he died (he died in September 1995), Joseph Tkach invited me into his home (a mansion in Pasadena) too meet with him on personal matters of his. Although by this time I had decided that he had made too many changes to be a true COG leader, once meeting in his home, I was more convinced that I should no longer have any affiliation with the Worldwide Church of God.

Upon his death, he was replaced by his son, Joseph Tkach, Jr. who he had appointed to takeover over. Joseph Tkach, Jr. continued to remove COG teachings from the Worldwide Church of God. Here are some comments about Joseph Tkach, Jr. getting that position:

When His father, Joseph Tkach, Sr. became the leader of the WCG, Joe, Jr. was not even attending the WCG regularly and had never even been a "church pastor". His father brought him to the Pasadena Headquarters and placed him in charge of the ministry worldwide. As the international ministers refused to accept him, he was then placed in charge of only the USA ministry. It appears to me that he received his position primarily because he was his father's son (Edwards, Norman. Letters & Responses. Servants' News. July-Aug 2007, p. 16).

Because of these changes, the majority of people left the Worldwide Church of God and many became independent or part of various COG groups that formed. Some, sadly, left the truth of the Bible entirely.

Now the Worldwide Church of God itself is simply another Protestant denomination with little doctrinally that distinguish it from the rest of the world's churches. It now does not tolerate many of the teachings that Herbert Armstrong endorsed.

Concluding Thoughts on Herbert W. Armstrong

Herbert W. Armstrong was a prolific writer. First as an advertising executive, and later as a church leader.

Herbert W. Armstrong should be viewed as an imperfect human being who God knocked out of his business world and who was called to follow Jesus Christ of the Bible. He was converted to biblical Christianity, attempted to follow the Apostle Paul's admonition to "prove all things" (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and tried to do what he was called to do. Though not perfectly. Of course, other than Jesus, no man ever was.

While we in the Continuing Church of God feel that Herbert Armstrong did an Elijah-like work, we recognize that as time passes that it is more and more likely that God has to raise someone else up (like possibly one of the two witnesses) and/or has been raising someone up to fulfill the role of the prophesied final end-time Elijah.

We in CCOG believe that God used Herbert W. Armstrong to raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God and that a remnant of that Philadelphia Church is extant today and is best represented by the Continuing Church of God.

We in the Continuing Church of God recognize that it is only the name of Jesus that is necessary for salvation, but that we do respect the work that God had Herbert W. Armstrong accomplish. A work that we of the Continuing Church of God are trying to continue--that is the legacy that we believe that God and Herbert Armstrong wanted to be continued (an article of related interest may include Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?).

I also personally and specifically believe that God used Herbert W. Armstrong to help establish a firm foundation for Philadelphia portion of the Church of God so that its remnant, as led by the Continuing Church of God, will be able to continue to fulfill Matthew 24:14 to preach the Gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness so that the end of this age will come, the two witnesses will arise from our midst, the final phase of the work will be accomplished, and the kingdom of God will be established.

The kingdom of God is what Herbert Armstrong also taught as the wonderful world tomorrow (articles of related interest may include Did The Early Church Millenarianism? and Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). And in it, Jesus the Christ (Revelation 11:15) and His followers (Revelation 22:5) "will reign forever and ever."

And that is part of his legacy that we of the Philadelphia remnant, continue to proclaim today.

Thiel B., Ph.D. Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today? www.cogwriter.com/herbertwarmstrong.htm (c) 2007/2009/2010/2012/2013/2014 0707

Articles of related interest may include:

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church?
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now a remnant exists and is best represented by the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era was predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. Non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?
Do You Believe God Used Herbert Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God?
The Elijah Heresies
Independent Members of the COG: Herbert W. Armstrong Comments, Plus Questions and Answers
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?