PCG’s Changes to the Mystery of the Ages


As part of a lawsuit settlement with WCG years ago, Gerald Flurry’s so-called Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) acquired rights to reproduce certain documents written by the late Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA).  The lawsuit was originally triggered by PCG’s distribution of a book by HWA titled The Mystery of the Ages (MOA).

Yesterday, I received an email from someone who received a copy of it from PCG and the sender noticed that it did not line up with a citation made in one of my articles.   The sender then asked me:

I ordered  the book by HWA “Mystery of the Ages” from PCOG and well I’ve come to find last night reading your article “You May Have Been Deceived on HWA’s 18 Truths”. Well reading your article you quoted from his book along with page # and the copy I have doesn’t at all match up. Why? Is the book that I have not the original copy? I don’t understand, this isn’t the first time this concern with this book has come up, I have also read other articles from other commentators and found the same problem. I hope that you’ll be able to shed light on this for me. If the copy I have has been changed, why? Where can I find the real copy?

Well, although nearly all of it is unchanged, yes PCG changed some parts of it (sort of like what the Tkach WCG did when it sent members a modified version of the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, for details, see the article The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?).  Originals of The Mystery of the Ages are sometimes sold on sites such as Amazon.com (my copy, which is not for sale is what is shown at the beginning of today’s post).  The original came out in 1985 and was published by Dood, Mead & Company and had a list price of $12.95. (Personal to Robby : The reason I did a public post is that your email address bounced out twice as undeliverable when I tried to send you my reply.)

The reasons WHY PCG made changes appears to be that certain statements that HWA made disagree with PCG’s form of governance and some other doctrinal points in order to help try to justify the role of “prophet” that Gerald Flurry has taken for himself.

PCG makes some true and some unusual claims about Herbert Armstrong’s book the Mystery of the Ages:

The number one reason listed in the Pastor General’s Report for discontinuing Mystery of the Ages was COST! That’s right–COST! Now that is spiritual FRAUD! How could the WCG afford to donate $200,000 and more to various relief funds, and yet be unable to afford to print God’s inspired words?! (Flurry, Gerald. Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today. Booklet. 1995. p.129.).

Although I agree that WCG did not discontinue because of cost, it seems quite presumptuous to state that the Mystery of the Ages are “God’s inspired words”.

However, if PCG considers the Mystery of the Ages “God’s inspired words”, why did it edit portions out? In its 2003 version that it now controls, it edited out the statement on page 245 “No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church”. I presume that Gerald Flurry edited this out as it contradicts his own positions.

Robert Kuhne reports that Gerald Flurry’s PCG has edited out at least four statements (numbers added by me) from HWA’s Mystery of the Ages:

1) “No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church”. [MA, pg. 245 top, PCG first edition]
2) “Meanwhile, an individual few in Old Testament Israel did obey God and by becoming God’s prophets, they became part of the very foundation of the New Testament CHURCH OF GOD. The Church is built on the solid FOUNDATION of the prophets (Old Testament) and apostles (New Testament), Jesus Christ himself being “the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).” [MA, pg. 174 (both 1985 hardback & 2003 PCG copyright softback)]
3)”The prophets set in the foundation of the Church are those of the Old Testament, whose writings were used to form a considerable part of New Testament and gospel teaching and functioning. No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church.” [MA, pg. 244 (1985 hardback), pg. 245 (1997 pirated softback)]
4) “All teaching came from Christ through the apostles — and a few times Christ communicated to apostles via the prophets (of which there are none in God’s Church today since the Bible for our time is complete).” [MA, pg. 350 (both 1985 hardback & 2003 PCG copyright softback)]

Presuming Robert Kuhne is accurate (as he has been, and I did check out the first change and verified it some years ago) this suggests that some in PCG are attempting to “rewrite history” (the Tkach administration did that with HWA’s autobiography by editing out all references to the Philadelphia and Sardis Church eras, see The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?).

Regarding Mystery of the Ages, PCG has argued in court,

…that to prohibit PCG’s use of the book would be to suppress both the unique expression of ideas in the book…and the ability of PCG’s members to live according to their religious faith (Leap, Dennis. Continuing to Fight. Philadelphia Trumpet. Feb 2002, p.27).

So in other words, PCG seems to be saying that PCG could not exist if it had not illegally copied and distributed Mystery of the Ages.

Notice another claim:

Revelation 10…So here we are in this transition. There’s a little a little book talked about and MOA in Verse 7 that’s talked about, that leads right into the second coming of Jesus Christ (Flurry G. Prophesying Again Part 4, November 1, 2003. Sermon transcript at http://www.pcog.info/, January 13, 2004).

It should be noted that HWA had a different explantion of the little book of Revelation 10 and never taught that MOA (Mystery of the Ages) was in Revelation 10:7.  Those interested in that should and more about PCG and its changes should read the article Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God.

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