Cartwright’s Journal Out: ‘Bible Answer Man,’ Walter Martin, & the ‘Council of Venice’


The latest issue (says #173, print date May 31, 2015) of The Journal was sent out electronically and received today.

The main item covered included a lot on the apostasy/falling away in the old WCG and someone called the ‘Bible Answer Man.’ Here is some of the information in the main article of the current edition of The Journal:

WCG leaders aired doctrinal views on CRI’s radio program

By Dixon Cartwright

The pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God described to an international radio-talk-show audience Jan. 4, 5 and 12, 1996, the transformation of the WCG from a legalistic sect whose members were plagued by cognitive dissonance into a fledgling Protestant denomination coming out of a cave and seeking acceptance by the world of mainstream churches. Joseph Tkach Jr., WCG pastor general, and Greg Albrecht, editor in chief of the WCG’s Plain Truth magazine, appeared on The Bible Answer Man radio talk show with host Hank Hane- graaff on segments originating in a studio in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Bible Answer Man is spon- sored by Mr. Hanegraaff’s Christian Research Institute (CRI), which was founded by the late Walter Martin, who wrote Kingdom of the Cults, a book dedicated to exposing what he termed non-Christian sects, including the Worldwide Church of God. …

Mr. Hanegraaff noted that WCG leaders had contacted him “probably two or three years ago” and “we have spent quite a bit of time together over the last few years.”

On fire to help

Mr. Albrecht commented that he was “a longtime listener of the program, so it’s great to be on the show with you.” Mr. Tkach said he and other WCG leaders—he named specifically Mr. Albrecht, church-administration director Mike Feazell, treasurer Bernie Schnippert (who died in 2014) and computer-information-systems manager David Smith—“all have a fire in our belly to help others realize the pain of legalism and to escape it.”

Mr. Tkach said he hopes the experiences of the Worldwide Church of God will promote a “ripple effect throughout the entire Saturday-Sabbath-keeping community” so Sabbatarians can “realize the Sabbath in its proper perspective.”

Although Mr. Tkach and Mr. Albrecht couched their phrases in diplomatic terms when it came to describing the WCG of old and its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, Mr. Hanegraaff was more to the point in saying that Mr. Armstrong espoused “false doctrine.”

Mr. Albrecht noted that he could not “stand in judgment” of Mr. Arm- strong “in terms of the basis of his sal- vation,” but Mr. Hanegraaff noted that the WCG has “judged his [Mr. Armstrong’s] writings, and that is why you’ve changed them.”

Mr. Tkach responded, “You said that very well.”

The talk-show host asked Mr. Tkach to confirm that he personally, as well as the Worldwide Church of God, repudiates many of the former WCG teachings espoused by Mr. Armstrong: “You are comfortable in saying that Herbert W. Armstrong did deny essen- tials of the historic Christian faith; the Trinity would be a good example?”

“Absolutely,” replied Mr. Tkach. “I have no reservations in saying that some of the things that Mr. Armstrong taught were in major error.”

Of course, the statement that the WCG has repudiated its own core doctrines— and by extension the doctrines of the other Sabbatarian groups with origins in the Worldwide Church of God—is no surprise to readers of this newspaper. But it is instructive to hear some of the testimonials of their newfound faith from the lips of two of the principal apologists of the new teachings.

I remember some of the false information that WCG leaders were giving at the time and recall a little bit from the falsely named ‘Bible Answer Man.’  WCG leaders kept telling the membership that the changes were not planned, but more information points to a plot to introduce heretical doctrines.  WCG is now named Grace Communion International and is basically just another Protestant sect.  Real Church of God groups, like the Continuing Church of God are NOT Protestant, as our histories and doctrines greatly differ (see details, for two examples, in the booklets  Where is the True Christian Church Today? and Continuing History of the Church of God).

As far as Walter Martin goes, he discredited himself by making several inaccurate claims about the old WCG and its teachings.  Dr. Walter Martin preferred to use negative labels such as “Armstrongism” to refer to the COG.  He preferred that possibly because he knew that the expression Church of God is used extensively throughout the New Testament for the true Church (about 12 times in singular and plural forms). Dr. Martin wrote the following:

The Armstrong cults believe that Armstrong was God’s sole channel of divine truth. (Martin W. The Kingdom of the Cults. Baker Books, 2003, p. 502)

But that is not true.

That was never the position of any truly in the Philadelphia remnant.

Plus, Herbert Armstrong made errors and I and certain other COG leaders have repeatedly acknowledged that he did. Sadly, however, COG critics tend to like to listen to other COG critics and often accept improper assertions about the COG as facts. Notice something else that Herbert Armstrong taught:

“Don’t believe me – BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE – BELIEVE GOD!” (Armstrong HW. Personal. Plain Truth magazine, September 1963, p. 1)

All non-biblical doctrinal literature, including what someone like Herbert Armstrong wrote, should be proven by the Bible to be believed (cf. Acts 17:11). Dr. Walter Martin was basically bearing false witness, but many have relied on him instead of checking for the truth.  As far as cults go, consider reading the article Is The Church of God a Cult?

Walter Martin also falsely claimed that Amos disproved Anglo-Israelism. Notice what he wrote:

The coup de grace to Anglo-Israelism’s fragmented exegesis is given by the prophet Amos of Judah…(Amos, dwelling in Bethel, prophesied against Israel’s restoration as a separate kingdom [Amos 9:8-12]). We learn from this prophecy that as a kingdom, the ten-tribes were to suffer destruction, and their restoration would never be realized. How then is it possible for them to be ‘lost’ and reappear three millenniums later as the British Kingdom when that Kingdom was never to be restored? (Martin W. Martin W. The Kingdom of the Cults.  Baker Books, 2003, p. 518)

Amos 9:8-10 (which was cited earlier) teaches that God would make it so the ancient kingdom of Israel would no longer be able to exist (it still does not), that Jacob though would still remain (his descendants still do), that those people would be sifted through the nations (which they have been), and that the sinners among them will be punished (which will happen)—since those of us in the CCOG believe all that, we would tend to state that Amos 9:8-10 supports, and does not disprove, British-Israelism (I even quoted it in this article before I added Walter Martin’s comment about it).  British-Israelism, as understood in the CCOG, does not mean all ten tribes became the British Empire, but mainly one, along with another that became the USA.

Perhaps it should also be noted that Jeremiah 51:5-6, especially when compared to Revelation 18:2-6 and Ezekiel 37:15-26, clearly shows that into the present century that God still considers that Israel is separate from Judah; thus, despite comments from critics, the Bible does teach many aspects of “British-Israelism” (see also the article Who are the 12 Tribes of Israel?).

As far as the Trinity goes, there is another article in The Journal by Dr. Tom Roberts who mentions a Protestant ‘Council of Venice’ which took an anti-trinitarian perspective in the mid-16th century.  Dr. Roberts indicated that this Council gets little historical reference as most Protestants are trinitarian and do not wish to admit that some people (mainly certain Anabaptists) still had issues with that doctrine that late in history.

The reality, for those that have not properly studied church history, is that the modern Greco-Roman trinity was not finalized until the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D., three and one-half centuries after Jesus was resurrected.

Information on the Godhead, including the development of the trinity, can be found in some of the following:

Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
What is the Holy Spirit? This is an article by Rod Reynolds.
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Did the Archangel Michael become Jesus? The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach this, but does the Bible allow for this?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a longer article than the Binitarian View article, and has a little more information on binitarianism, and less about unitarianism. A related sermon is also available: Binitarian view of the Godhead.

The Journal also had the usual letters to the editor and other advertisements, various comments, and opinion articles.

The Journal itself is available by paid subscription (though Dixon Cartwright says some subscriptions are free to those who cannot afford it).

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