Armstrongism

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Armstrongism is the common name of the particular doctrine identified with the preaching of Herbert W. Armstrong, a radio preacher in the 30's and 40's, and original founder of The World Wide Church of God and Plain Truth Magazine in 1950. It has been classified as a cult[1]. He opposed Trinitarianism as an evil deception by Satan, asserting from proof texts in the Bible that God the Father and God the Son (Jesus) are two separate beings, essentially two Gods. At its height, The World Wide Church of God boasted 150,000 members scattered throughout the world.

After his death in January 1986, Herbert W. Armstrong was expected by many to be succeeded by his heir-apparent son, the charismatically handsome and well-spoken televangelist Garner Ted Armstrong, whose espoused doctrines follow that of his father, namely, denial of the Trinity, denial of the bodily resurrection, and denial of biblical salvation. Amid charges of sexual misconduct, his forced departure from his father’s domain landed him in Tyler, Texas, with thousands of television followers[2]. His playboy lifestyle followed him into the 1990’s with new charges of sexual misconduct, again forcing a temporary step-down from his new church. Armstrong's own personally appointed successor, Joseph Tkach, Sr., whom he anointed a week before his death, together with his son Joseph Tkach, Jr., soon became embroiled in controversial charges of having deviated from the original doctrine of Armstrong's church by a form of syncretistic compromise with aspects of mainstream Christianity. The church split into factions, one of them the Restored Church of God, led by David C. Pack (personally trained by Armstrong himself), which claims to have faithfully retained all of the doctrines preached by Herbert W. Armstrong. Garner Ted Armstrong together with his supporters helped reorganize the church into the corporate World Wide Church of God, International, incorporated in 1978.

Afterward, on April 3, 2009, under the leadership of Joseph Tkach, Jr., The Worldwide Church of God International officially changed its name to Grace Communion International (GCI), a church that utterly repudiates as heresy the doctrines of Armstrongism. The GCI is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and has 50,000 members in 900 congregations in about 100 countries.[3]

History

Herbert W. Armstrong is to the Worldwide Church of God what Joseph Smith is to the Mormons, Ellen G. White to the Adventists, Mary Baker Eddy to the Christian Scientists, and what "Pastor" Russell is to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Armstrong is its "founder," "prophet," "chosen apostle," "ambassador," and "head."

Herbert W. Armstrong claimed to be called and sent by God to the nations to preach and restore the truth of the Kingdom of God, emphasizing the following points.

  • Peter warned, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (II Peter 2:1-3).
  • Before his death, Paul explicitly warned of an event that would take place in our time, prior to Christ’s Return. Notice: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the Church of God…For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30).
  • History records that this happened in type during (and after).

According to all non-Catholic and non-Orthodox groups and sects and churches, after the original apostles died, the false church did come in and largely destroy the visible Church. This is commonly called the Great Apostasy. Because of persecution, often including threats, imprisonment, torture and death, most people gave in and departed from the truth of God’s Way and therefore from the true Church. This period is sometimes called by anti-Catholic apologists “The Lost Century.” They all assert that,

as Jesus promised, His True Church has always survived, even when forced by the heretical and violently persecuting authoritarian forces of trinitarian orthodoxy to go underground, that it has never completely disappeared or been destroyed—though it has certainly remained a “little flock” that has kept His Word, and the Church that has always been kept in God’s name.

Herbert W. Armstrong claimed that God called him in the fall of 1926. After he was ordained in 1931, he claimed that God began, in late 1933 early 1934, to use him in a special way to restore His full truth to His Church and to raise up and lead the New Testament Church. He was an ardent promoter of the doctrine of Anglo-Israelism in his teachings on the lost ten tribes of Israel. Using as a basis the doctrinal schema of Dispensationalism Armstrong preached that the Bible teaches, in Revelation 2 and 3, that God has worked with His Church through seven separate and successive eras. In these two chapters of Revelation, he asserted that Christ describes each era in some detail. The first five eras or dispensations (with the exception of the second) are seen by him as being described as having their own unique set of doctrinal and spiritual problems that eventually led to their downfall. Each time this happened, he says, God raised up a new leader to establish the next era. These seven eras are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Originally, these were seven cities that lay close together (in this order) on a mail route in Asia Minor (now western Turkey). According to Mr. Armstrong's exegesis each city reflected corresponding attitudes that would exist in the seven eras that it represented, and that Christ was able to use these cities to show a pattern that would span the history of His Church over the next 2,000 years, from AD 31 until His Return (the Parousia). He preached that when God called him in the fall of 1926, the New Testament Church had arrived at the end of the fifth era (Sardis), and that God began, in late 1933, to use him in a special way to restore His full truth to His Church and to raise up and lead the sixth era—Philadelphia. His followers accepted the doctrine that God used Mr. Armstrong to restore truths that had been lost to His Church for centuries.

On Jan. 7, 1934, the Radio Church of God took to the air with the remarkable teachings of its founder, a former advertising man named Herbert W. Armstrong. Among them: that the British and their colonists in America had descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel, that God was not a Trinity but a family (Father and Son, but no Holy Ghost) and that the apocalypse would begin in 1936 (later postponed to 1943, then 1972, then indefinitely).

David C. Pack, a leader of The Restored Church of God organized after the death of Armstrong, says that God called him into His truth in 1966. His relationship with Herbert W. Armstrong primarily began when he met and married Armstrong's secretary in 1971. He considered that he was "blessed to learn and to know God’s marvelous Plan and to be personally trained by Herbert W. Armstrong."

On his program, ”The World Tomorrow,” and in his magazine, the Plain Truth, Mr. Armstrong called his beliefs the product of methodical explication of the Bible, which he said was ”a coded message not allowed to be revealed and decoded until this time.” Members contributed up to 30% of their income. Some attended the church’s Ambassador College and joined a media empire that strove to link current events to prophecies of a coming ”Tribulation.” Renamed the Worldwide Church of God, the congregation claimed 100,000 members and a $131 million annual budget when the founder, who called himself ”Christ’s chosen apostle,” died in 1986 at age 93.

Then his personally anointed successor had a message of his own for the faithful: Mr. Armstrong was dead wrong. Joseph Tkach Sr., whom Mr. Armstrong had anointed just a week before his death, began abandoning the church’s unusual doctrines one by one.

Armstrong’s teaching bred a hundred factions of which ninety presently remain. Fifty splinter groups had already separated from Herbert W. Armstrong during his lifetime. It should be noted that from the 1970s through to the 1990s many splinter groups left the then Worldwide Church of God. These groups hold on to most or all of Armstrong’s unbiblical teachings, and reject the changes in doctrines and practices introduced by Joseph Tkach Sr. and Joseph Tkach Jr.

In 1989 Joseph Tkach Sr. suspended publication of the founder’s final summation, ”Mystery of the Ages,” a 381-page work that Mr. Armstrong had called perhaps ”the most important book written in 1,900 years.” Half of the church’s members left. Tithes dwindled. The church was forced to slash its payroll drastically and liquidate a real-estate empire that had included campuses in Texas and England. In 2000 it sold its 48-acre Pasadena headquarters complex, including one of California’s leading concert halls, to condo developers. Through it all, a splinter group in Oklahoma continued to take Mr. Armstrong at his word[4][5].

According to David C. Pack of the Restored Church of God a major defection within the true Church happened again at the end of the twentieth century, which he says requires explanation.

He explains that Mr. Armstrong’s death in January 1986, 52 years after his ordination in 1934, paved the way for false leaders to arise within the organization. He says that true Christians were forced to flee. Most of them formed or entered groups that do not fully hold fast to the truth and practices of God’s Church as preached by Herbert W. Armstrong. Collectively, it is these groups that Pack says form the bulk of the seventh and last—or Laodicean—era of the Church.

While Laodicea means “the people rule, judge, decide,” they are still God’s people, but in a weak and confused condition. However, they do not represent His true Church, and are outside His Body. They have formed their own organizations, and Christ cannot rule them! Soon, those who wished to fully hold fast (Philadelphians) without compromising any true doctrines or practices, slowly found themselves again having to flee their organizations in order to do this. These events ultimately led to the forming of The Restored Church of God.

Attendance in The World Wide Church of God exceeded 150,000 shortly after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in January 1986—when according to David C. Pack his successors did, in fact, “enter in” and “arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

According to Mr. Pack, from the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death in January 1986, this process of destruction lasted approximately nine years. As seen by David Pack, according to this historical pattern, the vast majority (about two-thirds of the membership) completely departed from the truth, the true Church and the true God, and scattered back into the world or remained where they were, returning to and re-accepting hundreds of false doctrines and practices. (David C. Pack says the complete story has been told in his book There Came a Falling Away.) He states that the other third, who did not accept the direction of the false teachers who captured the visible corporation, also scattered into a variety of organizations that held to varying amounts of the doctrine that they all had learned under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership. Who these groups represent in prophecy are explained.

David C. Pack says that all he has described (above) was actually prophesied to occur. Paul was inspired to foretell and warn of this falling away just before the Return of Christ. Pack urges his readers to notice what Paul recorded: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the Return of Christ described two verses earlier] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” Paul explained that this falling away would affect all who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (II Thes. 2:3, 10). The Greek word for “falling away” is apostasia, meaning literally “to defect from the truth.”

David Pack says that when God called him, this prophesied “falling away” had, of course, not yet occurred. He maintains that while all in the Church had been warned it was coming, most still became entangled in false teachings because they had not stayed close to God, as they should have, through fervent prayer, Bible study, meditation and regular fasting, and were caught unaware. Pack has written what he calls "a very extensive and fascinating book" Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History!

David C. Pack claims that the Restored Church of God does not compromise on even one of God’s many, many doctrines. Just as Jesus foretold, it is a small, persecuted “little flock” that God has kept in His Name. He says it is powerfully continuing God’s Work—taking the true gospel of the kingdom of God to the world and the special warning to the modern descendants of ancient Israel, before this age ends. Its fruits are seen as evidence of God’s blessings. The Restored Church of God is growing rapidly and has members and ministers in scores of countries around the globe—he says in his booklet, "The very fact that you are reading this booklet means that you have come in contact with it—just as I was privileged in 1966 to come into contact with the true Church and learn the truth of the Bible for the first time."

Christ also promised that when false leaders, whom He refers to in John 10 as “thieves and robbers,” have been able to get into the Church, “the sheep hear His [Christ’s] voice: and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out.” His voice is defined as “the truth” (John 18:37). Jesus goes on to say, “He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (10:3-5). Christ continues by describing the behavior of certain ministers. Pack says:

Notice: “The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep” (vs. 13). This remarkable promise shows that Christ will never abandon His sheep and will always protect those who hear His voice and willingly follow Him—when they are in danger—to where He has restored the truth, re-established the Work and placed His name!

According to Armstrongism, the Laodicean era of the Church is described by Christ as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” He also says that this era is “lukewarm” and lacking in zeal (Revelation 3:14-22). The Restored Church of God teaches that this last era is now dominant, and is to remain so just prior to the soon-coming Return of Jesus Christ. In verse 20 of Revelation 3, Christ says to all those in this era, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.”

This passage describes Christ’s offer to all who have held fast to part of the truth. (Philadelphians hold to all of it, because they are determined to “let no man take their crown” – Revelation 3:11) He will continue to call Laodiceans “by name” and knock on their doors until there is no time left in this age. (This knocking process David Pack says is thoroughly addressed in The Restored Church of God book “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People.)

David C. Pack asserts that

...just as Mr. Armstrong strove to live peacefully alongside the Sardis era of the Church, and bore them no ill will, we are striving to live peacefully (Philadelphia means “brotherly love”) alongside these other groups and bear them no ill will. We hope and pray that many more will continue to awaken to Christ’s warning and come out of them, and we are striving to warn them of what lies ahead. (In fact, a great prophecy found throughout the Bible shows that all of God’s people will be regathered back into the true Church—one organization—at the end of the age.) However, this booklet is not written for or specifically directed to these weak brethren. It is to instruct new people that God is calling now (those hearing the truth for the first time)—but must include the above brief description of Church eras so that they are better able to understand recent events in the true Church, and to avoid the same pitfalls into which so many others fell!

The Restored Church of God proclaims that the world is built on the foundation of Satan’s way. As “god of this world,” he has constructed his own governments, cultures, educational systems, and other institutions—and he has also built his own “churches” (II Corinthians 11:13-15). All of these together are seen as forming a “building,” with a vast superstructure, but one that is founded upon “sand,” instead of the “rock” (I Corinthians 10:4) that is Jesus Christ! The Restored Church of God proclaims that Christ is not trying to build or to rebuild—repair!—the governments, institutions or churches of Satan’s world. Soon these will all be swept away by the “rain, wind and floods,” that He described in Matthew 7:24-27. 

But in a stunningly striking echo of the doctrine of the Catholic Church The Restored Church of God declares that Jesus also calls His Church “a building”—one that is “fitly framed together” (Ephesians 2:21), and built, not upon Peter, but with Himself as the foundation. He is literally “building a building” consisting of brethren whom He calls “lively [living] stones” (I Peter 2:5). Psalm 127:1 declares, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Christ is continuing His building of the Church today, and you are seeing it.

Just as the Catholic Church has always dogmatically taught for centuries, so also The Restored Church of God declares that the true Church is depicted as a type of Jerusalem and as the Mother of all the brethren in the Church (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22-23). Like any Mother, she cares for and feeds her children[6]. God’s Church is pictured as a bride prophesied to marry Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:7-9). She is described as having “made herself ready” for this wonderful and glorious event!

The Restored Church of God explains that the actual meaning of the Greek word translated “Church” in the New Testament needs clarification. Most have supposed it means a building or an organization. It means neither. The word “church” is ekklesia, meaning “a calling out,” especially as a religious congregation. Christians are called out of this world—its ways—its customs—its practices—its traditions—its false knowledge and false doctrines—and into the true Church, and fellowship with God and Christ (I John 1:3). David C. Pack declares that God thunders this to all His people: “Wherefore come out from among them [the world], and be you separate…and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:17-18).

This doctrine of ekkelsia to be counter-cultural to the world with its culture of death is essentially the same Gospel announced by the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and every mainline Christian Church on earth, each claiming to have the "Full Gospel", the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Doctrines

Throughout most of its history, The Worldwide Church of God was, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Among other things, the church rejected many essential teachings of the Christian faith, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and salvation by grace through faith alone (Sola fide).

Armstrongism teaches that there is a great false religious system that masquerades as Christianity (sometimes called Churchianity.

  • This system has carefully counterfeited all of the doctrines of God and has continually tried to penetrate, capture and destroy the true Church of God.
  • In this world, churches are named after men, or after the system men have devised, or the kind of church government men have thought out, contrary to God’s Word, or after a significant doctrine they emphasize, or what men hope to make it—all-encompassing, universal or catholic. But wherever that one true Church is, it will be named the Church of God.
  • Trinitarianism is an evil deception by Satan. God the Father and God the Son (Jesus) are two separate beings, each of them God.
  • The Bible warns God’s people about being swept into the deadly deception perpetrated by this large false church, the Whore of Babylon. A study of true Church history shows that this false woman invariably finds a way to enter the true Church, causing those who are determined to hold fast to the full truth of God to have to flee her seductive intrusion and influence.
  • The true Church of God teaches the truth about all of these doctrines and the many scriptures supporting them.
  • The literal truth of the descriptions of the monstrous beasts seen and foretold by John in the visions of the Book of Revelation.
  • Many have appropriated God’s name, but are not proclaiming the Kingdom of God, as the government of God. Men must unquestioningly obey the government of God, teaching obedience to God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, teaching repentance of rebellion and transgressing God’s Holy Law, especially the law of the Sabbath. Keeping the Saturday Sabbath is the key test to discern the True Church of God.
  • The true church teaches the Kingdom of God as a Family, that we may be now begotten into the Kingdom (Family) of God, and may, by the resurrection, be born into the God Family!
  • The true Church is preaching the premillenial imminency of the coming of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, to rule all nations for a thousand years on earth. Not up in heaven, but on this earth  (Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6). The Church of God in its preaching urges people to come out of the Babylon of this world (Revelation 18:4), that whosoever will may qualify to rule with Christ in the wonderful, utopian new world that lies ahead.
  • Neither Jesus, nor Peter, nor Paul, nor any of the original true apostles ever approached people and personally urged conversion on them. God has made every human a free moral agent. God compels each to make his own decision, and the true God will never force you to be converted. The true messengers and missionaries of God never go from door to door and house to house, for Jesus said, "Do not go from house to house." (Luke 10:7)
  • There is only one such Church doing the Work of God. It has the True Name of God as its name. It is the Church of God. It is worldwide, with members in almost in every country, and nevertheless it is, as Jesus said it would be, a ‘little flock,’ persecuted, despised by the world, rejected by the mainline apostate Christian churches and atheists alike.

The World Tomorrow Radio Broadcast

Examples of Herbert W. Armstrong's preachings are available online.

The Church of God International

On April 3, 2009, the Worldwide Church of God officially changed its name to Grace Communion International.

However, starting in the mid 1980’s under Joseph Tkach Sr, and later his son, Joseph Tkach Jr. (the church’s current leader, 2009) the Worldwide Church of God has undergone major changes in doctrine to the extent that it has rejected its heretical teachings, and instead has embraced orthodox Christianity.

Grace Communion International describes its name change in the introduction to a chapter relating the history of the church:

In the early 1930s, Herbert Armstrong began a ministry that eventually became our denomination. He had many unusual doctrines. These he taught so enthusiastically that eventually more than 100,000 people attended weekly services. After he died in 1986, church leaders began to realize that many of his doctrines were not biblical. These doctrines were rejected, and the church is now in full agreement with the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals. To reflect these doctrinal changes, in April 2009, the denomination changed its name to Grace Communion International to better reflect who we are and what we teach[7]

See also the online book Transformed by Truth, by Joseph Tkach:

  • “Transformed by Truth: The Worldwide Church of God Rejects the Teachings of Founder Herbert W. Armstrong and Embraces Historic Christianity. This Is the Inside Story.”

Living Hope Video Ministries also made a documentary in which leaders and laypeople describe their church’s journey from heresy to orthodoxy.[8]

Sociologically, apart from doctrines alone the movement originally had many cult-like elements as well.

David Covington, a former WCG pastor, wrote:

His [Herbert W. Armstrong’s] widely-circulated message was an eclectic mixture of cultic doctrine, Jewish observances and Seventh Day Adventism. The church strictly observed the Saturday sabbath, Jewish festivals, and the clean meats of Leviticus 11. Members were required to give upwards of 30% of their incomes to the church. The ministry of the group controlled the membership through fear and manipulation and decided who they could date, how they could dress, what they could eat, etc. Members were not allowed to wear make-up, observe birthdays or participate in Christmas, Easter or Halloween.

The group believed in British Israelism, the view that the white anglo-saxon Protestants of America and Britain are the "pure" descendants of ancient Israel and God’s true people on earth. This was a major component of Armstrong’s "theology". In addition to rejecting traditional orthodox views of heaven, hell, eternal punishment and day of salvation, Armstrong also taught that members of the WCG would actually become Gods themselves after the resurrection, a twist on Mormon doctrine. [9])

Splinter groups

Kurt van Gorden writes:

Once known far and wide as the cult of Armstrongism, [the Worldwide Church of God] now, through repentance, joins hands with conservative Christians in heralding the gospel. Its official organ, Plain Truth magazine, embraces the very doctrines its past issues condemned. It interviews contemporary Christian leaders it once derided. It accepts advertising from various Christian publishers it once shunned.

The Worldwide Church of God, originally founded by Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), was led through this remarkable change by his successor, Joseph W. Tkach (1927-1995). He reversed Armstrong’s most damnable doctrines in full acceptance of the Trinity, Christ’s divinity and humanity, the person and deity of the Holy Spirit, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and salvation by grace through faith alone. Gone is Anglo-Israelism. Gone is the bondage of legalism as a test for fellowship. Gone is the God Family of divine humans. Gone is the exclusivism and cultism.

Not all followers of Armstrong, whose teaching we term ”Armstrongism,” accepted this welcomed change. Joseph W. Tkach and the administrators made earnest attempts to hold the church together during their doctrinal reexamination period. But those dedicated to Armstrong’s cultism grew impatient, forming about fifty splinter groups from 1985 to 1995. These groups are disassociated from the Worldwide Church of God and each claims succession from Armstrong.

The founder’s son, Garner Ted Armstrong, leads quite a successful movement with the Church of God, International. Garner Ted Armstrong was once viewed by millions on television as the flamboyant commentator of The World Tomorrow program. Amid charges of sexual misconduct, his forced departure from his father’s domain landed him in Tyler, Texas, with thousands of television followers. His playboy lifestyle followed him into the 1990’s with new charges of sexual misconduct, again forcing a temporary step-down from his new church[10]. Nevertheless, faithful Church of God, International members reinstated him as their iconic representative on 315 cable stations in North America. His espoused doctrines follow that of his father, namely, denial of the Trinity, denial of the bodily resurrection, and denial of biblical salvation[11]. Others remain skeptical, and claim the changes have not gone far enough.

However, despite the positive doctrinal changes and widespread acceptance by Protestant Christianity, it is the belief of many who have left the WCG group that many abusive and cultic dynamics remain, including financial manipulation, a complete lack of accountability and a totalistic hierarchy in which the Pastor General controls the church and its assets[12].

On the one hand the church is open and honest about its past errors. On the other hand, there is some concern that the church also insists it has a Christian heritage and that Herbert W. Armstrong was not a false prophet. Reality is that while the Worldwide Church of God claimed to be a Christian movement, it clearly was not. At best, it was a cult of Christianity. And since Herbert W. Armstrong made many false prophecies, he most certainly was proven to be a false prophet.

The changes that have taken place within this movement are regarded by some as significant and highly encouraging. Professor James Bjornstad offers the following perspective:

A. Members of the Worldwide Church of God who are part of the "New Covenant," i.e. those who have had a personal experience with Jesus Christ and have truly accepted the doctrinal changes initiated by the Tkachs, all things being equal, should be considered our brothers and sisters in Christ.
B. Those members who are part of the "Old Covenant," who have rejected the doctrines taught by the Tkachs, should be considered as unbelievers. They need to hear again and accept the truth about the nature of God, the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.[13]

The vast majority of Christian apologetics– and countercult ministries no longer consider the WCG to be a cult.

Articles

"Associated Press Summarizes WCG Theology and Cultural Change". Good overview of various WCG viewpoints, and the radical changes that have occurred in this movement.

"Church Sells Armstrong’s Works "Nineteen books by founder sold to Worldwide Church of God splinter group."", Christianity Today, June 17, 2003

Reversing course, the financially struggling Worldwide Church of God has agreed to sell the rights to 19 books by church founder Herbert W. Armstrong to a splinter group. Announced March 12, the $3 million settlement ends a costly round of litigation. It also allows the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) to reproduce Armstrong’s teachings. […] Phil Arnn of Watchman Fellowship, a Christian research and apologetics ministry, said the deal raises an ethical question about the WCG.
“These are heretical doctrines that are destructive to the eternal life of anyone who comes under their influence,” Arnn said. “To have profited from the release of the copyrights is a matter that I would think [would be] very troubling to the conscience.”[14]

"Church struggles with changes in its mission, financial woes". Pasadena Star News, Jan. 26, 2003

"David Covington’s Nine Fundamental Problems with the Worldwide Church of God (WCG)", by a former WCG pastor.

Doctrinal Aftershocks "Worldwide Church of God seeks a new start in the face of fresh opposition.", Christianity Today, June 17, 2003

Ten years ago [1993], leaders in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) began denouncing the fringe beliefs of their founder and transforming their church into an evangelical denomination. This revolutionary theological shift caused congregations and families to splinter. It also sparked a financial Armageddon in the highly visible movement of 150,000 people.
Now church leaders propose a physical shift that they say will determine the church’s future. They want to turn their valuable 55-acre Ambassador College campus in upscale Pasadena into about 1,500 residential units. Church officials say selling the headquarters will secure the church’s financial foundation, provide pensions for its pastors, and create much-needed housing for city residents.[15]

"The Road To Damascus?" Apr. 27, 1996 WORLD Magazine article, subtitled, "Long written off as a cult, WCG takes an evangelical step."

"Transforming The Truth. The Worldwide Church of God Continues to ”Make” History". A critical article, by Personal Freedom Outreach (PFO)

"The Two Faces Of The Worldwide Church Of God". PFO acknowledges the changes that have occurred within the WCG, but also takes note of some serious issues that still cause concern.

Watchman Fellowship articles on WCG. Collection of helpful articles, reflecting Watchman Fellowship‘s balanced approach. Excellent starting point for gaining an understanding of the issues involved.

Worldwide Church of God Profile, By Watchman Fellowship

The World wide Church of God: From Cult to Christianity. Appendix to Walter Martin’s "Kingdom of the Cults"

The Worldwide Church of God’s Orthodox Bandwagon, an Editorial from Personal Freedom Outreach (PFO). PFO welcomes the changes that have taken places, but also explains why it cautions against overly optimistic assessments of the new WCG. If the church has made such a transformation by the grace of God, why have there been such concerted efforts to adopt a revisionist position as to its founder and history and maintain a "Christian" heritage?

The Worldwide Church of God: Resurrected into Orthodoxy, by Doug LeBlanc

Grace Communion International, Wikipedia entry

Exit & Support Network Aiding victims spiritually and emotionally abused by Worldwide Church of God and its offshoots

The Painful Truth Extensive site. "A collection of Facts, Opinions and Comments from survivors of Armstrongism The Worldwide Church of God."

MarkTab Ministries WCG Homepage. Mark Tabladillo’s extensive site, covering just about every aspect of WCG history, theology, and controversy. Excellent collection of research resources.

Splinter Groups

This section lists only some of the many splinter groups.

  • Church of God Splinter group (1998) of the United Church of God, which itself is a splinter group of the WCG.
  • Church of God – A Christian Fellowship Successor of WCG splinter group, Global Church of God.
  • Church of God International Splinter group of the WCG. Sponsors the ”Armor of God” literature and TV shows.
  • Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association Splinter Groups of the WCG. (About Garner Ted Armstrong). Garner Ted Armstrong is President of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association.
  • United Church of God Splinter group of the WCG

See Offshoots and Splinter Groups of Worldwide Church of God (exitsupportnetwork.com)

See also

Council of Nicaea

Nestorianism

Great Apostasy

''The Two Babylons''

Anglo-Israelism

Millenarianism

Chiliasm

WASP

References

  1. The Kingdom of the Cults - The Worldwide Church of God—From Cult to Christianity Summary & Analysis, by Walter Martin (bookrags.com) What is Armstrongism? Is the World Wide Church of God a Cult? (gotquestions.org)
  2. An article in the Los Angeles Times reported that "The rift between the father and his heir apparent began in 1972 when Herbert Armstrong ousted his son from the church for four months, after an extra-marital affair, saying the son was "in the bonds of Satan." TV Evangelist Formed Own Church After Break With Father (latimes.com)
  3. Grace Communion International. (gci.org)
  4. Source: Crying Copyright Violation, Church Demands Money Donated to Splinter [Accessible by WSJ Subscribers only] , Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2001.
  5. The information shown here is from an archived entry on the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), no longer updated. (apologeticsindex.org)
  6. See the Catholic Encyclical of Pope John XXIII Mater et Magistra "Mother and Teacher" (vatican.va)
  7. Source: A Short History of Grace Communion International
  8. The video can be seen online herescroll down to video.
  9. Source: "What is the Worldwide Church of God?" (Article by David Covington, an ex-member, critical of the new WCG [No longer online]
  10. Los Angeles Times, Nov. 23, 1995
  11. Source: scroll down to Appendix A: The Worldwide Church of God From Cult to Christianity, Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Martin, (Hank Hanegraaff, General Editor), Bethany House Publishers, 1997. Appendix updated and written by Kurt van Gorden.
  12. see WCG bylaws scroll down to Secret WCG Bylaws, Leaked by Insider
  13. Source: Overview, Worldwide Church of God
  14. Source: Church Sells Armstrong’s Works
  15. Source: Doctrinal Aftershocks

External links

Armstrongism: Reviewed and Refuted. History of Armstrongism, by Bobby Witherington, Highland, California - Truth Magazine (truthmagazine.com)

The Rise of the “Megachurch” - The Real Truth (rcg.org)

"Where Is God's Church?" David C. Pack. The Real Truth Magazine - Restored Church of God (rcg.org)

A Look Inside The Restored Church of God (rcg.org)

Books

Discovering the Plain Truth : How the Worldwide Church of God Encountered the Gospel of Grace, by Larry Nichols, George Mather. In this account of recent developments in the Worldwide Church of God, the authors tell the nearly unprecedented story of a religious body turning away from its unorthodox beliefs and toward historic Christianity.

The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God, by J. Michael Feazell (Editor). The fascinating story of the remarkable and unique transformation of the Worldwide Church of God from heretical sect to mainstream evangelical denomination, told by a long-time insider and church executive.