From the desk of  ...  Preston H. Hazzard, Sr.  ... My Daily Blog    


Contending for the Faith
Errors Of Armstrongism
Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 6:30am

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).

Of the many false teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), the most dangerous errors would have to be those teachings that either contradicts or seriously compromise Essential Biblical Doctrine, which could affect one's eternal destiny.

Yes, there are "damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1 (KJV)), which refers to doctrines that are "destructive heresies (NASB)", meaning "fatal", that if a person does not accept them he cannot be saved. These include doctrines such as the Person of Jesus Christ, including His Virgin Birth, His Sinlessness, and Bodily Resurrection; the Nature of God, including the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity; Justification by Grace alone; and the Infallibility of Bible inspiration and its Authority as the Sole Standard for Faith and Practice.


SOME BACKGROUND

The Worldwide Church of God, was founded by Herbert W Armstrong and continued by his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, who after being disfellowshipped by HWA, established his own Church of God, International. Armstrongism is a strange mixture of faiths.

A DIFFERENT GOSPEL

Armstrong actually believed that from the death of the apostles until Armstrong began his church in 1934, the true Gospel was lost and he restored it.

Herbert stated in the ‘Plain Truth’ magazine (July/August 1973) that ‘the work going on from the Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God, is the only work on earth proclaiming the very Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world in great power’.

Armstrongists obsess about the "Coming Kingdom of God", by which they mean the Government of "God's Church" ... meaning the Armstrong Churches (as they refer to themselves - "the greater churches of god") alone.


Herbert W. Armstrong claimed to be a prophet, an apostle and the "Elijah who was to come". He certainly was not, because Jesus told us that John the Baptist was the one who came in the Spirit and power of Elijah.

Jesus explained all of this in Matthew 17:10-13. "And His disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist."


As we continue the study of this non-Christian cult, we will see that there are many other glaring errors in their doctrine. Like all cults, as people cluster around a certain leader or false prophet, erroneous facts come to light. Without fail, every false prophet leads others to believe that he and only their particular followers have the last word from God, and light is found only within their organization – all else is darkness.

The Bible speaks clearly about such beliefs and tells us not to accept them. One such scripture can be found in Galatians 1:9; "As we have said before so I say again now, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" [doomed to eternal punishment].

Ephesians 4:25; "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another."

THE CHURCH

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote that the prophesies and mysteries of God, sealed until now, are today revealed to those whom God has chosen to carry his last message to the world as a witness and also claims that his Worldwide Church of God is the only true church of God while all others are counterfeits.

Yet most of his doctrines are very similar to those of Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, and British Israelism ... thus in no way unique to Armstrong.

According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ ... all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Local churches are gatherings of members of the universal church. The local church is where the members of the universal church can fully apply the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians 12: encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Christian Church is not a building or a denomination. Although the Christian church is divided into many man-made segments ... such as Baptists, Evangelicals, Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Pentecostals etc, all have the one steady basic belief – that Jesus was born as a man to die for our sins and did so with great victory, defeating death when He was raised from the dead. Believing that, makes us all part of the one body of Christ. Not one of the above mentioned denominations is better than another and all genuine believers will enter the Kingdom of God set up by Jesus, regardless of what building they choose to fellowship in.

ONE TRUE GOD

Armstrongites believe that they will become gods, and this idea of created men or angels wanting to become like God, or ‘as gods’ is not a new idea. It is the age-old blasphemy taught by the devil to the gullible. Eve was challenged by this same thought in Genesis 3:4-5; "The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Isaiah 14:14 records Lucifer saying, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” That arrogant attitude had him thrown out of heaven forever.

Not only do Armstrong publications discuss subjects like ‘What it means to be equal with God’ (Tomorrow’s World, April 1971), but the same article goes on to promise Armstrong’s followers that they will some day advise and counsel God Himself!   Good Grief!

Revelation 5:10 promises Christians that we will be joint-heirs with Christ as kings and priestsNote: (This is through our adoption, ...
see Romans 8:15; Romans 8:23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5 ).  And, we will never, ever be gods. There is only one true God revealed in the pages of the Bible and there is no one equal to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They alone are worshipped; all others worship Them.

In Isaiah 48:11 the Lord says, “... And My glory I will not give to another.” And in Isaiah 44:6 He says; “I am the First and the Last and there is no God besides Me .” Isaiah 45:5; “I am the Lord and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. ...”

GRACE PLUS WORKS

Without fail, every cult denies salvation is ... by grace alone, through faith ... and Armstrongism is no exception. They substitute a ‘works program’ designed to have their followers look to their organization for salvation rather than to our Savior, Jesus. This is in spite of the clear words written in Ephesians 2:8-9; "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." We cannot be saved through works.

Armstrongism required that you must be baptized to become a true Christian ("This Is the Worldwide Church of God," in TW, Feb. 1971, pp. 16-17). It had to be performed only by their ministers by "laying on of hands". But there was more. According to Armstrong, One who is born of God is merely begotten spiritually. He is not yet really born. Only those who develop spiritually shall finally be given immortality. . . at the second coming of Christ (AAWB, p. 2).

And how did you develop spiritually according to Armstrong? ... The Jewish Sabbath must be observed to maintain one's salvation. Also required is the keeping of the feasts and other aspects of the Old Testament Law. You had to eschew family and unclean meats. There were binding prohibitions against the use of cosmetics, celebrating birthdays and holidays such as Easter and Christmas, seeking medical treatment, and interracial marriage.

We mortal humans simply cannot work out our own salvation. We depend entirely on our One, True, God as a Triunity of the Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Good works should certainly follow salvation but works are not a condition of salvation because it is a free gift of God!

YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN

Jesus said, Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:7)

Yet, the Armstrong’s have corrupted the term born-again. Jesus fully explained to Nicodemus in precise detail what being born-again means ... Read John 3:1-21.

Armstrong teaches his followers they are not spiritually 'born again' until the resurrection and expect them to believe they are to live out their lives as ‘embryo’s’ and are not ‘born again’ until they die.

The devil knows if you keep waiting until your death before you attempt to be born-again, then he has got you for eternity and he knows it! There is not one verse in the Bible that can back up Armstrong’s theory.

As genuine born-again believers, Christians can point out scriptures like; "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12). "for you have been born again not of seed [or as an embryo] which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 Peter 1:23). “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

They said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved ...” (Acts 16:31). God has already done all of the work. All you must do is receive, in faith, the salvation God offers (Ephesians 2:8-9). Fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sins. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). God is offering you salvation as a gift. All you have to do is accept it. Jesus is the way of salvation (John 14:6).

Our born-again experience occurs when we receive Christ, many years prior to our resurrection. Further to this, Colossians 1:13 tells us our transformation into the Kingdom of God is immediate – at our conversion. "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son". Note it is written in the past tense! When we are saved, we are already living in the Kingdom of God, right now.

Jesus also spoke in the past tense in John 5:24; “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

THE BODILY RESURRECTION

Armstrongism denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus, teaching instead that He was raised as a ‘spirit’ being.

Jesus already refuted that in Luke 24:37-39; "But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.'” 

Jesus is not a spirit, Read 1 Timothy 2:5; "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".

One of the lesser known biblical doctrines concerns Jesus as a man right now. Many do not know that right now, in heaven, Jesus is a man, though in a glorified body. Some object to this and cite various reasons, but they would be in error. Jesus is still both divine and human in nature. He is still a Man and always will be a Man. But, it would wrong be to say He was only a man. He is both divine and human in nature at the same time.  "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form(Col. 2:9); He is both God and man, right now.

Jesus' humanity now is important for two reasons. First, this is what the Bible teaches. Second, as a man, Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. As a priest He forever intercedes for us.

  • "where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek," (Heb. 6:20)

  • "Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Heb. 7:25).

In order to be a priest, Jesus has to be a man. A spirit cannot be a priest after the order of Melchizedek and if Jesus is not a man now, He could not hold His priesthood and He could not be forever interceding for us. Therefore, to deny Jesus' present humanity is to deny His priesthood and His intercession on our behalf. Without His intercession, we are lost.

HOLY SPIRIT

Another major error of Armstrongism is the denial of the exclusiveness of the triune Godhead, reducing the Holy Spirit to an impersonal force and an ‘it’ while at the same time exalting men to be ‘gods’. That teaching shows the wrong attitude to the Holy Spirit and is blasphemy.

The Holy Spirit is a ‘He’ ... not an "it". And He is a Helper, a Comforter, a Counselor, and a Teacher. Jesus said so in John 14:26; ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be.

Then 1 Timothy 4:1-2 says; “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,

We are not to quench (suppress or subdue) the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We are not to grieve (offend, vex, sadden) the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and called Him ‘Father’ (Luke 10:21).

Let’s see what Jesus says about having the wrong attitude to the Holy Spirit; “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:32).  “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" (Mark 3:29).” “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit (that is whoever intentionally comes short of the reverence due to the Holy Spirit) it will not be forgiven him; for him there is no forgiveness (Luke 12:10).”

The blasphemy of the Spirit today, which is the same as the unpardonable sin, is the state of continued unbelief. There is no pardon for a person who dies in unbelief. Continual rejection of the Holy Spirit’s promptings to trust in Jesus Christ is the unpardonable blasphemy against Him. Remember what is stated in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Further on in the same chapter is the verse “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. ” (John 3:36).

The only condition wherein someone would have no forgiveness is if he is not among the “whoever believes in Him,” for it is he who “rejects the Son.”

CONCLUSION

As we have seen, there were many errors in the theology of Mr. Herbert Armstrong. He has left behind him a cult that has an heretical view of God which denies the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead. He has deceived many people into believing that they can earn their salvation by keeping the law. There are many other things which he taught that are also contrary to the teaching of the Bible.

Armstrongism has other doctrinal errors designed to keep his followers isolated from their families, friends and the true Christian body, to make their members dependent on the cult group for all their social life.

All of these errors in doctrine can be corrected by simply studying the scriptures, which are the God-breathed words of the Lord (2 Timothy 3:16).

No cult has the answer to salvation, and following a cult will result in misled people going to a lost eternity. Only accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior and accepting His sacrifice on the cross for all mankind will result in an eternal life with God the Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit Whom God sent to us after Jesus ascended into heaven (John 14:26; John 20:22 and Acts 2:1-4).


  "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."  1 Corinthians 16:13  

Call or email me if you have questions.

Amen and God bless you.

"Saint Pete", Sr.

 

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