Armstrong Heresy

 •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 10
This is the final part of our review of the false religion propagated widely today under such names as "The World Tomorrow," "The Plain Truth," "Ambassador College," and under the name of its promoter, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.
Let us further note that the Christian's heavenly calling and hope are thrown into the rubbish by this false system. Here is the proof: "But did Jesus promise 'heaven' to the poor in spirit? NO! nowhere in all the Bible is HEAVEN promised as the reward of the saved. Here is another GREAT OPPOSITE that is the very BASIS of 'Christian' doctrine today-and did not come out of the Bible!" 37 Reader, are you willing to settle for earth, even the millennial earth? That is all Armstrongism offers, and those who come on its basis shall miss earth as well as heaven. In denying heaven to the saints of this period, Mr. Armstrong deviates in part from the Seventh-day Adventists, whose doctrine would take people to heaven for 1000 years while the earth remains the ruin of a great holocaust, and then bring them back to earth, so that in the end they all land back on earth. We remember having our attention called to a remark by one Adventist writer to the effect that it would be wonderful to have an eternity to develop a country estate.1 Both this and Armstrongism remind us of the elder brother of Luke 15 who claimed to have kept his father's law perfectly, and yet desired a kid to make merry with his friends-not with the father. But Scripture reveals to us our portion in heaven as being with Christ and enjoying Himself forever. An earthly country estate is a repugnant thought to one whose affections center on the One who will be all the glory of that heavenly scene, and the portion of our hearts for eternity.
When Mr. Armstrong comes to John 14:1-31Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1‑3), he boldly affirms that Jesus refers to the earth when He says, "I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." He says that the Lord will be on earth, so that will be where He will take us. This is nonsense. The Lord had said, "In My Father's house are many mansions [or, abodes]"; there are abodes for Seraphim and Cherubim, the Archangel, and we know not how many families in heaven (Eph. 3:1515Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Ephesians 3:15) should read, "Every family in heaven and earth"), but there was no place for men, not even redeemed men, until our blessed Redeemer went back to heaven as a man. Thus He has prepared a place for us in His Father's house above. How could His Father's house be on earth? And when Mr. Armstrong comes to the Lord's words, "Great is your reward in heaven," he dodges that by saying that the reward will come down to earth.
We are all more or less familiar with that precious portion in 1 Thess. 4, where we are told that the risen and changed saints are going to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so be forever with the Lord. Of this, this false teaching says: "Notice there is not one single word about Saints going to heaven!" 33 Well, so they read it, and evidently the wish for earth rather than for heaven is the father of the thought. This false doctrine teaches that the saints will rise to meet the Lord in the air and immediately descend with Him to the Mount of Olives. All those scenes of the redeemed in heaven in Revelation are cast aside. In one article, G. T. Armstrong scoffs at our going to heaven by saying that, in a new jet liner, "We actually flew in a man-made airplane MUCH HIGHER than your Bible says the Saints will rise when Christ returns!" 39
Mr. Armstrong says that our blessed hope came "from Antichrist-that man of Sin who claims to be God!" 40 Then he adds: "It is time you opened your eyes to this HERESY that has stemmed from 'BABYLON THE GREAT, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.'... Unless you recognize this vile doctrine for what it is, YOU AND MILLIONS WITH YOU ARE PLUNGING STRAIGHT FOR THE MOST FIENDISH, DIABOLICAL TIME OF TORTURE EVER INSTITUTED BY MAN!" 41 There can be no mistake about what this cult teaches against our heavenly hope and the coming of the Lord for His saints, calling it a "vile doctrine." To send your money to help propagate this wicked doctrine is to have a part in undermining the truth of God. And even to listen to it, is
to have fellowship with the works of darkness. "Take heed what ye hear."
We have not even touched upon that egregious folly of British-Israelism, or, Anglo-Israelism. It all fits with an earthly scheme of things. In this Mr. Armstrong is in company with the "Destiny of America" group. By their speculations and foolish traditions they have assumed that the "ten lost tribes of Israel" are the British, Irish, Canadians, Americans of the U.S.A., and the Australians. It is neither scripturally nor historically sound; it is a most absurd teaching. Must we accept it just because someone says it is so? Cannot we ask questions? For instance, how the English were Ephraimites in England and, by crossing the ocean, they became Manassites.
British-Israelism is largely based on the silly assumption that wherever one finds a few letters of a name that resemble something else, then it must be that; for instance, din, den, dan, dun, dunn, are in any names evidence of its having been derived from the tribe of Dan, as with Lon-don, Danube, Dub-lin, etc. Then "British" is supposed to be derived from b'rith, meaning, "covenant" in Hebrew, and "ish" meaning "sons" in the same, so the British must be the sons of the covenant. And the name "Saxons" is supposed to have been "Isaac's sons." This will not hold water, and a little imagination could think up the most ridiculous connections. The Edomites, now mixed with the Arabs, would be Saxons too then, for they were sons of Isaac through Esau. One author suggested that because a fox and a hare each have bushy tails, they must be the same thing. But H. W. Armstrong says, "Yes, we are God's chosen ISRAEL!" 42 It is simply not true. He gives statistics to prove that the British and the Americans have the most of everything, supposedly proving that is a sign they are sons of Joseph; but his tables are out-of-date now that Russia has advanced.
The dispensational chapters of Romans-9 through 11- would upset all the schemes of Armstrong's Israelism if they were intelligently read. For all this, however, Armstrong's flights of fancy and vagaries of British-Israelism, while they are thoroughly unrealistic and untrue, are not such deadly poison as his blatant heresies which undermine every essential doctrine of vital Christianity. Our sober and considered judgment is that his whole scheme is corrupted Judaism rather than real Christianity. It is Galatianism in a deadly form, linked with other equally gross heterodox views. Flee from it!
In closing this review, we call attention to another violation of Scripture truth; for when Mr. Armstrong speaks of a murderer he says: "He has no hope unless and until in the general resurrection after the millennium he repents of his sin." 43 Here is the false doctrine of a second chance. In many of these doctrines, Mr. Armstrong is in the company of Jehovah's Witnesses-so-called.
We feel a great relief to have finished reviewing this false system of religion which now is being palmed off as "the last message" of Christianity. It has been an odious task, and a barren one. There was not one thing in all this review to satisfy "the longing soul." Israel did not trek through as barren a wilderness for the body as the doctrines of Armstrongism are for the soul and spirit. Israel had "that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ," from which the water flowed; but there is no refreshment in the burning sands of false doctrine. We would rather have spent our time on that which nourishes the soul, but we have need to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." There are those who would steal it from us. We trust that through our review we have brought into some relief the truth of God with which Armstrongism stands at variance. May God graciously use this review, not only to help saints withstand the onslaughts of error, but to more firmly establish them in "the truth."
We take this opportunity to suggest to the Lord's dear people -a people for heavenly glory-that they close their eyes and ears to anything that does not come from a sound source. Water cannot be pure if it comes from a polluted source. The Apostle Paul gave his credentials to Timothy-"Thou host fully known my doctrine, manner of life," etc. May we check the credentials of any who would attempt to teach us. "Take heed what ye hear," and "Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge." Pro. 19:2727Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27).
If one who does not possess "peace with God" through the finished work and the resurrection of Christ should read these lines, we beseech you to put your whole trust in Him. When
Paul Went to Corinth, he preached the basic facts which underlie true Christianity, as he said: "I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." 1 Cor. 15:1-41Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:1‑4). A mere mental assent is insufficient; what is needed is to acknowledge one's need and to lay hold of the blessed facts concerning Him for one's individual soul. You need to see Him taking your place, bearing your judgment, and then going down into death, and coming forth the mighty Victor. You probably are aware that Mr. Armstrong contradicts this and says that the common teaching of the day is to put before sinners the "mere belief in the FACTS of Christ's existence, His sacrifice, and His saving work. Just accept these FACTS, and accept HIM -without any obedience to God's Laws!" 44 He dares to condemn acceptance of Him and His saving death and resurrection, and to quote a verse out of its connection, and say, "If thou wilt enter into LIFE, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS! "M> THIS IS UTTERLY FALSE, and if you follow that way you will end in hell.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Acts 16:3131And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31). This is God's truth in simple and precise language.
Reference Index to Armstrong's Writings
37 The Plain Truth, September, 1959 p. 16
38 The Plain Truth, September, 1959 p. 16
39 The Plain Truth, September, 1959 p. 16
40 The Plain Truth, July, 1959 p. 20
41 The Plain Truth, July, 1959 p. 20
42 The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy p. 25
43 The Plain Truth, January, 1960 p. 16
44 What Kind of Faith is Required for Salvation? P. 9
45 What Kind of Faith is Required for Salvation? P. 9
Twelve years have elapsed since Israel again became a nation; for the tiny nation, these have been dramatic and eventful years. Two wars were fought and won, and a firm polity established. Industry, commerce, finance, agriculture, education, and the revival of the Hebrew language have all been firmly founded. It is definitely the work of a dedicated people and, to a large extent, the Old Testament, the land, and the language have been the nuclei of their efforts.
Some people see in all this, which stands unprecedented in world history, a fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures; but we are persuaded that it is not so. This is not the national resuscitation of Israel as spoken of in Eze. 37 (the vision of the dry bones), nor is it that of which Daniel speaks in his last chapter as those that sleep in the dust of the earth, awakening. This is man's own effort, and it lacks the elements of repentance before God and the acknowledgment of their Messiah which will accompany God's work for their restoration.
While it does seem that there is a growing interest in their Old Testament Scriptures in Palestine, and a re-awakening as to their past glories, the New Testament and the Lord Jesus are summarily rejected. In many places, His name is not to be mentioned. A recent statement by a Jewish rabbi is indicative of the prevailing attitude. He first warns all missionary societies that "missions to the Jews are by and large doomed to failure." He then says: "The Jewish people have survived pleadings, the sword and the crematorium in their steadfast devotion to the faith of their fathers. The Jewish position has never been stated more beautifully than in Mic. 4:55For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:5): "For let all the people walk, each one in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.'" Rabbi Aaron Pearl in Time magazine for April 18, 1960. This reminds us of the Apostle Paul's saying, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Acts 26:99I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts 26:9). But Paul had his eyes opened not only to his error, but to the wonders and glories of the Person of Jesus. Henceforth He filled Paul's vision and heart, and then Paul speaks of the very condition that exists among his people at this day-"that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles he come in" (Rom. 11:2525For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25)). Then they will return to Messiah their Prince. But the situation as it stands in 1960 is not their future restoration under God.
The present existence of Israel among the world powers has in it the elements that might be the means of her own destruction. She is like a tiny island, surrounded by a hostile ocean bent on the eventual dissolution of that island. The Arab world has not accepted her presence in the Middle East, and the million or more displaced Arabs loitering on her periphery is a constant irritation and provocation to Arab aggression. President Nasser of the United Arab Republic (Egypt and Syria) continues to make inflammatory speeches, and so do other Arabs. Nor is the situation what it was in 1956 when Israel pounded the Egyptian armies almost to pieces. Since then, Egypt has been rearmed with many of the latest Russian implements of war.
President Nasser continues to press that a state of war still exists between the U.A.R. and Israel. He continues to blockade the International Waterway-the Suez Canal-to all Israeli shipping, and has been confiscating any shipments found on any "neutral" ships passing through the canal. This is very embarrassing to the United Nations (whose secretary-general has sought by every means to stop the blockade, and at times thought he had assurances from President Nasser that it would he stopped), and to the United States (whose President Eisenhower made assurances to Mr. Ben Gurion of Israel that their rights would be protected if they withdrew from Egypt in 1956).
Perhaps all this is building up for an Arab war of extermination against Israel by the combined Arab forces, which may bring about the final coalition of the Western Powers-the revived Roman Empire-which will come to Israel's succor, defeat the Arabs, and place the Jews back in their land, under an alliance for seven years. This contract will provide for a new temple on the old temple site, but we know that it will be broken in the middle of those seven years, as far as allowing the Jews to continue their temple ritual is concerned. (See Dan. 9:2727And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27).)
Peace, settled world peace, is not on the horizon. Events are in the making that may easily lead up to the terrible day of the great tribulation. But, fellow-Christian, we look for the Lord Jesus to take us home before that dreadful time comes. The moment of our departure to be with Christ in the Father's house is at hand.
1. William Henry Branson, in How Men Are Saved. Copyright by the (Adventist) Southern Publishing Association, 1951).