The "Key to Unlocking Prophecy"
Did Herbert Armstrong Say God Revealed it to Him Alone?
Some have asked whether Herbert Armstrong actually stated that God revealed the "key" to unlocking prophecy to him alone. This article will show what he said in his own words. [emp. ours]
Herbert Armstrong said the following happened to him in 1927:
After exhaustive study and research, I had found it PROVED that the so-called, "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel had migrated to western Europe, the British Isles, and later the United States--that the British were the descendants of Ephraim, younger son of Joseph, and the United States modern-day Manasseh, elder son of Joseph--and that we possessed the national wealth and resources of the Birthright which God had promised to Abraham through Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
This truth was written in a lengthy manuscript of close to 300 typed pages, and mailed to this editor and leader of this church [Andrew Dugger, Church of God, Seventh Day, Stanberry, MO]. I explained that although this new truth seemed to be proved beyond doubt, yet I was still comparatively new in Christ and Scriptural knowledge and wished the judgment of one more mature and experienced in things Biblical.
I think it was some six months before the reply came. It was written on a train late at night. This church leader stated in his letter (which I still have) that I was most certainly right--that this was a wonderful new truth revealed by God, and that God surely had a special reason for revealing this new truth to me. However, he stated he did not know what use, if any, he could make of it at that time, but was sure I would hear more of it later.
Did this Church accept and proclaim this vital new truth--the KEY that unlocks the doors to all PROPHECY? Here was the KEY to understanding of one third of the whole Bible. But this Church refused then to accept it or preach it or publish it through their leader frankly confessed it was TRUTH and a revelation from God! (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, pp. 361-362, Vol. I, 1957) [bold emp. ours]
According to Herbert Armstrong, God had personally revealed the "essential truths" of the Worldwide Church of God to him. He assured his followers that he received nothing from the teachings of men. He claimed that God had ordained his ministry and revealed everything to him. Because he claimed that his doctrines were inspired by God, they should have been considered as holy as the Bible itself.
After making the break from the Salem organization, Armstrong set up his own Church of God in Oregon. John Kiesz1 was still a loyal friend of his and assisted him periodically. I asked Kiesz if he had any special insight into Armstrong's claim to divine inspiration.
Kiesz tells a story of walking into Armstrong's office in Eugene one day, where Herbert was busy composing a story for his Plain Truth magazine. Kiesz was startled because he had just read that same story in the Bible Advocate. When Kiesz inquired about Armstrong's source Armstrong replied that it was by divine inspiration. Then Kiesz pointed out to him that he had just read that article, word for word, in the Bible Advocate. "So did I," replied Armstrong. "When I read this article, I understood it to be true. Therefore God has led me to understand this by divine revelation." (Daughter Of Babylon, The True History of The Worldwide Church of God, excerpts from chapter 15) [Note: Please be aware that this book is now posted on an atheist site.]
Herbert W. Armstrong stated:
"And so I say to you, as the Apostle Paul said to those at Galatia: I certify you, brethren, that the GOSPEL which is preached of me is not after man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. . . . When it pleased God, who . . . called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him to the world; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood—neither went I to any sect or denomination or human theologian, but I went directly to the WORD of GOD, on my knees, corrected, reproved, and instructed in God's righteousness and TRUTH!" (Herbert W. Armstrong, Co-worker Letter; November 29, 1954)
"But I certify to you, brethren, that the gospel preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, nor was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ...But when it pleased God...to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him to the world, I conferred not with flesh and blood [humans], neither went I to any theological seminary, but, as the original apostles and Paul were taught by CHRIST IN PERSON, so was I taught by the SAME CHRIST, through HIS WRITTEN WORD" (cf. Gal. 1:11, 15-17). (This Is the Worldwide Church of God, p. 17. 1979)
"I came to the truth in a way I know of no other church leader. I know of no other minister who ever came to it by himself through the leading of God in that way." (Quoted from sermon by Herbert W. Armstrong on July 24, 1976)
"I did not go to any minister, to any seminary, to any religious school, to any religious denomination, any man or group of men, but I was taught by God in his Book." (Quoted by Herbert W. Armstrong at the May 1974 Ministerial Conference)
"My eyes were opened to the true gospel described so clearly and unmistakably in the Bible -- for those willing to see and believe. And so, as I have written before, I say with the apostle Paul (paraphrasing): 'I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which is preached by me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ ... But when it pleased God, who ... called me by His grace, to reveal His Son and His gospel in me, that I might preach it among the descendants of the house of Israel, and the Gentile nations, and kings [Acts 9:15], immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, neither went I to any theological seminary or source of religious teaching of this world, but I went to Christ, the living Personal Word of God, who instructed me through the written Word of God, the Holy Bible' " (Galatians 1:11-17). (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Plain Truth About Healing, 1979)
Herbert Armstrong proclaimed he had received this "revelation" from God many times over the years. (Notice how he even added his own words to the above Scriptures.) Did God actually reveal to him this "vital KEY to unlocking prophecy" and "understanding the Bible"? Or was what he professed merely warmed over British-Israelism? While HWA and GTA denied they were teaching British-Israelism, it is no secret that HWA did indeed plagiarize BI from others before him (see links below). In fact, BI had been around long before2 HWA and was on the wane in the United States when Herbert Armstrong came on the scene.3
Therefore, if Herbert W. Armstrong said God revealed this truth to him alone, wouldn't that make him a liar?
Info compiled by AJW
Exit & Support Network™
Updated June 8, 2006
1 John Kiesz, an elder in the Church of God (Seventh Day), Denver, CO, was editor of the COG (7th Day) magazine, the Bible Advocate in the early 1930's. He was very close friends with Herbert Armstrong from 1935-1945 when HWA suddenly broke off the friendship. Read: John Kiesz Furnishes Information on Herbert W. Armstrong. (includes some of HWA's false prophecies) Kiesz died in the spring of 1996.
2 The Plain Truth about Armstrongism by Roger R. Chambers, Chapter one: "The Lost Key" offers proof that the "key" to unlocking Bible prophecy has not been "lost since the time of the apostles." Chambers also states: "British-Israelism, also known variously as Anglo-Israelism... A man named Richard Brothers, who lived in England between 1757 and 1854, is credited with the origination of the system. Brothers was an eccentric who was eventually committed to an asylum. It was John Wilson's Our Israelitish Origin (1840) that first clearly stated the theory as held today by British-Israel enthusiasts." (p. 27)
3 Ibid., Roger R. Chambers, p. 32.
HWA Charged With Plagiarizing "United States and Britain in Prophecy" [offsite link]
The Origin of British Israelism (Examines BI in much detail) [offsite link]