Exit and Support Network

Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)

By Kelly Marshall

 

Chapter Three - The Mystery of Man (Pt. 2 of 3)

SWITCHING ALLEGIANCE—BECOMING A TRUE BELIEVER

How was HWA able to get his readers to switch their allegiance away from God and onto himself, without the reader noticing? It was very subtle indeed, and worth a closer look.

And can he [the human] instruct his Maker? Should he not, rather, open his mind, and listen when his Maker reveals to him the very reason for his being? (p. 107)

Real translation: "Stop disbelieving what I am telling you. Open your mind and listen to what I am telling you. I will reveal to you the very reason for your being, and I will speak directly for God." Here is a major shift in ultimate authority. This is where HWA begins to blend himself with God. He has stopped quoting Scripture, but he speaks as though he is speaking directly for God, making it seem that these very words are coming from God's own lips. HWA is carefully escorting the reader into the category of "true believer". He initially broke down the reader's resistance by getting the reader to disbelieve all outside authorities. He then introduces his doctrines in easy to understand terminology, making the reader feel that he is finally understanding the Bible, all the while gaining the reader's trust. He now challenges the reader to open their minds and listen to him, subtly transferring himself in God's place, positioning himself as one who speaks for God.

Its [the Holy Bible] profound message is opened to human understanding through the presence and in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit injected into the human mind that has surrendered and yielded completely to the revelation in belief and obedience. To such a one the TRUTH is made plain…. (p. 107)

Real translation: "You must completely surrender yourself, wholly believe my revelations of the Bible, and be obedient to what I say. Once you are completely yielded to my teachings, the Holy Spirit will be able to inject understanding into your human mind and the "TRUTHS" in the coded book will finally be made plain to you." This is where the reader takes the plunge. He is told that in order for him to have the Holy Spirit "inject" his mind to understand these mysteries, he must let go of any doubts, believe what HWA tells him, and obey. Wanting to know and "understand" more, the reader makes a conscious decision to "believe." This theme will be repeated a dozen pages later. These are repeated attempts to break down the resistance of the reader.

The next attempt is disguised as Adam rejecting God's Law and Government (which, in reality is HWA's law and government). I want the reader to carefully observe that this chapter was designed to bring the reader into total submission to HWA. Let's now examine the phrases HWA uses in this section:

But instead Adam chose a different kind of knowledge—he took TO HIMSELF the knowledge of good as well as evil. He wholly relied on himself—both for the KNOWLEDGE as well as power of performance of good as well as evil. He REJECTED reliance on God and chose the course of SELF-reliance. The only righteousness he could acquire was SELF-righteousness, which to God is like filthy rags. (p. 119)
[Adam and Eve] Taking of its fruit was taking to themselves the knowledge of what is good...deciding for themselves…This, of course, means rejection of God's LAW, which defined for them the right and the wrong. (p. 119)
With her, he [Adam] took to himself the determination of what is right and what is wrong—thus DISBELIEVING what his Maker had said, REJECTING God as Savior and Ruler—rejecting God as the source of revealed BASIC KNOWLEDGE. He believed and followed Satan's WAY! (p. 119-120)

Look at the subtle (and not so subtle) message in these paragraphs. HWA introduces the notion that "thinking for oneself" is outright rejection of God's Law (and ultimately God). Carefully examine the words in CAPITAL LETTERS. What is the message HWA is trying to get across? Here is another set-up. By thinking for yourself, you are REJECTING reliance on God (HWA), and by doing so, you have become SELF-reliant and SELF-righteous, which makes you nothing but a "filthy rag" in God's (HWA's) sight. By REJECTING and DISBELIEVING God (HWA), you are cutting yourself off from the source of revealed BASIC KNOWLEDGE. By doing this, you are following Satan's WAY. The reader can't win—HWA can't lose. This is called "learned helplessness" that Bible-based cults employ to create a dependency in members upon the organization. Members give up their right to think for themselves, believing that this pleases God, because the leader, who now speaks for God, "says so."

HWA is subconsciously mind-controlling his readers, and if the reader has already surrendered final authority to HWA, he stops looking for scriptural proofs and simply believes what he is told. This is faith—in the religious cult leader as final authority. This is how subtle the transferal of faith in God to faith in a human leader as God's sole representative who speaks for Him happens. Once the reader becomes a convert, he will never see the world through the same eyes again. Everything that proceeds from Armstrong's mouth will be regarded as "fact," and any differing information will be categorized as "Satan's lies." HWA has sifted out his sheep.

ANTI-TRINITARIAN

HWA knows he has deceived his readers into thinking that God is a family, and not a Holy Trinity [i. e., the Father is fully God, the Holy Spirit is fully God and Jesus is fully God--but they are united in the fullness of one God], so he must continue to flail away at this core belief. Let us see another instance where he misquotes Scripture to "prove" his anti-Trinitarian views (p. 112-113):

"But God hath revealed them [spiritual things] unto us by his Spirit…." (I Cor. 2:10) Notice particularly spiritual knowledge is not revealed by a Person called the Holy Spirit.
"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?…" (verse 11).
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (verse 14).

Now let's read the whole verse in context. The print in bold lettering is what HWA omitted from these verses:

But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (v. 10) [emp. mine]
For what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (v.11)
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Cor. 2:10-14)

Why would HWA extract these verses out of context? Is it because he doesn't want the reader to see that the Holy Spirit "searches," "knows," and "teaches"—verbs that could disprove his doctrine that the Holy Spirit is just a mere "instrumentality"?6

HWA throws out the question, "If the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, then is not the spirit in man also another man?" Another question designed to make the reader come to a faulty conclusion. If you agree that the second half of the question is false—that the spirit in man doesn't mean there is also another man—then you are set up to believe that the first half of the question must be false. HWA knows that most people's knowledge of the Trinity is on shaky ground, and he capitalizes on this by asking these kinds of questions. Just because the spirit in a man is not a separate man or person does not prove or disprove the Holy Spirit is or is not a person. The two are unrelated in this matter. HWA uses a sophistic argument here to disprove the Holy Spirit is a person; an entity, without examining other relevant passages of scripture. Is this Biblical? Is this the methodology of a true servant of God?

And just in case the reader continues to hold dear any Trinitarian views, HWA will pronounce the sin of blasphemy upon him:

That, also, explains why, on reading in the New Testament of God the Father, and also of Jesus being God, they [theologians] came up with the false theory of the Holy Spirit being a "Ghost" or third Person of a Trinity, thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit and LIMITING God and doing away with all knowledge that converted humans can become members of the very divine God FAMILY…(p. 129)

Accusing one of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is accusing one of committing the "unpardonable sin." This is a very serious accusation, not to be taken lightly, and deserving thorough examination. Does the Bible teach that belief in God being a Trinity, or saying that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, is the sin of "blasphemy"? Interestingly, HWA omitted any scriptural references to shed more light on this repugnant sin. Why would something as serious as this not have a scriptural back up? Could there be a reason?

Let's examine Matthew 12:24-32 and Mark 3:22-30 where the "unpardonable sin" is committed, and read this in context. Here, the scribes and Pharisees accuse Jesus of using the power of Beelzebub to cast out demons. The scribes and Pharisees knew this wasn't true, but deliberately slandered Jesus—deliberately rejected—and denied what the Holy Spirit did through Him. Jesus pronounces a stern and irrevocable judgment upon them for attributing to Satan the unmistakable works of the Holy Spirit. These Scriptures do not say that belief in the triune nature of God is blasphemy, or that believing the Holy Spirit being is a Divine Personage, or the third Person of the Trinity, is committing blasphemy.

So once again, you have HWA twisting Scriptures, speaking with authority, and giving no scriptural support to his claims. HWA used this argument to induce readers to shed what remaining beliefs they had regarding the Trinity. He stoops to fear tactics, making the reader believe that he had been committing a grievous sin against God. He knows that many of his readers know nothing about blaspheming the Holy Spirit—they only know that "blasphemy" is something "bad" and that one "shouldn't do it." He, of course, does this to evoke emotions—a technique he uses repeatedly. The reader feels frightened that he may have been committing this particular sin, although unknowingly.7 He feels anger, and begins to believe that his lack of knowledge on this subject is "proof" that pertinent information had been withheld from him by "deceived Christianity." His foundational trust in orthodox religion continues to crumble, which is precisely what HWA wants. HWA quickly offers a better alternative—membership into the God Family. I hope our readers can see the set-up.

The final area in this chapter where HWA dates himself can be found on page 130:

For the first 6,000 years—now almost completed—all but the predestined FEW were cut off. [emp. mine]

HWA exhausted his followers by beating them around "the Gun Lap." He repeatedly prophesied that the 6,000 years was almost complete and the end was near. Let's look at the math of this Master Plan theory:

First few days of time—Adam messes up
4,000 years later—Jesus comes to earth (page 38, 132)
1,927 years later—God calls HWA to begin "the Work."
4,000 + 1,927 = 5,927 years have passed
1985—MOA written. "The most important book since the Bible."
1985 subtracting the 1,927 above = 58 years
5,927 + 58 of "doing the Work" = 5,985 years passed, only 15 more years to go to equals 6,000 years of man's inept "misrule" on earth.
6,000 + 1,000 (millennium) = 7,000-year Master Plan!
Add 15 years to 1985 and the 7,000 year plan expired in the year 2000!

Of course, HWA died in 1986 and this prophecy did not come to pass. Even if one added 25 years onto the 1985 date, it would bring the end of the 6,000 years of man's misrule in 2010. Ten years have passed since the expiration of man's rule, and this prophetic calculation has proven false. It appears that this 7,000-year plan has been a human concoction.8

Now let's compare what HWA says about his 6,000 theory to the Watchtower Society's publication:

Now that time has passed, what has been the result? Well, what would you say? Have the past 6,000 years of history shown that humans have been successful in governing themselves without God's guidance? Have humans provided good government for the blessing and happiness of all?...(page 102)
However, a person might ask, "Why has God permitted so much time, about 6,000 years now, to settle this issue? Could it not have been settled in a satisfactory way long ago? Not really. If God had stepped in long ago, the charge could have been made that humans were not given enough time to experiment. But as it is, humans have had plenty of time to develop a government that would satisfy the needs of all its subjects, as well as make scientific discoveries that could contribute to the prosperity of all....And their progress in the field of science has been remarkable. They have harnessed the atom and traveled to the moon. But what has been the result? Has it brought a grand new system for the blessing of humankind?
Far from it! Instead, there is more unhappiness and trouble on earth than ever before. In fact, crime, pollution, war, family breakdown and other problems have reached such a dangerous stage that scientists believe man's very existence is threatened. Yes, after about 6,000 years of experience in self-rule, and after reaching a peak in scientific "progress", humankind is now facing self-destruction!...(p. 104) ("You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," WT Society, 1982, 1989)

Let's see what Deuteronomy 18:22 has this to say about all this:

"When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor comes to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." (emp. mine)

It is plain to see that Herbert Armstrong borrowed the idea of the 6,000 years of man's misrule from The Watchtower Society. This is not the first instance, nor the last, of his doctrinal plagiarisms extracted from the WTS. According to God, you shouldn't be afraid of any of HWA's doomsday prophecies coming true, since the date for them to occur has expired. Don't spend your life hanging on to a false prophet's presumptuous sayings—you are free to go.

THE RESURRECTION

HWA claims that "traditional Christianity" "says nothing about the future resurrection of the billions who have died in Adam." (p. 124) This is false. Every Christian reference resource acknowledges the resurrection because it is a Biblical teaching. The reader's lack of Biblical knowledge on this topic isn't "proof" that Christianity doesn't say anything about it. Look at the footnotes of any Reference Bible. In John 5:25-29 the theme of these verses is resurrection. It appears that "deceived traditional Christianity" fully understands and teaches a future resurrection of all men. There are countless Christian resources that thoroughly explain the resurrection. In the book The Great Doctrines of the Bible (William Evans, Moody Press, 1912-1979), is a quick rundown of this topic on page 245:

THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
THIS DOCTRINE CLEARLY TAUGHT IN THE SCRIPTURES
  1. In the Old Testament
  2. In the New Testament
THE NATURE OF THE RESURRECTION
  1. Literal resurrection of the bodies of all men
  2. Resurrection of the body necessary to complete salvation
  3. The nature of the resurrection body

    1. In general
    2. The Body of the Believer
    3. The Body of the Unbeliever

THE TIME OF THE RESURRECTION

  1. Of the righteous
  2. Of the wicked

According to the copyright date of this book, this particular doctrine has been understood by "deceived traditional Christianity" since 1912—a full two decades before God supposedly gave this truth to HWA to preach to the world. But, as usual, HWA will not give credit where credit is due because it is not in his best interest to do so. Here is another resource that speaks of the Resurrection (International Bible Encyclopedia, 1915; "Immortality," by James Orr):

The Resurrection
The fullness of the blessedness of immortality implies the resurrection. The resurrection is a cardinal article of Christ's teaching (Matthew 22:29-32; John 5:25-29; 11:23-26). He Himself is the Lord of life, and life-giver in the resurrection (John 5:21,25,26; 11:25, "I am the resurrection, and the life"). The resurrection of believers is secured by His own resurrection. Jesus died; He rose again (see RESURRECTION). His resurrection carries with it the certainty of the resurrection of all His people. This is the great theme of 1 Corinthians 15. As Christ lives, they shall live also (John 14:19). The believers who are alive at His Parousia shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:17); those who are dead shall be raised first of all (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The resurrection body shall be a body like to Christ's own (Philippians 3:21)—incorruptible, glorious, powerful, spiritual, immortal (1 Corinthians 15:42,53). This is not to be confused with sameness of material particles (1 Corinthians 15:37), yet there is the connection of a vital bond between the old body and the new. This is the hope of the believer, without which his redemption would not be complete.

Look up "Resurrection" in Nave's Topical Bible. Look at any study Bible's footnotes. Look through any religious resource on the topic of "resurrection" and you will find it. HWA had access to all these resources, but he falsely accuses Christianity for not believing in the Resurrection. He purposely diverted the reader to graphic depictions of heaven and hell (p. 124), making the reader believe that the doctrine of the Resurrection was exclusively revealed to him. HWA emphatically tells the reader that, "deceived traditional Christianity, in doctrine after doctrine, teaches the diametric opposite of the truths revealed in the Bible!" (p. 125) In this case, it appears that he is in agreement with Christianity concerning this particular doctrine. Even though he morphs his own version of the Resurrection, it is interesting to note his complete silence concerning Christianity's teaching about the Resurrection. If he had read all the Bible encyclopedias, historical records, lexicons, etc., that he claimed to have read, then how could this core doctrine have escaped his attention? He didn't even bother to attack Christianity on this particular doctrine, which should make one immediately suspicious. Undoubtedly, he was afraid to draw any undue attention to the fact that Christianity embraced this teaching long before God revealed it to him. Wouldn't a true apostle of God give some credit to a "deceived religion" for having at least one doctrine right?

FEW CALLED AND CHOSEN

HWA will continue to smash away at Christianity, leaving any form of credibility in shambles. Feeling confident that he has stirred up considerable confusion over cherished doctrines, he will point the way out of this mess toward his church. Let's see how he offers the bewildered reader a carefully calculated alternative:

…you have chosen the ‘GETTING,' ‘TAKING' way of Satan. Therefore I sentence you and the world ….to 6,000 years of being cut off from access to me and my Spirit—except for the exceedingly FEW I shall specially call. And that FEW shall be called for special service preparatory for the kingdom of God. (p. 120)
Those few called during this first 6,000 years...shall sit with me in my throne, and have power under me to rule all nations under my Supreme Rule. (p. 121)
…God CLOSED OFF THE TREE OF LIFE...except in the case of chosen prophets for the writing of the Bible, and of the Church called out of this world by Jesus Christ. (p. 122)
The most universal false teaching, believed by virtually all churches...except the one and only true and original Church of God…(p. 127)
Few UNDERSTAND this basic master plan of God. (p. 127)
…all but the predestined FEW were cut off. (p. 130)
…[a] counterfeit gospel ABOUT Christ was being proclaimed by all but the persecuted FEW who loyally remained as the small and persecuted true original Church of God. (p. 131)
Meanwhile the Holy Spirit has been closed to all but the prophets and the called-out-ones of the true Church. (p. 132)
…and those specially called out for training to become rulers and teachers under Christ…(p. 132)
Those very few called…have had to do what Adam refused to do….(p. 133)

According to HWA, God is calling "the few, the BRAVE, THE MARINES!!!" HWA offers the reader the lofty position of elite status, a tremendous "perk" for choosing his church. After his dreadful representation of "traditional Christianity," is there any wonder why the reader would gravitate toward HWA's alternative? Once again, the skillful salesman leads the reader to choose his product.

Once in the organization, the convert will learn that he is part of the 144,000 elite "chosen ones" who will rule with Christ during the Millennium. From where did HWA get this idea? Below are excerpts taken from the Watchtower Society's publication entitled, "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth" (1982, 1989):

How small a number will that class of Kingdom rulers be? Will it include only the apostles and other early followers of Jesus? No, the Bible shows that the "little flock" will include more. At Rev. 14:1, 3 the Bible says: "And I saw, and look! The Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him 144,000…who have been bought [or taken] from the earth."…So rather than all good people going to heaven, the Bible reveals that only 144,000 tried and faithful persons will be taken there to rule with Christ. (p. 124)
But why does God choose these rulers from among humankind? Why not have angels rule with Christ? Well, it was here at the earth that Jehovah's right to rule was challenged. It was here that the faithfulness of men to God could be put to the test under opposition from the Devil. It was here that Jesus proved his full loyalty to God under test and gave his life as a ransom for mankind. So it was from the earth that Jehovah arranged to take a "little flock" of persons to be associated with his Son in the heavenly kingdom. They are the ones who, by their faithfulness to God, proved false the Devil's charge that men serve God only for selfish reasons…(p. 125)
Also, think how wonderful it will be to have as rulers persons who proved faithful to God on earth, many of them even sacrificing their lives in behalf of the Kingdom. Angels have not faced such kind of testings. Nor have they experienced the problems common to humankind…But the 144,000 will understand because they have had these very problems…Therefore they will deal with their earthly subjects in an understanding way. (p. 125)
…In all, only 144,000 persons finally make up the "congregation of God"…The Bible also refers to this congregation of 144,000 members by such terms as "the bride, the Lamb's wife," "the body of the Christ," "the temple of God," "the Israel of God," and the "New Jerusalem."
Jehovah God did not change his purpose for the earth and mankind on it after Adam started the human race down the path of sin and death. Had God done so, it would have meant that God was not able to carry out his original purpose. His purpose from the beginning was to have an earth-wide paradise filled with happy, healthy people, and that purpose still stands. The only new thing that God introduced was his arrangement for a new government to carry out his purpose. As we have seen, his Son, Jesus Christ, is the main ruler in this government, and 144,000 persons will be taken from among humankind to rule in heaven with him.
These rulers in heaven will make up the "new heavens" of God's new system. Yet it is clear that if there are to be such righteous rulers over the earth, then there must be those over whom they rule.

Even though the Watchtower Society believes that the 144,000 go to heaven, one cannot help but notice the similarities in wording and concept. HWA undoubtedly borrowed the main idea and modified it to suit his agenda.

HEAVEN AND HELL

HWA, like all Bible-based cults, paints the "worst case scenario" when it comes to the doctrines of heaven and hell, making Christianity seem "cruel" at worst and "unfair" at best. HWA must stir up feelings of repulsion to get the reader to reject his previous beliefs. He depicts heaven as "eternal idleness, freedom from responsibility and bliss in ease and laziness." (p. 124) In his other publications, he depicts an elderly retiree sitting in a nursing home playing cards, and makes vindictive remarks about the righteous "sitting on clouds, plucking harps, shuffling through harp music, and looking up into the face of the Master for ALL ETERNITY!" This description is laughable and an outright misrepresentation of the facts. For a man who claims to know so much about the world's various religions, he has yet to accurately represent what orthodox Christianity truly taught and believed. This is quite intentional on his part, no doubt. Sadder still, is the Subject Index on page 376 of the MOA under the topic of heaven. HWA makes two small references to heaven—that it is the "headquarters of the universe," and that "no man, except Jesus, has ascended to it."

Could there be a reason for Biblical Christianity to promote heaven as the final reward of the saved? Can they back it up with Scriptures, or are they merely promoting the traditions of men? Let's see if the Bible has anything to say about heaven:

Heaven is a definite place where God the Father dwells (Matt. 6:9) "Our Father who art in heaven." The Lord's throne is in heaven (Psalm 11:4), and so are His angels (Mark 13:32). Christ came down from heaven (John 6:38), and ascended to it (Acts 1:9-11) to sit at the right hand of the Father (1 Peter 3:22). The Holy Spirit was sent down from heaven (1 Peter 1:12). That is where the believer's hope is found (Col. 1:5), his inheritance (1 Peter 1:4), his reward (Matt. 5:12), his treasure (Mark 10:21), and where his name is written (Luke 10:20).
Its size is inconceivable, because from it the New Jerusalem descends, described as 1500 miles square (Rev. 21:10-16). It is "up," above the atmospheric and starry heavens (Gen. 7:23; 22:17), possibly in the north (Isa. 14:13; Ps. 75:6, 7). It is called the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2; Eph. 4:10), and is thought to be a sphere (Job 22:14).
Believers go to be with Christ in heaven at death, (Phil. 1:23), and according to Paul, it is far better than life on earth, being a place of joy and pleasure, (Ps. 16:11). From heaven believers will descend with Christ when He returns to earth, (1 Thes. 3:13; 4:13-16). The calling of Christians is heavenly (Heb. 3:1). Evidently because of the poverty of language, the eternal state is described in terms of the absence of sorrow, pain, death, and other "former things," (Rev. 21:4). (Excerpted from The Great Doctrines of the Bible, Evans).

The Nave's Topical Bible on "heaven" has the following Scriptures listed:

THE FUTURE DWELLING PLACE OF THE RIGHTEOUS
  • Called a garner (Matt. 3:12)
  • The Kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5)
  • The Father's house (John 14:2)
  • A heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16)
  • A rest (Hebrews 4:9; Rev. 14:13)
  • Paradise (II Cor. 12:2,4)
  • The place of glorified spirits (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor. 12:4, Rev. 2:7)
  • The wicked excluded from (Gal. 5:21, Eph. 5:5, Rev 22:15)
  • The believer's citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20)
  • To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:1-8)

Did our readers notice that after every thought there is a Scripture to back it up? Now pull out your Strong's Concordance and look up the word "heaven." There are five full columns of references. Even after removing all the words that refer to the expanse of the sky, there are still more than the two Scriptures besides the ones represented in the Subject Index of the MOA. Why would God's apostle not bring these verses to our attention? Is he trying to hide something? Why would he do that? If HWA is telling his readers the "truth," then the Scriptures would prove him right, wouldn't they? Truth doesn't disturb truth—truth only disturbs error.

In conclusion, "deceived Christianity" seems to have a biblical basis for their claims of heaven, while HWA makes claims without giving a single Scripture to back them. In this case, we need to take HWA's advice: Don't believe him—believe your Bible!

Now let's look at HWA's representation of the hell of "traditional Christianity." He describes it as "a definite place of eternal continuous burning fire where they [the unsaved] shriek and scream in indescribable pain and agony forever and ever without hope." (p. 124) On page 125, HWA gives another example of "saved mothers" who have "gone to heaven" and are "conscious of their lost sons who are shrieking and screaming in indescribable torture of hell fire." Given this shallow view, is it any wonder that we are revolted by this description? Naturally, you won't find the word "hell" in the Subject Index of MOA.

From where did HWA get his teachings of hell? Under the subtitle "Devil-Inspired Teachings" we read:

It was the Devil who told Eve: "You positively will not die." (Gen. 3:4, Rev. 12:9) But she did die; no part of her lived on. That the soul lives on after death is a lie started by the Devil. And it is also a lie, which the Devil has had spread, that the souls of the wicked are tormented in a hell or purgatory. Since the Bible clearly shows that the dead are unconscious, these teachings could not be true…
We have seen that hell (Sheol or Hades) is a place of rest in hope for the dead. Both good and bad persons go there, to await the resurrection. We have also learned that Gehenna does not mean a place of torment, but is used in the Bible as a symbol of everlasting destruction. In the same way, "the lake of fire" is not a literal place of fire, but represents the "second death" from which there will be no resurrection. Hell could not be a place of torment because such an idea never came into the mind or heart of God. Additionally, to torment a person eternally because he did wrong on earth for a few years is contrary to justice. How good it is to know the truth about the dead! (p. 89, "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," Watchtower Society, 1982, 1989).

He got them from the Watchtower Society!

HWA, like all Bible-based cults, stirs up feelings that God is somehow "unfair"—that a "loving God" would "never do such an awful thing." He gives his readers a candy-coated version of justice—that people wouldn't be evil if only they've been "given a fair chance." He develops a better justice system, introducing a salvation plan that fits all. He markets God's solution for wickedness as too harsh—besides, his "new, improved version" has better "consumer appeal."

Let's see from where HWA got his version of "universal salvation":

It is true that this man [the thief on the cross] did bad things. He was "unrighteous". Also, he was ignorant of God's will. But would he have been a criminal if he had known about God's purposes? To find out, Jesus will resurrect this unrighteous man, as well as thousands of millions of others who died in ignorance. For instance, in past centuries many people died who did not know how to read and who had never seen a Bible. But they will be raised from Sheol, or Hades. Then, in the paradise earth, they will be taught God's will, and they will have the opportunity to prove that they really do love God by doing his will. (p. 171)
What picture does Judgment Day call to your mind? Some imagine a great throne, and in front of it a long line of persons who have been resurrected from the dead. As each person passes before the throne, he is judged by his past deeds, all of which are written down in the Judge's book. Based on the things he did, the person is sent either to heaven or to a fiery hell.
The Bible, however, gives a much different picture of Judgment Day…Contrary to popular opinion, he [Christ] will not judge persons on the basis of their past sins, many of which may have been committed in ignorance…(p. 175)
During Judgment Day those who survive Armageddon will work to make the earth a paradise. Into this paradise the dead will be welcomed back…During Judgment Day all the people will learn about Jehovah, and they will be given every opportunity to obey and serve Him. (p. 177-178)
It is under such paradise conditions that Jesus Christ and his 144,000 associate kings will judge humankind. People who choose to serve Jehovah will be in a position to receive everlasting life. But, even under these best of circumstances, some will refuse to serve God….So even after being given full opportunity to change their ways and to learn righteousness, such wicked ones will be destroyed. Some will be put to death even before Judgment Day ends. They will not be permitted to remain to corrupt or spoil the paradise earth. (p. 178, "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," Watchtower Society, 1982, 1989).

So there you have it. Doctrine after doctrine copied from the Watchtower Society. Should one believe a man that derives his teachings from a cultic organization? Is there any wonder why Biblical Christianity teaches the diametric opposite of what HWA taught? Maybe there's a really good reason for this!

HWA ends this chapter with a reminder that man is to "become VERY GOD and "to finish the creation of the unfinished UNIVERSE." HWA is offering irresistible, luscious fruit indeed—and most pleasant to the eyes. He reassures us that by partaking of this fruit we will gain knowledge that will make one wise, knowing all the answers of good and evil, becoming very God.

By Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
July 2004
Updated October 4, 2010

Next to MOA Chapter Four

Preface  | Intro | Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5 | Chap. 6 | Chap 7 

Footnotes for Chapter Three:

1 Karl Marx ("Manifesto of the Communist Party" 1848), created theories on communism that were very vague but promised a prosperous living for all. In order to accomplish this, Marx ascertained that temporary state control measures were necessary. Communism is based on the theory that the individual is unimportant. For many it represented a utopian society in which there was only one class of people. The problems lie in the regard for individual creativity. [emp. added] (Excerpted from Birth of Communism).

2 Herbert Armstrong stated in a November 24, 1967 Co-Worker letter that he had studied Communism in the 1930s and 1940s and he also made mention of the book, Witness by Whittaker Chambers. (Witness is an autobiographical memoir, written just after Chambers confessed to his earlier affiliation with the Communist Party and testified against his former friend and comrade, Alger Hiss.) For more info on this and to understand how HWA lured people, read: Communism; Fascism; Socialism; Totalitarianism; or Armstrongism from OIU 5, Pt. 3.

3 "ACCREDITATION OR BUST!" (The Wooing of W.A.S.C.), Ambassador Review, June 1976 (AR1)

4 Roots of the Worldwide Church of God

5 Herbert W. Armstrong's Religious Roots (shows he didn't receive his teachings by revelation from God)

6 Is the Holy Spirit Only the Power of God? (shows by many Scriptures the personality of the H. S).

7 The late Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee in his notes on Matthew 12:29-32 stated, "In our day that particular sin cannot be committed because it could only be committed when Jesus was here upon the earth. There is no sin committed yesterday that the Lord would not forgive today because He died for all sin. ... There is no act of sin that you could commit for which there is no forgiveness." (excerpted from Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee, Vol. 4, p. 69). Also, see our Q&A on this.

8 Many of Herbert Armstrong's ministers taught that II Peter 3:8 ("But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day") was somehow supposed to prove that "God's Plan" would encompass 7,000 years; i. e., man would be allotted 6,000 years, then Christ would come and reign for 1,000 years, which totaled 7,000 years. In this verse, however, Peter was exposing the ignorance of the scoffers and how what seems like a long time to some is actually short with the Lord. Peter was referring to Psalm 90:4: "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night."


Back to Questioning Herbert W. Armstrong (was he who he said he was?)