The World of Fairyland: The World Tomorrow
In spite of how Worldwide Church of God would like to bury certain parts of their history, this message shows some of the doctrines that Herbert W. Armstrong actually taught. It is a transcript of a message given in the 1960s by Dr. J. Vernon McGee.1 An interesting segment on this tape is the part about Richard Armstrong's car accident and his tragic death due to neglect of medical treatment to prevent shock. (See ESN's Thoughts and Comments Regarding Richard Armstrong's Death at the end of the transcript.)
A few parts have been slightly re-worded to make reading easier. Exact dates of some magazines Dr. McGee quoted from are unknown.
Also read: Richard David Armstrong and the Automobile Accident (includes the Co-Worker letter)
UPDATE: Worldwide Church of God changed their name in April 2009 in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.)
The theme I think would be "the world that never will be," or "the world of fairyland." For it is a fairyland of religion, and it's not created by Walt Disney, but created by Herb Armstrong. The World Tomorrow has never been seen on land, or sea, or in the air, and there's one thing for sure, it was never in the Word of God. It's more like Alice in Wonderland. It's like's looking through a mirror. It's where you see everything backwards.
Several years ago this man followed me on a radio program and he took side-swipes at my program, so I was told. I understand he was reprimanded by the radio station. That I do not know. I was asked to listen in and I listened at times. I'm sure that I could not say that he had picked on me necessarily. But as I listened to him, he was so far out that I never dreamed that anyone with an understanding of the Scriptures would ever take him seriously. I found out to my amazement, as time went by, that multitudes listened to him. He's probably on more radio stations, and has more programs, than any other religious broadcast in the world today. Multitudes listen to him and they follow him and they send in millions to him.
The average person, I'm convinced, in our churches today is not able to distinguish him from a fundamentalist. He has a garbled and a confused message. That is the impression he makes. A Baptist preacher back in Michigan [Roger F. Campbell] wrote a little tract called, "Herbert Armstrong, Mr. Confusion." [See Booklist] That's available when you leave; you may have a copy of it. That, may I say, is probably accurate. I've had many inquiries, and recently I've seen many that have been delivered out of this cult. I have a letter here that was handed in Thursday night. It says:
I was saved in 1963 listening to you on radio. At this time I was also listening to The World Tomorrow broadcast, but as I grew in spiritual matters I saw the error of this cult.
I talked to a couple the other night in Sacramento. They had been listening to our program. They had been caught up in this. And they came to all the services. We were teaching the epistle to the Galatians that we've been teaching everywhere, and they told me that last night, "We have been listening here, keeping quiet, because we were actually very confused." And they came out of that and said, "We now can see we are to trust Christ and Christ alone as our Savior."
That's one of the reasons that we have taken this as our subject. I want to say first of all something concerning the founder of this cult. I do not know Mr. Armstrong personally. He has a school in Pasadena on millionaire's row, South Orange Grove. He's bought up some of the homes millionaires had in days gone by, and I understand he bought them at a good price. But he's built a school there. I called Dr. Charles Fuller2--I guess fifteen years ago--and I said, I'm getting inquiries on the radio about a school by the name of Ambassador College in Pasadena and I never heard of it. He said to me, "We're getting the same inquiries." He had done a little investigating and he told me that (I think at that time) they didn't have many more than a dozen students in the school. That's not true today. I think they had over 550 this year.
May I say that they have a school that is very impressive. It's impressed Pasadena. It will begin to make an impression on a city that is noted for its culture. Dr. Forindike [sp], the eminent psychologist, said years ago that as he'd traveled over the world he had come to the conclusion that the most ideal place to live was Pasadena. One of the reasons he gave was it was a cultural center. This school is now making quite an impact. They flew out at the first of the year from London, England an entire choir. He has a school over there, and you'll see why in a few moments. They presented a program. Some friends of our were there and they said that it was a very well presented program. It would commend itself to any audience anywhere, presented on the very highest plane. In that program that was handed out that night there's a statement concerning the college. I'd like to read to you what they say about it: [words in italics and blue are McGee's]
Ambassador College with its three campuses is a co-educational institution in the liberal arts at the university level. Each campus provides a cultural setting with beautifully landscaped gardens and grounds. Academic standards are maintained at the highest levels with a high ratio of competent faculty personnel to students. A major emphasis is placed on character building (if you'll notice that; nothing about Christian living), recapturing the true values of life.
They have a college right outside London, England and one over in Big Sandy, Texas3 that I think right now is being built. Then in the magazine that they publish [The Plain Truth] there was this statement concerning the school--and let me say that I am anxious to read this because this is the only statement I'll read that they make that I agree with. This is quite unusual: [words in italics are McGee's]
These institutions are liberal arts colleges (and I wish our Christian colleges today would come out and admit that they are nothing in the world but liberal arts colleges and not attempt to say they are something they are not), empowered by the state to confer degrees.4 They are not Bible schools. Most Ambassador graduates do not become ministers.5 (I'm glad they acknowledge that; I wish other Christian schools would do that) And there is, on the other hand, a great deal of emphasis placed on becoming a balanced person, avoiding any pseudo-spirituality, or nicey-nice behavior, that is so common around many religious institutions.6 (makes you sick at some of these places today that we were previously talking about--that honey that ought not to be put in the meal offering. There's a lot of that outward sweetness that you see manifested in public) Yet, at the same time, the understanding of the Creator's purpose in our lives and in world affairs is never forgotten.
May I say to you that many of us would agree with that statement there.
They had a graduation out there this past weekend. Our local paper--the Pasadena paper--gave them a splendid write-up. Here is a picture of the graduation services and it is a fine looking group of people that are there. These are not ordinary cult folk I can tell you that. They are not wild-eyed by any means, as we shall see. Now this statement was made--and I have been trying to get this information and my paper was just put on my lawn yesterday afternoon.
The college was founded in Pasadena in 1947. Since then it has expanded to a 45 acre campus and now has a $16,000,000 development underway.
So you can see money is coming from somewhere. It makes my radio network look like a peanut stand, selling popcorn, compared to an operation that is like this. In Pasadena a businessman out there tells me that they are accepted in the business community. They pay their bills; they conduct business on a very high plane. This Mr. Armstrong is an unusual man, evidently. He's a remarkable man, I tell you, to build up what he has built up out there. He's just no ordinary individual. But he's evidently a very fine businessman. One businessman in Pasadena made this statement, "He's the kind of a man you like to do business with, because money is no object with them out there. They go first class.7 They have a school where everything is plush, luxury, and they conduct everything on a dignified basis." Reminds us of the school that Mr. Oral Roberts has started over in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he's accepted in the business community. I do not know what the Pentecostals are going to do now. He's left them and joined the Methodist Church over there. I do not know. This man may be joining, before it's all over, one of the fashionable churches in Pasadena.8 But I do not know anything about that.
Herbert Armstrong's Audacious Statements:
Now the other thing I'd like to say about him personally is that all I know is his voice on radio and radio is nothing in the world but a voice. He speaks with bombast, pomposity and profundity. I've always felt that as I listened to him that he could read a want ad for the sale of a sick parakeet as if he was Benjamin Franklin reading the Declaration of Independence for the first time. He presents that image, if you please.
Now here is something that seems almost unbelievable. And I'll have to read some language here to get down to what he is saying, because he confuses you before he gets to his point.9 If you can follow him, you're better than I am. I'm reading now from his magazine: [words in blue italics are McGee's]
That was the end of the effective, organized work of God proclaiming the gospel of God's Kingdom to the world (that's Jehovah's Witnesses' influence) for 18 l/2 centuries. As revealed in the parable of the ten virgins, when Christ did not return to earth as soon as many of that day expected him, while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. So far as the job of proclaiming the true gospel message to the whole world was concerned the church went to sleep on the job.
Now for 18 l/2 centuries "the church was asleep on the job." Notice that. That's important to note here.
Yes, more than 18 l/2 centuries while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. But as the living Christ kept his Church on the job, proclaiming his gospel for two 19-year time cycles, after his departure from earth. So he has purposed to awaken his Church to prepare the way before him by proclaiming the good news for two 19-year time cycles, prior to his return to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to set up the Kingdom of God to rule the peaceful and happy and joyful world tomorrow.
Now, I don't know whether you understand that thoroughly or not. I don't. But what he's simply saying is this, however. Before you get to this, he works out a system of cycles... I give you my word, I have never heard an interpretation quite like it before. I can't understand why anybody would fall for it. He works out a 19-year time cycle. He says that there were two 19-year time cycles before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. Now, why he says two 19-year time cycles I honestly don't know. Why not just one cycle of 38 years? But that's not the way he does it.
He says: [words in italics are McGee's]
Beginning with a certain date (and he sets dates) there will be two 19-year time cycles. (before the Lord comes, and he, today, is proclaiming that message--and the only one)
Now listen to this:
And so beginning the first week of January 1934 the living Christ opened the door. It was the door of radio and the printing press, mass media, through which Christ's true gospel could be proclaimed to the multitudes. It was the midnight hour when began the fulfillment of Matthew 25:6: "there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."
Now this is amazing. Here is what he says: After 38 years the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, the church went to sleep (it's the "virgins," according to him) and for 18 l/2 centuries the church was asleep and no true message went out until Herbert Armstrong went on the radio in 1934! Now, my friend, I want to say you have to have gall to make a statement like that. I can't imagine anyone... suppose that I would have the audacity to stand up here and say the true gospel was never preached in the Church of the Open Door 'till Vernon McGee got here. May I say that there would be many that could contradict that. Every pastor that this church has had has been a real preacher and teacher of the Word of God, and there's been no exception to that. It would audacious to make a statement... Do you notice what he is doing? He is saying that Tertullian, Ignatius, Augustine, Athanasius... Athanasius, that man that was beaten on the back, gave the great statement in the Nicene Creed that "He is very God of very God; He is very Man of very Man"!10 And then the martyrs. Fox says five million died for the name of the Lord Jesus. My friend, to say that they were asleep is an awful thing. It's a tragic thing to say.
Think of the Waldensians and the price they paid in Northern Italy. John Huss burned at the stake, Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin,11 Dwight L. Moody,12 Dr. G. Campbell Morgan,13 (that preached in this church at one time), Dr. A. C. Gaebelein,14 Dr. Harry Ironside,15 Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer,16 and the men we had here at the prophetic conference. All of these are "asleep"! The only man that's "awake" is this man on the radio! My friend, you've got to have nerve to make a statement like that. To imagine that this is the "only" one. But you know, some people love dogmatic statements like that, and they follow that. It's amazing the type of individuals that will follow that sort of thing.
A Strange Mixture:
Now what is this "World Tomorrow"? I do want to say this that Herbert's "World Tomorrow" is doing right well for him in the world today. The thing is that it's a strange and weird mixture of Seventh-day Adventism, Jehovah's Witnesses and British-Israelism17 (or Anglo-Israelism, if you like that term better). I want you to notice what he has brought in from these different cults. I can only hit the surface. Anyway you touch this cult, you have the strangest interpretations of Scripture that you've ever run into in your life. I'll agree that nobody for 18 l/2 centuries ever interpreted Scripture quite like this.
HWA Takes From Seventh-day Adventists:
From the Seventh-day Adventists, of course, he draws what many cults draw and that is the Sabbath day. I'd like to quote him here and the statement he has made in this connection. I will use direct quotations from him in his magazine:
The Lord's day is the day the Lord is the Lord of, the day that is his day, and in Mark 2:28 Jesus Christ said he's Lord of the Sabbath, not of Sunday. In this present verse (Exodus 20:10) he said to all the people assembled, "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:"
Here's an example, a very strange hermeneutics (interpretation) of Scripture. "The Lord's day is the day the Lord is the Lord of." All right, fine. Then he quotes Mark 2:28 and the Lord Jesus said He's the Lord of the Sabbath. Now, if he would only go back there and read that very carefully, he will find out that our Lord said that to the religious rulers when He was challenged. And the reason he said that He's Lord of the Sabbath day was because He was breaking the Sabbath day, according to their tradition, and He said since He's the Lord of the Sabbath day, He could do it any way He wanted to! And He broke it. Now may I say to you, that when He says He's Lord of the Sabbath day, it hasn't anything in the world to do with us today observing this day or paying any reverence to it at all.
Now as we said earlier, the original Sabbath day--God rested on the seventh day. God rested because His life creation was man and God found rest in this man. He was His highest creation that He had put in the physical universe. This man sinned and God didn't rest then. Our Lord, when He came, you will remember, healed a man and opened his eyes on the Sabbath day. He made the statement, when they challenged Him on that --"you had no right to do it"--He said, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. We don't observe any Sabbath day anymore. We're not Sabbath-day observers. We don't do it, because we can no longer rest in that man. That man is in sin, and when the ox gets down in the ditch, He even told his people, you can get him out on the Sabbath day. God says, I'm working to get that man out and I can't rest until I bring him back into fellowship. N
Now the Sabbath was never given in the garden of Eden to man, because the seventh, as it's given to man, is this, Six days shalt thou labor and the seventh is the day of rest. But you see, man, in the garden of Eden never labored. It was not until he sinned that it was by the sweat of his brow. Then he needed the seventh day, but God never gave it to him in the garden of Eden. Now after man sinned, He gave it to the children of Israel. He never gave this to the world at all. He says in Exodus that this is a covenant--a peculiar relationship between Me and the children of Israel. It hasn't anything in the world actually to do with the world today. Therefore, the Sabbath day has never been even given to the church. All the commandments are repeated in the Epistles with exception to the one concerning the Sabbath day. We're not to kill today (it says "Thou shalt not kill"), but it doesn't say you are to keep the Sabbath day today. In fact, Paul says, let no man judge you in respect to a Sabbath day.
There's a great deal more that could be said about that.
To Observe Passover Today Borders on Blasphemy:
Now there's something else that is very interesting... He even outdoes the Seventh-day Adventists in this connection. He observes the Passover feast, of all things. I have been looking during the Passover season for them to bring a lamb out there to church, but if you read his letter, he substitutes for a lamb that they bring an offering and not bring the lamb. But in the Passover feast of the Old Testament you didn't bring an offering, you brought a lamb and that lamb was slain. But let me read a letter that he got out in 1963:
Greetings in Jesus' name. The Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread are once again nearly upon us. So be sure to read all of this special letter about plans for the spring festival.
And believe me, he really tells his followers what to do. I wish I could have just half that influence with those who are members of the Open Door, especially in giving that he has with his own.
But listen to this. I just lift out one other excerpt:
As I said then, this is frankly incomprehensible to me as a servant and minister of God that some of the very people of God could forget the day which commemorates the very death of their savior.
Now that sounds very pious, but did you know that that borders on blasphemy? The Passover was never given to commemorate the death of Christ. It does not look back to it; it looked forward to His coming. Paul could write, Christ, our Passover is offered for us! So that we no longer observe a Passover. We look back to the death of Christ! And yonder at the Passover feast, on the dying embers of a fading feast, He raised something new--the Lord's Supper. And he says, "This looks back to my death. As often as ye do this ye shew forth My death." But, my friend, the Passover... What you are saying is it looked forward to His coming. When you attempt to observe it today, you are saying that He never came. You are absolutely despising His death to even attempt to commemorate in a Passover feast.
That is just part of what he takes out of Seventh-day Adventism.
HWA Takes From Jehovah's Witnesses:
Then he takes out of Jehovah's Witnesses. He always talks about "Good News," "Good News," and "What must I do to be saved?" Here is a partial answer. You don't just do one thing to be saved, let me tell you. He has quite a few. I'd like to quote from him on this and this goes back to his magazine in March 1963, "What is The Good News?"18 Now listen to this. Paul said--I just made a tape on the 16th of Acts for our Thru the Bible program--Paul said, to the Philippian jailer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
Now unfortunately, Paul didn't know that he had said the wrong thing. He should have said this:
The apostles were commanded to go forth and preach exactly the same gospel that Jesus had proclaimed throughout his earthly ministry--the Good News of the Government of God. Men were instructed to repent of their ways and believe that message in order to be saved.
Did the apostles and ministers of God's Church preach that same message?
Then he [HWA] goes on to say that they did:
It is faith--not in Christ--but in God's coming world government, man's only hope! And it's faith in that and not faith in Christ that saves. [emp. ours]
He goes on:
Jesus and his apostles continued preaching the same message of God's coming world government.
Now let me say just this word in this connection. That is a failure to interpret Scripture by just lifting out a verse here. Our Lord began by preaching the same message John the Baptist did: "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." He offered Himself to His people. We saw here last week that Peter, in his second sermon--one of the greatest messages I think ever given; the largest number saved at that time. And when he preached that message he said to this nation, this is your last opportunity. If you right now, as a nation, would accept Him, God would send Him to this earth to establish His Kingdom. Now, of course, the critic comes along and says, "Well, suppose they had, what then?" Well, God had a plan, my friend, but it's a "iffy" question and it didn't work out that way. But it was an offer.
Now, as you move along, why doesn't he come on up to where the Lord Jesus, when He was rejected, He pronounced a curse on Capernaum, Bethsaida, and some of these other places, and then He turned to the multitudes--and listen to His message: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I'll rest you. The rest of redemption. He now offers personal salvation and He goes to the cross and says go out and preach what? The gospel? What was the gospel? That Jesus died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, and that saves you, and nothing else will save you! [Read I Corinthians 15:1-4] May I say, that that is not the message that he gives. It's the message of Jehovah's Witnesses. The message that you believe in the kingdom. And actually there's no personal relationship to Jesus Christ at all. And the reason for that is just simply because--we'll see later--that they deny really the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I do not want to dwell on this. I merely mention it because I certainly do not want to dwell on any man's sorrow. I don't know whether it was his eldest son--I take it, it was--was killed in an automobile accident.19 And the way I bumped into it is there's a Bass family up in the San Juan King Valley that for several years I used to go up and hunt with them. They had a ranch at that time in the Tehachapi [Mountains]. They're a lovely family, saved out of Romanism.20 They came out of the mountain area there between Spain and France. I noticed the last time up there the man was limping and I said to him, "What in the world has happened to you? You are limping." And he said, "Haven't you heard? I was in an automobile accident. And he was coming, he said, over beyond San Luis Obispo, California. That's when they were working on the freeway there. This boy, Mr. Armstrong's son, came up on the wrong side of the freeway apparently and ran head on into the car. And when the ambulance arrived, and the doctor, he started to give this boy a shot to keep him out of shock, and the one with him21 said, "Don't you do that. It's against our religion." And the doctor said, "He has to be given this." He told him "no" but to "call his father." And he called his father in Pasadena and his father said, "Don't touch him with the needle." Now that is a sad thing, because the doctor said if he could have given him a shot (to save him out of shock) he could have saved his life. But the boy, by the time the father got there, he died.
And that, as you know, is Jehovah's Witnesses today. There is a case--I do not know just where it is--either in this area or San Diego area--about this mother with an unborn child. Did she have a right to refuse medical attention for the sake of the child? Because she belonged to the cult that believed you should not have blood transfusions and that type of thing. Anyone has a personal right, of course, to believe that way, but may I say that I would have thought--and at that time wondered--if it wouldn't change the [HWA's] message, but apparently it has not. "We're still under law" and "you're not to have shots given to you." That is strictly, of course, Jehovah's Witnesses' viewpoint.
[NOTE: Read ESN's Thoughts and Comments Regarding Richard Armstrong's Death at bottom of this transcript in Pt. 2 (includes recent research).]
Pt. 1 | Pt. 2