Grace Communion International History Revision
What if a group never fully admitted their sordid past, but changed their name, covered up and revised their history, and offered a different story?
GCI (formerly Worldwide Church of God) has substituted the word "unusual" instead of "heresies" in their booklet, Transformed by Christ: A Brief History of the Worldwide Church of God (title now changed to A Short History of Grace Communion International - Transformed by Christ, their new name). For instance, they say that Herbert Armstrong had many "unusual doctrines," came to "unusual conclusions," and "emphasized the unusual."1 By this change in words, readers (notably members) are made to believe that it was God who stepped in and changed the WCG from an "unorthodox church" on the " fringes of Christianity" into a new evangelical church.
Then why would they have to revise their history?
It's not only doctrine that one needs to look at, but the methods of propaganda, deceit and confusion that have been used by the leadership of a particular religious organization in making their changes and the devastating effects on their members.
The most important question is, how truthful has the group been? Do they revise history to try to cover up their past, especially things that are embarrassing or might connect them with wrong doing? Do they say they have always been a Christian church? Or do they encourage their members to research thoroughly the early beginnings of their church and especially of their founder?
By also saying that HWA "preached things that others do not," they do not own up to the truth of what Herbert W. Armstrong was all about, nor do they admit that Armstrong preached "another gospel." Using the word "unorthodox" is another way of covering up the truth that WCG was listed for decades as a destructive Bible-based cult in all the apologetic literature on cults.
How much does GCI hold to orthodox doctrines today?2 When Joseph Tkach, Greg Albrecht and Michael Feazell were interviewed by D. James Kennedy3 on "Truths that Transform" radio program in 1996, they said that they did believe in heaven and hell (orthodox doctrines), but the question is, which of their booklets teaches it?
When a letter was sent to WCG HQ (August 17, 1996), asking for any booklets or articles on the Trinity, Born Again, and Heaven and Hell, the reply we received back (September 1, 1996) was: "The items you asked for are no longer published by the Worldwide Church of God. We regret that we're unable to fulfill your request."
Would such a group set out to remove, or cover-up, any incriminating evidence against them? Why, for instance, did all of the late Walter Martin's earlier editions of his book, The Kingdom of the Cults, seemingly disappear from libraries and used book stores across the country so fast and in so short of a time after the introduction of the new WCG changes in 1995? Was it not because the older editions included a section on the Worldwide Church of God and its heresies?
Why is nothing heard from the WCG (GCI) leaders about the late David Robinson's book, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web? This book was written in 1980 by a former WCG minister and employee in many capacities. (It is available through ESN in PDF and can be downloaded here If you do not have a Facebook account, or would rather it be sent through email, please email us and request it.) The last chapter (posted on our site), which reveals the shocking story about Herbert Armstrong's sexual abuse and incest with his daughter--which had been going on from the founding of his "Radio Church of God"4 and which occurred for a decade after his ordination to the ministry (according to family members)--should be enough to cause anyone to doubt Herbert Armstrong as being "used by God." Is this just one more sordid incident of GCI history that they would like forgotten, as they go about telling their members that their founder was a "sincere Christian" and "dedicated to Christ"?5
How many know that WCG (Grace Communion International) sold the copyrights to HWA's literature for $3 million to a destructive Herbert Armstrong offshoot? Read: What in the World is Worldwide Church of God Doing Now?
GCI has told members that derogatory information written in the past on WCG and Herbert W. Armstrong has turned out to be only "conspiracy, rumors and myths." Since certain authors such as former WCG members/ministers David Robinson and William B. Hinson (1934-2006) are now dead, perhaps they feel it is now easier to refute what these authors testified to. When the most indicative books about WCG and HWA are unheard of, no present members, nor any outsiders who are just now finding out about the "new WCG" (GCI) will ever know anything to the contrary (that is, unless they are able to find books and news/magazine article archives about HWA and WCG.
Headquarters has attempted to bury many of the WCG evangelists of the `70s. These former evangelists understood many of the very same doctrines which later were expounded as "new understanding" by the WCG. This was the same period of time when Joseph W. Tkach, Greg Albrecht, and many other leaders were residing within the WCG and were fully aware of what was going on. (Refer to: Jack Kessler's 1981 Letter to Worldwide Church of God Board of Directors, Robert Gerringer 1975 Letter to Charles Hunting and Richard Plache) These discerning ministers and members who spoke up, and those who followed them, were labeled "dissidents" and "rebellious." Today those who have exposed the Worldwide Church of God are labeled as "hateful" and "bitter" or "physiologically disturbed." Individuals who have tried to show the leadership where they are wrong have been made to feel as if they "didn't have all their facts straight" and were given some spin control answer.
Christ would have exposed hypocrisy and abuse. In fact, He had many harsh words to say to the false religious leaders of his day, while at the same time He was merciful, compassionate and loving to those who had been abused, often seeking them out as He did with the blind man whom He healed, and who had been cast out by the self-righteous Pharisees. (John 9:35)
GCI stated in their recent "Mission and Vision Statement" that one of their objectives is to "Maintain the official history, legacy and continuity of Grace Communion International." But if one of their last moves was to move to a new location and change their name from WCG to GCI6, along with changing the names of most of their local congregations, how many outsiders will connect them with Herbert W. Armstrong who founded Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena, California?
"Grave attempts to revise history and cover up "historic" events were brought about by all the Church of God leaders including David Hulme and Rod Meredith." (Quoted from OIU Newsletter #6, pt. 3) Read: WCG's Shredding of Documents During 1979 (letter to ESN)
What kind of organization would attempt to bulldoze over its past, tell a revised story of what really happened, discount those who would take exception, whitewash their founder, and then exhort their members to "accept responsibility" and "don't point at Herbert Armstrong, point at yourself; you allowed this to happen"?
Herbert W. Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God left a path littered with death, misery, corruption, and shattered lives. For an organization which knows this, to attempt to distort, revise and cover up the true history doesn't make a lot of sense.
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
November 21, 2002
Last updated August 3, 2012
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
1 Transformed by Christ: a Brief History of the Worldwide Church of God, Worldwide Church of God, copyright 1998. [title now changed to A Short History of Grace Communion International - Transformed by Christ] Read ESN's review of this book: Transformed by Christ (a critical review)
3 Update: D. James Kennedy died 9-5-07 at the age of 76. Few are aware that Kennedy was a member of the CNP (Council for National Policy). Much more on the Council for National Policy (founded in 1981), plus a list of members, can be found in this offsite report and in the expose` Let's Focus in on "Focus on the Family" by former FOTF employee Randy Shafer which documents the unscriptural and New Age direction that Focus on the Family is moving the Christian church toward.
4 Radio Church of God was renamed Worldwide Church of God in 1968.
5 On 4-30-96 and 5-1-96 Joseph Tkach, Jr. was interviewed on D. James Kennedy's Christian radio program "Truths that Transform." Tkach, Jr. said that Herbert W. Armstrong was a "very sincere Christian who was dedicated to Christ." In The Worldwide News, March 7, 1995, p. 3, Joseph Tkach, Sr. stated that they believe HWA "was a minister of Jesus Christ." For more quotes see Has WCG (GCI) whitewashed Herbert W. Armstrong? from the Q&A's. Herbert W. Armstrong stated, "Christ is not the gospel. Believing on Christ is not believing the gospel." (Voice clip of HWA giving a 1978 Bible Study and marking Buck Taylor; heard on pt. 2 of "My Story" by C. Wayne Cole, 5-19-78; CD/audio tape with ESN) [Note: In Feb. 2005 The Worldwide News in the United States changed its name to WCG Today. In May 2006 it was changed to Together. A few years later Together was no longer available Their magazine is now Christian Odyssey.]
6 In November 2004 the Worldwide Church of God moved its headquarters from Pasadena to Glendora, California. (Pasadena Star-News, October 25, 2004) By May 2006 all their offices were moved to Glendora. (Together, May-June 2006). In 2006 they were considering a name change. In April 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.)