Gerald Flurry says God has given him a “deeper understanding” on the subject of signs. He wrote about this in the March-April 2005 Royal Vision, “From the Editor,” title: “The Signs of the Times.”
Since GF continues to teach what he wrote in this article, it is still applicable for today.
Following is ESN’s critique of the article:
Many of the words in this “Signs of the Times” article have the potential to foster judgmental and self-righteous attitudes in the reader such as claiming that those in Philadelphia Church of God know something that others (i. e., those in churches or organizations outside PCG) don’t know.
The article totally glosses over the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (which is the true gospel) and His salvation, grace and love are not even covered. Instead our attention is diverted to “signs”–even stating that Jesus was “the biggest sign.” This serves the purpose of keeping members occupied with prophecy.
HWA Is Exalted
GF loses no time in leading the reader up to Herbert Armstrong (whom he calls the “Elijah”) and to himself (which he considers to be “That Prophet.”) As usual, HWA is exalted by GF and said to be “the end-time John the Baptist” that “prepared the way of Jesus Christ.”
We must wonder how exactly HWA accomplished this feat seeing that many in the world have never even heard of Herbert Armstrong or his Worldwide Church of God (let alone the Philadelphia Church of God) beyond the negative publicity over the years.
At this point, there are sure to be those who say, “Since HWA received persecution, that proves he was the founder of God’s true church.” But wait. What kind of “persecution” did he (and his WCG) receive? Was it merely from those who only wanted to “gripe and criticize” (which are words HWA used to deter members from listening to outside sources)? No, instead it was from reputable scholars and theologians, journalists, high-ranking ministers; newspaper and magazine articles. (Refer to our Booklist and two newspaper articles: Dropouts See Hucksterism Where They Once Saw God and Worldwide Church of God Amasses Wealth Amid Rising Criticism.)
Could it have been HWA who was the one persecuting others, even calling them “of the devil” (and many such derogatory names) if they didn’t believe what he taught or spoke against him?
What Were the Fruits?
Jesus told us we would know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16-20) So what were the fruits of HWA and WCG? Do we find good fruit with many lives changed for the better? Do we have testimony after testimony of people (including those who grew up inside) telling how happy they were/are under such a system? Or do we read of just the opposite? Heavy burdens which led to fatigue, confusion, guilt, perfectionism, shame, fear, breakup of families, and lives ruined, along with exposures of immorality, financial improprieties, abuses, lies, cover-ups, deceptions, hypocrisy, etc.
Didn’t Jesus also tell us to beware of false prophets, which would come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves? (Matthew 7:15)
GF goes on to tell us that the way Herbert Armstrong “prepared the way” was that he prepared PCG for the Work they are doing today. This is quite a cunning tactic since reader’s minds are now moved quickly away from dwelling on how HWA was supposed to have “prepared the way” before Christ’s return, but he really didn’t because his prophecies failed! And this from a man who claimed he had received “revelation” from God. It only takes one false prophecy to make a false prophet.
PCG proudly claims to be the end-time Philadelphia Church of God mentioned in Revelation 3:7. But those who were involved with WCG will remember that this is exactly what HWA taught about his Worldwide Church of God. So since we see that Christ didn’t come in HWA’s lifetime (which HWA said He would), what GF is doing is putting forth clever reasoning to keep followers hanging on. False leaders and false prophets will continually talk about how the “end is near,” or how “time is short,” and when a few years past and they’re still here, GF simply moves the time table up.
Twisting of Scripture
A number of statements in the article place blame on the reader or whom GF termed “religious people.” Much is an outright twisting of Scripture from what it actually says. Let’s go over a few of these by quoting them. GF’s words will be indented. The caps that GF used will, in most cases, not be used.
At the beginning of the article GF concentrates his attention on the hypocritical religious leaders of Jesus’ day. After quoting John 5:39 (wherein our minds are not allowed to remain on how Christ said the Scriptures–all of them–testify of Him), Gerald Flurry says:
We need to take that admonition personally: Search the Scriptures. Christ is saying that to all of the Laodiceans and all of the Philadelphians today. Search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life, and in too many cases, you don’t. You think you know what you’re doing spiritually, and you don’t.
When God says we have eternal life, that is what He means. Eternal means precisely that—eternal. It’s not something that’s here one day and gone the next. (See John 10:28-29; I John 5:13) But GF doesn’t want readers to know this because he wants them to believe they can lose their eternal salvation if they don’t stay in PCG and do what he says.
They were absolutely certain they were free. The whole world tends to think like that—especially religious people. [i. e., those not in PCG]
It’s scary to consider how people can think they’re so righteous and know so little!
We can almost hear GF raising his voice at this point:
The Lamb was a sign–the sign of signs! What more could they ask for than for the Lamb to come right there among them? He was about to sacrifice Himself for those wretched Jews and every other sinner on this Earth—and they didn’t even know what was happening.”
Do we find Christ presenting Himself like this? Everything He did was a result of His love for others, even offering Himself in love for the sins of the world? (John 3:16; I John 4:16)
Wasn’t it right that Christ should have been upset? They didn’t understand ANYTHING–and thought they understood EVERYTHING!
Christ Rebuked the Hypocrites
Christ rebuked the hypocritical religious leaders of his day who laid heavy burdens on people, so would it be hard to see him becoming “upset” with (or reprove) self-appointed prophets today who are guilty of the exact same things?
You have to be careful with an all-knowing attitude. [emp. mine]
Can’t we apply this to false teachers and prophets who themselves have an “all-knowing attitude”?
Oh, they could talk about Moses and Abraham, but they couldn’t accept the Son of God.
Wouldn’t this apply to religious imposters today who go on and on about the Old Testament, especially the Law, but don’t understand what it means to accept and trust in the Son of God? Such have failed to reveal Him to their followers and instead preach a false gospel of works.
[speaking of John the Baptist]:
The Jews didn’t like John the Baptist, who happened to have the truth and who was preparing the way for Christ.
Notice the emphasis on “the truth” and “preparing the way” (which GF claims PCG is doing). How did John describe Jesus? “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
John the Baptist completed, in type, the same job Herbert W. Armstrong did in this end time. Now, what will God think if we reject what Mr. Armstrong did?
As GF continues to tie Herbert Armstrong in with John the Baptist, he is able to lead the reader back to focusing more on HWA and his “work” than on the Person of Christ. The message becomes “you better not reject HWA or you won’t make it into the Kingdom.” What a twisting of the Word of God!
[tells how Andrew told Simon we have found the Messiah]:
These men were so excited, saying, We found Him! …They had been prepared by John the Baptist, as we were prepared by Mr. Armstrong.
The Holy Spirit, Not HWA, Leads One to Christ
Again, one’s attention is led back to the false prophet Herbert Armstrong. This is also saying that no one who didn’t hear HWA was able to find the Messiah (Jesus). The Scriptures are clear that it is the Holy Spirit that leads one to Christ.
Where is He? Where is His work today, preparing for his Second Coming?
Notice how GF correlates “finding the Messiah” to “finding His work today.” This plants in the reader’s mind how there must be a one true work (or true church) today that is preparing for Christ’s Second Coming, and that it must be Philadelphia Church of God.
Mr. Armstrong also prepared the way for Christ (and we are a part of the process because we continue his message) by preparing us!
This is adding to Scripture. John announced the coming of Jesus Christ. HWA did not “prepare the way for Christ” especially by all his false prophecies and neither was PCG “prepared by HWA” to continue “his message” except for the fact that GF follows HWA’s teachings and methods.
They [God’s people] don’t know where the Messiah’s work is! They don’t know, or they’re rebelling against it.”
Work of God Is to Believe on Jesus
Jesus tells us what “the work” is (and that he finished it): “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:28-29) “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4)
If we understand the signs of the times, we are going to be passionately excited about publicizing Christ’s message!
Translation: “If someone listens to the prophecies or “signs” GF talks about, they will begin sending in tithes and offerings to PCG HQs which will allow GF to continue publishing his “free” literature so more people will find out they need to tithe to him and become members–along with how it will enable him to erect expensive and lavish buildings and purchase many luxuries (which, of course, is okay since he is being “used of God” just like HWA was).
What is “Christ’s message”? The Scriptures show that it consists of believing on Jesus Christ and receiving Him (John 1:12; John 5:24; John 6:47; I John 5:13, etc.)–not joining HWA’s WCG, Flurry’s PCG, or any other offshoot–thinking it is the only place where God is working.
[quotes vs. 45 and says]:
They were thrilled! They were ecstatic to be able to be a part of that.
The real reason they were “ecstatic” was because the long-awaited Messiah had come. GF’s words “a part of” mean becoming a part of PCG where your life will become controlled.
…you can’t make excuses to Christ when He returns… ask yourself if you are that excited today!
This all ties in with how GF wants readers to be “excited” about what he is doing. The guilt becomes obvious if one isn’t excited.
[quotes vs. 18 and then says:
Jesus Christ came to declare God the Father … Christianity today doesn’t know that.
GF Says There Are Three Personalities
Maybe “Christianity doesn’t know that” because the purpose for Jesus coming to earth was not to “declare God the Father.” Jesus said: “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? (John 14:9) Jesus was God manifested in the flesh! He came so that we might have life. (John 10:10) Jesus also said, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (John 9:39)
GF takes it all one step further when he quotes John 1:24-25, then says “they were talking about three personalities.” These three personalities he says are: Christ, Elijah (whom we know he means HWA) and “that prophet,” which instead of referring to Christ (see Deut. 18:15, John 1:45, John 6:14; John 7:40; etc.), is whom GF dares to refer to himself! He goes on to say:…there are also three personalities in Isaiah 40: John the Baptist, Mr. Armstrong, and this work in the end time.
…we’re the only ones who know, and it’s our job to make the world know. (emp. mine)
One of the identifying marks of an exploitive, abusive group is the boastful claim by the leader that they are the “only ones.” See: All or Nothing Statements (from those who have ‘the truth’)
Your offerings do everything to fulfill these prophecies.
The generous offerings (coerced from well-meaning members and supporters) fulfill the leader’s needs and desires of the leader.
The people in this world are in total darkness regarding the times they live in, but Christ keeps trying to teach them; to show them about the mystery and remove the mystery from the Bible.
This conflicts with what Jesus said about darkness and how that those who follow Him (not a self-appointed apostle or prophet) do not walk in darkness: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12) This is merely another case of GF deceiving readers into believing that PCG is the only one not in “total darkness.”
The “mystery” mentioned in several places in Scripture does not mean any “mystery” that HWA or PCG is supposed to have, but refers to Christ and the church and how Jew and Gentile could now become one body. (You can also look the word up in a Bible concordance.)
Astounding Words From Gerald Flurry:
The Jews went around preaching all the time about the manna they received in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ came and said in John 6, I AM THE MANNA! ISRAEL IS DEAD! I AM THE MANNA THAT WILL GIVE YOU ETERNAL LIFE! Still, they didn’t get it. They ought to have been electrified! [emp. mine]
Let’s read what Christ really said: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
When GF says, “They ought to have been electrified!” one must wonder if GF would he say the same thing about people today who do not know what he claims to know? This outburst might remind some of the time GF said a former member’s head “ought to be shot off.” [statement #17]
Fifty percent of God’s people in this end time cannot discern the signs of the times and won’t repent of that, and they have to die forever!
I would imagine it must be getting close to too late for most of the Laodiceans—and for half of them, eternally too late.
GF claims to know the percentage of who will “die forever” or be “eternally too late.” He is playing God. This is a scare tactic to get people to come back to PCG and to keep from joining the “Laodicean” rank.
We are held accountable for what we receive. … YOU, individually will have to understand.
Meaning people have to understand the Scriptures Gerald Flurry’s way or not at all. To tell others that they are “held accountable for what they receive” (or what they hear) is a fear tactic which HWA used when recruiting others.
Each one of us is responsible for what goes on in the church. You can’t just sit there and watch the Church collapse and say, Well, I didn’t go along with it. That’s not really doing anything!
Many haven’t gone along with what GF is doing or saying, but when they spoke up they were disfellowshipped and/or marked. GF wants members to “report to the minister” the names of those who aren’t going along with what he says. Members’ loyalty is always first to “the government” which translates into PCG headquarters.
Support the Work
GF goes on to talk about how Jesus wants us to “discern when He’s doing a work” and “to believe it and know it and support it with everything we possibly can.”
It all gets back to finances.
He continues, talking about “believe” in the context of “Bible study” and putting a guilt trip on those who may do it but not get anything out of it.
We do need to labor to learn the truth. It’s hard work!
Jesus said all who labor and are heavy laden are to come to Him. (Matthew 11:28) Jesus is the truth. It is found in Him. (Ephesians 4:21) The truth is so simple a child can understand it.
Mr. Armstrong discerned the signs of all the times.
Is that why he gave over 200 false prophecies?
In A.D. 69, when it stopped preaching the gospel to the world, God’s Church went to sleep. It slumbered and slept for hundreds and hundreds of years–until a voice went out over radio in 1934.
This is a myth. It has been proven that HWA lied about the “lost” church century.
…we must strive and strain in our spiritual lives and get to know everything we can about the signs of the times!”
The gospel message to us is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and this does not include any type of “striving and straining.” It comes by faith alone and resting in what God has already done for us.
Let us not be deceived by false prophets and teachers who would have us look to them instead of the Savior Jesus Christ.
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
March 27, 2012
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men,
whereby we must be saved.” ~Acts 4:12