Exit and Support Network

"Bible Correspondence Course"
(an Examination)

Most all members of the old WCG underwent a process of indoctrination that included going through their "Bible Correspondence Course" as well as the literature of the organization.

What we failed to perceive at the time was the loaded nature of the "Corre-spin-dence" Course, which was designed to lead one to various conclusions, all the while making it look like those things were indeed taught and supported by the Scriptures. We were even told to pray before beginning, so that the conclusions that were drawn would appear to be sanctioned by God and an answer to prayer, further cementing those false teachings imparted by the study.

Many of the splinter organizations have employed their own Bible study courses, that rely on the same methods of deceptions. Some things and concepts are so subtly added that the majority of people do not even realize things unproven and unsupported by Scripture are slipped in. The following questions are provided without the use of loaded language, and should serve to get people thinking about some of the things they were taught and believed through that methodology.

I recommend people write out the answers like they did in the old correspondence courses so as to better internalize what the Scriptures have to say on these matters.

1. Does any one person or church have the right to alter Scripture and its application in any way?

Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Rev. 22:18,19; II Timothy 3:16.

Comment: The Scriptures are the God breathed, inspired Word of God, and God was specific in what He required of various people over time and how they were to comply with His Word.

2. What did Jesus have to say about those who practiced the old covenant contrary to how God declared that covenant law should be kept?

Mark 7:7-13.

3. What did God in the Old Testament say about king Saul who did not obey Him in the way God commanded?

I Samuel 15:13-23.

4. According to Scripture, what was the tithe the Israelites had, and who was to be in receipt of the tithe?

Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 12:17-18; Deuteronomy 14:22-29.

5. Were the Israelites required to tithe on their monetary wages?

Comment: Seeing as Scripture never required or commanded anyone to tithe of their wages, is teaching people to tithe on their wages, and giving it to a minister or a ministry then a commandment of men? Is it an alteration of the Word of God and its application? Yes. When it comes to God's will regarding any matter, there is no need for us to speculate or make assumptions as to what God wants of us in our Christian walk.

Note in Deuteronomy chapter 14, that one could sell their tithe for money, and take it to the feasts in Jerusalem, where the money was used to buy back animals and other things that the tithe was to begin with. If the people were required to tithe of their wages (money) then this provision in the law would be strange indeed.

6. What did Jesus warn his followers of in regards to false ministers?

II Corinthians 11:9-15.

Comment: If Paul made it plain that he refused support from some churches, and he is contrasting himself with these false ministers, can we conclude these false ministers are those who insist on support?

Matthew 24:4-5; Matthew 7:15 (What clothing is made from the wool of a sheep?) Matthew 24:11; Matthew 24:24; II Peter 2:1; I John 4:1.

A false prophet uses religion for his own ends at the expense of others. He feigns being religious, and feigns being concerned for his flock, but he will still demand compliance with his interpretation of Scripture so as to benefit himself.

7. What does a wolf do to a flock?

Acts 20:29.

8. Do your ministers live well and feed themselves from the tithes of your wages they demand of you, contrary to that law they claim cannot be altered even down to jots and tittles?

9. Did the apostle Paul, when making his case that ministers of the gospel were entitled to support as a result of preaching the gospel, use tithing as a means to justify his support?

I Corinthians chapter 9.

10. If tithing is required of Christians, why did Paul not use tithing as an example of how the ministry was to be supported, and how could he refuse tithes from various churches?

11. If false ministers were prophesied to come who would take advantage of flocks to their own benefit, what method would they employ and demand in order to accomplish this?

Summary: No man, and no "church" has the right to alter Scripture and its application. Deceptive religious leaders use the misapplication of the old covenant tithe as a means of profit. I have had a number of people ask me, "Where does it say we do not tithe on our wages?" I respond to them that you cannot prove a negative. Nowhere does Scripture require tithe of wages, and many people in ancient Israel worked for wages. The other common argument put forth is that we have to change with the times; that our economy is not like that of ancient Israel. This begs the conclusion that God was negligent in foreseeing future events. Regardless, when Herbert Armstrong began preaching back in the 1930's, whom did he preach to? Farmers in the Willamette region of Oregon, who grew crops and raised livestock. Theirs was an agrarian society, but HWA was not interested in the biblical tithe of their produce and livestock.

The big question now is who or what you are going to accept as truth; the inspired Word of God, or those ministers who appear as angels of light, who have perverted the Holy Scriptures for their own benefit?

12. The old covenant was a contractual agreement between the two parties, God and the Israelites. If they were obedient to the conditions of the old covenant, God would bless them, and if they were disobedient, God would curse them, and eventually remove them from the land. Once a covenant has been put in force, can any man add to, or take away from said covenant?

Galatians 3:15.

Herbert Armstrong, in Which Day is the Christian Sabbath [see my critique of the booklet], made the following declaration:

Once a covenant is signed, sealed, or ratified—confirmed—it cannot be added to (Gal. 3:15). Anything appearing beneath the signature is not legally any part of the covenant. You read of the actual making of the old covenant, and sealing it with blood, in Exodus 24:6-8. And notice (verse 8), it concludes with the words "the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you." It was then already made—completed.

Seeing as that covenant that included tithing was complete, and it is impossible to legally add anything to said covenant after ratification, how is it that Herbert Armstrong and others added Christians to this covenant, requiring them to tithe? And let's not forget, he required people to tithe in a manner contrary to that law!

Note also that the conditions of this covenant could not be altered without affecting the whole, yet Herbert Armstrong declared that many of the conditions of that covenant were no longer binding, such as the sacrifices. This, according to both the apostle Paul and Herbert Armstrong, is not possible; it is "illegal" and invalid to do so.

13. The old covenant had a provision in it so that one who was not born of Israel could enter into that covenant relationship with God should they undergo circumcision. Were Gentile Christians required to be circumcised?

Acts 15:1-11 14.

14. Was Jesus Christ the God of the old covenant?

I Corinthians 10:4; John 8:58.

Was Jesus Christ the God of the old covenant?

I Corinthians 10:4; John 8:58.

15. What happens when either party to a covenant dies?

Romans 7:1-6.

Like a marriage covenant that ends upon the death of either party, so too did the old covenant end upon the death of Jesus. Both old and New Covenants are likened to marriage covenants, and we read in the Old Testament that God "divorced" Israel.

"And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also." (Jeremiah 3:8)

Jesus' death finalized the separation between God and Israel, thus freeing God to make the New Covenant with a people who would live by faith, as contrasted to Israel who constantly demonstrated their lack of faith; their stiff-necked and rebelliousness.

Jesus' death, and the shedding of His blood, also initiated the New Covenant, even as the old covenant was put in force through the death and shedding of blood by animal substitutes.

16. Is the New Covenant like or similar to the old covenant? Is the New Covenant the old covenant "written on the heart"?

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12.

God Himself declares in Scripture that the new was not to be like the old covenant made with Israel. This spiritual "law" is placed within the believer by God, and not something the believer does through his or her own effort by trying to keep an external law of compliance: "do this" and "don't do that." (II Corinthians 3:3)

17. What all does God put within the believer?

Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Psalms 51:10; Joel 2:28; Jeremiah 31:33.

Comment: God places His Spirit within the believer. God places a new heart of flesh to replace the stony heart one is born with, and God places His law within the believer. These three are all the same thing. The Holy Spirit now guides the believer from within, and not an external law that was written in ink and engraven in stone, as Paul brings out in II Corinthians chapter 3. Christians are not a party to that old covenant; Christians are party to the New Covenant "law" of faith (Romans 3:27) and the Spirit (Romans 8:2).

By William Hohmann (former WCG member; graduate of Ambassador College)
Exit & Support Network™
February 3, 2010

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