In spite of how Worldwide Church of God (now GCI) would like to bury their past, this sermon shows some of the doctrines that Herbert Armstrong actually taught. It is a transcript of an evening sermon given in the 1960s by J. Vernon McGee.1 An interesting segment is the part about Richard Armstrong’s car accident and his tragic death due to neglect of medical treatment to prevent shock. A few parts have been slightly re-worded to make reading easier. Exact dates of some magazines Dr. McGee quoted from are unknown.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee and Herbert Armstrong both lived in Pasadena, CA. Dr. McGee lived two years longer than HWA; and even though WCG has told the lie that HWA “died in a chair watching the Young Ambassadors,” in actuality it turned out to be Dr. McGee that died peacefully in a chair in 1988. More info on Dr. McGee’s ministry is at the bottom of this article where it says Note.
(See ESN’s Thoughts and Comments Regarding Richard Armstrong’s Death at the end of the transcript right after “Note.”)
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 wrote a little tract called, “Herbert Armstrong, Mr. Confusion.” 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 tonight 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 there 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 that 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 blue italics 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 blue 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 talking about this morning–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 I’m sure 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.”
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 blue 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 “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 tonight 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 that he has made in this connection. I will use direct quotations from him in his magazine this evening. Here is what he says:
“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. 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’d 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 this morning, the original Sabbath day–God rested on the seventh day. God rested because His life’s 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.
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 Church 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, when we met today around the table, 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. For 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,” “the 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:
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 Thursday night 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 an “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 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 now 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. [Note: To this day GCI (formerly WCG) has nothing on their site about the Deity of Christ or that He was very man and very God.]
Richard Armstrong: A Tragic Death:
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. (Read 2005 letter to ESN which states Richard was “dead on arrival” at the hospital.)
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.
Herbert W. Armstrong Teaches British-Israelism:
Then let me come to the third and the last one of the cults that he draws from and this is the one, of course, that he majors in and that is British-Israelism, or Anglo-Israelism, if you want to call it that. They came up with this theory years ago concerning the “ten lost tribes”22 and I don’t know don’t why anyone would use that. The tribes never were lost. They’re not lost any more than the others are lost, because no Jew today knows what tribe, actually, he belongs to. And certainly no one knows whether they belong to the family of David, or not. But the ones who’ve developed this cult, they claim that England and America are two of the tribes. They’re Ephraim and Manasseh. May I say that it makes a nice little theory, and it has no basis whatever in the Word of God.
I’ll quote from him here. He says:
“Our white English speaking peoples today–Britain and America–are actually and truly the birthright tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh of the lost house of Israel.”
Then you’d say, “What about the other eight tribes?” Well, he’s got a way for them, too. He says there’s “ample evidence” (and I can’t even find a little). But he says:
“There’s ample evidence that these other eight have descended into such northwestern European nations as Holland, Belgium, Denmark, northern France, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Sweden Norway, Finland and at least portions of western Germany.”
Now the thing that interests us is the fact that England and America (are white Americans and white English) are the lost tribes. May I say that this right now is one of the most dangerous cults for racism in this country that you could possibly have. As if one race has some superiority. And that’s always been propagated by some. No race has any superiority over another race, and God never made us that way. This idea that we’ve come from these tribes….
Now the way he arrives at it is fearfully and wonderfully made, let me tell you. (I’ll give you that quotation in just a moment.) But it is one of the things that today is very popular, especially in England. England tonight is a third rate nation. I’m sorry they are. I’m sure all of us that have come from that area, and from Europe, that we hate to see that area go down, and it is going down. Civilization is dying over there and Great Britain is just a third rate nation. That’s all that they are. And this sort of thing bolsters you up to make you think, “Well, we are the lost tribes. We’ll be all right.” It administers to pride and there’s no accident that he has a college in England. Naturally. The British would fall for this sort of thing, especially in these days when they’ve lost prestige all over the world.
I was in Victoria several years ago–and what do they call this about the colors? I never found out what that is. Striking of the colors. I was walking down the street in Victoria and I heard a band–my, it was good–they were really coming down the street playing. And I followed them because I’m from the country. I wanted to know where they were going. They went down to the government building, the palace there, and you’ve never seen such a ceremony. They had a regular band concert. Then they lowered the flag and they were blowing the trumpet and everything, and the Union Jack came down, and one solider he folds it and he hands it to a soldier and that soldier he hands it to a soldier and he hands it to a soldier and they just kept passing it until it got way off somewhere and then that fellow took it and hid it somewhere. I don’t know where it took it.
And frankly, as I stood there and watched that, there was a day when it could be said that the sun never set on the Union Jack. I must confess, I just stood there and tears came down my eyes and I said, there was a day when that meant something, but now they’re just like a bunch of children playing. It doesn’t mean anything now. But there was a day when that really meant .
So if you’re one of the lost tribes, it makes you feel pretty good, you see. You can feel like you’ve got a special, ringside seat to the Millennium, to the world tomorrow; it makes it nice.
Now somebody says, but doesn’t he have more evidence than that? Well, would you like to listen to his statement? This is interpretation for you. Now you listen to this. I’m quoting: [words in blue italics are McGee’s]
“In view of the linking together of biblical history, prophecy and Irish history (well, I’ve heard of Irish coffee, but I’ve never heard of Irish history), can anyone deny that this Hebrew princess was the daughter of King Zedekiah of Judah (well, I can deny it–and I do) and therefore heir to the throne of David?”
In other words, the girl, Queen Elizabeth, she’s sitting on the throne of David. Wonder what David thinks about that? I wonder what the Lord Jesus thinks about that?
Let me read on. This is strange.
“That the aged patriarch was, in fact, Jeremiah and his companion (Jeremiah’s scribe, or secretary) Baruch and that King Herremon was a descendent of Zarah, here married to the daughter of Pharez, healing those who breached.”
Do you understand that? Neither do I.
Now let’s go on:
“That when the throne of David was first overturned by Jeremiah it was replanted in Ireland.” [emp. McGee’s]
Now, frankly, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t see how anyone today could accept that type of interpretation and it brings Bible interpretation into disrepute to do that.
“It was replanted in Ireland, later overturned a second time and replanted in Scotland (and I’m glad we got in on it a little there), overturned a third time and planted in London, from where it cannot be overturned, or moved again, until the coming of Christ when it once again shall be overturned and transplanted back in Jerusalem.”
I’m a little confused whether Christ is coming now to London or Jerusalem when He comes to the earth.
Now will you listen to this. If you think that was something, listen to this:
“The royal family of the British Commonwealth possesses a chart showing its ancestry, every generation, back to Herremon and Tephi, to Zedekiah, on back to David, and through the scriptural6 genealogy, clear to Adam. The writer has a copy of this chart and also his own genealogy for each generation back into the line of ancient British kings, and therefore has the complete record of his genealogy through the house of David clear to Adam–believe it or not.” (and believe it or not, I don’t believe it)
Now, isn’t that amazing? I’ll be honest with you, I am absolutely overwhelmed to think anybody would believe that.
[Note: Read 2019 letter to ESN and reply to “Legend of King Zedekiah’s Daughters Migrating to Ireland.”]
“When Christ returns to earth to sit on that throne, he shall take over a live, existing throne, not a non-existent one. God’s word’s still stands. Almighty God has kept all his promises.”
Now when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth, will He take over a live throne? Let’s let James, at the first council of the church at Jerusalem, answer that question. And this was where they settled, once and for all, that man is saved by grace and grace alone. “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agreed the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of the house of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:” [Acts 15:13-16] [emp. ours]
Now when He comes back will someone in the house of David be sitting on the throne in London? James says no! He says that when He comes again He will build again the house of David that’s fallen down and there’s not a person, there’s not a Jew on topside of this earth, can say he belongs to the house of David today. Not an individual. Because when He comes again, He’s the only one that has a claim to it. When the Lord Jesus comes again, He will restore the house of David that has fallen down in the ruins therefore. Now this man says that He comes back to a live throne. Whose right? James, or the modern man? I say to you that I agree with James; that when He comes back it will be as James says it will be. This [HWA’s interpretation] is something that is indeed way out.
Now, there is another angle to this that is quite interesting. I won’t develop it other than to just mention it. He makes it very clear that he thinks Judah crucified Christ and that tribe is guilty and the rest of us, if we belong to the Ephraim and Manasseh, we’re not guilty. May I say to you that we are guilty, and not only are we guilty, but when Peter was speaking to them, he said, Ye men of Israel (not Judah, but ye men of Israel), hear me. You are the ones who took Him and you crucified Him. [Acts 2:22-23] He held the whole house of Israel guilty! And you and I can’t point our finger at anyone, because if I had not been a sinner He would never have died on the cross. He said no man taketh my life from me. I have power to lay it down; I have power to take it again. [John 10:18] And He said that He died for my sins. So the one that put Him on the cross was Vernon McGee, and I’m as guilty as anyone. This idea of trying to point your finger at someone today and saying they are guilty. Peter said, speaking to them, the whole house of Israel is guilty. You can’t pick out just two tribes and blame them and say the other ten are not guilty.
Now the final test–and this is, I think, the one thing that is all important.
“What think ye of Christ?” is the test,
To try both, your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of Him.
A Statement of HWA’s That is Blasphemy:
What about the Lord Jesus Christ? Now here is something–and frankly I must confess I’m not sure I understand him. In fact, I don’t understand him in many things he says. But he makes a statement here that, if it is as I interpret it, it is blasphemy. And in the magazine he deals with the Lord Jesus in words like this. Now I am quoting: [words in blue italics are McGee’s]
One year ago in the Plain Truth (and that’s a name for a magazine. To me it’s not plain, nor truth, but he calls it the Plain Truth magazine) of February 1962 appeared an article caption, ]Just What Do You Mean Born Again?’ It warned, ‘Don’t be too sure you know. Many religious people talk about being born again and don’t really know what Christ meant by these words. That article of a year ago is available in booklet form, free for the asking. But how many realize that Jesus Christ Himself was born-again and in the same manner in which He said we must be born again? Just what did Christ mean when He said to Nicodemus, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God’? The universally accepted idea of fundamentalist Christians is that being born-again means the experience of having one’s sins forgiven. They call it a ‘born-again experience.’ (I still think that’s right) By it they mean a sinner being converted, experiencing salvation from sin. Many fundamentalist Protestants will say, ‘I’m a sinner, born again and saved by grace’ and similar expressions. Have these people really been born again–or have they been deceived? Have they had the same born again experience Christ had? But wait a minute! Surely that last sentence can’t mean what it said. (I wish it didn’t) Was Jesus Christ actually born again and in the same manner that he taught that we must be born again? Incredible! Unbelievable! (and you’re right) Was Jesus Christ a sinner? Did He need salvation from sin? No! Of course not! Yet Jesus Christ was born again, just as he taught that we must be born again. I now show you one scripture–and there will be more later in this article–but most readers who claim to have been born again will not believe it, though it’s the very Word of God. Here it is: ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.’ “
Now he takes this being born again and he relates His first birth to Bethlehem and His second birth to His resurrection. And what he is saying here (if I understand him) is that He got his human nature from Mary at His first birth, and He got his divine birth at His resurrection, and He never was God until then.
Now may I say to you, that that is the oldest heresy that is known to man. It’s Gnosticism. It comes actually from the very beginning. It was the first heresy in the church. You see, that’s what the Gnostic says, that Deity came upon Him. Now the Gnostics, they were divided. Some of them said it came upon Him at His baptism, others at His temptation, others when He began His public ministry, others at the time He was crucified, others when He was raised from the dead, and others even when He ascended into heaven. This man believes Deity did not come upon Him until His resurrection. That is to deny the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ll not go into this other here, but he despises the name of Jesus, which is to me is a very terrible thing. [emp. ours]
We Are Saved By Faith:
Now let me add one other thing in closing. A moment ago we mentioned one of the things that he gives for being saved. And now I’d like to mention another thing that he says. You’re to believe in the government of God. That is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now you are to keep the Law. That’s Seventh-day Adventism. And not faith in Christ alone, but actually you are to keep the Law, and I think he is very clear in making this statement. Let me read this, and I am quoting: [all words in blue italics are McGee’s]
“The idea Satan is trying to put across is that it is impossible for man to keep the spiritual law of God, and so Jesus came as our Savior, not in the flesh with normal human nature, but through some special process (see, again, he denies the Deity) so that he could keep the Law of God in our stead and, therefore, we don’t have to keep the spiritual law. What Christ did in our stead was to die for us, but his obedience was our example. Those who believe this doctrine seem to forget that Jesus obeyed God in every way, leaving us an example that we should follow in his steps. ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ “
You see, going back and quoting what our Lord said before He went to the cross to an Israelite under the Law. And the Israelites… Peter could say at the council in Jerusalem, our fathers never kept the Law, and we have not kept it. And why should we saddle this on the Gentiles? We never did keep it.
Now he goes on to say:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. We are not only to keep the letter of the Law, but to follow it as it is magnified throughout the bible in every word of God.”
You see that sounds very good. Now let me read again before we mention this. And this, by the way, and I think that we should quote at least from his son Garner Ted Armstrong who now, I understand, has the program. And if you think the father’s confused, you listen to this now…if he takes a clear passage of Scripture and makes it mean the opposite of what it really means.
Listen to this:
“To many people justification means vaguely the same thing grace has meant to so many thousands of deceived persons. It means to many deceived ones a condition permanently attributed to a Christian. Many people think once a person is justified he is made right from then on, but this is simply untrue. Again, let’s go to the only source to understand these all-important points.”
Now he quotes Romans 2:13:
“For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”
Now here again is taking Scripture out of context, wresting it from its meaning. In the second chapter of Romans Paul is not even discussing salvation. In Romans 1, Romans 2, down to Roman 2:20, Paul is showing man is a sinner. Now he takes up the different classes of men. When he shows how terrible sin is, those that are down and out, a great many people–so called good people, religious people–draw the cloaks around and say, “I’m not like that.” Paul says you’re a sinner just like they are. Then he puts down the principles by which God is going to judge men, not the principles by which God is going to save men. He’s not talking about salvation; he’s talking about the principles of judgment.
Now, one of them is “it’s not the hearers of the law that are just before God, but the doers of the law.” It’s the thing today. A great many people think if they approve…or they say, “My, the Ten Commandments are wonderful and the Sermon the Mount is great.” This man said to me at this luncheon years ago, “Why the Sermon on the Mount is my religion.” I asked him how he was doing with it and he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, do you keep it?” And he said, “Well, I try.” I said, “That’s not the point. If that’s your religion, then you ought to be living by it.” He said, “Just what do you mean?” I said, “The Lord took two commandments and lifted them to the endth degree. He said, if you are angry with your brother, you are guilty of murder.” I said, “Do you live up to that?” “Well,” he said, “I’m not sure I do.” (Of course, he doesn’t, this man is honest.) Then I said, “Let’s take the other one. He said if you so much as look upon a woman to lust after her, you are guilty of adultery. I said, “Look me in the eye and tell me that you’re not guilty.” And he said, “Well, I guess that gets me.” I said, “It sure does. If you are honest, you know the Sermon the Mount is not your religion. You just approve of it. That’s all. It’s a great document.”
Why the Sermon on the Mount…Paul makes it very clear to the Galatians that the Sermon on the Mount and the Law were given as a paidagōgos (Paul calls it a paidagōgos). It is a schoolmaster not to teach us, but a servant in a Roman home that took the little child by the hand and led him to school where he could be taught. And the Law was given that it might take us by the hand and bring us to Christ. Listen to Paul (and this ought to answer it):
“Galatians 2:16: ‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.’ ” [emp. McGee’s]
Now you would think that would be clear enough. But it’s not clear enough for those that garble it and try to put you under Law to be saved, my beloved.
Will you listen again to what Paul says here in Galatians in 3:19:
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come …”
It was given until Christ should come. It was the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The Law was given to show us that we are guilty before God, and any man that is honest, who will look at his own heart; knows that he does not measure up to God’s standard, and when he knows he doesn’t measure up to God’s standard, then he can come to a Savior and accept Him and only on that basis and that basis alone.
Let’s notice here again [Galatians 3:21]:
“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.”
God could not give a law to give you life, because you can’t measure up to God’s standard; therefore God had to provide another way since He loved us and He provided that way in Christ that we might be saved.
Listen again to him:
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” [Galatians 3:24]
May I say to you, you’re not saved by the Law. The Law doesn’t enter into salvation. And what a horrible, awful thing to tell poor, weak sinners today.
May I close with this statement. A businessman also told me that he knows something about that campus out there. He told about what high class folk that they have. He [HWA] has the very best. He goes first class. Money is no object. But that those that are there move like they’re robots. That is characteristic… And I thought that explanation was quite interesting that characterizes those that go into cults. They move as if they are just robots, following a pattern, doing certain things, and going through that little ritual–as if that commends us to God. [Read: These People Remind Me of the Characters in The Stepford Wives]
Paul also says in Galatians 5:1:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, …”
He’s delivered us from the Law. He’s delivered us today from this world, and today He says we can live for Him, not following some little ritual, some little patent, but to be joined to the living Christ. Oh, what a wonderful privilege that is today, to be joined to the living Christ and not be joined to some little ritual and some little legal system, or some little cult or ism. To be joined to the living Christ, and today to love Him and to serve Him. That’s the thing that’s all important.
Shall we pray.
Our gracious, loving Father God, we do rejoice in this glorious gospel of the grace of God, that by grace we are saved through faith, and even that’s not of ourselves; it’s the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. And tonight we cannot boast of anything we are, or have done, but we tonight can boast of a Savior. And God forbid tonight that we should glory save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which we are crucified unto the world and the world unto us. Oh God, take our minds and our hearts off from these systems today and even churches today, and may we be fixed in our thinking, and in our minds, upon the living Christ. Make Him real. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
NOTE: J. Vernon McGee was the pastor of the historic Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles, where he served from 1949 to 1970. After retiring from the pastorate, he set up radio headquarters in Pasadena, CA and the radio ministry expanded rapidly. In 1967 he began teaching the Bible studies that laid the foundation for what is heard today on Thru the Bible. While the WCG went on to split into hundreds of splinters, the majority proclaiming to be “God’s true church” with “God’s message,” God was with J. Vernon McGee until the end of his life and the ministry has been blessed many times over. On the morning of December 1, 1988, Dr. McGee fell asleep in his chair and quietly passed into the presence of his Savior.
ESN’s Thoughts and Comments Regarding Richard Armstrong’s Death:
The death of Richard David Armstrong was no doubt a tragic thing, especially in light of the above testimony from the doctor who said that if a shot had been allowed to be administered to Richard, it could have saved his life. Herbert Armstrong (of course) never mentioned how he had said not to give his own son the shot. Instead, in the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, HWA says that Richard died a week later in route to UCLA Medical Center in order to get an “artificial kidney” connected to him. (Vol. 2, p. 421, 1961; revised 1987)
How common were kidney transplants back in 1958?
In researching a history of kidney transplants we find that one was done in 1954 from one twin to another without any immunosuppressive medicine (twins do not reject the other’s organ). However, the first successful cadaver transplant to non-twins wasn’t until 1962. Notice:
“Tissue typing and immune system suppression with drugs was first used in a human kidney transplant in 1962, paving the way for transplantation of other organs.” (Organ Transplants: 50 Years of Sharing Life)
Dr. Mortimer Levy (History of the Nephrology Division at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal puts the date at 1964). He goes on to say:
“In the late 1950s, when I was becoming interested in nephrology, nothing could be done about chronic renal failure in any of its forms except when due to obstructive cause. … the artificial kidney was considered highly experimental even 8 years later. It was never used at Bart’s when I was a student. It was used once or twice when I was at Hammersmith but more as a desperate last-ditch stand, and nearly always, as far as I remember, without success. At the Royal Victoria Hospital in the late 1950s, it was still a procedure of last resort.”
Herbert Armstrong’s teaching at this time was “no medical intervention” and so Richard did not receive the needed shot for shock. Yet, it was contradictory for HWA to write in his autobiography that the reason Richard was moved to the second hospital (a week later) was to undergo a kidney transplant–an operation which records show was considered highly experimental in those days, and usually without success.
READ: How Did WCG Church of God Instruct Ministers to Deal With “Health and Medical Problems”? (These policies were taught to the ministers to “avoid prosecution.”)
Recommended Articles / Letters:
1 J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) was pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, California, and founder of Thru the Bible Radio. He lived in Pasadena, California. His messages are still aired around the world today.
2 Charles E. Fuller (1887-1968) became the director of The Old Fashioned Revival Hour on radio.
3 Worldwide Church of God sold the Ambassador College Big Sandy campus to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. in March 2000, who then leased the campus to Bill Gothard, president of Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). Gothard bought all the property in the buildings. (Calvary Contender, May 15, 2000) UPDATE: Bill Gothard resigned from his organization in 2014 after allegations of rampant sexual harassment.
4 The “degree” that students received from Ambassador College after graduation was virtually worthless in the real world.
5 This statement is part of HWA’s double-talk because AC was set up basically to train young men to become ministers in the Worldwide Church of God
6 HWA’s colleges made use of thought reform in order to control students’ behavior and emotions. These methods do not create balanced people in the long run.
7 Read: Herbert W. Armstrong: The Rich Apostle.
8 The Worldwide Church of God eventually started making doctrinal changes in order to join with mainstream Christianity. Read the OIU Newsletters and articles under Worldwide Church of God Expose` (GCI).
9 Confusion is always a part of mind control in cults.
10 The Nicene Creed was the first written creed of the Church. In it the Church confesses that Christ is “very God of very God: begotten, not created; co-substantial with the Father.” Athanasius defeated Arianism, which stated that Jesus was only a created Being. Athanasius said that Jesus was God. (Also see: The Two Natures of Jesus)
11 For more on John Calvin and his reformed theology, read: My Journey into Calvinism [PDF; offsite link]
12 D. L. Moody (1837–1899). Many feel he was the greatest evangelist in the history of the New Testament church. Within a 40-year period he won one million souls, founded three Christian schools, and inspired literally thousands of preachers.
13 G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945) was born in Tetbury, England; was a Bible teacher and pastored many churches, including Westminster Chapel in London.
14 Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945) was an evangelist, author, journalist, and Bible expositor; author of The Work of Christ (His past work, present work, future work). Excellent. [offsite link]
15 Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) was a Bible teacher; he published over 80 books and pamphlets. Read his book: Eternal Security of the Believer [PDF; offsite link]
16 Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952) was a Bible teacher, author and lecturer; president and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary (originally, the Evangelical Theological College) in 1924. His emphasis was on the centrality of Christ and the grace of God. He wrote Major Bible Themes. Update: Today Dallas Theological Seminary is a Neo Evangelical institution, promotes Spiritual Formation, Progressive Dispensationalism, and takes no firm stand against liberal views of the Bible.
17 HWA’s beliefs were indeed an eclectic mixture, since he plagiarized much of his doctrines from other religious cults, and then added his own spin. Read ESN’s critical review of HWA’s book Mystery of the Ages.
18 This article is not found in the 1963 GN online (also page 1 appears to be missing); therefore, we do not know which publication Dr. McGee was referring to, or if something was removed. But HWA proclaimed, “Christ, the person, is not the gospel!” and, “it is necessary to believe that precise identical gospel in order to be saved!” (Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 18, “What is the True Gospel?”). Also read ESN article: Worldwide Church of God Whitewashes Herbert Armstrong After New Changes where HWA saying these words is mentioned.
19 The automobile accident happened in July 1958. Richard was 30 years old.
20 Roman Catholicism.
21 Alton Billingsley (also known as Don Billingsley), long time WCG minister (disfellowshipped in 1995) was the driver of the car Richard Armstrong was in when the accident happened. Today Billingsley is head of Church of God, Faithful Flock, Modesto, California, a controlling, deceitful group that holds to “God’s government.” Billingsley states that Herbert Armstrong was the “last apostle” and the “Elijah to come.” He teaches that he (Billingsley) has preserved all of HWA’s “restored doctrines” and that the other HWA splinter groups are “God’s true people” but were scattered by God after HWA’s death. [Read: Who are the sheep that were scattered? (Q&A)] COG FF publishes The Philadelphia Remnant. More info: Billingsley was previously with Church of God, Established in Modesto (EIM), with Steven LeBlanc, which airs a radio program called “World Watch Today.” Before COG, EIM, Billingsley was with United Church of God and then Church of God, An International Community (David Hulme).
22 ESN’s critical reviewer of Mystery of the Ages tells us that the Lost Ten Tribes actually ended up in Armenia, Greece, Macedonia, Ethiopia–just about everywhere but Europe. In spite of legends concerning Paul “going to England,” Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, which should show that England was a Gentile country. Read: Where Are the Tribes of Israel Located? (A Critique of Herman Hoeh’s Article).