Name formerly Worldwide Church of God
Does it matter if a minister of God uses deceit, lies and confusion during the time they are making new changes (to their decades old destructive religious organization that left a carnage of wrecked lives), and then go on to whitewash their founder?
Let’s look at some of these (and we’ll start from the past when GCI was known as Worldwide Church of God up to the present, including after they changed their name to Grace Communion International):
They said Herbert Armstrong was a “sincere Christian,” “made some mistakes,” “didn’t completely understand the Bible,” had a “lack of theological education” (Charisma and Christian Life Magazine, 1996) which led to “wrong interpretations,” held “unusual beliefs,” “unusual views,” and “unorthodox doctrines” but….”was a minister of Jesus Christ” and “devoted to Christ.” (March 7, 1995 Worldwide News, Vol. XXIII, NO.5, p. 3).
In April 1995 they stated that they “regarded Herbert Armstrong as a minister of Jesus Christ” and “do not believe he needs to be condemned.” (“MacGregor Ministries, News & Views,” p. 4) Then on April 30, 1996 and May 1, 1996 Joseph Tkach, Jr. was interviewed on D. James Kennedy’s Christian radio program Truths that Transform and stated that Herbert Armstrong was a “very sincere Christian who was dedicated to Christ.”
Says HWA Was “Devoted to Christ”:
WCG stated: “Mr. Armstrong’s greatest legacy is his commitment to live by every word of God – to believe the Bible and faithfully obey its teachings.” (“Where We Have Been; Where We Are Going,” Welcome to our Fellowship, 1995, 1999.) Joseph Tkach, Jr. said: “Herbert Armstrong, in spite of errors he taught, had a high view of Scripture.” (Interview of Joseph Tkach at the January 1997 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention.) Joseph Tkach, speaking to an audience from the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches in Quezon City, Philippines in 2006 said, “Mr. Armstrong, a sincere Christian, unwittingly made some mistakes.”
What Did HWA Really Say?
Herbert W. Armstrong stated, “Christ is not the gospel. Believing on Christ is not believing the gospel.” (Voice clip of HWA giving a Bible Study and marking Buck Taylor; heard on tape two, pt. 2 of: “My Story” by C. Wayne Cole, May 19, 1979.) He also wrote, “It is faith–not in Christ–but in God’s coming world government, man’s only hope! And it’s faith in that and not faith in Christ that saves.” (“What is The Good News?” The Good News, March 1963) [Note: This last quote by HWA was taken from a sermon in the 1960s by J. Vernon McGee which we have posted: The World of Fairyland: The World Tomorrow.] The article is not found in the 1963 Good News 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.]
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?”).
GCI’s New Booklet Still Whitewashes HWA:
WCG’s 1998 booklet: Transformed by Christ: a Brief History of the Worldwide Church of God included such statements. The 1999 edition is not only shorter, but has several parts changed. By 2011 Grace Communion International had changed the title of this booklet to: A Short History of Grace Communion International – Transformed by Christ. Then in 2019 the title was changed back again to Transformed by Christ: A Brief History of Grace Communion International. (Sometimes the page may have the words “GCI” before the title.) [See link at end for our review of this booklet.]
In this latest revised booklet they continue to say they were a denomination (i. e., “Herbert Armstrong began a ministry that eventually became our denomination). They continue to use the word “unusual”: “he had many unusual doctrines”; “As Herbert Armstrong studied the Bible, he came to a number of unusual conclusions”; “He emphasized the unusual, the never-before-understood.” and they were “an unorthodox church on the fringes of Christianity.”
They say people (i.e., members) “came to Christ, accepted his death for their sins, and trusted in him for salvation.” The facts are that members felt they had found “God’s only true church,” which God had called them into and that they were to obey every word Herbert Armstrong taught because he had “received it from God.” They talked more about God the Father than Christ. A personal relationship with Him was never taught nor mentioned. They focused instead on being loyal to the “government of God”which correlated to Headquarters.
Nothing in this booklet is said about how Herbert Armstrong plagiarized and copied many of his doctrines from Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventists and Church of God 7th Day. (Read: Herbert Armstrong’s Religious Roots)
Whitewashing the Past:
GCI’s mentality (as it was at the time of the changes) is to want outsiders to believe they were “transformed by truth” (today it’s “transformed by grace”) while they continue to resort to the same old cult methods of whitewashing and deceit. Their past has been covered up like the Watchtower Society and Latter Day Saints attempts at covering up their leaders’ past, through the use of “historical intellectualism.”
The truth is that Herbert W. Armstrong was nothing more than a religious con artist who deceived people into believing his convoluted and false gospel so he could live a life of luxury, and there’s nothing anyone can say that will ever change this fact.
By D. M. Williams and Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
January 3, 2020
Updated April 27, 2021
Note: In April 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International (GCI), (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) In April 2018, GCI relocated its headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina. Joseph Tkach, Jr. retired at the end of 2018 and Greg Williams replaced him as GCI’s president. (GCI Update, March 14, 2018). Read more about Greg William and his ongoing attempts to revise GCI history in this article.
Related Articles / Books:
Read about Cognitive Dissonance in OIU #4, Pt. 2 [opens as PDF]
What Were We Really Believing in the WCG Era?
Includes: “What are doctrines of devils?”
Transformed by Christ (a critical review of GCI’s booklet)
Covers the massive distortions in the book and shows history revision and whitewashing of their founder.