Herbert Armstrong swallowed all of Greenberry George Rupert’s eschatology hook, line and sinker. Rupert believed that the New Testament had not superseded the rules laid out in the Old Testament, and so the laws of Moses should apply to Christians as well as Jews, including kosher diets and other practices: Whatever was not explicitly changed or eliminated in the New Testament remained in effect. Adapting the Adventist view of Seven church eras, Rupert argued that the “Philadelphia” phase was the period in which William Miller worked (from 1833 to 1844). The final era, “Laodicea” began in 1844 and would last until the End Times. He also denied the immortality of the soul, asserting that man is mortal, but can be given eternal life. Traditional Christian holidays were in fact “heathen”. Armstrong reveled in this and when he entered into the Church of God Seventh Day, he was filled with hubris because he knew — he just knew — that the knowledge he had was superior to that of the CoG7D. He believed that he was better than everybody else because he had the knowledge of G. G. Rupert. Herbert Armstrong didn’t really come up with much new stuff on his own — he ‘borrowed’ and stole it, claiming he was taught personally by Jesus Christ. One of the main things he got from Rupert was the Feast of Tabernacles, which was to picture the millennium. He accepted Rupert’s dictum that Xmas was pagan.
Through the early years into the 1960s, Herbert Armstrong and his henchmen established the Feast in Big Sandy, Texas. These were the times when simple people, many of whom were farmers, drove thousands of miles to set up their tents in the hot, humid, bug infested, dusty camp to attend what to us today would seem excruciatingly boring sermons about the future — littered with gory tales of grotesque suffering of the Great Tribulation — with the attendant assurances that there would be a Place of Safety to be safely nestled away from doomsday Armageddon to inherit eternal life in positions of power, prestige and prosperity to dominate the hapless humans who actually survived the horrifying events of death, destruction, devastation and acres of blood, decimated by nuclear and conventional war. The Feast was an exciting time, fraught with people actively talking about the Bible and Scriptures on tailgates of pickups and vans while they snacked on cheese and wine. It may have been a purely secular physical experience but in the delusional minds of the goers, it was the height of spirituality. There were prophecies galore. People were assured and just knew that these things would shortly come to pass in their lifetimes. They made sacrifices and lived in what many would consider misery for 8 days just for the pure joy of doing it. It was worth it to them to spend ten percent of their gross income on it, even having given away another ten percent to support the profligate lifestyle of the Armstrongs and their henchmen.
Alas. Herbert Armstrong was wrong. He gave everyone assurances at the Feast of Tabernacles at Penticton in 1971: “Follow me,” he cried holding up an imperious finger, “I will lead you into the Kingdom”. The only place he could have led us is into death because he died in 1986 without a single one of his ‘inspired’ prophecies coming to pass in his lifetime — including the proposition that we would all flee in 1972 for the Place of Safety and that Jesus would return in 1975. Time marched on, taking no prisoners. The Worldwide Church of God tacitly dropped the Feasts and changed its name, effectively going out of business. There remained a rebellious hardy minority who set off on their own to continue the Old Testament physical observances in complete variance with the tenets of the New Testament and particularly the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, many of which were forgeries.
The various sects of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia went forth to replicate the unsuccessful patterns of the past on the premise that nothing happening was a sure sign that something was about to. And so it was, the Armstrongites with their hireling henchmen continued the delusion of British Israelism and ancient Israelism devoid of spiritual content by doing exactly what Herbert Armstrong taught them to do: Lie to themselves in distorted perception delusions, creating a de facto religious insanity, predicated on the idea that they could get something for nothing, since, after all, it was a gift of God and they would have great power and beauty if only they persisted in forking over their livelihood to convincing con men.
You have to know where this goes. Every time someone accepts a lie in place of the truth, sooner or later disappointment, dissatisfaction and apathy set in.
So the ersatz Feasts continued apace with a renewed vigor with enthusiastic participants. This time though, the Armstrongists were familiar with the idea of creature comforts, seeing as how they attended not a Feast of the Lord, but a religious business convention of the sort held by Fortune 500 companies introducing a new product or rallying customers with a business conference. Mostly the tents disappeared. Tailgating and cooking over outdoor fires was replaced with 3 to 5 star restaurants, or, more likely, fast food joints. The sermons went from two to three a day to one a day, with social activities filling the void. There were cruises, dinners out, dancing, singles activities, family day and a host of attractions provided by the purveyors of pleasure and excitement by the local business, such as, but not restricted to, ice skating, gondola rides, tours and the such.
As time went on as the years rolled by, the excitement of Bible Study within the framework of even more exciting prophetic pronouncements dimmed. The bloom was off the rose. People learned to save 10% on their net income and also didn’t just spend it at the Feast — if there was money left over, many would refuse to turn it in to the church and simply spent it on themselves later after the Feast. Many of the sects also dropped third tithe, since the fatherless, widows and orphans were expected to live on government subsidies and, in some cases, if someone did get whatever little third tithe they had, they had to pay it back. Cults have long memories, particularly when it come to money — the focus of their existence (along with hubris — or if you are a particularly vain arrogant Englishman, HuBrits). In actual fact, many don’t even read the flagship magazine if there is one. People have been getting bored and are dissatisfied with the lack of performance their stock has in the cult sects. World Prophecy just isn’t shaping up, no matter how much they continue to watch Fox News. The lackadaisical participants of this rigmarole need a great deal more stimulation, particularly social interaction, for even rudimentary survival of the very boring irrelevant useless cult sects led by sociopaths and psychopaths who care not one whit about their ‘members’.
And so it is, even though it is banned, the Armstrongists are keeping Christmas.
Oh, they claim they are not keeping it — after all, they aren’t exchanging gifts and sending each other Xmas cards, but still, they meet at convention centers convenient to malls all through Christmas week in preplanned get-togethers which are not all that cheap. They do secular things like play basketball. The singles get together. And many do what they’ve always done, they go out drinking because so many of the Armstrongists are boozing alcoholics. Banned! has capitalized upon this with their article, Living Church of God Annual Christmas Party, but, of course, Living isn’t the only one, since United is doing it too. And who knows what other groups are setting forth in their one horse sleighs?
Just be sure that no matter where these little social get togethers are being held, they are near some major shopping mall. For it is that the ACoGs have gone secular and they learned long ago to shop during the Feast of Tabernacles.
If it weren’t for the name on the door (or the placards), you probably wouldn’t know if you were at the Feast of Tabernacles or at a non Xmas Christmas party.