HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG A Legend In His Own Mind
In the beginning, Herbert W. Armstrong was born in Des Moines, Iowa to parents of “solid Quaker stock” who, Herbert claims, can trace their ancestry back to King David. Given this somewhat spurious claim to royal beginnings, it is easy to understand the fanatical insistence of sovereignty that apparently invaded Herbert the first day of his life.
To fortify his claim to such royal beginnings, Herbert beats his readers over the head time after time with advertising superlatives about his bloodline and experience. His autobiography tells us:
His father had a voice of unusual quality.
His brother Dwight had a special musical talent for composing.
Herbert married a woman of superior intelligence.
He had training in football, basketball, track and tennis under the best coaches.
He worked with the two best advertising men in the country.
His uncle Frank Armstrong was the most prominent advertising man in Iowa.
Herbert’s brother-in-law in Portland was the leading architect in that area.
Herbert was the originator of the public opinion poll.
Herbert also claims that his son, Ted, is the pinacle of human omniscience.
“I think no man probably has a better grasp of world affairs and their significance. of social conditions, of family life and problems and of human nature. And more, probably no person on earth has a better knowledge and understanding of the Bible, and of Biblical prophecy….” (PLAIN TRUTH Subscriber letter, June 5, 1968)
Even when Herbert Armstrong becomes sick, he does it in a superlative manner:
“I entered there [Southern Mississippi Infirmary] with the worst case [of typhoid] in the hospital’s history. I was unconscious for two or three days.”
And how did Herbert recover? You guessed it:
“I snapped out of it quicker, apparently, than any other case they had ever had…”
And while recovering:
“I was the favorite patient of practically all the nurses.” (AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Herbert W. Armstrong, pp. 59, 60.)
There is little doubt that the results of the “worst case of typhoid fever in the infirmary’s history” did bear influence upon what was to follow. Eventually Herbert would be claiming:
“Even as Moses, the Apostle Paul and others, in early life, had been specially prepared for the special Mission to which God finally called them, so was I…God revealed Himself to me…” (Member letter, March 18, 1974.)
UPON THIS PSYCHOSIS I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH
As a teenager, Herbert flowered into a typical, would-be aristocrat. His writings about this period reveal him to be a grossly over-rated package of self-confidence and cocky conceit, with a burning desire for success. He appears to have been socially inept, enjoying relationships only with those who would feed his demanding ego.
To this day Herbert clearly exemplifies a pattern of personality traits which render him susceptable to an actual or symptom psychosis (See Robert Goldenson’s THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR: PSYCHOLOGY, PSYCHIATRY AND MENTAL HEALTH, Published by Doubleday, 1970). His writings are freighted with numerous indications of this psychosis.
His earliest religious experiences are filled with what is known as grandiose expansiveness. This symptom developes in many cases of psychosis. It is a state of mind in which the person’s attitude of superiority manifests itself through contact with a cosmic person or divine message.
“At the next intersection, the steering wheel of the car automatically turned to the right. I felt the wheel turning. I resisted it. It kept turning right. Instantly I applied all my strength to counteract it, and keep steering straight ahead. My strength was of no avail. Some unseen force was turning that steering wheel against all my strength. The car had turned to the right into the street one block cast of the home of the cripple….
“Could it possibly be that an angel forced the steering wheel to turn me in here? I wondered, somewhat shaken by the experience. I decided I had better stop in at the cripple’s home a moment, to be sure.” (AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Herbert W. Armstrong, pp. 323, 324.)
Herbert’s imaginings of divine intervention include members of his immediate family as well. These accounts, as related by Herbert in his autobiography and sermons include a yarn about his son, Garner Ted, being attacked by a demon in his sleep and several instances of his wife, Loma, being contacted by angels. In one such instance Loma was warned by an angel, “Go to Salem. Go to Salem. Enemies are plotting against your husband.” Another experience of Loma’s later became, in Herbert’s mind, a revelation of his divine commission:
“The first call to God’s ministry came while we were living in this single room….
“One night my wife had a dream so vivid and impressive it overwhelmed and shook her tremendously. It was so realistic it seemed more like a vision. For two or three days afterward everything else seemed unreal-as if in a daze-and only this extraordinary dream seemed real.
“In her dream she and I were crossing the wide intersection, a few blocks from our room…. Suddenly there appeared an awesome sight in the sky above. It was a dazzling spectacle-the sky filled with a gigantic solid mass of brilliant stars, shaped like a huge banner….
“As she and I, in her dream. looked upward at the vanishing stars, three large white birds suddenly appeared in the sky between us and the vanishing stars. These great white birds flew directly toward us. As they descended nearer, she perceived that they were angels.
“Then it seemed that, from among these angels in her dream, that Christ descended from among them and stood directly in front of us…. He put His arms around both of us, and we were so happy!…
“Then it seemed He had changed into in angel. I was terribly disappointed at first, until he told me Christ was really coming in a very short time. At that time, we had been going quite regularly to motion-picture theatres. She asked the angel if this was wrong. He replied Christ had important work for us to do, preparing for His coming-there would be no time for ‘movies.’….” (AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Herbert W. Armstrong, pp. 207, 208.)
With an imagination like that, there’s no need for movies! Indications of perceptual distortion (a type of hallucinatory experience which threatens the principal) are visible throughout his writings:
“…I awakened out of a pleasant dream I could not remember. Suddenly, still more asleep than awake, the stark, hideous REALITY crashed through in my mind.
“‘NO!’ I almost shouted, it CAN’T BE! This can’t be real!’ God’s CHURCH! Oasis of PEACE and HAPPINESS, and JOY in this unhappy, dark and violent world! The only place on earth where GOD’S GOVERNMENT produced these fruits!. Now actually INVADED BY SATAN! ‘Oh Eternal God!’ Now I was literally shouting beside my bed with up-stretched arms. ‘Wake me out of his hideous NIGHTMARE! Wake me out of it!’
“By now I was completely awake. It was no bad dream. Satan was ATTACKING GOD’S WORK, pulling out all stops as never before, to DESTROY IT, and to destory many ministers and brethren with it!… I knew I had to LEAP to the job, seeking Christ’s guidance, to SAVE THE FLOCK from this vicious attack by Satan.
“Quickly I threw on some clothes and ran downstairs and out to the sidewalk for the morning paper, to see what next….” (Member letter, March 1, 1974).
On scores of other occasions Herbert exemplifies a type of paranoid projection often found in psychosis, revealing a complex arrangement of beliefs based on the delusion that the world is coming to an end via a specific format understood exclusively by the “patient”.
“… the sudden increase in marches, demonstrations, riots, strikes. MASS VIOLENCE- and assassinations-even threatening to overturn governments of nations is something this world has never seen….” (Co-Worker letter 6/6/68.)
“World events are gaining momentum-speeding rapidly toward the END of this society….
Soon-possibly not more than 3½ more years-IT WILL BE TOO LATE! World events are moving now SO FAST, it appears there may not be more time than that!…” (Co-Worker letter 7/29/68.)
“Probably I have never written you a letter as important as this! First, this morning’s news is MORE SERIOUS than most people realize! I tell you soberly, it means we are now right on the very DOORSTEP of the MOST SERIOUS CRISIS and WORLD TROUBLE that has ever happened in all history!” (Co-Worker letter 11/24/68.)
“We do not have much more time to go-perhaps not much more than about 2½ years!” (Co-Worker letter, 4/28/69.)
“…we may have less than two more years….” (Co-Worker letter, 1/29/70.)
“Events leading to the END of this world are now accelerating FASTER AND FASTER! More and more, the governments of nations are TOPPLING!” (Co-Worker letter. 8,129/74.)
“The whole world situation is now darkening. FASTER!” (Co-Worker letter. 7/25/74.)
“Can you believe it? …another year of world troubles, overthrow of more governments, increasing violence and crime-whisking us rapidly into and through the END time of this present evil world. We now have little time left to finish God’s Work.” (Co-Worker letter. 1/2/75.)
“This morning…it happened again! Another important government overthrown! Co-Workers, as I said a month ago, time is now really running out on us! NEVER has the world been in a time of world troubles such as we live in now. We are definitely in the END TIME.” (Co-Worker letter, 3/25/75.)
“It’s time you were becoming ALARMED over the rapidly worsening state of the world you live in. Do not read carelessly over this, as if it were some ordinary thing you’d hardly notice! The FOOLISH will do just that, and they will SUFFER as humanity has never suffered before.” (Co-Worker letter, 1/21/76.)
In addition to these special tendencies, psychotic personalities have a number of transition experiences in which they deny the reality of their short-comings by rationalizing into existence the intervention and approval of those whom they see as equals.
“I remember many a happy, blessed, really ENJOYABLE hour spent in the bare kitchens of financially poor people, studying the Bible with them. It seemed as if the angels were there with us-as indeed they were!” (TOMORROW’S WORLD, June 1971, p. 2.)
Throughout his life, Herbert W. Armstrong, seems to be battling a severe and disabling mental illness of organic and emotional origin, characterized by a loss of contact with reality. His personality disorganization appears extreme in its deviation from what most see as normal patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
Today Herbert is busy policing his flock with hostile belligerance that resembles yet another symptom of psychotic disorder. During the course of a sermon it is not at all unusual to hear Herbert inflict verbal abuse upon his followers that would render a drill sergeant silent. The following reprinted article is typical:
“…almost every Festival (Feast of Tabernacles) someone on the grounds will approach one or two members, with an argument, or interpretation of his own of some point or question of Scripture which is contrary to the doctrine of God’s OWN CHURCH.
“Usually a crowd begins to gather quickly. It seems many are such “dumb sheep”-so naive and unthinking and ready to be deceived by Satan-that they are ALL EARS at once!… many of you members just can’t resist crowding up to hear him!” (SHOULD WE LISTEN TO OTHERS?” Ambassador College, 1960.)
Spurred by feelings of guilt, Herbert’s followers have accepted this abuse and helped him rise to unimagined corporate success. This success has made Herbert’s mind more certain than ever that he is a legend-singled out, inspired and lead by the very Being who blue-printed the universe. But as is always the problem with psychosis, the individual afflicted with it is seldom the truthful purist his followers would wish him to be.
LET’S ASK SOME QUESTIONS
It is obvious from Herbert’s remarks about “dumb sheep” that questions are not always welcome at Ambassador College or in its corporate parent, the Worldwide Church of God.
In a 1974 member letter, Herbert outlined the history of the Universe in nine pages. He began his pronouncements about a time before man’s creation or before recorded history. In this scenario, he claims that it was “questioning” brought on by “thinking and reasoning” that caused Satan to rebel. And what was the end result of this cerebral activity? -“That UNIVERSAL sin of REBELLION (raising issues, thinking, and reasoning) plunged the whole earth into physical chaos, confusion and utter DARKNESS.”
According to Herbert, “questions” not only caused the fall of man, but propelled the nation of Israel into captivity and slavery, caused the disappearance of the early Christian church and, of utmost importance, is the cause of the recent strife within the Worldwide Church of God. According to Herbert, Satan is the prime mover behind man’s rebellion against authority and Satan’s primary tool is the use of questions.
It does not take much for us to realize, however, that the real reason questions are discouraged is not the potential threat to the Supreme Creator or His plan, but the threat to Herbert Armstrong and his plan. This plan involves blind obedience to Herbert who, we must remember, is God’s apostle whose views are inspired.
IS HERBERT ARMSTRONG AN APOSTLE?
Over the years, students and members of the Worldwide Church of God have been repeatedly admonished to accept Herbert Armstrong as the one and only Apostle of Jesus Christ. Or at least this is the impression given in Herbert’s writings since he neglects to ever contradict, correct or challenge those followers who call him an apostle.
Even the casual student of the Bible (“casual” meaning having nothing more than the ability to read and turn pages) can test Herbert’s authenticity of “apostleship” by the following Biblical factors:
1) For Herbert to be an apostle, he must have been a witness to Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22).
2) Herbert must have seen Christ personally, as did the Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 9: 1).
3) He must have “the signs of an apostle” which are miracles, wonders and mighty deeds (II Corinthians 12:12).
The question to bare in mind at this point is: Can Herbert W. Armstrong show any evidence of these factors in his life?
Additionally, there are indications that the current regal life-style of Herbert Armstrong is seriously at odds with I Corinthians 4:9-13. This passage indicates that apostles of the New Testament (not kings, lords and princes in the Old Testament whose positions as heads of state demanded a regal image) were to: a) show evidence of hunger, thirst and lack of proper clothing; b) be despised, while the lay people can be honored by the world; c) show evidence of being buffeted and having no permanent home in which to live; d) be willing to work with their own hands when required; e) when reviled, always bless their reviler; f) when persecuted, endure it cheerfully; and g) be defamed by people and considered “filth of the world” by those in the world, and the “offscouring of all things unto this day”. The latter phrase indicates that the appraisal of disdain by the world and its political leaders, businessmen and educators is a continuing assessment. If the Herbert Armstrong you know meets these Biblical requirements then he is an apostle in every sense of the word.
On the other hand, if the Herbert Armstrong you know is the one a) with diamond cufflinks, a private jet, the Czar of Russia’s tableware, gold flatware, gold bathroom fixtures in his office, a Rolls Royce, four homes, an executive expense account and handsome salary; b) who said in a letter dated February 25, 1974, “Arriving at Manila . . . I was greeted by a large, white-uniformed band” and stated in an earlier letter dated January 27, 1974, “GOD HAS GIVEN ME GREAT CREDABILITY IN THE EYES OF HEADS OF MANY NATIONS!”, then later in that eventful year said, “A Government Highway Patrol car, with flashing red light and siren escorted me everywhere I went for the nine days we were there [Manila].”, then, perhaps, we are confronted with one of those “occasional contradictions” which occur when one places the clear evidence of a matter next to the amplified screams thundered from the pulpit and the ballooned print of his writings. These, we might add, are the only things which give Herbert W. Armstrong his claim to apostleship, not Biblical proof. Without his hysterical style, Herbert, is about as apostolically potent as a house plant.
IS GOD “BACKING” HERBERT ARMSTRONG?
Although it may be clear that Herbert is not an apostle, to many in the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College, the fact remains that Herbert is in control. And to them this position of control over the rapid growth and immensity of his organization is synonimous with “backing” from God Almighty. Herbert leaves little doubt in the mind of his readers concerning this “fact”:
“He [God] did call and choose me to raise up this present era of His Church, and to be used in proclaiming the true GOSPEL, for the first time in over 18½ centuries TO THE WORLD!
“You know you have the PROOF by the FRUITS that this IS the very Church the living Christ is guiding and blessing! Is there any doubt-COULD there be-as to WHOM God chose to raise up this WORK, and carry it on?
“I am the called and chosen servant of the living Jesus Christ.” (Member letter, January 31, 1974.)
And what are those so-called “FRUITS” and “PROOF”? That comes in another letter dated March 18, 1974:
“In 1933, He [God] raised up, through my preaching….what was to become the Worldwide Church of God.
“As in the first century, the Lord ADDED gradually to that number. Meanwhile God’s WORK was growing by MULTIPLICATION, 30%, per year, multiplying itself 8 times in 8 years, 64 times in 16 years, and more than 4,000 times in 32 years.”
There is absolutely no quarreling with these figures. Just as there is not a shread of “PROOF” in these figures to indicate any backing from a divine source. Surely, if God is identifying His affiliation by the new dimensions opening up to a corporation and by the financial growth it enjoys, then we should all get down on our knees and pay homage to the divine guidance given Standard Oil Corporation over the last forty years.
More importantly, if God is “backing” Herbert Armstrong, why then didn’t He back Herbert’s prophecies? (see page 6). The above question was answered in the December, 1956 issue of the PLAIN TRUTH, in an article entitled, “Foretold 22 Years Ago!”:
“God has raised up this very work to make known to the world His Truth-to carry to the world His prophetic warnings before it is too late!
“Scripture is full of warnings about false ministers and false prophets. The world is filled with such men and organizations today. ‘The prophet that prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, THEN SHALL THE PROPHET BE KNOWN THAT THE LORD HATH TRULY SENT HIM’-Jerermah 28:9. That is how you can know who is preaching the truth today-when what he says comes to pass.”
It is fitting that Herbert’s PLAIN TRUTH magazine be the prophet that would decide the method of his own judgment.
IS HERBERT ARMSTRONG “INSPIRED”?
Herbert claims that he carries out God’s government through his church. He claims that his God has given his church authority to determine doctrine. As proof of his authority in matters of church government, Herbert cites his expertise in clearing up problem areas of scripture which are not clear to most Christians. Consequently, Herbert moves in where others dare not tread. This is fair enough, since an establishment of clear directives by inspired research would be enough to satisfy the desire of many who wish a larger degree of harmony in their life with regards to scripture.
At one time the areas of doubt, in Herbert’s opinion, were the subjects to which he concluded that 1) women should not wear make-up, and 2) Pentecost should be kept on a Monday.
History proves that in both cases Herbert Armstrong was miserably wrong. Herbert considered the use of make-up a capital sin and personally disfellowshipped both of his daughters for its use. It can now be demonstrated that Herbert’s “inspired” research was unnecessarily restrictive of an individual’s personal choice and did not provide adults the opportunity to govern themselves in the matter of their cosmetic appearance. Despite a recent reversal of his earlier decision, it remains clear that Herbert is still in control of all doctrinal decisions. But being in control and being right are two different things.
In the second case concerning the celebration of Pentecost on the “right” day, the charge against Herbert’s inspirational credibility is far more serious, since it puts God on the spot:
“…God gave this festival to His people in order to reveal, and to keep them continually informed….
“As already explained, God’s purpose in giving His Church His annual holydays was to keep his children constantly in true understanding of God’s great PLAN.
“To accomplish this, God took the yearly material harvest seasons in Palestine as the picture of the spiritual harvest of souls.
“The New Testament Church of God was not founded on Sunday. But it did start on the annual Sabbath-day called “Pentecost”….
“All other holydays or festivals come on definite days of definite months. But Pentecost must be determined by COUNTING. It is very simple and plain. Any child should be able to start numbering from a definite day and count fifty. Yet there are three little simple points which seem to confuse some people so that they observe the wrong day.” (PAGAN HOLIDAYS-OR GOD’S HOLYDAYS-WHICH? copyrighted 1957 by Ambassador College.)
And there you have it. Calculating the correct day on which to observe Pentecost is child’s play. What greater proof of God’s non-inspiration is there than Herbert chaining his followers to celebrating Pentecost on the wrong day? This blunder was perpetuated under Herbert W. Armstrong for forty years!
By his own reasoning, he shows himself “in discord” with God when instructing the reader on the importance of keeping Pentecost on the proper day:
“It is of very grave importance we figure the right day. This day, and this only, is made HOLY by the Eternal Creator. Suppose at the same time the Church of God was founded, the Apostles had miscounted. And ‘when the day of Pentecost was fully come’ (Acts 2: 1 ) they, instead of being all with one accord in one place were in discord, some having observed the day preceeding, and some waiting until the following day!” (ibidem, p. 14)
If you were in the Worldwide Church of God until 1974, you celebrated Pentecost on the wrong day every year you were in his church. According to Herbert’s own reasoning you missed God’s legitimate attempt to inspire you as to his New Testament plan for mankind.
ARE HERBERT’S CRITICS “SATANIC”?
If one is to listen to Herbert Armstrong regarding the beliefs of former members there is no question but that “THEY ARE IN THE BONDS OF SATAN”, particularly if they publicly disagree with him!
Although he is referring to ministers who have resigned, the following accusations are typical of Herbert’s opinion of anyone who has fallen from his graces. In his February 25, 1974, letter to the members of the W.C.G. Herbert states:
“No wonder Satan moved in his subtle, deceptive and diabolical way to influence a few of those who have been God’s MINISTERS. They began by “Questioning” this, that and the other doctrine…. SATAN is the real author of this rebellion against God’s Work.
“…these deceived ministers [are} allowing Satan to use them.
“This thing is of SATAN…these deceived men [are] now allowing Satan to turn them the wrong way.”
Let’s assume for the moment that these men are under the influence of Satan. Just for the sake of argument let’s say Herbert is talking about two former evangelists and two former pastors: Albert Portune, Charles Hunting, Al Carrozzo and Richard Plache. If these men are as Satanic as Herbert claims them to be, then why is he still paying Al Portune seven hundred and fifty dollars a month? Why did his corporation offer Al Carrozzo $20,000 a year for the rest of his life if he would keep quiet and stay with the Worldwide Church of God? If Hunting and Plache were so diabolically influenced, why did Herbert allow the offer of a year and a half off from work with full pay at over $25,000 a year to be made?
It’s one thing for Herbert to say these men are doing Satan’s work; but it’s worse to offer to continue their wages. If they indeed are wicked men, let Satan bankroll his own!
TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT
The cerebral-trauma of the following Armstrong statement is beyond sanity. It is symptomatic of pure psychosis. It is Herbert W. Armstrong at his symptomatic best. It is (spiritually speaking) his way of putting the cart before the horse. This is the accounting method he uses to hide such mistakes as the old make-up doctrine and Monday Pentecost. In short, it’s the classic advertising man’s way of saying: “Though two wrongs don’t make a right-Three do!”
“Christ … has BOUND in heaven what His Church, even in unrealized error, has bound in earth.” (Ministerial Bulletin, re: Pentecost and facial make-up, 12/3/74.)
I don’t have to say to you, “Go back and read that statement twice more, then once again and never forget it.” Anyone with one eye and no sense should know that it’s a cop-out! This intellectual disorder leaves only one authority on earth to decide what is right and that person is:
Herbert Armstrong is one of the most enthusiastic ignoramuses to use the name of Christ since LaSalle consecrated his government’s robbery of the Mississippi Valley with a benediction. It is difficult to interpret Herbert Armstrong’s behavior, his writings, his sermons, and make sense of them without some assistance from a psychiatrist. Besides his enthusiasm for power and riches Herbert has an equal enthusiasm for his own image-his image of himself as the adored one, the legend.
While it is possible that some of Herbert’s behavior patterns change considerably from time to time, this writer has come to the conclusion, along with several others who knew him intimately, who dined with him repeatedly, traveled with him and loved him, that the man’s mental make-up has been marked from the beginning of their experiences with him by a slowly developing, systematic organization of delusions of divine grandure and satanic persecution.
This is not to say that he is necessarily evil in the sight of God. It is meant to indicate that many who know Herbert know his actions to be gross exaggerations of ego tendencies found among normal individuals.
Many agree that Herbert Armstrong tends to be more than slightly suspicious of others and tends to blame others, including Christ, for his failures in prophecy and doctrine. Those who know him have told me that constant failure has fostered within him the belief that he has not been given a “fair shake”. Obviously, Herbert could not accept his “uninspired” lot in life and instead of making constructive efforts to change educational and doctrinal error became bitter nursing grievances of fancied injustices.
At some point in his life, these fanciful tendencies became the dominant pattern of his adjustment to the realities which fought against him daily. This makes it easier to understand his hypersensitivity to questions put forth by members, as well as his subsequent hypercriticism of others who would not readily adopt his ideas. It is easier to understand the armor of arrogance and superiority that Herbert has surrounded himself with and why he is totally incapable of admitting any defects or weaknesses within himself. One example of this is his unfounded insistance that he has never made a major mistake in his guiding of the church of God. Unfortunately, these characteristics have intensified with the passing of time.
Several psychological factors appear to he responsible for Herbert’s “symptomatic” condition. Considering the “solid Quaker stock” family that Herbert grew up in, it is not difficult to believe that his parents could have been overbearing, critical and ambitious. As a child, Herbert could have been made to feel that he would not he accepted or loved unless he measured up to something that proved himself superior. Under the impact of this excessive pressure, usually reinforced with punishment, Herbert could have easily become the sullen, resentful and stubborn person that we see him to be in his autobiography and other writings. This pressure could also account for the passage in his autobiography which indicates that he did not get along well with children in his own peer group and favored his playtime with the older boys in his neighborhood. Subsequently, attitudes of superiority and arrogance developed. Instead of becoming friendly and congenial, Herbert became aloof and isolated. This could give us some insight into why Herbert s spent so much time in the library arid finally ended up dropping out of high school.
Instead of realizing that he was being rejected because of his own attitude, Herbert seemingly became increasingly hostile to the world (“they are all deceived”) as well as overly sensitive to unintentional slights. As he grew older and achieved a few successes, he became more aggressive, humorless and domineering. He was constantly finding fault with others (“the world”) and demanded more and more recognition for himself-” Brethren … follow the one you have called GOD’S APOSTLE, whom GOD has chosen and USED these forty years!” (Herbert W. Armstrong: Member letter 2/25/74.)
This outward air of superiority is actually a cover for inward feelings of inadequacy. He betrays his inward doubt through his oversensitivity to criticism and his craving for praise among world leaders and the cultural elite. Every activity is marked by overzealousness: erecting a $24,000,000 auditorium which seats only 1,250 people, buying gifts of Steuben Crystal, flying the Vienna Symphony to Pasadena for two performances at a cost of $500,000. Is Herbert trying to make up for his own inadequacies through these pretentious showings of wealth? Whose friendship is he buying-God’s?
Instead of looking inward to find the source of his difficulties, he protects himself from intolerable feelings of failure by eventually isolating himself, allowing another (is that you, Stan?) to fend for him, and blaming others for every failure, every problem. When he does emerge, it is usually with aggression on his lips. His aggressive attitudes arouse the anger and resentment of many people, and this in turn feeds the fires of his own hostility. This cycle continues until he looses friend after friend. You know how the story ends.
The fact that administrators are leaving his organization in droves is obvious. The failure of prophecy after prophecy requires no further demonstration. Equally obvious must be the fact that Herbert Armstrong is not inspired or backed by God in any way that differs from the ordinary individual. And it is about as obvious in Pasadena, Texas as it is in Pasadena, California that Herbert W. Armstrong sees himself as the champion of good and his enemies as the incarnates of evil in a manner so grandiose, that it verges on symptomatic psychosis. Either that is the case, or we are confronted by contradictions of such a conspicuous order that we absolutely cannot dismiss the possibility that Herbert is a charlatan and that the corporation known as Ambassador College is a rip-off to anyone who hungers for truth.
Either being the case, I cannot understand why some will still prefer their inspiration from an “office eight and one half miles above the clouds” when life offers more to those with their feet on the ground.
-J. Timothy Nugent