1974 Haynes Letter to Garner Ted Armstrong
Urging change for the Worldwide Church of God
February 19, 1974
Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong
300 West Green Street
Dear Mr. Armstrong:
Just hung up from a conference call with Walter Sharp in the Big Sandy Region, and heard the news about the change in Pentecost from Monday to Sunday, with apparently still a question about which week we should keep it. I’m glad to see a little progress.
I read in the Bulletin last Friday your challenge to write in any questions that we might have concerning any doctrine, policy or procedure of the Worldwide Church of God. I also was a little disappointed at your lengthy discussion of the man who had hang-ups about the cross-walks and columns, because I felt it would make everyone wonder what would happen if they did write in a legitimate question.
I do have several personal questions about doctrine, policy and procedure of the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College. I feel that there are two fundamental problems with the Church. First, the Church is turned inward, having cut itself almost entirely off from the outside world, immediate family and friends. They are no longer the salt of the earth which seasons, nor are they a light. Of course, you know this, and I realize you’ve worked toward correcting it.
Second, there is no room for individual conscience in God’s Church. We have virtually controlled the members’ minds through fear — not of God, but of man and the threat of being thrown out of God’s Church. Most all of our people are still on the “milk” of God’s word, and not the meat. They continue having to “lay again the foundation of repentance from dead works,” simply because they don’t see a great deal of evidence of the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in their lives. When you control a man’s mind, you don’t allow God’s Spirit to lead that individual, or Christ to live His life in that individual. You stifle his initiative, personality and spirit. We’ve legislated nearly every aspect of Christian life — from hair length to how to keep the Sabbath — where the Bible is not plain. We’ve stifled our members’ prayers by over-emphasizing a prayer outline and the clock; we’ve all but crushed any desire to study God’s word.
The above two points are fundamental, but even they are not the only issues or questions. I don’t know any other way but to just list my questions for you. I don’t feel we have received answers to these following points:
1. Divorce and remarriage. Even if we are not doctrinally incorrect, the way we’ve administered the doctrine in the past hasn’t borne good fruit. We have even gone into old cases and reversed our original judgment. In almost all cases we’ve refused to baptize a person before he separated. Any way you look at it, there are still grave questions about this — and is there any indication of any more consideration of these questions? We’ve just come out with the new booklet, which does not change our position about marriage and divorce.
2. Church government. Our present configuration does not seem to be in line with what the New Testament teaches. This is made plain and irrefutable in Mr. Herbert Armstrong’s 1939 Good News article. I’ve studied the article, and it’s awfully difficult to disprove what it contains. It condemns our present organization, any right to control people’s minds or decide what doctrines they are to believe. It also condemns tithing to a central government. (I have not Xeroxed one copy of the Good News, nor have I distributed this article.) Have you read the article? It sounded like you were talking about an entirely different article in your Personal in the last Worldwide News — an earlier one in the “Bulletin” that met the problem of voting for ministers and deacons head on.
3. Our commission and the true gospel. There is strong evidence in God’s Word that our present thrust to “warn the world as a witness” is not the Church’s correct commission. First of all, Matthew 24 is a prophecy, not a command. There is evidence that the two witnesses (Rev. 11) and a very powerful angelic being (Rev. 14:6) will preach the final warning message to this world. The commission of the early New Testament Church was to “Go you therefore and teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28 is a command to the Church, not a prophecy. And yet I heard Mr. Herbert Armstrong at the conference plainly say that “Matthew 28 is not our commission.” Christ further elaborated “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” Lk. 24:47). Paul said, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (II Cor. 5:18-20) Paul also says “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block and unto the Greeks foolishness” (I Cor. 1:23), and “for I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). The Bible nowhere gives a first and second commission. Christ instructed Peter three times to “feed my sheep.” Our present thrust to be a watchman is very difficult to prove. It certainly isn’t very merciful and compassionate. The real good news is reconciliation to God through Christ by repentance and remission of sins. I’m not against the proclaiming of the coming government of God, but I don’t see Bible evidence for two commissions of the Church, and the one we place importance on being different from the thrust of the New Testament Church.
4. Tithing. As a doctrine and by command, tithing is virtually impossible to prove from the New Testament, especially second and third tithes. The principle of giving 10% is certainly a good one, but the New Testament nowhere commands tithing, especially to a central government. The Bible says, “every man according as he purposes in his heart, so shall he give.” Christ showed that the attitude in giving is more important than the amount (Mk. 12:42; Mt. 6:19-21). When Christ sent the disciples out, he said to take “such things as they give” (Lk. 10:7). The disciples didn’t set the amount they were given. Paul apparently didn’t require the Corinth Church to give money to him at all. Matthew 23 and Hebrews 7 are weak proofs for commanded tithing. In Matthew 23:23 Christ shows that the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith, are more important than the technical aspects of the law — which opens up several other subjects as well. Our present method of tithing increase by every person as goods and services change hands eventually puts all of the wealth in the Church. Our present method of ministerial tithing is strictly Levitical. We seem to slip in and out of the Levitical priesthood at random — especially in matters of second and third tithe. I hesitate to quote figures, because I’m sure that I don’t have exact figures, but when I hear that remodeling of ministerial homes has cost in excess of $200,000.00 for a single home, it makes me wonder. Especially when I see many of God’s people in poverty. I’m against constant pleas for sacrifice, when its hard to see any sacrifice at Headquarters — I’m speaking of the elaborate salaries, unlimited expense accounts and palatial buildings. How much is really spent for the direct (not indirect) preaching of the gospel?
5. The understanding of the New Covenant. How much of Old Testament laws, judgments and statutes (apart from the ten commandments) should be enforced today? Does the Church, or any one man, have the right to decide what doctrines everyone must believe? Is there room for individual conscience or convictions within the Church? Such things as make-up, birthdays, hair length, dress length, wigs, tithing, etc., could be matters of individual conscience.
6. Is it Biblical the way we “mark” people?
7. Can we really prove that we’re Israel?
8. What really is Satan’s fate?
9. Can we prove that the Feast of Tabernacles should not be kept in the local areas, as it was in the New Testament?
10. Does God require us to put leavening out of our homes?
11. Church eras — How can we be sure we’re Philadelphia?
12. I seriously question your qualifications as a minister. The issue is not a matter of forgiveness, but of qualification. I can’t agree that your fruits are any greater now than they were prior to our knowledge of your activities. How many times have you been baptized? Were you disfellowshipped other times before the public announcement to the people? How many years before action was taken did Mr. Herbert Armstrong know of your activities? Revelation 2:2 — “Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars.” John 10:1-5 explains that a true minister comes in by way of Jesus Christ and true conversion before he can lead Christ’s sheep. I John 3:4-10, especially verses 7 and 8 — “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” The latter part of verse 10 says, “Whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.” We have to follow a man as he follows Christ. If we can’t judge the righteousness os an individual, how can we follow him as he follows Christ? There are other scriptures that apply — I John 2:4-6; Romans 2:21-24.
I’m not against you as a person. I have many fond memories of our small relationship in Ambassador College. But I also remember at least three Passovers between ’65 and ’68 when you told all of us that you were more ready to take the Passover than at any other time. I simply cannot agree with executive privilege. There is absolutely no way in the world to keep the whole Church from knowing the facts about your past. And as they find out, as I know many already have, it is going to be very difficult to explain these things away. The question of not only your credibility, but the credibility of the entire ministry is at stake.
I in no way think I have presented complete evidence about anything I’ve written in this letter. These are all sincere questions that I have about God’s Work. I hope these questions don’t leave you “bewildered, giggling to yourself in hideous, disbelieving laughter.”
I have in no way attempted to lead off a following, but have fought, pleaded, and spent many dozens of hours in conversation trying to persuade people that Christ is in charge of the Church, and that changes will be made. I’m frankly coming to the place where I wonder if there’s any hope for this organization. I fear that Headquarters is losing control, or possibly has already lost control by putting a period at the end of almost all of our doctrines. I hope I’m wrong, and if I am I’ll be willing to admit it.