We continue with the article “The Booklets Nobody Wants to Talk About.”
Truth About Makeup-The makeup issue threatened to split the WCG in the 1950s until Herbert W. Armstrong ruled in 1955 that it was a sin for a Christian woman to wear makeup. Herbert W. Armstrong’s own daughter refused to submit to his decision and was promptly excommunicated from the WCG. In 1958 Garner Ted Armstrong wrote that “it was God the Father and Jesus Christ who made the decision on make-up! They revealed to their human servants the plain truth on the subject…” (The Good News, Jan. 1958, p. 7).
To Herbert W. Armstrong, it was of paramount importance for people everywhere to heed what he felt were God’s feelings about makeup. Hence he authored a booklet on the subject, based on a Jan. 1957 Good News article and published by AC in 1964 and 1968. The booklet lashed out at anyone who would dare be caught wearing the slightest touch of makeup:
“In every single case where painting the face is mentioned in your Bible, God labels the woman a whore!… How does God label you?” (p. 20.)
“It may be difficult, at first, for many women to realize that makeup on the face is actually one of those things that is an abomination in the sight of God-that its use is a sin-a violation of God’s Law…” (p. 23).
“…God’s people must be cleaned up!… This thing of painting the face is now labeled by Jesus Christ as a sin! It is a transgression of God’s Law…” (pp. 26-27).
“… most women will say: ‘I wear it to look nice’-or ‘to avoid offense.’ They say it in words that sound harmless. But God knows your hearts better than you do-and he knows that the heart of women… is ‘deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.’… To whom does this woman wish to ‘look nice’?-to God? No, for to God she looks like a painted artificial prostitute!” (pp. 42-43.)
“My own mother very emphatically declared that no lipstick ever touched her lips-a fact in which she took great satisfaction” (p. 18).
To stress the importance of avoiding makeup, Herbert W. Armstrong concludes in his booklet:
“God tells us what is sin, and He tells us that this vain use of facial makeup is sin!… the penalty for this sin is death for eternity in a Lake of fire!” (p. 44.)
Herbert W. Armstrong’s makeup ruling proved to be a major stumbling block to women wishing to enter the WCG. One college girl confessed: “I cried when I found out I had to give up makeup because I looked so ugly without it. Later two women in the church came up to me and said I ought to be anointed [for healing] because of the way the skin on my face looked. This made me feel even more ugly and inferior, but gradually I learned to accept my appearance, though from time to time people made belittling remarks about it.”
AC coeds were often embarrassed when showing visiting women around campus because invariably they asked: “Why don’t you AC girls wear makeup?” What was the AC girl to say to her painted guests: “We don’t wear makeup because God says only whores wear it”?
In the years following the makeup decision, several tried to convince the Armstrongs that their makeup doctrine was nonsensical and unbiblical. But they were brushed aside as heretics. After all, Garner Ted Armstrong had said the makeup ruling was made by “God the Father and Jesus Christ.”
But in the early 1970s more and more people exerted pressure to have the booklet removed. They finally succeeded, and it was formally discontinued when the Oct. 23, 1974 ministerial bulletin declared wearing makeup okay after researchers had proved that, without exception, the “proofs” in the booklet were arrived at by using scriptures out of context and reading meanings into the scriptures that weren’t intended. Though Herbert W. Armstrong’s explanation of one of the scriptures was influenced by an erroneous translation quoted and accepted by Adam Clarke’s commentary, HWA quoted two other commentaries and proceeded to leave out parts of their explanations that contradicted his preconceived conclusions. Had his research been more carefully done and had he consulted modern reference sources, he would not have reached the absurd conclusion he did.
In spite of the fact that Herbert W. Armstrong finally killed the makeup booklet, he never apologized for blaspheming God’s name by claiming God looked at women who wore makeup as whores, nor did he apologize for wresting the scriptures to make it appear that wearing makeup was a capital sin.
The Mark of the Beast and Who Is the Beast?-These two booklets were copyrighted by AC in 1952 and 1960 respectively. Both were based more on specious reasoning than fact. In both booklets, Herbert W. Armstrong took basic Protestant and/or 19th-century Adventist interpretations and reshaped them to fit his own ideas by extracting isolated historical events out of their context and fitting them into highly symbolic prophecies. It is obvious to the student of history that the author has a bad and unscholarly habit of conveniently overlooking parts of history that contradict his prophetic theories.
In late 1969, AC’s Chancellor Herbert Armstrong began meeting such European leaders as King Leopold of Belgium and Franz Josef Strauss of Germany, both Catholics. Since the booklets not only called the Catholic church the great whore of Revelation 17 and spoke very disparagingly of it, claiming it would again soon martyr those who opposed it and those who refused to worship on Sunday, but also predicted that a United States of Europe composed of 10 nations would fight Christ, the booklet threatened to become an acute embarrassment to HWA and to the WCG’s German office and churches; therefore, it had to be discontinued.
Compendium of World History-Believing “the modern reconstruction of ancient history without God is almost 100% erroneous” (vol. I, p. 20) and that “that modern interpretation of world history stands in open conflict with Scripture” (vol. I, p. 1), “evangelist” Herman L. Hoeh decided to write a world history from the Bible’s perspective and thus show modern historians the proper way to approach and write history. Hoeh received his doctor’s degree in theology from AC upon completing volume I of his compendium and his doctor of philosophy degree from AC after writing volume II-although there was no one at AC even remotely qualified to evaluate his dissertations.
Volume I carried copyright dates of 1963, 1963-65, 1966, 1967, 1969, and 1970, while volume II had dates of 1963, 1966, and 1969. Each revision was invariably followed by a long list of errata.
For over a decade students at AC were compelled to study the haphazardly written “compendium” to pass AC’s dreaded world history class. In late 1973, students heaved a giant sigh of relief upon learning they wouldn’t have to wade through the undocumented assumptions, the convoluted reasoning, and the long king lists and genealogies which clutter the pages of the compendium. Soon, the compendium even disappeared from AC’s bookstore. But many were bewildered. Why was “the world’s greatest history book” by “the world’s greatest historian” (according to Herbert W. Armstrong) suddenly unavailable?
Gradually those who checked around discovered that the compendium contained flagrant errors in chronology and in the reconstruction of history. The reason? Hoeh based his book on his own private biblical interpretation which was colored by Herbert W. Armstrong’s British-Israel theories. Though being unschooled in Semitic and other ancient languages, having had few if any history classes at an accredited college under a qualified history professor, and never having specialized in any specific area, he felt his biblical knowledge and understanding more than compensated for his deficiencies in other areas.
As he compiled historical data for his book, he ignored or discarded facts that didn’t fit snugly into his biblical framework and the historical-philosophical interpretations of Herbert W. Armstrong. Sometimes he had to quote sources out of context or simply invent evidence to amass proof for a particular point, but he overcame any qualms he may have had about this, feeling God was revealing previously hidden truth to him as he researched. But students who checked the original sources were often aghast at his shoddy if not dishonest scholarship.
In any case Hoeh’s two-volume compendium is now out of print and no longer used in AC history classes. Indeed it is difficult to find any scholar-even inside the WCG-who is willing to defend “the world’s greatest history book.”
Military Service and War-This 72-page booklet was published in 1967 by AC to assist male WCG members and AC students evade the draft and decide why they should become conscientious objectors. This booklet was not offered to the public, and it was dropped as the Vietnam war was ending.
The Truth About Masonry-Published in 1961 by AC, the masonry booklet was authored by AC’s former dean of students and psychology instructor Jack R. Elliott, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for his M.A. from AC. The booklet was written to inform WCG members of the evils of masonry and is no longer being sent out.
It claimed “membership in the Masonic Lodge, as much as membership in any of the [religious] denominations, is incompatible with obedience and service to God” (p. 43). It asserted that Masonry’s “oaths are antiscriptural and that its secrecy is likewise contradictory to the Bible and pagan in origin” (p. 16). In a stinging indictment against Masons everywhere, Elliott declared that Masons “do not promote God’s rule, but ignore it and set themselves up as the wise leaders… feigning benevolence by giving charity to the orphans and widows, while they privately endeavor to build their own prosperity” (p. 40). This booklet was mainly circulated internally in the WCG lest its public image be tarnished, in accord with its normal practice of portraying itself one way to the public and another way to its supporters.
The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy-This AC production (which is still in print), long one of the most heavily requested and intriguing booklets ever written by Herbert W. Armstrong, was originally a series in The Plain Truth which was edited into a 26-page booklet in 1954. Its main teachings were simply a patent paraphrase in many places of Rev. J. H. Allen’s 377-page book, Judah’s Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright (1902).
In 1967 Herbert W. Armstrong’s 1954 version was enlarged to include 226 pages. This mammoth edition was extensively revised again in 1972 because it set dates for the fall of the U.S. and Britain that didn’t materialize and because of gross historical and biblical errors. Recently Dr. Hoeh “doctored” the 1972 version, surgically excising 75% of the material out of it. Because of challenges that could not (or would not) be answered honestly, he removed all the historical “proof” (actually, there never was any proof) and 75% of the biblical “evidence.”
Gone is the older version’s whole section on Jeremiah’s commission, the planting of the throne in Ireland, and the accounts of Tea-Tephi and the lia-fail stone. Several members of the former doctrinal committee-Herbert W. Armstrong recently disbanded the committee-state that the basic tenets of the booklet are unprovable, either from the Bible or from history. Garner Ted Armstrong has even expressed in an interview with Joseph M. Hopkins that belief in British-Israelism is “not essential to salvation. It hasn’t been proven to my satisfaction,” he confessed, “that the Ten Lost Tribes relocated in specific places in northern Europe. It certainly is not a necessary doctrine” (The Armstrong Empire, 1974, p. 245).
Still Other Problem Booklets. One by one the key booklets that set AC and the WCG apart as unique are being phased out, never to be heard from again. AC’s booklets on pollution and the feminist movement no longer exist. AC’s booklet based on Garner Ted Armstrong’s interview with Franz Josef Strauss, Is the United States of Europe Coming Soon?, was quietly dropped. (When Strauss visited AC in early 1970, AC officials were so worried Strauss might see the booklet-what did AC have to hide?-that they instructed students to remove the recently published booklet from their dormitory bookshelves and hide it until Strauss left.) Who Will Rule Space? has been shot down and killed. Most of AC’s editors privately acknowledge that AC’s booklets on evolution are in grave need of revision due to their simplistic and often completely unscientific “scientific” claims.
The booklet entitled Tithing, written by John Schroeder (Garner Ted Armstrong’s ghost writer) and Brian Knowles and edited by Garner Ted Armstrong to replace Ending Your Financial Worries, offered no convincing biblical reasons why a Christian should tithe and is basically a waste of paper. When Herbert W. Armstrong read the new booklet, he became boiling mad, yelling that all the “proofs” had been omitted. Though a number of the leading WCG ministers do not even believe in tithing, none dared tell him his “proofs” were only misapplied scriptures quoted out of context and blended with a large amount of wishful thinking. His plain truth about tithing was just plain error.
A number of AC’s booklets were discontinued not only because of factual error but also because it seems the Armstrongs were afraid some of their worldly contacts would notice what they were preaching and judge them to be lunatics.
For instance, God Speaks Out on the New Morality was killed and reemerged as The Missing Dimension in Sex, partly because the former booklet stated that Simon Magus was the Peter who founded the Catholic Church and that the Catholic church was responsible for the Western world’s belief that sex was evil and inherently unclean. Herbert W. Armstrong still believed this to be true-though research can never show Simon Magus founded the Catholic church-but HWA was developing a friendship with King Leopold of Belgium at the time and didn’t want Leopold to find out what he preached about the Catholic church because Leopold was a staunch Catholic.
For more than two decades Herbert W. Armstrong has preached and written that an Israelitish U.S. and Britain would be destroyed by a revitalized, ten-nation U.S. of Europe dominated by the Satan-influenced Roman Catholic church and led by the Germans whom he claims are the modern descendants of the Assyrians. But when he began meeting world leaders and developing friendships with them, he stopped writing about the Catholic church in prophecy and Germany being modern Assyria.
Why do Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong shrink back when it comes time to tell world leaders how they should live their lives and what is prophesied in the Bible? The New Testament ministers bravely proclaimed God’s truth to world leaders without flattery and equivocation (Acts 24-26, I Thes. 2:1-6).
Why does The Plain Truth no longer contain prophetic teaching but has page after page of glowing accounts of Herbert W. Armstrong’s (and Rader’s) personal overseas exploits and insipid, shallow, ministry-of-tourism-type travelogues by Gene Hogberg? Why hasn’t HWA told his followers about the major errors in the booklets that have been quietly discontinued?
These are questions you ought to strongly consider before financially supporting one of Herbert Armstrong’s $pin-off cults.
Blast from the past from Ambassador Report.