"Daughter Of Babylon,
The True History of
The Worldwide Church of God"
by Bruce Renehan
Chapter 4 A World Held Captive
It only follows that the belief in only one true Christian church led Armstrong to preach that all other Christian churches were false. As we have seen previously, the Worldwide Church of God belief system was proof-texted from scriptural references (In other words, the scriptures were often set up so as to prove a desired point.). How did Armstrong follow through with a biblical case for the identity of the remainder of Christianity?
He accomplished this by building an exegesis from a passage in Revelation 17. This viewpoint had been held by many Protestants in the past, especially during the Middle Ages. And this led to the third and final fundamental premise of the Worldwide Church of God: The Catholic Church is the Great Whore (Mystery Babylon) of Revelation 17. Rome had perverted and paganized Christianity. It had substituted "pagan rituals," such as Saturnalia, for the biblically sanctioned Christian holidays. Further, Armstrong claimed that the mother church had Christianized these pagan days of worship by giving them Christian sounding names like "Christmas." The harlot daughters of Babylon would therefore be Protestant churches that had protested against the mother church in Rome.We shall deal later more specifically with the 17th chapter of Revelation in this connection. Then we shall prove beyond doubt that the "harlot woman," BABYLON THE GREAT, is the Roman Catholic Church. But let us note in passing that the "woman," the Catholic Church, with the papacy, never "rode" on any part of this Beast except its last seven "horns"! (p.8, Herbert W. Armstrong, Who Is The "Beast"?, 1960)
But this Church became MOTHER, and DAUGHTER CHURCHES came out of her, in "protest," calling themselves "PROTESTANT." And ALL have worldly, political CHURCH GOVERNMENT. "Upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS" (Rev. 17:5). Her daughters are called "harlots." Together, they are called "BABYLON." They are pagan, teaching pagan doctrines and customs, cloaked in the NAME of "Christianity!" And ALL NATIONS are deceived!
Yes, human-organized CHURCHIANITY is the "IMAGE" of the "BEAST." When people speak of "MY Church," they mean their organized denomination. And today people seem to IDOLIZE their CHURCHES! This is "worshipping the IMAGE of the BEAST."
"COME OUT OF HER," God says (Rev. 18:4). God help us to HEED! (ibid, pp. 15-16)
What, then, is the real PURPOSE of the Church? Why did Jesus found the Church? Was it to repair the superstructure of the faulty and decadent BUILDING to which I have likened this present evil world? Was it to "save" by conversion this sinning world of Satan? And was it to become divided into many divisions or branches, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant?
The whole professing "Christian" world has been deceived. All nations have been deceived. The ninth verse of Revelation 12 states this emphatically and plainly.(A World Held Captive, 1984, Herbert W. Armstrong, p. 20)
Where did all of this paganization of Christianity begin? Some have contended that it seemed to have started during the time of the apostles. This becomes controversial when one considers the fact that many scholars would doubt the reliability of some scriptural passages actually being written in the first century. For those who simply take the text as it is, there are a few passages that discuss apostasy in the early New Testament church. Some ancient historians, such as Eusebius, have also recorded instances of heresy and disagreements among the early bishops.
But, was heresy or apostasy the same thing as paganism? Not exactly. Heresy in both the New Testament and in the fourth century councils were usually either Jewish legalism or unorthodox philosophies.
None of the controversies of Christianity are more pivotal than the organization of Christianity by the Roman emperor Constantine. The organized Roman Church unified its doctrines around 325 A. D. at the Council of Nicea, when Constantine made Christianity the state religion. It was at this place and time that heresy began to be defined.
Even though it was called Christianity, pagan ideas and philosophies were introduced into his official state religion. Sunday was made the legal day of Christian worship at this time. But, Herbert Armstrong claimed that the true Christian church observed the Sabbath day on Saturday as the did the Jews and that it was significant.
As the Sabbath is the identifying sign of the people of God ( gentile or any race), so Sunday is the mark that identifies the AUTHORITY of false Christianity--"BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS"--because Sunday carries no authority. The substitution of the pagan Sunday to counterfeit God's Sabbath is the primary stratagem of Satan in deceiving all nations, and counterfeiting God's Truth as well as God's Church. (Herbert W. Armstrong, p. 24, Where Is the True Church?, 1984)
If Saturday was the sign of God's true church. Sunday was undoubtedly the "mark of the Beast."
Armstrong's vortex was now complete.
In the next chapter I will summarize the suppositions that comprised the paradigm held by members of the Worldwide Church of God during the 50 year ministry of their founder.
Go to the "Painful Truth" page.