"Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web"
(Copyright (c)1980, quoted with permission.)
Some ask, "Why would you want to write such a book? Will not religion itself suffer at your hands if you do this thing?" Others who are familiar with the power of those whom I have written about express concern for my personal safety. They cite the experience of Jerry Sholes who authored Give Me That Prime Time Religion. He was hospitalized for his efforts in exposing big- time money religion.
I don't believe true religion ever suffers at the hand of truth. It was Christ himself who said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It is impossible to be really free without knowing the truth about every relevant thing. Christ nowhere advocates ignorance, and he publicly called the false religious leaders of his day what they were - hypocrites! He took the direct approach. He was not as subtle as some thought he ought to be.
Others have raised the question of Stan Rader's well-publicized battery of high-priced lawyers. Friends also remind me of the extra-legal tactics of Worldwide Church leadership during the past year and more. These tactics remind them of those practiced by civil rights leaders such as Jerry Rubin, the "Chicago Seven" and others who perpetrated civil disobedience and riots during the 1960s.
"Aren't you afraid to displease such a rich and powerful organization?" they ask. "Remember, they have marshaled millions of dollars in tithe money for their legal war. Even the State of California finds the battle difficult."
My answer is simple. I believe in the force of truth. And I believe God always backs up truth - perhaps not always as quickly as we would like, but always in the end. I believe in truth. And I believe that freedom and truth are eternally intertwined.
I do not take it as a light matter to write the hard, cold facts about a man for whom I have prayed daily for decades. But again, when the full force of truth comes to one's consciousness, there is a corresponding obligation. When an influential man goes astray -very far astray - and attempts to fasten his aberrant ways on masses of people, one has an obligation to speak up, Walter especially when he really has the facts.
But some argue, "You shouldn't judge God's Apostle!" They overlook the clear teachings of scripture. In Revelation 2:2 Jesus actually praises the church of Ephesus for doing just that: ". . . thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and name hast found them liars."
Readers should ask themselves this question: "What is Herbert Armstrong's real power base? Is he really backed by God as he claims? Does God really support him in all that he does?"
My answer - based on years of experience with Herbert Armstrong and based on the principles of the Bible itself - is a resounding "No!" It is impossible for God to support such total corruption and hypocrisy. He could not possibly back up such a habitual liar.
Like the Wizard of Oz, Herbert Armstrong is operating on image. When his hand is called, there. is no substance there. Like the Wizard, he is just a lot of bluster. As it is with others of our time, his bluster is amplified by the media. Temporary power, that which has sprung from wide media exposure, has corrupted him, perhaps completely. But his power base isn't sturdy enough to stand the strain. The storm is going to blow it away because he has deserted the proper foundation of Jesus Christ and has been building on sand.
Watergate did not break as a news story all at once. It developed over a period of years. What emerged from the fog and haze was a story of corruption and misuse of power that shocked the American nation and the whole world. That sorry chapter in American history weakened this nation terribly. Our country has since had to try to snatch something worth saving out of the debris. Trust and faith in officials have suffered a most serious setback.
But what has finally become clear to many thinking people of this country is the fact that "the Watergate Syndrome" has become a way of life in all too many institutions, not just governmental ones. Cover-ups of great proportions have be come commonplace.
People who sit in positions of power present one face to their constituents and quite another to their peers. They have become, to use an old folk phrase, "two faced." Some have called this the age of the "double standard." The double standard requires a cover-up. But those who cover up their sins weave what Sir Scott called a ''tangled web.
While one might flinch and hurt over corporate and governmental abuses - and we all have - what can really be devastating is the discovery of corruption and fraud in one's own church, perpetrated by the very leaders of that church in the of religion and God!
At this time when our nation needs the stabilizing and guiding hand of the church to cope with and survive national wounds, too many find the church has done no better than their government. This is especially true of the Worldwide Church of God, headquartered in Pasadena, California. We now witness the leadership of that church defying the laws of man, even as they flaunt the laws of God. They have become a law unto themselves.
I do not think Herbert Armstrong, the leader of the Worldwide Church of God, started out to do evil, as some suggest. I think he wanted to do well. I know he taught morality in this country as few men have in our time. And I have seen thousands work changes for the better in their lives because of the teaching of church for three decades. The morality taught by Herbert W. Armstrong - Herbert W. Armstrong, as he is often called in the church - is basically good and sound. Perhaps I should say the morality he used to teach was basically sound. In many ways it is what this whole nation now so badly needs. The fact he repeatedly proved himself an inaccurate prophet in no way alters the force of his moral teachings.
Unfortunately, when faced with the facts, one can only conclude he did not believe in those teachings himself. When the full force of his "double standard" hit those high up in the hierarchy of his church, very few, if any, were able to survive the disclosure - because those who object and are not "loyal" have to go. "Loyal" means to Herbert Armstrong's own personal practices, no matter how unaligned they may be with the teachings of Christ.
Stories from Herbert W. Armstrong's past suggest deep troubles all the way back to his early life. His autobiography is highly subjective and heavily slanted in his favor. Those who still survive from his days in Oregon have a far different story to tell. His own son reports his dad's autobiographic account is at least 30% false. One is immediately suspicious when there is almost no faulting of himself in his writings about himself.
There is strong evidence suggesting his wife's influence was very beneficial to his ministry. She seemed far more dedicated to truth than her husband.
With her death, there was another influence ready and waiting to pull in another direction. While that influence has impacted the church heavily during the last decade, that fact in no way modifies the responsibility of the man who claims to be "the only apostle of the twentieth century!"
I never wanted to write this account and did not lift my pen until forced out of that church through a series of events culminating in a visit with Herbert W. Armstrong at his home in Tucson in July of 1979. There he expelled me from the church on charges brought by unnamed people. Nearly all of them were false. But I clearly indicated to him I could not go along in the direction the church was taking. Civil disobedience, demonstrations, false statements, and such like were things I could not support. He replied that if I could not support those things I was against him. (He had taught against such practices years ago.)
I write this book in the interest of truth. I believe in truth and wish to express it as best as I know how. When Winston Churchill began his History of the English Speaking Peoples, he unashamedly wrote that he was presenting history as he saw it. Some would say it was not a scholarly history, but it was the story of his own ancestry as he understood it.
I do not write in bitterness, in hatred, but in deep disappointment. But I also write in hope that those individuals mentioned unfavorably in this work will see the error of their ways and repent. The Bible teaches that God is merciful on full repentance. Nothing would please me more than for that to happen and for those who were once brethren to again be restored to that state. If that fails then the secondary purpose for this book is to provide information to people connected with the Worldwide Church which is vital to their welfare.
I am writing what I have seen, heard, read, and understood. You, as you read, will have to judge for yourself. May God guide you as you do.
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