HWA was a high school drop out with no training in how to properly interpret Scripture. He was not well read. If you went to a doctor and he didn’t know how to interpret your blood test results, you would be in trouble. Even if your doctor had great confidence in himself and had a wonderful bedside manner, he would still be in error if he didn’t follow the basic rules of interpretation. So, the writer who said, “The Sunday-keepers who basically reject everything that the Bible teaches” doesn’t understand the basics of hermeneutics any better than HWA did. HWA allowed his confirmation bias to get in the way of the truth; did not read passages in context, and was basically a poor scholar. I wonder what his grades were in school before he dropped out? Perhaps he was also intellectually lazy. He didn’t want to do the hard work that it takes to become proficient as a student/scholar. I think he took shortcuts. He didn’t want a real college, as long as it looked good on the outside. He claimed that accreditation would mean the government would impose on AC worldly values. Yet the Mormon Church has accredited colleges, as do other religious institutions. To invest in a real library didn’t appeal to him. AC looked great, superficially. His publications looked great, superficially. A few months of reading in a local library was all the effort that he wanted to make to come up with some of his theories. Read someone else’s books, plagiarize what he wanted and publish it as his own. He took shortcuts.
Herbert Armstrong couldn’t see beyond the end of his nose. His world consisted on pleasing himself and particularly in being the center of the universe with his narcissism without being able to foresee the consequences. When the consequences caught up with him, he would invent excuses and make other people pay for them so he could continue to ‘live for the moment’. He’d go on a spending spree — like the one at Harrod’s where he spent $68,000 on tableware he just had to have, and then go home and write a coworker letter demanding money because the “Work was going down!”.
When he failed at business in the early 1900s and was left with nothing, he came west to stay with his father. He was amazed and astounded that his dad had a house that was paid for and that he was able to put up Herb and his family easily. It’s because his dad had high foresight with prudence about the future, while Herb didn’t and some how squandered and lost all he had. This was one area where Herbert Armstrong couldn’t understand his father and how he became the narcissist he was — in competition with his own father, wanting desperately to be accepted. It stuck in his craw because Herbert always had to win and that was problematic because he was a loser. It wasn’t like his did didn’t try to pass on his wisdom when he stood in the way as Herbert tried to leave high school and thought he could actually teach it — his idea was that he could be buddies with the guys and if they couldn’t accept him, then he’d put them in a headlock, demonstrating his superior wrestling skills. Herbert did finally get around his father and never finished high school — because of his own self-centered hubris.
Those of us who were there, remember Herbert Armstrong shouting and waving his arms, dissatisfied with the sacrifice of Worldwide Church of God members, he told us that he could start all over with his ‘eight Japanese sons’ of the Japan Diet. You have to shake your head at the preposterous lack of prudence, wisdom and foresight that was. It would have been amusing to have seen him try it — alienating the entire WCG and then find that his ‘eight Japanese sons’ abandoned him because they were in it for the wining and dining — and being treated with respect. He wouldn’t have lasted a minute when they found that he expected to live off of them. He was an utter fool.
Many people will balk at this, pointing out the large physical plant at Ambassador College and the fact that in the heyday of the Worldwide Church of God, his income was around $225 million per year — his income because really, he could do with it anything he wanted… anything, which explains the silver and gold and the expensive paintings he acquired. People were attracted to the image, not realizing the folly behind it. If anyone has any further questions about this, they need only to examine the fact that Herbert Armstrong left his empire to Joseph Tkach, Senior — one of the most imprudent acts ever, within his utter lack of foresight and prudence about the future. If he had foresight, why is there really nothing left of his legacy today, outside of 700+ splintered cult sects and the GCI where the pastor general is tired and wants to quit as his congregations dry up and blow away?
Herbert Armstrong’s lack of foresight manifested itself in a lack of planning. You can read The Seven Laws of Success and find that planning isn’t really essential. Picture a goal? Certainly. Stick to getting the goal? Yes. Actively planning how to get where you want to go? No. Project management would have been totally lost on him. He was a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ sort of guy. And he was a failure because of it. As the aphorism goes:
Failure to plan is to plan to fail.
The second horrible thing about Herbert Armstrong to be covered here is that he had absolutely, positively no Structural Visualization.
Here is what Your Natural Gifts has to say about Structural Visualization:
Structural Visualization — Ability to think in three dimensions, to visualize solids.
If you are not familiar with the terms, you may be asking, what’s the big deal? It turns out that only 25% of the population has structural visualization — it is a sex-linked inherited aptitude, passed from the mother to the children. This creates problems in the family if one parent has structural visualization and the other does not. Structural visualization is vital for architecture, urban planning, engineering, industrial design, inventing, cost accounting, estimating, geology, archaeology, physics (including chemistry), agriculture, medical and scientific research, programming. sculpture and various design disciplines, such as dress, furniture, manufacturing, stage design and window display. Heaven help you if your auto mechanic doesn’t have it.
Those without structural visualization, including Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, Roderick Meredith and a whole host of others, simply do not understand the universe or the world around them. They are linear abstract thinkers. They have no need of science. Their universe is magical — filled with all sorts of miraculous things which defy logic and science. There is a tenuous connection for them between cause and effect. This partly explains their lack of any concept of being a false prophet will lead to the lake of fire (with the caveat that the Bible is true). It makes no sense to them. They completely compartmentalize the consequences of their actions against the future in the universe and their world. They believe in potions (anointing oil), incantations and magic spells (prayer, fasting and prayer). They believe that the can change the world with the power of their mind (meditation). They can do the same things under the same conditions and positively expect wildly differing results.
With Herbert Armstrong, there was an additional problem: His father had high structural visualization — he even, apparently, had a patent for a type of furnace. Ironically, it appears that Herbert worked for his father in a factory at one point in his youth. Understand though, Herbert Armstrong could never understand his father: It was problematic, because Herbert Armstrong lived in a universe quite different from his father. He could not visualize the things his father could; he could never do the things his father did. On the other hand, since his mother had no structural visualization, Herbert could certainly relate to her much better.
Herbert Armstrong could never respect what he could not understand. He could not understand professionals, technicians and technologists with structural visualization. He devalued them. Their only worth to him was if he could use them and manipulate them so he could get what he wanted. This also contributed to his narcissism because he could never really relate to those farmers in the 1930s that became the backbone of his Radio Church of God. Later, in the 1970s, the image and perception of wealth attracted those without structural visualization into the Worldwide Church of God which aggravated the problems for those mechanics, farmers, technicians and technologists who entered into the WCG. Herbert trivialized them. He treated them with contempt. He saw them as lesser lights. The important people to him were those rich and famous who bolstered his image, both to others and to himself. He had to have photo ops with people who were just as deficient in talent as he was, but who had style and image over substance.
When Herbert Armstrong had his psychotic break and spent whole days in the Central Library in Portland, Oregon, he had found the writings of Greenberry George Rupert, which he found so compelling that he, through his magical thinking, believed that Jesus Christ was personally teaching him through the works of G. G. Rupert. He adopted them all in totality with no attribution, teaching them as his own — the tithing system, the feasts and… wait for it… British Israelism. Because he only understood magic and not science through his lack of structural visualization, he fell for British Israelism, hook, line and sinker. He would not have been able to understand DNA evidence, even as those today without structural visualization also cannot understand the DNA evidence, which utterly refutes British Israelism. It should also be seen that the other proofs that British Israelism is a kook idea would not have been understood as well. Archaeology debunks British Israelism, but because Herbert Armstrong and the Armstrongists don’t have structural visualization to understand archaeology, they are completely mystified as to why anyone would reject it. It’s because some of us have superior talent, that’s why. It doesn’t matter though, because who respects superior talent these days: It’s the rich, famous and well-connected that have the respect — it is those who possess style over substance and a lot of it. Smell nice, look good, sound right, and the world is yours. Well, not the world… society is yours. Society runs on magic not science, the same way Herbert Armstrong did.
And as we know, British Israelism was Herbert Armstrong’s key to prophecy, which is why he was such a successful false prophet with a Biblical death sentence pronounced upon him. Not to worry though, he’d never look that far ahead.
The disturbing thing about all this is that these are only 2 of the 10 most horrible things about Herbert Armstrong.