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Armstrong's Empire Exposed

1939 vs 1979 - Church Government!

                       THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE

                        Armstrong's Empire Exposed


                                 John Tuit
                            (Published in 1981)

1979 vs 1939

Consulting firm in Menlo Park, California, delivered to the
Church its report entitled "Evaluation of the Institutional
Marketing of the Worldwide Church of God." SRI had conducted an
in-depth analysis of the Church membership. Former religious
affiliations, geographical data, and income levels were all taken
into account. The means by which members came into contact with
the Church and later into membership were carefully analyzed.
Apparently, their findings were totally ignored.
     In their summary they stated that early action was urged.
The report stated: "The studies conclusions and recommendations
cover several matters that SRI believes should be given the
highest possible priority by the leadership of the Worldwide
Church of God. In SRI's judgment, problems connected with the
institutional marketing of the Church call for immediate
attention and early action to prevent further deterioration of
deleterious trends that threaten the continued well-being of the
     It was felt that a turnaround was achievable. As the report
continued: "The final section of the report is action-oriented.
Several recommendations are offered that SRI believes can and
should be implemented. If the principal recommendations are
implemented, SRI believes the Worldwide Church of God will be
able to achieve a turnaround. If not implemented, SRI believes
the Church's growth-related problems will probably remain
unresolved, and the future well-being of the Church will remain
in question."
     In a comment that Armstrong should have paid particular
attention to, the report stated: "The most profound kinds of
changes are emerging from the bottom upward, not from the top
downward." The report went on to say: "SRI'S understanding of the
current era of change leads it to conclude that organizations
like the Worldwide Church of God will have to be more flexible
and more communicative than they have been in the past, to be
able to adapt to the various constraints that were not present in
the environments of the 1950s and early 1960s. It will be
advantageous to develop improved flexibility so that changes can
be accommodated with a minimum of disruption. Also it will be
more advantageous to be more communicative with the people and
groups that are affected by the Church, so that those groups and
the Church will have a better understanding of the other's
     In its conclusions and recommendations, the report stated
that the Church was confronted with the necessity of
significantly curtailing its expenditures to affect a turnaround
in the Church. The report confirmed our own claim that much of
the Church's money went for purposes other than preaching the
Gospel, other than the purposes for which the money was
collected. On this matter, the report stated: "Until this year,
activities that contribute directly to the future regeneration of
the Worldwide Church of God have received a relatively small and
declining share of the Church's total budget, whereas a large and
growing share has gone for nonregenerative purposes, such as
Ambassador Auditorium, the AICF, Quest Magazine and Ambassador
     Among its recommendations the report urged that "the Church
try to reverse the deleterious trends that underlie its current
financial predicament within the next year or two." In further
recommendations, the report suggested "that the Worldwide Church
of God consider temporarily curtailing its non-essential
activities to give the Church time and funds to reverse the
deleterious trends discussed previously."
     The only action of note, taken by Herbert Armstrong in the
month of May when this report was received, was that he fired
Garner Ted Armstrong. And if there was ever any question in one's
mind at that time that Stanley Rader was moving to take over
completely, that should have become more clear through the
passing months. It should have become especially clear through
the early months of 1979 when it was quite apparent that it was
Rader, not Armstrong, who was calling all the shots. And if that
still was not enough to convince anyone of Rader's ultimate
intentions, one must wonder if the event that took place in
Herbert Armstrong's home on September 27, 1979 would be
sufficient. At that time, Stanley Rader and his lieutenants Ellis
LaRavia and Joseph Tkach were ordained as evangelists. Rader, who
had never been a minister, now holds the highest rank in the
ministry other than that held by Herbert Armstrong as apostle.
One can only speculate how long it will be before the crown
prince is officially designated heir apostle by Herbert
     Finally, the coup was complete, and while many members were
stunned by the announcement of Rader's ordination, most cheered
and applauded.

"Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the
prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.
And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar
(whitewash), seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them saying,
thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken." (Ezekiel
2:27 and 28.)

     One must wonder if it was always Herbert Armstrong's
motivaton to build an empire for himself. Or, could it be that
there was a time when he was sincere, truly believed in what he
was doing, and was trying to follow God's ways and grow in the
knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ? 

     In 1939, he apparently was quite differently motivated. In
February of that year, an article was printed in a publication
called The Good News of the Kingdom entitled "Did Christ
Reorganize The Church?" Regarding organized Church government,
Armstrong wrote that the old covenant as recorded in the 24th
chapter of Exodus was a marriage ceremony. In that ceremony, the
Lord joined himself to ancient Israel in a symbolic spiritual
marriage. Armstrong writes: "IT WAS THE MARRIAGE THAT FORMED
     Because Israel had slid back and turned away from God,
Armstrong notes that in Jeremiah 3:8, the Bible says: "And I saw,
when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed
     But then even Judah began sinning worse than Israel and King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon captured them and destroyed Jerusalem,
at which time the authority to rule and govern was taken away
completely from God's people and given over to the Babylonians.
He then points out that until Jesus Christ returns to establish
the Kingdom of God and destroy the Babylonian rule of this world,
there is to be no Church government as a spiritually ordained
line of authroity. He points out that at the time Christ was on
this earth, He did not establish a biblical form of organization
or a definite Church government. Armstrong states: "There is not
one single HINT in the New Testament of any Church BOARD with
authority to rule, to govern, to decide doctrine, or to handle
tithes and Church finances (the whole Church)."
     In total contrast to the present Worldwide Church of God
form of centralized dictatorial authority, Armstrong said in his
1939 article: "All authority and power to rule is limited solely
to each LOCAL congregation. But there is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY for
any super-government, or organization with authority over the
local congregations!" He then continues: "How, then did
ORGANIZATION, and the idea of CHURCH GOVERNMENT get into the
Church!It came out of BABYLON! Spiritual BABYLON - that is, ROME!
The same as nearly all other false doctrines of Satan." 
     Quoting from various publications such as the Encyclopedia
of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, and also
from Myers' Ancient History, Armstrong shows that the idea of
centralized Church government originated with Leo, the fist Pope
in the real sense of the word. He reigned from 440 to 461 A.D.,
and it was Leo I who set up an ecclesiastical form of government.
Armstrong comments: "And thus the very PRINCIPLE OF CHURCH
GOVERNMENT becomes the IMAGE OF THE BEAST! The whole thing is
Those who are IN, and MEMBERS OF such an organized Church
government, submitting to doctrines declared by unscriptural
boards as a fellowship test are IN BABYLON and actually
worshippers of THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST! And God is calling us, HIS
people OUT of BABYLON today, before it is too late-before the
PLAGUES fall! Brethren, let us have the courage to accept the
TRUTH, and to COME OUT."

     In 1939, Armstrong was calling people out of spiritual
Babylon. Forty years later, Armstrong is leading people right
back into spiritual Babylon. Just as the Church of God at Rome,
in the first few centuries after Christ, fell into total
paganized Babylonish worship, Herbert Armstrong, instead of
remembering his early teachings, has strayed from his ways and
led this end-time Church of God in its first steps on a return to

     Armstrong continued in his article pointing out that the New
Testament Church was a spiritual body, that no one organization
constituted the true Church. His current teachings are totally
contrary to that. He points out that when Christ returns, He will
make a spiritual marriage with His Church. This is clearly stated
in Revelation 19:7 where it is written: "Let us be glad and
rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is
come, and his wife hath made herself ready." The Lamb referred to
here is Christ and His wife is the Church, the spiritual body of
true believers. And Armstrong clearly understood this in 1939,
for he wrote: "This MARRIAGE will not be made with some one
organization! It is THE INDIVIDUAL SAINTS - not some organization
which shall possess the government, and rule."
     He said further: "The CHURCH is the collective body of
individual saints who are sanctified and CLEANSED by Christ! Let
us stop speaking of some organizations as 'The Church' or 'our
     Regarding government and authority, he stated: "Our Heavenly
Father never planted any super-organization, or established any
Church GOVERNMENT, or set men IN AUTHORITY over either spiritual
or financial affairs, in the New Testament church. Any such
'plan' was never planted of GOD - and therefore IT SHALL BE
     And if only he had remembered what he had said near the
close of his article: "Organization and Church GOVERNMENT has
brought us only strife, jealousies, divisions, bitterness! It is
not of God and it can bear no other fruit." Yes, if only Herbert
Armstrong had remembered the truth that he was teaching in 1939.

     One must wonder what it was that had caused Armstrong to go
wrong. It appears that as the Church began to grow and there was
a great deal of money coming in, Armstrong's priorities changed
considerably. Soon friendships with world leaders and a desire
for magnificent buildings appeared to have a greater importance
to him. And somehow he felt that he could rationalize this all
away in his mind as part of his service to God. But once one
begins to dabble in rationalizations of that sort, God quickly
begins to withdraw His blessings and a downhill slide has begun.
Armstrong is so proud of the fancy Ambassador College campus, so
proud of the Ambassador Auditorium, so proud of the fine clothes
and fine works of art that adorn his home, that he has forgotten
the following passage from Isaiah 66:1 and 2:

"Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne and the earth is my
footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where
is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand
made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this
man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite
spirit, and trembleth at my word."

     Apparently Armstrong never totally lost his old original
desire. Once he began to stray, that desire again manifested
itself to the point where his main objective was to visit world
leaders under the guise of preaching the Gospel. In his
autobiography he stated, regarding his past, "Now I had an idol.
My whole mind and heart was set on that idol. I had worked hard,
night and day, for that false god. My false objective was the
intense desire - the desperate, driving, overpowering ambition -
to become 'successful' in the eyes of important businessmen - to
be considered by them as outstandingly "IMPORTANT" - to achieve
status" (p.500).

     One can see that attitude as a very prominent part of
Herbert Armstrong's make-up today. It is no wonder, then, that he
no longer can be effective as a spiritual leader.

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If
any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1
John 2:15.

     It appears though, that in spite of Armstrong's constant,
increasing drift toward an attitude of total authoritarian rule,
finally culminating in his appointing himself an apostle, that he
was having a battle within himself. This can be seen in his
rather ineffective attempts from time to time to move Rader
aside. His strongest effort in that direction was his attempt to
remove Rader at the end of 1978 and put him in a position of less
authority. Yet we see that when the pressure was on, Armstrong
literally jumped right back into Rader's arms.


To be continued with "Blackmail"

This ALONE - the fact that Armstrong at one time, KNEW the truth
on the subject of "Church Government" should prove he had gone
off the tracks, departed from the straight and narrow path and
into the ditch with the thorns and the brambles.
I have written what may be the most extensive and in-depth
writing found anywhere, on the subject of Church Government on
this Website.

Keith Hunt

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