THINGS THAT DON'T ADD UP
If the reader's religious experience is anything like that of the author's, having been called by God into His Church and having been taught so much about Him and His amazing work, then this "letter" is intended to be first and foremost a confirmation of those things that are true.
At the same time, however, it is meant to be a warning regarding teachings and practices that undeniably characterise this final Church era as Laodicean.
I can remember when I first began receiving Worldwide Church of God (WCG) material written mostly by Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) and being absolutely amazed by subjects like the Sabbath, the three days and three nights between Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, the United States and Britain in prophecy, and the validity of God's Law. Those were exciting times of learning about the one and only true Creator, the purpose for which He had made mankind and the plan that He is working out here on Earth.
After some time however, unsettling experiences began to occur.
In the beginning, I can remember keeping the Sabbath at home for some 18 months, usually waiting for the sun to go down on Saturday nights before venturing out to buy dinner. Once, I was so impatient that I didn't wait, but felt so guilty afterwards that I resolved never to do that again. Nevertheless, I found myself breaking that resolution no more than a week or two after I began attending the WCG, when I was taken out for dinner by some of the other men after Sabbath services. To my utter amazement I found myself sitting in a restaurant late on a Saturday afternoon, in total bewilderment, with at least two hours still left before sundown. I could not understand what was going on, after all I had read about God's dedicated people who would rather lose their job, or in times past even suffer martyrdom, rather than transgress God's Sabbath. My discomfort must have been noticeable to one of the brethren, who upon inquiring about my unease, said something like "it's OK, Mr Armstrong said it's OK". That seemed to be the end of the matter; Scripture was not referred to.
After a few years of attending and counselling I remember the day I was baptised in 1989. Just before my WCG minister put me under the water he said that he was baptising me "in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit". I was dumbfounded and remain so to this day. After everything I had read and heard against the Trinity doctrine in God's true Church, my minister had baptised me using the formula of the Trinity!
I later learned that this was the custom under Herbert Armstrong. I had never asked, but must have assumed, after reading about the fictitious I Jn 5:7, that Mt 28:19 would have been treated as a Catholic insert in Scripture for the same reason. It wasn't until close to 25 years later that I learned the truth about this matter.
Over time, questions regarding the leadership of Herbert W Armstrong became too serious to ignore. This was supposed to be the true Church of God, yet it had the same leadership structure as the much maligned "great false church". How could this be? The leader of the great false church was ridiculed because he claimed to be "infallible", and yet in the case of any scriptural or doctrinal questions, Herbert Armstrong was held to be "God's apostle", who had "restored all things" and was therefore also held to be incapable of doctrinal error.
True Church government was taught to consist of one man at the top and under him a council of elders, the apostle Peter supposedly being the first to occupy this one man role. The Scriptures, however, show that Christ appointed twelve men over the Church, and at no time in the New Testament are the other eleven apostles seen to be functioning as Peter's council of elders. Tellingly, all twelve have the same rank and title, that of apostle.
Also, some aspects of prophetic interpretation never seemed to make sense, for instance the timing of the last three "seals" of the book of Revelation. The fifth seal was supposed to be the "Great Tribulation" lasting two and a half years, and the seventh seal the "Day of the Lord", lasting one year. The combined time allotted to these events just prior to the return of Jesus Christ was three and a half years and yet the sixth seal was taught to be somehow squashed in between, even though there is no time available for it. This never seemed like a plausible scenario. Also, the fact that prophetic numbers were sometimes taken literally, and other times figuratively, made little sense.
Teachings regarding the Church eras of Rev 2 and 3, specifically the identification of the Philadelphia and Laodicea eras, also fail to make sense in light of the evidence now available to us through the passage of time.
Clearly, we have been in the Laodicea era, described in Rev 3:14-22, for a long, long time. The Churches, however, have created a variety of theories to circumvent the reality of this highly corrective passage of Scripture. One such theory is that multiple eras run in parallel at the same time. Another theory is that one group is supposedly a "Philadelphia remnant", while all other groups are Laodicean. Some groups deny the existence of Church eras altogether. Men will do anything to get away from the sobering and frightening reality of the rebuke contained in the final Church era message.
The Laodicean Church era is said by God to be "blind", meaning that the vast majority of brethren fail to see that there are a significant number of major errors among the teachings and practices of the branch of the Church they attend.
The following points are meant to be a starting point for investigation and contemplation. It is these anomalies that this "Letter to Laodicea" seeks to identify and explain.
1) How can the Churches of God expect to make sense of Biblical prophecies, when their explanations are inconsistent in interpreting the numbers found in these prophecies?
The greatest piece of prophetic literature published by Herbert Armstrong was "The United States and Britain in Prophecy". It was based on J H Allen's "Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright" from 1902, which in turn was based on earlier publications on this same topic. As revealed by the fulfilment of this prophecy, the Bible is shown to use the "day for a year" principle, where a day in prophecy pictures a year in history. This concept is found in Num 14, Eze 4 and Dan 9.
According to Lev 26, the Israelites were to be punished by God for a duration of "seven times". The British Israel theory correctly interprets these "seven times" as seven prophetic years of 360 days each, making a total of 2520 days which picture a period of 2520 years. This time frame is shown to fit very well with the sudden increase in stature of the Northern European democracies, the British Empire and the United States of America, 2520 years after the ten tribes of Israel went into captivity. All this is well known to the people of God and needs no further elaboration here.
The problem however is this: with this very strong evidence of fulfilled prophecy in hand, why do we not consistently apply this "day for a year" principle to all other prophecies containing numbers? If "seven times" means 2520 years, then surely "time, times and half a time", found in both Daniel and Revelation, pictures 1260 years? If 2520 days mean 2520 years, then surely 1260, 1290 and 1335 days, as also found in Daniel and Revelation, likewise mean 1260, 1290 and 1335 years?
In the "70 Week Prophecy" found in Dan 9, seventy weeks picture 490 years until the time of Christ. Here the Churches of God again accept the "day for a year" principle. This prophecy says that Christ made an end of sacrifice "in the midst of the week", and we believe this was when He died after a three and a half year ministry. So here, half a week, or three and a half days, are correctly interpreted as meaning three and a half years.
However, if we were to be consistent, wouldn't that logically also mean that a prophecy about five months would involve 150 years, and a prophecy describing 42 months would involve 1260 years?
Now people will of course object and say, what about the seven days of Creation? Surely in this account a day pictures a thousand years? And of course it does. However, in II Pet 3:4-8, where this comparison is made, Peter makes it clear that he is speaking specifically about Creation. God's seven days of Creation are much more than a prophecy: they picture the entire foundation of time on which God is building His work with man. I refer to the Creation week as a seven day blueprint. That blueprint is for a 7000 year framework of time, within which God is working out His stated endeavour of reproducing Himself. All number based prophecies that transpire within that 7000 year period use the "day for a year" method of reckoning the duration of the prophecy. From where we stand in history today, many fulfilled prophecies clearly bear this out.
One major difference between God and man is that God is consistent, whereas man is inconsistent. Our failure to consistently apply the "day for a year" principle in prophecy has led to major misunderstandings regarding the timing of these prophecies. Worse, it has led to us repeatedly proclaiming supposed future events which in reality are no more than figments of our imagination.
Please see "THE TWO WITNESSES", "REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST" and "THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES" for a lot more information on this.
2) Why do the Churches of God still proclaim another European resurrection of the Beast, involving ten separate entities, when this does not fit the parameter of duration assigned to the Beast powers?
In Dan 4, the Beast powers are assigned 2520 years, which fits perfectly with the prophecies of Lev 26. Their power involves control of Jerusalem, as confirmed by Christ who stated that "They will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Lk 21:24). This time period of the Jews being cut off from their promised land, and living as a diaspora among the nations, came to a dramatic end at the conclusion of WW2, after which they regained their country and, crucially, their capital city Jerusalem.
Please see "THE TWO WITNESSES", "THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES" and the chart on the "HOME" page for more information on this subject.
3) Why are the Churches of God not able to correctly identify the Beast powers?
The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation list a total of 18 powers, collectively called "a beast" in Rev 13:1. These powers consist of seven heads, ten horns and a little horn that becomes an eighth head. The Scriptures show these to be powers that rule over Jerusalem, starting with Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, and ending with British Palestine. The three times that the "little horn" is foretold to overthrow one of the ten horns, are simply the three occurrences in history when Christian forces conquered an Islamic power occupying Jerusalem. Taking their eyes off Jerusalem, the Churches have mistakenly looked for identification of some of these powers elsewhere.
See "REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST" and "THE TWO WITNESSES" for more on this.
4) Why are the Churches of God not able to see that the current demise of the Christian democracies is a fulfilment of the prophecy of Rev 18?
After decades of moral decay, with all its sordid manifestations, the Western democracies are weakened to the point of being on the brink of collapse. Violence, crime and lawlessness are all around us, and law enforcement is limited to only the most serious cases of transgression. Criminals have virtually free rein.
The departure from Christian standards has had frightful consequences, robbing our nations of what moral strength we had, and leaving authorities too weak and too fearful to act.
All this was foretold long ago in Scripture, which describes this world's form of Christianity as "Babylon".
Rev 18:2 says "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit". This is the point in history we are at right now.
Please see the page "BABYLON IS FALLEN" for more on this.
5) How can the Churches of God in general still adhere to the position that the fulfilment of the Seventy Week Prophecy of Daniel 9 begins with an edict of Artaxerxes Longimanus, rather than the edict of Cyrus given to Zerubbabel, when the former is clearly a chronological impossibility?
This mistaken belief might have plausibility to those who do not study the chronological and Scriptural implications, but now, in 2023, it places us supposedly in the year 6027 from Creation (4004 supposed BC years plus 2023 AD years), or in other words well into "the Millennium", while Satan still rules this world. This belief places greater value on the questionable records of man (in this case astronomer Claudius Ptolemy) than on the clear teachings of Scripture. It also fails to take into account the picture God gives us in Gen 1 and 2, where He foreshadows a 7000 year plan through the seven days of Creation. The seventh 1000 year period is of course reserved for Christ's rule.
Additionally, as many commentaries testify, but unknown to most brethren, the belief that this edict is given by Artaxerxes Longimanus requires the historical existence of TWO leaders called Ezra and TWO leaders called Nehemiah, to harmonise the accounts of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah with the records of Ptolemy. It also requires other far-fetched explanations.
See the pages "BIBLE CHRONOLOGY" and "THE SEVEN DAY BLUEPRINT" for a detailed explanation.
6) How can the Church era prior to the emergence of Herbert W Armstrong have been the Sardis era of God's Church, supposedly covering more than 350 years, when this was a "Golden Age", both in the history of man and the Church?
The years starting from the Reformation in the 16th century up until the beginning of the 20th century undoubtedly attained the highest standards man has ever achieved in the areas of literature, painting, music composition, architecture, construction, craftsmanship, etc, as well as just in general conduct and manners. It also was a time period of great Biblical awakening. The invention of the printing press and the widespread translation of the Scriptures brought about something that had been, up until that time, very rare: the opportunity for ordinary people in many countries to read God's Word in their own language.
From the early 1600's, dozens of Sabbath keeping congregations began emerging all over Britain, and subsequently the United States. In Britain, these brethren endured considerable opposition, from both Church and state authorities, but most stood firm in the face of persecution and even imprisonment.
This period spanned the years from the courageous and inspirational reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who liberated England from Catholic oppression, until the splendour of Queen Victoria's time; an era that saw the emergence of the greatest empire of all time, the British Empire, as well as the greatest single nation ever, founded on God's law, the United States of America; a period in time when Israel received Abraham's blessings and was truly at its peak.
Identifying this time period as "Sardis" does not add up, because it saw a proliferation of people who walked with God, and so was not a period of spiritual decline or death, as Sardis is depicted in Scripture.
See the page "THE TRUE CHURCH ERAS" for more on this.
7) How can the 20th century have produced the Philadelphia era of God's Church, when during this time both the world and the Church witnessed an enormous decline in moral standards?
Herbert Armstrong permitted his son Garner Ted to have his own disreputable way over a 20 year period, much in the image of the high priest Eli with his sons (I Sam 2:12-22). Apart from short absences whilst disfellowshipped, Garner Ted was retained in the second highest position as "Executive Vice-President" of the Church and Ambassador College, wielding significant power over the entire organisation, including its ministry.
For many years Garner Ted Armstrong was the sole broadcast presenter of the Church and therefore to many people its only public face.
Herbert Armstrong almost died in 1977. Had he died, his son Garner Ted would have been in charge of the Church. How could Herbert Armstrong have allowed such a thing to even be a possibility? Had Garner Ted not been his son, he would never have been retained in the ministry, let alone put in a position where he would be in charge of the ministry!
Did Herbert Armstrong really think this was in the best interest of the people of God?
For this to be the highly praised Philadelphia era, one of the best eras, does not add up.
See the page "THE TRUE CHURCH ERAS" for a logical explanation of this topic.
8) Why has the Church of God in the end time been repeatedly told that the Church prior to HWA's time only had three or four truths, or had simply lost most of God's truth?
A close examination of the writings of earlier Sabbath keeping brethren shows this to be the exact opposite of the truth. The era prior to HWA was one of growth in knowledge through the widespread availability of the Scriptures. People of that era were not distracted by worldly pastimes and pleasures in the way that we are today, and so God and His Word were far more in the forefront of their lives.
These earlier writings reveal close to 40 significant beliefs these people had prior to Herbert Armstrong's time, most of which he actually continued to teach throughout his ministry.
The page "THE END TIME ELIJAH" elaborates further on this.
9) Herbert W Armstrong is held by many to have been "the end-time Elijah" who "restored all things". If he was, and if he did, how could he teach that it is not a transgression of God's law to do business on the Sabbath, i.e. visit restaurants, when this is in direct contradiction to the Word of God, as recorded in Nehemiah 10:28-31 and 13:15-22?
Every prophet sent by God in His history of dealing with man, brought God's rebuke for the transgressions of His law. For a supposed prophet to actually lead people in transgression of the fourth commandment, God's test commandment, is remarkable to say the least.
Please see the page "TEN BROKEN COMMANDMENTS" for more on this crucial subject.
10) If Herbert Armstrong "restored all things", why did he, contrary to New Testament example, install "one man rule" as the form of government in the Church of God?
Jesus Christ appointed 12 apostles, not one. One man rule is the form of government employed by the "great false church". Far from restoring all things, one man rule brought the Church of God to its knees after the death of HWA.
God the Father and Jesus Christ live in perfect harmony as two Beings, not "lording it over" each other like Gentile non-believers (Matt 20:25-28). They work, plan, create and sustain Creation in total accord with each other, as expressed in the mindset of "let us make man in our image".
On the other hand, who wants to govern as sole spiritual ruler, taking all power to himself, lording it over all others? Who has throughout history inspired evil human dictators to do likewise, bringing much pain and misery to so many people? It is Satan the devil.
Read the page "THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD" for a detailed explanation.
11) If Herbert Armstrong "restored all things", meaning all things that the early Church taught, why did he teach and practise baptism "in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit" when the New Testament only records baptisms in the name of the One who died for our sins, Jesus Christ?
For at least a hundred years, significant incriminating information has been available showing that the above mentioned baptismal formula was inserted into Mt 28:19 by believers in the Trinity.
Among the Catholics themselves, contradictory statements are given concerning whether the threefold baptismal formula was used from the outset or introduced later.
In a footnote to Matthew 28:19 in the Jerusalem Bible it says the following: "It may be that this formula, so far as the fullness of its expression is concerned, is a reflection of the liturgical usage established later in the primitive community. It will be remembered that the Acts speak of baptising "in the name of Jesus". But whatever the variation in formula, the underlying reality remains the same" (The Jerusalem Bible, 1966, Page 64 - NT).
The Catholic Encyclopedia, whilst resolute in advocating the Trinitarian formula, can only offer this in regard to the formula used by the apostles and recorded in the Book of Acts: "The most probable opinion, however, seems to be that the terms "in the name of Jesus" (and) "in the name of Christ", either refer to baptism in the faith taught by Christ, or are employed to distinguish Christian baptism from that of John." (See oce.catholic.com, article "Baptism", under the heading "Form").
When the late Australasia and Africa Regional Director of the Philadelphia Church of God, Max Rumler, learned of this truth, he privately told the author of this website:
"Every time I've baptised someone, something in the back of my mind was telling me something was wrong".
The page "BAPTISM INTO THE TRINITY" explains this subject in detail.
12) How can Herbert Armstrong have been the "end time Elijah" when he advocated the Old Covenant practice of circumcising baby boys?
The Oct/Nov 1966 Good News magazine states that "Generally speaking, we urgently recommend circumcision of newborn infants for health and sanitary reasons" ("Are you circumcised? If not, are you breaking Gods law?", page 15-16).
Circumcision was the symbolic ritual by which a male entered into the Old Covenant. The Acts 15 Church conference was held mainly to clarify this issue, and the early Church stopped physical circumcision and instead taught spiritual circumcision only.
In Galatians 5:2-3, The apostle Paul says that a person who allows himself to be circumcised places himself under the Old Covenant and is liable to keep God's law by the letter of the law, not the New Covenant, spirit of the law, administration.
So, do we want our baby boys to live under the Old Covenant?
People are assured that "it's just a matter of hygiene". However, what if someone doesn't clean properly between their toes or behind their ears? Do we cut them off as well? There is nothing wrong or unhygienic with what God created. What He created was, and remains, "good" (Gen 1:31).
This is not "just a matter of hygiene" if it's a practice carried out by religious people who know full well the Scriptural meaning of physical circumcision.
The Old Covenant had physical sacrifices, a physical High Priest who atoned for the people's sins once a year, a physical Temple, physical circumcision etc. The New Covenant has spiritual sacrifices and a spiritual High Priest who made atonement for the people once for all time. The Church is the spiritual Temple and requires spiritual circumcision of the heart.
None of the above mentioned four points: proper Sabbath observance, the correct form of Church government, the correct form of baptism, and the understanding about circumcision add up in connection with an "end time Elijah" who "restored all things", since the Bible clearly shows us what the practices and beliefs of the early Church were in each of these instances.
13) Herbert W Armstrong learned about the keeping of God's Holy Days from the former SDA minister G G Rupert, who believed that he himself was the Elijah prophesied in Malachi 4. After Rupert's death, Herbert Armstrong also began keeping these days and claimed that he was the one who had restored them to the Church. However, if he was restoring a first century practice, why did he not reintroduce the first century method of determining these holy days, which was a calendar based on observation of the moon?
The writings of the Pharisees, known as the Mishnah, written at the end of the second century AD, show in numerous places that the calendar was, even at that time, still kept by observation, not by the much later invention of the "Hebrew Calendar".
In Old and New Testament times, God's Calendar was used, not the Hebrew Calendar.
God's Calendar and the Hebrew Calendar are not the same: the first is determined by observation; the latter is fixed by calculation.
In Emil Shurer's 1890 "A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ" p366 we read "they did not in the time of Jesus Christ possess as yet any fixed calendar" and "they began a new month with the appearing of the new moon".
Arthur Spier, in "The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar" p22, mentions the astounding fact that the Hebrew calendar "causes the Hebrew months to advance against the sun approximately four and a half days in a thousand years". This means that after twenty thousand years of keeping this calendar, the calendar would be 90 days advanced against the sun. The first month of Spring would be in the first month of Summer, and so the calendar would be totally out of alignment with the seasons, contrary to Biblical instruction. This in itself should be proof enough that this is not God's intended method of keeping His calendar. Observation may not always be accurate, but it is self correcting.
If Herbert Armstrong "restored all things", how could he neglect to restore the original method of determining the holy days, which was by observation? This does not add up.
Read more about this on the page "THE CALENDAR OF GOD".
14) One of the most amazing acts of audacity in the Church of God is the end time phenomenon of both Gerald Flurry (PCG) and David Pack (RCG) identifying themselves as "that Prophet", mentioned in John 1:21 and 25 (KJV), and referring back to Deut 18:15. Knowing that Christ warned repeatedly about deceivers coming in His name, and with John 6:14 clearly identifying Jesus Christ as "that Prophet", how can people still go along with such deceptions?
Why are some men so eager to elevate themselves over other men? Why are some men so desperate to turn other men into idols, rather than worship the invisible God?
In the final era of God's Church, many brethren have turned their favourite Church leader, be he dead or alive, into their own personal "golden calf".
Please see "THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD" and "THE MAN OF SIN" for more information.
The following pages of this website will endeavour to make sense of all the topics listed above.