Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Herbert W. Armstrong

Background
Herbert Armstrong was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 31, 1892, into a Quaker family. He regularly attended the services and the Sunday school of First Friends Church in Des Moines. He attended North High School, but never graduated. At age 18, on the advice of an uncle, he decided to take a job in the want-ad department of a Des Moines newspaper, the Daily Capital. His eventual career in the print advertising industry had a strong impact on his future ministry and would shape his communication style.
He later met Loma Dillon, a schoolteacher and distant cousin from nearby Motor, Iowa. They were married on his 25th birthday, July 31, 1917 and they lived in Chicago, Illinois. In May 9, 1918, their first child, Beverly Lucile Armstrong, was born. Due to the flu epidemic, they moved back to Des Moines. Their second child, Dorothy Jane Armstrong, was born on July 7, 1920. By this time Armstrong’s parents had moved to Oregon. In 1924, after a few business setbacks, Armstrong and family moved to join his parents. He reengaged in his passion for the advertising business, although he continued to suffer setbacks.
At some point in his life, Herbert Armstrong started to use the middle initial W., even though he had no middle name. [1]

[edit] Beginnings of Armstrong's ministry
His wife, Loma, became influenced by Ora Runcorn, a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day). This small Sabbatarian church was an offshoot of the larger Seventh-day Adventist Church of William Miller and Ellen G. White. Loma challenged Armstrong that the day of the celebration of the Sabbath on Sunday was not supported by the Bible. As Armstrong’s business was again at a point of failure, he had the time to take up the challenge and began a long study of the Bible to prove his wife wrong. His studies convinced him that his wife was right. This was the starting point where as he regularly studied the Bible, he felt God was opening his mind to “truths” that historical Christian churches had not found or accepted.
In 1927 he was baptized by a Baptist minister and he described the event in his autobiography as a conversion experience. He joined the Church of God (Seventh Day) and he became convinced that this church was the one true church. In the meantime, his two sons, Richard David and Garner Ted, were born in 1928 and 1929 respectively. Garner Ted Armstrong would become a major character in Armstrong’s ministry.
The Oregon Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day) ordained him in the spring of 1931. In 1933 the Church of God (Seventh Day) split into two factions with one branch moving its headquarters to Salem, West Virginia. Armstrong followed this branch and requested his ministerial credentials from them. He continued to lead his local church and his biblical studies continued to reveal to him special unknown doctrines. Eventually in August 1937, the Church of God (Seventh Day) revoked his credentials due to Armstrong’s doctrinal differences. These differences were what made Armstrong unique and gave rise to the accusation that his movement was a “cult” by those outside his church while to his followers, Armstrong was an “Apostle” . For more information on these doctrines, please see the article on Armstrongism. Following this, Armstrong never accepted the Church of God (Seventh Day) again. To the end, he labelled the church as being "dead" identifying it as the church of Sardis mentioned in the third chapter of the Revelation.

[edit] Radio ministry
In October 1933, a radio station, KORE, in Eugene, Oregon, offered free time to Mr. Armstrong for a morning devotional, a 15-minute time slot shared by other local ministers. After positive responses from listeners, the station owner let Armstrong start a new program and on the first Sunday in 1934, the Radio Church of God was born. These broadcasts eventually became the well-known, The World Tomorrow, of the future Worldwide Church of God. Radio stations in other cities (Portland, Salem, Seattle in 1940, Los Angeles in 1942) were recruited to broadcast the program. In February 1934, The Plain Truth magazine began publication. With these two media vehicles, Armstrong began to expand his ministry throughout the West Coast.
From his new contacts in Los Angeles, Armstrong began to realize the potential for the expansion of his media empire. He searched for a suitable location and chose Pasadena, California, as being ideal as it was a conservative residential community. During this time, Armstrong also reflected on starting a college to train people in his growing church. Hence, in 1946 Armstrong moved his headquarters from Eugene to Pasadena and on March 3, 1946, the Radio Church of God was officially incorporated within the state of California. On October 8, 1947, his new college, Ambassador College opened its doors with four students.

[edit] Reaching out to the world
During the 1950s and 1960s, the church continued to expand and the radio program was broadcast in England, Australia, the Philippines, Latin America, and Africa.
In 1952, The World Tomorrow began to air on Radio Luxembourg, making it possible to hear the program throughout much of Europe. The beginning of the European broadcast provides the context of a booklet published in 1956 called 1975 in Prophecy!. In this booklet, Armstrong tied the evolution of his ministry with a prophetic vision of the end of the world and the return of Christ’s rule on earth. Armstrong described his ministry broken into two periods of nineteen years each. The first period covered the time from the start of his Oregon radio ministry to the first broadcast over Radio Luxembourg. The second cycle would end around the beginning of February 1972. After this date, Herbert W. Armstrong believed end-time prophecies could begin to unfold [1]. When end-time prophecies began to be fulfilled, his church were to have fled to a place of safety, usually identified as Petra in Jordan. World War III was predicted to be triggered by a “United States of Europe” led by Germany which would destroy both the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This booklet gives a typical example of Armstrong’s style of writing that he had learnt during his advertising business days with his liberal use of upper case characters and exclamation points. It is also an example of his strong interest in prophecy and in the use of numerology as a tool for prophetic predictions.

[edit] Becoming the Worldwide Church of God
Main article: Worldwide Church of God
In April 1967, Armstrong's wife, Loma, died. On January 5, 1968, Armstrong’s church was renamed the Worldwide Church of God. As the fateful year of 1972 approached and as it appeared that Armstrong’s prophecy would not be fulfilled, scandals rocked the church involving two persons who were considered as potential successors to Armstrong in the leadership of the church. In the end, neither of the two succeeded him.
The first scandal involved his second son, Garner Ted Armstrong. By this time, Garner Ted was the voice and face of the new television version of the World Tomorrow. It was speculated that with his charisma and personality, he was the logical successor to Armstrong. However, in 1972, Time magazine reported that Armstrong had said, without further elaboration, that his son was "in the bonds of Satan" and had been removed from church roles. Speculation was rife that Garner Ted had been committing adultery and gambling. He was reinstated soon after, but his fall from his father’s grace gradually escalated and would lead to him to being excommunicated by his father in 1978. In response Garner Ted started a new church, the Church of God International in Tyler, Texas. Armstrong basically disowned his son and his name was removed from most church publications including Armstrong’s own autobiography where only his birth is mentioned.
The second scandal involved Stanley Rader. Armstrong first met him in 1956 and he was employed as the church accountant. He eventually became a special legal and financial advisor. Through his influence, Armstrong began to reduce his emphasis on prophecy, especially after the non-fulfilment of his 1972 prophecy. Rader helped him to change his image from a church leader to a self-styled “Ambassador for World Peace without portfolio”. Rader guided Armstrong to become more humanitarian, visiting persons around the world to promote peace and love. It was partly the result of Rader's influence that the profile of Ambassador College and its auditorium was raised through the famous Ambassador concert series, which brought top classical and jazz artists to Pasadena. However, the business links and the increased expenditures from Armstrong’s travels abroad brought about a financial scandal in which the state of California put the church under receivership while its accounts were examined. Although the litigation was eventually dropped, the events led to the departure of Rader from the church.

[edit] Remarriage, divorce, and scandals
On April 15, 1977, to the shock of many church members, Armstrong married a woman nearly 50 years his junior, Ramona Martin. She lived in Tucson, Arizona. This shock was not only occasioned by the difference in age, Martin was a divorcee and Armstrong had in the past prohibited church members from marrying divorced people. During the California receivership scandal Armstrong ran the church from Tucson, Arizona. The Worldwide Church of God received special legal dispensation from any outside judicial scrutiny or further civil investigation from the Office of the California Attorney General during this scandal.
In 1980, a former church minister, David Robinson, published allegations that Armstrong had committed incest with his daughter, Dorothy, in the 1930s.[2] The incest had allegedly started when she was thirteen. The church lawyers attempted to halt the publication and distribution of this book. Neither the church nor Armstrong himself denied the allegations.[2] It was also reported in the Ambassador's Report that he took his daughter out dancing on Friday night, a time (the Sabbath) considered to be holy by church goers. When his daughter asked him if he was worried that he would be seen by the church members, Armstrong reportedly laughed it off and said that the church people were dumb sheep who would listen to anything he said (and hence would not be outside on the Sabbath). During the 1997 court trial between the Worldwide Church of God and the Philadelphia Church of God these allegations were brought up. The Worldwide Church of God dismissed them as false allegations spread by a bitter dissident.
In April 1982, Armstrong had his final major scandal when he divorced his second wife, Ramona, in a lengthy, drawn-out legal battle totalling more than 3,000 pages of testimony and documents disputing various aspects of the matter.[3] Upon divorce, Armstrong moved back to Pasadena.

[edit] Final years
Despite the scandals, the church continued to grow, although at its zenith membership peaked at only about 100,000 worldwide. Armstrong continued to travel around the world, even meeting Deng Xiaoping, the leader of China, in 1984.
In August 1985, Armstrong’s final work, Mystery of the Ages, was published. He called it a “synopsis of the Bible in the most plain and understandable language”. It was more-or-less a compendium of Armstrong’s theology. However, this work is treasured by his followers and the publishing copyright would become the source of lawsuits between the Worldwide Church of God and one of its splinter groups.
In September 1985, with his failing health widely known, Armstrong disappeared from public view. Normally he would have appeared at that year’s Feast of Tabernacles, a regularly held church festival. It was the first festival he was unable to attend since the church’s founding.
According to The Worldwide News, Armstrong told his advisory council of his decision to appoint Joseph W. Tkach on January 7, 1986. Only nine days after naming his successor, Armstrong died on January 16, 1986, at the age of 93.

[edit] Notes or footnotes
^ http://www.cogwriter.com/hwaacc.htm
^ John Trechak, Ambassador Report no. 14, see also David Robinson, Herbert Armstrong's tangled web: An insider's view of the Worldwide Church of God, J. Hadden Publishers, 1980

[edit] References
Herbert W. Armstrong, Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Vol. 1
Herbert W. Armstrong, Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Vol. 2
John Trechak, Ambassador Report, June 1976 to April 1999.
Worldwide Church of God, "About Our Founder"

[edit] External links
Herbert W. Armstrong was ahead of his time!
Aaron Dean Remembers Herbert W. Armstrong
An anti-HWA web site.
www.holdfast2allthings.org True Remnant holding fast to HWA teachings, with resources and articles.
Worldwide Church of God official website
Find-A-Grave
www.coghomeschool.org A very detailed archive of his writings.
The Painful Truth website, critical of Herbert W. Armstrong both as a person and the affects of his church on its members.
Living Church of God One of the churches which continue to spread his teachings.
Pabco's Homepage An archive of HWA writings.
Ambassador Report archive, a publication critical of Herbert Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God.
Armstrong Compendium Archive of much of HWA's writings and information concerning the aftermath of his death on the WWCG organization.
Church of God- PKG Offshoot organization dedicated to preaching HWA's views on prophecy. Pastored by Ronald Weinland.
Preceded by:—
Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God1946–1986
Succeeded by:Joseph W. Tkach
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_W._Armstrong"
Categories: 1892 births 1986 deaths Church of God (Armstrong) People from Des Moines, Iowa

1 comment:

darrell said...

The one who wrote this Blog is not based on facts.