For years there have been several Herbert W. Armstrong “wannabes” in the Church of God. Since his death and the demise of the Worldwide Church of God, these “wannabes” claim God is using them and their organizations to continue taking the gospel to the world.
A fair examination of their efforts, 30 years after Mr. Armstrong’s death should determine if their claims are valid or not.
The scriptural justification for their works over the years hinge on Matthew 24:14.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached (proclaimed) in the all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”
God’s Church has allowed these “wannabes” to successfully convince them to believe Matthew 24:14 is a prophecy, not yet fulfilled. While such claims sound plausible, thorough examination exposes the shallowness of their efforts.
First, consider the scope of God’s work through Mr. Armstrong prior to his death in January 1986.
In 1985, God’s work experienced a phenomenal year as reported in the January 27, 1986 edition of “The Worldwide News.” According to Richard Rice, then Director of Mail Processing, “Records were established by wide margins in nearly every category of mail and phone calls.”
Below is a list of these records.
6.7 million pieces of mail were received, a 37% increase over 1984
most mail received in one month (1.1 million pieces) in December
highest weekend count received (173,000 letters)
Phone calls received
1.1 million phone calls were answered through the Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS) lines, a 42% increase over 1984
78% of calls (855,000) were received in response to the World Tomorrow telecast
highest # of monthly calls (139,000) in December
highest # of calls for a weekend (26,020)
2.1 million new names were added to the address files, a 25.3% increase over the 1.7 million added in 1984
over 27,800 new coworkers were added in 1985, a 12% increase
Literature/letters mailed out
85.9 million publications went out in 1985, a 15.8% increase over 1984
the postal center mailed out 31.2 million publications, a 19% increase
monthly circulation for the Plain Truth was (8.4 million)
monthly circulation for the Good News Magazine was (828,000)
monthly circulation for the Youth 85 magazine was (224,000)
750,000 copies of Mystery of the Ages & 640,000 copies of The United States and Britain in Prophecy were sent out
8.4 million letters from Mr. Armstrong were mailed out in 1985, 1.1 million more than in 1984
2.9 million fall semiannual letters were mailed out, making it the largest single letter mailing in the history of Mr. Armstrong’s work
Note records for monthly mail received and monthly calls received in 1985 were set in December, the month prior to Mr. Armstrong’s death.
TV & radio
This same “Worldwide News” reported the “World Tomorrow Telecast” was the #1 program in terms of markets reached. At the time of his death, Mr. Armstrong could be seen or heard on 382 TV stations and 36 radio stations worldwide. This included cable superstations WOR, New York, WTBS, Atlanta & WGN, Chicago, which reached millions of people throughout the United States on a weekly basis as a witness of God’s soon coming Kingdom.
God’s work of taking the gospel to the world included meeting with numerous world leaders from many countries. These leaders included presidents, prime ministers, kings, queens, princes, princesses, legislators, judges, academicians & accomplished entertainers. Mr. Armstrong recounts the scope of God’s work to world leaders in the 1980 February edition of “The Plain Truth Magazine,” titled “The Good News Goes to China.”
“In thirty-five minutes I shall leave the government's guest "State House" to address 76 ambassadors, their wives .and other government representatives from as many different nations and a number of officials from the People's Republic of China, at the People's Great Hall.”
On this particular evening, Mr. Armstrong addressed over one-third of the world’s ambassadors. Included in this same audience were leaders of one-fourth of the world’s population. Mr. Armstrong shared many close personal friendships with top world leaders around the world while fulfilling Matthew 24:14.
On a visit to China in 1984, Mr. Armstrong met with China’s top leader, Deng Xiaoping.
In the Middle East, Mr. Armstrong established very warm relations with top leaders during a crucial time of successful Middle East peace negotiations.
When serious consideration is given to the scope of God’s work through Mr. Armstrong, these “wannabes” cannot come close in matching what God did through His late apostle.
None of these “wannabes” have seen their works achieve the annual 30% increase in growth Mr. Armstrong experienced during the first 25 years of his ministry. Combined, the annual efforts of these “wannabes” cannot match the work Mr. Armstrong did in 1 month. Nor do they have the close personal relationships with world leaders Mr. Armstrong enjoyed. And they won’t!
Ignoring Mr. Armstrong’s own words
These “wannabes” claim to be very supportive of Mr. Armstrong, by supposedly following in his footsteps. Yet, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the actions of these men demonstrate a serious lack of understanding about the meaning and purpose of Matthew 24:14.
On page 19 of his booklet, “The Plain Truth About Healing,” Mr. Armstrong explains Matthew 24:14 is for “a witness" to all nations only.
“That prophecy is in the pivotal prophecy chapter of the New Testament—Matthew 24. Before I cover what the Bible teaches about healing in both Old and New Testaments, it is vital that the reader understand how that gospel message is today, after 19 centuries, going out into ALL THE WORLD for a WITNESS to all nations—not being proclaimed to all the billions of people in every nation, but proclaimed in all the world—worldwide—so that it becomes a witness to or against every nation.”
It was never God’s intent for the gospel message to be heard by every human being on this earth. Nor was this message intended to bring people into God’s Church. It was not for saving people from Great Tribulation, though people who responded (Mark 1:15) could become members of God’s Church and be protected, if they hold fast to God’s Truth (Rev. 3:10-11).
Christ’s gospel of the kingdom of God was not going out to the world (Rev. 3:1), until God started working through Mr. Armstrong during the early decades of the 20th century. He explains how God’s work grew on page 11 of his 1985 booklet, “Are We in the Last Days?”
“But in January 1934, Jesus Christ began proclaiming through me for the first time in 1,900 years the true gospel of the kingdom of God. It spread coast to coast across the United States and Canada. Nineteen years later, January 1953, that gospel went out on the world’s most powerful radio station, Radio Luxembourg, to all Europe and Britain, and almost immediately after that on other radio stations in Taiwan, Radio Ceylon, Radio Monte Carlo, stations in South America and elsewhere. Soon it was going to Australia, New Zealand and many other parts of the world.”
Today's “wannabes” were just being born or not yet born when Mr. Armstrong started proclaiming the gospel to the world as a witness. For 52 years this gospel message was thundered out in power to the point where Mr. Armstrong could say before his death;
“And now, at last, we can say that gospel has gone into every nation on earth.”
Twice on page 291 of his last book, “Mystery of the Ages,” Mr. Armstrong was very clear in identifying Matthew 24:14 as a fulfilled prophecy.
“These prophecies have now definitely been fulfilled. The true gospel has been restored and has now gone in power into every nation on the face of the earth.”
“The true gospel, for the first time in 1,900 years, has finally been proclaimed and published into all nations of the earth.”
The fulfilling of Matthew 24:14 occurred during the Philadelphia era of God’s Church. When Mr. Armstrong died, this era came to an end and so did the need for proclaiming a witness to the world.
The ministry and brethren of God’s Church are without excuse for not understanding the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. They were specifically told by Mr. Armstrong himself that no one in the ministry was qualified to replace him during an address he gave to leading ministers of God’s Church on February 25, 1981. ("The Worldwide News," March 6, 1981, pg. 12)
“What I've told you today is something, as I said, I would not have said a few years ago. But I look back and I look at the fruits and I see what prophecy says and I see that prophecy has been fulfilled. I wonder if you brethren see it?”
“And brethren, I have to say to you, no one is going to succeed me. God has called me to a job, to a commission.”
“I think that when God lets me die, the thing He's called me for will have been completed, preparing the way for the Second Coming of Christ carrying that Gospel of the Kingdom to the world for a witness to all nations.”
“There is no one in the Church that has the qualifications, the experience that could carry on the work that God has given me to do.”
“Who is there among you who can do it? If you will tell me I would like to know.”
Did any of these “wannabes” point to themselves at the time Mr. Armstrong ask this question? No! They would have been afraid to.
Sadly, the majority of God’s Church today will not accept that Mr. Armstrong completed his commission in taking the gospel to the world as a witness.
In his closing comments to the ministry, Mr. Armstrong specifically stated what their responsibility would be in the event of his death.
“If anything happened to me I would expect the Church to continue right on and the local churches and the local church ministry. But the job God has called me to do is a prophesied job. It has been being done.”
If the “wannabes” of God’s Church desire to do God's work today, then they should quit trying to impersonate Mr. Armstrong, stop scattering God’s people (Ezek. 34:2-5; Acts 20:28-30) and shepherd them (Matt. 24:45-47) as Mr. Armstrong instructed the ministry to do.