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Hate, Worship, Honor?

What reaction do you have when you hear the name Herbert W. Armstrong? For many, the reaction is “Who?”, because a majority of people have never heard of Mr. Armstrong. However, for those who have been associated with God’s Church over the years, there are generally three reactions people have: hate, worship or honor.

On the 37th anniversary of his death, it is important to look at these reactions and understand the reasons behind them.


A very strong reaction to Mr. Armstrong is one of hate. This reaction is clearly illustrated on the Banned by HWA website.

A read through this website shows the inability of people to understand what God’s Word says. Mr. Armstrong never once twisted the arms of his listeners to read his material, nor did he solicit people to become members of God’s Church. In fact, he offered his material “free of charge” and issued this challenge to those who received it, “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible.”

Over the course of Mr. Armstrong’s life, people made voluntary choices to associate with Mr. Armstrong and the work God was doing through him. When situations arose that didn’t go a person’s way, Mr. Armstrong was the fall guy for their troubles. Hence, the title of the website “Banned by HWA.”

Paul accurately describes those who post on Banned by HWA as people who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was (II Tim. 3:7-9).


Another reaction to Mr. Armstrong is one of worship. These people hold Mr. Armstrong in high esteem and believe that his teachings are not subject to change. They believe any changes to what Mr. Armstrong taught makes one an apostate to God’s Truth. This type of thinking elevates Mr. Armstrong on a pedestal he would certainly reject being put on.

The Church of God, Scatter Faithful is one such organization that demonstrates this type of mindset. Notice the following statement from its website.

“Church of God-Scattered Faithful is not like the scores of other “corporate” Church of God organizations. We do not have the authority to change any doctrine, restored truth, or judgment instituted (by Christ), through God’s end-time apostle – Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong! Neither do the others! PERIOD!” 

This position does not reflect Mr. Armstrong’s perspective concerning the spiritual growth and development God’s Church needs to make.

Mr. Armstrong was adamant that God’s Church must be a church that continues to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (II Pet. 3:18). He also explained that when God’s Church was found to be in error, the error must be acknowledged and immediately corrected.

Mr. Armstrong demonstrated this approach in his decisions concerning divorce and remarriage and the correct day for keeping the Feast of Pentecost.

The position of COGSF does not allow for the necessary spiritual growth and development of God’s Church. Few seem to comprehend that Mr. Armstrong, like those who came before him (Dan. 12:8, Matt. 13:16-17), only had partial understanding of God’s plan. There is much concerning end-time events that God did not reveal to Mr. Armstrong. This knowledge could only be understood after his death prior to the return of Jesus Christ (Dan. 12:9).


The last reaction is one of honor. Christ said in John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

Mr. Armstrong was a servant of Christ and should be honored as such. Those who honor God’s servants will be honored by God the Father.

People within God’s Church have no problem honoring the writings of men God used to compose the Bible. And yet, when it comes to Mr. Armstrong, people twist and contort themselves in vehement opposition to his straight-forward biblical teaching.

Mr. Armstrong never claimed to be perfect and admitted to being prone to mistakes. He was no different than any other man God has used for His work in the past, the only exception being Jesus Christ. All of God’s servants had their strengths and weaknesses, but all shared a deep commitment of obedience to what God said.

The Bible identifies a group of people in the end-times who do honor Mr. Armstrong’s work by holding fast to God's truth and growing in it. This is the remnant of the Philadelphia era living through the final era of Laodicea.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown (Rev. 3:7a, 10-11).”

Notice that Christ gives this same admonition a second time at the end of the Book of Revelation.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work (Rev 22:12).”

Reasons for Reactions

So, what is your reaction to Herbert W. Armstrong?

January 16th, 2023 will mark the 37th anniversary of Mr. Armstrong’s death. It helps to understand people’s reactions by understanding events that have happened in God’s Church over the past 37 years.

First, one must understand that Christ’s prophecy in Matt. 24:14 was fulfilled upon Mr. Armstrong’s death.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached (proclaimed) in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”

In God’s Church today, multiple COG organizations want people to believe they are continuing to take the gospel to the world. This is simply not true.

Mr. Armstrong made it very clear this responsibility was given to him in his 1985 booklet, “Are We in the Last Days?”, pgs. 9 & 11.

“Mark this well. That gospel was not proclaimed to the world for 1,900 years. To this very day, nearly all churches and evangelists preach their own gospel ABOUT Christ, but not the gospel OF Christ about the coming kingdom of God to rule the world.”

“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.”

“And now, at last, we can say that gospel has gone into every nation on earth.”

Notice how Christ describes the final era of God’s Church and ask yourself, “Is this a group of people capable of taking the gospel to the world?”

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth (Rev. 3:14a, 15-16).”

Can Christ use a group of people whose spiritual condition makes Him sick to His stomach?

No!!! He cannot!!! And No!!! He will not!!!

Christ goes on in verse 17 to describe the arrogant attitude of this current era right before His second Coming.

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked—”

Those who think God will use this final era of His Church to continue taking the gospel to the world are sadly mistaken. People with this perspective are truly “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” This view causes one to lose sight of the work God did through his late apostle, Mr. Armstrong, during the Philadelphia era and what God’s work is after his death.

The second event to happen is the prophesied “falling away.”

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, (II Thes. 2:3).”

The falling away is an apostasy or rejection of God’s Truth. This explains some of the hatred evidenced toward Mr. Armstrong.

Paul witnessed a falling away in God’s Church during the 1st century, which he described in II Tim. 1:13-15.

“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing, which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who (which) dwells in us. This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.”

This falling away to occur before Christ’s second Coming is the result of false teachers who rejected the restored truth of God’s Word and influenced the brethren with their false teachings.

Notice a blatant example of this by the late Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God, Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. Mr. Tkach discredits the keeping of God’s Sabbath in his Personal from the January 24 1995 edition of The Worldwide News.

“At creation God rested on the seventh day and sanctified it. But we also need to understand that at creation God gave no command to human beings regarding keeping the day as a Sabbath. The day is not called the Sabbath at creation; it is called the seventh day.”

“There is no commandment regarding the Sabbath until after the Exodus. The Sabbath commandment is based on God's rest in the creation account, but there is simply no biblical teaching that a Sabbath commandment existed before God formed a relationship with the Israelites, a relationship codified at Mt. Sinai.”

Unlike Mr. Tkach, God understood and used the "seventh day" and the "Sabbath" as synonymous terms to describe the period of time He established when recreating the earth."

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Joseph Tkach, Sr. and his administration bear the responsibility for the prophesied falling away through their undermining of God’s Truth, which God used Mr. Armstrong to restore back into His Church (Matt. 17:11).

The impact of the “falling away” has led to a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD (Amos 8:11).”

When God’s Truth is undermined, people lose respect for God’s Word and refuse to listen to it. This is the condition one finds throughout most of God’s Church today and something Jude warned about 2,000 years ago.

“These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”

Jude is speaking of the condition of God’s Church prior to the start of the Days of Vengeance (Luke 21:22).

If one takes an honest look at God’s Church today, division is exactly what you’ll find. The ministry is responsible for this division, which has divided God’s people for their own personal benefit. This has led to hardened attitudes that make it difficult for people to admit error. This plays a part in why people have the reactions they have toward Mr. Armstrong.

Christ’s Message to God’s Church

The ministry is not delivering Christ’s message for the Church today. That message is found in Revelation 3:18-19.

“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be[come] zealous and repent.”

This world is on its last leg as Mr. Armstrong warned it would be. In conjunction with these times, God’s Church has failed to learn the lessons of history and has allowed itself to become lukewarm and indifferent to God’s Truth.

As the world stands on the threshold of great tribulation, both the world and God’s Church have rejected God’s message to repent.

Your reaction to Mr. Armstrong and the message God sent through him is key to understanding the times you are living in.

So what is your reaction? Is it one of hate, worship or honor?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Suggested further reading:

Restored Truth Bible Study - #5 - Purpose of God


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