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The Three Worst Errors of Armstrongism

Happy New Year ALL!!! May 2007 be a prosperous year in all aspects of your life! Here's an old post written in the previous version of Mark Tabladillo's Jesus Loves Fellowship in 2000 where Mark's friend discusses the three worst errors of Armstrongism in a brief essay. Enjoy your read!


Jesus Loves Fellowship (Heb. 10:24-25)

The Three Worst Errors of Armstrongism
Thursday, 24-Aug-2000 02:00:05 writes:

(Introduction by MarkTab: Ed Strickland is an old friend from WCGNET and WCGFORUM, maybe XFORUM too -- and he recently circulated this posting about his being more involved in his evangelical church -- I believe he would appreciate your feedback if you want to send him email, and it may make good discussion here because it is a response to a church as part of an evaluation for his teaching ability. If I remember correctly, I believe he got a Master's degree in a seminary in the Orlando or Tampa area.)

Hi all,

The other day I had a meeting with a one of the pastors at Northland Community Church, the church my wife, Mary, and I joined in May. The meeting was to discuss opportunities for ministry there at Northland. It looks like the Lord may open a way for me to be involved in teaching and writing there. I'd appreciate your prayers in that regard.

One thing the pastor asked me to do was to write an essay on what I considered to be three to five of the most dangerous errors of Armstrongism. The purpose was to show him my writing skills and my theological understanding.

I thought some might like to read the essay I wrote for him. So here it is below.

The Three Worst Errors of Armstrongism

Of the many false teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), the most dangerous errors would have to be those teachings that either contradicts or seriously compromise the essential truths of the Christian faith, which could effect one's eternal destiny. These most basic truths involve the nature of God, the person and work of Christ, and the means of salvation.

The following three errors are in these areas, and are at the heart of HWA's false "gospel". In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul warned of those who would come with a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different spirit. This fits the theology of the old Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong. It's been said that just about every heresy or false teaching begins with a misconception of the nature of God. This is demonstrated in Armstrong's theology. HWA flatly denied the Trinity and taught that God is a family, currently composed of two beings, the Father and the Son. He taught that the Holy Spirit was not the third Person in the Godhead, but rather only the impersonal power of God. He did teach that Christ always existed, but then it gets a
little muddled. When his teaching about God is analyzed, his confusion on this doctrine is shown. At times it sounded like Binitarianism (two persons in one) and sometimes Ditheism (two totally separate gods, a form of polytheism),But the point is that HWA rejected the true Triune God of the Bible. This is a dangerous error, because 1) it is idolatry to have an unbiblical view of God, and 2) to be in error about God's revelation of himself leads to other serious doctrinal errors.

A second major error of Armstrongism is his "gospel". Armstrong claimed that the WCG was the only true church,the only church that knew who and what God is, and the only church that preached the true Gospel. That gospel was what he called "the Good News of the coming kingdom of God". But what he meant by "kingdom of God" was different from what Jesus and the apostles meant. Often biblical terms would be used but with HWA's own meaning.
His "kingdom of God" was the ruling God family into which Christians (WCG members) can be born. He gave thenew birth his own twist. In the gospel according to Armstrong, nobody is born again now, except Jesus. At conversion, the Christian is only begotten as a embryo in the womb of the church, where he grows, finally to be born again at the resurrection. This meant that the kingdom for us is only in the future at Christ's return, and not a present reality. HWA taught that at the second coming of Christ, those resurrected would become literal members of the God family, actually becoming God.

This "gospel" focused on the future time when the enlarged God family would rule the earth during the millennium,and then the universe. The focus of Armstrong's gospel was not the person of Christ, his life, death and resurrection.. He called that a false gospel that all the other churches preached. HWA did believe and teach these things about Christ, but that was not what he said the gospel was. The Armstrong gospel is a dangerous error because 1) minimizes the importance of Jesus Christ and his redemptive work as the center of the Gospel, 2) it elevates man presenting man's ultimate state as being God, which is utterly blasphemous, and 3) since it is a false gospel, it cannot save. Only the true Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.

A third major error of Armstrongism is its answer to the important question of what must I do to be saved. Although HWA tried many times to sound orthodox by quoting passages like Eph. 2:8 and saying one is saved by grace through faith, he went on to add the law and works as identifying signs of a true Christian. This was a kind of a "covenantal nomism", the idea that keeping certain laws are a sign of being a part of the true covenant people of God. It was Christ plus Moses. Armstrong confused the old and new covenants by bringing over laws God gave to
Israel and making them binding on Christians. Specifically, he taught that observing the seventh-day Sabbath, the annual feast days and the dietary laws are still required, He also implemented a triple tithing system in the WCG. This addition of the Old Covenant laws to Christ for salvation has been called "A New Galatianism". The Christians at Galatia had been taught the Gospel of grace by Paul. But later some Jewish missionaries came along and told them that it's great that they had received Christ as Savior and Lord, but that wasn't enough. They needed to add the law to Christ. This is what Armstrong did.

The reason this error is so dangerous is that it presents a false way of salvation. When we add to Christ and his work on the cross, we really subtract Christ himself and his grace. Even though HWA would give lip service to salvation by grace through faith, his brand of covenantal nomism easily degenerated into a crass legalism, with the idea of having to "qualify" for one's salvation through law-keeping and building character. There is only one way to be saved. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ and his righteousness alone imputed to us.

These are only some of the errors of Armstrongism, but I believe they are the worst ones because they substitute a false God and a false gospel for the truth of scripture, thereby perverting the Word of God and failing to give the right answer to man's greatest need, that of eternal salvation.

Ed Strickland
Orlando, Florida

Ed Srickland (posted by MarkTab)

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