The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

Examining Herbert W. Armstrong and his Teachings with an Open Mind and Bible

(He always said, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible!")

By "Whistler"

This writing is directed toward those sincere, well-meaning members of the offshoot churches of the Worldwide Church of God, who refuse to abandon the "truth once delivered," supposedly most recently delivered through Herbert Armstrong. This is not written in a spirit of meanness nor in an attempt to assassinate character, but in love and with a deep concern for the welfare of those who have chosen to follow Herbert Armstrong's teachings. As a former devoted and whole-hearted follower of Mr. Armstrong for many, many years, but one who has in recent years, through much research and study uncovered many unsettling facts, I am driven by the command given us in Ephesians 5:11-13:

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are EXPOSED are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light."

I thoroughly understand your desire to please God and to hold on to those things that appear to be precious truths that a "blinded" world apparently is unable to discern. However, the Bible warns us that there will arise those from time to time who will produce the "unfruitful works of darkness," and that those evil and deceitful works need to be exposed for what they are. Any time you have a new religious leader popping up on the scene proclaiming new and extra-biblical "facts," that have been "hidden" for centuries, and claiming to be used of God in a way that no other person in the past has been used, that person is a PRIME candidate to have his "fruits" examined. Let's take a closer look at Herbert Armstrong to see if his fruits and teachings can bear up under scrutiny in the light of day. I think it will become apparent that Armstrong was FAR from being the great moral and spiritual leader and bearer of truth that he appeared to be.

Just as it was impossible to forever hide Garner Ted Armstrong's true character (it's been all caught on video, so that even his most ardent supporters must at times feel like giving themselves a dope-slap), so it has become increasingly hard to deny the facts regarding Herbert Armstrong that are appearing on the internet, etc. These facts can be attested to by hundreds of former Worldwide Church of God ministers and members from the 70's and 80's. Some have written books, others have written heart-rending resignation letters explaining the cover-ups occurring, or made tapes to explain why they were disfellowshipped without being given a chance to reply to charges (such as David Robinson, Jack Kessler, Marion McNair, Charles Hunting, Richard Plache, David Antion, etc.). If it is true, as the Bible states, that a man can be convicted on the testimony of three witnesses, there exists more than enough testimony and witnesses to establish the true character of Mr. Armstrong.

Many higher-level ministers, who are still employed in the Worldwide Church of God and its offshoots, know of these facts. Ask your local pastor about their veracity. If he was one of those in the know, watch him grow very uncomfortable as he tries to give you an answer that won't be too upsetting! His answer will probably include the standard comparison that King David committed adultery AND murder and was still a man after God's own heart, and that hopefully Armstrong repented. (But then, David didn't set himself up as a spiritual advisor, nor did he continually repeat his sins after he OPENLY admitted them and repented, did he?) Also, be prepared to be informed that "character doesn't matter - it's the MESSAGE," whereas formerly, character was everything!

These truths are getting harder and harder to suppress. The wider availability and use of the internet has given the general public much greater access to research resources, such as Ambassador Report Publications and to valuable web sites such as David Covington's webpage and this site, "The Painful Truth". Of course, one still has to do careful research to separate fact from fiction, as you cannot assume everything found on all sites is true, but much that can be proven is brought to light through these sites and the links they recommend.

The disgusting details of Herbert Armstrong's 10-year incestuous relationship with his daughter Dorothy - which occurred even as he received "new truth" from God and was establishing the 1st "true church" in 18 1/2 centuries, the misuse of 3rd tithe for jet fuel and the refurbishing of top minister's homes, his plagiarizing of other's articles, the firing and disfellowshipping of loyal ministers without even a hearing, etc., are now being laid bare on the internet before the world. It's embarrassing - but just maybe we deserved it. We allowed a man to become our authority in place of God. Jesus Christ worked awfully hard and suffered greatly to remove the need for a physical priesthood; the "veil was rent," and so each Christian has direct access to God .

But the HWA approach was to resurrect the priesthood and insert it between God and the Christian. He particularly liked to remind us that we were just "so much stinking rotten garbage in God's sight, unworthy to even draw breath." We dared not rely on our own minds or instincts, as they were inherently evil and not to be trusted. Armstrong convinced us that we couldn't trust other churches, or friends or relatives - no one but him - as he understood God's will better than anyone alive. This type of teaching, although great for keeping followers in line, and complaints to a minimum, is deadly to normal, healthy self-esteem. This teaching had the effect, over a period of time, of destabilizing the minds of his followers, and in many, many instances it laid the ground work for problems ranging anywhere from mild anxiety to full-blown psychotic behavior. It can well be summarized in the following descriptive paragraph:

The membership never feels completely confident in their salvation, but is always left feeling slightly in doubt. They must continually "give more and do more" or risk losing salvation. They feel that God is watching for them to slip up, and is always planning for their next big "test." They believe that God is continually "sifting" them, and looking for weaknesses in their armor. Mentally, they are always in the "gun lap" and find they can't relax. Joy seems elusive. Often, members become quiet, submissive, guilt-ridden, non-thinking, non-creative, depressed, alcoholic, anxious, withdrawn, self-conscious, hopeless, aimless, and have nothing to look forward to in life but the dream outlined by the leaders about the wonderful world tomorrow, which is usually depicted as "just around the corner." They are not enjoying "the peace that passes all understanding" but have become mentally frozen in their religion rendered unable to function, and yet unable to leave. They are experiencing cultic control or "fear religion " at its best (or worst).

Herbert Armstrong was able to establish authority over us by showing us "new truths," - one being that we were still under the Old Covenant - the New Covenant would not be established until our marriage to the Lamb. Never mind that Hebrews 8:13 tells us: "In that He says, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. Now what is obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (which it did when the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.)

Years later, we were instructed that even if the Old Covenant had been made obsolete, it would have no affect on the Ten Commandments, as these laws have existed from the time of Adam, and therefore were NOT PART of the Old Covenant. Too bad we didn't take the time to do a little research - we might have stumbled across Exodus 34:28, which tells us, "So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the TABLETS the words of the COVENANT, the TEN COMMANDMENTS." And we might have even read Deuteronomy 4:13, which tells us: "And He declared unto you HIS COVENANT, which he commanded you to perform, even TEN COMMANDMENTS; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone."

And chapter 5:3 further verifies that "the Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us." If we had done a little outside reading, we might have realized that following the Ten Commandments strictly doesn't bring righteousness - for one can follow them to the letter and be "blameless," even if we HATE our neighbor. Therefore, obviously, there is a higher law of God (see the excellent article "The Truth about Law" at:

We were led to believe that Armstrong had more of God's Holy Spirit than anyone on earth and understood prophecy as no one else did. To quote Roderick C. Meredith in "The Inside Story of The World Tomorrow Broadcast," (p. 17): "This is the ONLY Work on earth that really understands . . . the specific meaning of present-day world events, and the EXACT TIME SCHEDULE OF PROPHECY!" This, in spite of over 40 failed prophecies since 1934, including the 1972 disaster ( Herbert W. Armstrong said it was not his fault God had to give us more time, as we didn't "sacrifice" enough to get the work done)!

We were told that "getting the work done" - our calling - was to pray, pay, and obey so that God's "true church" could get out to all nations the gospel of the coming tribulation and Christ's imminent return. However, nowhere does the Bible say this is our "work." Christ himself states in John 6:29, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

Armstrong loved to quote Matthew 24:14 in support of our commission - "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." He told us this was the reason we were called - to back him up in the spreading of this gospel. Somehow he never got around to explaining why an angel had the same commission. Rev 14:6 tells us "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth - to every nation, tribe, tongue and people - " Thus the above prophecy is fulfilled by an angel, with no mention of us humans being absolutely necessary for its fulfillment. (See Matthew 28 for our commission.)

We believed he was an "apostle" - not realizing that to qualify, one must have been taught directly by Christ. We would have done well to consider the words of Rev. 2:2: "I know . . how you can not bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who SAY THEY ARE APOSTLES AND ARE NOT, and have found them liars.."

And nowhere does the Bible tell us that the gospel is the proclaiming of the coming tribulation and the imminent return of Christ. The heart of the gospel is not built on prophecy, no matter how attention-grabbing that prophecy might be, but deals directly with Christ and the "good news" of the salvation his death has assured us upon repentance and faith. Our being prepared for Christ's return and entering his kingdom all hinges upon what we do in the here and now.

Speculating on when Christ will return, what the tribulation holds in store, or what our final reward will be like may be interesting, but it is not the gospel - and can actually detract from the joy and peace brought by the gospel if it becomes a source of worry and fear. Herbert Armstrong, hopefully unknowingly, taught us "another gospel," which the Bible warns against time and again. A study of all the uses of the word "gospel" in the Bible will verify the subject of the true gospel. (See especially I Corinthians 1:17-18 and 15:1-20)

God holds us accountable for whom we follow and what we believe. He has given us the ability to think, examine, research, study and read opposing views before coming to a final decision (this was frowned upon by Herbert W. Armstrong as allowing Satan into our minds). God has instructed us to "trust no man" but to prove ALL things as the Bereans did . . . to be careful no one deceives us. We overly trusted one man and only studied his chosen scriptures and believed his interpretations. We built upon sand, and now it is starting to wash away. (Could this explain why there have been over 100 church split-offs since 1970? When the foundation is faulty, nothing with any real stability can be built upon it!) Why is it that we can see everyone else's deception but our own? I guess that's the very DEFINITION of deception!

My prayer is that those of you who are still clinging to Armstrongism will take the time to examine these issues (this may involve doing some further intensive research - with an open and prayerful mind), for your own sake and that of your family. After all, the scriptures do admonish us that "he who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him" (Prov 18:13). Maybe, just maybe we've been mired in folly and deception long enough!



If you have anything you would like to
submit to this site, or any comments,
email me at:
Send Me Email

Back to "Painful Truth" menu.



The content of this site, including but not limited to the text and images herein and their arrangement, are copyright 1997-2002 by The Painful Truth All rights reserved.

Do not duplicate, copy or redistribute in any form without the prior written consent.