I just wanted to go over a few things with you. Many people call Herbert Armstrong (the initial "W." didn't stand for anything) the "End-time Elijah". He was the prophet and Apostle of the Worldwide Church of God, and thus all of the xCOGs. Even though he himself denied being a prophet, he sure proclaimed more than his fair share of prophetic interpretations and made a few prophecies of his own. But were they accurate?
Many people go to the booklet "1975 In Prophecy" to show he was a false prophet. But there are many excuses a person can make involving that. There is a good chance that wasn't his material; he never said those things were certain; etc, etc. So I decided to see for myself what other things he had said in the past. I went to Herbert-W-Armstrong.org and read their collection of mimeographed Plain Truth magazines. Is there any other evidence of his accuracy, or lack thereof?
Before I start, please read this verse:(DEU. 18: 22)"when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." That's some pretty hefty stuff there! Now, read verse 20 of the same chapter: (DEU. 18: 20) "But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die." Oh. ....
That means this is very serious stuff here. I'm not talking "I think tomorrow it will rain.", or "Christ is coming soon.", or even "This is the end-time." All of those things are some form of telling the future or the other. But God isn't interested in all that. What God is referring to is the person who speaks in His name, claiming to be someone sent by God, perhaps claiming a title of some form, perhaps being a fulfillment of prophecy himself, and this person has a message for you to follow. Unfortunately, Herbert Armstrong fit all of those things.
It is incumbent upon us, as faithful followers of God, to prove all things (ACT. 17: 11; I THS. 5: 21), and to test the spirits (I JOHN 4: 1). If God says that a false prophet is a big deal to Him, it should be a big deal to us. God says, a false prohet must not be feared (respected).
So, what then? If I show you, from Mr. Armstrong's own pen, or even from Garner Ted's as well, will you do what God has set before you to do? Will you accept that Herbert Armstrong wasn't a man who made one mistake in 1975, but has a pattern from the beginning of claiming to know the interpretation of prophecy, yet was in fact being utterly wrong?
Please do not misunderstand me. My goal is not character assassination. I have no quarrel with Herbert Armstrong personally. The reason I post this here is to help those people who are trapped in an xCOG and would like to know if leaving is a possible option. This information helped me greatly. I post it here as a help to people whom Christ loves deeply, not as some seedy act of vengeance. These are the things that helped open my eyes and settle the decades of fear that had built up inside me. I offer it to you in the hopes it will help you.
The following is a summary of what I read in the Plain Truth magazine for the years leading up to and including World War II. I have added a couple things afterwards to show how the prophecies just kept coming. Please read them and form your own opinion.
Note: anything preceded by an asterisk *, or surrounded in braces , is my own comment.
Plain Truth, Feb 1934.
Page 2 – predicts WWII leads immediately to the Day of the Lord; says “The end is here.”
Page 3 – the Great Tribulation was already 3 or 4 years started.
Plain Truth, June-July 1934.
Page 3 – a detailed chart described the Tribulation starting in 1928 and continuing until Jesus’ return in 1936.
Page 4 – “So this is the Tribulation. We have been in the Tribulation since 1929 in the United States, and 1928 in Europe.”
Page 5 – 1936 is when the time of the Gentiles ends, and is the fulfillment of the prophecies of LEV. 26; plus many more details
Page 6 – Mussolini is the leader of the Beast power, reviving the Roman Empire
Page 7 – relates the “Elijah to come” with the Two Witnesses [IMHO, when he later takes that mantle of Elijah to himself, that also elevates him to one of the Two Witnesses]
Plain Truth, Aug 1934.
*This entire edition basically takes the material of Alexander Hyslop, from his book “The Two Babylons” and rehashes it. Giving no credit to Hyslop, of course.
Page 1 – the generation alive at 1934 would be the ones to experience the Beast; “the plagues will soon be poured out”; these things will happen “within a matter of months”
Page 3 – the tenth revival of the Roman Empire was being formed by Mussolini
Page 6 – Mussolini has 5 of the 10 nations united already
Plain Truth, March 1935.
Page 1 – “It [prophetic fulfillment] will occur, and fill thousands of columns of magazine and newspaper space, in all probability within the next three or four months.”
*This was in response to a “major prophetic fulfillment” of 1934: the Dust-bowl. Draught, however, was not what he said would come next.
Page 2 – “The time of God’s wrath --- the last plagues --- is at hand.”; in 1935 the insect prophecies of Joel 1 would be fulfilled; “We face the probability of a food shortage such as has never been known in American history!”; “The present order is Doomed! Its final destruction… is now but a matter of months off!”
Page 3 – Mentions Hitler’s secret weapons: the Stratosphere Rocket, the Z-Ray, the All-Piercing Bullet, the Rotative Gun, and The Strange machine gun; “The last plagues… are all here now!”; “The next war will end at Armageddon! And it may start any hour!”
Page 7 – “…The resurrection must come before the present trouble ends!”
Plain Truth, July 1935.
Page 1 – “Just what is now taking place? It is the collapse of every institution of man.”
Page 2 – still says Mussolini is raising up the Beast
Page 3 – “Every sign in the world today fulfils the prophecies which tell us we have come to the very last days…”; “…This present civilization is about to be overthrown and completely wiped out!”; “The Gentile nations are at the end of their allotted time.”;
The time is at hand.”
Page 4 – goes on more about Mussolini’s Beast; “Mussolini is starting a war that shall end at Armageddon! It is the start of the final world war! It is now starting! Do you realize it? It is starting, now! This war starting now will only end at the second coming of Christ!”
Page 5 – “The Bible foretells every step Mussolini will take in the war now starting against Ethiopia, until he plunges the whole world into war!! This is undoubtedly the beginning of the expected last world war, that culminates at Armageddon!”; claims 6 of 10 nations are under Mussolini’s power
Page 9 – the king of the south is Etheopia
*Please note at this point, civilization is supposed to come to a screeching halt in 1936! I can find no record of the Plain Truth for the year 1936.
Plain Truth, Feb. 1938.
Page 2 – “The ‘beast’ then, stands for this Roman government, or for Mussolini individually, as its head.”; “The title ‘Il Duce’ is derived from the Saxon word ‘duce’, meaning ‘demon’.
*At this point, Mussolini is still the Beast leader.
Plain Truth, March 1938.
Page 1 - The Beast is now Hitler and Nazi Germany
*Without skipping a beat, not one mention nor retraction, Hitler is now the Beast leader.
Page 2 – But here the leaders are shown to give their power to Mussolini, this includes Germany and France
Page 6 – A “likely combination” of European nations that could have made up the Beast is listed. It includes: Germany, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Rumania, and Yugoslavia, Italy is the 11th nation and head.
Plain Truth, Jan. 1939.
Page 1 – 1936 was the end of “the times of the Gentiles”.
Page 2 – [after the time of the Gentiles] “And now what? What is next to occur? World war? No --- not quite yet.”
*WHAT??? I thought the world war was NOW!, and that was in 1935!
Page 3 - “Mussolini soon-appearing re-born Roman Empire is the “Beast” power, and Mussolini undoubtedly is the “Beast”!!; Mussolini will fight Britain
Page 4 – Mussolini will fight Christ, and take Egypt
Page 5 – Mussolini will fight Russia at Armageddon
Plain Truth, Nov. 1939.
Page 1 – “We have been telling our readers consistently that the last prophesied world war --- the war which ends at Armageddon --- will be started by Mussolini (or his successor) and not by Hitler.”; “We have been telling you that the war of 1914-1918 never ended!”
*This wasn’t in the print!
*I give HWA credit here. This magazine contains some of the only admissions of error I can think of from him. “This may not, after all, be the “Armageddon War” at all.”
Page 2 – Stalin will meet the Allied powers at Armageddon.
Page 9 – Still claiming Mussolini is the leader of the Beast
Plain Truth, Jan. 1945.
Claiming Franklin D. Roosevelt might be our last President.
*Sound familiar? It should if you've read Ron Weinland's false prophecies.
Predicts the doom of the United States and Britain, and the failure of the United Nations
Plain Truth, March-April 1946.
Predicts a showdown in Palestine would spell the demise of either the U.S.S.R. or Britain
Plain Truth, April 1956.
Page 3 “Disease Epidemics Threaten USA in 2 Years”
I can only guess what that must have felt like to watch all of those things HWA said were sure all come to naught. I know that Gerald Waterhouse said that if Herbert Armstrong died before the end of the age, the Bible is false. Those are trmendously dangerous things to be teaching.
The reason I find all of this so important that I seem to harp on the idea is that, in his zeal to follow God, there is a possibility that HWA has led people away from God. Dangerously away! I find it is impossible for me to sit idly by and say nothing if I could say something at all and help even one person break free from that yoke of Old Covenant legalism and enjoy the invaluable gift of the New Covenant!