Back in September 2008 I posted about the COG Theological Ancestry. I still believe that HWA gained much of what he believed from A. N. Dugger, but I wonder how much he got from G. G. Rupert. Rupert is undeniably a large source of inspiration for HWA. But was he as important as I had previously assumed? It may seem I overestimated Rupert - in at least one area.
I happened across an article on, of all places, the Worldwide Church of God website. I may not be willling to send my tithes in to Joe Jr., but I like his new direction. The WCG has access to material I could only dream of. I would love to spend a month in their archives! And they aren't afraid to apologize for their past.
One manifestation of their guilt is a well written three-part document entitled "Herbert Armstrong and Anglo-Israelism" By Ralph Orr, from 1996. Here is a quote to whet the appetite:
"How did Mr. Armstrong come to believe in Anglo-Israelism? One possible source is G.G. Rupert, a Sabbath-keeper in Oklahoma. In 1915 Rupert convinced A.N. Dugger to allow him to advertise his book The Yellow Peril in The Bible Advocate. Thus it is possible that Herbert Armstrong could have come across Rupert's book in back issues of the Advocate. However, no evidence exists that proves Rupert to be the source for Mr. Armstrong's Anglo-Israelism. Rupert's Anglo-Israelism was not his Anglo-Israelism.
"However, Herbert Armstrong did (perhaps later) become familiar with Rupert's work. Copies of Rupert publications were among Mr. Armstrong's possessions. Rupert's observance of the biblical festivals might have increased his attractiveness to Herbert Armstrong. Still, an examination of Mr. Armstrong's correspondence for the late 1920s proves that his Anglo-Israelite beliefs came from another direction, which we will now discuss."
This study touches on some great topics, such as how HWA came to believe he had a special calling from God. Wouldja believe, it was because some strange woman arrived at his door and asked him to unload some wood? Sounds like a Monty Python skit to me. Strange women, walking around in towns, distributing wood, is no basis for a church government.
"There was no vision. There was no dream. There was no voice. There was only the woman at the door with an offer for him to stack wood, which he concluded was an answer to prayer. That offer to stack wood kept the Armstrongs from starving and enabled him to continue to write. This was all it took to convince him that he had a unique calling — a God-ordained commission to shout the Third Angel's Message to the world."
This is it, ladies and gentlemen. This is what Armstrongism is based on - wood stacking.
Whenever the topic of HWA's flaws is brought up among his followers, inevitably there is this response: "If King David were alive today, would you reject him for his flaws too?" Answer: if King David were alive today he would be speaking with God via legitimate prophets, with signs and other wonders, and not relying on a hunch and an old woman with wood. If only it were true that he spent hours studying the Bible and praying on his knees and God revealed the truth to him. Yet that isn't so. I can demonstrate quite easily how his theologies grew and changed over the years (remember church government, Pentecost, D&R, etc?). There was no great revelation. It really, truly, incredibly boils down to a woman and a pile of wood. Hundreds of thousands of people call him an apostle because of this.
The most important thing to understanding Armstrongism is British-Isralism. That was what HWA was on about in those formative years. The false doctrine of British-Israelism is key to understanding Herbert Armstrong. It is the main reason the WCG split from the COG7. This study is incredibly informative on many fronts, but especially on how HWA came to accept British-Israelism. I highly recommend it!
One bad thing is that navigating the website is clunky. The WCG needs to revise the site. I think the study used to be in 5 parts, because the links are numbered incorrectly. On the bottom of the second page, after the list of references, is a link to the next section. It says it takes you to part 5. Ignore the incorrect numbering and just click the link. Even the naming of the html pages is totally incorrect.
If it makes things easier, I will link to the three parts here for you.