Since its inception in 1947, Ambassador College (AC), in conjunction with the Worldwide Church of God (Worldwide Church of God), has published dozens of religiously oriented booklets on a vast number of intriguing subjects. These unique booklets, most of which claimed to bring some “new truth” to light, were primarily responsible for bringing thousands of sincere people into the doctrinal embrace of the Worldwide Church of God. Hundreds of teenagers, including many with previous college experience, decided to attend AC because they had been convinced by AC’s booklets that AC disseminated knowledge no other college in the world taught or even knew of.
In the last few years many of the key booklets that built AC and the Worldwide Church of God have been discontinued-more often than not due to flagrant error-or rewritten and drastically watered down. AC personnel and Worldwide Church of God members were never told why these booklets were dropped or heavily revised. However, Ambassador Report feels the AC student and the Worldwide Church of God member are entitled to know the reasons, which are stated in the following obituaries:
The Proof of the Bible-For years this booklet, along with Does God Exist?, was thoroughly read and studied by all aspiring to become a baptized member of the Worldwide Church of God. Any person who counselled for baptism used to be asked if he believed in and had proved the Bible was definitely God’s word. Those who hadn’t read AC’s booklet on the subject had a difficult time answering the minister’s questions.
Yet in 1972, this fundamental booklet was mysteriously discontinued. The reason? In it Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) dogmatically declared that skeptics could disprove the Bible and God’s very existence if they would go to the Mideast and construct even a small city on the site of New Tyre. In 1969 it was brought to the attention of AC theologians that the area of ancient Tyre was covered by the buildings of Sur and had been for many decades. If you desire to know more about this booklet’s glaring inconsistencies, read the accompanying article titled “Herbert Armstrong ‘Disproves’ the Bible.”
1975 in Prophecy-Of all Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklets, this one is perhaps the most shocking and terrifying one he ever authored. It attempted to graphically portray the terrifying events prophesied in the Bible that he felt would befall mankind between the time he wrote (in the mid-fifties) and Christ’s return-which Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God felt would occur in 1975, if not before.
Each passage in the booklet seemed designed to strike fear into the reader and cause him to “get right with God” quickly-Herbert W. Armstrong’s way, of course. Notice some of the things he declared:
“Most Europeans are becoming distrustful of the United States…. They are thinking more and more about the coming United States of Europe! We Americans, with the British, gave them the idea …. They are going to unite against us!… The stage is all set! All that’s lacking now is the strong leader-the coming Fuehrer! … Probably Germany will lead and dominate the coming United States of Europe” (p. 4).
“That Nazi organization went underground! Their plans for coming back have been proceeding, under cover, since 1945! Already Nazis are in many key positions-in German industry-in German education-in the new German army!.. But this time the Nazis… plan to head and dominate a United States of Europe…. they plan to strike their first blow… on the centers of American industry!… You’ll find this prophesied in Daniel 2 and 7, and more specifically in the 17th chapter of Revelation” (pp. 5-7) (Herbert W. Armstrong’s excessive emphasis removed throughout).
On pages 11, 12, and 13 are pictures of extreme flooding and drought in the U.S. accompanied by alarming statements like this:
“While modern science and industry strive to prepare for us a push-button leisure-luxury-world by 1975, United States Assistant Weather Chief I. R. Tannahill warns us unofficially to really fear ‘the big drought of 1975.’ But the indications of prophecy are that this drought will be even more devastating than he foresees, and that it will strike sooner than 1975-probably between 1965 and 1972!” (p. 10.)
As the booklet progresses, Herbert W. Armstrong reiterates that “the German-dominated European combine will blast our [U.S.] cities and industrial centers with hydrogen bombs” (p. 14). He adds: “And so now God is about to punish!… It’s later than you think!” (p. 18.) Then Herbert W. Armstrong boasts that “these prophecies are as certain as tomorrow’s sun” and proceeds to prophesy: “Millions of lukewarm inactive professing Christians will suffer martyrdom-and that before the anticipated push-button leisure-year of 1975 dawns upon us!” (p. 20.)
To provoke even greater consternation in the reader’s mind and to create a sense of urgency, he concludes: “You have been warned!… You can take this lightly, let it slip from your mind…. If you do, you have now read your fate-and I say to you on authority of God Almighty that it is absolutely sure!” (p. 31.)
As history has shown, Herbert W. Armstrong’s “inspired” warnings supposedly based on divine authority were nothing but the apocalyptic ravings and vain imaginations of a misled, self-styled prophet claiming the authority of God Almighty. But one doesn’t need to fear HWA or his predictions anymore when he claims to speak with God’s authority, according to Deuteronomy 18:22: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him” (RSV).
By 1969 AC officials decided it would be wise to remove the booklet from public scrutiny, realizing Herbert W. Armstrong’s predictions didn’t appear to be panning out. The booklet’s obvious anti-German bias was proving to be an acute and continuing embarrassment to the Armstrongs as they began courting European and German leaders. Furthermore, the booklet set dates for specific events, and these dates appeared to be inaccurate even then.
Though the booklet suffered from a terminal case of typographical diarrhea-Herbert W. Armstrong’s excessive use of italicized and capitalized words used to stress the extreme “importance” of his “inspired” message-the gruesome illustrations were considered by AC officials to be even more distasteful. In view of these liabilities, the booklet was quietly sentenced to death and killed.
If you haven’t yet read this booklet, Ambassador Report urges you to. We can promise you it’ll open your eyes! But whatever you do, you have been warned!
Divorce and Remarriage-How often Herbert W. Armstrong crowed that only the Worldwide Church of God, of all the world’s churches, was fulfilling the last verse of Malachi: turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. A few thinkers long had trouble squaring the boast with statements in this booklet that forced any couple to split apart and live separately if either member had a living former mate and wanted to become a Worldwide Church of God member and inherit eternal life.
In late 1973 AC published Herbert W. Armstrong’s revised edition, incorporating the same adamant stand as the 1953 version but adding a few more erroneous proofs. Because of the controversy that had already been aroused, HWA sent the manuscript to the press, insisting no one be allowed to see it and completely bypassing the normal editorial channels. When the finished booklet appeared, the controversy intensified. During the time of the Worldwide Church of God’s split in early 1974, the booklet was withdrawn by HWA at the urging of Al Portune, Robert Kuhn, and Stan Rader to avert an even bigger crisis.
At the Worldwide Church of God’s ministerial conference in mid-1974, a complete reversal of the previous merciless D&R policy was announced by both Armstrongs. It was heralded as a revelation from God. (Actually, Garner Ted Armstrong [G TA] later confessed in 1976 that he had known this “new truth” on D&R for over 6 years. Also WCG members had previously shown WCG ministers several books that contained essentially what the Armstrongs now claimed was new revelation.) A hastily thrown together study paper was handed to the assembled ministers a few days later. This paper faced for the first time the long-ignored “Pauline permission” of I Corinthians 7 which recognized the validity of divorces obtained by an unconverted person.
For months afterward WCG officials attempted to write a new booklet on the subject, but they were unable to come to a consensus on what the booklet should say and afraid to bring their efforts to Herbert W. Armstrong’s attention. So today, the WCG has no booklet available to the general public explaining its beliefs on divorce and remarriage. More shocking still, in practice, almost anybody who desires is now able to divorce and remarry-with the WCG’s blessing.
But sad to say, Herbert W. Armstrong has offered no real apologies for the thousands of lives that his false and carelessly written teachings on divorce have ruined-not a word of regret for cruelly ripping apart happily married couples that were legitimately married in God’s sight. Rather HWA praised his followers for remaining loyal to him and obeying his teachings rather than the Bible’s.
A True History of the True Church–This booklet by Herman Hoeh, produced by AC in 1959, audaciously proclaimed that the WCG was God’s only true church on earth today and attempted without success to prove it by quoting historical material out of context and trying to fit it into Herbert W. Armstrong’s erroneous understanding of 19-year time cycles, history, and church eras-a colossal church error which even GTA admitted publicly. Most of the booklet’s historical facts were actually lifted from A History of the True Church, a totally unscholarly work by A. N. Dugger and C. O. Dodd, published in 1936.
A few years ago the WCG booklet quietly dropped out of sight, though long-time members everywhere are still under the assumption that the teachings of the booklet are sound and that the booklet proved its erroneous premise: that a single, true, organized, continuous church group, culminating in the WCG, has included all true Christians of all ages, pastored and taught by ministers from an unbroken line of ordinations.
Recently, when quizzed about his father’s “one true church” doctrine, Garner Ted Armstrong confessed to Joseph Hopkins: “I don’t believe that, either… except for the invisible church, the Body of Christ. But it is definitely not necessary to belong to the Worldwide Church of God in order to be saved” (The Armstrong Empire, 1974, p. 246).
Does God Heal Today?-This booklet, published by AC in 1952, was killed in 1968 because the WCG feared law suits and bad publicity as a result of the booklet’s statements urging total reliance on God-to the exclusion of medical authorities-for healing. Meanwhile, WCG brethren still depended on its teachings for divine healing, and many died tragic, heart-rending deaths having complete faith in the booklet, unaware that (1) the WCG was scared to print what they believed was God’s truth for fear of civil authorities and (2) that the booklet’s teachings were not biblically correct.
During times that local authorities might become involved because of nontreatment of a serious illness of a member or a member’s child, ministers were strictly commanded to “keep the church [meaning the Armstrongs] out of trouble,” even if it meant going to hospitals or doctors. But there was seemingly little concern for the unnecessary sufferings of the people involved. A former WCG deacon from New Jersey relates a sad story that further illustrates this point:
“…concerning the WCG policy on healing. Many people suffered needlessly while headquarters personnel took care of themselves. I recall one very grave incident where a young girl was suffering from appendicitis. Many prayers were said for her by members, and visits were made by the ministry for anointing and counseling. In a serious situation like this the counseling would also include a warning that if the child were to die (which she did, it ruptured) to be prepared with a story for the authorities so as not to get the church involved. The church was to be protected at all costs (even lying).”
In the years following the booklet’s withdrawal, several top AC officials and/or their wives had “repair surgery.” News of this “lack of faith” spread quickly on the WCG grapevine, unsettling WCG members who were still being taught that they should depend totally on God for healing, not medical science. By 1973 a number of WCG ministers began seriously questioning the validity of the healing doctrine in view of the fact that so many members who depended on the booklet’s teachings were suffering unduly or dying. They called for meetings to resolve the questions, but nothing came of their pleas.
In 1974 the WCG ministry was told that people could go to doctors and that they didn’t have to depend upon God to heal them unless they had the faith. The WCG gave no biblical reason for this sudden drastic shift in policy, and many ministers and members felt this was heresy. (Eventually this new, radical interpretation helped provoke turmoil and a split in the WCG’s British churches.) In 1974 David Antion and Paul Flatt were put in charge of drafting a new doctrinal paper on healing. When they presented their study paper to a large group of ministers, it was given a favorable reception, but it was soon swept under the carpet (like most doctrinal research was) because it raised serious questions with the WCG’s old booklet on the subject, which Herbert W. Armstrong still believes was inspired and correct, and because HWA was in the process of completing a revision of the old booklet without considering any of the new research papers.
To be continued…