Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Painful Truth.
“How are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish
it not in the streets of Ashkelon; lest the daughters of
the Philistines rejoice . . . How are the mighty fallen in
the midst of the battle!” (I Sam.1:19-25)
“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the
Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
For many years I have remained silent. I have said nothing. But
about ten years ago, after 30 years as a member of the Worldwide
Church of God, things came up that propelled me to expose the
plain truth. The incredible TRUTH about Herbert and Garner Ted
Armstrong would make the Jim and Tammy Baker scandal seem
like small potatoes by comparison. Since that time, new scandals .
have arisen, causing this “problem” to explode onto the scene once
again. In this up-to-date article, you will read things never put in the
“official” autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong. Prepare yourself
to be shocked — staggered — and utterly dumfounded!
William F. Dankenbring
My connection with the Worldwide Church of God began in 1956, when I first heard the “World Tomorrow” program on radio station KVI, 590 on the dial, at 10:30 p.m. in the evenings, while living in Seattle, Washington. I was a high school student at the time, and became a member of the Church after being contacted by a minister, Jimmy Friddle, the following year. In 1959 I became a freshman student at Ambassador College, the Church’s “West Point,” and graduated in 1963. I worked in the Letter Answering Department upon graduation full time, and then began writing articles for the Church magazines in 1965.
I remained a faithful employee of the Church and “the Work,” as we called it, until 1974, when a crisis of believability struck the Church, and reports began to surface of serious wrong-doing on the part of Garner Ted Armstrong, and a cover-up perpetrated by his father, Herbert W. Armstrong. At that time, in a massive “budget cut,” I was terminated from employment in the Church’s editorial division, along with several others. Hurt and depressed by the sad spiritual condition in the Church at that time, I began publishing religious books, an area the Church seemed to have no interest in — books to “keep alive” the truth of God.
I remained a member of the Church until precisely one year after the death of Herbert Armstrong in January 1986. At that time, Joseph Tkach, the new leader of the Church, decided he had had enough of my independent publishing work, and had me “disfellowshipped from the Church.” It was January, 1987. I was permitted no opportunity to defend myself, or to meet with a council of ministers — my fate had been decided, I was accused of rebellion and being a “false prophet,” and simply informed I was “suspended” one week, disfellowshipped the next, and “marked” the third week!
Then on Thursday evening, December 3, 1987, a strange thing happened. Joe sent a messenger to my home. He told me that Joe wanted me to know that Joe himself had not written a particular article which had appeared in the Pastor General’s Report in 1982 which been very defamatory and critical of me and my book publishing company, called Triumph Publishing.
In fact, Joe’s messenger said, it was Herbert Armstrong himself who had authored the article, dictating it to Aaron Dean, his personal secretary. According to Joe Tkach, Herbert Armstrong was furious at the fact that in the preface of Overcoming Satan, a book I had published in 1981, I wrote a short “In Deepest Appreciation” column in which I expressed my “deepest gratitude, heart-felt appreciation, and warmest thanks” to Herbert W. Armstrong — “the most dynamic man I have ever known.”
In January 1982, 1 had sent a copy of this book to Aaron Dean, asking him to show them to Herbert Armstrong, with a letter I sent to him. I was seeking to renew my acquaintance with the apostle over the Church of God, whom I had not spoken with personally in over 15 years. I was expressing my support for the Church, the Work, and my 100 percent backing for his attempt to “get the Church back on the track.” At the same time, I was trying to help him understand about the vital books I was publishing under Triumph Publishing Company.
But the messenger from Joseph Tkach said that when Herbert Armstrong, who was about 90 years of age at the time, read that short column in my book he went into a rage and told him to disfellowship me, for I was using his name to make money and sell books! The messenger from Joe said that Joe at the time flatly refused and told Herbert Armstrong he wouldn’t do it. And so the matter ended, except Herbert Armstrong dictated — Joe Tkach said — the slanderous diatribe which then appeared in the Pastor General’s Report in April 1982. Even Joe Tkach, supposedly, could not stop its publication when the “apostle general” issued such an article.
When I heard this news, it at first made me feel satisfied, on the one hand, if it were true, that Joseph Tkach was not responsible for the attack on me in 1982. Rather, his messenger said, he supposedly attempted to defend me three separate times when Herbert Armstrong wanted to disfellowship me. But was it really true? If so, why hadn’t he told me any of these things at the time? Why was I left in the dark for five years? Or were these just self-serving lies concocted by Joe Tkach to make me think well of him after he had disfellowshipped me from the Church?
About that time, I checked an “Index to Church Literature” which was kept in the Ambassador College Library, and found a list of all the articles I had written while in the employ of the Church in the 1960’s and 70’s — about a hundred articles and booklets. Then I saw a reference to the article in the Pastor General’s Report which had attacked Triumph Publishing Company and accused me of “merchandising the brethren.” And guess what I discovered? Listed as the AUTHOR of the nasty little diatribe against me was the name of none other than JOSEPH W. TKACH! Not the name of Herbert W. Armstrong! Was this just a case of Joe trying to transfer blame from himself to Herbert Armstrong? Apparently so!
I had been a member of the Church since 1957. Since 1974 I had published the truth of God, independently, as God made the means available, and during the following 12 years I published 19 books — surely a miracle of God! When I left the Church employment I had nothing but a few thousand dollars severance pay and a typewriter — no organization, no support, no salesmen, no promoters. Even the Church offered no help whatsoever, despite the quality and usefulness of the books I was publishing. Although the Church never condemned the books, it never praised them either. The attitude over the years seemed to be to “damn with faint praise,” as the old Navy expression has it. There seemed to be an air of jealousy over my book writing and publishing on the part of the leadership of the Church. Nevertheless, I remained a member until Joe Tkach himself had me “disfellowshipped” based on trumped up charges in 1987.
Looking back on that visit from Joseph Tkach’s emissary, it seems that even then Tkach must have had a very negative attitude toward Herbert Armstrong, the man who had allegedly ‘hand-picked” him to be his successor over the Church. Over the years, I had come to learn many unhappy truths about Herbert Armstrong myself — disillusionment had set in with many of his teachings in 1974 — and his cover-up of his son’s sins orchestrated by Herbert Armstrong at that time. The truth was depressing, and it took me years to climb out of that giant cloud of depression. What was the truth about this mysterious man? How did he become a
religious teacher and minister? What were his original motives? What were the facts about his life-style? And what about his son, Garner Ted Armstrong? What is the true story about these men?
It’s time the facts were known.
The Mystery of Herbert W. Armstrong
So many today seem to almost worship the memory of Herbert Armstrong. Since his death on January 16, 1986, Joseph Tkach has taken the Worldwide Church of God in the completely opposite direction, and revoked and changed ALL the basic teachings of the Church. He himself has proven to be a Judas Iscariot – a modern day “son of perdition.” Yet the question remains — why did Herbert Armstrong ever appoint this man as an “evangelist” in the Church during his later years? Why did he appoint him to be his “successor” when he died? Why did he put so much trust in this man, who has proved to be a heretic and false teacher who has trampled on ALL the fundamental teachings that Herbert Armstrong imparted to the Church?
What went wrong? Where did Herbert Armstrong go astray? There is much more to the saga and life story of Herbert W. Armstrong than many thousands of people imagine. The truth will boggle your mind. The evidence shows, today, in retrospect, that Herbert Armstrong was a great teacher of many truths of God, many of which he restored to the Church during these end times — but he was also a deeply flawed man of God.
When I think about the life of this man, and the Church and religious Work he built, I feel much like David felt, when hearing of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. David lamented their deaths, with the song quoted at the beginning of this article. He sorrowed for them, even though Saul had totally disqualified himself from office. Even though Saul had been God’s selected, chosen “anointed,” he had begun abusing his office and finally sinned greatly and totally disqualified (I Sam.15). Even after that point, however, God left him in office for many more years, until the time came for David to be given the throne.
So I have pondered about the truth about Herbert W. Armstrong. The parallels between the lives of King Saul and Herbert Armstrong are plentiful. But there are other amazing Scriptural parallels, also.
The Real Unwritten Biography
In the days of the Judges of Israel, a young child was born who was destined to be a prophet of the Lord God. His name was Samuel. He grew up in the Temple of God, under the auspices of the high priest, one whose name was Eli.
Notice what Almighty God had to say about His own anointed high priest, the one occupying the highest spiritual office in the land. “Now Eli was VERY OLD (much like Herbert Armstrong became!), and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
“And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them” (I Sam.2:22-25).
Eli had a very serious problem in the sight of God. He was overly indulgent of his own sons, who were committing adultery and fornication with the women of Israel. They were seducing them at the very tabernacle of God! Yet beyond this rather mild reprimand, and “slap on the wrist,” Eli did nothing about the problem. The story continues:
“And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest . . .?
“Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering . . . and honorest thy sons above me, to make yourselves FAT with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
“Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
“Behold, the days come, that I will CUT OFF THINE ARM, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house… And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age” (I Sam.2:27-33).
As Samuel grew older, God then spoke to him in a vision, regarding the fate of Eli. “And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle (this was a prophecy of the coming judgment on Eli’s house, and also a prophecy of the future Great Tribulation! Eli was merely a TYPE of a leader of the Church of God during this end-time generation!). In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house (family) for ever for the INIQUITY WHICH HE KNOWETH; because his sons made themselves VILE, and he restrained them not” (I Samuel 3:11-13).
Does God change? Is He a respecter of persons?
Malachi was inspired to write, “For I am the Lord, I change NOT; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal.3:6).
God will deal with any modern-day servant of His who lives and acts like Eli, just as He dealt with His servant Eli, over 3,000 years ago! And he will deal with their adulterating sons just as He dealt with the evil, fornicating, womanizing sons of Eli!
Make no mistake! As the apostle Paul surely wrote, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal.6:7).
The sad tragedy and truth is, our generation has seen and witnessed another “Eli and son”! It is possible that the modern “Eli” repented late in his life, of his “indulge” of his remaining son, who also was a high-ranking minister in the Church — but God Himself will have to be the judge of that.
The 1974 Debacle and Exodus
In 1974 many ministers left the Worldwide Church of God. The reason many of them left has not been thoroughly understood. The truth has been buried under an avalanche of false accusation, rumor, and official denials and pronouncements from the pulpit. But the truth should make you shudder with horror, and lament like Jeremiah, and pray like Nehemiah, for the sins of God’s people and God’s Church!
Be sure these covered up sins shall not go unpunished in the sight of Almighty God! Let’s investigate the facts — just the facts — and see what the evidence tells us.
As in the tragic case of Eli, whose sons perished when the Philistines attacked and seized the ark of God, the historical record proves beyond any doubt that Herbert Armstrong’s own son, Garner Ted Armstrong, was guilty over a quarter of a century of committing adultery and whoredom with hundreds of women, including paid prostitutes around the world and young Ambassador college co-eds, many of whom later became married to ministers in the Church!
I first learned of this shocking revelation in 1972, when Ted Armstrong was “exiled” temporarily from the Church and sent to Colorado. He had been committing adultery with a young stewardess on his Falcon jet. He was so enamored of her that he wanted to divorce his wife Shirley and marry his new “love interest.”
This shocking revelation was then topped by the news that this girl, whose name was Gail, was not the first of Ted’s sexual interests. He had been living a secret life of Playboy preacher for all the length of his ministry! I learned that he had been committing adultery with a girl in 1965 when we were told that another minister of the Church was accused of committing adultery. The other minister subsequently resigned; but Ted wasn’t even reprimanded or suspended from his job as first vice president of the Work and Church at the time!
Over dinner one evening, this whole sordid story was poured out to me by the former executive secretary of Herbert Armstrong. She had several girls come to her with their problems, and the problem was “Ted.” He was having several affairs. When Mrs. Swaney tried to talk to Herbert Armstrong about it, Mrs. Loma Armstrong defended Ted. Ted later accused Mrs. Swaney of having a demon, and she was fired from her responsible job, disfellowshipped from the Church, and ostracized by all her former friends in the Church. Years later Mrs. Swaney was allowed back in the Church, but she was never rehired by the Work. Eventually she died, a true sister in Christ She had suffered virtual “martyrdom” for her role in the Ted Armstrong affair.
It was in 1972 that an associate in the Work of God confided to me that Ted Armstrong had been having affairs with an estimated 200 or more girls during his ministry as an evangelist in the Church, while he preached on the radio and television. Two hundred! Some of these were former students at Ambassador College, baby sitters, and female employees of the Work — girls I had known as friends and acquaintances at Ambassador College!
One man, a friend of mine, whose name was Jerry Horton, worked in the radio studio at the College. One day he was taking some material up to Ted Armstrong’s office. The door was ajar, so he began to go in — but then he noticed a strange phenomenon. On the couch was Garner Ted Armstrong, having sexual relations with a young, pretty college co-ed! Hurt, shame-faced, and infuriated inside, Jerry quietly retreated. But he never forgot the sight. Shaken to the core, this traumatic discovery caused him to lose all respect for the leadership in the Church, and he eventually left.
When astonishing facts regarding Ted Armstrong’s moral turpitude threatened to become public in 1972, I remember a painful Bible study in Pasadena when Herbert Armstrong announced the “exile” of his son to Colorado. I remember painfully how God’s “apostle” threatened the entire listening congregation, warning them NOT to try to find out what Ted had done — it was kept an official mystery, a secret. All Herbert Armstrong admitted at the time was that Ted had some sort of “breakdown,” and had been under a lot of “pressure” from his many responsibilities. In other words, he lied to the entire Church of God, and performed a masterful “cover up” that made the “Watergate Cover Up” of President Nixon look amateurish by comparison!
What were the actual facts?
In The Broadway to Armageddon, a book written by former minister of the Worldwide Church of God, William B. Hinson, several sensational, shocking facts are pointed out. In his informative, very helpful book, Hinson quotes another former high ranking minister, Al Carrozzo, whom I knew personally many years. He and I used to play softball together on the Church league softball teams. In answering questions put to him by ministers, Carrozzo admitted, “Yes, it is true that Herbert W. Armstrong forced Ted and Shirley to get married. The fact that Shirley was pregnant was a source of great embarrassment for Herbert. Rod Meredith relates the profound embarrassment he experienced when Herbert Armstrong tried to explain how Shirley gave birth to a premature eight pound baby boy. It is a matter of record substantiated by scores of people who were there.”
Carrozzo continued: “Herbert Armstrong had known about Ted’s sexual shenanigans from the very beginning. By the beginning I mean 1952 and before. The majority of the Evangelists did not know years in advance of Ted’s exile in 1972.”
When asked how many women Ted had had affairs with, Al Carrozzo answered: “Absolutely yes, Ted admitted to having affairs with over 200 different women . . . He said ‘by conservative estimate’ there were 200 women. This was on January 30, 1972, in his home in Pasadena” when he made this confession.
In a full-color, quality publication called Ambassador Report which was published in 1977, Al Carrozzo wrote a thorough expose of Garner Ted Armstrong’s sexual misdeeds, entitled “The Profligate Son.” In it Carrozzo quotes Ted Armstrong as telling him in a private meeting, at 10:05 A.M., May 16,1973, “Al, let’s get one thing straight! I’m a no good, fornicating, adulterating son of a bitch!”
Carrozzo goes on, “This was not the first or the only time Ted ever admitted that he was an adulterer. In spite of repeated public denials, Ted has privately admitted that he has been guilty of flagrant, continuous adultery and fornication for almost a quarter of a century — as a church member, an executive, and an evangelist!”
Carrozzo points out how he first learned of Ted’s problem in 1965 when the “whole sordid affair was swept under the rug, while Ted came out lily-white.” In 1967 the husband of one of Ted’s victims informed Carrozzo that his wife had had sexual relations with the handsome radio evangelist. When Al confronted Ted with the allegations, he admitted it was true, but blamed the girl for flaunting her exciting body in front of him, until in weakness he gave in. Al did not pursue the matter further, as Ted talked him out of telling his father.
In an article in the New Times, dated December 4-10, 1997, entitled “Honey, I Shrunk the Church,” by Ron Russell, we find an astonishing report made about Ted Armstrong’s infidelities, and his own personal admissions. The author interviewed Al Carrozzo, who had been an evangelist in the Church. Carrozzo told him a strange story. The author wrote:
“The word had leaked out during the 1960s, the result of a minister having been caught having sex with an Ambassador College coed. It was a big scandal on a campus where Herbert had forbidden girls to wear makeup and where holding hands was a punishable offense. Before being excommunicated, the fallen minister let it slip that Ted also had been sleeping around.
“His comments prompted Carrozzo, then dean of students, to conduct his own investigation, which convinced him that it was true. Among Ted’s avowed con- quests were dozens of wide-eyed college women, including some who became ministers’ wives. Carrozzo says — adding that he shared his knowledge with a superior who told him that Ted had been fooling around for years and that Herbert had given up trying to do anything about it. Much later, the former dean says, he confronted Ted after listening incredulously to a distraught young married woman confess to committing a carnal sin. After much hesitation, she declared that the younger Armstrong had seduced her. ‘He admitted it,’ says Carrozzo. ‘Then, I’ll never forget, he said: “Put me behind bars, slip my food to me, keep me in solitary confinement, but just don’t take my microphone away because I must preach the message God has given me”‘” (New Times, Dec.4-10, 1997, p.16).
But in mid-1971 Ted’s problem once again surfaced. Ted’s promiscuity became known to top administrators in the Church, and Herbert sent him on a leave of absence for several months. Members of the Church were led to believe Ted was gone for “health reasons.”
During these events, Herbert Armstrong was never candid to the Church. He covered everything up and threatened anyone who would pry into matters with expulsion and disfellowshipment from the Church! In his own mind, I suppose, he thought he was “protecting the Church.” But as he allowed his son to return, without evidence of TRUE repentance, the problems continued.
After Ted was brought back, and allowed to preach at the Feast of Tabernacles sites in the fall of 1971, things once again came to a head. During his stay at Squaw Valley, after he preached a sermon entitled “What The World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love,” Ted spent that very night in the arms of his mistress, Gail, who was an Ambassador college student, and the stewardess of his Falcon jet, which he used to fly around the country. That very night, Ted and the young girl shacked up in a Lake Tahoe cabin on the south shore. Once again Church investigators discovered Ted’s adultery — caught him red-handed, in the act. And his father was again notified.
In a subsequent letter to the members of the Church, Herbert Armstrong wrote that Ted felt he would be up to speaking at all the Festival sites, but after speaking at Squaw Valley “his fourth site, tensions had built up until his nerves were at razor-edge, and he could not continue.”
This was of course a carefully constructed “lie,” obviating the true nature of the discovery of Ted’s “problem.” Once again Herbert Armstrong prevaricated, and rather than face the unvarnished truth of the situation, and publicly rebuke his philandering son, he chose to deliberately lie, to once again cover up the adulterous liaison! Herbert knew perfectly well why Ted was unable to continue preaching after Squaw Valley. To say that Ted’s nerves were at “razor-edge,” and therefore he could not continue, was a blatant DECEPTION — an absolute LIE! Herbert Armstrong knew better. But he had known of his son’s problems all along, just as Eli the high priest had. And he did not want the truth known to the membership whose tithes and offerings supported the Church. He felt that the revelation of Ted’s promiscuity would e devastating to the Church’s finances and income. So the charade continued.
Shortly after this, Ted was “exiled” to Hawaii with his wife and two close friends. The friend was to “watch” Ted every second. He evidently failed. For while Ted was in Hawaii “recuperating,” a letter arrived at the Ambassador College Mail Receiving Department from a woman who managed a massage parlor (euphemism for “whore house”) in Hawaii. The woman complained that there was a young masseuse in her employ who had been trying to come out of a life of sin, and who often watched Ted Armstrong on television. This young masseuse had been “horrified into nightmarish disillusionment” Carrozzo writes, when she recognized Ted one day, sitting in the massage parlor, waiting to be “serviced” by one of the prostitutes! The madam indignantly wrote that her masseuse was extremely upset from seeing the suave preacher there, especially after learning of his real reason for
being there! (It wasn’t to preach the gospel to the whores!)
After this incident, Ted was sent to Colorado to ostensibly “repent..” After spending about two months in “exile,” he was brought back, however. Soon, Ted’s adulterous affairs were once again discovered. Herbert Armstrong was forced to take further action. Al Carrozzo explains what happened:
“Around 10:30 p.m. Garner Ted came home from a Los Angeles Laker basketball game and was stunned to find his father, most of the headquarters leadership, and Stan Rader waiting in his living room. Upon learning the purpose of their visit, he flew into a reactionary rage during which he openly admitted he had had illicit sexual relations with some 200 women — and that was his ‘conservative estimate’ — during his two decades of association with his father’s church. Among his consorts were literally dozens of youthful, wide-eyes coeds, plus several who became executive or ministerial wives.
On this occasion Ted was given an official letter of disfellowship” (“The Profligate Son,” by Al Carrozzo, Ambassador Report, 1997, p.46).
During this meeting Ted admitted he had been having an intimate sexual affair with an Ambassador College stewardess ever since the summer of 1970. This clandestine, adulterous affair continued unabated, until Herbert Armstrong had been informed of it in the summer of 1971. At that time, Herbert Armstrong took no action at all. Says Carrozzo, “Instead of removing Ted from the ministry for good — as he had done with other ministers guilty of adultery — he precipitated a vast cover-up, much like former President Nixon attempted. There is one major difference though: Herbert had been covering up Ted’s sexual looseness since the early 1950s” (“The Profligate Son,” by Al Carrozzo, Ambassador Report, 1997, p.46).
Ted Armstrong was again exiled to an A-frame in Colorado, for several months. During this time David Antion was commissioned to write a research paper on “Qualifications for the Ministry,” for Herbert Armstrong. Antion’s thorough paper, citing Biblical references in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, showed that Ted for his vast womanizing was no longer qualified to remain a minister in God’s Church, according to the Bible. However, Al Carrozzo continues his account, apparently neither Ted or his father Herbert accepted the conclusions of the paper. Says Carrozzo of the situation:
“At the time, the leading ministers and I all thought Herbert really wanted to know about Ted’s qualifications, but later we found out he was trying to learn all the main arguments against his son’s return so he could persuasively refute them. Herbert forwarded Antion’s paper to Ted, who promptly dismissed it, claiming the Biblical arguments didn’t apply to him because he had been ‘called to preach the gospel from his mother’s womb.’ This defense, then, turned out to be Herbert’s argument in favor of Ted’s return to full status and authority, in spite of Herbert’s earlier pronouncement that Ted, even if returned, would not occupy ministerial office” (ibid., p.46).
In contrast to Herbert Armstrong’s handling of his son’s flagrant and continuous adultery, it might be germane to mention that when another minister was caught having committed a single act of adultery in 1968, he was fired from his job, put out of the ministry, and disfellowshipped from the Church. Not only that, but his sin was detailed publicly before the entire student body of Ambassador College in a special assembly for students and employees.
On June 8, 1972, Ted was reinstated to an elevated position in the Church, and allowed to make radio and television broadcasts. On July 20, he was reinstated to full rank as an evangelist in the Church, and placed back on both college and church boards, and named executive vice-president of the Worldwide Church of God.
Did Ted Armstrong ever really repent of these carnal sins of adultery and lustful passion? He certainly professed repentance — many times. Al Carrozzo, who counseled with him many times concerning his adulterous affairs, writes about Ted’s amazing ability to shed crocodile tears and to show incredible “remorse” when confronted with his sins. He declared,
“Later it dawned on me that Ted is a sterling actor, a powerful persuader — one who can make you feel guilty for even approaching a delicate subject. One Worldwide Church evangelist summed it up succinctly: ‘Tec can charm the rattle off a snake.’
Unfortunately, he charms people too. Glib as an orator and possessing awesome mental dexterity, Ted can change black into white, turn silk into wool, and refine sin into baseless allegation and rumor” (ibid., p.44-45).
However, in a newspaper interview in 1987, in Orange County, California, the Pasadena Star News asked Ted Armstrong about the allegations of his having committed adultery in the past. The writer wondered if Ted Armstrong had really been guilty of sexual sins, in the mid-1970s. Here was an excellent chance for Ted to “come clean” about his womanizing past and admit the truth, showing the sincerity, if any, of his repentance!
In the January 4, 1987 article, the reporter asked Ted Armstrong about the charges of adultery and womanizing which were made back in 1974. His answer? The article declared:
“Armstrong FLATLY DENIED old stories that he had sexual encounters with Ambassador students and other women. ‘There was never a whisper of anything immoral and hadn’t been for years and years.”
The tragic truth is that Ted Armstrong has never “come clean” publicly about his horrendous immorality and sexual sins under the cover of evangelical saintliness. He has never admitted that as a “man of God” he seduced women, countless women, and bedded them like a satyr — a sex-crazed monster.
Showing his own utter hypocrisy, in a meeting with ministers of the Worldwide Church of God in Big Sandy in 1974, Ted Armstrong personally suspended four ministers — Walter Sharp, Dale Haynes, Bob McKibben and Jim Morrison — who were all concerned about Ted’s “qualifications” for the ministry. During this seven and one half hour meeting, Ted deniedever having full sex with any woman other than his wife. He admitted having fallen for one “silly young girl,” as he then put it, but he denied having gone “all the way” with her. So he himself continued the “cover-up” and refused to admit the plain truth, which by then, had become common knowledge among the field ministry! Those who complained — or who sought the truth — were simply FIRED!
This hypocritical “cover-up” continued throughout the seventies. Herbert Armstrong NEVER made public mention of his son’s sexual indiscretions, adulteries, and wickedness. We will see shortly the probable reason why Herbert was so loathe to publicly attack or humiliate his son, and to rebuke him for his on-going hedonistic charade.
Only after Ted himself was disfellowshipped from the Church, for other reasons, in 1978, did any one in an official capacity in the Worldwide Church of God admit to Ted’s adultery. Interestingly, it was Stanley Rader, Herbert Armstrong’s personal assistant and the attorney for the Church, who had the temerity to admit Ted’s adultery in public. He did this on the Tom Snyder late night television show.
What does Almighty God think of these things?
Ted Armstrong seems to think that he can do anything — that he was “born to preach the gospel.” In his own words to one critic, he exclaimed, “My father and I are ABOVE THE LAW!” According to him, the normal qualifications for being a minister in God’s Church, as they are outlined in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, are not applicable to him — because he was “specially called” to preach, regardless of how he lives his life!
Paul wrote to Timothy, explaining, “A bishop then must be BLAMELESS, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, OF GOOD BEHAVIOR . . .” (v.2). To Titus, Paul writes that an “elder” in the Church must be “blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God, not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, HOLY, temperate: Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught . . .” (Titus 1:6-9). How does Ted Armstrong “stack up” alongside these Scriptures?
What does the Word of God say about his kind of attitude and conduct?
Jeremiah the prophet, under divine inspiration, thunders, with the message of God, to these modern day “prophets” and “ministers” – – regardless of WHO they themselves think they are —
“For the land is full of adulterers . . . For both prophet and priest are
PROFANE; yea, IN MY HOUSE have I found their wickedness, saith
the Lord. . . . And I have seen FOLLY in the prophets … they prophesied
in Baal, and caused my people to err. I have seen also in the prophets . . .
an horrible thing: they commit ADULTERY, and walk in LIES: they
strengthen the hand of evil-doers, that none doth return from his wicked-
ness: they are all of them unto me as SODOM, and the inhabitants
thereof as GOMORRAH” (Jer.23:10-14).
The adultery and lies of Garner Ted Armstrong, a modern “son of Eli,” and the sins of Herbert W. Armstrong, a modern “Eli,” will not go unaccounted for or unpunished. God will not be mocked!
Has Garner Ted Armstrong ever repented of his sins of adultery and sexual immorality? Frankly, he has never even publicly confessed to them in clear and unmistakable language. Wrote Al Carrozzo about twenty years ago, when Ted’s sins had surfaced at that time,
“Has Garner Ted changed? Did he really repent? One thing is sure: Ted
‘repented, many, many times. He has been called ‘the professional repenter.’
He can cry on cue” (“The Profligate Son,” ibid., p.47).
Shocking New Revelations
In more recent days, of course, the sins of Garner Ted Armstrong have returned with a “vengeance.” Just a few years ago he was caught and filmed on video-tape in a massage parlor in Tyler, Texas, attempting to force himself sexually upon a massage therapist, Sue Rae Robertson. As a result of his being caught on video-tape, in the act of masturbating himself in front of the masseuse, singing a song to himself, and trying to force himself on the masseuse,, the masseuse and her husband have SUED both Garner Ted Armstrong and the Church of God, International, in court for damages and legal fees. The case is still pending in Texas court. and is due for a jury trial soon.
However, bad as this is, now word comes to us that the Church of God, International Board of Directors has finally FIRED Ted Armstrong from all positions he has held in the Church. According to a letter sent out to all Church members, they have found out that he has been having an ongoing sexual relationship with a female Church member in the Tyler area. This information just surfaced a few months ago. According to reports, Ted Armstrong has taken this woman, less than half his age, on vacations to Disney World, and it is even alleged that she is now pregnant!
In the letter to the membership announcing the action they are taking against Ted Armstrong, dated December 7, 1997 — interestingly, “Pearl Harbor Day” — three ministers and members of the Board wrote:
“Contrary to his accusations, it has absolutely nothing to do with church politics or a power play. What is at issue is Mr. Armstrong’s privilege to carry ministerial credentials from the Church due to recent disclosures of a very personal nature.
“Inside of the last three months, the Ministerial Council learned of conduct on the part of Mr. Armstrong that disqualifies him as a minister. This new information involves a long-time relationship with a woman in the church. [My emphasis.]
“With prayerful consideration and open-mindedness, the Council, after hours of deliberation, unanimously concluded that Mr. Armstrong’s conduct, measured against the scriptural qualifications for a minister, gives us no choice but to remove him as a minister” (Letter dated December 7, 1997).
Has Ted repented? He professes repentance, even today, in 1998. In his letters to the members and leaders of the Church of God, International, written in December 1997, he declares that the Board of that Church has done him a great injustice — and that they are guilty of treachery and betrayal! He alleges that he has “repented” of any sins he may have committed, and accuses them of breach of confidentiality of things he told some of them in private ministerial sessions.
Nevertheless, as Jesus Christ Himself declared, “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall KNOW them” (Matt.7:16-20).
By “fruits,” Jesus means fruits of RIGHTEOUSNESS and OBEDIENCE to God’s Law! He does not mean human works, financial figures, or “numbers” of members brought into a “church”! He Himself goes on to state with firm clarity and finality:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
“And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that WORK INIQUITY” (Matt.7:21-23).
Truly, the prophet Jeremiah was right when he wrote, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD” (Jer.8:12).
Jeremiah also warns us to beware of those who are flagrant sinners — who are “addicted” to sin. He declared, “Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense to Baal (“the Lord”), and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name [that is, God’s Church], become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD” (Jer.7:9-10).
God says of such men, “How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed ADULTERY, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses [dens of prostitution]. They were as fed horses in the morning; every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jer.5:7-9).
Jeremiah wrote with deep insight, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).
We have been waiting for twenty five years to see true remorse and sincere repentance in the life of Garner Ted Armstrong. Alas, it has never come. Of course, as long as there is life, there is hope. But when one “repents on cue,” as it were, over many years, and it always turns out to be false, people tend to become harder and harder to convince. With his last profession of remorse and repentance, has Ted gone “once too often to the well”?
But there is an old saying which says, “The acorn falls close to the tree.” There is another old saying, “Like father like son.” What about Herbert Armstrong? What was the real reason he never publicly acknowledged the egregious sins of his son, even when he disfellowshipped him three times, and finally banished him from the Church permanently in 1978?
As enormous and terrible as the sins of Garner Ted Armstrong, the long-time voice of the World Tomorrow radio and television program, really were, in many respects the sad truth about Herbert Armstrong himself is even more difficult to believe. Herbert himself was deeply flawed, in many ways. It is time we take a close look at the true life of Herbert W. Armstrong. Those who worship Herbert Armstrong, and regard him as the “End-time Elijah,” are in for a shock! But anybody willing to face the truth — without fear or flinching — will be strengthened spiritually as a result.
The Life of Herbert Armstrong
Initiating a vast cover-up of his son’s sins of continuous adultery is one very blameworthy act for which Herbert Armstrong will no doubt be held accountable by Almighty God.
However, the record shows also that Herbert Armstrong, while he led the Worldwide Church of God during more than fifty years, himself was also guilty of gross sins and abuse.
Former minister David Robinson details some of the evidence in his shocking book, Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web, written in 1980.
After the death of Loma D. Armstrong in 1967, his wife of nearly 50 years, Herbert W. Armstrong was very lonely. He confided to David Robinson and several other ministers at Big Sandy how lonely the evenings were without a woman, and how badly he needed one. He told them about a romance he had been having with his secretary who was about 25 at the time. He thought he had been in love with her. Others have told me that he even fondled her breasts at times, but she wanted nothing to do with him. Eventually they were separated by the intervention of Ted Armstrong.
Nevertheless, sex was often on the mind of Herbert Armstrong. Herbert Armstrong confided to David Robinson at Big Sandy, Texas, that his wife Loma had been a very poor bed partner, so he would often just turn over and relieve himself through masturbation. He then told Robinson that he still masturbated — the last time had been just two weeks previously.
Herbert Armstrong then got up, reached into his briefcase, and pulled out a small black book and showed him the last entry. As Robinson writes, “HE HAD KEPT BOOKS ON HIS OWN MASTURBATION! He said, when checking over the record, it occurred about every two weeks” (p.80).
When Robinson asked him when he started masturbating, Armstrong replied he could never remember when he didn’t.
With this in mind, it is interesting to note that Herbert Armstrong fancied himself a great authority on sex and marriage. In his book God Speaks Out on the New Morality, he wrote, “On the other hand, masturbation is a form of PERVERSION. It is a SIN!”
Strange, for one who wrote such words, that he himself had been one who constantly indulged himself in this “perversion” — this “SIN”!
During the years when he was “used of God” to begin the “Philadelphia” Church of God, he was also committing the heinous sin of incest with his own daughter! For ten years this incestuous relationship continued, into the early 1940s. This fact is very thoroughly documented, for those willing to look at the evidence.
Chapter twenty of David Robinson’s book Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web is simply titled, “Incest!” Incest has long been regarded as one of the most traumatic of sins performed against one’s own children or relatives. As shocking as it may seem to some, as unbelievable and cruel as it may sound, Herbert Armstrong committed this evil sin over a period of some ten years with one of his daughters!
Writes Robinson: “Incest is a terrible and unnatural crime, an extreme perversity. That is why I was shocked beyond measure to hear that Herbert Armstrong was, himself, guilty of this vile sin. I learned of this in the summer of 1979 from members of his own family. The story, sordid beyond imagination, was told in awful detail.
“One family source was Garner Ted Armstrong. Last summer, as HWA attacked his own son in such savage fury, his son was in the depths of despair. His emotional mix included anger and deep hurt. In such a state he told secrets that otherwise would have been locked within him forever. He said he had learned in 1971 of his father’s incredible conduct during the ’30s and ’40s. The story came directly to him in lurid detail, but he kept it sealed in his own consciousness for all those years. But, in the spring of 1978 while in his father’s house for the last time, his father had threatened to ‘destroy him.’ Ted, in response, replied, ‘Dad, I will destroy you. I know about you and ——— (He was speaking of the younger of his two sisters.)
“His father had been on a high-handed autocratic binge. But at that comment he sat down quietly and responded, ‘Well, Ted, there have been times when I have been very far away from God'” (Robinson, Tangled Web, p. 266).
Robinson goes on, “None who have objectively heard of the incest story in its awful detail doubt it. This is a vital chapter left out of HWA’s own autobiography. This sin occurred over a long span of years — about ten years — from the 1930s into the 1940s — for a decade after his ordination to the ministry, according to his own family members” (p. 267).
The Ambassador Report (April 1984) relates, “In 1971 Garner Ted Armstrong paid a visit to his younger sister Dorothy. He had long been suspicious of the kind of relationship his father and sister maintained during his youth. They chatted over a few drinks and then Ted told her bluntly of his suspicions. She did more than admit the allegations. With candor she related detail after shocking detail.
“For a number of years GTA kept the information to himself. But Dorothy did not. She divulged the same information to many others including David Antion (GTA’s brother-in-law) and Lois Chapman (who had been married to the late Richard Armstrong, Ted’s older brother).”
Dorothy told Ted and others that Herbert had begun fondling and heavy petting her in 1933 when she was thirteen years old, but he did not begin going “all the way” with her until three years later, when she was 16. What happened was, one day she came home from a date and informed her father she had been “half raped.”
This report was traumatic enough. But after hearing the story, Herbert decided it was time to show her how sex should really be done. It was 1936 and Dorothy was 16 years of age. He took it upon himself to teach her about sexual intercourse by having sex with her himself! From that moment the incestuous relationship lasted for many more years.
On one occasion in a hotel room Dorothy so strongly resisted her father’s advances that the hotel manager came knocking on the door to find out why they were making so much noise. Herbert told him that his “young bride” was a little uncooperative due to inexperience. Satisfied, the manager left.
“Dorothy has claimed that Herbert then overpowered her, and after tying her to the
bed and gagging her, proceeded to rape her” (Ambassador Report, April 1984).
During those year while Herbert was preaching the gospel and ministering, he would sometimes take Dorothy out dancing on Friday nights. When she asked him if he wasn’t afraid Church members would discover what he was doing, he told her gruffly that they were well trained in Sabbath observance and would never see them.
In 1980, shortly after the Robinson book appeared, Henry Cornwall, then one of Herbert Armstrong’s assistants, asked him point blank if the chapter about incest was true. Herbert told him it was. Later his wife Ramona, who also had a copy of the book, asked Herbert about the incestuous relationship. He admitted to her it was true, also, and pleaded with her not to let it get in the way of their marriage. He blamed the problem on his first wife Loma.
Dorothy has said that her sexual relationship with her father continued into the early forties. She married Vern Mattson in 1943. Around the time of her engagement however, her father told her that her marriage need not put an end to their own special relationship!
The July 1984 issue of Ambassador Report stated that one reason Herbert Armstrong was able to exert great coercion over his daughter wasn’t only because he was her father, and physically stronger, but also because he repeatedly told her, “God gave you to me.”
It is interesting that although David Robinson’s book first exposed the incest committed by the errant apostle, the publication of his book was vigorously fought by the Worldwide Church of God attorneys, who attempted to suppress it. Although they totally failed in their attempt, it is interesting that since publication they did not assert even once that the incest allegation was untrue. Dorothy Mattson, Herbert Armstrong’s younger daughter, never denied the truth of the allegations, either.
A friend of mine, when he learned of these allegations years ago, went directly to Mr. Vern Mattson, who had married Herbert Armstrong’s younger daughter. He was a golfing buddy and friend of Mattson, so he asked him point-blank if the accusations and rumors were true. Mr. Mattson sadly informed him that they indeed were factual. In fact, when Mr. Mattson himself learned of the truth of Herbert having had sex with the woman who later became Mattson’s wife, he was furious, and in a rage took a pistol, and burst into Herbert Armstrong’s private office, waving the pistol around. Herbert, shaking like a leaf, apologized profusely and promised to never do such a thing again.
According to the law of God, we should not receive an allegation against a man, unless it be confirmed by two or three witnesses. The evidence against Herbert Armstrong is very strong and convincing. He was not the man thousands thought him to be. As a spiritual leader, he was not above the Law of God, and one day he will have to appear before the Throne of God to answer for his actions.
Some may object that these sins occurred over 40 years ago (when Herbert Armstrong was in his forties and fifties). They are now “water under the bridge.” That, of course, may well be true. Certainly God can forgive sin, if and when it is sincerely and totally repented of.
Sex and the Single Apostle
But the towering sin of hypocrisy, deceit, lying and immorality that continued right up until Herbert Armstrong’s last years is another matter entirely.
Robinson wrote in 1980, “Herbert Armstrong has been ‘in love’ a number of times during the past decade. He said himself he had been ‘in love’ with Amy [his secretary on the fourth floor of the Hall of Administration] when she was 25 years old. He reported this to a group at Big Sandy in 1974. He did say, when it was over, that he thought it might have been infatuation.
“But earlier there had been the young Filipino girl whom he had brought over to this country, according to widespread reports. However, he never did bring her to church with him! He apparently kept her under wraps” (p. 88).
Along these lines, a former evangelist in the Worldwide Church of God — Albert J. Portune — told me personally that Herbert Armstrong had brought two Filipino girls to the U.S. and had put them in an apartment in Pasadena — nobody knows what for. However, later upon learning that one of the girls had found another boy friend, her own age, he grew furious and shipped them back to the Philippines! Knowing about his preoccupation with
sex, the purpose those nubile young girls served for him seems rather obvious.
Another woman, secretary to the head of the Personal Correspondence Department manager some years ago, told my wife and I she was privy to a mysterious secret concerning Herbert Armstrong. This woman’s credentials and respectability are impeccable. She told us that one day an elderly woman who was a Church member came into the office and began talking to her. She told her she lived in an apartment house in Pasadena, and across the hall from her own apartment there lived a prostitute. She knew the woman was a prostitute.
One day, she saw two men — whom she says were Stanley Rader and Herbert Armstrong — go into that woman’s apartment. She was shocked. So the next time she saw them coming, she stood in front of the other woman’s door, barring their way. When they asked her why she was there, she explained that she didn’t think God’s apostle should be visiting a prostitute! They denied that they were aware that the woman was a prostitute, and beat a hasty retreat, and she never saw them there again.
However, the incident so distressed this elderly church woman, that she felt she had to confide in someone — and that is the reason she showed up at the office of the Personal Correspondence Department, to speak with the minister.
Herbert Armstrong Remarries
Herbert Armstrong remarried when he was in his mid-80s. Ramona Martin, his new wife, was a divorcee who was in her forties. Although some might consider such a “September-March” marriage unusual because of the disparity in age, this alone would not necessarily invalidate a marriage where there was true love. What few realize, however, is that there is evidence which would have could out at their divorce proceedings which would have shown that Herbert and Ramona were sleeping together, having a sexual relationship, as much as THREE YEARS prior to their ‘legalizing” their relationship!
Herbert Armstrong, who was 91 in 1984, divorced his wife Ramona, 45 years of age, on May 11 of that year, after seven years of marriage. After a bitter divorce fight, the couple settled out of court, thus ending their seven-year-old marriage.
In the divorce proceedings, reported the Los Angeles Times (May 12, 1984), “Armstrong’s lawyers had sought to limit evidence of a sexual nature.” Ramona’s attorneys felt such evidence was crucial, however, to their case. According to Ramona’s attorney, the couple had an “understanding” about Herbert’s “prior incestuous conduct with his daughter for many years.”
Ramona’s own intimate relationship with Herbert Armstrong predated their marriage by a number of years, according to Ambassador Report. The Report asserted in the April 1984 issue, “In recent months Ramona has admitted to friends that she and Herbert maintained a sexual relationship for THREE FULL YEARS PRIOR TO THEIR MARRIAGE” (emphasis mine). The Ambassador Report article continues,
“At some point along the way Ramona had some misgivings and so asked Herbert
what he would do if he discovered some man in the church was involved in a non-
marital sexual relationship with one of the church women. He answered that he would
immediately disfellowship them both. ‘But, questioned Ramona, ‘isn’t what we are
doing also wrong?’ To her surprise Herbert said, ‘No.’ When she asked why, Herbert
explained, ‘Because I am an Apostle!'”
During the divorce trial, Ramona said she was sterilized in 1976 at Herbert Armstrong’s insistence. (In The Tangled Web, David Robinson claimed Herbert Armstrong admitted this same thing to him personally.) However, Herbert and Ramona were not married until April 1977! This “footnote” to the marriage of the elderly “apostle” to the younger woman provides further insight into the thinking of Herbert Armstrong. Why did Herbert insist Ramona become sterilized in 1976, unless they were already having sexual relations at that time? Was he afraid that Ramona might become pregnant, while they were still unmarried, and he might be the father of a bastard child? Was he remembering the fact that his own son got Shirley pregnant before they were married, and the shame and consternation it caused him at the time?
We can only guess at the answers, until those who were involved are more forthcoming.
However, when I stop to think about these shocking, disturbing revelations about a man many believed was “God’s true apostle” for this end-time generation, I can only shake my head for sadness and grief, at the sad spectacle of a man of God straying so far from God and His commandments!
Truly, as David lamented the fate of Saul,
“How are the mighty fallen!”
The sex life of Herbert Armstrong would normally be something of a private nature, something the public would not be interested in. However, when a public figure such as Herbert Armstrong preaches one thing and lives in a totally inconsistent manner, that is something else again. For fifty years or longer, Herbert Armstrong preached the Word of God. He stood for chastity, fidelity, and thundered against adultery, fornication, and sexual vices. For many years, he claimed the marriage relationship was a “GOD PLANE RELATIONSHIP.” Yet when it came to his own life, the truth becomes much more mundane, carnal, and physical.
As shocking as it may seem to many who read this, because of the enormous respect they have held toward Herbert Armstrong, the sad facts of the case are that he was much less than he appeared in public. His private life reads more like a lurid novel fantasy, than the life of a true, bona fide servant of God.
Other men who knew Herbert Armstrong personally, testify to his being drunk and inebriated on many occasions. One former minister, Dale Hampton, himself a recovered alcoholic, told audiences that in fact Herbert Armstrong was an “alcoholic.” After Herbert heard this, he canceled Hampton’s special ministerial program dealing with alcoholics in the Church. Al Carrozzo sums up the truth in these poignant words, saying that 1973 was a “Year of Revelation” to him:
“During this time I maintained a wait-and-see attitude. It was difficult to make myself
believe that the two men I respected most — Garner Ted and Herbert Armstrong — were
total frauds! It was even more difficult for me to believe that Herbert was less than
100% sincere and honest. However, on May 22, 1973, at 1 p.m., Ted left me with
no doubts as to his father real motivation, intentions, and modus operandi. In a private, three-hour meeting in his office, Ted told me he specifically disagreed with his father on many issues, including doctrine. He explained that his dad desperately wanted to be accepted by the world, and that was the reason lhe was traveling around the world continuously, seeking the favor and audience of world leaders.
“Ted admitted that he had seen his father ‘stone drunk’ on dozens of occasions. He
stated that his father had told him that he (Herbert) would do anything to keep the
‘Work’ afloat — including lying, stealing, and bribery. I was shocked, of course, but
I later saw Herbert ‘stoned’ on several occasions and caught him in numerous lies.
I began to see those lies in his member and co-worker letters, and these lies have
to this very day” (“The Profligate Son,” ibid., p.46-47).
Shocking as these statements no doubt are, to many people, Carrozzo goes on:
“The year 1973 was one of revelation for me. I learned of Ted’s profound and
long-enduring sexual activities. Herbert’s total cover-up, corruption at the highest
level in the WCG, Herbert’s pleasure blasts around the world under the guise of
preaching the true gospel, squandering of vast sums of money on extravagant art
treasures, exploitation of gullible and hard-pressed people, gross doctrinal error,
and suppression of human beings — mentally, emotionally, physically and spirit-
ually. Yes 1973 proved to me that dishonesty was a way of life with Ted and
his father, and that way of life hasn’t changed to this very day” (p.47).
Al Carrozzo came to his conclusion back in 1973. Of course, much more evidence of sin and dishonesty have come to the fore since that time.
When I read first-hand accounts of the many”sins” of a man who claimed to be “God’s apostle” on this earth during these end times, and who on occasion hinted or claimed that he was the “prophesied Elijah to come” at the very end, I can only shake my head in horror and disgust.
How could such a man be “Elijah”? How could entire churches today literally revere his memory and idolize him? Personally, when I think of the evil things he did, and how abusive he often was in the conduct of his ministry, and unfair in judgment, I can only think of the terrible words of Christ Himself who said, in a prophecy for the days just before His second coming,
“But and if that EVIL SERVANT shall say in his heart, My lord
delayeth his coming; and shall begin to SMITE his fellow-servants,
and to eat and drink with the DRUNKEN; the lord of that servant
shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour
that he is not aware of, and shall CUT HIM ASUNDER, and appoint
him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth” (Matt.24:48-51).
For years I suffered in silence and said nothing. I watched as the Church drifted away from some of the foundational principles of the Word of God. I watched, horrified, as Herbert Armstrong compounded error on error, and at times falsely accused and attacked his fellowservants. For years I saw his famous volcanic temper work its way. I saw him threaten, bully, and bluster others in sheer indomitable intimidation.
I kept silence. What could I do about it? What could I say? Who would listen to me?
So, in 1974, upon being terminated from the position of being a writer for the Church and its magazines, I began the lonely work of publishing the truth of God, in books, as God made me able, and as He opened the doors. I wrote and published such books as The Keys to Radiant Health, The First Genesis: A New Case for Creation, Beyond Star Wars, The Last Days, Escape from Armageddon, Overcoming Satan, and others. I remained in the Church, but operated on my own, as God blessed my endeavors. I turned my attention to serving God as he enabled me.
But in the meanwhile, these terrible buried truths gnawed at my stomach. I was greatly depressed by the state of the Church, and more directly, the sad state of the “apostle” who was leading the Church, and his sinning son. It made no sense. Why would a man of God allow these things to happen? Even more, why would God in heaven allow such things to go on in His very Church?
I was baffled.
I thought to myself, no wonder Mrs. Loma D. Armstrong died, willingly, in 1967. If she had lived to know of these terrible revelations about her own husband, it would have been a terrible jolt. But on the other hand, how much did she really know? Was she aware all those years? Did she suspect?
But one thing we can all know, if we trust God and have faith in Him. God will not justify or excuse the wicked. No matter how righteous and pure they may look on the outside, Jesus Christ said of such miserable hypocrites,
“WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like
unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but
are within full of DEAD MEN’S BONES, and of ALL UNCLEAN-
NESS. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but
within ye are FULL OF HYPOCRISY and INIQUITY. Woe unto
you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! . . . . Fill ye up then the
measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generatio of vipers, how
can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt.23:27-29, 32-33).
A more fitting description of the hypocrisy and venality of some of the most “righteous appearing” men of God, and so-called modern “apostles,” during these “Last Days,” I could scarcely begin to remotely imagine.
Should These Things Be Made Public?
Some people might ask, “Why do you bring up these old sins of the past? Isn’t this just a form of muckraking? Shouldn’t we just forget these scandalous things? Aren’t you engaging in wallowing in filth and mud-slinging? Besides, if Herbert and Ted have sincerely repented o their sins, then shouldn’t we forgive and forget them?”
Those are honest questions. However, any truly accurate, historical account of the facts would not be honest if any relevant part of the story were left out. God forgave David his sin with Bathsheba, but He still recorded it in His Word, the Bible, for all to read! He still made a PUBLIC EXAMPLE of it before all Israel! Even though David repented bitterly, that did not allow him to escape public exposure and rebuke!
It is true that love covers a multitude of sins (I Pet.4:8). However, God also inspired to be written, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num.32:23). God also tells us, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov.28:13).
Neither Herbert Armstrong nor Garner Ted Armstrong ever confessed the enormity of their sins, publicly. For years they covered them up and hid them from view. David’s sins were written about in Scripture. But the sins of Herbert Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong were NEVER admitted to the Church membership! They were denied, covered up, whitewashed, and glossed over. Those brave individuals who sought to have them revealed were summarily disfellowshipped and put out of the Church!
What does Almighty God say about spiritual “cover ups”? The apostle Paul wrote, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin REBUKE BEFORE ALL, that others also may fear” (I Tirn.5:19-20).
The Living Bible has this, “If he has really sinned, then he should be REBUKED IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CHURCH.” The Good News Bible says, “REBUKE PUBLICLY all those who commit sins, so that the rest may be afraid.”
When sins are covered up, made little of, ignored and swept under the carpet, this encourages other ministers to play around, commit adultery, fornication, sexual perversion, thinking they can get away with it. It also encourages a spirit of immorality among the Church membership in general as well. In a Church where sin is tolerated, sin will soon become the rule!
Should such sins be kept secret? Should they be covered up, to protect the office and image and prestige of the guilty?
The apostle Paul declared, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather REPROVE THEM. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Eph.5:11-12).
What is God’s attitude toward spiritual “cover-ups”? “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Prov.6:16-19). Those who commit adultery and cover it up, and then disfellowship those who seek justice to be done, are guilty of ALL these sins!
Let us not hide our eyes from the truth. How does God view the sins of one who rapes and commits incest with his own daughter for ten years? The Word of God says, “If a man has sexual intercourse with a woman and with her mother, it is a GREAT EVIL. All three shall be burned alive to wipe out wickedness from among you” (Lev.20:14).
Not only did Herbert Armstrong have sex with a woman and her daughter — he did it to his OWN daughter! Not just once, but repeatedly, over TEN YEARS! And then he covered it up for over 40 to 50 years!
Therefore I make no apology for having to write these things, and exposing the TRUTH, no matter how unpalatable it may be. It is high time the truth were told! We need to have the courage to face the truth, honestly, unafraid — no matter what the consequences! I know it seems like a dirty job. But somebody has to do it! And it seems of all those who came out of Worldwide, during the past ten years, I am the only one who has been publicly willing to confront these things head on!
Why is that? Why haven’t the leaders of Worldwide faced these issues all these years? Why hasn’t Global Church of God and Roderick Meredith admitted these things? Why hasn’t United Church of God faced up to the truth? Why hasn’t Gerald Flurry and his “Philadelphia Church” admitted the truth? Is it because they are fattening their pocketbooks by idolizing the memory of Herbert Armstrong, and sucking in millions of dollars from naive, gullible, well-intentioned but foolish followers who don’t know the truth?
Jesus Christ said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Free from the shackles of deception and sin! But sometimes, we must face it, the truth hurts! It hurts to be deceived, and it hurts to have to admit we have been deceived!
“With Force and CRUELTY”
In prophesying of an “evil servant” who would rule the flock before His second coming, Jesus said he will “cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt.24:51).
In the prophesy of Ezekiel 34, God thunders, “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool (from the flock), ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick . . .” (Ezek.34:2-4).
Ezekiel prophesied against end-time ministers in His very own church, against the very “shepherd of Israel,” when he wrote, “Neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; BUT WITH FORCE AND WITH CRUELTY HAVE YE RULED THEM” (Ezek.34:4).
“The Scattered Sheep”
The prophet Zechariah foretold of these days, “Awake, 0 sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; SMITE THE SHEPHERD, and the sheep shall be scattered [the scattering of the sheep will occur in the Great Tribulation shortly to come!]: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones” (Zech.13:7). Who is this end-time shepherd, who was to be “smitten,” that is, die, and then the sheep would be “scattered”?
As long as he was alive, Herbert Armstrong ruled the Church with an iron hand. For the most part, he kept the Church together, united at least on the surface, and fought off all who attempted to change doctrines and to divide the flock. But after he died, difficult times came upon the flock, and in the twelve years since his death the Church has been rocked to its foundations! Hundreds of factions and groups have split off from the parent Church, and the former Worldwide Church of God has been shrunk in size to a mere shadow of its former self. Its heyday of glory has past, and Church membership has shrunk from 125,000 to about 31,000. Income has shrunk from over $211 million in 1990 to a comparatively paltry $38 million. All but about 200 of its headquarters staff, which once number 1,200, have been laid off. The “successors” to Herbert Armstrong, hand-picked by the apostle-general himself, unfortunately, have taken his church, buried his legacy, and destroyed his writings, and changed most of the significant doctrines of the Church — while claiming his approval and authority for so doing!
Among the off-shoot Churches, the Arcadia-based United Church of God, headed by David Hulme, claims a membership of about 18,000. Global Church of God, headed by Roderick C. Meredith, claims about 4-5,000 members, and Philadelphia Church of God perhaps about the same. But of the former members of the Worldwide Church of God, an estimated 40,000 or so no longer bother to attend any church, having become jaded, dispirited, and unhappy with the whole lot! Truly, as the Word of God prophesied, “the shepherd was smitten” and the “sheep scattered”!
But the prophecy in Zechariah goes on to state that two thirds of the Church of God people will suffer greatly, and will be “cut off and die” during the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob’s Trouble (compare Jer.30:7). The “third part” shall be brought “through the fire,” and God will “refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried” (Zech.13:8-9).
“The IDOL Shepherd”
In these last days, many members of the Worldwide Church of God, and all of its split-off groups, such as Philadelphia, Global, and United Church of God, are for some reason or another BLIND to the faults and flaws of Herbert Armstrong. Many refuse to admit he could do any wrong, that he could have made MAJOR mistakes in his life. They hold him up on a pedestal; they virtually WORSHIP the man, although they would deny it if you mentioned this to them. Others have gone to the opposite extreme. They pillory and ridicule the man, accuse him of being a great deceiver, charlatan, wolf in sheep’s clothing, and a spiritual FRAUD! They “throw the baby out with the bath water” and reject the good along with the evil!
Many people today are blind to the real truth. When we look at the fruits of his life, with honesty and willingness to face the facts, then we find that Herbert Armstrong was seriously flawed. He was far from perfect. However, Almighty God did use him mightily at various points in his life to restore and recapture certain major truths of God’s Word. Nevertheless, God also allowed him to make incredible mistakes and blunders — both in prophetic utterances, in certain doctrinal teachings that impacted severely on the lives of people, and in his method of government of the Church of God.
There is an amazing prophecy found in the book of Zechariah. Some have wondered if it is actually a prophecy of Herbert W. Armstrong. Dr. Herman L. Hoeh, years ago, raised this possibility to me as I sat in his office. It was around 1972. We were discussing the Work of God, and Herbert Armstrong and some of the problems in the Church. Herman Hoeh turned to the prophecy of Zechariah 11, where we read that God told His prophet, “Take unto thee yet the instruments of a FOOLISH SHEPHERD. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall NOT visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still; but he shall eat the flesh of the fat (live high and mighty off the tithes of Gods people!), and tear their claws in pieces.
“Woe to the IDOL shepherd [an “idol” shepherd is one who is worshipped and esteemed like a “god”!] that leaveth the flock! [Herbert Armstrong was noted for his many trips abroad in his private corporate jet plane, meeting and hobnobbing with the princes of this world, leaving the Church behind]. The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye [as he grew older, Herbert Armstrong went blind in his right eye and almost blind in his left eye]: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened” (Zech.11:15-17).
What was Herbert Armstrong’s “arm”?
For many years, his right arm was his son, Garner Ted Armstrong. Could this prophecy be a reference to the fact that Ted Armstrong would himself eventually “dry up” completely, spiritually? With all the evidence of Ted Armstrong’s incessant philandering and womanizing, even up to the present time, he certainly did become totally “dried up” as to being the “right arm” of Herbert Armstrong! In fact, he has been his “enemy,” leading a competing branch of the Church of God, since 1978 when he was finally disfellowshipped by his father!
Is this a prophecy that Garner Ted Armstrong — Herbert Armstrong’s “right arm” for MANY YEARS — the one whom he at one time appointed as his heir and successor, even as David so appointed Solomon his son to succeed him three thousand years ago — that he would go astray and become “clean dried up” spiritually, bereft of the Spirit of God? Look at the evidence! Let’s face the facts, honestly, boldly, courageously, without pity or compromise!
Almighty God Himself speaks of this end-time shepherd as a “foolish” shepherd. Herbert Armstrong in his later years, and during various times of his ministry, was indeed a very “foolish” man. An old saying says, “There is no fool like an old fool.” In his later years, Herbert Armstrong often completely misjudged people. He himself “ordained” as evangelists in the Church the likes of such men as Stanley Rader, church attorney, and Joseph Tkach, who later betrayed both his memory and his doctrinal teachings. Was this not an example of outright “foolishness”?
Yet in the prophecy of Zechariah, God refers to this “foolish shepherd” (Zech.11:15) as one who He said “I will raise up” (v.15). This shepherd was specifically prophesied to not heal that which was broken, but would live off the fat of the people. Herbert Armstrong’s teaching on “healing” for decades referred to drugs as poisons, and medicine as “idolatry.” Thus in fact he taught against the medical establishment and taught those who went to doctors had no faith in God. As a result of this teaching, many heart-wrenching stories can be told of church members, refusing operations, who lost their eye-sight, who died when a simple operation could have saved them, and many small children were sacrificed to this false teaching. In retrospect, this example of church fanaticism did untold and incalculable evil.
This end-time shepherd whom God says He “raised up” (Zech.11:16), also spent MILLIONS of dollars on expensive jewelry, original paintings, candelabra, ornate salt cellars, and fabulous dinner settings for his table. He lived in a mansion in Pasadena, and owned other mansions in Big Sandy, Texas and Bricket Wood, England. He flew around the world in his own jet airplane, and commanded a salary from the Church of over $250,000 a year plus an unlimited expense account. As the prophecy states, “he shall eat the flesh of the fat.”
Does Herbert Armstrong fulfill this amazing Biblical prophecy? Think about it.
Gene Scarbrough, who has been an elder in God’s Church for over forty years, was ordained in 1967, and came out to Pasadena, California, in that year to serve full-time in the ministry. He told me that years ago his daughter Peggy, spent some time visiting with Mrs. Loma D. Armstrong, who took a liking to her. While they were together one time, Mrs. Armstrong reminisced about how the Work and Church began. While reflecting on how the ministry of her husband Herbert and his eldest son, Richard David Armstrong, originally got started, Mrs. Armstrong told Peggy, “They got into it for the money!”
This type of candid statement would not be surprising if heard from the lips of an enemy of the Church. But, coming straight from the lips of Mrs. Loma D. Armstrong, it packs a wallop!
Another friend corroborates the above story in part. According to his information, Garner Ted Armstrong once told a teacher in the church at Big Sandy and a personal friend that when his father was in the aluminum siding business back in Oregon, he got a call from far away to make a bid on a job. Herbert jacked up the price because he didn’t want the job, the location was so distant. To his surprise, the customer said, “When can you get started?” It turns out the customer was the minister of a Seventh Day Adventist Church, and had plenty of money from tithes and offerings. According to Ted Armstrong, upon returning home that evening, Herbert — who all his life wanted to be considered succesful in business and make lots of money — told his wife, “Honey, I now know how we’re going to get rich!”
Contrary to his own Autobiography, then, it seems clear that at least originally Herbert Armstrong got into religion to make money. During his ministry, he certainly accomplished this feat. Along the way, however, it seems clear that he also learned a great deal of spiritual and Biblical truth which he began teaching. It is also possible that as he learned Bible truth, that Herbert Armstrong came to true repentance and conversion. As he began to learn much truth, he began to preach it. Only God truly knows the depth of his ultimate sincerity.
“Tried Them Which Say They Are Apostles”
God says to His Church of Ephesus, “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast TRIED them which say they are APOSTLES, and are not, and hast found them LIARS . . .” (Rev.2:2).
The apostle Paul wrote, “For such are FALSE APOSTLES, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (II Cor.11:13-15).
Paul was saying there are ministers who have entered the Church of God down through history who have not been true apostles of God. They misled the Church. They claimed to be apostles, even transformed themselves into apostles, but God Himself never made them such.
God commands us to beware of such men. They may appear just like a true minister of God, but they are spiritual “tares” in the sight of God and will burn up in the lake of fire!
What about Herbert W. Armstrong? Was he a true apostle of God, although severely flawed? Or was he a false apostle?
The apostle John tells us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but TRY [TEST, PROVE] THE SPIRITS [messages, attitudes, teachings] whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
Like many others, I carefully checked up and investigated the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong back in the late 50s and early 60s, before I became involved with the Church and became a member. At the time, I was convinced that what I had read and proved was true. I studied diligently. I looked up every Scripture. I proved Christmas was pagan, Easter was pagan, the Sabbath should be observed, and even the annual Holy Days should be remembered and observed.
As time went on, I found that many of Herbert Armstrong’s teachings were truly based on the Bible, and I could prove them. But some others I came to see, over the years, were in error to one degree or another.
Many of these doctrinal “shady” areas came to the light in the mid-1970s. At that time, many ministers left the Church for two essential reasons: First, they despised the cover up and misuse of authority shown by Herbert Armstrong in dealing with his son’s sexual sins. Second, their were honest questions and disagreements on certain doctrines. Some of these questions were discussed and changes were made; others were buried and suppressed at the time. Nothing could be changed except what Herbert Armstrong wanted to change. At that time, he made a change in Pentecost, changing the manner of “counting,” and he made a more fundamental change in the doctrine of divorce and remarriage. Interestingly, with the change that was made, he gave himself the “right” to marry a divorcee! Most other areas demanding investigation and change — such as the doctrine of divine healing, wearing make up, and the like — were ignored.
Over the years I have come to see that flawed as he undoubtedly was, in many areas, nevertheless, Herbert Armstrong did teach the truth of God in a way unlike any other man I ever knew. It was sad for me to see him gradually go further and further astray, after the death of his wife in 1967.
The Example of Solomon
The fact that a man can make many mistakes, and still serve God is evident from the Scriptures. How such a man will be judged by God is an altogether different matter.
During his early life Solomon was a man who feared God, and was used by God to write the Biblical books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. He was the wisest, most understanding man who ever lived, apart from Christ. Solomon’s wisdom was so famous that kings and queens from around the world came to hear his wisdom, including the Queen of Sheba. He possessed vast scientific understanding as well, being a student of animals and plants.
Soon after Solomon became king, God came to him in a dream, and then said to him, “Lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee” (I Kings 3:12).
God allowed Solomon to build the Temple of God in Jerusalem, even as He allowed Herbert Armstrong to build the “house for God” in Pasadena.
But did all this guarantee that Solomon would remain faithful to God? Solomon had the same kind of problem as Herbert Armstrong — sex. We read, “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomnites, Ziodonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in unto them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
“And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and HIS HEART WAS NOT PERFECT with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.
“For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon DID EVIL in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.
“Then did Solomon build an high place Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
“And the Lord was ANGRY with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
“Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely REND the kingdom away from thee, and will give it to thy servant” (I Kings 11:1-11).
Notice the incredible parallels. Solomon, like Herbert Armstrong, had a problem with “sex.” It undoubtedly caused him grief throughout his life. Even so Herbert Armstrong’s sexual problems lasted all through his marriage. Some might blame his first wife for being frigid and say she caused some of his problems. Whatever the case, his incest with his younger daughter has been carefully documented. His masturbation throughout his life was admitted to by himself. Other stories of adultery have surfaced from time to time. His sexual sins after the death of his first wife have also been reported and documented.
The comparison between Herbert Armstrong, to whom God granted much precious, divine knowledge, during the years of his ministry, and Solomon, to whom God granted great wisdom and understanding, cannot be denied.
And both of them, as they grew old, began to compromise with the truth and knowledge of God. Both of them became autocratic and tyrannical demagogues and abusive in their administration of authority. Of course, this goes hand in hand with departure from the laws and commandments of God, two of which are: “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”
Solomon became a despot. After God sent a prophet to tell Jeroboam he was to become king over ten tribes of Israel, Solomon learned of it (he had “eyes” and “ears” throughout his kingdom, like the CIA), and “sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon” (I Kings 11:40). Solomon sought to stop the prophecy from being fulfilled! He was no longer the “friend” of God. He had become God’s enemy!
Even so, Herbert Armstrong went astray during various stages of his life, as he himself admitted to his own son. Even during the last years of his life, he sinned. He sinned against God, and like Eli, he put his son before God. When he finally put his son out of the Church, it was not for the reasons of adultery and immorality, but because of a difference in opinion over administrative decisions in the Church.
Like Solomon, Herbert tried to cover up his own sins, and his sexual weaknesses. No mention of these things can be found in his official autobiography. Not even a hint!
How, then, will God judge this man?
How will God judge Solomon?
In the examples of faith listed in Hebrews 11, the name of king Solomon is conspicuously absent. Does this mean he will not be in the Kingdom of God, at the resurrection of the righteous at the coming of Christ? Apparently so. He will come up in the second resurrection, it would seem, with those who have not yet proven faithful, and will be judged according to his “works.”
In his old age, the high priest Eli went astray from God, and sinned grievously, bringing upon himself and his family the wrath of God. In his old age, Herbert Armstrong likewise sinned grievously against God, and ruled the Church of God with an iron tyrannical hand. How will God judge him?
In another Scriptural parallel, God Himself chose Saul to be king over Israel. In the beginning Saul was very humble and meek. He even “hid among the baggage” when they came to make him king! (I Sam.10:22). But after he became king, Saul never quite turned wholeheartedly to serve the Lord. He himself became a “problem” to the congregation of Israel, and at one time in misguided zeal even threatened to kill his own son Jonathan who had brought great victory to Israel (I Sam.14:44-45). Saul began to listen to the people rather than the simple commands of God (15:24). He “feared the people.”
In the beginning, I do not doubt the conversion of Herbert Armstrong and the way God used him in his ministry. In the early years he discovered much new truth, the Sabbath, holy days, healing, truth about hell fire, the mortality of the soul, the identity of the “lost ten tribes of Israel,” the pagan origin of Christmas, Easter, and many other foundational truths. But like Saul, as he grew and the Church grew, Herbert at times became a “problem” to himself, his own family, the Church, and to God. Like Saul, he turned away from the pure and simple commandments of God, and His law, and at times became a “law unto himself.”
What shall we say, then? How will God judge such a man? Frankly, I don’t know. That is something that God Himself will decide.
God’s Word warns us not to place our trust or hopes in mere mortal men. In fact, God warns, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).
God commands us, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he retumeth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).
No man can save us or give us salvation. Only God and Jesus Christ can do that! As Peter said in the book of Acts, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
As the apostle Paul wrote, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:1-4).
We should keep our eyes focused on Christ. We should keep our eyes riveted, fixed on the Lord.
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water at night, while the sea tossed and heaved, they were afraid. But Jesus told them, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matt.14:27). Peter, bold and brash as usual, said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Jesus told him to do so, and Peter began walking on water!
Can you imagine the sensation?
“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, 0 thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt.14:28-31).
Are your eyes on Christ? Or are you still looking to men?
David prayed to God, “Shew me thy ways, 0 Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy TRUTH, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4-5).
David said, “Mine eyes are EVER TOWARD THE LORD; for he shall pluck up my feet out of the net” (Psa.25:15).
Where are YOUR eyes centered? “But mine eyes are unto thee, 0 God, the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute” (Psalm 141:8). Isn’t it about time we start putting our trust in God, and Jesus Christ, and not in mortal, sinful man?
God inspired Jeremiah to write, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jer.17:5).
Jeremiah continued, “For he shall be like the heath in the desert and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jer.17:6-8).
In the mid-1970s I was devastated when I learned about the terrible “cover up” perpetrated by Herbert Armstrong over the heinous sins of his son, Garner Ted Armstrong. I was plunged into a morass of despair, and grief, and sorrow — and discouragement.
Shortly after that time, God used me to begin publishing books through Triumph Publishing Company, which He raised up. He began Triumph with nothing but faith, prayer, and a “little mustard seed” of capital. During the ensuing years, He blessed me greatly with spiritual blessings, and sufficient money to publish 19 full length books.
During the past ten years, God has enabled me to begin publishing a bi-monthly Newsletter called PROPHECY FLASH, now grown into a magazine of some 88 pages. He has also revealed incredible, amazing, sensational new prophetic truths to me — things not revealed before to any other man, woman or child on this earth, to my knowledge.
Why has God chosen to do this through me, an insignificant person, but one whom He has used and trained — even at the feet of Herbert Armstrong from 1959 to 1974? Why? Of course, it is not for me, at all — but for His own glorious purpose. Perhaps He wants to show the world what He can do with a veritable “nobody.”
The truth is the truth, and the truth will prevail!
During the past 25 years, since I discovered that both Herbert Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong were leaders with “feet of clay,” and not the great men of God I had once thought, I have learned not to depend on men at all, but to look to Jesus Christ for His guidance and mercy and deliverance and help. I have learned that He is a very competent Saviour. Even if men prove unworthy, He is always worthy and true. Even when men fail, God remains loyal and steadfast, true and reliable, a faithful Friend.
What about you? What will you do now that you have learned the truth about Mr. Armstrong’s sins? Will this destroy your faith in the Word of God? Will you go off, jettison the truth, and throw away all religious faith?
As Thomas Paine wrote some two hundred years ago, “These are the times which try men’s souls.” To learn unhappy truths about men we have once admired, is a depressing thing, but it need not cause us to lose our faith in God. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Yea, let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom.3:4).
As David wrote so powerfully, “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my Rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:1-8).
David goes on, in this wonderful Psalm, “Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.”
From the ditch digger to Solomon, from the lowly landscape worker to Herbert Armstrong, they are all vanity and lies, less than nothing before God.
But, David concluded, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that POWER belongeth unto God. Also unto thee, 0 Lord, belongeth mercy: For thou tenderest to every man according to his work” (Psa.62:9,11-12).
Whatever we may think of Herbert W. Armstrong, or Garner Ted Armstrong, and the shenanigans men will do, one thing is crystal clear: All will have to answer to God in the final judgment! Every work will be brought into judgment, whether it be good or evil.
Even wise Solomon, who forgot more wisdom than most men will ever know, wrote in his divinely given wisdom, “Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole man.” We often quote that verse, and then stop. But this time let us go on to quote the final verse in all the book of Ecclesiastes: “For God shall bring EVERY WORK INTO JUDGMENT, with EVERY SECRET THING, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl.12:13-14).
This is truly the “conclusion of the matter.” God will judge each man’s work, to reward him accordingly. Only those sins truly covered by the blood of Christ will be forgiven and forgotten. It is to Christ that we should look for salvation, mercy, and help in time of need. Let’s keep our eyes and hearts on Him!
God will bless us if we do!