Was Herbert Armstrong a False Prophet?

False Prophet Hall of Shame: Herbert W. Armstrong

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)

The Worldwide Church of God, under Herbert W. Armstrong, denounced all trinitarians as false prophets. They also denounce all other churches as preaching a false gospel and a false Christ. They accuse others of “stupendous errors,” “false conceptions,” and “spiritual blindness.”

When a cultists believe they alone are God’s people, then it follows most logically that whatever they believe must be truths from God. All who disagree with them are viewed as lost or deceived. Their belief that they have an exclusive corner on truth leads them to think they also have an exclusive corner on salvation.

The Motivation of the False Prophet Is Money:

Micah 3:11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, “Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us.”

Many Prefer The False Prophet:

2 Tim 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

The Fate Of False Prophets And Those Who Follow Them:

Jer 14:14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.
16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.


Dixon wrote:
‘I don’t think Herbert Armstrong was a prophet, therefore I don’t think he could have been a true or false prophet.’

And there are more comments from Armstrong himself expressing that he indeed was sent by God and had the gift of prophecy.


Let’s be honest here. Should we take Armstrong at his word?



“What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment & death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment . . . inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.
– “Thomas Jefferson to Jean Nicholas Demeunier, January 24, 1786


11 Replies to “Was Herbert Armstrong a False Prophet?”

  1. Here is the problem for such people, the condemning evidence so to speak. You don’t have to call yourself a prophet to be a a false prophet. And, “prophet” isn’t an ordained or annointed office.

    All you need to do, is to tell others what is going to happen in the future, in other words, to prophesy. Deuteronomy uses the word “presumptuously” in indicting and condemning false prophets. It seems obvious by the context that anyone who would dare to foretell what God is going to bring to pass, but through whom God is not actually speaking, is speaking presumptuously, and if what he says does not come to pass, that individual is a false prophet. There is no room to use semantics to get around this. Now, if you are so fearless as to make those prophecies “In Jesus’ name”, you have tightened the hangman’s noose around your neck even further.

    When you create and share selective information, designed to extort from others what they would not willingly give to you otherwise, that is a “con”. People have no problem applying this term or definition to Bernie Madoff, or Kevin Trudeau, but because of the separation of church and state as defined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, religious “cons” get a pass, just so long as they do not break other laws. Absenting murder or other blatant capital offenses, this is a very complex situation, and it is especially difficult to prove the breaking of financial laws, as was discovered when the State of California attempted to hold Herbert W. Armstrong fiscally accountable. Others, such as Jim Bakker and Ron Weinland either lacked sufficient legal resources or were less fortunate, and ended up being brought to accountability.

    Belief in God, in general, allows room for interpretation. It is subject to personalization, the ways in which individuals apply this belief to themselves. I believe that this is an intentional phenomenon. However, believers in man are a strange breed, especially believers in an autocratic, legalistic man. They do not enjoy that same intrinsic latitude. If they believe in the man’s teachings or philosophy, they will attempt to refute any allegations against their guy, even to the point of appearing ridiculous, or going down in flames themselves. They are compelled to do this, because to not do it is to invalidate their very beliefs in the man’s philosophy. Integrity of the man, and veracity of the beliefs are inextricably tied together. Once you can convince people that you speak for God, everything else comes easy. That is why this sort of activity is called “presumptuousness”.


  2. After all that is said and done, the measure of a false prophet is not doctrines, silly ideas or even failed prophecies: The measure of a false prophet is how much harm he has done to innocent people.

  3. Bob wrote: ‘If they believe in the man’s teachings or philosophy, they will attempt to refute any allegations against their guy, even to the point of appearing ridiculous, or going down in flames themselves.’

    Indeed, this is the psychology of men. Apply it to religion or politics. Human behavior is irrational at worst, illogical at its best. The secret to rational thought is to use logical deduction. Bayes Thoerem comes to mind as does Ocmanns razor. The one exception is for the person(s) with chemical and/or biological imbalances.

  4. Perhaps we should look at what David Havir of the Church of God Big Sandy says in his Among Friends: Are You a Sucker for a False Prophet. He says:

    “When a Bible student reads the Scriptures, he can clearly see God’s view
    against the false prophets. Have you ever considered how your preoccupation with hearing dogmatic opinions about prophecy may actually be influencing the false prophet to continue his folly?

    “Someone might say: I don’t listen to people who claim to be a prophet.
    I could respond: Do you listen to people who give their dogmatic proclamations about prophecy?

    ? Maybe the charlatan is too wise to actually call himself a prophet.
    ? Maybe the snake-oil salesman actually knows that he can dogmatically
    pronounce imaginations of his heart, as long as he doesn’t call himself a
    ? Actually, the man who avoids claiming to be a prophet may do more damage
    to religious people than those who insist on a title of prophet. Subtle
    behavior can be dangerous.”

    So there you have it from Dixon Cartwright’s Pastor: A man doesn’t have to call himself a prophet to be a false prophet — the charlatans are too crafty to call themselves prophets. More like they call themselves Apostles.

    Anyway, this “he can’t be a false prophet because he never claimed to be a prophet” doesn’t hold water.

    Now a cursory search shows that the Church of God Big Sandy doesn’t have much in the way of British Israelism, but it is there in the background, as you can see for yourself in My Introduction to Prophecy by Daniel Botha — mentioning how he got the truth of prophecy from Herbert Armstrong when he ordered “Germany in Prophecy” and “The United States [and British Commonwealth] in Prophecy”.

    One should consider the Church of God Big Sandy as ‘the gold standard’ when it comes to doctrines held by The Journal staff. Of course, they allow dissent… up to a point….

    One of the most disturbing aspects of sects such as the Church of God Big Sandy and the United Church of God an International Association is that they seem to have absorbed a lot of the information being presented by Gavin Rumney at Otagosh concerning the provenance of the Bible, to wit, that much of the New Testament is filled with forged books. At least 6 of the 13 epistles of Paul are forgeries. The Second Epistle of Peter is most certainly a forgery. The 4 gospels (of which there are at least 40 floating around) were written decades after Christ was to have died by people who never had personal experience with him. The book of Revelation was not what it claimed to be and was also a forgery.

    Now mind you, this is not like atheists pushing this: This is Biblical Scholars and Christian Theologists. So what do THEY do? Well, they sort of take the mystic higher plane high concept approach of dealing with the New Testament as wise sayings which have a higher spiritual meaning, even if the details are somewhat lacking — that God sort of inspired how the books were put together, often several centuries after the fact without any originals available.

    What appears to be happening is that some of the Armstrong ministers and leaders are using this approach and using New Testament Scriptures to build their sermons and publications without believing in the black and white, brick and mortar approach adopted by Herbert Armstrong. It’s using a rather vague source to provide inspiration to their local paranormal society of believers.

    The bad thing about that is that the believers actually think that the ministers are giving them the straight stuff and that the ministers actually believe the New Testament has validity. To reveal that they know the Books are forged would be to threaten their revenue stream and tear apart the fabric of the little sect they have formed around them. In doing so, they realize that they would do great harm to the social group which would be seriously wounded from learning the truth and be left isolated, not knowing what to believe and lose the connection of the others in their congregation.

    So those who are puzzled about ‘staying above the fray’, as in:

    “Interesting that you still are tuned in to the concept of false prophet. That strikes me as a religious and conservative-theological way of thinking that I try not to do anymore. It’s like saying someone’s a heretic. For a person trying to stay above the fray, some of those concepts make little sense. People obviously have strong religious convictions, and I think that can be an objective statement. But lamentations about false prophets and heretics and interpretations of Scripture and doctrine are not.”

    Of course, if you don’t believe the New Testament is valid and the books are forged, you certainly would have that view point because any discussion about heretics and false prophets are totally irrelevant.

    Members of the various ACoGs should be aware of this, so they can make intelligent choices about their participation with social groups without the assumption that the group they’ve picked really believe the same things they do. They should also be aware that the ministers they have chosen don’t really believe in the Bible because it’s simply high concept and not reality and therefore can only be used for ‘inspiration’ whatever that means.

  5. To add to the dogpile of logic and semantics – which is worst, a false prophet, a false teacher, or a false apostle? If we follow on part of the logic that apparently led Bob Thiel to leave the LCG, a false apostle outranks a false prophet, but a false prophet outranks a false evangelist.

    HWA claimed he wasn’t a prophet; he interpreted world news in light of Bible prophecy. While such interpretations were also made by GTA, Dr Hoeh, Rod Meredith and many others, they all followed HWA’s prophet framework. The only time I recall HWA using the words “my prophecy” was in reference to his Bricket Wood Bible Study prior to the 1967 Six-Day War. Of course, that war nullified the extravagant claims he made regarding his contract with Jordan for a slot on Radio Jerusalem. Like many other world-changing events, he didn’t see that coming…

    HWA is considered by his closest followers (with the exception of Dave Pack) to have been the End-Time Elijah. So HWA was not a prophet, but he was Elijah…? another pile of semantics and logic.

    1. As he molested his sister and Flurry gets caught drunk driving. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s follow me and do as I say, not as I do. Now open your wallets, shed your family and listen to your false prophet. Herbert was nuts and a sinner like no other.

  6. Is America crazy, or drunk? You had to be there, baby as a Witness for the Sovereign Lord of the Universe that we live in. 1953-1990 and beyond. He was no prophet of any kind. Try Nazi collaborator. Try killer, who never went to prison. Try guilty of treason. With his illegal Theocracy. Try Sex cult worship of Baal. Now you’ve got it.

  7. We must not forget Ezekiel 14:9-10: “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.”

    Like Byker Bob said: “You don’t have to call yourself a prophet to be a a false prophet…All you need to do, is to tell others what is going to happen in the future, in other words, to prophesy.” And HWA along with all those who have followed in his footsteps by predicting that God’s Word prophecies this or that and then it doesn’t come to pass stand condemned by their own words as a false prophet. It’s that simple! And seeing how HWA and his empire is long gone with the wind now only proves Ezekiel 14:9-10 correct.

    BTW where’s that main image taken from of a devil standing behind the pulpit above his human representative? It actually made me think of the Netflix series Midnight Mass (2021).

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