THE PLAIN TRUTH
Rev. Donald MacLean, Glasgow
A certain type of American is immediately recognisable by his remarkable energy, his capacity for drive and initiative and his unusual ability for overcoming all obstacles which may stand in the way of his designs. Such men are not confined to secular spheres. Many of them appear in the religious world and when their organising ability is directed to the arduous propagation of error, they are a real threat to Christianity.
Such a man is Herbert Armstrong of the Radio Church of God and the “World Tomorrow” radio programme. Mr. Armstrong is the Editor of
The Plain Truth, a monthly magazine which has a rising circulation and a growing influence in the field of non-Christian cults. The copies which the present writer has seen of this magazine deals mainly with the present sad condition of society with its drug addiction, immorality and general state of degradation. To any seriously-minded person and, especially to a Christian, who is very concerned with the present conditions prevailing throughout the world, this information appears useful. The magazine does not deal at length with actual Christian beliefs. Recently, however, a copy of “Tomorrow’s World” came into the present writer’s possession. This is called “An International Magazine of Bible Understanding” and deals more specifically with religion. It contains a shocking article on “What is Death?” which expresses the wholly unscriptural view that at temporal death both body and soul die and are not revived till the resurrection, etc.
Since these magazines are widely advertised and perhaps widely read, a brief statement on the activities of this organisation is most necessary. Those who wish a full treatment of the subject will find it in “The Kingdom of the Cults” by W. R. Martin, from which much of the material in this article is taken.
Herbert Armstrong is a promoter of the Cult of “Anglo-Israelism”. These people believe that the ten tribes of Israel were lost when the Jews were captured by the Assyrians, and that these “lost” tribes went westwards and became the ancestors of the Saxons. The Anglo Saxons of Britain and America are supposed to be those tribes, Britain in particular being Ephraim, and the United States of America, Manasseh. This fantastic theory, which has neither Biblical nor historical authority, means that the promises to Israel now become the portion of the Anglo-Saxons, and the Throne of England is regarded as the Throne of David.
This silly view could easily be ignored were it not that, by magazine and radio, Herbert Armstrong propagates it and adds to it his own heretical doctrines. He, himself, is supposed to have been converted to these views by his wife, who had made the remarkable discovery that “obedience to God’s spiritual laws summed up in the Ten Commandments is necessary for salvation.”
The Apostle Paul met the same spirit in the Galatian Church in his own day and called it “another Gospel”. What would Paul have said to the following? “People have been taught falsely that Christ completed the Plan of Salvation on the CrossÂ—when actually it was only begun there. The popular denominations have taught ‘Just believeÂ—that is all there is to it; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you are that instant saved!’ That teaching is false! and because of deceptionÂ—because the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been blotted out, lo, these nineteen hundred years by the preaching of a false gospel about the person of ChristÂ—and often a false Christ at thatÂ—millions today worship ChristÂ—and all in vain! The blood of Christ does not finally save any man.”
Like the rest of the Cultists, Joseph Smith, the Mormon, Pastor Russell, the Jehovah’s Witness, and Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Scientist, Herbert Armstrong thinks the Gospel was hid until he and the Radio Church of God appeared on the scene in 1931.
As well as denying salvation by grace alone without the works of the law, he also denies the Trinity, the Person of Christ, as the Co-equal of the Father and His Eternal Son. and the Personality of the Holy Spirit. He denies that at conversion a sinner is born again and maintains that the new birth takes place at the resurrection of the body. The soul, he maintains, is mortal and teaches: “The Bible, which is God’s message of instruction to mankind, nowhere teaches any such thing as the pagan doctrine of an immortal soul going to Heaven at death. It teaches that the soul is mortal and shall die.” Herbert Armstrong also maintains the necessity of abstaining from “unclean” foods as prohibited in the Mosaic system and, in addition to the Seventh Day Adventists’ view of the Sabbath, insists on the keeping of the Jewish Feast Days, New Moons, Festivals and Sabbaths, all of which were abolished when the shadows of the ceremonial law passed away before the bright rising of the Sun of Righteousness. This bundle of almost incredible errors has earned Mr. Armstrong the name of “Mr. Confusion”.
Yet he pursues his course with undiminished vigour. His son is being trained to assist and eventually to take his place. “The Radio Church of God,” concludes W. R. Martin, “is all the more dangerous as it makes use of the Bible and professes to swear allegiance to ‘only the plain truth of the Scripture’, while, in reality, its allegiance is to the interpretations of the Scripture propagated by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.” His literature and propaganda should be avoided like the plague.
Reprinted by kind permission of the writer. First published in the Free Presbyterian Magazine.