The Decline and Fall of the Worldwide Church of God — 1.

Preface

“Well, Greetings friends around the world. This is Herbert W. Armstrong bringing you the plain truth about todays’ world news and the prophecies of the World Tomorrow.”

That radio broadcast opening was and is familiar to millions of people around the world. Many millions of people sat glued to their radios waiting for those words to be spoken, signaling another World Tomorrow program had begun. Were you, like me, one of those people?

Today, those words cannot be heard DAILY on over 600 radio stations worldwide. There was at the time no other program like it. And, it created shock waves in the world of Christianity. Shock waves that were to create the total downfall of the organization behind the World Tomorrow. Some even claim today that nothing like it had ever happened to a “Christian” organization in history. The collapse sent new shock waves through the world of Christian denominations of all stripes.

The end result of this collapse is:

  1. No World Tomorrow Program.
  2. No Plain Truth Magazine.
  3. No GoodNews Magazine.
  4. Three colleges gone. The Ambassador Colleges became the Ambassador University shortly before the collapse.
  5. No more local churches around the world.
  6. No more international offices.
  7. No more Worldwide Church of God.

What happened? How could such a thing occur, seemingly overnight? Where did the ministers go? Where did the members go? What happened to the campus in Pasadena, in Bricketwood, in Big Sandy?

How could a church of thousands, and worth multiple millions, including millionaire mansions and college buildings, go under in such a surprising way? I’ve seen no satisfying explanations to what happened. Have you?

Well, that is the reason for the writing of this book. To explain what occurred from an “insider’s” experience who was there when it all began. And, by one who knew almost all the major players on a personal basis.

In this book you will discover the REAL reason for this major collapse of a worldwide Christian organization. And, you will learn for the first time of many, at present around 50, steps that brought down this giant organization.

I’m sure many interested individuals will be surprised at what really happened. Each of these steps will be explained mostly from an eye witness perspective.

I first heard of the Worldwide Church of God through the World Tomorrow radio program. At the time, 1956, the Worldwide was actually called the Radio Church of God.

At the time, the World Tomorrow program was “presented” on the air by Ambassador College, not the Radio Church of God. That first broadcast I heard was from Radio Luxembourg which could be heard in England where I was living at the time.

After graduating from high school in 1959, I was accepted as a student at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. In late July of that year I flew to Los Angeles, where the college sent a driver to pick me up, along with Betty Oden, and a couple other new students I don’t remember at the moment.

After graduating in 1963, I married Arlene Bunnell in 1964. During that time I worked full time for the college, and Arlene worked full time for Imperial Schools. In late 1966 or early 1967 we left the college and moved to New Jersey. There we attended the local church in Philadelphia. Later we ended up in Maryland, and attended the Baltimore congregation.

It was while in Baltimore that things began to really fall apart in Pasadena, and the local Baltimore congregation ended up in a great deal of turmoil.

Soon after that began, my family moved to Tucson, Arizona. Interestingly Herbert W. Armstrong also moved to Tucson during that time. Mel O. his driver, met me at the Park Mall where Mr. Armstrong would take walks during the hot days of summer. Having known Mel at college, he invited me to Mr. Armstrong’s home where he also stayed.

Sad to say, in 1978, Arlene and I left the Worldwide as members. We did not leave in anger, as so many did. We just simply walked out of one Sabbath service, and never went back. A year later we got a call from a local news reporter from the main newspaper, wanting to interview us. I couldn’t figure out why she would want to interview me. She explained that she was in services that Sabbath, and heard Larry Neff “disfellowship” Arlene and me. A year after we left, mind you. We gave her the interview which covered a full page and a fourth, as I recall. Wow, now that’s coverage. I agreed, on condition she promise me to write the story exactly as I explained it. She promised and she did. Three interviews were in that article. They were interviews of Garner Ted Armstrong, Stanley Rader, and me.

Oh, a few days after the interview I called Larry and asked why he had “marked” us. I said, “We left quietly, did not tell other people, and caused no trouble. So, why did you do that?” His response? “Well, you could have.” Now that’s a real reason, right?

About a year before leaving Ambassador College I had a discussion with Dr. Hoeh in his office. During the conversation he blurted out to me something that has always been an enigma. He said, “Bob, you won’t stay at Ambassador. You have something much more important to do.”

That statement still “haunts” me to this day. What did he mean?

I owe thanks to a lot of people from Ambassador and the Worldwide, including all of those who will be mentioned by name in the pages of this work.

Arlene deserves special acclaim and cheers for having put up with me all these years. FIFTY next month! See what I mean?

Now, let’s get on with it…

 

A “CHRISTIAN” FALLACY: Just Let the Elder Do It! Laymen Are too Dumb.

A “CHRISTIAN” FALLACY: The Elder Should Do It ALL for the Members.

Today, Christians far and wide bemoan one great truth. Their membership is dropping. And, it is even more surprising since their “evangelistic” efforts have increased.

What’s the problem?

Lack of inspiration. Lack of power. Lack of knowledge. Lack of determination. Lack of obedience. Lack of powerful teaching. And, most of all Lack of SELF-discipline by both minister and layman alike.

How did this come to be?

The simple answer to that question is, it comes from a totally FALSE concept within the halls of churchianity. When I use that term, churchianity, I mean ALL groups who “claim” the Bible as their source and foundation. From Jew to Roman Catholic. From Seventh Day Adventists to all Sacred Name groups. From the, now defunct, Worldwide CofG, to all its splinter groups. From Catholic, Protestant and all the independents who have succumbed to Secret Babylon the Great.

So, again, What’s the Problem?

Here is an example that sums up the problem in a nutshell. The context of this example is explaining why learning Koiné Greek is important to the “church.” So, let’s have a look. I will quote a Christian author, and then give a Biblical response.

“Learning Greek, the original language of the New Testament, is vital for the ministry. Every minister must be committed to becoming skillful in the field of exegesis of the Greek New Testament.” p. 9, Impact Greek Bible Study System, c. 2008

Now, let me explain something for a moment. The author of the material I am quoting is not, I believe, deliberately misleading in what he writes. I believe he truly believes his statements to be totally Biblical. Where did  his belief come from? Obviously, from seminary teaching, sermons, and writings of the churches. With that said, let’s look at this first quote.

Let’s start with a sidelight. It is incorrect to state that Greek was the “original language” of the New Testament. It is only provably the “language of PRESERVATION” of the New Covenant. And, as the author knows, a better translation of the Greek would be New Covenant, not New Testament.

As to Greek being the “original” language, there are too many good arguments on both sides of the fence to prove this to be 100% true. All that can be totally proved is that we have the text PRESERVED for us in Koiné Greek.

The author said the study was “vital for the ministry.” This is only partially true. It is extremely vital for BOTH minister and layman. No one is exempt from this responsibility, and NEED.

The author goes on:

“Our congregations, which we guard and guide, depend on us for this so that they might experience some of the majestic gems of grace contained in the Greek New Testament.” — ibid, p. 9

Yes, it is the responsibility of the elder to guard and guide the ekklesia. However, something important is overlooked. It is impossible for someone else to truly “experience” what another person learned. It is NOT their responsibility to TELL their experiences to the ekklesia so the members can “experience” the same thing. It is the responsibility of the ministry to help, encourage, teach and inspire the ekklesia to LEARN GREEK FOR THEMSELVES so they then, can truly experience the same kinds of SELF-discovery.

And, what is this constant use of words like “might” and “may” in the speech and prayers of churchianity? These are words of doubt. Well, maybe we just MIGHT have, learn, do this or that, BUT, again we MIGHT NOT. Who knows?

Well, Biblically, with faith, i.e. confidence, it should be stated, “so that they WILL experience some of the majestic gems…” There is no doubt or wavering when one follows the Messiah of the New Covenant. His promises, and those of the Father are perfectly sure, and WILL be done.

Further, we read:

“Greek grammar is a means of grace for the minister and his congregation. The great preachers of ancient and modern times would agree with this evaluation of the importance of the Greek.” — ibib, p.9

Again, we are looking at the difference between “church speak” and Biblical security and certainty.

Right here is a statement that hits the whole problem of the lack of Greek learning in churchianity. That is, why the layman, and up to the top, overwhelmingly do NOT study the Koiné Greek language. By the way, this is also true for learning Biblical Hebrew. It is, in fact, a turn off, big time. Here’s the statement that goes to the very core of this universal problem:

“Greek GRAMMAR is a means…!” Yes, that’s it. The false emphasis on GRAMMAR! That turns people off like crazy.

And, the problem is, with almost all classes in Greek, or other languages, this; the poor student spends 80% of his or her time trying to grasp the “grammar lingo” taught in class and books. They barely have time to learn the other 20%, the actual language itself.

No wonder after months and years in seminary, or university, students end up barely, if at all, using their “Greek studies.” No, they are NOT Greek studies. They are a study to learn all the foreign, strange, million word English GRAMMAR LINGO!

The author should have written:

“The Greek TEXT is a means of grace for the minister and his congregation.”

For, it is within the text we have the information, NOT in the grammar. Did you know you can learn to read 80%, and more, of the Greek New Covenant without once opening a full grammar textbook?

Our author goes on:

“I was taught that the best way to show love for the people of [YHWH] is to study hard FOR THEM so that my preaching, teaching and counsel might [there’s that word of doubt again] edify their heart.” — ibid, p. 9

Are you beginning to see yet, what the real problem is? Now, here again, the author has exposed another MAJOR problem of churchianity.

He is telling his readers, in essence, right up front, that they really don’t need to do this study of Greek, for he was taught to do it FOR THEM. That is NOT Biblical.

The New Covenant, which he is talking about, teaches, “Study to show THYSELF to be a WORKMAN in the Word…” “Be like the Bereans who studied the Scriptures DAILY to see if these things were so…” “If the person won’t WORK then he doesn’t eat.”

In this case, if a person, layman, won’t work in the Word, then don’t feed him. The layman MUST work to feed himself. Yes, with help and guidance from the elders, but nevertheless, he MUST work at these things himself.

What the author should have said is:

“I was taught to HELP the people learn to do these things on their own.”

What, do you suppose, is the reason for NOT teaching the ekklesia to do these things themselves? Well, see if you can read “between the lines here.”

“Also, the BEST way for a congregation to show love to their pastor is to support his study of the Word by prayer, financial provisions and protections of his study time.” — ibid, p. 9

I’ll let you figure this quote out. And, remember, this is not just the practice of this one minister. It is the whole “program” of all of churchianity under the sway of Secret Babylon the Great.

Now, where do you stand? Are you too lazy in your faith and belief to study the language of preservation? Well, you should get busy and become that “WORKMAN” the Father honors, and give up your excuses, which the clergy reinforces falsely in you. Get busy and be about your Father’s business!

Now, if YOU want to begin learning Koiné Greek, without a grammar, and in about 8 weeks or less, then stay tuned for an upcoming announcement.