We include our response to each letter in this type-style. We have selected a title for each letter for easy reference. If writers supply their own title, we will be happy to use it.
Correction to Clergy/Laity Article
Letter: July 12, 1999
Thanks so much for publishing the article on "The Origin of Clergy & Laity". I think it would be worthwhile to mention to your readers that an introduction to the portion about the word "cleric" (middle of page 25) was edited that gives credit to the source: "The Catholic Encyclopedia". That way the reader realizes: 1. I didn’t write that material (especially after your excellent article on plagiarism), and 2. the Catholic Church readily acknowledges that the original view of scripture is that the "lot" (clergy) included all believers (not just the leaders). If your readers would like to see the entire article, it may be found on the Internet at:
Response: Thanks for the correction. When you sent us the article, the "Catholic Encyclopedia" credit was in the format of a "picture" in your document. Our publishing program had trouble using it, so we took it out. Afterward, we lost the spacing that made clear which part was quoted. I meant to go back to the original and fix it, but I do not think it happened. We hope anyone interested will find a computer (or a friend or library with a computer) that can look it up on the Internet.
Comments: Open Letter to GCG/LCG
Letter: June 17, 1999
This is just a comment about JDP’s letter in the Jan-Feb and Mar-April issues. The "open door" is Christ—John 10:9, not Europe and the world. "Truth" has to be revealed through that "door", John 16:13. I am beginning to wonder if HWA ever walked through it. Amos 8:11 refers to a "famine of hearing the Word"—not a famine of the Word. (Rejection is the problem, 1Thes 2:10-11.)
Mr. Armstrong "laid a foundation" all right—but it was not Christ, (Isa 23:13).
—Myra McQueen, Texas
Response: Your letter brings a significant problem for many of us that have spent years in the WCG. We have very specific meanings of certain scriptures in our mind—but only because Mr. Armstrong said that is what they meant and because nearly everyone else we knew agreed for all those years. For years Mr. Armstrong said that the "open door" that no one could shut in Revelation 3:8 was the print and electronic media. I personally believed that for years. But hundreds of other churches, Sabbatarian and Sunday-keeping, have had those same doors open to them—and gained a much bigger audience than the WCG ever did.
Revelation 3:8 also says that the Philadelphia church had "a little strength." Yet Mr. Armstrong frequently claimed that he was the first one to preach the whole gospel in 1900 years. If that were true, then all of the the other churches must have had "very, very little strength" by comparison—but the Bible does not say that.
This is not to say that all of Mr. Armstrong’s expounding of Scripture was wrong. But we need to look at what the Scriptures say, before blindly accepting it all.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Letter: December 12, 1998
Thank you and all your staff for producing a balanced and thought provoking Servants’ News.
I’m glad to see the circulation is growing if only for the fact that more people will be receiving it, and hopefully expanding their spiritual vision.
Norman, I’d like to bring up a subject, which I think was never really addressed in WCG certainly from the time I was a member from 1971 to 1989.
This is the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I think that we would all agree that the power of the Holy Spirit has never been evident in our time. Was this because we weren’t taught it, or the ministry didn’t believe in it? 2Tim 3:5: "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
The Greek word for power here is the same word used in Acts 1:8, Rom 15:13,19, Luke 4:14, and Luke 24:49 all relating to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now getting back to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Heb 6:2.. It mentions the doctrine of baptisms in plural indicating more than one baptism. This is backed up by other scriptures. John 1:26: "John answered them saying I baptize with water." Verse 33: "He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, upon whom you shall see the spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with the Holy Spirit."
Matt 3:11: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
John clearly states in these scriptures that he could only baptize with water unto repentance. I’m beginning to think that all we’ve taught in Worldwide was water baptism and repentance.
I believe the scriptures show a difference between begettal through the Holy Spirit and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the case of John the Baptist, he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb Luke 1:15. Yet I don’t believe the power of the Holy Spirit was evident in his early life.
The same is true for Christ. We know he was begotten by the Father, through the Holy Spirit. But there is no evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit shown until he was baptized by John and the Holy Spirit was seen to descend upon him in the form of a dove. It was after this that the miracles began.
We can see other evidence of a time lag between water baptism and the baptism of the disciples by the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4. Before that event happened, we can turn to John 4:1-2. This shows Christ’s disciples were allowed to baptize by Christ i.e. water baptism.
So I believe that it is safe to say that Christ’s disciples themselves had all been baptized possibly by John the Baptist. This could have been at least 3 years before the events in Acts 2 mentioned above.
If we go to the book of Acts, we see that Christ gave a clear distinction between water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5: "For John truly baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence." Acts 1:8: But you shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you...."
Does this show us that we can be begotten by God i.e. have the earnest of the Holy Spirit given to us, yet not be filled with its power?
I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit is a different aspect of the Spirit than that required for begettal.
You wouldn’t let a physical baby play with power tools so perhaps God in His wisdom hasn’t given the power of the Holy Spirit to spiritual babes, for the same reason neither can handle them correctly.
Let’s look at some more scriptures in the book of Acts which show clearly a difference between water baptism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit .
Acts 8:12 This verse shows Philip was baptizing men and women, i.e. water baptism. We know this from what happened in the subsequent verses. From verses 14-17 The Apostles then sent Peter and John to that area and it was only after they had laid hands on them and prayed that they received the Holy Spirit
Remember! This was after Christ had been resurrected and gone back to heaven and also after the events in Acts 2.
We can find another example in Acts 10. Only this time the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes first followed by water baptism.
See Acts 10:44-48.
Now we know that this was a unique case to show Peter and those with him, that salvation was also going to be offered to the Gentiles. But it still shows two separate baptisms.
The final example I’m going to use can be found in Acts 19.
But first let us book at Acts 18:25. It tells us that Apollos knew only about the baptism of John i.e..water baptism coupled with repentance.
Now let’s turn to Acts 19:1-6.
Here Paul comes across a group of disciples who had received John’s baptism but didn’t even know about the Holy Spirit.
To sum up, Norman, these scriptures clearly indicate two different and separate baptisms, and God has made a distinction between them in his Word.
Could it be that we in the church have never understood this, therefore it has never been taught, and that’s why God’s power has not been evident in the church in our time?
Norman, in a multitude of counselors there is safety so I would appreciate any input you or your staff have on this subject, along with anyone you might wish to discuss it with.
I did write a similar letter to Jim Rector several months ago, but as yet I received no answer from him. I have written to you.
I know you must be busy so feel free to discuss the issue through the pages of the Servants’ News. I don’t require you send me a personal reply unless you would rather do that.
1999 looks like being a momentous year—the gloves are coming off in Europe with the beginning of the Euro and with Germany in the driving seat for the next six months.
Take care and God bless you and all your staff.
—Mike Hurst, England
Response: I agree that the Worldwide Church of God did not clearly explain the many different scriptures about the Holy Spirit. There are many expressions used in the Bible: "spirit of power", "spirit of truth", "spirit of God", "spirit of Christ", "comforter", etc. The WCG seemed to assume that they were all the same thing. Does the Bible say that? Or does the Bible clearly show that they are different? Also, the Bible speaks of people who "receive the spirit", and people who are "filled with the spirit." Most people who are "filled with the spirit" do some significant act—either a miracle or utter a prophecy. Yet there are other places, where great miracles are performed, and being "filled with the Spirit" is not mentioned.
For several years, I have hoped to make a thorough study of the scriptures regarding the Holy Spirit. One thing I have noticed, is that when the "filling of the holy spirit" takes place, it is not usually something they were praying about, or trying to make happen. It is something that the Eternal did. Charismatic religion has added a great deal of confusion to this subject. Many believe they have a formula or method they can use to "pray down" the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What they usually produce is great emotion, people falling over backwards—often unconscious, and claimed miracles that no one can really prove. The effect is nothing like what we see in the Bible.
We should all want to be filled with the Spirit. But if we want it so badly that we accept a counterfeit, we are in trouble.
Two minor corrections to your letter: 1) Jesus did exhibit clear outward evidence of the Spirit before his Baptism with John: "And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him" (Luke 2:40). Also, Jesus at 12 was able to astonish the learned teachers at the Temple (Luke 2:42,47). 2) The analogy that a "spiritual babe" cannot be "baptized with God’s spirit" because it would be like giving power tools to a baby does not really fit. Power tools can be used for good or evil, whereas the Bible gives no example where the Holy Spirit can ever be used to do evil.
Thanks for studying this issue. We hope to write more on it later.
No Battle of Armageddon
Telephone Message: July 10, 1999
Would you please print someplace that there is no battle gonna’ happen at Armageddon. Everybody, everybody except Mr. Armstrong believes that its Armageddon. Its not Armageddon. There is no battle gonna’ be there. All they have to do is read Revelation. So would you please print something on that. And maybe we can get two people or three people or four or five on the planet Earth that knows what revelation says—something that Herbert W. Armstrong brought out—so you can have something positive to say about him.
Response: The phrase "Battle of Armageddon" does not appear in the Bible. Revelation 16:14 speaks of "the battle of that great day of God Almighty". The gathering place for the armies is Armageddon (Rev 16:16). But was Herbert Armstrong the only one to ever teach this? A little searching of the Internet showed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses referred to the battle by its correct name back in 1889. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have reached millions. Unless we have spent a long time studying the teachings of other groups, we should be slow to say "nobody else teaches" a particular doctrine.
How did the term "battle of Armageddon get started"? I do not know exactly, but we must remember that personally-owned Bibles have been common only for the past few hundred years—people had to rely on their memories a lot more before that. Battles are often known by their locations. Maybe it was easier for people to remember "Battle of Armageddon" rather than "battle of that great day of God Almighty".
"...For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment (Matt 12:36)". I think most people will be judged more severely for lies or evil things they have said about others, than they will for getting the name of a future battle wrong.
RCG/WCG Baptized into Organization
Letter: July 11, 1999
I refer to the ‘Did HWA baptize into organisation?’ headed letter to the editor, dated March 23, 1999, from the Richard Nickels Family, appearing in Letters to the Editor in the March/April edition of the Servants’ News (SN).
In item #2 thereof, exception is taken to a previous statement made in the SN that: "The WCG ministers never baptised anyone unless the person agreed that the WCG was the true church."
I wonder whether I might be permitted to add some personal experience to this?
Both my parents, now deceased, were baptised by WCG ministers in the early 1960s. At the time, and prior to baptism, in line with the then normal practice in the UK (I cannot speak for the practice in other countries), they had to undertake a somewhat lengthy ‘investigation’ by the ministry to see whether or not in the view of these ministers they were suitable for baptism, (see comment on this below). During this exercise, they were asked to confirm that they believed that the then RCG was the only true Church of God, specifically of the Philadelphian era, and the only one in which true baptism was available, and by which salvation could be secured.
This caused some difficulty for my mother, who had been baptised long previously in an evangelising mission. However, both so confirmed, and were baptised in due course. Despite this, both questioned privately whether these ministers had any authority or commission to conduct such investigations as a "condition precedent to baptism".
The readiness for baptism is not a subject for the judgement of the then RCG ministers, or, indeed, any screening process ordained by man. It is a matter of repentance on the part of the sinner, a desire for baptism and a better way conformed to God, the gracious conferring of the Holy Spirit, and subsequent growth in the Lord. There is nothing in this last sentence importing the decision, or vetting, or moderation, or judgement of man. What the RCG was doing was similar to the Roman Catholic Church catechitical modus, and that of many other churches, which insists on ‘interviewing, teaching, and counseling’ aspirants before the church makes the decision on whether to grant baptism.
Now turning to the WCG, I can recollect an article in Good News, in the earlier Tkach era, which stated (and I paraphrase), ‘entry into the kingdom of God is dependent upon having the imprimatur of God’s Church.’
"Imprimatur", in religious matters, is almost exclusively Roman Catholic. It means "sanction", allied to "authority". What Tkach Snr. was saying was fundamentally the same as the RCG ministers had told my parents—the only route to salvation is through the "gate" of the RCG/WCG, and "we’ve got the key". This is what the Pope claims to hold: the "keys of heaven", known as "Peter’s keys"; a doctrine dating from 431AD. (They are, in fact, the keys of the pagan gods Janus and Cybele.)
This, in turn, is very closely related to the erroneous doctrine of "binding and loosing", whereby mortal man holds himself able to dictate to God what might be bound and loosed on earth and in heaven. Both the Roman Catholic Church and WCG, amongst many others, subscribe to this gross apostacy. RCG and WCG set themselves up as the moderator between man and God, but the Bible says we have but one advocate—Christ.
Now this letter comes to the personal part. I was baptised by other than the RCG/WCG "ordained" ministry. However, prior to being baptised, I met with two ministers of WCG from Northern Ireland, and asked whether it was at all possible for anyone outside the WCG to have, in however small way, the Holy Spirit. I was told in no uncertain terms that such a thing was impossible. The comment that was made was that the only place where the Holy Spirit is evident is in the WCG: nowhere else. That was in 1972, at a private meeting in Dublin, Ireland.
Next, 1991, this time in Scotland. Again, two ministers, this time Messrs. Delap and Bolzern. Delap questioned the very validity of my baptism, on the basis that it had not been conducted by an ordained minister of the WCG, the only ministry "sanctioned" by God for such work. It was very easy to demonstrate biblical instances of people being granted the Holy Spirit without first being baptised by an ordained minister, but this made no impact. Delap also questioned my biblical understanding, my reliance on God, and much else besides. Bolzern, for his part, said little.
I happened to ask why healing of the sick was not in evidence in the Church. Delap’s answer was that "now is not a time of healing." According to him, God’s healing was manifest in the early stages of the Church, and during Christ’s ministry, and might be so again just before the end, but that that was speculation.
When pointed to John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my father," and when certain works of Christ were discussed, by way of illustration, the minister’s response was that "now is not the time—Christ was only talking about the immediate few years after his departure."
However, when such a critical onslaught is brought into one’s own house by invited guests, it does take one aback, if only for a short time. When they left, two of us, in independent locations, prayed to God seeking answers to the following questions.
These are reproduced below, with the text replies, received after asking that our hands be guided to whatever text God so wished:
Q: Is the WCG minister correct in his statements concerning the worthlessness and ineligibility of my baptism?
A: Isa 28:7-8, "But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgement. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean."
Q: Should we fellowship with them?
A: Rom 16:17-18, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
These answers left nothing in doubt.
When, later, these were put to a preaching elder of the WCG, he indicated that it was Satan who had guided our hands, and not the Lord. When it was pointed out that Satan would hardly have urged anyone to hold to the true doctrine, he had no answer.
So where does this leave the matter? Was the RCG/WCG as the Richard Nickels family have it? It may have been for them, but certainly not for me. From a reading of some of the vast amount of personal experiences of the WCG available on the Internet, I have concluded that almost all have had experiences much closer to my own.
And that is very, very, sad indeed.
—John Scott, Scotland
Response: Thank you for sharing your story. There are people who were very happy with their WCG experience and, as Richard Nickels points out, some WCG ministers who knew they were not baptizing people into an organization. Exactly how many were treated which way, we will never be able to tell. But your story shows that some, in no uncertain terms, were told that the WCG controlled salvation.
This is what I believe is most important for us today: If current churches publicly refer to Herbert Armstrong as a patriarch in some way, new people may read what he actually wrote—and they will see that Mr. Armstrong wrote that the WCG was the true Church of God. When one sees the many Sabbatarian congregations today which are often a mixture of people from several groups, the concept of one human organization being the true church just falls apart.
Teaching that others cannot have salvation if they are not part of your group is not a light thing. "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matt 7:2). If teachers falsely tell others on the "authority of God" that they do not have salvation, will they receive the same judgment—loss of salvation—themselves? I do not know the answer. I would think that the answer has something to do with whether the teacher really believed his group was the one true church, or whether he just claimed that to keep followers supporting him. I am glad that Christ will judge this in righteousness and that I do not have to.
Repent of Publishing Against HWA?
Letter: July 9, 1999
Letter: Its sad to see how many times you publish against HWA. I thought you guys preach about not judging anyone? What do you call this? It seems that you have allowed many to hate this man which is contrary to what you preach about showing love. Do you know that you will be judged as you also judge? How will you expect God to forgive you if you teach others to hate this man?
You are a false preacher as well as a rebellious son if you ever was a son. And no rebellion will be allowed in God’s Kingdom. I hope you repent and tell all whom you have led to destruction to do the same otherwise you are heading for disaster. Can’t any of you see the sufferings of Gods people because of turning away from the truth that was once delivered? Don’t you see many who are afflicted with sickness and disease and that are dying all around you? You should be frightened yet you are also blind and can’t see. May God have pity on all your souls and remove the scales from your eyes so you can see and repent.
—A Witness for Jesus Christ
Response: Wow! You have told me clearly that I am a "false preacher" and a "rebellious son". Yet you have not specifically told me what I have done that is wrong. I have not taught anyone to hate Mr. Armstrong. I do not hate Mr. Armstrong. I have told the truth about what he has done, both good and bad. I have pointed out specific places where he has taught things contrary to the Bible. I have given him credit for the many thousands of people which he reached with truths about the Sabbath, Holy Days, etc.
For years, Mr. Armstrong promised his followers financial prosperity for tithing, blessing for obeying ministerial decrees, deliverance from the tribulation, and other things which did not always work out as he said. It is understandable that a person could be angry with him or even hate him when they find the truth of some of these matters. But any such anger and hate is pointless. We are responsible for what we do. Our Bible teaches us to individually seek God, not to seek a man who claims to be close to Him. We learned a valuable lesson. Rather than being bitter about what Mr. Armstrong did, we must take the truths we learned from Mr. Armstrong, add to that the lessons we have learned in trusting God directly, and teach that to others.
Mr. Armstrong spent most of his life taking the knowledge he had to many. If we have even greater knowledge and do nothing with it, I am not sure how Christ will judge the matter.
Trust Your Spiritual Instincts More
Letter: June 21, 1999
Dear Servants’ News,
I am reminded of some other thoughts of days of yore and HWA.
I have been reading a fascinating book, The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker (a Number One national bestseller). It is subtitled, "And other survival signals that protect us from violence." It is about the signs of physical danger.
The proper fear of God is also a gift; we are not born with it (Romans 3:10-18; 1Cor 2:14; Prov 14:27).
The normal human signals that we process consciously and subconsciously automatically alert us to danger in the physical realm. We override and dismiss those signals often to our peril. We should instead listen to them carefully to determine if they are substantive.
I did not know much at all about the Bible when God began noticeably to open my mind in early 1966 when I was 15 years old. Yet, despite a lukewarm "Protestant-ish" background, God had given me some rudimentary and simple concepts that I recall inculcating by about age 8.
By that tender age I had learned that literal idolatry (literally worshiping before any statuary—icons of so-called "saints" for example) meant you were not Christian or godly. By age 12, I knew the seventh day Sabbath—the same period of time faithful Jews observed—was the fourth major commandment of God. But, I was just a kid, so I dismissed the subject. God brought it forcefully to my attention a few years later.
Some Descriptions of
Idol Worship Explained
I requested a visit from the local elder in the WCG (then, the Radio Church of God), Oakland, California area, Spring of 1967. When I first answered the door to receive the elder and ministerial trainee, the first words out of the elder’s mouth were: "We’re here representing Mr. (Herbert) Armstrong."
I remember thinking immediately: "Shouldn’t ministers of God and Christ be representing God and Christ?"
My budding spiritual instincts and intuition were correct. But, I was spiritually very young, so what did I know? I learned a lot of truth, along with some error in my first ten years in the WCG and at Ambassador College.
Some other things I noticed that didn’t square with my growing spiritual instincts: At my first Feast of Tabernacles in 1967 at Long Beach, California, when Herbert Armstrong got up the first time to speak there, he said that some of us might not know who he was. He said we would soon find out; and he said it as though he were quite important.
My first thought was: "Who does he think he is?" I had only been attending for six months. I had not yet absorbed the "cult of HWA syndrome".
However, as time went on, I did partly absorb the "exalt HWA virus". Thanks be to God that it was always with the caveat that it was only to the extent that I perceived that HWA was following Christ. Unfortunately, HWA and the WCG made sure that that is all we mostly knew about; or, that we interpreted everything in a positive light regarding HWA.
Replace Christ’s Name with
Herbert Armstrong’s Name?
When I was at AC (1968-1972) the director of the Work in the UK visited and taught at Big Sandy (where I attended) for a while. He mentioned that he required every public prayer throughout the British Isles, where he had jurisdiction, that Herbert Armstrong by name must be at least mentioned in some way in the requests to God.
Because I had been partly infested with the "exalt-HWA-bug", I recall mostly accepting this at the time. (Years later I categorized this quasi-idolatrous approach as the "New Trinity:" that every prayer—in Britain at least—must always contain the tripartite formula: In the names of the Father, Jesus Christ, and Herbert Armstrong!)
My Trust of HWA Gets Eroded
About 1973-1974 Herbert Armstrong felt the need to address, very generally, the reasons for the excommunication(s) of Garner Ted Armstrong. Apparently several ministers along with some members were alleging that GTA had been disfellowshipped in the 1972-1973 period at least partly for sexual misconduct (adultery!). I well remember that HWA said publicly that GTA’s sins were "spiritual not moral".
Strange, though, HWA did say (or write) that if he (HWA) did divulge the exact nature of GTA’s sins, that perhaps as many as 10,000 (as I recall his rough estimate) of God’s people might fall away from God and be lost from God’s Kingdom forever!
I accepted the explanation of "God’s Apostle". Surely, of all people, HWA would never break the commandment against false witness! Now that we know that HWA was not above plagiarism over a several decades period (re his booklet, The US & Britain in Prophecy); and now that the viewing public has seen his son (literally) exposed as overtly sexually immoral while in leadership; I no longer accept HWA’s gloss regarding the reasons for the 1972-1973 banishment of his son (I believe GTA was disfellowshipped about four times then).
In 1978 after some weeks of banishment, this time for having deceived/withheld much information about the state of the church and doctrinal changes, etc., GTA had apparently gotten into dire financial straits. I recall HWA stating that he (HWA) felt that the WCG should go ahead and give GTA a stipend of $50,000 per year (I believe was the figure) for all the good work that he (GTA) had done over the years.
I do not believe that this arrangement lasted long or ever actually went into effect. I believe a few weeks after such a proposal, GTA decided to form the CGI and obviously then was reimbursed by those who joined his new church.
But, I remember that I felt such a proposal (to pay an obstinate, deceiving, conniving person, as HWA had tended to portray GTA in the Spring/Summer of 1978) was not right. You (HWA) reward the unrighteous with such an amount (equivalent to about $100,000+ today!) while others—loyal brethren—through the years had been laid off with little or no severance pay?! What kind of injustice/inequity is this?
Also, by 1978 I had gone back over my older literature and noticed a number of predictions as noted by Servants’ News concerning the setting of dates by HWA and others for the time of the end. These were "within 10 to 15 years," "in a few short years", and similar expressions in articles that dated from about the mid-1960s and before. And I had noted several historical inaccuracies especially in the book, The United States in Prophecy (though I was unaware until this past summer of 1998 when I read JH Allen’s book for the first time that HWA had indeed plagiarized Allen’s book—Judah’s Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright).
When we received HWA’s book, The Incredible Human Potential, at the Feast of 1978, I was further dismayed by the many logical, scriptural, and historical errors therein. This time I wrote HQ Pasadena noting several of the problems in the book. These errors were never addressed. Further, HWA incorporated may of the same errors, plus additional errors, into his last book, Mystery of the Ages, published in 1985, shortly before his death in 1986.
So, I was becoming a bit disillusioned by HWA. But, I kept reminding myself, as I had been diligently taught, that Christ would correct His apostle! It was not my place.(Why not, one might ask: are we not all brethren? Note the humble response of God’s Apostle Peter in the situation described in Acts 11:1-18)
When the state of California via the Attorney General’s office tried to take over the WCG in January 1979, I was still a loyal supporter of "God’s Government!"
About 1979 I heard a deacon say: "The way to salvation is easy to understand: just follow Mr. (Herbert) Armstrong!" (I knew that was nonsense even then).
Even before that statement, I knew that a "cultishness" about HWA existed among some of the brethren and among some of the ministry. Few, though, would have summarized it so blatantly.
When one of the reports of the time in the secular media noted that HWA’s annual salary was $200,000 (as I remember), I was taken aback. That would be the equivalent of upwards of $500,000 today, as I remember the degenerating value of the dollar, especially during the high-inflation days of the 1980s. I thought that was inordinately high.
I also remember that the Quest magazine had some Christmas ads or some such ungodly nonsense at about the same time.
When HWA asked the members to put up their own assets as some sort of guarantee against the property of the WCG and Ambassador—some sort of surety bond—I did NOT give a 100% endorsement on the form we sent back to Tucson. I specifically stated that I did not support "the Work" in the area of Quest magazine, and I felt that HWA’s salary was too high. (Due to the turmoil of the times these protests of mine did not come back to haunt me; others were not so lucky).
So, due to the above paragraphs, there was an erosion in my trust of HWA. But, I was determined to be faithful to God’s Government and let Christ do the correcting. And I still believed much of the in-house press concerning HWA’s many other virtues, strengths and accomplishments. The controlled press within the WCG allowed no other assessments!
Since 1995, and the consequent freeing up of communications among brethren, and the weakening of the formerly suffocating so-called "Government of God" control over the brethren (not for all the brethren, of course; witness the reactionary groups such as PCG and COGIC), I have learned much more of the true legacy of HWA. And things that I once was involved in have been analyzed more objectively than in the past closed system. Many errors of belief and practice have been brought to light that formerly were hidden from most of the brethren.
So, my conclusion in this little history, along with my opening remarks is: trust your spiritual instincts more.
Though remember we are all human and frail. And our natural spirit is deceptive. So, trust what God says in His Word and draw close to Him to be filled with His Spirit. And trust in the true leadership of Jesus Christ, the true Chief Apostle (Hebrews 3:1).
Be merciful to the brethren; we all need God’s mercy, and often one another’s. But, we also need to be repentant and to offer proper apologies.
But, once you see solid evidence of plagiarism, lies, agreement-breaking, immorality, etc.—beyond some rare situation that includes a repentant response—among leaders especially—then know that your spiritual instincts not to trust in such leadership, are correct. Certainly God will not bless such leadership in the long run.
—Bruce Lyon, California
Response: Thank you for sharing your past approach to Mr. Armstrong. There were many parallels to my own. Because Mr. Armstrong taught so much truth to so many, the process of accepting that he taught error, and then rejecting that error, takes a long time. We have heard hundreds of other variants of that story, and there are many thousands that could be told. We must all ask for the individual leading of the Spirit: "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come" (John 16:13).
Know Them By Their Fruits
Letter: June 25, 1999
I really appreciated your articles on HWA. Enclosed is a small thank you for that as well as for the costs of sending me your publication which has a lot of other valuable information in it.
I’m looking at a letter you printed from GA, California. The reason it attracted my attention is because of who they and many others are listening to. It sure would be nice if we really knew the character of the people we choose to teach us God’s way. As you recently found out, that can lie well hidden for a long time.
We are told "you shall know them by their fruits", not their speaking, number of followers, or anything but fruit. Fruit may look good on the outside, but its what inside that counts. We really should look very carefully at who we listen to. Our eternal life is at stake.
Thanks again for your efforts and dedication to doing a very helpful work.
Response: You bring to mind Ron Wilson’s article Works and Fruit... Are they the Same? (page 5, Nov 1998 Servants’ News). It was not until I read his article, that I clearly understood the difference. A person can have great works, but little spiritual fruit (Gal 5:22-23).
Paul simply told the Roman believers: "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom 14:12). Yet so many Christians seem to place such great importance on their loyalty to their church organization and leaders. I often envision a believer of this attitude talking to Christ in the judgement. Christ might say: "There are some major ‘unknown sins’ in your life that we need to talk about—sins you did not know were sins." The person might respond, "Oh I, know that I had plenty of sins, but I want you to know that I was loyal to my church organization and its pastor general my whole life, doesn’t that get me an immediate high position in your Kingdom?" Then Christ might respond, "No, that is the first of your ‘unknown sins’ we need to talk about."
Never Question God’s Method of Giving the Increase
Letter: June 28, 1999
I’m going to refer to Servants’ News Jan/Feb 1999, Truckers Study page 33. You said in #15 "Some plant, some water, some harvest, but of course it is God who gives the increase".
You have accused H.W. Armstrong of plagiarism. I was raised with the knowledge of British Israel truth giving the identity of Israel and Gentile nations and that there are unclean meats.
Since 1958, I’ve been aware that HW Armstrong built on that foundation of biblical truth but added the keeping of holy days and the seventh day Sabbath. I’ve since learned that he incorrectly taught a method of tithing, that fallen angels could not reproduce with the daughters of men (Gen 6:2 says they did) plus he saw only one future millennium of Christ’s rulership instead of the two indicated by the seventh and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles and verified in Revelation.
You have accused Jim Rector of plagiarism. The book Jim referred to in detail I have never read nor am never likely to read, but perhaps like H.W. Armstrong, he extracted and passed along some valuable truth. One of Jim’s tapes was a A Sense of God’s Presence where he states that some aren’t aware of God’s absence because they never knew His presence. That answers a great many of our questions about WCG et al. Was that tape plagiarized?
You benefited from HW Armstrong’s use of British Israel truth and others benefited from Jim Rector’s knowledge. Never question God’s method of giving the increase.
This is in no way meant to be a correction, Norm—just a gentle reminder of something you may have forgotten for a brief moment.
—Muriel Crawford, Ontario, Canada
Response: I do not have a Jim Rector tape entitled A Sense of God’s Presence—though a search of the Internet showed that to be a common phrase in Charismatic literature. Jim did agree that his tape Entering God’s Presence came from a book by Terry Law. Somebody else may know more about that specific tape.
I would like to talk about your statement "Never question God’s method of giving the increase." We do not need to question God, but we need to question whether a specific method was of God!
The Eternal promised Jacob that he would be set over his brother before he was born (Genesis 25:23). Jacob obtained the birthright and blessing of Isaac by deceit (Gen 27:35-36). Should we say that the Eternal teaches us to deceive people to get what we want? Or do men do it because they cannot wait upon the Eternal?
The Eternal said that kings should not multiply horses (used for war) or wives to themselves (Deut 17:16-17). Solomon had many war horses and married foreign women (often done to keep peace with their nations), yet he was used to build the Temple and he made the kingdom of Israel stronger than any other king. Do we conclude that Solomon’s method was righteous because it produced apparent success? Or do we conclude that he could have had a strong kingdom without violating the Eternal’s commandments.
Simon the Sorcerer offered to pay Peter to give him the ability to give the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-25). People already thought he was a great leader of God (v 10). Did Peter simply "not question" this man, and say we need more Christian leaders who can hold a following? No! Methods are very important to the Eternal. The Bible does not tell us to try to stop false teachers from teaching, but it does instruct us not to participate with them:
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light (Eph 5:6-19).
Take it Easy on HWA Problems
Letter: January 15, 1999
Dear Norm and Pam,
The recent issue of the Servants’ News on HWA raised many good points on the problems we have in tying ourselves too closely to him as a person. I don’t deny the plagiarism issue. It seems even parts of "The Missing Dimension in Sex" were taken from some book in the world on the same general subject [bolding by SN]. One friend in the WCG (still there also) said his mother had a college textbook that he evidently used to write this book.
However, we need to make a distinction between the sins of his personal life, and how this man still had basic doctrinal truth. In the latter regard, because I believe in a 14th Passover being taken just once a year, tithing as still being binding on New Covenant Christians, and hierarchy in church government, I see fewer problems in the latter than you do. We’re always faced with this reality, which I call the "Gerald Flurry" argument because he likes to use it: HWA did more to spread a non-Trinitarian Sabbatarianism around the world than any man since the first century, by the power of God. Proof of this comes from the anticult polemics. They say almost nothing about the Church of God (Seventh-day), but they had lots to say about the WCG/HWA/Plain Truth/GTA. A comparison of the Plain Truth’s circulation with the Bible Advocate in 1969 will make this point clear, as well as the reality that the WCG (at one time or another) was one of the world’s largest purchasers of air time on radio and TV for a church group. For a group of its relatively small size, this is a remarkable record.
When you turn to the issue of mis-spent tithes in your next issue, you should also cover the other side. HWA voluntarily made himself homeless during WWII in order to keep the broadcast on the air and print up more booklets. How many of us would be similarly self-sacrificing? He may have wasted money on his travels abroad in the 1970s and 1980s, but we also have to remember his real poverty from the time he was called into the church until the early fifties, at least. (Remember, although his family got a new permanent home when AC was founded, that institution was constantly threatened with folding in its early years).
My intent is to send you a copy of a research report I wrote dealing with anti-cultist attacks on the WCG. It includes a chapter on the corruption charges against HWA. I believe you should read it before putting out the next issue of the Servants’ News. There is another side to these issues, despite the mistakes that were made. The WCG may have been corrupt, to one degree or another, but what other non-Trinitarian Sabbatarian organization has done even 10% of the public gospel preaching it did? (Even if most never became members, etc., that "wasted seed" still may have helped some improve their lives, or at least permanently put them on notice). It was immoral to plagiarize Allen’s book, but certainly US&BCIP influenced a lot more people in the US than Allen’s book ever could have hoped to. It seems God decided to use a morally flawed man, a deeply flawed man (compare him to, say, Billy Graham in this regard) so we would put the focus on the doctrinal truth, not the person. Unfortunately, we did a miserable job of that in the WCG while he was still alive (and some, such as the PCG, since his death). Yet God used this man to do so much, bailing "the work" (a problematic term, but I use it for clarity) out of many big financial problems, such as when AC was founded, or the Radio Church of God went on the air with ABC, and God rewarded his faith.
So, despite his sins, God accomplished a lot more through his work and life than any of us have any realistic chance of doing so in preaching a non-Trinitarian Sabbatarianism to the world. This is worth pondering, before attacking him harshly. If God used him, despite many manifest failings, shouldn’t we be more careful in how we judge him?
—Eric Snow, Michigan
Response: Thanks for your letter. I had heard the same thing about The Missing Dimension in Sex, but I do not have the name of the book it was copied from. If you (or any of our readers) find it, I would like to know.
I believe Herbert Armstrong taught a lot of truth. But as you state, I accept less of his teachings as truth than you do. The Passover issue is complex enough that I do not fault anyone for having differences with me there. I will send you a copy of my paper, How Do We Give to the Eternal?, which I do not believe you have. I believe it shows conclusively that Jewish believers continued to tithe to the Levites until the destruction of the Temple, and that Tithing never transferred to church or ministry. Church history shows that it was at least 300 A.D. before tithes were commonly collected by any Christian Church. Even if you do not accept the conclusions of How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans?, you must agree that we do not know the names of the human heads of the "one true church" throughout history. (Nor do we know them now!)
Just because Herbert Armstrong was a favorite of anti-cult writers does not mean that he was the greatest teacher of certain doctrines. I believe he was the target of anti-cult writing because he ran his church organization like so many other religious cults. He taught that his organization was the only true church and that all others were false. He never entered into any open dialogue with other groups. He told members not to read outside literature and not to participate in any other charitable or religious groups. He would disfellowship members for talking to previously disfellowshipped members. This cult-like behavior, combined with his massive TV/Magazine efforts made cult-watchers take notice.
It is important to realize that the vast majority of the millions reached by Armstrong’s warning message never heard most of his doctrines. Only hundreds of thousands actually read most of his doctrinal booklets or attended services. After you read this and the upcoming issues, it should be evident that more people probably learned about the Sabbath, Holy Days and other "Armstrong" doctrines from sources other than Herbert Armstrong.
Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography does state that he sold his home (the down payment of which was paid by the local church) in 1944. However, he was not living in shelters or another’s home as your term "homeless" implies. The autobiography goes on to explain that he lived in motels and a couple of rented rooms and ate in restaurants for the next three years (incurring much more expense than he would have by remaining in his home). One can make a case to say that he needed to sell his home anyway because he was planning to move to California in three years. Nevertheless, it was a sacrifice to sell his home—but even more of a sacrifice for his wife and teenage boys who were at home while he was in his office most of the time. The autobiography shows that it was at that time that they picked up smoking and other habits. Mr. Armstrong concluded the story of that time with these words:
"My heart was no longer set on material acquisition. I had come to know its worthlessness. Instead, God had literally lavished upon us the true riches—the spiritual blessings!"
Those words remained in his autobiography while he lived like a king for years, but asked widows to send in their "mites" over 100 times. The continual financial crises which we wrestled with were virtually always solved by his writing a letter threatening those co-workers who would not send more money. He died surrounded by riches, but estranged from his family and nearly everyone in his Church.
I do have experience in this area. Our family sold our home at a loss in 1994 in order to move to San Diego with the Global Church of God. There were plenty of computer jobs available to me in the Pasadena area. We have lived in an apartment, two rental houses and a trailer since that time.
We are making no effort to judge Herbert Armstrong’s eternity, but those who were taught by him desperately need to see him in a true perspective, not in the self-exalting way in which he was portrayed so many years.
Credit for Exposing Rector Problems
Letter: May 27, 1999
Dear Pam and Norm,
How are you? I have to give you credit for running the article dealing with Jim Rector’s plagiarism. I have to admit this is embarrassing to the COG, even though I’m someone who almost never has heard him on tape.
Thanks for running the announcement on the dance July 4th weekend.
Your January/February issue arrived today—May 27th! Maybe the date should have been changed to reflect the month mailed!
—Eric Snow, Michigan
Response: See the article on Page 1 of the May/June issue for an explanation of the issue date problems. It is amazing—no its all too human—that we have found very few "Armstrong students" upset with our exposing Jim Rector, and very few "Rector students" upset with our exposing Herbert Armstrong. It is simply much more difficult when a person who has been a positive influence on us disappoints us.
"Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies" (Pslm 40:4).
Jim Rector like GTA or Pharisees
Letter: June 14, 1999
Regarding your shooting down of Jim Rector: The books Jim plagiarized, I would never see or read, but tapes I listen to because of low cost, ease of accessibility.
Hence I thank Jim for this information even if it was someone else’s.
How many sermons are given with innumerable biblical quotes without the preacher constantly saying "this is from the Bible".
I categorize Jim, the same as GTA or the Pharisees whom Christ said to heed, but not do as they do!
Response: Obviously, Jim was counting on most of his listeners never seeing the books he was reading from. We agree with you that a "low cost" can be achieved when people take other’s work and read it onto a tape—they bypass all of the cost of hundreds of hours of research and writing, being left only with the cost of tape production and mailing. The only problem with this, is that it is illegal in most countries, and certainly a violation of the 8th (and often 9th and 10th) commandments.
Of course preachers do not continually tell you they are reading from the Bible when you know they are. Classical literature will frequently quote Plato or Aristotle without citing a reference because most educated people would recognize the quote. Similarly, the New Testament frequently quotes the Old without giving a reference. But Jim read well-organized, carefully worded books onto tapes, letting his listeners believe that they were his "own inspired teaching".
Rector Story Sad but Necessary
Letter: June 5, 1999
Thank you for your newsletter. It is very helpful in staying informed about God’s people and useful when looking into scriptural matters. I appreciated hearing the truth about what was going on with Jim Rector even though it saddens me. There has been far too much cover up in the past. All it does is breed mistrust in the end. (We are all so human!)
[literature request removed]
—M. P., Missouri
Response: Thanks for the encouragement.
Jim Rector & Other Plagiarism
Letter: June 13, 1999
I was saddened beyond words to read your expose in the Jan./Feb. issue. I remarked many times to friends directly, and probably in correspondence if I had the time to search several year’s records, that I certainly could not do what Jim was doing, come up with fresh new ideas to turn out a weekly tape and even do a series on many facets of the same subject and keep it interesting. It never ceased to amaze me how fluid the tapes were on complex subjects with many scriptures that I know would have taken me days to prepare for a single tape. Now we know how such seeming, God given talent was really possible. I was probably just too busy to consider the implications seriously and put two and two together that he must be getting material through reading or listening to others without giving credit for his sources.While I can visualize someone like yourself who gets deluged with material, forgetting where you might first have been exposed to a new idea or concept, even scriptures not in our regular vocabulary, Jim’s conduct is simply too blatant and repetitive to assume forgetfulness. I can not imagine having 5000 E-mails to sort through, but then 250 a week as I have recently been working through is probably somewhat proportionate given that I work an average of 12 hours a day to earn my living.
I always had a soft spot in my heart for Jim because of his dedication in serving the scattered brethren in spite of his severe health problems and personal trials. Given the current circumstances I feel I would be remiss in my duty in remaining silent about what I know of this sorry state of affairs. I can appreciate how difficult it must have been Norm for you to expose a mutual friend when confronted with unmistakable evidence. You did the right thing, and likewise telling the truth about HWA in spite of cancelled subscriptions that could affect your income raises my respect for you immensely. If only a few of the leaders or would-be leaders of churches exhibited the same integrity! While it amazes me that Jim would not make a clean breast of things when caught red-handed it is not that I did not have warning. In between the Feast in 95 in Springdale we shared, and the 96 Feast in Snowshoe WVA. sponsored by Jim, I was contacted by a Malcolm Heap in England who tried his best to gain my confidence, sending me a tremendous amount of unsolicited material that must have cost him hundreds of dollars. It took well over a year for his true colours to manifest themselves, but that is another story.
It is a fact that many people can witness too, that Bill Dankenbring plagiarized material from Jim, Malcolm, and several others besides myself, that do not immediately come to mind, you already know about Glen Myers, and I could dig others out of my files. I first made contact with Jim over Dankenbrings vicious disfellowshipment letters to both of us, another story. Maybe our common experience is what drew us together in the first place, in any event, it turns out that Malcolm Heap in England had also been sending his material to Jim. Malcolm’s big thing was gifts of the spirit charging that they were totally absent in Sabbatarian circles and he believed, manifested in Sunday keeping churches and ministries. He sent many tapes and even videos from his own meetings, those of Benny Hinn and other tel-evangelists to try and convince both of us that he, Malcolm was receiving direct visions and guidance from the Almighty with instructions to correct and warn false teachers, with manifestations of speaking in tongues and healings etc. I received several letters in which he castigated Jim for his failure to move on in the gifts of the spirit urging me to do so and sever any relationship with Jim, who by that time having rejected Malcolm’s overtures, was in Malcolm’s bad books. When I did not buy into Malcolm’s premise either, he also turned on me and denounced me as a heretic, but in less severe terms than Dankenbring had.
That being said, Malcolm’s booklet on church government is one of the best I have ever read. It was not too long after Jim produced a tape with the title of "Who Is The Greatest" which I highly recommended and distributed in some quantity, that I received a letter from Malcolm that in effect was trying to gain my allegiance while denouncing Jim for plagiarizing his material. It is a little hazy in my memory now, but I believe I may have sent a copy of Jim’s tape to Malcolm who then fired back a letter with whole paragraphs of quotes from Jim’s tape that matched Malcolm’s booklet. As a result I took a copy of Malcolm’s booklet to the Feast in Snowshoe and confronted Jim privately with the possibility of plagiarism as per Malcolm’s charges. He was very evasive and said the booklet was vaguely familiar that he might have received it and possibly read it. Given other testimony you printed, I now have to believe that was a blatant lie, as you stated, "Do you really expect me to believe that you typed numerous paragraphs from a book and put it into an article and now no longer remember doing it? Do you expect me to believe that you read large portions of a book into a tape recorder and no longer remember what book you read from?" I concur, it stretches credulity, and again you were correct, "you will probably lose a lot of credibility and bring a bad name to the independent Sabbatarian movement." Sad but all too true.
I will close by quoting you again; "If we have faith in the Eternal, we never have to fear doing what is right!" This lesson has apparently been learned by very few who were trained brainwashed in Ambassador College. Most ministers still believe they have to lie, connive, coerce, compete with others, brow beat the sheep, to try and raise the funds to do a work when the scripture is very clear that the work is done directly by the Creator (Zech.4:6) in individual minds through His Spirit, (John 16:13). One thing I will say in Jim’s favour, at least he did not openly pursue money, maybe the success he did have was due partially to his low key approach that caused people to trust him in contrast to those who used Feasts as fund raising events, write panicky appeals for funds to save the work etc. I take no pleasure in having to relate what I know about this unfortunate situation and I do have one concern. Given the competitiveness that exists between the various off-shoots, I see a great danger of leaders [sic] ganging up on independents who oppose hierarchical government and looking for dirt, real or imagined to try and destroy those they might consider as a threat to their religious empires. Had I not had some personal knowledge of the validity of the charges against Jim, I might well have been inclined to believe someone defending him with the premise that jealous hierarchists were out to get him. That may sound rather cynical, but given all the dirt that has already been swept under the carpet in the past history of the WCG, nothing that will be exposed in the future should surprise us. To those who would abuse the trust that people have placed in them as teachers, one can perhaps point to Num.32:23; "...be sure your sin will find you out". One could conclude that being an editor of a newsletter/magazine has become an occupation fraught with danger given the desire for recognition that seems to motivate so many people.
—Myron Martin, Canada
Response: Thanks for giving your personal story of what happened. The squabbles and the plagiarism that go on among independent teachers are indeed a poor witness to others. However, it is good that these matters are brought into the open, and those who want to find the truth, can. Whereas, in the hierarchical groups, where there is no free press, people have been born, baptised, married, and buried having never understood important areas where their leaders were not representing the Eternal.
You and I have disagreed on doctrines and what I should publish. It may be that one of us is wrong in our understanding, or it may be that the Eternal simply wants different people to learn different doctrines first. But at least I can truthfully say that I have never written that you (or any other Sabbatarian teacher) is "unconverted", nor have ever "disfellowshipped" anyone from the Body of Christ. As far as I remember, you have not done these things either.
Is Plagiarism in the Bible?
Letter: June 11, 1999
Dear Mr. Edwards,
I just read your current article concerning Jim Rector and the accusation of plagiarism. I thought that the advice you gave to Mindy contained in Matthew 18 was right on. I question whether she agreed with God’s procedure. God’s law is always a two-edged sword, remembering always that when you draw the sword back to strike someone you can seriously wound yourself, even terminally. The two or three witnesses are to help you to convince a person to repent. This is done in love to help your brother get right with God. But if the two or three witnesses have reservations, do not agree, or are instead trying to convince you it is unwise, this would be a time to reexamine your motivation to make sure you do not have a hidden agenda.
In Mindy’s correspondence, she says things like "this is just another thing covered up, etc." Don’t you feel at this point that she is accusing the brethren by setting herself up as a committee of one? If she was in possession of all the facts, she would realize many of God’s true learners would have come forward if Jim would have been trying to change one jot or tittle of God’s law. I hope I would have been the first. I would have to be shown where Jim has caused anyone mental anguish or harm. God gives his people a special gift called discernment. We must never try to use Caesar’s law to hurt one of God’s people. Because I’m only a novice, maybe you could show me where in God’s law it deals with copyrights. In the book of Solomon, God states there is nothing new under the sun. To say it is stealing is too general. To convict someone under God’s law you must be more specific using God’s law.
This comes at a very critical time in the history of God’s church. Our greatest problem presently is that most ministers in the Church were educated at the feet of the scholars at Ambassador College. This is now a fallen church and all that they have learned is not correct and some of them are still at the feet of the same scholars. The sermons in many of the Churches of God today are almost pablum-like and obviously meant to offend no one or are political sermons to teach it is unChristian-like conduct to question the corporation—the results of which will be that you are disfellowshipped and cut off from Christ (I don’t think so). Jim was never afraid to stand up to the corporation for its questionable practices.
I think all of us who have God’s Holy Spirit should be pulling together, wanting to learn more about our Father and the law he has so graciously given us that makes us different and special. I hope we hear from Mindy again—this time to tell (to quote Paul Harvey) "the rest of the story." She said she did not want to hurt Jim’s reputation, but I think she has done exactly that. I’m not sure that that was God’s will.
—Ken Omick, Wisconsin
Response: Some of the people whom Mindy first contacted were not interested in finding the truth of the issue, so they could not be witnesses. Matthew 18:16 says "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more." It does not say "if the first one or two you ask to go with you refuse, then give up." Mindy finally took the issue to me, and I took it to others. Anyone who took the time to listen to the tapes could quickly see the problem. To say it is not God’s will to hurt someone’s reputation is denying much of the Bible—the Bible contains the stories of the mistakes of many people. Mindy did not specifically want to hurt Jim, but she wanted people to know what they are listening to.
Ken, you can to longer "be the first to go to Jim and show him where he has caused mental anguish or harm", but you can still do it. I and many others have recommended Jim as a man with a great gift to put words together to move and stir people. It was a great amount of anguish to realize that it was not his gift, but the gift of others whose words he was reading.
I am glad to help you understand how God’s law applies to copyrights. Notice Exodus 20:16-18:
You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s."
When Jim Rector finished his A Radical Departure message at the Footsteps of the Messiah conference by saying "But these are 10 or 11 things that just came to my mind", he was bearing false witness. They were 10 or 11 things that Gene Edwards researched and wrote in the book Beyond Radical.
Notice the "coveting" verse ends by saying "anything that is your neighbor’s". What things does the stealing verse apply to? That should be obvious. Can it be a sin to covet your neighbors writing, but not a sin to steal it? No, it is a sin to steal anything that is your neighbors. The Bible does give specific cases where it is all right for the poor to take things that they did not produce: to eat out of a field while traveling, (Deut 23:24-25), to eat what grows itself in the seventh year (Ex 23:11), to glean grain or olives (Deut 24:20-21, Lev 19:9-10), or pick up a forgotten sheaf (Deut 24:19), etc. Other than these specifically mentioned things, stealing anything from someone else is wrong. But does the Bible say anything about "intellectual property"—words and ideas—being stolen? Notice Jeremiah 23:30:
"Therefore," declares the Lord, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me.
The Hebrew word used for steal here is the same one used in the ten commandments. Jim Rector has made at least two tapes from Rick Joyner, a man who claims to be a prophet.
The Bible teaches that people who steal and sell things should pay the owner four or five times for what they stole (Ex 22:1). Zaccheus actually did this when he repented (Luke 19:8). While Jim did not sell his tapes, many people do send him offerings so that he will continue to produce them. You seem to be critical of "Caesar’s law" in regard to copyrights. It is actually not far away from God’s law. If a person sues another for copyright infringement, they are usually awarded money based on how much revenue they lost—how many books they would have sold had the other person not been selling or giving away the equivalent. It is possible for a jury to award "treble damages"—three times as much. Is that so much different than God’s law (four times as much)? Do you think that an author should be able to work years on a book, or a company spend thousands of man hours compiling an encyclopedia—only to have some other person copy it word for word and sell it cheap? That does not sound just to me.
I specifically encourage people to copy my work because I am more interested in sharing my work than being compensated for it. But if these authors whom Jim is plagiarizing from chose to receive money for their work, has Jim Rector been commissioned by God to take that away from them?
Lastly, I certainly commend Jim for standing up to corporations and their questionable practices. Let us pray that he has the courage to stand up to his own.
Rector Plagiarizes Ernest Martin
Letter: June 19, 1999
After you have looked at the sender you will wonder ‘what will it be this time’. Indeed, my letters to you have not always been of the commendable type, but then I had my reasons for them. The last one was about Armstrong, it did not put you in a favorable light, the more I was surprised when I noticed that you considered it worthwhile to be printed. There are times when I read your magazine that I wonder whether there is a bit of a change in your character. I am certain that two years or so ago you would not have printed my letter. Not that I was entirely pleased because it escapes me why you did not print my name as well instead of the subterfuge, calling me ‘a reader’. Why confuse your readers, were you afraid of admitting that you were scolded by a foreigner? Are not we all brothers? I hope that one day you will tell me of your reason.
The ‘change in character’ bit was prompted by the fact that you really dared to attack one from the ‘inner circle’, one of the ‘mighty ones’ as I call them, those who are mentioned in Ps 123:3–4. I am almost certain that two years ago you would not have done this. I’d like to commend you on this and surely YHWH will also. Liars should be exposed but first be approached as you wrote Mindy Diller. Well, in my case I did the same and I attach copies of correspondence addressed to Jim Rector. You will notice that I received a reply only once, his letter full of invective dated Nov 17, that is 6 months after my letter of May 11th in which I accused him of plagiarism ( Rector’s tape Where Did Christ Die? (April 12, 1997) is taken from Ernest L. Martin’s book Secrets of Golgotha). The accusation still stands and no ‘mea culpa’ has been received and I am sure at this late date never will be given.
I think I can also tell you why no reaction was received until after 6 months. I gave Rector ample time to answer my letter but when no reply was forthcoming, I directed myself to Ernest Martin. As per copy letters attached, I approached him three times but never received a reply. It is my assumption that Rector communicated with Ernest Martin, by phone or fax or letter, telling him that he had used his book as basis for a tape and forgot to ask permission and /or also forgot to give credit to whom credit is due. Whichever, Rector asked to be excused and apparently he was because Ernest Martin never answered my letter and preferred to lose a customer and a yearly freewill donation which was more than I sent to most other organizations which are of service to me.
After Rector made certain that Ernest Martin would never admit that the tape was a word for word and line for line repetition of his book. Finally on November 17, he, Rector, wrote me his invective letter to which I did not bother to reply because the tape he had made revealed all and Rector had made sure that Ernest Martin was not going to give additional proof.
Now I know for a fact from a friend of Rector’s that plagiarism is normal procedure, he does it all the time. When taken to task for his behavior, Rector mentioned that he was not aware of what he did, it just happened. Well, I do not want to call him schizophrenic but one is inclined to believe that he is.
I would not be surprised when you will be approached by other brethren who will tell you similar stories, in fact facts, because unless I was 100 percent certain I would never have given you the above information. There are a lot of rotten apples in what is called the "Church of God" but which I now call the "Church of Man", because there is so little of YHWH left in that church. In fact I think it is an affront to YHWH Elohim that His name is being misused in that way.
The irony of it all is that Fred Coulter had threatened Jim Rector because his belief of the Passover was different from Coulter’s. I felt sorry for Rector and approached Coulter and asked him to tell me the truth about this, of course, I never received a reply from this ‘minister’ either. Anyway, Paul’s is the superior book taking it for granted that you have read ‘the Passover Papers’ by Paul R. Finch [PO Box 110155; Palm Bay, FL 32911-0155; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org]. As a matter of fact, Finch quotes you in his book. The book was no great revelation to me because most of what he said had already been proven by others and myself. Still, it is the best book on the Passover so far, he gives a complete overview about all that has been said about the Passover though I do not agree with all his conclusions. But at least it is a 100% improvement on all myths, fairy tales, and nonsense in Coulter’s book.
Of course, Norman, we all borrow from each other. We all read papers and articles from various authors. We absorb their knowledge if we consider it to be the truth, it becomes part of our belief system and we pass it on to others in articles of our own without even being aware of where we picked up the knowledge. There is nothing wrong with that I think, but when you pass on someone else’s paper as your own or filch someone else’s research set down in a book, like Rector does, then it is criminal, I am sure also in YHWH’s eyes. Years ago I established some facts about Lev. 23 and Yoshua as per attached paper. The final truth did not dawn on me until recently, but that after is a very erroneous added word in these scriptures will become obvious also to you. Still, someone had the nerve to tell me that "someone else beat you to it", referring to a paper which had been written two years after mine. Of course, I gave this person a piece of my mind.
[Paragraphs on other subjects deleted].
Jurgen Kuipers Postema,
Aptdo. Correos 75
03530 La Nucia/ Prov Alicante
Response: I put "a reader" on your last letter because the envelope was marked "private". We thought that you might not want others to know that you hold Mr. Armstrong in such high esteem (calling him "YHWH’s anointed", even though you believe many doctrines different than he taught. We wanted to print your letter because it well presented a view that we have heard from several people. I guess what you meant by "private" was that I was supposed to get it rather than someone else. This time we are including your entire address so that other readers who are interested in "heavy" doctrinal study can write directly to you.
Thank you for your comments about working with Jim Rector on plagiarism. Your comments and others have established that many people have gone to him over the years about the issue, and he did not change—Jim plagiarized many more books after he received your letter.
I do not respond to all of your articles and doctrinal letters because I receive many of them from a number of individuals and I simply do not have time to respond to all of them. To answer them thoroughly requires a lot of time and research. How do we choose what to respond to? We take the time to respond to those things that we determine to be Biblically the most significant, or those where we can be most helpful to people. We are not saying that the other topics are unimportant to the Eternal or to the people who want to study them, we are just saying that we do not have time to study it.
While I believe the Passover is an important subject, I do not expect to see two lines at the judgment: one for people who kept Passover on the right day getting their reward, and the other for people who kept Passover on the wrong day getting a big punishment. If someone believes they understand the scriptures, but goes against their understanding for some petty human motive, that may bring them judgment. But most people I know desperately want to do whatever is right. I think the greatest danger of judgement is for men who teach that their view is the "only possible Biblical view", when they know there are some questions about their view that they cannot answer from the scriptures—they just hope no one asks.
Blind Loyalty to Jim Rector
Letter: June 1, 1999
Dear Servants’ News,
Thank you for showing us that we need to expect accountability from our leaders!
Of course we are thankful for the good things we learned from Jim Rector. And naturally, we forgive him for his deception. But we can be thankful and forgiving without shirking our responsibility of expecting our leaders to be accountable for their own actions. When we allow the natural consequences of our actions to occur, (we reap what we sow) then we do not get in the way of deserving judgment.
If the elders and the members stood up to wrongdoing years ago in the Worldwide Church of God before all the splits, our history would certainly be different today. If Herbert Armstrong had stood up to those men under him who "covered up" sins and abused church authority, he would have a different legacy today.
Let’s respect our leaders, and exhort them like we want to be exhorted. If our hearts are pure, we appreciate it when a "good friend" points out any errors we have. That is a test of a good friend: are they loyal to you in your wrongdoing or are they loyal to God in your wrongdoing?
Response: Thanks. We really do not need to say anything more.