The Booklets Nobody Wants to Talk About
Since its inception in 1947, Ambassador College (AC), in conjunction with the Worldwide Church of God (Worldwide Church of God), has published dozens of religiously oriented booklets on a vast number of intriguing subjects. These unique booklets, most of which claimed to bring some "new truth" to light, were primarily responsible for bringing thousands of sincere people into the doctrinal embrace of the Worldwide Church of God. Hundreds of teenagers, including many with previous college experience, decided to attend AC because they had been convinced by AC's booklets that AC disseminated knowledge no other college in the world taught or even knew of.
In the last few years many of the key booklets that built AC and the Worldwide Church of God have been discontinued-more often than not due to flagrant error-or rewritten and drastically watered down. AC personnel and Worldwide Church of God members were never told why these booklets were dropped or heavily revised. However, Ambassador Report feels the AC student and the Worldwide Church of God member are entitled to know the reasons, which are stated in the following obituaries:
The Proof of the Bible-For years this booklet, along with Does God Exist?, was thoroughly read and studied by all aspiring to become a baptized member of the Worldwide Church of God. Any person who counselled for baptism used to be asked if he believed in and had proved the Bible was definitely God's word. Those who hadn't read AC's booklet on the subject had a difficult time answering the minister's questions.
Yet in 1972, this fundamental booklet was mysteriously discontinued. The reason? In it Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) dogmatically declared that skeptics could disprove the Bible and God's very existence if they would go to the Mideast and construct even a small city on the site of New Tyre. In 1969 it was brought to the attention of AC theologians that the area of ancient Tyre was covered by the buildings of Sur and had been for many decades. If you desire to know more about this booklet's glaring inconsistencies, read the accompanying article titled "Herbert Armstrong 'Disproves' the Bible."
1975 in Prophecy-Of all Herbert W. Armstrong's booklets, this one is perhaps the most shocking and terrifying one he ever authored. It attempted to graphically portray the terrifying events prophesied in the Bible that he felt would befall mankind between the time he wrote (in the mid-fifties) and Christ's return-which Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God felt would occur in 1975, if not before.
Each passage in the booklet seemed designed to strike fear into the reader and cause him to "get right with God" quickly-Herbert W. Armstrong's way, of course. Notice some of the things he declared:
"Most Europeans are becoming distrustful of the United States.... They are thinking more and more about the coming United States of Europe! We Americans, with the British, gave them the idea .... They are going to unite against us!... The stage is all set! All that's lacking now is the strong leader-the coming Fuehrer! ... Probably Germany will lead and dominate the coming United States of Europe" (p. 4).
"That Nazi organization went underground! Their plans for coming back have been proceeding, under cover, since 1945! Already Nazis are in many key positions-in German industry-in German education-in the new German army!.. But this time the Nazis... plan to head and dominate a United States of Europe.... they plan to strike their first blow... on the centers of American industry!... You'll find this prophesied in Daniel 2 and 7, and more specifically in the 17th chapter of Revelation" (pp. 5-7) (Herbert W. Armstrong's excessive emphasis removed throughout).
On pages 11, 12, and 13 are pictures of extreme flooding and drought in the U.S. accompanied by alarming statements like this:
"While modern science and industry strive to prepare for us a push-button leisure-luxury-world by 1975, United States Assistant Weather Chief I. R. Tannahill warns us unofficially to really fear 'the big drought of 1975.' But the indications of prophecy are that this drought will be even more devastating than he foresees, and that it will strike sooner than 1975-probably between 1965 and 1972!" (p. 10.)
As the booklet progresses, Herbert W. Armstrong reiterates that "the German-dominated European combine will blast our [U.S.] cities and industrial centers with hydrogen bombs" (p. 14). He adds: "And so now God is about to punish!... It's later than you think!" (p. 18.) Then Herbert W. Armstrong boasts that "these prophecies are as certain as tomorrow's sun" and proceeds to prophesy: "Millions of lukewarm inactive professing Christians will suffer martyrdom-and that before the anticipated push-button leisure-year of 1975 dawns upon us!" (p. 20.)
To provoke even greater consternation in the reader's mind and to create a sense of urgency, he concludes: "You have been warned!... You can take this lightly, let it slip from your mind.... If you do, you have now read your fate-and I say to you on authority of God Almighty that it is absolutely sure!" (p. 31.)
As history has shown, Herbert W. Armstrong's "inspired" warnings supposedly based on divine authority were nothing but the apocalyptic ravings and vain imaginations of a misled, self-styled prophet claiming the authority of God Almighty. But one doesn't need to fear HWA or his predictions anymore when he claims to speak with God's authority, according to Deuteronomy 18:22: "When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him" (RSV).
By 1969 AC officials decided it would be wise to remove the booklet from public scrutiny, realizing Herbert W. Armstrong's predictions didn't appear to be panning out. The booklet's obvious anti-German bias was proving to be an acute and continuing embarrassment to the Armstrongs as they began courting European and German leaders. Furthermore, the booklet set dates for specific events, and these dates appeared to be inaccurate even then.
Though the booklet suffered from a terminal case of typographical diarrhea-Herbert W. Armstrong's excessive use of italicized and capitalized words used to stress the extreme "importance" of his "inspired" message-the gruesome illustrations were considered by AC officials to be even more distasteful. In view of these liabilities, the booklet was quietly sentenced to death and killed.
If you haven't yet read this booklet, Ambassador Report urges you to. We can promise you it'll open your eyes! But whatever you do, you have been warned!
Divorce and Remarriage-How often Herbert W. Armstrong crowed that only the Worldwide Church of God, of all the world's churches, was fulfilling the last verse of Malachi: turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. A few thinkers long had trouble squaring the boast with statements in this booklet that forced any couple to split apart and live separately if either member had a living former mate and wanted to become a Worldwide Church of God member and inherit eternal life.
In late 1973 AC published Herbert W. Armstrong's revised edition, incorporating the same adamant stand as the 1953 version but adding a few more erroneous proofs. Because of the controversy that had already been aroused, HWA sent the manuscript to the press, insisting no one be allowed to see it and completely bypassing the normal editorial channels. When the finished booklet appeared, the controversy intensified. During the time of the Worldwide Church of God's split in early 1974, the booklet was withdrawn by HWA at the urging of Al Portune, Robert Kuhn, and Stan Rader to avert an even bigger crisis.
At the Worldwide Church of God's ministerial conference in mid-1974, a complete reversal of the previous merciless D&R policy was announced by both Armstrongs. It was heralded as a revelation from God. (Actually, Garner Ted Armstrong [G TA] later confessed in 1976 that he had known this "new truth" on D&R for over 6 years. Also WCG members had previously shown WCG ministers several books that contained essentially what the Armstrongs now claimed was new revelation.) A hastily thrown together study paper was handed to the assembled ministers a few days later. This paper faced for the first time the long-ignored "Pauline permission" of I Corinthians 7 which recognized the validity of divorces obtained by an unconverted person.
For months afterward WCG officials attempted to write a new booklet on the subject, but they were unable to come to a consensus on what the booklet should say and afraid to bring their efforts to Herbert W. Armstrong's attention. So today, the WCG has no booklet available to the general public explaining its beliefs on divorce and remarriage. More shocking still, in practice, almost anybody who desires is now able to divorce and remarry-with the WCG's blessing.
But sad to say, Herbert W. Armstrong has offered no real apologies for the thousands of lives that his false and carelessly written teachings on divorce have ruined-not a word of regret for cruelly ripping apart happily married couples that were legitimately married in God's sight. Rather HWA praised his followers for remaining loyal to him and obeying his teachings rather than the Bible's.
A True History of the True Church-This booklet by Herman Hoeh, produced by AC in 1959, audaciously proclaimed that the WCG was God's only true church on earth today and attempted without success to prove it by quoting historical material out of context and trying to fit it into Herbert W. Armstrong's erroneous understanding of 19-year time cycles, history, and church eras-a colossal church error which even GTA admitted publicly. Most of the booklet's historical facts were actually lifted from A History of the True Church, a totally unscholarly work by A. N. Dugger and C. O. Dodd, published in 1936.
A few years ago the WCG booklet quietly dropped out of sight, though long-time members everywhere are still under the assumption that the teachings of the booklet are sound and that the booklet proved its erroneous premise: that a single, true, organized, continuous church group, culminating in the WCG, has included all true Christians of all ages, pastored and taught by ministers from an unbroken line of ordinations.
Recently, when quizzed about his father's "one true church" doctrine, Garner Ted Armstrong confessed to Joseph Hopkins: "I don't believe that, either... except for the invisible church, the Body of Christ. But it is definitely not necessary to belong to the Worldwide Church of God in order to be saved" (The Armstrong Empire, 1974, p. 246).
Does God Heal Today?-This booklet, published by AC in 1952, was killed in 1968 because the WCG feared law suits and bad publicity as a result of the booklet's statements urging total reliance on God-to the exclusion of medical authorities-for healing. Meanwhile, WCG brethren still depended on its teachings for divine healing, and many died tragic, heart-rending deaths having complete faith in the booklet, unaware that (1) the WCG was scared to print what they believed was God's truth for fear of civil authorities and (2) that the booklet's teachings were not biblically correct.
During times that local authorities might become involved because of nontreatment of a serious illness of a member or a member's child, ministers were strictly commanded to "keep the church [meaning the Armstrongs] out of trouble," even if it meant going to hospitals or doctors. But there was seemingly little concern for the unnecessary sufferings of the people involved. A former WCG deacon from New Jersey relates a sad story that further illustrates this point:
"...concerning the WCG policy on healing. Many people suffered needlessly while headquarters personnel took care of themselves. I recall one very grave incident where a young girl was suffering from appendicitis. Many prayers were said for her by members, and visits were made by the ministry for anointing and counseling. In a serious situation like this the counseling would also include a warning that if the child were to die (which she did, it ruptured) to be prepared with a story for the authorities so as not to get the church involved. The church was to be protected at all costs (even lying)."
In the years following the booklet's withdrawal, several top AC officials and/or their wives had "repair surgery." News of this "lack of faith" spread quickly on the WCG grapevine, unsettling WCG members who were still being taught that they should depend totally on God for healing, not medical science. By 1973 a number of WCG ministers began seriously questioning the validity of the healing doctrine in view of the fact that so many members who depended on the booklet's teachings were suffering unduly or dying. They called for meetings to resolve the questions, but nothing came of their pleas.
In 1974 the WCG ministry was told that people could go to doctors and that they didn't have to depend upon God to heal them unless they had the faith. The WCG gave no biblical reason for this sudden drastic shift in policy, and many ministers and members felt this was heresy. (Eventually this new, radical interpretation helped provoke turmoil and a split in the WCG's British churches.) In 1974 David Antion and Paul Flatt were put in charge of drafting a new doctrinal paper on healing. When they presented their study paper to a large group of ministers, it was given a favorable reception, but it was soon swept under the carpet (like most doctrinal research was) because it raised serious questions with the WCG's old booklet on the subject, which Herbert W. Armstrong still believes was inspired and correct, and because HWA was in the process of completing a revision of the old booklet without considering any of the new research papers.
Truth About Makeup-The makeup issue threatened to split the WCG in the 1950s until Herbert W. Armstrong ruled in 1955 that it was a sin for a Christian woman to wear makeup. Herbert W. Armstrong's own daughter refused to submit to his decision and was promptly excommunicated from the WCG. In 1958 Garner Ted Armstrong wrote that "it was God the Father and Jesus Christ who made the decision on make-up! They revealed to their human servants the plain truth on the subject..." (The Good News, Jan. 1958, p. 7).
To Herbert W. Armstrong, it was of paramount importance for people everywhere to heed what he felt were God's feelings about makeup. Hence he authored a booklet on the subject, based on a Jan. 1957 Good News article and published by AC in 1964 and 1968. The booklet lashed out at anyone who would dare be caught wearing the slightest touch of makeup:
"In every single case where painting the face is mentioned in your Bible, God labels the woman a whore!... How does God label you?" (p. 20.)
"It may be difficult, at first, for many women to realize that makeup on the face is actually one of those things that is an abomination in the sight of God-that its use is a sin-a violation of God's Law..." (p. 23).
"...God's people must be cleaned up!... This thing of painting the face is now labeled by Jesus Christ as a sin! It is a transgression of God's Law..." (pp. 26-27).
"... most women will say: 'I wear it to look nice'-or 'to avoid offense.' They say it in words that sound harmless. But God knows your hearts better than you do-and he knows that the heart of women... is 'deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.'... To whom does this woman wish to 'look nice'?-to God? No, for to God she looks like a painted artificial prostitute!" (pp. 42-43.)
"My own mother very emphatically declared that no lipstick ever touched her lips-a fact in which she took great satisfaction" (p. 18).
To stress the importance of avoiding makeup, Herbert W. Armstrong concludes in his booklet:
"God tells us what is sin, and He tells us that this vain use of facial makeup is sin!... the penalty for this sin is death for eternity in a Lake of fire!" (p. 44.)
Herbert W. Armstrong's makeup ruling proved to be a major stumbling block to women wishing to enter the WCG. One college girl confessed: "I cried when I found out I had to give up makeup because I looked so ugly without it. Later two women in the church came up to me and said I ought to be anointed [for healing] because of the way the skin on my face looked. This made me feel even more ugly and inferior, but gradually I learned to accept my appearance, though from time to time people made belittling remarks about it."
AC coeds were often embarrassed when showing visiting women around campus because invariably they asked: "Why don't you AC girls wear makeup?" What was the AC girl to say to her painted guests: "We don't wear makeup because God says only whores wear it"?
In the years following the makeup decision, several tried to convince the Armstrongs that their makeup doctrine was nonsensical and unbiblical. But they were brushed aside as heretics. After all, Garner Ted Armstrong had said the makeup ruling was made by "God the Father and Jesus Christ."
But in the early 1970s more and more people exerted pressure to have the booklet removed. They finally succeeded, and it was formally discontinued when the Oct. 23, 1974 ministerial bulletin declared wearing makeup okay after researchers had proved that, without exception, the "proofs" in the booklet were arrived at by using scriptures out of context and reading meanings into the scriptures that weren't intended. Though Herbert W. Armstrong's explanation of one of the scriptures was influenced by an erroneous translation quoted and accepted by Adam Clarke's commentary, HWA quoted two other commentaries and proceeded to leave out parts of their explanations that contradicted his preconceived conclusions. Had his research been more carefully done and had he consulted modern reference sources, he would not have reached the absurd conclusion he did.
In spite of the fact that Herbert W. Armstrong finally killed the makeup booklet, he never apologized for blaspheming God's name by claiming God looked at women who wore makeup as whores, nor did he apologize for wresting the scriptures to make it appear that wearing makeup was a capital sin.
The Mark of the Beast and Who Is the Beast?-These two booklets were copyrighted by AC in 1952 and 1960 respectively. Both were based more on specious reasoning than fact. In both booklets, Herbert W. Armstrong took basic Protestant and/or 19th-century Adventist interpretations and reshaped them to fit his own ideas by extracting isolated historical events out of their context and fitting them into highly symbolic prophecies. It is obvious to the student of history that the author has a bad and unscholarly habit of conveniently overlooking parts of history that contradict his prophetic theories.
In late 1969, AC's Chancellor Herbert Armstrong began meeting such European leaders as King Leopold of Belgium and Franz Josef Strauss of Germany, both Catholics. Since the booklets not only called the Catholic church the great whore of Revelation 17 and spoke very disparagingly of it, claiming it would again soon martyr those who opposed it and those who refused to worship on Sunday, but also predicted that a United States of Europe composed of 10 nations would fight Christ, the booklet threatened to become an acute embarrassment to HWA and to the WCG's German office and churches; therefore, it had to be discontinued.
Compendium of World History-Believing "the modern reconstruction of ancient history without God is almost 100% erroneous" (vol. I, p. 20) and that "that modern interpretation of world history stands in open conflict with Scripture" (vol. I, p. 1), "evangelist" Herman L. Hoeh decided to write a world history from the Bible's perspective and thus show modern historians the proper way to approach and write history. Hoeh received his doctor's degree in theology from AC upon completing volume I of his compendium and his doctor of philosophy degree from AC after writing volume II-although there was no one at AC even remotely qualified to evaluate his dissertations.
Volume I carried copyright dates of 1963, 1963-65, 1966, 1967, 1969, and 1970, while volume II had dates of 1963, 1966, and 1969. Each revision was invariably followed by a long list of errata.
For over a decade students at AC were compelled to study the haphazardly written "compendium" to pass AC's dreaded world history class. In late 1973, students heaved a giant sigh of relief upon learning they wouldn't have to wade through the undocumented assumptions, the convoluted reasoning, and the long king lists and genealogies which clutter the pages of the compendium. Soon, the compendium even disappeared from AC's bookstore. But many were bewildered. Why was "the world's greatest history book" by "the world's greatest historian" (according to Herbert W. Armstrong) suddenly unavailable?
Gradually those who checked around discovered that the compendium contained flagrant errors in chronology and in the reconstruction of history. The reason? Hoeh based his book on his own private biblical interpretation which was colored by Herbert W. Armstrong's British-Israel theories. Though being unschooled in Semitic and other ancient languages, having had few if any history classes at an accredited college under a qualified history professor, and never having specialized in any specific area, he felt his biblical knowledge and understanding more than compensated for his deficiencies in other areas.
As he compiled historical data for his book, he ignored or discarded facts that didn't fit snugly into his biblical framework and the historical-philosophical interpretations of Herbert W. Armstrong. Sometimes he had to quote sources out of context or simply invent evidence to amass proof for a particular point, but he overcame any qualms he may have had about this, feeling God was revealing previously hidden truth to him as he researched. But students who checked the original sources were often aghast at his shoddy if not dishonest scholarship.
In any case Hoeh's two-volume compendium is now out of print and no longer used in AC history classes. Indeed it is difficult to find any scholar-even inside the WCG-who is willing to defend "the world's greatest history book."
Military Service and War-This 72-page booklet was published in 1967 by AC to assist male WCG members and AC students evade the draft and decide why they should become conscientious objectors. This booklet was not offered to the public, and it was dropped as the Vietnam war was ending.
The Truth About Masonry-Published in 1961 by AC, the masonry booklet was authored by AC's former dean of students and psychology instructor Jack R. Elliott, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for his M.A. from AC. The booklet was written to inform WCG members of the evils of masonry and is no longer being sent out.
It claimed "membership in the Masonic Lodge, as much as membership in any of the [religious] denominations, is incompatible with obedience and service to God" (p. 43). It asserted that Masonry's "oaths are antiscriptural and that its secrecy is likewise contradictory to the Bible and pagan in origin" (p. 16). In a stinging indictment against Masons everywhere, Elliott declared that Masons "do not promote God's rule, but ignore it and set themselves up as the wise leaders... feigning benevolence by giving charity to the orphans and widows, while they privately endeavor to build their own prosperity" (p. 40). This booklet was mainly circulated internally in the WCG lest its public image be tarnished, in accord with its normal practice of portraying itself one way to the public and another way to its supporters.
The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy-This AC production (which is still in print), long one of the most heavily requested and intriguing booklets ever written by Herbert W. Armstrong, was originally a series in The Plain Truth which was edited into a 26-page booklet in 1954. Its main teachings were simply a patent paraphrase in many places of Rev. J. H. Allen's 377-page book, Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright (1902).
In 1967 Herbert W. Armstrong's 1954 version was enlarged to include 226 pages. This mammoth edition was extensively revised again in 1972 because it set dates for the fall of the U.S. and Britain that didn't materialize and because of gross historical and biblical errors. Recently Dr. Hoeh "doctored" the 1972 version, surgically excising 75% of the material out of it. Because of challenges that could not (or would not) be answered honestly, he removed all the historical "proof" (actually, there never was any proof) and 75% of the biblical "evidence."
Gone is the older version's whole section on Jeremiah's commission, the planting of the throne in Ireland, and the accounts of Tea-Tephi and the lia-fail stone. Several members of the former doctrinal committee-Herbert W. Armstrong recently disbanded the committee-state that the basic tenets of the booklet are unprovable, either from the Bible or from history. Garner Ted Armstrong has even expressed in an interview with Joseph M. Hopkins that belief in British-Israelism is "not essential to salvation. It hasn't been proven to my satisfaction," he confessed, "that the Ten Lost Tribes relocated in specific places in northern Europe. It certainly is not a necessary doctrine" (The Armstrong Empire, 1974, p. 245).
Still Other Problem Booklets. One by one the key booklets that set AC and the WCG apart as unique are being phased out, never to be heard from again. AC's booklets on pollution and the feminist movement no longer exist. AC's booklet based on Garner Ted Armstrong's interview with Franz Josef Strauss, Is the United States of Europe Coming Soon?, was quietly dropped. (When Strauss visited AC in early 1970, AC officials were so worried Strauss might see the booklet-what did AC have to hide?-that they instructed students to remove the recently published booklet from their dormitory bookshelves and hide it until Strauss left.) Who Will Rule Space? has been shot down and killed. Most of AC's editors privately acknowledge that AC's booklets on evolution are in grave need of revision due to their simplistic and often completely unscientific "scientific" claims.
The booklet entitled Tithing, written by John Schroeder (Garner Ted Armstrong's ghost writer) and Brian Knowles and edited by Garner Ted Armstrong to replace Ending Your Financial Worries, offered no convincing biblical reasons why a Christian should tithe and is basically a waste of paper. When Herbert W. Armstrong read the new booklet, he became boiling mad, yelling that all the "proofs" had been omitted. Though a number of the leading WCG ministers do not even believe in tithing, none dared tell him his "proofs" were only misapplied scriptures quoted out of context and blended with a large amount of wishful thinking. His plain truth about tithing was just plain error.
A number of AC's booklets were discontinued not only because of factual error but also because it seems the Armstrongs were afraid some of their worldly contacts would notice what they were preaching and judge them to be lunatics. For instance, God Speaks Out on the New Morality was killed and reemerged as The Missing Dimension in Sex, partly because the former booklet stated that Simon Magus was the Peter who founded the Catholic Church and that the Catholic church was responsible for the Western world's belief that sex was evil and inherently unclean. Herbert W. Armstrong still believed this to be true-though research can never show Simon Magus founded the Catholic church-but HWA was developing a friendship with King Leopold of Belgium at the time and didn't want Leopold to find out what he preached about the Catholic church because Leopold was a staunch Catholic.
For more than two decades Herbert W. Armstrong has preached and written that an Israelitish U.S. and Britain would be destroyed by a revitalized, ten-nation U.S. of Europe dominated by the Satan-influenced Roman Catholic church and led by the Germans whom he claims are the modern descendants of the Assyrians. But when he began meeting world leaders and developing friendships with them, he stopped writing about the Catholic church in prophecy and Germany being modern Assyria.
Why do Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong shrink back when it comes time to tell world leaders how they should live their lives and what is prophesied in the Bible? The New Testament ministers bravely proclaimed God's truth to world leaders without flattery and equivocation (Acts 24-26, I Thes. 2:1-6).
Why does The Plain Truth no longer contain prophetic teaching but has page after page of glowing accounts of Herbert W. Armstrong's (and Rader's) personal overseas exploits and insipid, shallow, ministry-of-tourism-type travelogues by Gene Hogberg? Why hasn't HWA told his followers about the major errors in the booklets that have been quietly discontinued?
These are questions you ought to strongly consider before financially supporting Herbert Armstrong's gospel-preaching efforts and before reorienting your life to conform to the teachings found in Herbert Armstrong's publications.
Back to Index