Tuesday, August 11, 2009

HWA: The Philadelphian Messenger

The traditional COG understanding of the messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 is that they are prophecies predicting the conditions of seven church eras stretching from Apostolic times to our time, supposedly just before the Second Coming.

However an alternative interpretation was presented by HWA in his last book, Mystery of the Ages. The messages in Revelation 2 and 3 are addressed to "angels" of those seven churches. Usually these messages are understood to be referring to the church era as a whole. Yet HWA claimed that the "angel of Philadelphia" was also a description of himself.

"Of the Philadelphia era of God's true Church we read: "To the angel of the church...." This word angel translated from the Greek aggelos means messenger or agent. This is not necessarily always referring to a spirit angel but can refer as well to a human agent....it may also apply to the human messenger or agent God has raised up to lead this era of his Church [HWA]." (Mystery of the Ages, Chapter 6, under the heading 'Restoration of God's Truth to Church.' This is discussed in this critical review, under the heading 'Philadelphian Era.')

Where did he get this idea? Did he devise it himself? That seems unlikely because as far as I can tell every idea he taught came from somewhere else (except maybe Second and Third Tithes). Is there some other source which we can find from which he gained this idea?

There is.

On the grave of Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the members of which would later be named Jehovah's Witnesses, it is declared that Russell was "The Laodicean Messenger."

While HWA was only willing to identify the Philadelphian messenger (himself), the Watchtower Society went even further than HWA and claimed to identify each of the seven messengers. They were Paul, John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe, Luther and Russell. Notice what is related here.

"While [Russell] implies that there were precursors to his work (who of course had a very different theology than Russell accepted [very similar to HWA's "church history" doctrine]), it was only in The Finished Mystery (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 7) published after his death that a direct line is sketched from Paul and John through Arius, Waldo, Wycliff, and Luther to Russell." (Gene Edson Ahlstrom, The Church in the Thought of Charles Taze Russell, under the heading 'Sectarianism and Church History.')

So this is where HWA got the idea that the "angels" of the seven churches were actually individuals and allowed himself to call himself The Philadelphian Messenger. It is simply another idea stolen from the Watchtower.

No comments:

Post a Comment