Monday, September 14, 2009

Sound Familiar?

The Armstrongite movement is descended from the Millerite movement of the 1830s and 1840s.

Following their disappointment that Christ did not appear in 1844 as expected various movements emerged from this movement. Shortly afterward many accepted the Seventh Day Sabbath due to the influence from the Seventh Day Baptist Church. Most of those Sabbatarians would later rally behind Ellen White who claimed to have visions from God, and found the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Some of them came to disbelieve that God would communicate through a woman and went to found what would become the Church of God (Seventh Day), the denomination HWA would later join (despite his later denials) and from which produce Armstrongism.

Not every Adventist however accepted the Sabbath. Some non-Sabbatarian Adventists became persuaded that Christ would return in 1874. When this prediction also failed one man who believed this, Nelson Barbour, refused to believe they were wrong and insisted that Christ invisibly returned at that date. This attracted the attention of one Charles Taze Russell, who went and worked with him. After falling out with each other Russell went and started his own organization, The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, the members of which would become known as the Jehovah's Witnesses from 1931 onwards.

Because of such common ancestry it should be of no surprise that they should share certain similarities. (Common ancestry does not in any way alter the fact that HWA clearly stole many ideas from the Jehovah's Witnesses independently of any ancestral connection his movement had with them.)

Don't these words from the Watchtower Society sound familiar to those of us familiar with Armstrongism?

Consider that "the time is short:" that where we used to give one dollar, or a hundred, or a thousand, we now have the privilege of showing the Lord our appreciation of the truth by using five times as much, both of time and money; the results of which are beyond comparison. ('Old Theology Tracts' in Watchtower, March, 1889. Please note this is from what appears to be a website from a Russellite offshoot of the Watchtower Society.)

The Watchtower Society saying the time is short in 1889, just like HWA did throughout his (so-called) ministry. (At the time the Watchtower taught that the time of the end began in 1799, Jesus Christ invisibly returned in 1874, and Armageddon would come in 1914. Today they say Christ invisibly returned and the time of the end began in 1914 with Armageddon to come soon.)

notwithstanding the opposition of the clergy, who, from their office and profession, should be the very ones to sound the Jubilee trump to our dear brethren and sisters. (Dawn in its Seventieth Thousand, Watchtower, March, 1888.)
This is very similar to how Meredith assert that other religionists are often at the forefront of opposition to "the truth."

down through time, biblical and secular history show very clearly that the servants of God were persecuted most of all by people who had religious jealousy. Other religionists would persecute God's servants. The other ministers and the other religionists would always go after the true servants of God. That is the way it has always has been. That is terrible, but that is the way it is. (Meredith, The Gospel of Matthew -- Program 13 Bible Study, on Matthew 12:14.)

Comparing religious leaders with the religious authorities who opposed Jesus is a very effective polemical tool used by religious cults such as the Armstrongites to demonize any opposition by contemporary religious authorities.

Many do not know that the "Baptists," "Disciples," "Congregationalists," and some others, are not organized into one body throughout the world, in the same manner as are Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and E. Methodists, but each congregation maintains the right to control its own affairs and its own faith independently of other congregations. [This is well, but the same principle should extend to each individual in each congregation. Each should be asked if he accepts the Lord by the only name, Saviour, and the Bible as God's divinely inspired communication to man; and beyond this, each should be left to believe all that he can find in God's revelation, each ready to assist and be assisted by the other, to grow in grace and knowledge and in the love of God.] But those independent congregations, imitating the various sects, have formed "Unions" by which the majority of such churches attempt to fix the faith and affairs of the others, much the same as Conferences do for the Methodists, and the Presbyteries and Synods and General Assemblies of the Presbyterians, and the Convocations Councils and generally the hierarchies of the Protestant Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches. (Chas. H. Spurgeon's Position, Watchtower, February, 1888.)

This is similar to Hoeh's condemnation of Christians organizing themselves together in the 1959 "church history" booklet.

This concerns the founding of the Seventh Day Baptists:

so nearly dead were these congregations that in 1802 MANY began to ORGANIZE THEMSELVES together into a General Conference instead of submitting to the government of God for the carrying out of the gospel. At this serious juncture, MOST of the local churches JOINED THEMSELVES TOGETHER to form the Seventh-day Baptist General Conference and thereby ceased to be the true Church of God.

This concerns the founding of the Seventh Day Adventists.

In the spring, of 1861 another conference was held in an unscriptural effort to reorganize local congregations....Once again men forgot that they can not organize themselves INTO the Church of God. They can only organize themselves OUT OF the Church of God!

These statements against the organizing of Christians together seems very peculiar considering that WCG was also "organized," specifically as a one man dictatorship euphemistically labeled the "government of God."

So once again we must ask ourselves why is Armstrongism supposedly unique?


  1. This is some good research, RF. Thanks!!

    What has really astounded me is that the ancestral groups claimed by Armstrongism to be the "Church of God" were none other than Catholic reform groups.
    The only difference I can find between the Baptists and the Seventh Day Baptists (both were Protestant, ie. Catholic reform) is the seventh day sabbath. That's it.
    They appear to have gotten their sabbath ideas from a small group of Protestant reformers (they apparently thought Anglicanism wasn't reformed enough) in England who were confused about the nature of the New Covenant sabbath.
    Others, like Peter Waldo and his Poor Men of Lyons were Catholics in every way, except that they took a vow of poverty in protest to the excesses of the Catholic hierarchy. You can go right down the line and see that.

    HWA and his offshoots explain this away with some story about history being incorrect. Say, what? (They say the same thing about the Bible. Ask any Armstrongist what they feel about Paul's understanding of the time of the end.) They claim that history is wrong because it was written by the Catholics. The Catholics have their share of faults, but one thing they are is fastidious record keepers. Herman Hoeh, OTOH, had a field day inventing history. We know it was mostly bunk for a fact - no speculation needed. More of that Alexander Hyslop style research methodology. I would favor the Catholic's documented history over HWA's imaginary history any day.

    After William Miller, who was apparently a creation of the revivals of the 1800's, and whose followers were really only concerned with the Advent, you will see all of his offshoots related in many ways (whether they like to admit it or not.)
    But before him, and I mean according to HWA's own doctored history, you will see some type of Catholic reformers all the way through. Think about that in the light of Catholic traditions that HWA demonized. All of those groups did those things HWA condemned (eg. Easter).
    He had to invent a rotating list of qualifications to identify the "true church". At one point it would be the Saturday sabbath. But at other times it was the name "Church of God" (which I can demonstrate was part of the name of the early Catholic Church itself). And at still other times it was a checklist of Old Covenant practices, like Passover. Until you finally come to the coup de gras, which is saying that "none of those people had HWA to reveal the truth to them, so they get a pass."

    Anywho... awesome article. Keep it up!

  2. 1 Corinthians 7:29 - But I say this, brothers: the time is short.

    It seems that Brother Russell was in good company is saying that "the time is short."

    Yes, the time was short in the first century; it was still short in 1889, and it is still short today. Russell was expecting that 1914 would see the beginning of the time of trouble; his idea of "Armageddon" was not the same as that of the JWs.

    Russell was a non-sectarian who never believed in an organization such as Rutherford formed after Russell died, nor did he believe in Rutherford's idea that millions of unbelieving men, women and children would be eternally destroyed in Armageddon.

  3. Russell did form his own sect. It was recognized as such by Christians who disavowed them. It was not as authoritarian as what Rutherford came up with, but it was still an organization. He was President of the WTS and ruled it practically as a one man dictatorship (which it would remain till 1975) as Walter Martin showed in Kingdom of the Cults.

    Not only did Russell expect Armageddon to occur in 1914/5 he also said Armageddon would occur early in his religious career. 1870s-1880s. Similar to how HWA said Christ would return in 1936.

  4. Clerly these are the masters of deception having literally deceived millions over the years.

    Made my belly ache or maybe that was the watermelon I ate. : D

    Dill Weed

  5. Nope, Russell did not believe in an organization as Rutherford formed after Russell's death. Tens of thousands of earlier Bible Students who refused to accept Rutheford's new "organization" doctrine can testify to this.

    Russell was indeed the president of the legal entity, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, but there was no central ruling authority in the days of Russell. Russell refused to accept such a role.

    Russell, especially from 1904 onward, was expecting the "time of trouble" to begin in 1914, which trouble he expected to lead to the final battle of Armageddon. Yes, in his earlier years he was expecting that the battle would begin sometime before 1914 and would over by 1914, but in his later years before 1914 he no longer was expecting such. However, he always stated that his views were not to be regarded a prophecy.

    Christian love,