Monday, September 30, 2013

HWA's Last Sermon (In Which He Threatens Members' Salvation)

This is Herbert W. Armstrong's last sermon, delivered on the Feast of Trumpets, September 16, 1985. Here is a transcript of it from Pabco's Home Page.

This was one of first writings I read on Pabco's Home Page. Knowing that he would soon die and that it was his last sermon, it was only natural that I, as a devotee of his, would be drawn to that sermon transcript.

The sermon is mainly focused upon the supposedly immanent return of Christ to the Earth. It is HWA's teaching that the Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the return of Christ.

He never shouts until 40 minutes into it.

Here is HWA pretending that he does not set dates and then proceeds to do so. But of course he is careful to maintain plausible deniability. 
Of course it doesn't mean that Christ will come on this certain day in just so many years from now. But there is ample reason to think that things have happened that way in the fulfillment of prophecies previously in the other Holy Days, and it could happen that way. But we don't know because God had said that no man, not even Christ, knew the time or the day or the hour when Christ would come. Only the Father knows that. So we can't set any time whatsoever. But we do know by all signs and enough of the prophecies to know it's now near, it's even at the door. It's very close to us now. We are the last generation of this world and this age!
We know from other sources, including Mystery of the Ages, that he was teaching that Christ would return by the year 2000.

Those false prophecies were merely the latest in a long line of false prophecies promoted by HWA, including his infamous false prophecy of 1975.
There is not a word in the Bible that says we will ever go to heaven.
But we can transport ourselves instantaneously anywhere in the Universe as God Beings, can't we? So if I became a God Being I could go to Heaven whenever I want or need to.
We are part of the remnant of God's one true Church of the Philadelphia era. There is another era yet to come. I think it'll only exist briefly, at the most about two-and-half or three years. 
Considering how Gerald Flurry loves to demonize "Laodiceans" (WCG/GCI members and ex-WCG members who did not join PCG) it seems odd to see how HWA seems to think Laodiceans would only predominate during the time of the Great Tribulation when the Philadelphian Christians, supposedly, would be tucked away in a Place of Safety unable to preach to the world.

Continuing we see once again how HWA tried to overly romanticize Ambassador College in order to keep WCG members persuaded they were supporting a worthy endeavor.
But in any event this Church has taken what was the nearest thing to a slum in Pasadena which is the very ground on which we are stationed right here-- right now! And here is, in some respects, the most beautiful building on the face of the Earth, put here. This was all slums, and the most beautiful place in Pasadena is this campus. And we have taken it, or rather, Christ has taken it, and used us and we have submitted to Him and He has done it -- we haven't really -- and turned it into beauty. 
But was it really so special? This article shows how most people in Pasadena went they merry way, never knowing that very close by lived a bunch of properties believed by thousands to be paradise on Earth, a foretaste of the World Tomorrow HWA promised would soon come.

Shortly after that HWA threatens WCG members' salvation if they do not follow the new Pastor General, who turned out to be Joseph Tkach. It is found at one hour, fifteen minutes into the recording.
And if I were not here it would be another who would become the Pastor General. And if that should ever happen, if you want to get into God's Kingdom you will follow that Pastor General. And you will remain united and you will remain one. And your eternity depends on that. Every one of you, don't you forget it. Because years ago this Church was very seriously, it's a matter of seven or eight years ago, still divided. Thank God it's not really divided today. There maybe a little contention here or there that maybe we just haven't quite discovered. Maybe some have a little contention they are keeping to themselves. It hasn't surfaced. But we have such wonderful cooperation now, such a wonderful attitude and spirit of love, the Spirit of God and of God's Holy Spirit. Brethren, do everything and pray your heart out that it can continue that way in the Church.
Near the end HWA speculates on how some will try to seize power within WCG for themselves.
And there are those that are just waiting for me to die and like buzzards they would like to come and gobble up all you people and tell you that no one else is fit to lead you but them. And they look to human charisma, someone who has a certain personality, someone who's a good entertainer, but God looks on the heart. Don't forget it, brethren. People are always fooled by human personality and the charisma that attracts them right to someone. That must never happen in this Church. And I am going to do all I can to stay alive and prevent it happening as long as I can.
Little did he know that his hand picked successor, Joseph Tkach, would renounce Armstrongism and using the absolute power he inherited from HWA would transform WCG into (for the most part) a mainstream Protestant Evangelical church.

Listening to him throughout the sermon one can perceive that HWA has been greatly weakened. The vigor one can see in him in his younger days has greatly diminished.

Alas, HWA was never pulled up before a court and punished for the terrible harm he inflicted upon his followers by his anti-medicine superstition (which he took from the Jehovah's Witnesses), his arbitrary destruction of marriages caused by his divorce and remarriage doctrine until 1974, his cruel orders to shun ex-members, his three tithes, causing WCG members to be isolated from society by making them renounce ordinary habits and customs, spreading false fear inducing prophecies, his authoritarianism, etc.

If anyone is still furious at him perhaps they should listen to this sermon. Perhaps hearing him in such a weak state, might make them see that he did suffer in the end. Perhaps some can accept this as a sort of justice for the many people who suffered because of him. He should have been hauled before a court of justice and thrown into jail for what he did to WCG members. That never happened, but at least it can be said that his work fell apart under Tkach. How great was he if his own organization could fall apart so quickly?

So that was HWA's last sermon. A sermon in which he threatened WCG members' eternal salvation should they not obey the new boss, claims Christ is soon returning, and claims the College he runs is the most beautiful building on Earth (which his organization no longer owns).

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