Monday, March 10, 2014

Roderick C. Meredith and Laodicea (1979)

HWA and Hoeh taught that the true church would go through seven eras from the Apostolic era until the return of Christ after the Great Tribulation. The sixth era, called Philadelphia, is held to be the work raised up by Herbert Armstrong, namely the Worldwide Church of God (by the will of God they claim). This sixth era is to be followed by a seventh era, named Laodicea, which would be lukewarm and consequently when the German led European combine attacked the US these lukewarm, Laodicean Christians would be denied protection and experience the wrath of this European Empire. 

Who, precisely, these Laodiceans are has been the subject of much speculation among Armstrongites. Would it be a separate group, organized together similar to HWA's WCG, though separate and somehow lacking? Was it just individual Armstrongite Christians who would not be taken to the place of safety? Or is it any other Armstrongites who simply choose not to join your own group.

Gerald Flurry and his PCG later decided that Laodiceans were any WCG member or a member of any other COG group who simply chose not to join PCG and PCG members were instructed to shun any such person.

Historically the idea has been very ill defined within the world of Armstrongism. A particularly telling example of this is revealed in the following account from David Robinson's book, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web (Chapter 19, pp. 255-6), in which David Robinson describes a meeting he had with HWA (and Henry Cornwall, a man apparently aligned with Rader) in 1979.

During the course of this conversation many matters were discussed, including this intriguing conversation Robinson had with Roderick C. Meredith and Raymond McNair during the brief time Meredith was head of the ministry in 1979. Roderick C. Meredith had been deposed by Stanley Rader by the time Robinson had his meeting with HWA.

At the time Garner Ted Armstrong had been cast out the previous year and Stanley Rader had been frantically setting himself up as the second most powerful man in WCG. Many ministers and members were disgusted that Rader was trying to gain power. 
I told HWA I had been in Rod Meredith's office the day following Memorial Day. At that time, Rod had asked me if I thought Ted's group could be "a Church of God."  Mr. Armstrong quickly interrupted to ask what I had said.

I said I had asked Rod what he thought. Rod had said he didn't know. He thought it was possible. He didn't think God would use a "whoremonger" to raise up a church, but he might let Ted's name and remarkable charisma be used and then have him killed in a plane crash. This would be a means of gathering all of the lukewarm people together.

Mr. Armstrong then interrupted to say Rod had no right to bring up those charges against Ted. He would have to speak to him about that. ...

I had asked Rod and Raymond McNair, who was also present that day, about Laodicea. "If, as we say, we are Philadelphia, and again, as we say, time is very short, where, then, is Laodicea?" Raymond and Rod then had a discussion between themselves about how Ted might be the catalyst for that lukewarm church and later be removed from the scene so the last church age could form.

I then asked, "If this be the Laodicean church forming, would it be a church of God?" They both said it would. Then, I asked, "Should this group, if there is a good chance they be of God, be attacked by another group of the church of God?" 
They said, "No, but we aren't sure Mr. Armstrong thinks that way."
I was amazed reading this. These are prominent ministers within HWA's WCG making speculations that now seem total nonsense today.

Among the COGs today the main interpretation seem to be that Laodiceans are individual COG members who are somehow deficient and will not be allowed into the place of safety. Now that Armstrongism has splintered apart so drastically and severely hardly any one expects to see a prominent COG group arise as some sort of counterpart of HWA's WCG.

Perhaps PCG does, in a way. As far as I know they seem to think Tkach Jr. is the false prophet who will sit in the temple of God, not the last Pope as HWA taught. At least that is the impression I got after reading their 1995 booklet, The Little Book, and other sources. Although they still love to fear monger about the Pope. They still seem to think he will play an instrumental role in creating the alleged European Empire.

[Update: March 29, 2014:You can access Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web from Exit and Support Network. Just email them and request it. It is well worth reading.]

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