Saturday, July 26, 2014

Misremembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall

When the Berlin Wall came down as part of the fall of the Communist East European regimes many people were amazed at these dramatic events. Less visible were the excited reactions of the followers of a certain Herbert W. Armstrong who looked at these events as a sign that he was right. This seems to have been a common reaction among the COGs.

One example of this enthusiastic reaction may be found in Brad MacDonald's article, A Night to Remember, which was published in the January 2010 issue of PCG's Philadelphia Trumpet.
In my house, halfway around the world in Australia, the excitement had overpowered nightly bedtime rituals. Obviously something major was unfolding. But it was happening thousands of miles away on another continent. I didn’t understand. My parents were nearly as excited as those we were watching on TV. By now the phone had jumped into the noisy fray. My parents were darting between the phone and the television. Are you watching this? This is it! they told friends. This is what we’ve been waiting for.
As the wall fell, my parents’ attention didn’t remain solely on Berlin. They also cast an anxious gaze toward Pasadena, California, the location of the headquarters of the Worldwide Church of God. While the collapse of the Berlin Wall was a watershed event for Germany and Europe and the future of international affairs, it came with an added dimension for those in the WCG. For decades, the founder and pastor general, Herbert W. Armstrong, had forecast the unification of Germany.

On Nov. 9, 1989, WCG members watched that forecast come true.
One commenter wrote the following discussing MacDonald's article.
I was 12 when the Berlin Wall Came down and remember a scene nearly identical to yours. Dad was so excited he was practically giddy only to be crushed by the statement that later came out of the Church. I also well remember the Feast of Tabernacles earlier that year because many late-night conversations centered around what was happening in Germany, what Mr. Armstrong had taught about it, and where it was all leading. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was waiting eagerly to hear what headquarters would say. Then they said nothing at all really.
It would appear many WCG members were anxious to spread the message after this event but were discouraged that WCG's leaders did not exploit this incident as much as they could. 

PCG is far from alone in this. Garner Ted Armstrong and LCG's leaders have also presented this event as proving that HWA was a man in touch with God and able to miraculously foresee events. Here is Roderick C. Meredith making such a statement from his article, We Must Increase Our Faith! in the May-June 2014 issue of Living Church News.
As Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was virtually alone in predicting, the nations of Eastern Europe broke away from Soviet control. This dramatic upheaval back in 1988–89 was sudden and totally unexpected by the so-called “experts”! Yet God made it clear to Mr. Armstrong that this had to happen to lay the groundwork for the complete ten-nation European Union that would follow. Remember, no one else taught this as he did!
On that day in 1989 did they expect to still be waiting for Christ's return twenty four years later? That is 8760 days.

If HWA really did have prophetic insight then why did HWA say that Christ would return by 2005 at the very latest in his last book, Mystery of the Ages? (Those words have since been deleted in PCG's copies of that book.)
"And, secondly, to reveal—preserved in writing for us TODAY—what is to happen "in the latter days"—actually within the next two decades—THIS LAST HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY! (Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong, p. 298) (Source.)
What about the fact that HWA said the USSR would outlast the USA and only be destroyed a few years after the second coming?

HWA also taught that all the East would be seized and controlled by Communists. Why did his followers not look for Asia to turn Communist? That is what HWA taught in his booklet, 1975 in Prophecy (html). (A PDF version of 1975 in Prophecy may be read here.)
But Communism, prophecy indicates, will continue to make gains in the East-Probably in Indo-china, Malaya, Japan, India. For more than ears I have been telling the radio audiences that Communism will engulf and control the manpower of the yellow races by the time of the swift-approaching crisis of world upheaval. ...  The entire eastern world will be under atheistic Communism. Neither the eastern or the western world will permit any true Gospel preaching whatsoever. (1975 in Prophecy, p. 10.)
HWA did not foresee that the Communist insurgency in Malaya would be defeated. By 1960 the insurgency there was crippled and rendered utterly unable to overthrow the government. Communism never took hold in Japan. As for India despite the efforts of many Communism has also failed to take hold there. Although some individual states have been controlled by Communists after elections and an armed insurgency by Maoists (Naxalites) has been in operation since 1967 in some parts of the country India did not become Communist as HWA speculated it would. 

HWA also specifically stated that the sixth plague would be an invasion by "Communist forces". While HWA believed some Eastern European states would break away from Moscow HWA did not anticipate Communism to fall in Russia. As far as I know even during his last days he never imagined that Communism in the Soviet Union would fall.
The sixth of these punishing plagues will be a military invasion of Europe by the Communist forces from Russia and the Orient. By that time, the Red Armies of Russia, China and allies will number TWO HUNDRED MILLION! (1975 in Prophecy, p. 25.)
At one time it appears that HWA speculated that Tito would be the leader who would destroy America and Britain.
Also, I have warned the radio audiences to watch TITO. Of course, Tito is not identified personally in prophecy-nor is any other man. Only the major EVENTS are revealed. ... I have even suggested the possibility that Tito might be the man to lead the new Nazi-Fascist Europe-though that possibility has appeared most slight. Remember again, prophecy does not identity the MAN. More probably he will be a German. (1975 in Prophecy, p. 10.)
Gerald Waterhouse once made a sermon (Lufkin, Texas, December 1, 1979) in which he said that HWA was one of the two witnesses, that HWA would live to see the Great Tribulation and that Franz Josef Strauss would be the dictator who would destroy America and Britain.

HWA taught that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972 and that Christ would return in 1975. HWA taught this from 1953 onwards. Some of his followers deny this because HWA did not discuss why he dated Christ's return to be 1975 in his booklet, 1975 in Prophecy. Herman Hoeh made reference to why Christ's return was dated for 1975 in his booklet, A True History of the True Church. Also HWA unveiled this doctrine in his Co-Worker Letter of May 22, 1953. HWA most certainly said Christ would return in 1975.

Actually HWA and his collaborators within his Worldwide Church of God made numerous false prophesies that did not occur. The Painful Truth has a list of over 200 false prophecies made by HWA's WCG.

So we see that in order to believe that the fall of the Berlin Wall proves that HWA had prophetic insight as Brad MacDonald and others have done it is necessary to forget all of these things and pretend these things never happened or did not matter.

It is amazing how so many otherwise perfectly intelligent people willfully choose to ignore the facts and believe that somehow, contrary to all the facts, that HWA was a prophet who had some sort of insight into the future. It is total nonsense. Such persons are actually defying the will of the God of the Bible they claim to love so much.

"This is what we’ve been waiting for", HWA's devotees thought while seeing the Berlin Wall fall down.

They had previously waited for Christ to return in 1975.

They had previously waited to see the vast drama of end time events, including the rise of the European Beast Power and the destruction of America and Britain, would all occur before 1975.

They had previously waited to see HWA become one of the two witnesses. He would live to see the Great Tribulation.

They had previously waited to see all of Asia fall into Communist control, including Malaya, India and Japan.

They had previously waited to see Christ returning by 2005 at the latest because of what HWA wrote in Mystery of the Ages. (PCG has since deleted those words in their copies of that book.)

And they were waiting for these things because they were cunningly deceived by the leaders of HWA's WCG into believing nonsense carefully designed to isolate them from the surrounding society in order to make them easier to exploit and control within the restricted little society of WCG so that WCG's leaders could live off of three tithes and extra offerings from WCG members.

(Also A Night to Remember happens to be the title of a 1955 book about the sinking of the Titanic. I find it curious why MacDonald would use such a phrase. Maybe he does not know about that.)

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