Sunday, May 17, 2015

Did HWA's Faith Healing Kill His Own Father?

This is the 1100th post for the Living Armstrongism blog. Thank you to all you readers for inspiring me to carry on.


HWA's anti-medicine superstition appears to have caused HWA to neglect seeking urgent medical attention for his own father after he got a heart attack when he died in 1933.

The chilling account may be seen in the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume 1, Chapter 28.

Just take a look.
My Father's Death

Along about the 20th or 21st of April in that year of 1933 word came that my father was very ill. I asked Mr. Oberg to accompany me, and we hastened to his farm, between Oregon City and Molalla. Apparently we asked Mr. Ray to take the service till we returned.
 So they are at the farm belonging to HWA's father. Let us see what happens at this farm.
Dad had suffered an acute attack of indigestion. We anointed and prayed for him. He seemed to recover at once.
Did they take to a doctor after this "acute attack of indigestion"? They did not as will be plainly seen later.
He [HWA's father] also had called for us because he wanted to be baptized. ...

That afternoon, his acute indigestion healed, but still needing rest and sleep to recover strength, we planned to go down to the river at the edge of his farm and baptize him the next day.

Late that afternoon, we all sang "Praise Him! Praise Him!" with my father's deep melodic bass voice ringing out. It was to be the last time he ever sang.

When we finished, he had tears in his eyes, and his face literally illuminated in a happy smile.

"It's just wonderful!" he exclaimed. "It's absolutely WONDERFUL!"

"What do you mean, Dad?" I asked.

"That God at last has forgiven all my sins!" he exclaimed. "It seems like a load of many tons has been rolled off of my shoulders -- and I don't have to carry that weight of guilt around any longer!"

We left him to rest.

A while later we were called back into the room. He had sunken into a coma, not from indigestion, but a heart attack.
So HWA's father "had sunken into a coma ... from ... a heart attack."

And is this the part when HWA quickly took his own father to the hospital so he could get urgently needed medical attention because of a heart attack? Or get a doctor? What did HWA do?
We anointed and prayed for him again. We put him to bed in an adjoining bedroom. 
So we see that HWA's own father had a heart attack but instead of taking the father to hospital he was simply placed in a bed. Let us see what happens next.
We noticed his feet were swelling. He did not come out of the coma. We kept up an all-night vigil of prayer. The swelling continued up his legs.
Dawn came. We continued praying. I know that I continued believing. By this time we had been granted many miraculous answers to prayer, and I felt I never had more faith in my life.
So let's break this down a bit.

(1) HWA's father had a heart attack and is unconscious. 

(2) They did not take him to a hospital for a heart attack. 

(3) They placed him in a bed at home. 

(4) They then prayed over him all night. 

(5) While praying over him they note that his condition is getting worse. 

(6) Even at dawn they still do not take him to hospital or even get a doctor. 

(7) They are still praying over him. 

(8) There is no indication that HWA's unconscious father is getting medical attention for a heart attack in all this time.

(8) HWA is still confident his father will be physically healed. He says that, "I felt I never had more faith in my life."

So what happens after all that?
Yet, at 9:40 that morning, the day after he entered his 70th year, my father died. I was stunned. This I could not believe!
After this HWA is confused.
Suddenly I was confused, bewildered. I knew that God had given His written PROMISE to heal. Always before, since learning this truth, God had healed all in our family. I realized that there are two conditions -- obedience, and faith. But I had surrendered fully and unconditionally to God's commandments, given my life to Him and His service. And I had believed with positive conviction. There had been no wavering -- no doubt -- just calm ASSURANCE.
For three days I was in a mental fog. Not that I began to lose faith in God, or the reality of Biblical promises. Not that doubts began to be entertained.
After three days HWA is able to reconcile this failed attempt at faith healing. Is this the part where HWA realizes he should have taken his father to the hospital?
... for God's own reason and purpose, the fulfilling of the promise is delayed UNTIL THE RESURRECTION! In like manner, I could now understand that God has PROMISED to heal -- but He has not promised how immediately, or by what manner, He will do it. I knew, now, that my father's healing is still absolutely SURE. He will be resurrected -- HEALED!
Astoundingly, despite this experience, HWA chose not to stop acting on his anti-medicine superstition but continued to promote his anti-medicine superstition after this. HWA's anti-medicine superstition led him to neglect his father in his fatal illness. Instead of getting urgent medical attention to him for a heart attack HWA and those with him simply prayed over him all night while seeing his condition deteriorate. There is no indication here that they sought medical treatment for HWA's after having a heart attack.

HWA then ends this account of his father's death.
The net result of this shocking experience of my father's death was a great strengthening of FAITH. I hope sincerely that the recording of this experience will strengthen the faith of many readers. ... The only reason I am continuing with this autobiography is the hope that many readers may learn lessons God intends them to learn, through these recorded experiences.
Till his death in 1986 HWA continued to promote his anti-medicine superstition. Many people suffered health problems or even died because of this anti-medicine superstition.

This doctrine of death continues to be preached among some the COG splinter groups to this day with the same disastrous and perfectly predictable results.


  1. I often wonder what made HWA such a twisted sociopath. Was it the environment he grew up in as a child, or was he simply born that way?

  2. Several key factors probably figured in to Herbert Armstrong being a psychopath. First of all, it's apparent that he had no structural visualization, which means that he had no talent at all for the trades or any occupation which required it, such as surgeons, mechanics, engineers. On the other hand, it is apparent that his father did have it, since he worked in a structural field and seems to have had a patent on a type of furnace. This would automatically make it impossible for him to understand his father and he would be more in tune with his mother.

    The next factor is that his father was successful while Herbert Armstrong was a failure. He considered himself to be the best of the best in advertising, pulling down a good salary and rubbing elbows with prominent people high in corporations. When he moved out to Oregon, he had nothing and his father had to put him up. Herbert Armstrong commented on this and how his father had a home, food and money when he did not. This bruising of his ego undoubtedly contributed to his narcissism where he was in 'competition' with his father, felt alienated from him and wanted an acceptance he could never feel because of his lack of talents.

    This is not where it ends though. When Herbert Armstrong joined up with the Church of God Seventh Day, he already had read all the books and booklets of G.G. Rupert while he had nothing to do and was in the library at Portland from the time they opened to the time they closed. With this knowledge he assumed was the truth, he felt superior to the CoG7D ministers, which finally led to his splitting from the group because he thought he was imminently qualified to lead the CoG7D.

    Once he began to be 'successful' in his radio program and was better off financially, he assumed that God favored him. Unfortunately, he committed incest with his daughter for ten years as he began his ministry, never having been able to understand right from wrong because of his lack of conscience.

    As the decades rolled on, he had a multimillion dollar empire and he was the big cheese with no accountability and no one ever could point out he was wrong. He was totally comfortable with his power, wealth, position and it didn't hurt that he had the ego building from visiting foreign dignitaries who treated him with the respect he craved.

    The problem in all this is that he was the center of the universe without a conscience and no empathy, he had no use for anyone he considered to be beneath him and everyone else became collateral damage.