Why a Lawsuit over Mystery of the Ages?
People have asked why the Philadelphia Church of God would get involved in a serious and expensive lawsuit over Mystery of the Ages, a book written by the founder of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986). That is a good question, and it deserves an answer.

Why Not Rewrite the Book?
    One person suggested we rewrite the book ourselves. If somebody rewrote one of William Shakespeare's plays, it would be utterly condemned. The spirit and depth would be lacking. The same principle applies here.
    God says truth must be revealed (Matt. 11:25). God revealed Mystery of the Ages to Mr. Armstrong and inspired him to write it. We believe no one else received that commission.
    Mr. Armstrong said, "In real fact I feel I myself did not write it. Rather I believe God used me in writing it." That may sound strange to people not familiar with the Bible, but that is in fact the way the whole Bible was written.
    If you received a Bible with the book of Romans missing, would anybody suggest that you rewrite the missing book? Of course not!
    God says He will remove our names from the "book of life" if we add or subtract words from the Bible (Rev. 22:18-19). Anybody should be able to see the spiritual danger in rewriting a book God has revealed.
    Although this book is not on the level of the Bible, Mr. Armstrong believed, as we do, that it is the most important book written since the Bible. The Bible is a mystery--its message sealed, as Daniel prophesied (Dan. 12:4, 9), but only until the end-time crisis of crises--the time we are living in RIGHT NOW! Mystery of the Ages removes the mystery from the Bible. It provides the key to unlocking the Bible's coded message so that it can be understood.
    God reveals His truth and decides to whom He is going to reveal it. God is in control of such an action--not man. Thus, our responsibility is to proclaim what God has revealed, not restructure it. The Bible makes that clear.

Doctrinal Changes Not an Innocent Awakening
    In the 1970s there was a rebellion among some of the ministers in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Joseph Tkach Sr., then a leading minister, appeared to support Mr. Armstrong. However, in 1995, nearly a decade after Mr. Armstrong's death, he admitted that in the 1970s he had "doctrinal questions that had never been adequately answered." He said that many of those disloyal ministers were "ahead of their time."
    Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote about those men Mr. Tkach later said he "agreed with": "The fruits of the rebel leaders and 'liberals' of the 1970s should now be clear to all. After some 35 years of steady growth in all facets of the Work of God's Church, the rate of growth began to slow, then ceased entirely in some areas, and, finally, even decreases began to be experienced in the number of radio and television stations, Plain Truth circulation, number of prospective members, number of co-workers, amount of income for the Work, etc.--all under the 'leadership' of the liberal element. These are well-documented facts that cannot be denied.
    "I want you, brethren, to think about and understand what happened to God's Church in the 1970s lest history repeat itself! I want you to see the 'fruits' of rebelling against God's way and God's government" (Worldwide News, June 24, 1985).
    God's LAW is foundational to our beliefs. God's government is based on God's law. The 1970s problem was a battle between Mr. Armstrong and those who fought against God's law and government. That problem resurfaced after Mr. Armstrong's death. Mr. Tkach took the helm of WCG leadership and began a diabolical shift away from the law and government that Mr. Armstrong had taught for so many years. But the question remains: Why didn't Mr. Tkach voice his radical doctrinal disagreements while Mr. Armstrong was alive?
    The truth is, Joe Tkach Sr. agreed with the rebellious faction of the 1970s. He had foundational disagreements with Herbert W. Armstrong yet, at the same time, PUBLICLY indicated that he supported Mr. Armstrong 100 percent.
    Mr. Tkach Sr. died of cancer in September of 1995. Prior to his death, he made arrangements for his son to succeed him as pastor general. (Before that, Mr. Tkach Jr. had served as director of church administration.)
    Joseph Tkach Jr. sums up the doctrinal dispute this way: "While many have exited the Worldwide Church of God over the years, some still cling to Herbert W. Armstrong's teachings, and others have been transformed by the truth." Mr. Tkach correctly identifies the nature of this division--Mr. Armstrong's teachings.

An Essential Religious Work
    Herbert W. Armstrong founded the WCG in 1934 and wrote Mystery of the Ages in 1985. After he died in 1986, the new administration repudiated all of the Church's central doctrines and permanently stopped the presses on Mystery of the Ages and all other works by Mr. Armstrong.
    Mystery of the Ages is what accurately reflects the true religion of the Church, as established by God, through Herbert W. Armstrong. Mystery of the Ages is a magnificent summary of Mr. Armstrong's life work. Over the course of his long life, Mr. Armstrong learned that the Bible was a mystery to most people. He often quoted Bruce Barton, who once referred to the Bible as "the book nobody knows." The reason for this, Mr. Armstrong explained, is because the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle, with thousands of different pieces that will properly fit together in only one way. In Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong puts together all the pieces of the puzzle so that they can be clearly understood.
    If the Philadelphia Church of God is to CONTINUE God's Work, we must offer Mystery of the Ages to the whole world. That is why this book is so important to us. Mystery of the Ages was the greatest achievement of Mr. Armstrong's life. He wrote it just months before he died. Before his death, he left the Church a commission he believed was from God: to give this book to "the largest audience possible."
    Joseph Tkach Sr., in a prayer at Mr. Armstrong's funeral, stated forcefully: "We aim to follow in his [Mr. Armstrong's] footsteps." In less than three years however, Mystery of the Ages--a summary of Mr. Armstrong's entire life's work--was discontinued. WCG ministers were forbidden to recommend it and told not to use the book, even though Mr. Armstrong had directed them to have each prospective member read it before baptism.
    The Worldwide Church of God's decision to discontinue Mystery of the Ages was the main reason Gerald Flurry (now pastor general of the Philadelphia Church of God) was fired from the WCG in 1989. Joe Tkach Jr. told Mr. Flurry, the night he was disfellowshipped, that Mystery of the Ages was "riddled with errors." Mr. Flurry disagreed. Mr. Flurry knew how essential this book was to CONTINUE the work Mr. Armstrong had been doing.
    Building our work without Mystery of the Ages would be more difficult than trying to build a house without a foundation. Mystery of the Ages means everything to us. In real fact, this book--Mystery of the Ages--is essential to fulfilling our God-given commission of reaching the "largest audience possible."

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