|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.|
Rewrite the Book?
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
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.
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
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
Doctrinal Changes – Not an Innocent
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
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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."