Monday, August 3, 2009

All Systems Are 'Go'!

I have just gone through the booklet "1975 In Prophecy" and here I have some things to say about that. Since this booklet was brought up on another blog, and quickly dismissed by ardent admirers, I thought it best to review it again. Here are my thoughts on what I have found.

Please come with me as I would like to take you on a tour. We will start with a few select quotes from "1975 In Prophecy". Our next stop will be Herbert Armstrong's redaction letter after the hype about 1972 failed to materialize. Finally, we will travel back to 1953 (and even as far back as 1934) in order to see how 1972 became a target date in the first place, and hopefully we will get a good look into whether or not HWA, the "Elijah", was acting like a prophet (even though he emphatically states he was not a prophet). As a free bonus for participating, we will get what I feel is an interesting glance into the workings of Ronald Weinland.

Let's get started with some choice quotes from "1975 In Prophecy" to set the mood.
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"While modern science and industry strive to prepare for us a push-button leisure-luxury-world by 1975, United States Assistant Weather Chirf I. R. Tannahill warns us unofficially to really fear 'the big drought of 1975.' But indications of prophecy are that this drought will be even more devastating than he foresees, and that it will strike sooner than 1975 – probably between 1965 and 1972."
-Herbert Armstrong, "1975 In Prophecy", p. 10 (bolding mine)
"And, knowing that such an unbelievable catastrophe is soon to strike, I HAVE TO WARN YOU!! You can read what God says to me in Ezekiel 33: 1-6. THINK OF IT! Unbelievable? Preposterous? No, IT’S REAL — very soon, — of this present generation – of all people you know now – ONLY ONE THIRD of them will be left alive!"
-Herbert Armstrong, "1975 In Prophecy", p. 20 (bolding mine)
"Yes, millions of lukewarm inactive professing Christians will suffer MARTYRDOM – and that before the anticipated push-button leisure-year of 1975 dawns upon us! You’ll read of this martyrdom – the Great Tribulation – in ..." [some verses cited]
-Herbert Armstrong, "1975 In Prophecy", p. 20 (bolding mine)
"At that mighty moment of earth’s history, hundreds of thousands will remember the TRUE MESSAGE FROM GOD that they had heard going out freely to the world at THIS time, on The WORLD TOMORROW program."
-Herbert Armstrong, "1975 In Prophecy", p. 24 (bolding mine)
"A fraction of today's population will survive."
-Herbert Armstrong, "1975 In Prophecy", p. 28
"Your immediate future is of your own choosing. ... you have now read YOUR FATE - and I say to you on authority of God Almighty that it is absolutely SURE!"
-Herbert Armstrong, "1975 In Prophecy", p. 31 (bolding mine)
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Is it not obvious in these quotes that Herbert Armstrong is passing his message off as authoritative from God? Phrases like "absolutely SURE!" and "REAL" truth given "on authority of God Almighty" are not ambiguous phrases. These do not indicate speculation nor opinion.
I point this out because of the many times I have heard people claim that Herbert Armstrong did not prophesy rather he only predicted. Is this so? Nay nay, my friends. It is not so. These phrases put the lie to that claim.
This clearly was intended to convey the unmistakable notion that the claims of the booklet originated at the very throne of none other than God Almighty Himself, that they delivered in trust to Herbert Armstrong personally, and that they were transmitted in authority to the reader to be heeded with utmost urgency and sincerity. This is the very definition of prophecy in the Biblical sense! And if you want more evidence, simply ask anyone who was of age in the late 1960's and early 1970's what their reaction to this booklet was. They were told it was solid prophecy, they took it as solid prophecy, and they reacted in their lives as if it was solid prophecy.

I would have the reader be reminded that the description of the seals, trumpets, plagues, etc, and their fulfillment - as listed in the booklet by the "end-time Elijah" - DO NOT match as to how Ron Weinland describes them. At least one of these two fellows is a false prophet (if not both).

But 1972-75 was doomed to come and go. Just like William Miller's Great Disappointment. Just like the Watchtower Society's many predicted dates. Just like Ronald Weinland's first timeline ...and soon, his second timeline.
Were they of God, then?

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We now come to our next stop on the tour - a follow-up from Herbert Armstrong concerning what did and did not happen in 1972 from Herbert W. Armstrong, Tomorrows World, February 1972.

When the "absolutely SURE!" and "REAL" truth given "on authority of God Almighty" failed to materialize on January 7, 1972 (January 7 is key and we'll see why in a bit), a hasty retreat from the claims was made. The initial reaction came in the form of an article in the Tomorrow's World magazine. This was a less-popular magazine produced by the Church and read mainly by practicing members of the church. The retreat would thus be public, but far less public and embarrassing than if it were placed in the flagship publication, the Plain Truth Magazine.

I must warn you, this redaction is one of the best examples of how NOT to apologize or back peddle for bungling your prophecies.

Herbert Armstrong is staunchly defended ever and anon regardless of what he has done. Regardless which gospel he preached. Regardless how many Biblical laws he "changed out of necessity". The claim that he was not a prophet was planted by HWA himself. And it's that very claim that motivates me to write this post.
(All of the following quotes were taken from Herbert Armstrong's aforementioned redaction.)

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"Now a word about what my Commission is NOT. It is NOT to become an infallible expert on, or to preach, chronology."
-HWA
"But we are only human, and it is natural that we should have been curious to know, as far as possible, how much time we had to GET THE JOB DONE"
-HWA
To be curious is fine, to want to know is fine, to speculate is fine. But to make "SURE!" claims "on authority of God Almighty", well, that's another thing entirely!
"Let me say here in regard to this booklet, the title date, "1975" had NOTHING to do with any prophecy, or fulfillment of any prophesied event whatsoever. It was a date set by certain scientific and technological sources, for accomplishing certain materialistic objectives."
-HWA
If it has nothing to do with prophecy, WHY name it "...In Prophecy"? If it had nothing to do with 1975, WHY name it "1975"? Why not name it "What Do You Mean, Push-Button Leisure-Year?" Or perhaps "Push-Button Leisure-Year Or Not Push-Button Leisure-Year, Which?"
Of course it had to do with prophecy. When "1975 In Prophecy" was first written, many things were "...In Prophecy". They had several articles in the Plain Truth with that title; eg. "Suez Crisis In Prophecy", "Kingdom of Jordan In Prophecy", "Germany In Pophecy", "The Latins In Prophecy", etc. Each and every one of them had to do with prophecy. "1975" is just another in that long line. To claim it didn't have to do with prophecy is just not honest.

Even so, HWA is technically correct. 1975 was never an important date. 1972 was! Never-the-less I believe he is being disingenuous. The book never set 1975 as a firm date.. rather it said "before the anticipated push-button leisure-year of 1975 dawns upon us". In the next quote, he actually sticks to that claim!
"I did not set that 1975 date -- spokesmen for science and industry did. I still say it will occur BEFORE their dream-world materializes!"
-HWA
That claim was being made as far back as 1955:
"...prophecy proves it [great drought that topples the United States] will happen - before 1975! Here are the FACTS." 
-Herman Hoeh, "Plain Truth Magazine", January 1955, p.1
It wasn't 1975 that mattered, it was the push-button dream-world. 1972 was the date that mattered. In the light of how it was worded, and how we know HWA dogmatically stated things that weren't accurate, can I believe his statement? I have a hard time giving him the benefit of the doubt. The book was worded in such a way as to get the reader to believe the end was NOW. The Plain Truth magazine had been worded in such a way, for over two decades prior, that the end was NOW. It feels deceptive.
There is no prophecy that ties the end with push-button dream-worlds. So it's still inaccurate at best.
"Scientists set dates for the times they HOPE to accomplish certain breakthroughs. But does anyone discredit THEM, if they set the wrong date? Of course not!"
-HWA
The difference is that Scientists do not preach the "absolutely SURE!" and "TRUE MESSAGE FROM GOD" on the "authority of God Almighty"!! I can't get Deuteronomy 18 out of my mind.
And now he really starts to back peddle.
"I said 'indications are' and 'probably.'"
-HWA
Sure did. This is a fact. But it's only HALF of the facts. The other half is that he also said "absolutely SURE!", and "TRUE MESSAGE FROM GOD", and on the "authority of God Almighty"!!
"WHERE ARE God’s true prophets today? In this age of world chaos and sudden death, you had better rid your mind of preconceived ideas and prejudice and honestly seek to find out! Listen! This work has been warning America of definite and tremendous events to come for many years! ...
They use the words “may," “could,” or “might.” They are afraid to be definite and specific! The truth of the matter is that they DARE NOT be specific about the future because they just DO NOT KNOW what the Bible says is going to happen! But on “The World Tomorrow” broadcast and in this magazine we have dared to unlock the Bible prophecies and apply them to specific nations and events that are NOW being affected. Do you grasp the SIGNIFICANCE of this?
"
-Rod Merideth, "Plain Truth", August 1957, p.3 (emphasis mine)
And he used the word P-R-O-P-H-E-T-S!
"Yet, in our human zeal and enthusiasm for getting this greatest mission on earth done, we have a few times come close to it or appeared to -- and that we deeply regret."
-HWA
Ahh! This is all just a huge misunderstanding on the reader's part.
"If YOU would rather hear God’s Truth in place of the soothing cries of 'Peace, Peace' (Jer. 6: 14), write in immediately for Mr. Armstrong’s AMAZING booklet, '1975 in Prophecy!' This startling booklet is profusely illustrated with pictures - actually showing you a step-by-step account of what God says IS GOING TO HAPPEN within the next 10, 15 to 25 years!"
-Garner Ted Armstrong, Plain Truth Sept. 1956, p. 14 (underline and bold mine)
So, when Garner Ted Armstrong says that "1975 In Prophecy" contains what, "God says ... IS GOING TO HAPPEN ... within the next 10, 15, to 25 years", we misunderstand if we take that to mean that God said it, that it is going to happen or that a date was set. Oops!
"Scores and scores of times we have said, 'We do not set dates.' Yet, in our zeal, we have used 'possiblies' and 'probablies' [note: the version on Ron Weinland's website has this transcribed incorrectly] and even appeared to set dates we really didn't intend to set."
-HWA 
"we did, a few times, go further than we should with it -- though basically, we continued, time and again, to say 'we do not set dates.' But some statements gave the IMPRESSION that we did set the date, January 7, 1972. It is difficult to control sincere, dedicated enthusiastic ZEAL; and we were human!"
-HWA (bolding mine)
Appears so, except that "absolutely SURE!" and "TRUE MESSAGE FROM GOD" and "on authority of God Almighty" were also said, along with "very soon, — of this present generation – of all people you know now".
Wait a minute! Stop the presses. That's not what he said before!
"WE CAN understand it [prophecy - specifically Revelation], because JESUS CHRIST is the Revelator! HE is the interpreter! And we have found HIS interpretation, which is TRUE! Yes, we CAN know where world affairs today are LEADING. We CAN know what’s GOING to happen during the next 5, 10, and 20 years!"
-Herbert Armstrong, "Plain Truth", Jan. 1955, p.3
He said we CAN know what was GOING to happen.

Please allow me to remind you that the supposed "MASTER KEY" to their entire prophetic understanding is that they received their interpretations from no other source besides Jesus Christ.
"But we’ve seen that the one MASTER-KEY to this tremendous prophecy is the fact that JESUS CHRIST IS THE SOLE REVELATOR - the SOLE INTERPRETER!"
-Plain Truth Nov-Dec. 1954, p.3
"We were very plainly told that NO MAN can understand, or REVEAL the meaning of this prophecy. .. But NO MAN can interpret this Book of Revelation. JESUS CHRIST is the Revelator. The Apostle John was not the Revelator. No modern religious leader is the revelator. This is the Revelation of JESUS CHRIST, and we must accept HIS revelation - HIS interpretaticn - or fail to understand! THAT’S the master key of this mysterious PROPHECY."
-ibid., p.4
Herbert Armstrong had many "keys" to unlocking prophecy, but this is the greatest of them all. His point in all of this is to indirectly claim that his prophetic teaching came to him from none other than Jesus.
In 1954 we CAN know what was GOING to happen in the next 5, 10, 20 years because Armstrong received it from Jesus. In 1972, not so much.

So, let me get this straight.. regardless of what he said, what he MEANT to say was, "You can read things that God said to me in Ezekiel that probably, possibly, might be absolutely SURE! on the authority of God Almighty"?

Here is another example of that very same thing.
"But, after the astounding fact of discovering our first broadcast into Europe and Britain had been 19 years -- TO THE VERY DAY by both Hebrew and Roman calendars -- we gained further insight into the probable time it would require to reach all nations."
-HWA
It doesn't matter what calendar you use, 19 years is 19 years. I can measure 19 years from date A to date B by all possible calendars and it will still be 19 years.
Let me deconstruct that quote for you: "Prophetically fulfilling a 19-year time cycle, to the VERY DAY, we gained (from God we assume) further insight into what could probably maybe might possibly be absolutely SURE! to happen on the authority of God Almighty... but might not.'
When I exaggerate it like that, I hope you can see the flaws in it.

I'm not trying to be cheeky, but Herbert Armstrong sounds just like Pinocchio from the movie "Shrek the Third": "I'm possibly more or less not definitely rejecting the idea that I undeniably do or do not know where he shouldn't probably be. If that indeed wasn't where he isn't!"

And concerning the myriad of 'three to four years', 'five to ten years', 'within the next 20 years', and so on, HWA says this:
"You will notice that, even here, we were not setting a definite YEAR, but expressing a general period in different ways."
-HWA
What?? HWA missed his calling as a politician! Maybe it wasn't a definite year, but it was none the less a definite period of time! With a definite beginning and a definite end. Whether or not it was a definite single year is meaningless!
When HWA says "SURE!", he means this:
"'The events prophesied to strike the American and British peoples in the next four to seven years are SURE!' By this we meant the EVENTS are SURE -- not the 'four to seven years.'"
-HWA
If the date range has nothing to do with anything at whatsoever, like the title of the booklet, WHY include it at all??
OK. I've had about all I can endure of that. I think I've made my point.

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I HIGHLY recommend you read that entire redaction for yourself. There are simply so very many points that need to be mentioned, but I could not possibly get to them all. (If you don't, you'll never know why I named this post "All Systems Are 'Go'!")

After the redaction set the official talking points for the retreat, the cover-up began. The church members in general were ordered - not suggested, but strictly ordered - to burn all material relating to 1975 In Prophecy. People entering the church from this time would have no idea the fiasco even took place. I personally never heard a word of the incident until well into the 1990's.

Let's move this tour onward. I would like to go through a few places in the WCG history and demonstrate the slipperiness of this 'I didn't mean 1975 in prophecy when I said 1975 in prophecy' game. Let's lift the tail, so to speak, and get a clear look at this "I said 'maybe" nonsense. You will recall that 1975 is not the important date at all. January 7, 1972 is! Let's go all the way back to where 1972 came from and we'll get a good look at quite a few things. Just bear with me, some of this may even be moderately interesting.
And moving forward you will be introduced to the co-author of this mess, the official church historian, Mr. Herman Hoeh.

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Most of the material for 1975 In Prophecy was written in the early 1950's. Much of it was quoted verbatim from articles in the Plain Truth magazine.

In the Plain Truth magazine, June 1953, (the article starts on p.5), Herman Hoeh starts the 1972 ball rolling with this statement, "probably ... about 1972" (p.13). There's that word, "probably" again. But he really only does that one time. Of course, this would be the time Herbert Armstrong selected as an example of his innocence. Well, let's look at some of the other statements.
"So Babylon fell in October 539 B.C., and 2520 years later is October 1982"
-Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth, June 1953, p.13
No "probably" there. But 1982, that's odd. Another new date. And it's VERY specific! Even gives you the definite reasoning why it was chosen.
 You see, 1982 is part of what Herbert Armstrong called "the Times of the Gentiles". Don't worry if you don't fully understand what these "Times" are right now. HWA will define them for us below.

I would like to note that if you've spent any time studying HWA's prophecies, you've noticed that he goes through periods where his prophetic focus has a theme to it. At first, it was the "Third Angel's Message". This theme was a carryover from his days as a minister of the COG7, but it fell by the wayside early. It soon became the "Times of the Gentiles". That lasted a while until it also fell by the wayside. Later we had other themes. This is just how it went.

Back to the magazine.
We get an earful of what will happen between now (1953) and then (1982), which includes "famine, tribulation, and captivity", and how that punishment must end... which is where we find this little gem:
"at least ten years just prior to the ending of the times of the Gentiles", therefore, "that would mean that these events would probably begin about 1972".
-Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth, June 1953, p.13
So, even though the Times of the Gentiles were to reach their absolute completion in 1982, a 10-year buffer was given for events to begin a build-up to their 1982 crescendo. The starting date was 1972, you say??? I'm intrigued! If we add a 3 1/2 year Tribulation to 1972, we get ... 1975.
But that's me putting words into Hoeh's mouth. HWA already made it clear that scientists chose 1975. Let's allow Herman to explain what he means:
"This is a very significant date - 1972. It is only 19 years from 1953 ... If you read the February issue of the 'Good News' you will recall that Mr. Armstrong wrote that January of this year, 1953, marked the completion of the first 19 year time cycle which began in January 1934 ... It seems God is allowing us another 19-year cycle to COMPLETE THE CARRYING OF HIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM ... Are you paying your tithe to God for the furtherance of His work?"
-Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth, June 1953, p.13
So, 1972 and 1975 are linked, as are other dates like 1953 and 1934. And in this we get a peek behind the curtain and we see it's not so honest to claim scientists chose 1975. 1975 was chosen because of 1972, and 1972 is important because of 1953, and 1953 is important because of 1934.

You may wisely ask, what event marks January 1934 as the beginning for this crazy timeline? Herman tells us!
"...the first 19 year time cycle which began in January 1934 when the 'World Tomorrow' broadcast first went on the air..."
-Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth, June 1953, p.13
Let me recap for you.
We actually have two balls in the air.
  • The first is "Times of the Gentiles", to which the dates 1982 & 1972 belong. What are the Times of the Gentiles? This is a time-period mentioned by Jesus in Luke 21: 24, during which, "Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." Herbert Armstrong and Herman Hoeh interpreted these times as beginning in ancient history and ending in modern times. Whether they do or not is completely speculative and open to wild interpretation; God knows. Herman Hoeh said these times began in 539BC and end in 1982 AD.
  • The second is "19-year time cycles", to which the dates 1934 & 1953 & 1972 belong. What is a 19-year time cycle? It is an interesting feature of lunar calendars (and the Hebrew Calendar was a lunar calendar) that they synchronize with the solar calendar roughly every 19 years. Herbert Armstrong taught that these 19-year cycles were prophetically significant. He would find significance in any way he could. Here, Herman Hoeh finds significance in the fact that HWA's radio show first went on the air in January 1934, and the church was still around 19 years later in 1953.
In 1934 the World Tomorrow broadcast first went on the air. 19 years later, or one "19-year time cycle" later, we get 1953. Since the end did not come by 1953, that can only mean there is one more cycle to go (what else could it mean?). Add one more time cycle and you get ... drum roll ... 1972!
 You should know that date by now. But the 1982 finish of the "Times of the Gentiles" cannot be forced to end in 1972 cleanly because its starting date depends on ancient history. Hoeh solves that dilemma by inventing a 10-year period (let's call that a "thunders increasing" period); subtracting that from 1982 gets us... 1972!
1972 ties it all together. Tack a 3 1/2 year Great Tribulation on and we have 1975!

No, dear reader, the scientists did not choose 1975. Herman Hoeh did.

Setting "Times of the Gentiles" aside for a moment --
We know what Hoeh said about 19-year time cycles. He said a first cycle was from 1934-1953 and a second cycle was from 1953-1972. We must then ask, did Herbert Armstrong mention 19-year time cycles in February 1953, as Hoeh quoted? Yes! His story should match, right? Let's read that:
"This means our United States co-workers will have to dig a little deeper, and sacrifice a little more - because we of America will have to pay all the costs of the broadcasting to other parts of the world. But WHAT A GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY IT IS!"
-Herbert Armstrong, Good News, Feb. 1953, p. 2
Oops! Wrong quote. *blush* The one I want was one page up.
"Think of it! This most important work on earth now TAKES ITS GREATEST LEAP AHEAD! Do you realize the significance of this tremendous event? Do you know the MEANING of nineteen years? It marks a complete cycle of time - as God's set time in nature. ... Nineteen years ago, the first week in January, (1934), this program went on the air. ... The first week in January, 1953 - after one of God's complete cycles of nature - it starts as an INTERNATIONAL and WORLD-WIDE program ..."
-Herbert Armstrong, Good News, Feb. 1953, p. 2
So HWA did say that. Hoeh did quote him correctly. You were waiting for a twist, weren't you?
Oh, there's a twist. Just wait a bit more for it.
BUT... this raidio story is a certifiable, verifiable, demonstrable load of hooey made up after the fact!! 
Why? Because even though in 1953 both Armstrong and Hoeh were singing the same tune about 1934, that's not the story HWA was telling in 1934!! Not only that, but Hoeh's story about the "Times of the Gentiles" does not match Armstrong's.

The "Times of the Gentiles" started, according to Hoeh (writing in 1953), at the destruction of Babylon in 539 B.C., and 2520 years later is 1982 A.D. But according to Herbert Armstrong (writing in 1934), the time starts when Nebuchadnezzar finished removing Jews from Judea not from the time Babylon fell! And 2520 years later is 1936 A.D., NOT 1982!
The story changed significantly! Let's see that:
"...19 years after the first seige, or 585 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar made his final siege, drove out all the Jews, took complete possession of the land, and the Times of the Gentiles came fully in. And 2520 years later, or 1936 A.D., the Times of the Gentiles will have completely ENDED. As nearly as we can calculate from the dates of ancient history, the year 1936 will see the END of the Times of the Gentiles. Those "Times" have not been completely fulfilled until that year."
-Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth, June/July 1934, pp.4-5
Later on page 5, HWA refines the time to autumn of 1936 and specifically names September. September 1936, not January 1934!! And the radio program is never mentioned!!

Let's see another, just for effect.
"'The times of the Gentiles' (a prophetic time allotted by God to the Gentile nations, of 2520 years. It began in 604-585 B. C. It began to end in 1917 with the delivery of Jerusalem from the Gentile Turk and will end fully, probably the latter part of NEXT YEAR, 1936.)"
-Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth, March 1935, p.7
HWA mentioned that he went into great detail about the Times of the Gentiles in the March 1934 edition, but I have no copy of that. I do have a partial copy of the January 1938 edition, where HWA makes this phenomenal claim:
"An understandig of the "Times of the Gentiles" is vital and fundamental. It is the frame-work of the whole structure of Bible prophecy. It is a KEY to unlock the doors to understanding. Here is a fascinating subject without which the prophecies concerning the present wars, and the coming war -- in fact all prophecy, cannot be understood."
-Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth, Jan. 1938, p.1
Didn't he make that same claim about Anglo-Israelism? But I digress...
If the correct understanding of Times of the Gentiles and 19-year time cycles is so crucial to understanding the Bible, why was the story so irreconcilably different in 1934-38 than the story we hear in 1953?

So we get a few little switch-a-roo's here.
1) In 1934, "Times of the Gentiles" meant '2520 years from the deportation of the Jews ending in 1936'. In 1953, "Times of the Gentiles" means '2520 years from the fall of Babylon ending in 1982'.
2) In 1934, the 19-year cycles were from September. In 1953, the time cycles are from January.
3) In 1934, the 19-year time cycles were tied to the "Times of the Gentiles". In 1953, they are tied to some made up story about the radio program.
4) To mesh the dates 1982 and 1972 together, Hoeh invents some 10 year buffer time for the ending of the "Times of the Gentiles" to phase in slowly. Sorta like Ron Weinland's "Thunders" getting louder.

And if that's still not hot enough for ya -- no one makes a single mention about these changes at all! The reader in 1953 would be utterly oblivious to the fact that HWA prophesied something unrecognizably different in the 1930's. Just like many of us who grew up after 1975 had no idea there ever was a "1975 In Prophecy".
Go ahead, read the Plain Truth for March 1935. Read every word. Read it because it was written after this supposed fulfillment of 1934. You will not see the beginning of the World Tomorrow radio broadcast mentioned as a fulfillment of 1934's prophecies. Or 1935's either, for that matter. HWA was still repeating his claims about 1936 as late as 1939 (see the January 1939 edition, p.1)!

Want another striking similarity between this 1953 event and "1975 In Prophecy"?
Notice these two points:
1) According to HWA, the fulfillment of the 19-year time cycle from 1934-1953 was an increase in radio broadcast power, hailed as "THE MOST POWERFUL AND WIDELY LISTENED TO PROGRAM ON EARTH, OR IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!".
2) After which he mentions Ambassador College and the ordination of the likes of Rod Merideth.

Now look at these two points:
In HWA's "Personal" redaction letter, he mentioned the fulfillment of January 7th, 1972 came in two forms -
1) An ad in the Reader's Digest, hailed as "the MOST POWERFUL DOOR so far opened to us".
2) They signed the financing documents to build the auditorium at the Ambassador College's Pasadena campus.

Did you catch that? In both situations the fulfillment was 1) some great advertising scheme, followed closely by 2) a mention of Ambassador College's Pasadena campus.
Coincedence? Who can know!? But it bears every fingerprint of a money-making scheme.

As an aside, I doubt the media empire was nearly as popular as claimed. Herbert Armstrong was a salesman by trade, and known to grossly over exaggerate in his claims of success. On June 13, 1974, the Regional Director for the Worldwide Church of God in the Philippines, Mr. Colin Adair, wrote a letter to his superior at the church headquarters in Pasadena, California, Mr. Leslie McCollough. In this letter, Mr. Adair pleads with Mr. McCollough for guidance in handling a potentially embarrassing over exaggeration made by Herbert Armstrong regarding attendance at an event held in Manilla. You can read more in an article on Midnight Ministries website called The Painful Truth About the WCG (see the section titled "More Lies From HWA").

Back to the topic at hand.

Taking Herbert Armstrong's 1934 version of the "Times of the Gentiles", blending them with his 19-year time cycles, we get these dates:
1917, 1936, 1955, 1974, 1993, 2012 [it would appear Ron Weinland has been reading old copies of the Plain Truth. Also notice the idea of "increasing" is introduced by HWA in the early 1930's Plain Truth editions also. Coincidence?]

Now, taking Herman Hoeh's 1953 NEW and IMPROVED 19-year time cycles, we get these dates:
1934, 1953, 1972, 1991
1982 is NOT AMONG THEM!!!

Remember that Hoeh said the end of the times of the Gentiles was 1982. Heoh redefined the Times of the Gentiles and completely split the 19-year time cycles away from them. This caused a dating issue. Then Hoeh had to "solve" the issue by creating a 10-year ramping-up period for the destruction, between 1972-1982.
Don't forget - HWA declared an understanding of these times of the Gentiles to be "vital and fundamental", even the very "frame-work of the whole structure of Bible prophecy"!

Or maybe not.

Hoeh's later reinterpretation trumps HWA's earlier failure. 1972! THAT is the reason why we had "1975 In Prophecy". 1972 is key.
Remember how HWA said "and that it will strike sooner than 1975 – probably between 1965 and 1972." Take 1972, add 3 1/2 years, and you get the "push-button leisure-year of 1975"!
It wasn't the scientists, my friends.

As a related side-note, I should make mention that the Jehovah's Witnesses also thought the end of the world would come in 1975. Coincidence? I think not.
It is VERY significant because events on their end played out in ways identical to WCG experience. People were hurt, leaders played word games. I recommend you view this website and especially view the video there for a chilling insight into what terrible deception those poor slaves of the Watchtower Society were suffering while we were also suffering.

I'll give HWA one thing, he was right that he never set 1975 as a solid date for the return of Christ (this is the identical technicality the Watchtower Society tried to use to escape their own responsibility to fess up). That date was supposed to be 1982, according to Hoeh. But he played us like he meant 1975 or earlier! You see, the problem was, it was previous to 1955 when "1975 In Prophecy" was being written. How do you keep tithe payers doped-up on their addiction to prophetic terror, while setting dates far enough in the future to guarantee you an income, AND compete with the Joneses? Why, that's simple, really! Be vague, set a series of rolling dates (eg. 1936, 1936-1953, 1953-1972, 1975, & 1982), make innumerable lesser claims of coming disasters. And should anything go awry you toss out a bone (like an ad in Reader's Digest, or perhaps a 50th "truth") and move the goal post! They key is to act like nothing just happened.

The whole thing falls apart when people go back and read what you've said in the past.
Some say, "he left himself an out by saying 'as nearly as we can calculate' and 'probably'." Why, HWA himself said, "I said 'indications are' and 'probably.'" But this ignores other statements!
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This concludes our tour of "1975 In Prophecy". I hope you find value in the information. Now, as promised, a free bonus just for making it this far!
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I have transcribed this quote from the You Tube video “Called To Be Free”. A lot of people don't like this video because of who it was made by and the other things it says, but I only reference it because I have not yet found the original, and I ask only that you listen to Herbert Armstrong's own words from his own mouth recorded in that video. Start listening at 5:11 through 5:42, HWA makes very specific prophecy about a famine that ruins the United States. He stakes his very reputation on its accuracy. I place the time of the recording of this quote to around the mid to late 1950’s. Those were the times when the WCG was predicting famine, and predicting things in 20 years to coincide with the end of the third 19-year time cycle in 1972-1975.
In fact, if you don't want to listen to it, I will transcribe what HWA said:
I want to tell you that all this weather disturbance means a terrible famine is coming on the United States that is going to ruin us as a nation inside of less than 20 more years. Alright, I stuck my neck out right there. You just wait 20 more years and see whether I told you the truth. God says, if a man tells you what’s going to happen, wait and see. If it does not happen, he was not speaking the word of God; he was speaking out of his own mind. You watch and see whether these things happen. You’ll see who’s speaking to you, my friends.
-Herbert Armstrong
No if's, and's, or but's. He "stuck his neck out right there." Well, we gave him his 20 years, and 30 additional to boot! Can you see and accept who was speaking to us? Now read Deuteronomy 18: 20-22.
Just to reinforce that this sort of duck and weave has been his pattern since the beginning, I will give you a couple more quotes.
"So this IS the TRIBULATION. We have been IN the Tribulation [note the capitalization of Tribulation, meaning THE 'Great Tribulation' as it was later called] since 1929 in the United States, and since 1928 in Europe."
-Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth, June/July 1934, p.4
"So we know these terrible signs [in the heavens] are in the very immediate fiture."
"THEN shall the sun and moon be dark and the stars fall --- at or quickly after 1936."
-Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth, June/July 1934, p.5
"The great and terrible DAY OF THE LORD is upon us! It will follow this world-Depression."
-Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth, June/July 1934, p.9
Oh, friends and loved intensely by God, sought after by His deepest loving desire, there are so VERY many more examples just like these ones. Take this list of "Herbert W. Armstrong's 209 False Prophecies" for example. Powerful stuff!
Do you recall HWA's quote from earlier?
"Now a word about what my Commission is NOT. It is NOT to become an infallible expert on, or to preach, chronology."
-Herbert Armstrong, "Personal", Tomorrows World, February 1972.
NOT TO PREACH CHRONOLOGY?????? THAT'S THE BETTER PART OF WHAT HE DID FOR HIS ENTIRE CAREER!!! That was his bread and butter! He kept it up until his death in 1986. He made "absolutely SURE!" prophetic statements "FROM GOD", "on authority of God Almighty." And then asked for donations.
The idea is to get us good and emotional, and then ask for money. It is exactly the same trick used in commercials. That's why we often see babies, puppies, and skantily clad women. Commercials for charity regularly use images of pitiable children. Marketing experts and Ad-Men like HWA know we are more likely to part with our cash if we are emotional. I've written a blog post on my old blog about this very thing before, if you're interested in reading it. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have all been fleeced!

This pattern displayed by HWA, dear reader, is precisely followed by the false prophet Ron Weinland. And he's been called out on it before. Sadly, his followers take no notice whatsoever.
In the You Tube video, "God's Final Witness", Ron, from his own mouth, makes the following two statements:
And the world will be shocked! And in horror! On the day that the 7th seal is opened. You will lie, you will twist, you will distort, and you will die… speedily.

The 7th seal is opened. Somebody in email will say, ‘Well, nothing happened.’ You know? Well, you know? Did I say anything would happen on the 18th? It’s a spiritual thing. I thought I made that abundantly clear.
-Ronald Weinland
At first it's "the world will be in horror" and "you will die." Then it's "Did I say anything would happen?" and "I thought I made that perfectly clear." Yup. Clear as mud!

Salvations could quite possibly be on the line, here. I am no judge of who will and who will not receive eternal salvation, but don't be deceived, this false prophecy game is abhorred by God (DEU. 18: 20-22).
God bless and keep you all!
I'll leave you with this final quote from the Plain Truth:
"But who today understands what the prophets foretold? Why, only the ministers today whose word comes to pass!-those who are appointed and guided by God to preach the truth! Those whose utterances do not come to pass have not spoken the prophecies truly. We give you here the record of what we have been proclaiming for the past 2 years-a message which no other voices, to our knowledge, have been proclaiming.... But what we have been warning you about is happening!-precisely as we have stated.... This is how you can know that our work is not of men but of God!"
-Rod Merideth, Plain Truth, December 1956, p.3




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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.
Acts 17:11
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24 comments:

Bill said...

"Yet, in our human zeal and enthusiasm for getting this greatest mission on earth done, we have a few times come close to it or appeared to -- and that we deeply regret."
-HWA

I remember when I was a student, and if the powers that be felt you had done something wrong, and if you cited some statement made by a minister or teacher, etc. and used the word "we" in that context, their favorite response to that was to say "Who's "we"? Do you have a "mouse" in your pocket?"

Sometimes the word "mouse" was something else that would not be appropriate to quote here or anywhere else for that matter, but to give you a hint, it was related to scatology.

And so here's HWA resorting to "we" when it comes to an error being made; a "simple misunderstanding." The mercy he calls for was rarely, if ever, extended by him and his minions when the shoe was on the other foot.

Byker Bob said...

Whether or not he accepted or repudiated the label "prophet" is totally irrelevant. That is simply a label. The greater question is whether HWA was truly inspired by God, or whether he attributed his own allegedly "inspired" guesses to God, and taught them as part of his gospel message. Many of us can discern the reality in 20-20 hindsight. We know that HWA faked the gift of prophecy, and his successors have still not learned not to do this!

I can see and understand how someone living in WWII could read Bible prophecy and assume that the Roman Empire was being reconstituted, some of it reluctantly and by conquest. But it boggles the mind that someone could miss the simple truth that Israel did not yet exist as a nation, and therefore the end time prophecies could not as yet be fulfilled as outlined in Daniel and Revelation. HWA was undaunted by the Allied victory, and persisted in proclaiming that Hitler was alive and in hiding in Argentina well into the '50s and early '60s.

He came up with a better, although still flawed, campaign via 1975 in Prophecy. But, it was still based on human conjecture regarding British Israelism, a timeline which kicked into gear in 1948 with the birth of Israel, and the notion that the USA was a nation of Christians falsely so-called.

We know today that the USA was founded on genuine Christian principles, by Christians (except for one or two prominent atheists and or deists), and has been the breadbasket for the entire world and the bastion from which Christianity has been proclaimed. Arguably, some of those Christian precepts have been diminished, but we have hardly degenerated into conditions similar to Sodom and Gomorrah as of yet.

By this point, according to HWA's message, we monogamous heterosexuals probably shouldn't even be able to leave our homes without locking chastity belts and iron muzzles on our faces. Yet, conditions are still conducive to good people being able to raise happy and blessed Christian families!

BB

xHWA said...

I should link to this Painful Truth article entitled "How Herbert W. Armstrong Used 1972 to Finance His Building Projects" that I think you will find informational.

Many of us have already read it. Some of us have not. Either way, here it is for your ease of navigation.

jack635 said...

HWA was a fearmonger, and he taught his diciples to also become fearmongers. I can imagine Ronald Weinland say these very words:

"But all these things, as Jesus explained, are to be only the beginning of our time of national trouble. "Once we are weakened by starvation, disease and the resulting calamitous economic depression, the Ten-Nation European Colossus will suddenly strike with hydrogen bombs that shall destroy our cities and our centers of industrial and military production!"
Herbert W. Armstrong, 1975 In Prophecy, p. 13

He has said something along the same lines. There are many others besides RW that are fearmongers and moneycounters.

xHWA said...

That's quite right, Bob. It doesn't matter if we call him a prophet or not... or a "profit" for that matter. Was God the source of those prophecies is what counts.

I have had discussions with many people. Everyone still in the COGs did not accept something was amiss until they saw the quotes about how the message was from God, on God's authority, and how he stuck his neck out. He practically rephrased Deuteronomy 18:20-22 in that last one.
Proof is in the puddin'. He was speaking from his mind, not God's. And I ask the believers this question:
"If he was so wrong about his prophecies, what else was he wrong about?"

xHWA said...

It was the realization that Ron Weinland doesn't do anything HWA didn't do first that opened my mind to accept that HWA was not inspired by God. If I call Ron a false prophet, then how can I not say the same of HWA? And if those things are excused in HWA's case, they must also be excused in Ron's case.

So, it's an important point that you touch on.

jack635 said...

HWA started out in the advertising world. Using those skills, he built a religion corporation. He sold religion! It thrived and from what I know, it was modeled after any large corporation. As with large corporate companies, they do not give a hoot about the customer, only the bottom line.

The WCG was a corporate department store. If a customer started disturbing the floor, security would escort them out of the store and they would not be welcome back.

Can't have a disatisfied customer disturbing the other customers' shopping experience.

Seeker Of Truth said...

jack635 said...

"HWA was a fearmonger, and he taught his diciples to also become fearmongers."

No doubt. Fear is their foundation. Scare them, and make them believe their safety is in your church... then reel them in.
Money in the bank.

There is JOY in Christ Jesus, but there's no joy in an Armstrongist's message.

They're condescending and filled with mockery and self-righteousness about how the world's church's have it all wrong and how blessed "we" are to be so special; catastrophe and chastisement, even castigation; not to mention backpedaling, as well... but devoid of joy.

Praise God for there is joy in His New Covenant!

Seeker Of Truth said...

jack635 said...

"The WCG was a corporate department store. If a customer started disturbing the floor, security would escort them out of the store and they would not be welcome back.

Can't have a disatisfied customer disturbing the other customers' shopping experience."


That would be bad for business... real bad.

Of course this is implemented by informing those members still in good standing, that those who were expelled are controlled by Satan and were never truly members. Warning them, "Have NO contact with them. They'll only try to deceive you and lure you away from God's "one true church!""

When, in truth, they had been freed from the Old Covenant and so very many lies, into joy in Christ Jesus and His New Covenant!

jack635 said...

Have NO contact with them

Lest you discover the truth and be set free also.

I agree with "devoid of joy". Yet they accuse those who believe the words of Jesus as being miserably unhappy.

Count is all joy when men curse you and revile you and say all manner of evil against you, for great is your reward in heaven.

I don't know if that is exactly how it is written, but it is certainly fitting for when RW rants against those who are exposing his lies.

redfox712 said...

Great post, xHWA. This is very good. It truly captures just how convoluted the false reasoning behind 1975 was.

Furthermore HWA actually started broadcasting on October 9, 1933. However he did not get his own regular radio program till January 7, 1934. Someone really should have asked him why the regularization of the program should be so important and not the first radio broadcast? (But if he did that then the patterns would fall apart.)

It is very strange that the COGs' distant cousins, the Jehovah's Witnesses, also became fixated on the same date, 1975. I have thought about this strange connection myself. As far as I can see the Watchtower only became fixated on that date in 1966, after HWA & Co. had earlier set up their prophetic narrative. So if there was plagiarism then the Watchtower stole this date from HWA.

We also need to keep in mind that since around the late 1940s/early 1950s the JWs taught that Armageddon had to come before the "Generation of 1914" passed away. The Watchtower gave up on this idea in 1995 and "that generation" has lost any chronological aspect to it.

However the similarities are indeed truly remarkable. How can they be so similar without some sort of influence? Did the Armstrongs' wide radio reach attract so many listeners that they influenced the Watchtower indirectly, without anyone fully what was happening? In that Watchtower video the speaker specifically stated that they were then approaching the end of 6000 years of human history. HWA & Co. also had the very same belief that 1975 marked the end of 6000 years.

They confidently dated the Great Flood to 2370-2369 BC on the simple assumption that 1975 marks 6000 years from the creation of Adam.

Even today, in LCG, much emphasis is placed on the end of 6000 years which is generally assumed to be when Christ come back. (Or he might come back a bit sooner.) Their Bible Study Course pointed to 2017 as the end of the 6000 years.

The 1975 connection is a fascinating topic. I wish there was hard evidence to settle this question one way or another.

angel said...

Hearing the question posed as to whether what HWA was teaching was influenced by the JW's teachings because they are similar reminded me of how there are several false teachers today predicting Christs' return in 2012. Coincidence? Or is there some connection?

The Bible speaks of doctrines of demons; maybe they're the ones influencing these groups/teachers.

What completely blows my mind is how unafraid these men are to say they are speaking for God and yet what they say does not come to pass! And the other side of the coin is just as bad; the people who are afraid to walk away from these false prophets when God has clearly told us not to fear such men.

One of the reasons I hold so tightly to scripture is because I see what can happen when people want to know MORE than what the Bible tells us and are willing to put it aside in order to listen to someone who's saying something they like.

Scary.

xHWA said...

jack - "I agree with "devoid of joy". Yet they accuse those who believe the words of Jesus as being miserably unhappy."

True that! I had no idea what joy was until I personally felt it after accepting grace. I thought I had joy, but now I know what joy from the Spirit is and I can say with finality.. I had NO IDEA!

xHWA said...

Seeker - "Of course this is implemented by informing those members still in good standing, that those who were expelled are controlled by Satan and were never truly members. Warning them, "Have NO contact with them. They'll only try to deceive you and lure you away from God's 'one true church!'"

Amen to that! Of course many people in the more liberal COGs will still venture to talk to a former member, the official Armstrong teaching is to shun the people who leave.

I've always thought it was odd that "holding on to what you had received from the beginning" really meant "from the beginning of your time with Armstrongism", not "from when Christ died and was resurrected and delivered the New Covenant in His blood."

The darkness always hates the light. The light shines in and hurts its eyes, and exposes it for what it really is.

xHWA said...

RedFox,

Thanks! I appreciate your kind words.

"Furthermore HWA actually started broadcasting on October 9, 1933."

That was one year to the day after my dad was born. That makes me the end-time Eleazar!!
*joking*

Thanks for that date. I was searching for that (and a couple other dates - like how long did the Reader's Digest campaign last) but gave up.

"Someone really should have asked him why the regularization of the program should be so important and not the first radio broadcast? (But if he did that then the patterns would fall apart.)"
I guess you answered your own question! :-)

HWA said, "the first week in January, (1934), this program went on the air"

I wonder if the program that went on the air in October 1933 was named something different? He sure made it appear as if the very first airing of any radio program AT ALL was on January 7, 1934. Also, I was under the impression before HWA was let go from the COG7 he already had plans on starting a radio ministry.

I suppose I shouldn't bother asking these things, you already answered as best as it can be answered - "the patterns would fall apart."

"It is very strange that the COGs' distant cousins, the Jehovah's Witnesses, also became fixated on the same date, 1975."

It is odd. I understand they had a rapid-fire series of dates in the 1900's that they declared to be the end.

"As far as I can see the Watchtower only became fixated on that date in 1966, after HWA & Co. had earlier set up their prophetic narrative."

For years I thought it was the other way around, that the JWs got it first. This study proved to me that was not the case.

"So if there was plagiarism then the Watchtower stole this date from HWA."

Now wouldn't THAT be a fine kettle of fish! HWA, the great plagiarist, having his test answers copied.

xHWA said...

"When one claims that he has been ordained of God, baptized by Jesus Christ...and dares to tell in specific, point-by point, and in detailed order, the events that are to occur, the real meaning of the mysterious books of prophecy...he ought not to have made predictions which have never come to pass. ... And if he is God's true prophet for these times, he should never have made such predictions as have miserably failed." (Radio Church of God Vs. Church of God, 7th Day - John Kiez. Quoted from p. 211 of Armstrongism: Religion or Rip-Off? An Exposé of the Armstrong Modus Operandi)

xHWA said...

Got that previous quote from an article link on Red Fox's blog.

That link is to this terrific article on E&SN:

Did Herbert Armstrong Set Dates?

xHWA said...

"When we first came into contact with the Worldwide Church of God in 1983, we were unaware of the scandalous receivership, the ousting of Garner Ted, and the failed prophecy of 1975 (the year Christ was to return). Many had left, and we were the beginning of the influx of new recruits who were oblivious to the organization's shady past."

By Lindsey
"Memories About Petra"
Exit & Support Network
April 11, 2004

jack635 said...

I thought I had joy, but now I know what joy from the Spirit is

You must have read the NEW testament, without someone looking over your shoulder explaining what it really means.

xHWA said...

"You must have read the NEW testament, without someone looking over your shoulder explaining what it really means."

lol How did you guess??! ;D

redfox712 said...

xHWA,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is much appreciated.

I saw that video of the ILFP Ronald Weinland. It really depressed me when I saw it.

I knew about him and the many false prophecies he made. But I only read of him from the outside. That video was the first time I saw it from from the believer's perspective. It was the first time I fully realized that people actually believe him. So it was very disheartening for me.

Hence why people need to read the facts about him so they will not be fooled by such propaganda.

As for HWA's pre-January 7, 1934 broadcasts, if I recall correctly, what HWA broadcast was simply a fifteen minute broadcast to fill up some vacant air time. It was not packaged as an actual scheduled radio program till January 7, 1934.

redfox712 said...

angel said...

"there are several false teachers today predicting Christs' return in 2012. Coincidence? Or is there some connection?"

As far as I know this 2012 doomsday prophecy is inspired by the fact that some sort of Mayan calendar cycle will end on that date.

As a Christian I see no reason why would I give any consideration to what they say on this matter. My answer would still be the same if I was Muslim, Jewish, or Atheist. That's even assuming that the Mayans actually expected an apocalyptic. Some believers seem to say that 2012 will a new awakening, not an apocalypse.

You can read the Wikipedia article here.

angel said...

redfox712,

I agree that the 2012 date is inspired by the Mayan calendar, which is the first thing that should give one pause. The Mayans were a pagan culture, why would God reveal anything to them? Jesus wouldn’t reveal the date to His own followers, for goodness sake! Not to mention the Mayans were making no such claims as these false teachers are making these days.

Interestingly, some of these teachers are using numerology to justify their claim that God has shown them how to figure out when Jesus will return; they have all sorts of mathematical calculations using both the time frames given for end times and other events.

And people are BEDAZZLED by this.

They’re so impressed by these teachers, and feel so special that God showed them something no one else knows that even when other dates given by these teachers have failed they can’t see this for what it is; false prophecies.

xHWA said...

How long is a "generation" according to WCG?
We have an answer!

According to the "Church of God News", Chicago-Midwest edition, August 1963, volume 2 Issue 8, page 3, in an article entitled "'These Are the Last Days' States evangelist Cole" written by Wilbur Ball:

"A generation is considered to be 35 to 40 years."