Scandal, schism, and spiraling inflation have been forcing Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God (WCG) into drastic economic retrenchment and doctrinal revision (see March 15 issue, page 49). Despite a claimed 2.1 per cent increase in income over last year, the belt-tightening has included: (1) termination of the undergraduate program at the Bricket Wood, England, campus of Ambassador College (a training school for ministers will be substituted at this facility), and other academic trimming (earlier, a 27 per cent slash was decreed for the main Pasadena campus); (2) sharply reduced use of the church’s jet airplanes; (3) closure of high schools and elementary schools operated by the church (a move Garner Ted Armstrong views as “traumatic” inasmuch as children from the Imperial Schools will “be suddenly thrown in with all the foul language, filthy habits, sloppy hair and dress, drug usage, violence, and racism that exists in the public systems”); (4) a 5 per cent across-the-board reduction “in all divisions and departments”; (5) the sale of “peripheral” properties (including faculty residences); (6) production cutbacks for the TV program “The World Tomorrow”; (7) curtailment of the church’s editorial and other departments; (8) sale of tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of imported paintings, which heretofore have adorned the walls of faculty homes.

Some time earlier, other economy measures had been taken. Free distribution of The Plain Truth decreased from a record high of 3.2 million copies in October, 1973, to 2.7 million with the June-July, 1974, issue. Size was reduced as well. Following the February exodus of some thirty-five ministers and 2,000 members, it was announced that three of the church’s festival properties—at Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania, and Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri—would be sold.

Garner Ted Armstrong, who has virtually taken over the administration of “the Work” (Armstrongism for the church) while his 82-year-old father roams the world proclaiming the Armstrong gospel in foreign capitals, insists that “vital areas such as preaching the Gospel and ministerial needs” have not been hampered by the curtailments. In a recent letter to the church’s 60,000 members (46,000 of them in the United States, 4,200 in Canada), the Work’s executive vice-president exuded optimism, saying he expected “the great work of God” to get stronger than ever before.

As evidence Armstrong pointed to the report for 1973: receipts soared to nearly $56 million; 7,000 new members were baptized; 3.6 million letters were processed at Pasadena alone; almost 38 million pieces of free literature were mailed out; and from June (when toll-free service was instituted) through December, 50,000 telephone calls (90 per cent of them from “new” people) lighted up the Pasadena switchboard. Personal-appearance campaigns, paid advertising in mass-circulation magazines, and the broadcast have produced a backlog of “7,000 new prospective members” as of June of this year awaiting ministerial visits. Recently announced strategy calls for a switch from daily to weekly TV but the extension of both TV and daily radio broadcasts to dozens of additional cities. Thus the downward trend in media outreach (from 384 to 311 outlets between January, 1973, and spring, 1974) is to be reversed.U. S. television coverage grew from 47 to 88 stations during this interval; Canadian, from 28 to 33. Meanwhile, U. S. radio fell from 200 to 98 stations; Canadian climbed from 39 to 59. Of greater significance is the fact that overseas outlets over this period diminished by more than half, from 70 to 33. European coverage is now limited to one lone French broadcast.

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Absence of a comprehensive doctrinal statement has occasioned confusion, contradiction, and dissension in the WCG throughout its history. But now that lack is under consideration. The Theological Research Project (TRP) has been established to frame a brief statement of faith and a detailed “exegetical handbook.” Texas staffer Charles Dorothy, a Spanish specialist, is heading up the TRP.

In the meantime, the church is reexamining its doctrines in the same manner in which they were “revealed” to Herbert W. Armstrong—one by one. The reappraisal has been prompted by increasing pressure from ministers and members. Close observers say Garner Ted has privately—sometimes publicly—favored many of the changes demanded by the dissidents; but Herbert has maintained a posture of intransigence, doggedly adhering to his timeworn dogmas until forced to knuckle under by sheer necessity.

Among the changes; (1) A new policy of openness (January, 1973), admitting outsiders to worship services and advertising meetings: largely unimplemented yet. (2) Shift of Pentecost from Monday to Sunday (February, 1974), a concession to a scholarly verdict correcting Armstrong’s miscalculation of years ago. (3) Modification of the divorce and remarriage policy (May, 1974). Long a source of internal controversy in the WCG, the doctrine held that second marriages following divorce are not binding in the sight of God and the church. A number of marriages had broken up as a result. The new teaching provides that those coming into the church will be forgiven at baptism of “past marital mistakes which were made apart from the knowledge of God’s way.” Termed “monumental” by Garner Ted, the announcement, made by his father to a ministerial conference in Pasadena (the largest in the history of the church), was greeted with spontaneous applause by the 408 salaried ministers and ninety-five local-church elders attending. (4) Relaxation of the “third tithe” requirement (May, 1974). Collected every 3½ years for “widows and orphans” (many of them made so under the old remarriage doctrine), the third tithe imposed a heavy burden on the Armstrong faithful. There have been charges that third-tithe funds were siphoned off for non-welfare uses. It was further objected that the additional levy lacked New Testament foundation. Finally, at the Pasadena conference, Armstrong announced that the third tithe no longer would be mandatory. Pastors may now “release” those who are “going down the drain financially.” (5) Lifting of the bans on wearing makeup and observing birthdays (June, 1974).

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Other changes are in the offing. A new booklet on healing is about to roll off the Ambassador College presses. The church eschews professional medical services except for “repair” surgery (setting broken bones, suturing open wounds, and the like). The restrictive policy has figured in several lawsuits during the past year: two custody cases in which a non-member parent has accused a divorced mate of withholding urgently needed medical treatment from the couple’s children, and a suit in which a Seattle man is seeking $100,000 from the church for loss of eyesight.

In a ninety-minute address before nearly 10,000 pilgrims at the Feast of Tabernacles at Mt. Pocono last October, Garner Ted repudiated his father’s “Petra” doctrine, declaring that “our God is a practical God” who will not take his people in non-existent ocean liners and 747s to a desert place devoid of food and water to save them from the tribulation. (Petra is an ancient rock fortress in southern Jordan.) The “place of safety” is spiritual, not physical, he said. Reportedly, Herbert rebuked his son publicly in Great Britain for saying the same thing.

In an interview, Garner Ted acknowledged that identification of the “lost ten tribes” with the Anglo-Saxon peoples “can’t be proved”—thus discounting his father’s oft-repeated dictum that British-Israel identity is “the master key” to 90 per cent of Bible prophecy relating to the end time. He further indicated disagreement with the “one true church” doctrine, and rejected out of hand the church’s teaching that Sunday worship is the mark of the beast and is punishable by the lake of fire. These divergences notwithstanding, Dr. Robert L. Kuhn, Garner Ted’s administrative assistant, averred in a recent telephone interview that father and son are in substantial doctrinal agreement.

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How much farther can the WCG travel along the road of doctrinal accommodation without surrendering its claim to uniqueness and apostolic authority? Dr. Ernest Martin, who resigned as chairman of Ambassador’s theology department, believes that the church is willing to yield on almost any issue “as long as the hierarchical posture is retained. They will never change, so they say, on church government.” In a thirty-page member letter dated May 2, 1974, Herbert Armstrong blasted “defecting ministers” for seeking to “destroy the Work of the living God.” Christ’s “rod of iron” rule, he said, is by government “from the top down.” He denounced “democracy, from the bottom up—every man doing what seems right in his own eyes,” as a device whereby Satan endeavors to undermine God’s—and Armstrong’s—authority over his people. Whatever compromises and concessions may be made in other areas, it appears certain that on the question of government (the theological basis for his control over the church and its membership) Herbert W. Armstrong will stand firm.

Black Muslims: Billing The Baptists?

A little more than a year ago, Black Muslims in Kansas City, Missouri, purchased the ultra-modern Kansas City Baptist Temple, pastored by the Reverend Truman Dollar, for $250,000.

Although a substantial down payment was made, attorneys for the Baptist congregation—one of the largest in the Midwest—say that the Muslims have had difficulty raising the monthly payment of $2,436.

Nevertheless, Baptist members in their new suburban temple were caught off guard, they say, when six men (three of them are confirmed members of local Kansas City Muslim mosques) entered the church office on a Monday, ordered twelve church employees to lie face-down on the floor, and then ran off with $24,000, much of it the previous day’s offerings.

Two of the men are still at large, police report. Four others were arraigned on charges of felonious assault and first-degree robbery. Dollar contends that one of the men who allegedly robbed the church was present at negotiations for the sale of the former building to the Muslims.

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In Chicago at the time of the robbery, Nathaniel Muhammad, son of Muslim head Elijah Muhammad and leader of the Kansas City mosque that made the purchase, denied that he knew anything about the event and promised that the mosque would not harbor fugitives of justice. He returned to Kansas City and held a public press conference inside the mosque, even permitting television cameramen to take pictures inside. (Muslim policy traditionally has always forbidden whites and anyone with recording equipment from entering a mosque.) All news-media personnel, however, were subjected to the usual “frisking for weapons” before entering.

Nathaniel said he believes someone had been planted within the temple to lead fellow Muslim brothers astray. He promised that even after serving sentences in jail, the members (if found guilty) would have to serve “additional time” at the mosque.

Dollar says he believes the robbery was in retaliation for remarks he had made which were printed by a daily newspaper in the city. In that article, he accused the Muslims of not following standard business procedures. “They don’t even know the rudiments of business,” he said. “And it’s a myth that they have great economic stability and sources of funds.”

Last month the Baptists ordered the Muslims off the property, with forfeiture of the down payment.


Manhattan Movers

Dozens of Jews for Jesus left New York City last month after a flamboyant street-evangelism campaign prompted hundreds of “serious” inquiries about Christianity—and the arrest of eight Jewish followers of Christ.

The Jews for Jesus movement is composed of mostly young, evangelical Jewish Christians who militantly affirm their Jewish identity. About thirty who were involved in the four-week New York project traveled from the group’s main headquarters in Corte Madera, California, and another eighteen came in from elsewhere. Concentrating on Manhattan, they staged street-theater skits, concerts, and marches in prophet robes, and distributed 800,000 tracts and 7,000 posters. Not wanting the image of button-holers, they tried to avoid long street-corner debates. “About 2,000 people responded by mail or phone, and more than 200 signed our decision cards,” said Moishe Rosen, the leader of the movement. By signing these cards persons either made definite commitments to Christ or embarked on a program of study, he pointed out.

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In a campaign sidelight, a group of Orthodox Jews, calling themselves “Jews for Judaism,” handed out opposition literature. Their tracts also dealt with sin and salvation, so even that was a plus, Rosen said, because “those are not usual discussion topics in any segment of Judaism these days.”

Part of the group’s preparation for the New York campaign involved learning how to respond non-violently to physical attacks and harassment. This training, said Rosen, came in handy on several occasions as irate pedestrians—screaming “You’re not Jewish!” and “You should be ashamed of yourselves, traitors!”—punched and kicked the young evangelists. They suffered no major injuries.

On one occasion, police arrested eight of the Jews for Jesus who with faces painted white were presenting a twelve-minute vignette in front of Rockefeller Center. While they were being booked in the precinct on disorderly-conduct charges of obstructing pedestrian traffic, a policeman told them this wife was dying of cancer and asked, “Will you pray for her?” The entire group immediately offered a prayer for the woman. Later, as they were waiting in holding cells for their case to be called in court, the male actors put on a skit for the other prisoners and did some impromptu preaching.

“You might say they had a captive audience,” quipped their defense attorney, Herman Tarnow, who eventually convinced the judge to dismiss the charges.



Things have simmered down at Highway 70 Baptist Church outside Memphis. The 300-member independent church has a policy of short hair for men and long dresses for women, and several women stand ready with scissors, needles, thread, and spare cloth, during and after church services to implement the policy. Men can get their hair shortened and women their dresses lengthened on the spot.

A while back 8-year-old Timothy Tillman rode to the church on its bus to take advantage of the free hotdog and Coke offer. During the sermon, Pastor Gene Hobgood warned of hell-fire ahead for those with long hair. At the invitation, Tim and other boys walked forward and had their collar-length hair cut.

When Tim returned home, his parents—who do not attend Highway 70—were appalled (Mr. Tillman is a barber) and threatened to sue. Hobgood took the threat in stride but agreed not to administer any more haircuts to children without parental consent. He still insists long hair is part of the “Communist curse on this country” and is condemned in the Bible.

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Evangelicals At Ewersbach

With a conference planned for Sounion, Greece, canceled at short notice because of the Cyprus conflict, the International Fellowship of Free Evangelical Churches convened instead at a seminary of the Free Evangelical Churches of Germany. Nearly 150 representatives from fifteen national associations (including that of East Germany) gathered in Dietzholztal-Ewersbach, West Germany, for the September meeting.

Reports from 3,096 local churches on four continents showed increasing membership and a growing number of churches. They also reported a total of 2,709 full-time ministers and 547 missionaries supported by the churches. Newly formed associations in Asia, Africa, and South America were invited to join the international body.

After long and thorough discussions of the Lausanne Congress (see August 16 issue, page 35), delegates pledged themselves to emphasize the authority of the Bible in their theological teaching, to intensify evangelism, and to teach members the practical consesequences of following Jesus. Elected president for a four-year term was a Spanish minister, Jose Martiny of Barcelona. Walter Persson, a minister from Stockholm, Sweden, was named general secretary. A 1975 youth conference planned for Chicago will try to relate the results of the Ewersbach conference to youth work.


Attacking The Texts

After a brief respite, that public-school textbook controversy in the Charleston, West Virginia, area (see October 11 issue, page 44) flared up again this month. Led by ministers, crowds of angry parents blockaded bus garages, picketed school buildings and kept hundreds of children out of school. Several were arrested, including Pastor Ezra Graley of the Summit Ridge Church of God. He received a $1,500 fine and sixty days in jail in addition to an earlier thirty day sentence.

Shortly after Grayley’s arrest, more mines were shut down, one school was dynamited and another set on fire. Damage to both was minimal and there were no injuries, but the incidents emphasized the growing bitterness in the dispute.

Pastor Marvin Horan of the Leewood Freewill Baptist Church got roaring approval from a rally crowd of 4,000 when he suggested schools in three counties be closed “until the books are out.”

Another clergyman, Charles Quigley, principal of the Cathedral of Prayer Christian School, made headlines by praying that God will “strike three members of the Kanawha County Board of Education dead” for endorsing the textbooks that protesters have charged are anti-Christian, anti-American, and obscene. Later, Quigley backed off a bit, explaining that he only wanted God’s will to be done in the matter, but he warned that God had struck dead some who had opposed him in the past.

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A survey by the Charleston Gazette shows 41.2 per cent opposed to the books, mostly on religious and moral grounds, and 27.2 per cent in favor of them, with 31.6 per cent undecided.

Meanwhile, textbook controversies have broken out elsewhere. In Roanoke, Virginia, real estate broker Curtis Doss is leading efforts to rid the schools of junior-high and senior-high readers in the Ginn Company’s “Responding” series, one of the series disputed in West Virginia. Doss says he was glad Bible studies were dropped from public schools for constitutional reasons. But, he argues, “the Bible isn’t pushed down anybody’s throat. Why should filth be?”

Thousands of miles away in Courtenay, British Columbia, the local ministerial alliance has stirred up a fuss over a study guide on women for use by high-school teachers. Among other things, the guide blames the Christian Church for carrying forward “the bitter campaign to debase and enslave the women of Europe” during the latter days of the Roman Empire.

Religion In Transit

Evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman says she bears no ill will toward Dr. William A. Nolen, the Minnesota author and surgeon who said his research found no evidence of any healings at a service Miss Kuhlman conducted last year. He “doesn’t understand,” she says. She points to healings verified by other doctors but says she’s “the first to admit” not everyone at her services gets healed. She was scheduled to appear on NBC-TV’s “Tonight” show in response to Nolen’s appearance earlier.

The small Poolesville (Maryland) Presbyterian Church is publishing a less expensive $(19.95) edition of a 330,000-entry concordance to the Living Bible than the one it produced last year ($34.95).

United Farm Workers of America union leader Cesar Chavez, with the encouragement of World Council of Churches officials, was in Europe this month drumming up support for boycotts against California grapes and Iceberg lettuce. The WCC to date has given more than $69,000 to Chavez, whose union membership is down to 10,000 from a high of 50,000.

More than 5,000 persons attended a conference on the Holy Spirit sponsored by the evangelism and worship unit of the Iowa United Methodist Conference. Speakers included Episcopal charismatic leader Dennis Bennett and Pentecostal lecturer David J. DuPlessis, who claimed there are 10,000 charismatic pastors within member denominations of the National Council of Churches (approximately 10 per cent of the some 107,000 pastors in the thirty-one Protestant and Orthodox bodies).

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Forty-one senior medical students from North America were awarded fellowships sponsored jointly by Medical Assistance Programs, an evangelical agency based in Wheaton, Illinois, and Reader’s Digest. The fellowships are designed to stake students to a well supervised clinical experience in a relatively primitive setting. More than 200 have served in thirty-eight countries since the program began four years ago.


VIRGIL MOSES BARKER, 94, bishop emeritus and founder of more than fifty congregations of the Church of God in Christ in the midwest; in Kansas City, Missouri.

LEWI PETHRUS, 90, noted Swedish Pentecostal pastor, author, and editor of Dagen, the daily Christian newspaper he founded in 1945; in Stockholm.


Bishop Stuart Y. Blanch of Liverpool, England, an evangelical who has emphasized evangelism in his ministry, has been appointed the next Anglican archbishop of York. Blanch, 56, will succeed Archbishop Donald Coggan, a fellow evangelical who next month will succeed Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury as titular head of the Church of England.

This month Pastor W. A. Criswell of First Baptist Church, Dallas, observes his thirtieth anniversary as pastor there. During those thirty years the church has had 9,400 baptisms, more than 25,000 other membership additions by letter of transfer and statement of faith (membership has increased from 8,253 to nearly 17,900), and nearly $51 million in offerings.

Jesus-movement figure Duane Pederson, editor of the internationally distributed Hollywood Free Paper, is now pastor of a congregation of the Missionary Church denomination in Venice, California. Before founding the paper in 1969 he was a gospel-magic evangelist.


The National Enquirer, a secular tabloid, is featuring stories of show biz people who have turned to Christ. Among the recent ones: Jeannie C. Riley, 28, of “Harper Valley PTA” hit record fame, and actor Mickey Rooney, 53. Both say they were converted about two years ago.

Miss Riley told how the fame and fortune that came to her nearly destroyed her values and ruined her life. “I was feeling real low about my way of life and I went to church,” she said. During a hymn she was overwhelmed by the thought that if she didn’t turn to God right then she never would. “That’s when I was saved,” she said. The country and western singer says that her life is better now and that she tries to get her feelings about God into her songs. “The Lord changed my life completely,” she asserts.

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Rooney said his life was “a mess” until he started going back to church. “Then,” said he, “I gave my life to Christ and suddenly—like a miracle—everything became positive and creative where before it had been negative and bleak.” Married seven times, Rooney acknowledged he’d made a lot of mistakes. As for his seventh wife, Carolyn, the actor commented: “This marriage will last until the end of my days, I’m sure—because the love of Christ and the love of a good woman are an unbeatable combination.”

World Scene

Increasingly, newspapers in India are carrying stories of famine, huge livestock losses, and “thousands of starvation deaths.” West Bengal is especially hard hit; one newspaper claims more than 15 million of its 50 million people do not get a full meal even once a week.

Some 10,450 persons were baptized in Baptist churches in Burma last year. The Burma Baptist Convention has 2,579 churches with 277,000 members. Leaders say they are confronted by pressures to make the faith more culturally indigenous and by the emergence of the charismatic movement in some churches. Theology teacher Thra Victor San Lone is the new general secretary.

Either way we lose. That might be the way a pessimistic World Council of Churches leader would describe one predicament facing the WCC. The Palestinian Liberation Organization has asked the WCC to represent the PLO at the United Nations and in talks on the Middle East. Mission: be a peacemaker without alienating either the Arabs or the Israelis, and keep the friends of both happy.

Greater Europe Mission’s university-level theological school in Seeheim, Germany, opened last month with eight first-term students enrolled. The new school is headed by New Testament scholar Cleon Rogers.

Some 5,000 persons attended the fourteenth general conference of the (West) German Evangelical Alliance. Official representatives of member groups debated the relation between the alliance and local churches (rumors that the alliance might establish congregations of its own were denied) and between the alliance and the World Council of Churches. The consensus seemed to be that while the general course of the WCC cannot be favored, connections should not be severed to the evangelicals trying to witness within the WCC.

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The few remaining Sudan Interior Mission missionaries in Somalia have been transferred to work elsewhere. Somalia nationalized mission work and shut down ministries last year. An SIM spokesman estimates that there are only 200 known believers in the land, and any open witness brings immediate opposition.

Once a year Telugu Baptists in India stage a mass baptism. This year 1,233 were baptized in one day in the Gundlakamma River. Many of the converts are the product of a lay evangelistic movement led by P. Sadhu Samuel.

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