Armstrongism refers to the teachings and doctrines of Herbert W. Armstrong while leader of the Worldwide Church of God, professed by him and his followers to be the restored true Gospel of the Bible. Armstrong taught that most of the basic doctrines and teachings of mainstream Christianity were based largely on tradition, including absorbed pagan concepts and rituals (i.e. religious syncretism), rather than on adherence to the Judeo-Christian Bible. The doctrines covered here are expressed and explained in detail in his Bible study course, "The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course" and several books including "The Incredible Human Potential", "The Wonderful World Tomorrow", and especially Armstrong's last published book, "Mystery of the Ages". Armstrong's followers refer to themselves as members of the Church of God.

The label "Armstrongite" is generally considered derogatory by those to whom it is applied, as adherents of Armstrong's teachings believe that he was merely a fallible human church leader used by God to restore basic biblical concepts and doctrines which had been neglected and forgotten by Christendom.

Shortly after Armstrong's death in 1986, Armstrong's appointed successor, Joseph W. Tkach, supported challenge and review of many core doctrines of the Worldwide Church of God, and eventually lead the organization to move away from Armstrong's teachings and writings, and towards the concepts, doctrines, and creeds of mainstream Christianity. This resulted in a large percentage of ministers and members leaving the WCG to start other churches, many of which continue to believe and teach a variety of doctrines attributed to Armstrong. Today, the official doctrinal position of the Worldwide Church of God is thoroughly mainstream evangelical, although there are still ministers and members who do not fully embrace all of the recent changes.

Doctrinal differences

The following are some of Armstrong’s identifiable doctrines that are in addition to or are different from traditional mainstream Christian doctrines. Many groups and churches which splintered in the aftermath of doctrinal changes within the Worldwide Church of God continue to hold many or all of these teachings of Armstrong.

God Family

The God Family doctrine holds that the Godhead is not limited to God (the Creator) alone, or even to a trinitarian God, but is a divine family into which every human who ever lived may be spiritually born, through a master plan to be enacted in stages. The Godhead now temporarily consists of two co-eternal individuals (see Binitarianism), Jesus the Messiah, as the creator and spokesman (The Word or Logos), and God the Father.

According to this doctrine, humans who are called by God's Holy Spirit to repentance, who accept the gift of eternal life made possible by Jesus' sacrifice, who commit to live by "every word of God" (i.e. biblical scripture), and who "endure to the end" (i.e. remain faithful to live according to God's way of life until either the end of their own lifetime or the second coming of Jesus) would, at Jesus' return, be "born again" into the family of God as the literal spiritual offspring or children of God. Armstrong drew parallels between every stage of human reproduction and this spiritual reproduction. He often stated that "God is reproducing after His own kind -- children in His own image." Whatever the changes brought about by this new entrance of humans into God's family, God the Father will always be the omnipotent sovereign and sustainer of both the universe and the spiritual realm, forever to be worshipped as God by the children of God. Jesus, as the creator of the universe and savior of God's children, will always rule the Kingdom of God, which will ultimately grow to fill the entire universe, and He likewise will forever be worshipped as God by the children of God.

Church authority

Armstrong taught the Bible (sans apocrypha and deuterocanonical books) is the authoritative Word of God. He taught that the Bible, while inerrant in its message, had been distorted through many conflicting interpretations, and it was not until the 20th century that God had restored the full Gospel message of the Kingdom of God to the Church through him (Armstrong) by opening his mind to the plain truth of scripture. Armstrong taught that all other churches calling themselves "Christian" were not merely apostate, but actually counterfeits whose history could be traced back to the first century, as described in the epistles (which refer to a "false gospel" and false ministers and apostles), the eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles (the appropriation of "Christian" trappings by influential and ambitious pagan religious figures [including a man known to secular history, Simon Magus, mentioned in Acts] ) and later historians like Eusebius.

abbatarianism and Old Testament beliefs

The observance of the Sabbath from dusk on Friday to dusk on Saturday was the first non-traditional religious practice (as compared to orthodox Christianity) that Armstrong adopted. Armstrong wrote in several of his books that his wife, Loma, after joining a Sabbatarian church group (the Church of God (Seventh-Day)), challenged him to prove to her from scripture that, as Herbert claimed, Sunday was the proper day for Christian worship. After months of bible study, Armstrong decided that there was no sound scriptural authority for Christian worship on Sunday, but rather that the Apostles and the first generation of Christians, both Jewish and gentile converts, continued for decades after the establishment of the Church age to set an example of observing the seventh day of the week (Saturday) as the Sabbath.

Eventually, Armstrong accepted and observed many principles and laws found in the Old Testament and taught converts to do the same. These included dietary laws, tithing, and celebration of high Sabbaths, or annual feast days such as Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Furthermore, he taught that the celebrations of Christmas and Easter were inappropriate for Christians, considering them not of biblical origin, but rather a later absorption of pagan practices into corrupted Christianity.


Armstrong came to the conclusion that the British and American peoples were the descendants of the ancient Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Variations of this teaching, some preceding Armstrong, are often referred to as Anglo-Israelism. With this teaching serving to identify apparent Biblical prophecies regarding "Israel", "Jacob", etc. as the United States and Great Britain, Armstrong was able to present them as "warnings" to the modern world.

Other non-mainstream teachings

* God will soon set up His government on earth, under the rule of Jesus at his second coming, rescuing humanity from sin and self-annihilation, inspiring mankind to voluntarily turn to God's law, and ushering in a 1000 year period of peace, prosperity, and justice under the rule of the children of God, who are the biblical saints and faithful members of the Worldwide Church of God who are "born again" as spirit in the 1st resurrection at Jesus' return to the Earth.
* Non-believers are not yet eternally judged, having a future opportunity for salvation after a mortal resurrection (the 2nd resurrection).
* The vast majority of all people who have ever lived will be saved, thus the relatively small number of true Christians of this age are predestined to be merely the early "firstfruits" of God's harvest to help teach the majority of humanity raised by the 2nd resurrection.
* The strict observance of the ten commandments is a voluntary response of Christians to receiving the unearned gift of salvation. The ten commandments are an eternal and inexorable law set in motion by God which brings about every good effect when obeyed, but which exact pain, suffering, and eventually death (especially an ultimate spiritual death) when violated.
* The Holy Days of the Old Testament are still to be observed by Christians, and teach symbolically the seven steps of God's master plan of salvation for humanity.
* A system of tithing in which 10% of one's total increase is donated to the church ("first tithe") for its operation and for sharing the gospel with the world; a second 10% was to be saved for the Christian family's expenses during the Holy Days ("second tithe"), and during the third and sixth year of each seven-year cycle, a third 10% was to be used for the indigent, widows, and orphans within the church ("third tithe").
* Abstinence of eating unclean meats listed in the Old Testament such as pork, shellfish, etc.
* God's children are not actually "born again" into spirit until after the return of Jesus to the Earth.
* The "sleep" state of the dead, meaning the dead have not yet been judged, rewarded, or condemned, but rather wait to be resurrected.
* A celestial heaven apart from the created universe is not the reward of saved humans, but rather the remade Earth under the rulership and personal presence of God, i.e. heaven (God's presence) is coming to Earth.
* Punishment of the incorrigible is not an eternity in hell, but rather a merciful annihilation by the edict of God.
* Humans are completely mortal (i.e. do not possess an immortal "soul"), but salvation is the free, unearned gift of eternal life in God's family as children of God, given upon the prerequisite of faith in God and repentance from sin, which then results in a motivation to completely observe God's eternal laws.
* Three resurrections of the dead — (1) faithful believers as the first fruit harvest at Jesus' second coming, (2) non-believers temporarily resurrected to mortality for an opportunity to learn and accept God's way, (3) resurrection to final judgment of the incorrigibly wicked—those whose minds had been fully opened to God's truth, either in this age or after the second resurrection, and rejected it—mainly those truly called but who fell away, and those who incorrigibly rebel in the "Wonderful World Tomorrow".

Armstrongist churches

There are many splinter churches, possibly more than 300, as well as second generation splinters. Some of these are:
* Christian Churches of God
* Christian Educational Ministries
* Church of God International (USA)
* Church of God, an International Community
* Church of God, The Eternal
* Church of God, 21st Century
* Church of the Eternal God
* Intercontinental Church of God
* Living Church of God
* Philadelphia Church of God
* Restored Church of God
* Sabbath Church of God
*United Church of God

ee also

* Gerald Flurry
* Roderick C. Meredith
* Garner Ted Armstrong
* Stanley Rader


Worldwide Church of God, "A Brief History of the Worldwide Church of God", []

External links


* [ Hold Fast to All Things] Herbert W. Armstrong Literature and teachings.
* [ "Mystery of the Ages" by Herbert W. Armstrong]
* [ Herbert W. Armstrong Searchable Library]
* [ The Plain Truth About Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God]
* [ Herbert W. Armstrong Was Ahead of His Time!]
* [ "Ambassador Report"] — John Trechak's periodical critical of the Worldwide Church of God during the period of 1976-1999.
* [ "Called to Be Free"] —online video with testimonies of former Armstrong followers
* [ The Painful Truth Website] , critical of Armstrong and his successors.
* [ What is Armstrongism?] Perhaps the most clear, straightforward description of the tenets of Armstrongism; very pejorative in tone.

Related Movements

* [ David Ben-Ariel]
* [ Christian Churches of God]
* [ Living Church of God]
* [ Philadelphia Church of God]
* [ The Restored Church of God]
* [ United Church of God]
* [ Worldwide Church of God]

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