A Shocking Lack of Discernment: Promoting the Heresies of Herbert W. Armstrong | thebereancall.org

Newby, Ed

We have no reason to doubt that we live in challenging times. Nor can we deny that our Sovereign Creator and Lord will weigh all nations and individuals in His holy balance. According to Philippians:3:20, “…our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Even though our citizenship is in heaven, we recognize the commission given by God to the church to preach the gospel (Mt 28:19-20, Mk 16:15, Lk 24:47, Jn:20:21, Acts:1:8). There is no other hope to be found in this world.

It should be of great concern to us to see how too many have uncritically joined with false teachers simply because they are saying “good things.” Christians are joining with cultists in order to preserve their temporal life in this temporal world. There are biblical issues for which Christians must stand, regardless of the cost. We have the assurance of Scripture that “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Ps:34:7).

Knowing this promise, why are so many willing to camp with the enemies of the gospel? After the publication of our article addressing The Harbinger, critics asked us, “Aren’t you concerned for the preservation of this nation?” Is that to be our motivation?

If “success,” rather than the Lord himself, becomes our object, we put ourselves in a position in which we could embrace anyone or anything that seems to provide a solution. The Lord inspired Paul to write, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col:3:2-3).

Some view The Harbinger as America’s last chance. If the preservation of our material life becomes our focus, it doesn’t matter whether the message is scriptural, or whether it is accurate in its presentation of history, or whether it has been tested (1 Thes:5:21). When we and others have raised these very proper questions regarding The Harbinger, instead of receiving a biblical response, we are confronted with sarcasm, such as: “The hypercritical…modern-day pharisees, [claim that] Cahn’s hermeneutics aren’t quite right. He hasn’t fully dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t.’”

The Lord has called us to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tm 2:15). The failure of believers to exercise biblical discernment becomes even more disappointing when we see those who have been active in apologetics now promoting unscriptural materials. The desire to preserve this life has brought Christians together with those who deny the truth of the gospel. These believers are indeed camping with the enemy.

For example, Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily (WND) have done much good work in the past, and their Whistleblower magazine has been a helpful resource. Nevertheless, in recent years, we’ve noticed their promotion of certain authors who present unbiblical teachings. More than 20 of Michael Rood’s DVDs have been featured in WND’s catalogs. Rood’s training and “ordination” come through The Way International cult founded by Victor Paul Wierwille, who denied the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rood’s “Creator’s Calendar” is also offered by WND. Rood first published his zodiac-based calendar in 1998 with the assistance of The Way International alumni Robert Scott Wadsworth and Richard Fike. Though supposedly the result of “turning to the Hebrew Scriptures,” Rood, Wadsworth, and Fike’s calendar has more in common with the zodiac than with Scripture. He also teaches that the idea of the “Trinity” is pagan in origin.

Rood’s influence also goes beyond WND. In his December 2004 newsletter, Michael Rood reported on the success of his Mystery of Iniquity and The Pagan-Christian Connection Exposed in Christian outlets. Regarding his book, he reports, “…my new book, The Pagan-Christian Connection Exposed, is in hundreds of Christian and secular book stores all over America, and…international book stores are reordering it by the cases” (see also, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2004/12/prweb191067.htmBiblical).

While Rood may be blatant, WND’s executive news editor Joe Kovacs is more subtle. Kovacs calls himself a “Bible believing Christian” and attends a non-denominational church. His books Shocked by the Bible and The Divine Secret are sold not only by WND but also by many of the splinter groups from The Worldwide Church of God who still follow the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong.

This is not surprising, for many of Kovacs’s theological positions line up with those of the late cultist Armstrong. For example, Kovacs’s theology of the Godhead parallels that of Armstrong’s polytheist view of a family of gods. In The Divine Secret, Kovacs writes, “Yes, God is indeed a family. Jesus is the Word and He’s one member of the God family, and God the Father is yet another member of that same God family” (Kovacs, The Divine Secret, 24).

Armstrong wrote: “The sole value of human life lies in the human spirit and the potential of being begotten of God, later to be born VERY GOD, a child in the GOD FAMILY” (Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages, Pasadena, CA: Worldwide Church of God, 1985, 92). Implicit in this statement is the idea that men will become gods. Kovacs may soften this position slightly, but his theology goes in the same direction: “… we will…be born into the spirit world, not composed of flesh and blood anymore, but looking like yourself, composed of spirit just like God the Father and Jesus are composed of spirit, and be members of the actual Family of God…. This is exactly what the Bible says and it calls us the children of God. God is having children. God is reproducing Himself after the God kind” (http://www.wnd.com/2009/12/118220/).

An offshoot of Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God interviewed Kovacs in their publication The Journal. From his comments, it is clear that he believes we shall become divine, again paralleling the teaching of Armstrong.

The Journal: …a minority of Christians in the COG movement are so-called unitarians. They believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the sinless sacrifice, but they believe He is not God and not the Creator. Does that belief, if accurate, negate the plan of God as you see it?

Mr. Kovacs: The plan of God is that God is reproducing. He’s having children and raising them to be in the family of God. We are called children of God all throughout the New Testament, sons of God. God is having many sons and daughters.

Think for a minute: What are the sons of a giraffe? They’re giraffes. What are the children of cats? They’re cats. What are the children of God? They’re Gods. They’re going to be in the God family. (Kovacs, “Children of a giraffe are giraffes, so what are the children of God,” The Journal, Issue No. 150, 7/27/12)

The lie that brought about the fall of man was “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gn 3:5). In sharp contrast to this heresy, the God of the Bible declares, “that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am hebefore me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me [emphasis added]” (Is 43:10).

Kovacs denies the biblical teaching of the resurrection by theorizing that we are resurrected as spirit beings. In this, he parallels the thoughts of Herbert W. Armstrong, who wrote, “All true Christians [who died] before Christ’s coming shall rise first—in a resurrection—and then all Christians still alive, in mortal flesh, shall be instantaneously—in the twinkling of an eye—changed from mortal to immortal—from material flesh to immaterial spirit….exactly like Jesus in His glorified body” (Armstrong, Just What Do You Mean, Born Again? 13-15).

Regardless of what Kovacs or Armstrong believe, the Lord Jesus Christ rose “physically from the grave” (“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have”—Luke:24:39). Kovacs states, “All through the Bible it talks about the glorious divine destiny. We’re not going to be made up of flesh and blood anymore. We’re going to be made up of spirit, because flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (Kovacs, Ibid.).

Kovacs claims to set Christians straight on the Scriptures but misses much himself. As we already noted, the Lord Jesus very explicitly stated, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” First Corinthians 15 uses the terms “spiritual” vs. “natural.” It’s a mistake to believe that “natural” is a synonym for “physical,” with the implication being that “spiritual” is not. Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead in a material body that could be “handled and felt,” yet was a “spiritual” body. “Spiritual” in this case is not used in the sense of being “immaterial.” Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God, but the Lord Jesus (by His own words) resurrected as “flesh and bone.”

Job lived long before the Lord came to earth, but he confidently knew more than Armstrong and Kovacs. “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job:19:26). He had a hope that Armstrong and Kovacs have never had. Those who read Kovacs’s books are being exposed to unbiblical teachings that in many aspects are nothing more than recycled Herbert W. Armstrong.

We well may be concerned about the dangers ahead for all Americans, but shouldn’t that motivate us to be doing what God has called us to do? In yoking together with unbiblical teachers, all the good that WND desires is compromised. The same people who look to WND for encouragement and resources are being exposed to what the Apostle Paul warned so clearly of: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tm 4:1).

We live in a time of growing biblical illiteracy. Because many are unfamiliar with the genuine, they may be swayed by the arguments of the counterfeit. Again, no one denies the very real peril descending upon this nation. That peril, however, is not alleviated by joining with the enemies of the gospel. In The Divine Secret, Kovacs doesn’t present the biblical gospel that sets men free. His message is one more system of “works”: “By honoring God and keeping His commandments, we’re learning the way the divine family lives. We’re practicing day after day, week after week, year after year how to live like God...” (Kovacs, The Divine Secret, 142).

Much like Armstrong, Kovacs’s “gospel” delivers no certainty. And rather like Armstrong, the verses that speak of believers being a new creation in Christ (2 Cor:5:17) are made to refer to the resurrection. All that’s left are “works” until that time. Romans:8:11 tells us, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Kovacs applies that Scripture to the future resurrection of our human bodies. “Yes, all of us are currently sinful, mortal beings headed for everlasting death if we don’t repent…and we can actually ‘put on immortality’ if we’re faithful to God” (Ibid., 52). There is no assurance if our works don’t measure up. “But, once the jump is made from physical bodies to spiritual ones, being literally ‘born OF GOD,’ born into the actual family of God, the Bible indicates sin will not be possible…” (Ibid., 77). No one can miss the parallel to Armstrong who stated, “Until the resurrection, therefore, we cannot see, enter into or inherit the Kingdom of God. WE CANNOT BE BORN AGAIN UNTIL THE RESURRECTION!” (Armstrong, Pamphlet, Born Again?).

In conclusion, the “gospel” advanced by Kovacs steals the security of true believers. This unbiblical message is being foisted upon people, as believers join together with unbelievers to reform this nation.

More than 50 years ago A.W. Tozer wrote the essay, “Pragmatism Goes to Church”: “It is useless to plead for the human soul, to insist that what a man can do is less important than what he is. When there are wars to be won, forests to be cleared, rivers to be harnessed, factories to be built, planets to be visited, the quieter claims of the human spirit are likely to go unregarded. The spectacular drama of successful deeds leaves the beholder breathless.  Deeds you can see. Factories, cities, highways, rockets are there in plain sight, and they got there by the practical application of means to ends. So who cares about ideals and character and morals? These things are for poets, nice old ladies and philosophers. Let’s get on with the job” (Tozer, “Pragmatism Goes to Church,” from The Best Of A. W. Tozer, 1980, 254-256).

May the Lord give us wisdom and insight to know that such unequal yoking can only be counterproductive to the good that we may desire to do.

Herbert W. Armstrong

1.) Denies the trinity by teaching a family of “Gods.” “The sole value of human life lies in the human spirit and the potential of being begotten of God, later to be born VERY GOD, a child in the GOD FAMILY” (Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages, Pasadena, CA: Worldwide Church of God, 1985, p. 92).

2.) Teaches that humans may attain deity by becoming a member of the “God family.” “There are only two members in the God Family or Kingdom at the present time—God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.  But God is increasing His Family! And YOU can be ‘born’ into it!” (Ambassador College Correspondence Course, Lesson 8, p. 10).

3.) Jesus Christ experienced a “spiritual resurrection,” no longer being “flesh and bone.” “The Son of God, (was) now no longer human, but composed of SPIRIT - a Spirit Being,” and that “Christ’s body did disappear.  Christ was raised as a divine spirit being!” (WCG reprint, “If You Die...Will You Live Again?”, p. 5).

Joseph Kovacs

1.) Denies the trinity by teaching a family of “Gods.” “Yes, God is indeed a family. Jesus is the Word and He’s one member of the God family, and God the Father is yet another member of that same God family” (Kovacs, The Divine Secret, p. 24).

2.) Teaches that humans may attain deity by becoming a member of the “God family.” “The plan of God is that God is reproducing. He’s having children and raising them to be in the family of God. We are called children of God all throughout the New Testament, sons of God. God is having many sons and daughters. Think for a minute: What are the sons of a giraffe? They’re giraffes. What are the children of cats? They’re cats. What are the children of God? They’re Gods. They’re going to be in the God family” (Kovacs, “Children of a giraffe are giraffes, so what are the children of God,” The Journal, Issue No. 150, 7/27/12).

3.) Jesus Christ experienced a “spiritual resurrection,” no longer being “flesh and bone.” “So that we will actually be born into the spirit world, not composed of flesh and blood anymore, but looking like yourself, composed of spirit just like God the Father and Jesus are composed of spirit” (http://www.wnd.com/2009/12/118220/).

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