History in Prophecy

I recently read a very interesting article by Brad Macdonald in the Trumpet Weekly (dated Oct. 7, 2010). Good old BradMac was touting the virtues and wonders of HWA’s revelatory abilities. He gushes about how Mr. Armstrong prophesied that “the American dollar would one day be in ‘jeopardy of being devalued‘” and this would “ultimately lead to ‘eventual economic collapse for the United States’” (obviously, emphasis theirs throughout). He goes on to laud Herbert’s faith in Bible prophecy being so strong that as early as the 1960s (1968, to be exact) he said WW III was already underway…but just the early part which would eventually wreck the US economy.

“Forty-two years later, the trade war that will end in the collapse of America and Britain is here.”

Are you ready to rummmmmmmblllllllllle?

He goes on to bring in some quotes from Brazil’s finance minister, the head of the IMF, and others that say “we are in an economic war.” But the point is as follows: It’s forty-two years later! I don’t know the source of the quotes from Mr. Armstrong (whether a sermon, PT, or other publication), but I would be willing to engage in a little “insider trading” and bet that Armstrong said all this would happen within the next “seven to ten years” or within the next “15 to 20 years” at most.

This is masterful writing. They’re turning a failure in prophecy into a tremendous prophetic feat: he didn’t just prophecy this would happen within a short time (which anyone with a good head on their shoulders and some info at their fingers could do), but he saw it coming forty years ahead! Through omitting the “seven to ten years” bit (which, again, I would bet is there—familiar as I am with HWA’s writings) and failing to provide source material (thus denying us the ability to read the context and notice the prophetic failure), they are making him into a God-inspired visionary.

Of course, based on the fragmentary quotes from the grand and belated leader, anyone could prophecy those things. Yes, back in ’68, most anyone with any knowledge of history could have said “the American dollar will one day be in jeopardy of being devalued” or “America will one day collapse as a democratic republic.” Why? Because those things happen, God or no God—America being part of “biblical Israel” or not.

One answer I hear given to this “time frame problem” is the example of the Apostles back when Jesus was around. They thought the end was coming in their time. Well, their timing was off by about 2,000 years. Oopsie. But in all seriousness, if you can say anything you want and time is of no consequence, then any schmuck can say “Argentina will cease to be a country.” Will he be right? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean he’s inspired by God. However, if he says, “Argentina will cease to be a country in exactly 5 years”…and it HAPPENS then I would start to believe he was of God.

Also conspicuously lacking in Brad’s article is the reference to Europe. Back in the day it was the fear of a United European “beast power” with Germany as its head that made Herbert’s followers shake in their shoes. But Mr. Macdonald’s article was all about how the US is in economic war with China. Read as much of Herbert Armstrong’s works as you like and you will know that this current “economic war” is supposed to be between a German lead EU and the US/UK.

Editor’s Note: funny thing…they acknowledge that Mr. A said WW 3 was already underway in the late 60s and at the same time are saying it is finally here after 42yrs and so isn’t he such a visionary?

Pedantic Editor’s Note: The trick of reinterpreting predictions after the fact to make them appear to be successful is called postdiction, and it is a classic tool of “prophecy” purveyors, charlatans all.


25 thoughts on “History in Prophecy

  1. Armstrong had a uncanny way with prophecy as it was always wrong. Want proof? http://www.hwarmstrong.com/209.htm

    And of course we do have a survey that makes sense of it all:

    Armstrong was a meretricious simpleton as evidenced by his endless attempts to pull prophecies out of his hat, which being on top of his head, lead to further problem for him as it was firmly thrust up his rear orifice.

    Herbert liked creating his new and improved fundamentalism, based not on religion but on an orthodoxy of pessimism. The old boy sure could galvanize the herd into enthusiastically supporting his asinine magic-bullet explanations for everything under the sun.

    Armstrong did anything it took to protect his power, which was his undeserved privilege. How could or how can anyone go through life without even a shred of intellectual integrity? No wonder corruption is endemic to our society. It is almost like Armstrong was promoting a social program to take care of OUR segment of society, (which after figuring out the religious scam,) was in need of prolonged and intense psychological care.

  2. Your links, esp. to the failed prophecies, are a perfect addendum to the article, James! I was considering putting some “failed prophecies” bullet points in, but figured that was better left for another time. So, your timely comment and relevant links are truly inspired! ha!

    • Mr Armstrong was a man before his time. Bible prophesy is true. Do u think the world is going on indefinitely you obviously don’t understand the Bible.

  3. ADDENDUM: Yes, the above resource is a researcher’s paradise! On the one hand, I feel very good about having not been wrong, but on the other I feel bad about the fact it was relatively easy and painless to find the information I needed and turns out I was just too lazy to do it. But now, here is the “official” addendum to the above article (which may be re-written to include all this at a later time).

    Plain Truth, Feb. ’68, pg 49, in the “Prophecy Comes Alive in Today’s World News” section, they talk about a brewing trade war between….the US and the Common Market (early form of today’s EU). He was talking about Detu. 28:52 “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates.” “Other prophecies show the power to do the besieging is a West European politico-economic system. The Common Market is steadily growing in strength, and now threatens to wage a trade war with the U.S.”

    Apr. pg 3 article by Richard Plache and Gary Alexander. Japan is on the march with economic weapons, just as Germany is in Europe! Then pg. 4 going on to talk about Japan heading up the “Asian Pacific (Trade) Community” and how it is just a cover for getting loads of raw materials—just like in the 30s under the name Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.
    Pg. 26 (article continuation) The gathering storm clouds of trade war are already on the horizon.

    So, in the end, it is as I said. He did not forecast trade war between the US and China 42 years ago. He was just working to show how the old foes of WWII were coming back for WWIII. Also, all the international posturing and trade tariffs blew over (as they do) and we’re still here.

    • Oh, and the most important point is not that He Was Wrong…though it is something to be noted. However, the MOST important point to remember is the Trumpet Weekly staff is blatantly misrepresenting what was written back in ’68! And, of course, neither of the articles I quoted were directly written by HWA, himself, so one could come back and say “he wasn’t wrong, he never even wrote that!” But we shouldn’t even have to go there, right? He was Editor in Chief, and the church wasn’t “off track”.
      On the other hand, one can also say “he didn’t write any of it, so why is the PCG crowing about how prescient his words were 40yrs ago? But, well, we don’t really have to go there, right?

  4. The real trick to be a prophet with a decent track record is to read intelligence magazines. The margin of error is one hell of a lot less.

    Some years ago I showed a fellow webmaster a site that had Russians making predictions on their future and how the world fit into their scenario. I think this was back in 2004. One of the names on the list of members was one Rod Meredith. Now how many people with that name could be interested in a subject of such insignificant importance?

    I wish I had kept a copy of that or even joined the list.

  5. <>

    I was once a true believer. The key is to get the true believer to start to doubt and to start searching, and to have the truth out there where they can easily find it when they start searching.

    • If you haven’t already, check out this classic for the special sense in which I use the term “true believer.” It’s required reading for De-Conversion 101 anyway, so you really should have it on your shelf. I think you’ll agree that a “true believer” by Hoffer’s definition is hardly capable of doubt.

  6. Might be worth reading if I can find the time someday. The term “frustrated fanatic” might apply to HWA. He kept failing at business, then his wife took up “fanaticism” which he adopted. He had a big ego and he really thought he was someone special I guess. I keep wondering what made him tick. Flurry too. How much is self-deception and how much is just plain lies. And to what degree are they deceived into believing the bible and the religious works that they build their empires on (British-Israelism, etc)? How can they justify their lies and still think they will be in the kingdom? What goes on in the minds of these people? It is hard to fathom. It is hard to help a mind like that when you can’t even understand it. It is a sickness. I think the ordinary members are just deceived and are not in that category. But I would call them true believers because if they really swallow it and are not just “checking it out”.

  7. A few years ago the PCG claimed that WWIII had started…I don’t recall now what the event was that caused them to claim that. “… opening shots of WWIII…” or something similar, was the quote. If they agree with Mr. Armstrong that it had already started 42 years ago…then why the need for it to start again, in the 2000’s? Obviously they had not done enough research into what HWA was teaching.
    Great article by the way.

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  10. I wonder what life experiences and or brain processies predispose to apocalyptic thinking. I find I have a need to prepare for iminent devistation as I age. Is this an age related sort of thing? After all we do all aproach imminent destruction and a greater sense of threat to our integrity as we age

  11. That’s an interesting thought. Of course, for him, he was prosperous and everything was looking good (even through WW1), but then came the depression…and he snapped, it would seem. But then to keep on w/ all these “prophecies” in the clear light of multiple failed prophecies is just strange–though not as strange as the people who kept believing him.

  12. Funny. It took 100 years for Noah to build the ark for the flood and he acted on faith and it came just as God said. Its just 40 years or so when Mr. Armstrong prophesied the beast power and you people criticize him for his “failure”? Open your eyes now because the European Union as King of the North has already emerged as prophesied and Iran is truly the “King of the South”. Watch Lebanon, Turkey and Syria who will eventually align with Germany. One who is deceived by Satan doesn’t know he is deceived. One day is a year for God, a year is a thousand year for Him. In fact, God is not bound by time. But when He says The King of the North shall fight the King of the south and will defeat it, it will happen whether in 50 or 60 or 100 years time. Its ironic that you talk about believing God but you don’t believe in His words in the Bible.

    • Mel. Read. No talky. K?

      To everyone else: to mix metaphors a bit, the sheep are swine before whom we’ve cast some great pearls, and continue to do so. Mel’s comments are indicative of someone who isn’t interested in considering arguments that contradict his logically flawed and incoherent beliefs. He has a closed and smallish mind, like all sheep, pigs, fattened cows and all such barnyard animals. See the pearls rain down into the trough. See the swine respond with the characteristic mindless snort. See them roll, self-satisfied, in the bullshit that serves to nourish them.

  13. I hope you will find time in your heart to reflect on what happened to God’s Church. God prophesied that a great falling away will happen first before the end comes and it happened in the Worldwide Church of God. Where is God now? Is He in your Church? “By their fruits, you shall know them”. Are we growing in grace and in the knowledge of God? Are we doing the Work? These are supposed to be our fruits. Compare the fruits of your church to the Church that retained the doctrines taught by God through HWA. Joseph Tkach ruined God’s Church in very few years but God raised it up through Mr. Flurry. Look at the fruits! Don’t just believe Mr. Flurry, believe God’s Words in the Bible and look at the fruits! Sabbath keeping identifies God’s people, that’s in the Bible.

    • Hmmm, interesting. So, which church are you in? What are the fruits of that church? Which one of the 500+ COGs is it?

      And how do you know that the Reformation wasn’t actually the Great Falling Away? I’m pretty sure eschatologists from the time of Martin Luther said THAT was the time of the end on account of the falling away. I mean, just b/c the world hasn’t ended yet doesn’t mean that the Reformation wasn’t actually the Falling Away, since, you know, “One day is a year for God, a year is a thousand year for Him. In fact, God is not bound by time…”

      Oh, speaking of end times, Armstrong was preaching far longer than 40yrs. He started back in the 1930s and do you know what he said then?

      In the Jun/July ’34 PT he said that the Tribulation was happening THEN.

      Then in Jan. ’39 PT he said “Mussolini IS the BEAST of Revelation!”.

      In Nov-Dec ’40, pg 8, he admitted that Mussolini’s star is fast falling while Hitler’s was rising, making him the most likely candidate…candidate for what? Being the Beast!

      The Apr.-May ’40 PT gives another description of when the Tribulation will actually begin.

      Pg. 7 of the Sep/Oct ’41 PT Armstrong proclaims that “Bible prophecy does indicate that Hitler MUST BE THE VICTOR, in his present Russian invasion!…Hitler will emerge from his Russian campaign stronger than ever, free to turn the entire might of his forces against Britain-and AMERICA!”

      In 1956, he wrote “1975 in Prophecy” and how all he was writing about would be the very BEGINNING of the Great Tribulation.

      Also, I’m not finding it right now…think it was in the booklet Proof of the Bible, but he very clearly stated that ETHIOPIA was the King of the South. *snicker*

      Are you beginning to detect a Pattern emerging here anywhere?

      You see, we’ve not got itchy feet. We’re not saying “man, Noah said rain was coming and we’ve been in drought 2yrs”. This is as if Noah was saying “the rain is coming NOW”…two years later “I mean NOW”, 10yrs later “it looks very likely the rain is coming VERY SOON”, drought for 15yrs then some heavy rains “see?? Told you the rain was coming!” Etc.

      Speaking of reading your bible, how about reading Deut. 18:20-22? God answers the question of the people who say “how shall we know you have sent this man?” “If a man comes in My name saying I (God) have sent him, and the thing which he says COMES NOT TO PASS, I have not sent him and you need not fear him.”

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