the GAP

There was a time when I was a real “true believer” in the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong. So much of what he taught made sense. Of course it should have, since he took the Bible at face value to mean what it says it means. Sure, there are a hundred different ways to interpret the Bible, but reading it like it’s written seems pretty logical to me. A couple teachings really struck me as particularly, well, awesome. These teachings were, to me, emblematic of all the ways HWA was right and led by God, and how the rest of Christianity was clearly of Satan. These were the 7,000 Year Plan, and the re-creation of the earth.

The 7,000 Year Plan elegantly solved one of the biggest problems facing Christianity—the Problem of Evil. The problem is this: why is there evil in the world? God, as Christianity understands him, is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing…so evil shouldn’t exist. An all loving god would prevent it if he could, by definition. However, the 7K Plan solves that contradiction by saying that God cut mankind off from Him to live as they want in Satan’s world, and to learn the lesson that man cannot rule man without eventually resorting to injustice and evil. They need God, and the thousand years of peace and loveliness in the Millennium will prove that beyond a doubt. See? Elegant. Of course, it’s not the first explanation that says “God can prevent evil but doesn’t, not because he isn’t omnibenevolent, but because suffering is all part of the Master Plan.”

However, the other teaching, about the re-creation between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2, I really held to be inspired by God. Nobody else was close! Some went the cowardly way and said “well, God creates through evolution”. It’s cowardly because they see their religion is wrong in the face of evidence, but aren’t willing to either stick to their guns or else accept the evidence. Others have gone the other route (and setting a fine example of “noble stupidity”) and started “creation museums” that show dinosaurs and man in peaceful coexistence in the Garden of Eden. For them, it’s quite simple: the Bible says the earth is 6K yrs old, and yet there are dino bones. Well, obviously, at some point, dinos and people had to coexist! Right? I mean, it’s not like God is some omnipotent prankster who randomly puts “fake” bones in the ground to test our faith once we find them, or something (as was first put forward by the ministers and preachers when dinosaur fossils were first discovered).

No, those attempts to reconcile the Bible with science were just lame in the face of Herbert’s understanding of scripture. A prime place to find this teaching is MOA, in the chapter Mystery of Man. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the story, but just a refresher: normal Christianity treats Gen. 1:1 and 1:2 as one event—god created the earth and it was without form and void. Armstrong showed us (with his “the bible is a jigsaw puzzle” tack) that perhaps millions of years fell through the cracks of those two verses (for example, he uses Ps. 104:30 in MOA). Thus humans were only 6K years here, but the earth is obviously much older. Problem solved.

Except it isn’t.

You see, that lovely bit of “truth” wasn’t part of any godly revelation. I know, hard to believe isn’t it, especially after all the times we’ve heard him yell “and this is truth that nobody else on earth understands!” Admittedly, it was a pretty novel idea when we heard it, this theory about the gap between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2. But it wasn’t novel because it was, well, novel, but rather because we were ignorant of theology.

Remember tales of HWA’s “night and day study” in the library back in the late 20s and 30s? In all that time studying religion, I’m sure he would have run across this very old idea. Seems it was started, or at least popularized, by the divinity professor Thomas Chalmers back in 1814 (though the idea can be traced back to a fellow named Episcopius (1583-1643). We didn’t know it back when Mr. A first “revealed” it to us (or our parents for those “second generation Christians” out there), but even this so-called Gap Theory is part of Christian Apologetics. Chalmers spread this idea far and wide because science, specifically geology and paleontology, were proving the earth to be much older than the six thousand years religion taught. It was one of the first examples of the modern “god creates through evolution” school of having your cake and eating it too. For many, many years, even up until the late 1950s, it was the answer in the world of Old Earth Creationsim. Now, of course, in the age of Young Earth Creationists, it is heresy. They rightly see that once you start molding the bible to fit science then you have set foot upon a very slippery slope.

But there was a time when I, and I’m sure almost everyone else, was amazed at the wisdom of the argument. I mean, it was even in MOA—the most important book since the Bible, written by God’s End Time Elijah! It never entered my mind that this particular “revelation” could have actually been an old idea from a “worldly” Scottish preacher. It just goes to show that we should have listened to what Mr. Armstrong taught even more—about proving all things, that is. I still wouldn’t know the PLAIN TRUTH (yes, I know, a ghastly pun) about all this if I hadn’t really put into practice HWA’s admonition to really look at both sides of the subject.

So, even though it is a little hackneyed to say, remember to prove all things because the truth will set you free.

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12 thoughts on “the GAP

  1. I don’t think HWA really taught us to look at all sides. Seems to me I was always “proving all things” by reading his literature alone (along with some history disproving Xmas, etc).

    Did you get the booklet by Craig White which traces HWA’s doctrines (nearly all of them it seems) to earlier sources? You can find it at http://www.allen-armstrong.org.

    • Hey, Chuck, your link is to one of my sources for “A Broken Key, Part 2,” which is already half done. White makes the case for plagiarism in US&BiP pretty clear just by comparing Allen to Armstrong, basically line by line. Good stuff.

  2. I agree w/ Chuck…we were always being TOLD by HWA (and later Flurry) to prove all things, and HWA always SAID to read both sides…but that only seemed to apply until you became part of the church–then you can’t read dissident literature anymore. Somehow he had a way of making us think we were thinking and researching when really we weren’t.

    Also, no, haven’t seen that booklet yet, but look forward to it. Thx for the link!

  3. “Prove all things” is intended to be a slogan on the inside and that’s exactly how it works for the sheep. They are trained by the cult to “prove” the cult’s claims, and then told that this constitutes “proving all things.” Anyone remember the “difficult scriptures” portion of “leadership training class?” That’s a good example, but booklets like “Does God Exist?” and “The Bible: Authority or Superstition” are full of similar little training sessions, wherein no critical thinking is required and extra-curricular sources are not consulted. The “proof” is encapsulated in the propaganda, which is founded in part on further slogans (“Creation demands a creator,” for example). Thus, “prove all things” is a meaningless slogan to the sheep, but not to those who eventually notice that the real thing requires something rather more than their “proof” training has prepared them for, i.e., independent, critical thought and extra-curricular research.

  4. HELP!
    The Living Church of GOD, Rod Meredith’s (one of Herbert Armstrong’s henchmen) Organization is alive and well here in Calgary Alberta. They are conscripting my son. He was very active in a Christian fundamental Church and is now enamoroured with this group. Are they going to get him to cut off contact with his family? Why won’t they let him celebrate family birthday’s? I guess they believe Christmas and Easter are pagan dates of celebration. Will they bleed him out financially?
    He started this journey to ‘enlightenment’ in secret and now can’t quite understand why is wife isn’t embracing his new discovery.
    Where can we go for help? He believes that Meredith’s group are not part of the crap that went on in the other COG groups.
    Those of us that were around in the 70’s to the 90’s are well aware of the collapse from within of these groups due to financial greed by the self appointed leaders and also the sexual follies. My worry is the younger generation are not aware of the destructiveness of this group.

    • Eric is absolutely correct, Joan. It sounds like your son is one of these who are willing to sacrifice everything for “the truth.” In that case, it won’t do any good to warn him of abuses within the cults. For the True Believer, enduring abuse for “the truth’s” sake is commended from the highest source. I would recommend directing him to sites like this one and the ones we link to (since we’re just getting started). There is a wealth of information out there to disprove the teachings he has become enamored with. Also, it sounds like he has children. In that case, I don’t need to tell you how important it is that his headlong lurch into nonsense be interrupted. I would recommend strongly (if you haven’t already) that you enlist the help of your daughter-in-law. Good luck, Joan.

  5. I am sorry to hear that, Joan. One thing you can do is try to give him a history lesson of the CoGs, and that Meredith was in on the ground floor w/ the WCG. Also, there are a little over 400 splinters of the grand old church…so that much division on how to “interpret” what seems to be very basic (and not open to much interpretation) teachings? Before he joins the LCG, maybe he should spend the next couple years researching them ALL…..

    As for cutting off contact with family, I haven’t found that they do that. Also, so far as finances go, they do believe in tithing if that’s what you mean. And if they are strict on the Sabbath, then there’s a good chance your son will lose his job over it (since most every kind of company works on Saturday).

    Just try to remind him that this isn’t a “new discovery” and tell him to really research fully (prove all things) before he dives in. That’s what this blog, and Splintersurfer’s blog, and doubtless a few others are all here for–to show this stuff isn’t new, or revealed, or anything else but old ideas that have been considered and then discarded only to be revived again by some clever and charismatic leaders.

    • Thanks,
      will keep you posted.
      I’m researching and praying hard!
      Keep up your good work. I’m thinking this ‘critter’ maybe rising again, from it’s own self-implosion.
      My mission maybe to notify Evangelical denominational headquarters and give them a ‘heads up’ on this!
      Joan

  6. Interesting, I always wondered about that theory. If taken at face value, earth should be 6k yrs old… but some how it isn’t, always had a hard time swallowing that pill.

    Lookin forward to reading more from the Jolly Ol Brit.

  7. Pingback: Armstrongism and the Lie of Evolution « Armstrong Delusion

  8. Pingback: Science Envy: The False Epistemology of Armstrongism « Armstrong Delusion

  9. Pingback: Timberrrrrr! « Armstrong Delusion

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