Mr. Flurry denies he places too much emphasis on Mr. Armstrong
and his writings. Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah of Scripture, he
says, quoting Matthew 11 and other references, and the brethren of the Churches
of God, as well as the masses of humanity, will have to come to realize
Although Mr. Flurry is criticized for not having an open-door
policy for Sabbath services, the meetings here were wide open. Attenders
did have to call an 800 number beforehand to request tickets, but they were
Both nights' services began with the remarkable range and
intensity of soprano Paula Malone of Edmond, who rang the rafters with "The
Star-Spangled Banner" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Speaking before Mr. Flurry on respective evenings were
Mr. Flurry's son Stephen, who serves the church as managing editor of its
flagship magazine, The Philadelphia Trumpet, and Ron Fraser, who pastors
congregations in the Midwest and Southwest and directs the news bureau at
church headquarters in Oklahoma.
Mr. Flurry spoke of his happiness at the Feb. 8 court decision
in Los Angeles in favor of the PCG in its efforts to widely distribute Mystery
of the Ages. (See also The Journal's interview with Mr. Flurry beginning
on page 1.)
In introducing his father, Stephen Flurry mentioned that,
with the February issue, for the first time since its founding in February
1990 The Philadelphia Trumpet had reached the 100,000 circulation mark.
Indeed, circulation has doubled in the last nine months.
A growing part of the distribution nowadays is by newsstand.
That's evident to residents of East Texas, who see the Trumpet ubiquitously
displayed at stores, gas stations and airports, many times alongside the
United Church of God's magazine, The Good News.
Also, like United, the PCG plans to make use of Reader's
Digest ads to expand circulation in this country and elsewhere.
"As Trumpet readers," said the younger Mr. Flurry,
"we certainly do consider all of you as part of our extended family.
If you're not a subscriber, join the family, then tell your friends about
it as well."
Stephen introduced his father as a "voice crying out
again in the tradition of Herbert W. Armstrong." Mr. Armstrong has
been dead for 13 years, but his message lives on because of Gerald Flurry
and the Philadelphia Church of God, said Stephen. "Gerald Flurry was
a student, or a disciple, you might say, of Herbert W. Armstrong."
He noted that his father had graduated from Ambassador
College in 1970, then entered the full-time ministry of the WCG, which sponsored
The WCG fired Mr. Flurry in 1989, said his son, because
"he held fast to the teachings of the late Mr. Armstrong while the
church Mr. Armstrong had raised up was rapidly turning away from those teachings."
The WCG's splits began in earnest in 1993, and in 1995
the largest spin-off started: the United Church of God. But in 1989, although
the doctrinal changes that were to come were not as apparent, Gerald Flurry
(said his son) "saw what was happening" and acted accordingly,
founding the Philadelphia Church of God Dec. 16, 1989.
Gerald Flurry speaks
Early in his sermon Mr. Flurry quoted Mr. Armstrong as
saying in 1981 that moral decay was becoming more dangerous than a nuclear
weapon. The Philadelphia leader picked up that theme and ran with it, talking
about the scourge of pornography, even criticizing the hotel in which he
was conducting his campaign. The Sheraton, he charged, makes millions of
dollars a year from renting "adult videos" to its customers.
America has become a "spiritual pigsty," he said,
and its citizens have come to accept that "porn is chic."
America has its crisis of morality, especially involving
smut on the newsstand and the Internet, but an even more serious crisis,
said the Oklahoma evangelist, involves the people of the Churches of God.
"This world needs to be warned as never before,"
he declared, but the brethren are too busy fighting among themselves to
do the work God wants them to be doing.
That work, Mr. Flurry said, is the proclaiming of a warning,
and an integral part of that warning is that "Herbert W. Armstrong
was the end-time Elijah."
Mr. Flurry commented that the "top men" in the
WCG who surrounded Mr. Armstrong in his lifetime believed he was the end-time
Elijah, but most of those men either changed their minds or are knowingly
ignoring Mr. Armstrong's pivotal role in prophecy and end-time events.
Mr. Flurry quoted Matthew 17:10-11 and Malachi 4:5-6 to
show that someone the Bible calls Elijah would live and do a work in an
era long after the original, literal, Old Testament Elijah the prophet had
"We [the PCG] do believe with all our being that Mr.
Armstrong was that end-time Elijah," he said. "I don't know of
any other [Church of God] group that says Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the role
that he said he did."
To prove to his audience that Mr. Armstrong was Elijah
and that the crisis of morality in America "revolves around that man,"
he turned to Acts 3:19, about the "restitution of all things."
Restitution means restoration, and, if you're going to "restore all
things," you have to bring back something that once existed, then later
did not exist.
Then he cited verses beginning with Matthew 17 and the
transfiguration, the vision that showed Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah.
He quoted Jesus as saying, "Elijah shall truly first come and restore
all things" (verse11).
"Now, that tells you that religion would be in pretty
terrible decay when that man [the end-time Elijah] would come on the scene.
This is a major, major pivotal prophecy in your Bible, and Jesus Christ
said it has to be fulfilled 'before I return.' Some man, a human being,
just like me or you, has to return to this earth and restore all things.
You ought to be able to see that unless you're blind."
John the Baptist was a "type of Elijah," said
Mr. Flurry, "and Mr. Armstrong was a type . . . There was a first-century
Elijah who was John the Baptist, and there was an end-time Elijah who would
restore all things. Now, surely if we're sharp spiritually we ought to know
about that. It's one of the major prophecies in the Bible."
First Elijah would restore all things in the church, then
he would restore all things for the world.
John the Baptist did not restore anything, maintained Mr.
Flurry. That restoration had to wait for a "human leader to be raised
up somewhat shortly before Christ's second coming to prepare the way for
the truth that had been lost through the preceding eras of the church."
Mr. Flurry seemed to be saying that there had to be an
end-time Elijah because the Bible said there would be an Elijah that would
"restore all things." This could not have been John the Baptist,
because, although Jesus called him "Elijah," he did not restore
anything. Therefore there has to be another Elijah in the very end time.
Mr. Armstrong was that Elijah because he restored all things
to the church. That's something that Mr. Armstrong admitted in Mystery of
Mr. Flurry acknowledged that not everyone would agree with
him on the identify of the end-time Elijah, "and if you disagree I
think we can disagree without being disagreeable."
Yet, when the gospel was preached around the world "and
an end-time Elijah died, it was like a countdown to destruction, and these
prophecies in Matthew 24 will be fulfilled so fast that your head will spin."
Mr. Armstrong is "like a signal," he said, that
means mankind is facing the tribulation and Day of the Lord.
Mr. Flurry quoted from 2 Thessalonians 2 concerning the
prophesied great falling away, which he said is fulfilled in the present
splits and resplits of the Churches of God whose roots were in the Worldwide
Church of God.
Satan struck at the heart of the work that God's people
should be doing when he tried to destroy Mr. Armstrong's book Mystery of
the Ages, the PCG leader said.
But the favorable decision by Judge Spencer Letts (even
though Mr. Flurry expects it may be appealed and go all the way to the U.S.
Supreme Court) opens the door to accomplishing the end-time work that God
wants Philadelphia and the other Churches of God to do.
"There is a civil war going on in the Church of God,"
said Mr. Flurry, referring to the splits, "and it's over government."
He believes that "95 percent of God's people today
are blind." The Church of God, he says, finds itself in the midst of
the Laodicean era, as prophesied in Revelation 3. The aptly named Philadelphia
Church of God is the core of the Philadelphia era of the church, and if
the Laodiceans don't climb aboard they will die physically and--if they
Somebody, as mentioned in Matthew 10, must take the end-time
message of the end-time Elijah door to door, from city to city.
"Is that happening?" asked Mr. Flurry. "Well,
of course, I believe these campaigns that we are starting are a fulfillment
of this prophecy. I believe I could show you other scriptures to prove that
to you. It's a job I believe we will not finish, simply because time is
running out. God is not going to hold back anymore; He's going to let things
run wild. He says He will let us have leaders who are like little children"
who have "no understanding."
God is love, and God doesn't want anyone to suffer, "but
what can God do if people won't listen, and what can He do with His own
people when they reject Him and choose to be blind?"