Mr. Armstrong was a helper of my joy
The writer is a church pastor and regular columnist for The Journal.
By Dave Havir
BIG SANDY, Texas--Herbert Armstrong had a major influence upon my life.
Ultimately God deserves the credit for my blessings, since God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Yet the works of Mr. Armstrong had a positive effect on my life.
As you may know, Mr. Armstrong began Ambassador College. I spent four years at the Big Sandy campus. It was there that I learned a lot about the Bible. It was there that I met many friends with whom I have shared numerous positive experiences. It was there that I met the lady who became my wife.
As you may know, Mr. Armstrong began the outreach programs of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. I spent a summer in Jerusalem working on an archeological project sponsored by the foundation. It was there that I learned many valuable lessons.
As you may know, Mr. Armstrong began the Worldwide Church of God. I worked for that corporate church for 21 years.
It was there that I was able to meet many fine Christians. It was there that I had many opportunities to help people.
Helper of joy
The apostle Paul described himself as a helper of the saints' joy (2 Corinthians 1:24). That's the way I would describe Mr. Armstrong's effect upon my life.
I didn't always see Mr. Armstrong that way. Lest you think I am going to trash him, my problem was just the opposite. My problem was that I placed too much emphasis upon him.
Paul said that he did not have dominion over the faith of the saints (2 Corinthians 1:24). Mr. Armstrong also did not have dominion over our faith. Yet I made the mistake of viewing him as having such dominion. I was wrong.
Paul described a sort of hierarchy in 1 Corinthians 11:3. I now accept those words that Paul wrote. In the past I erroneously included physical men in that hierarchy.
Did you notice that Paul did not list himself or any minister (servant) in the hierarchy? Mr. Armstrong is also not listed in that hierarchy. Yet I made the mistake of viewing him between Christ and me. I was wrong.
Filter for salvation?
Let me remind you why we should not view our salvation filtered through Herbert Armstrong.
Many people will quickly say they don't use Mr. Armstrong as a filter to salvation. I hope that you are right about yourself. Thinking of any person as a conduit to salvation is idolatry!
Should Christians use Mr. Armstrong as a filter for their doctrines? People will say they don't do that. Yet consider the following:
Do you see a problem with any of those approaches?
The standard for accepting any ideas or teachings must be the Bible!
Saints should use the Bible as their guide! Saints should value the Bible over any church literature. Saints should value the Bible over any writings of any man.
Let me remind you why we should not view Herbert Armstrong in a position to be a filter for doctrine.
Learning from his mistakes
For the record, I am not in favor of cataloging all of Mr. Armstrong's real sins and his alleged sins before other people. My reasons are Matthew 7:1-5 and 1 Peter 4:8.
However, I do believe there is value in recognizing some of the mistakes of Mr. Armstrong.
Do you want to hear something amazing? Some people can talk about the "sins" of people in the Bible, but they cannot talk about the "mistakes" of Herbert Armstrong.
Noah got drunk (Genesis 9:21). Moses disobeyed God (Numbers 20:7-13). David committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:2-4). Peter was corrected for his prejudice (Galatians 2:11-13). People will talk about these sins.
Yet some people experience a strong emotional reaction when they hear the mention of "mistakes" made by Mr. Armstrong. Where does that reaction come from?
This may not apply to you, but some people make an idol out of the works of Mr. Armstrong. Some people make an idol out of the memory of Mr. Armstrong.
If this applies to you, please don't do that. For your sake, please don't do that.
We can appreciate the fine works of Mr. Armstrong and still learn from his mistakes.
Don't you believe that he would want you to learn from his mistakes, even if he did not perceive them as mistakes when he made them?
Learning from the administrative ("governmental") mistakes of Mr. Armstrong does not need to crush your appreciation for the good works he did.
Learning from the doctrinal mistakes of Mr. Armstrong does not need to demolish your appreciation for the biblical teachings he presented.
Thankfully, we do not expect the helpers of our joy to be perfect. Therefore, many of us appreciate Mr. Armstrong in spite of his mistakes. Many of us appreciate the help he gave to us.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God