What are major reasons leading to the downfall and dismantling of our former association, the Worldwide Church of God?


Many of the writers and reviewers of this publication once belonged to a different church organization. For the purpose of this Q&A, it does not matter whether or not you, as the reader, are familiar with that organization. Even if you have never heard of that organization, the following should still be very revealing. The organization referred to (the Worldwide Church of God under its human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, who died  in 1986)  had taught the truth for decades. A few years after its founder died, the new leadership began to introduce doctrinal changes. The changes were subtly introduced, and it was claimed at the time that they were just clarifications or changes in terminology.

Before explaining in detail what actually happened, let us examine the nation of Israel and the building of the first temple under King Solomon to extract historical lessons from  it. 

When a nation or a church organization is pleasing God through faithful obedience, God blesses that nation or church. The first temple at Jerusalem was a most magnificent building. We can read about the Queen of Sheba, a person who was used to opulence and grandeur.  When she came to visit Solomon and viewed the temple, the servants and all that Solomon had done, she fainted. We read in 1 Kings 10:1-5 (in the Authorized Version):

“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not anything hid from the king, which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.”

Yet in spite of all the gold, silver and costly things in the temple and in Jerusalem, the temple was subsequently completely destroyed. Why did God allow this?  After all, even the ark of the covenant was placed in this beautiful temple.

We can read in the book of Ezra that at the time when the second temple was built, the people wept because they had seen the spendour of the first temple under Solomon,  and this second house did not remotely compare to it. Ezra 3:10-12 states (Authorized Version):

“And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy…”

Later, Jesus warned the disciples that the second temple, which had been greatly beautified by Herod, would also be destroyed. This occurred in 70 AD under Titus.

God allowed the destruction of the first and second temples because of sinful conduct and behaviour.

Sin, if not dealt with, is destructive to a nation, a church and an individual.

The Worldwide Church of God’s Auditorium in Pasadena, California, was one of the nicest buildings in the US, with near perfect acoustics for anyone speaking from or singing on stage.  Important people lectured there and world-renown artists played and performed. There was an  inscription in gold letters on the wall of the entryway, stating in part: “DEDICATED TO THE GREAT GOD.”

Yet today, the Auditorium and the entire College campus are no longer in the hands of Church members, and many of the buildings on campus have been torn down. So, what happened? The Worldwide Church of God has collapsed—even its name was changed, so technically, it does no longer exist; and the Church’s three Colleges (in Pasadena, Bricket Wood, England, and Big Sandy, Texas) are no longer operated by the Church.

Let us realize how sinful doctrinal compromise and false teachings led to the entire downfall of the Worldwide Church of God organization. It all really started with a “new understanding” regarding the “Born Again” teaching. As we explain in our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?”, we are begotten when we receive the Holy Spirit, but not yet born. The Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong understood and taught this, but the new leadership after Mr. Armstrong’s death was very anxious to change this teaching and to proclaim that we are already born again when we receive God’s Spirit.

Why were they determined to do this? Why was Satan’s first major attack on the doctrines of the Church directed towards that very teaching on “Born Again”?

Satan is not stupid. His agenda is and was to be worshipped as god and to replace the one and true God as supreme Commander of the universe. Satan is also very subtle. He is an expert at deception and lying.

The great commission to the Church of God is to preach and publish the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world as a witness, and to feed the flock. At the very core of this gospel message is the knowledge and understanding about “born again” and the fact that God is reproducing Himself through mankind.  Man’s potential is to become a born-again immortal God being in the Family or Kingdom of God.

In Satan’s eyes, the dismantling and changing of this understanding was crucial to bringing the church down, since that knowledge also includes the fact that as sons and daughters of God, we will replace Satan and the demons as the present rulers of this world.

Corrupting this understanding was just like placing a virus in a computer. Corrupting it was crucial in Satan’s efforts to ultimately destroy the Worldwide Church of God.

Christ is the Head of the Church of God, which is a spiritual organism. It operates through human organizations. If you think of a Church organization as a body, it stands on two legs.  The doctrine of “born again” was one leg which Satan wanted to cut off. The other leg which had to be cut off in Satan’s mind was the correct understanding about the nature of God–the knowledge that God is a Family, currently consisting of two Members. This knowledge is crucial to the gospel message, since it also helps us to understand our ultimate destiny.

Slowly turning that correct understanding to the pagan and unbiblical doctrine of the Trinity in all its various forms was cutting the second leg from the body which caused the body to fall, and the Worldwide Church of God has never recovered from that fall.

These two doctrines are crucial in order for us to stand as a Church, and they are also crucial for the gospel message to be properly understood. In order to spiritually survive today, we must never let go or compromise on those two doctrines. If we do, then the understanding of other doctrines will also be lost over a period of time.

Changing true doctrines and teaching spiritual error is sin. The Worldwide Church of God organization with its many buildings and campuses was destroyed because of the sinful and misleading conduct and doctrinal error of its leadership, after Herbert Armstrong’s death, and the many ministers and members who accepted these false teachings.

Let’s fully understand the destructiveness of sin regardless of the grandeur and spendour of Solomon’s temple; the temple in Jesus’ time; and the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena. They were destroyed or polluted, and the Auditorium and the Pasadena campus of the Worldwide Church of God are now in the hands of Sunday-worshippers –all because of sin.

That’s why it is so crucial not to compromise with doctrine but to stick to the trunk of the tree, and not to get side-tracked from the commission of the Church of preaching the true gospel which contains the only hope for mankind.

In our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again,” we describe in detail the doctrinal downfall of the Worldwide Church of God from its unique correct scriptural understanding to an appalling blasphemous apostasy:

“When the change on ‘born again’ came, some noted that this would ultimately lead to a change regarding the nature of God and the potential of man. A few years later, those changes, anticipated by some, actually had taken place. How could anyone have foreseen this development?

“Simply, because the correct ‘born again’ understanding goes hand in hand with other important Biblical concepts and teachings. When we understand that Christians—those who have received the Holy Spirit—are ‘begotten’ of the Father, we also understand that the Father is reproducing Himself through us. We understand that God is a Family, and that God wants to enlarge His Family through us. We also understand that Christ, the SON of God and the firstborn among many brethren, will marry His church at the time of His return (Revelation 19:7–9; Matthew 22:2; 25:10; Ephesians 5:31–32).

“One important principle taught in the Bible is that a kind only reproduces according to its own kind… [This] shows that Christ will NOT marry a church that is physical. Christ is God—a Spirit being. Christ will only marry Spirit beings. We understand that we are not yet Spirit beings. We also understand, however, that we WILL BE Spirit beings at the time of our resurrection and change to immortality. THEN we WILL BE spirit. THEN we WILL BE born again. THEN Christ WILL marry us. And NOT BEFORE!

“All of these Biblical concepts go together. After we are begotten of God’s Spirit, we have to grow in Christ’s knowledge. We have to become perfect (Matthew 5:48). The receipt of the Holy Spirit is just the BEGINNING of our journey toward perfection and ultimate entrance into the Kingdom of God.

“We understand, too, that the Kingdom of God has not yet come. Christ has not yet established the Kingdom of God on earth. He will do so when He returns. At that time, we will be IN the Kingdom of God. Why? Because we WILL BE God—and God is a Kingdom—the Family of God RULING over creation…

“Since Christ’s death made it possible that man can become God, and since Christ will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords in this Kingdom, under God the Father, the gospel message also includes information about Christ Himself. However, the gospel message goes beyond the person of Christ. It’s a message brought by Christ—not a message limited to the personage of Christ…

“We understand that our ultimate salvation is still in the future—that we will be saved when we enter God’s Kingdom—at which time we will be God…

“In time… we heard the terminology of a gospel about Christ, or that Christ was the gospel. At the same time, we were taught that the Kingdom, although still future to an extent, had already arrived, that we were already in the Kingdom, and that Christ would only come to ‘inaugurate’ the Kingdom.

“We were also taught that we were already saved. All of these ‘new’ teachings were ‘logical’ extensions of the false understanding of ‘born again.’ IF we were already ‘born again,’ then we could see and enter the Kingdom. Therefore, so the reasoning went, since we ‘were already’ born again, we ‘were already’ in the Kingdom and already saved. Since we were already saved, we were gradually taught that we didn’t have to ‘grow’ anymore in Christ’s knowledge as how to keep the law, since the law was allegedly no longer in force and effect. No more Ten Commandments, let alone any commanded observance of God’s annual Holy Days, as Christ supposedly did away with them all! Christ’s statement that we cannot see the Kingdom was incorrectly interpreted… in a way that He was merely talking about ‘perceiving’ the powers of the Kingdom. Of course, these so-called new concepts also required a ‘re-definition’ of what the Bible says about the Kingdom of God.

“Then, we were told that it is incorrect to say that God IS a Family—rather, we should say that God HAS a family. With that ‘subtle’ change, the truth of the nature of God began to become obscure. If God were not a Family, then God was not reproducing Himself, either. Again, we see the ‘logical’ consequence of the ‘born again’ change. This, then, led to the ultimate change regarding the nature of God. God was no longer perceived as consisting of two Beings (God the Father and God the Son), but as just ONE Being. Since God was no longer a Family, there was no longer a duality in the Godhead, either. Clear Scriptures proving the duality of the Godhead were re-interpreted, twisted, or simply ignored…

“We were also taught that God, although one Person, represents Himself within a ‘threefold mode of being.’ A ‘clever’ argument was presented that a person can have three functions—that of a father, a husband, and a president. In other words, God was described as consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but these three ‘functions’ were not Persons, but ‘hypostases.’ This concept had been adopted from a Greek Orthodox idea that stemmed from pagan Greeks like Plato and Aristotle. It was then reasoned that Jesus Christ was a created being who did not exist prior to His human birth. So, we suddenly were introduced to God (one Person in three hypostases), and Christ (another—created—person), who was or somehow became a son, but separate and apart from the ‘Son’-hypostasis of the God-Person. We were even told that the Son was still in heaven (as one of the three hypostases), while Christ was here on earth, and that the Son remained alive when Christ, the physical person, died. With that idea, the supreme sacrifice of Christ had been denied and rejected.

“To add further to the confusion and heresy, we were subsequently told, without any explanation, that God was a Trinity, the same concept taught by the Catholic Church and most Protestant churches—one Person in three Persons (no longer ‘hypostases,’ as previously represented). Christ had now become part of the Trinity, although it remained unclear what He was before He became man, what He was when He was here on earth, and what He became after His resurrection. God, in any event, had become a closed Trinity. Since He was no longer a Family, man could not become a part of that Family. It was taught that God would ‘adopt’ Christians, but Christians would never become God’s real sons and daughters. God was no longer reproducing Himself through man. It was taught that God was CREATING or building a somewhat figurative ‘family.’ However, God was no longer adding to the very Family that He is and that He always has been. Christians were no longer understood as becoming members of the very God Family, with God being their true and real Father, and Christ being their true and real elder Brother…

“Without the ‘born again’ change, the subsequent changes could not have occurred. It is, therefore, imperative that we not tamper with the correct understanding of ‘born again.’ If we do, even in seemingly unimportant areas of ‘terminology’ or ‘explanations,’ we will change the proper understanding of what ‘born again’ means, and we will thereby open a floodgate of change, again. In the end, we might very well find ourselves being totally void of all correct Biblical understanding. It happened before to those who apparently understood the truth at one time. Let us not think that it could not happen again. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…’ (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).”

The Bible tells us that a falling away from the truth is still to occur in the Church of God, just prior to the return of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). If history is our guide, then something very similar to the last apostasy in the Worldwide Church of God will happen again in God’s Church in the not-too-distant future. Even though we are clearly living today in the Laodicea era of the Church—which can be described as a big lukewarm social club without real zeal, being filled with riches, pride and self-deception (Revelation 3:14-18)—there are still remnants of some of the previous eras in existence today. One era is designated as Sardis, describing a church which has a name that it is living and alive, but it is spiritually dead, with works which are not perfect before God, and only very few in that church have not defiled their garments and are worthy to be given white clothes (Revelation 3:1).

Another remnant is that of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-10), designating a faithful church with little strength, which keeps Christ’s Word and which does not deny His name. It stays faithful to the truth and refuses to compromise with doctrine. Only members with that Philadelphia spirit are promised protection from the terrible times to come.  It is they who will not fall for the errors of doctrinal deception, and only they will be spared from the clutches of the falling away from the truth which is still prophesied to happen.

If you are in a church organization which has begun to compromise with the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)—especially in the areas of “born again” and the gospel of the Kingdom or Family of God—then God tells you to come out of that spiritual Babylon of confusion (Revelation 18:4), and to refuse to partake of its sins of false teachings. If you have and embrace the truth, make sure that you continue to hold on to it, no matter what the circumstances and challenges may be.

Lead Writers: Rene Messier and Norbert Link

©2024 Church of the Eternal God