First four chapters elegantly describe how one is indoctrinated within Armstrongism. I think it would be quite useful to use them to explain to people unaware of Armstrongism how people get caught up in it. Chapter five then builds up on it explain the importance of the doctrine of the seven church eras, that since the time of Christ there has continuously existed a Sabbatarian, anti-Catholic church that always called itself the Church of God. This was taught in Herman Hoeh's 1959 booklet, A True History of the True Church, and in Ronald Kelly's 1990-1 series of articles, The History of the Church of God. I will also add this teaching is also taught by LCG with John Ogwyn's booklet, God's Church Through the Ages.
Bruce Renehan then analyses for himself whether Hoeh and Kelly's writings stand up to scrutiny.
Turns out it is nonsense to believe, as Hoeh, Kelly and Ogwyn taught, that throughout 2000 years there has been a Sabbatarian, non-Catholic group of believers who always called themselves the Church of God. It is all empty rhetoric based on heavily edited quotations that often hide what really happened. Their fable simply does not stand up to scrutiny.
- Claim that Waldensians are of great antiquity has practically no evidence.
- Waldensians themselves say that they merely date from Peter Waldo.
- Waldensians and English Lollards denounced tithing and observed Sunday.
- Catholics often called their church the Church of God.
- Armstrongism has no historical link with the Seventh Day Baptists. (That really shocked me.)
- Seventh Day Baptists only used Church of God as a generic name and more often used other names.
- The Church of God (Seventh Day) really started as a group of ex-Seventh Day Adventists who would not accept Ellen White as a prophetess, founded by one Gilbert Cranmer.
- Church of God (Seventh Day) did not use the "government of God" (one man rule) but decided matters democratically in a conference.
- It was first called the Church of Christ. It was renamed Church of God in 1884 after a vote in a conference, contrary to the "government of God."
- HWA got a lot of his doctrines from G. G. Rupert, who taught that the holydays were to be observed, and a form of the seven church eras doctrine.
- HWA was influenced by the Jehovah's Witnesses via C. O. Dodd, a Church of God (Seventh Day) minister who was quite influenced by their teachings.
- HWA acquired the seven church era doctrine from G. G. Rupert
- HWA and Hoeh imitated their "history" of a Sabbatarian, non-Catholic group of believers dating from Apostolic times from Andrew Dugger and C. O. Dodd's 1936 book, A History of the True Church. (It also fabricated their false historical link with the Seventh Day Baptists.)
- C. O. Dodd admitted much of what he and Dugger wrote were simply not true.
- Presents evidence that by the 1990s WCG leaders knew this "history" was largely fake. (Chapter 10.) Did John Ogwyn feel the same way?
It also reveals how the matter of HWA's incest was exposed during court proceedings over his divorce from Ramona Armstrong. (Chapter 16.)
Of course I cannot agree with everything he says, for instance his assertion that the Bible was a product of the fourth century or of Constantine. First of all that list was settled at the Council of Carthage in 397, and as far as I can tell the New Testament date a lot earlier than the fourth century.
But, regardless of that quibble, this is a most useful, excellent, and in many places quite elegantly written book, perfect for any one trying to truly understand the history of the Worldwide Church of God. It is most certainly worth the effort of reading and is quite rewarding. I gladly recommend it.
My thanks to Douglas Becker and Exit and Support Network for inspiring me to finally read this book.