Many years ago, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote two books that have had a profound influence over the thinking of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God culture: The Incredible Human Potential and Mystery of the Ages. At the time they were published, the Worldwide Church of God hailed the books as the most important books to be written since the Holy Bible! Moreover, whether or not the points articulated in those books have been asserted as doctrinal positions among the various groups, many (if not most) of them have continued to accept all or most of the books’ teachings in their belief system.
Even so, it may surprise some of these folks that a number of those teachings relative to God’s purpose and master plan are seriously flawed or entirely without foundation! Thus, if it can be demonstrated that any teaching found in those books is not in harmony with the scriptures, then that teaching must be discarded or modified. Hence, it is the purpose of this post to underscore the fact that several of the teachings presented by Mr. Armstrong in those books are inconsistent with the scriptural evidence. More particularly, we will look at his teachings concerning God’s purposes and plans for the angelic host and mankind. After all, if a doctrinal position was true thirty years ago, we should be able to demonstrate that it is true today – right?
In The Incredible Human Potential, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “So the angel potential was to take over the entire universe – to improve and finish the billions of physical planets surrounding the uncountable stars, many of which are suns…He intended angels, and now man, to have a vital part in the final creation of the endless universe!” He went on to speculate that God may not have revealed this potential to the angels, because many of them “set out to take it from Him by force…” He continued: “What was God’s ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE for the angels? Beyond question it is that which, now, because of angelic rebellion, has become the transcendent potential of humans!”
In Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “So the angel potential was to take over the entire universe…He intended angels to have a vital part in the final creation of the endless universe!” He continued: “The penalty of sin by the angels was not death – for God had made them immortal spirit beings which cannot die. What God gave them was THIS EARTH as their abode and opportunity to qualify to possess and beautify the entire UNIVERSE. Their penalty (they are still awaiting final judgment up to now) was disqualification – forfeiture of their grand opportunity…” In the next section entitled Why Humans Succeed Fallen Angels, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “God then purposed to reproduce himself, through humans, made in his image and likeness, but made first from material flesh and blood, subject to death if there is sin unrepented of…And that is why God put man on the earth! That is what caused God to do this most colossal, tremendous thing ever undertaken by the supreme, almighty God - to reproduce himself!”
These statements, however, contradict what is CLEARLY revealed in scripture concerning these matters! In the Holy Bible, we read: “For unto which of the angels said he AT ANY TIME, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever: A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:5-8) Notice that God NEVER addressed ANY angel as his begotten Son. Continuing in verse thirteen, we read: “But to which of the angels said he AT ANY TIME, sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? ARE THEY NOT ALL MINISTERING (SERVING) SPIRITS, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14)
Hence, we can clearly see from these scriptures that angels were created to serve God and his begotten children. They NEVER had the potential that was given to mankind – NEVER. “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” (Hebrews 2:5)
Laying aside the scriptural evidence for just a moment, we also have to question Mr. Armstrong’s logic. Does it make any sense to deprive the entire angelic host of their potential if only one third of them sinned? How is that fair? What about the two thirds of the angelic host who remained faithful and loyal to God? God’s modus operandi is to hold each individual responsible for his own behavior. (Ezekiel 18:1-20) God is the epitome of fairness and justice, and he would NEVER contemplate or condone anything that would compromise his reputation in that regard!
Likewise, it should also be apparent that God’s plan to reproduce himself was not the product or result of angelic rebellion. God planned to reproduce himself before the earth was created. Christ told his disciples, “Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” (Matthew 25:34) Paul wrote the church at Ephesus: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will…” (Ephesians 1:3-5) Peter wrote that Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf had been “foreordained BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” (I Peter 1:18-20)
Hence, the scriptures clearly support the notion that God’s plans were centered on mankind from the very beginning. Angels were NEVER offered what was eventually offered to mankind. They were created to assist God and his children in the fulfillment of his great purpose. In other words, angels were given a secondary or subordinate role within God’s overall plan to reproduce himself, and that was the plan from the beginning. Man’s creation was not a reaction to the failure of Plan A. On the contrary, it was an integral component of that plan.