My Journey to Prewrath
When I was 16 years old my father was baptized in the Worldwide Church of God. He listened to the “The World Tomorrow” radio broadcast. Those of you reading this are old enough to know the name of Garner Ted Armstrong and his father, Herbert W. Armstrong will know the church. Five years later I was also a baptized member.
The gist of “Armstrongism” was Christ was soon to return to earth and establish his kingdom with the true Israel waiting for his return in a place of safety. “True Israel” comprised of Armstrong’s followers made up of believers called by God to make the proclamation of Christ’s coming kingdom. He taught that the Jewish people were not the only Israelites living today and that the “lost ten tribes” of were hidden from the world until Armstrong’s discovery during the 1930’s. Mr. Armstong’s approach to scripture was based the belief that Bible was like a Jig Saw puzzle which he was able figure out by applying a principle stated in Isaiah 28:8-13. By the 1980’s the Worldwide Church of God had grown into an organization of over 100,000 members with income in excess of 200 million per year.
The late Walter Martin wrote a book in 1965 called the “Kingdom of the Cults” in which the Worldwide Church of God was featured prominently. Martin classified the Worldwide Church of God as “Theological Cult” because of our denial of the Trinity and other false doctrines. Armstrong taught that we were between the Old and New Covenants until Christ return and therefore we were obligated to keep the “Law” like the Jews. The weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days observed by the Jews became a way of life for me. I became well versed in the Old Testament Bible as it relates the New Testament.
Herbert W. Armstrong died in 1986; before he died he told his successor that doctrinal changes needed to be made by Joseph W. Tkach Sr. Tkach carefully began to make doctrinal changes starting with the Trinity and debunked “British Israelism”. In January, 1995 he gave a sermon a “new understanding” which declared the Church’s view that we were fully in the New Covenant and now Christians are under “Grace” and no longer under the “Law”. Tkach Jr. explained the changes in his book “Transformed by Truth” and tells the story of how a cult became a church.
So where did all of this leave me personally and what did I do with this “new understanding”? Looking back I struggled in prayer because I didn’t understand the Personage of the Holy Spirit and how the “Comforter” made prayer possible. It was then I rededicated my life to Christ with the understanding that I was praying to the Triune God. Prayer became wonderful and meaningful. I spent the next several years thoroughly immersing myself in all things “Orthodox” and learning the basics of Christianity. I made a conscience decision put aside my interest in Eschatology until I felt I was ready to investigate prophecy. After several years of study I felt I was ready to return to my study of Biblical Prophecy which had been so prominent from my 25 years in the Worldwide Church of God.
So how did I become Prewrath? I began to read widely, something I have always done when I had questions. I was unfamiliar with many or the terms about prophecy including that it had a name, Eschatology or study on the “end times”. So I went to my local Christian book store an purchased 3 books; “The Last Days according to Jesus” by R.C. Sproul, “The Road to Armageddon: A Biblical understanding of Prophecy End-Time Events, by Dwight Pentecost and several coauthors and “The Rapture Questioned Answered: Plain and Simple by Robert Van Kampen. Many more books followed but Van Kampen was the only author to explain his method of biblical interpretation, which he called a “Face–value hermeneutic”.
I am now 61 years old and am Prewrath because of a Face-Value hermeneutic which allowed me to discover what scripture is saying. The Bereans understood this principle and applied it daily to their studies.
So this is my story of how I became a student of the Prewrath position.
My thanks to Charles Cooper and Alan Kurschner for their ministries, I have learned much from them both.