This is not the first time that someone associated with the ideology behind the Living Church of God committed such a vile act.
The Living Church of God (LCG) split from the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) in the mid-90’s over doctrinal differences. The founder of the WCG, Herbert Armstrong, died in 1986, and his successor, Joseph Tkach, began dismantling the doctrinal distinctives of the WCG. Those who wanted to remain faithful to Armstrong’s teachings left in droves in 1995, and one of the organizations formed was the Global Church of God (GCG), which eventually transmuted into the LCG, both led by Roderick Meredith.
Before Tkach made the drastic doctrinal changes, the WCG was a cult, pure and simple. Distinctive theological elements included
- Rejection of the Trinity.
- Observance of Jewish, Old Testament holy days.
- Rejection of “worldly holidays,” including Christmas and Easter.
- The teaching that the WCG alone was the true and undeceived church of God, and that all other Christians were merely “professing” Christians, deceived by (and ultimately worshiping) the devil.
- The belief that the United States and England are peopled by the descendants of the original Ten Tribes of Israel.
- The belief that Germany will rise again and defeat America in a nuclear World War Three.
The Living Church of God still holds to all these doctrines.
Herbert Armstrong wrote his heretical theology up in many books and smaller booklets.
One of them was 1975 in Prophecy written in the 1950’s and predicting Jesus’ return in 1975.
The book had the a violent affect on one Michael Dennis Rohan.
In an effort hasten the building of the temple and resumption of Jewish cultic sacrifices in Jerusalem, Rohan set fire to the Al Aksa mosque in 1969. No one was killed, but there was significant material damage. The ripples of the attack continued through the years: fourteen years later, Hamas began a series of terrorist attacks scheduled to coincide with the Al Aksa attack.
Trying desperately to distance himself from the bad publicity the act generated, Herbert Armstrong responded by denying any connection between Rohan and his church:
Every effort, it seems, is being made to link us with it in a way to discredit the Work of God. The man, Rohan being held as the arsonist, the dispatches say, claims to be identified with us. This claim is TOTALLY FALSE. The first any of us at Pasadena ever heard of this man was when the press dispatches began coming over the Teletypes in our News Bureau. Checkups revealed that this man had sent in for and received a number of our Correspondence Course lessons. Last December he had sent in a subscription to The PLAIN TRUTH. But any claim to any further connection or association with us is an absolute lie.
Rohan claims he’d been in contact with a WCG minister, and that, combined with the fact that Rohan not only had subscription to the Plain Truth but also had received church literature, makes Rohan a “P.M.” — prospective member.
According to a Wikipedia article, Armstrong stopped claiming that a physical temple would have to be built
because at the time he was trying to establish a relationship with the government of Israel. He had previously developed a relationship with King Hussein of Jordan prior to the Six Day War and had actually signed a contract to go on the AM and shortwave [sic] Jordanian transmitters located in the West Bank with his daily radio program called The World Tomorrow. When Israel gained control of the West Bank it also voided Armstrong’s contract and as a result he then courted the favors of the government of Israel by becoming involved with such projects as the archeological digs in the area of the Temple Mount.
Practicalities won out over “God’s truth!”
Armstrong had a choice, it would seem, and in this case, continuing to preach “God’s truth!” as it had been “cried aloud” before would have been tantamount to Armstrong shooting himself in the theological/fiscal foot.
Unfortunately, Armstrong was not an idiot. He chose to tone it down.
Funny how “God’s truth” can be so self-defeating in some contexts.