The Philadelphia Church of God
Date: December, 1989.
Terms: God family, Laodicean Era, End Time Elijah, Petra, Last End, Place
The Philadelphia Trumpet, True Education.
The Key of David.
Flurry incorporated the Philadelphia Church of God in Oklahoma in 1989 after
being fired from his position as a minister in the Worldwide Church of God. The
Worldwide Church of God (WCG) had long been considered by evangelical
Christians to be one of the most prolific publishing and broadcasting cults in
W. Armstrong began a radio ministry in 1933 which evolved into a television
program called the World Tomorrow, and in 1968, a church called "The Worldwide
Church of God."1
He "built a work with an income of $200 million annually. It started literally
"Armstrong visited more than 70 countries proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom
of God, and he was highly honored by heads of state in such critical areas as
Japan and China, Black and South Africa, Israel and Egypt."3 His Plain
Truth magazine had a distribution of eight million just before his death in
Remarkably, subscriptions were offered free of charge to any who requested it.
Most of this was paid for by 82,000 members who were asked to tithe 20-30%
percent of their income.5 Armstrong also established three colleges - the
main Ambassador College campus was also the Church's headquarters located in
after the death of Armstrong (1986), the WCG, under the leadership of Joseph
Tkach Sr. began to make doctrinal changes. On March 23, 1987, the church
publication, Worldwide News, announced the first change.6 Within a
decade, all of Armstrong's heretical teachings had been repudiated. Tkach
transformed a major American-born cult into an evangelical fellowship. Gerald
Flurry lists 40 changes in the WCG including discontinuation of Armstrong's
books, removing the God Family doctrine, adding the Trinity, etc.7 In 1997, "the
Worldwide Church of God was accepted as a member of the National Association
They also joined the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (an
association of Christian counter-cult ministries such as Watchman Fellowship)
transformation came at a cost. Hundreds of ministers and thousands of WCG
members exited the church to form splinter groups loyal to the Armstrong
legacy. Among these were Gerald Flurry and his Philadelphia Church of God. In
1989 he founded the Philadelphia Church of God headquartered in Edmond Oklahoma
where he functions as Pastor General.9 It began with only 12 members, but has risen to
6,000 members in 115 countries.10
Flurry has imitated the ministry of Armstrong in several ways. Similar to the
World Tomorrow television program, Flurry airs a program called the Key
of David. "The program is broadcast to over 700 million people in North
America, the Pacific rim and the Far East."11 The Key of David program offers
numerous free books on their website.12 Most of these books are written by Gerald
Flurry, but several are from Armstrong and Steven Flurry (Gerald Flurry's son).
Flurry began republishing Armstrong's books but was challenged in court by the
WCG. A Federal court ordered Flurry to cease publication of the Armstrong
material in September, 2000.13
is editor and chief of the Philadelphia Trumpet magazine, which is
similar to the Plain Truth magazine. It boasts to be, "the most informed
news source on the planet."14 It is free to the public like the Plain
Truth was. It is paid for by the tithes offered from members in the
Philadelphia Church of God.15 Also, Flurry is publisher and editor to True
Education, a quarterly magazine for youth.
mentioned above, Flurry is an advocate of Armstrong's teaching. Below is a
sampling of their teachings, and one that Flurry introduced.
Failure of Christianity
claimed that Christianity does not reflect the teachings of the Bible. "I had
seen, with my own eyes, that the plain teachings of Christ-of Paul-of the
Bible- were not the teachings of the traditional 'Christianity' of our time."16 In a
comparable statement, the Philadelphia Trumpet magazine teaches, "The
weakness in American fundamentalism has always been the fact that their
teachings are based not on the Bible, but on a distorted and twisted
interpretation of the Bible."17
claimed to reinstate God's truth through his teaching. According to Flurry,
after Armstrong's death, apostasy came into the organization he established. In
Malachi's Message To God's Church Today, Flurry states, "The WCG
(Worldwide Church of God) has moved AWAY FROM THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST and is
focusing more and more on the Messenger. Just like the Protestants do."18 Gerald Flurry now claims that his
organization, the Philadelphia Church of God, is the only one that is remaining
faithful to the truth found in Armstrong's teaching. However, it must be noted that many groups claim to be following
the truth restored by Armstrong. Joseph
Tkach Jr. lists 104 organizations that have splintered from the Worldwide
Church of God.19
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is not a person, but an
active force emanating from God.
Armstrong taught that the Bible reveals "two Personages coexisted and
nothing else did. No third Person is
One argument for why the Holy Spirit is not a person comes from an
interpretation of Acts 2:18 and 10:45. These verses say that the Holy Spirit is
poured out. Armstrong reasons that a
person cannot be poured out, "The Holy Spirit, like water or a fluid, can be
'poured out.' Can you pour out a person from one into another-as from God into
those assembled there?"21
adds argumentation from Paul's writing.
"Paul continually mentioned God the Father and Jesus Christ, but failed
to acknowledge the Holy Spirit as a separate, distinct 'person' in the
Godhead."22 Steven Flurry reasons: "If Jesus was
begotten of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit was a third distinct being
in the Godhead, that would make the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ's Father!"23 However, "Jesus prayed to God His Father."24 Hence, if the Holy Spirit was a person,
Jesus would have been obligated to call him Father instead of God.
Armstrong used the word omnipresent, he defined it differently than evangelical
theologians. He taught that omnipresent
means God can affect changes across the universe, though He is not personally
present. He compared this to humans
having the ability to see things far away.
God can see everything, and "is able to act on such objects or to change
it as he wills. Thus, God is omnipresent."25
interesting development in Armstrong's theology, is his teaching on the form of
God. He acknowledges that God is spirit
in essence. However, the appearance of
God is human in form. "If you know what
a man looks like, you know what is the form and shape of God, for he made man
in his image, after his very likeness . . . God has feet and toes and a
body. God has a mind."26
Armstrong taught that "the word trinity
is not found in the Bible, nor does the Bible teach this doctrine."27 He correctly points out that 1 John 5:7-8
does not appear in the older Greek manuscripts,28 and states that this verse is usually
appealed to for supporting the trinity doctrine. Since this verse is not substantiated in the older manuscripts,
Armstrong credits Satan as the inspiration of the verse. By doing so, and developing the trinity
doctrine, Satan, "completely does away with the gospel of Jesus Christ."29
the trinity out of the way, Armstrong could teach what Steven Flurry called
"one of the very foundational doctrines of the WCG,"30 that is,
God is a family. The trinity limited
God to only three, and undermines God's purposes.31
God desires to reproduce Himself with his creation. Jesus was the first to enter the God
Family. Subsequently, every person has
the ability to become part of the Godhead. "There may become billions of God
persons."32 This is not to say that we will be equal
with God the Father. Gerald Flurry
states, "the kingdom of God is the family of God. And who is the head of the family? Christ? Of course
not! The Father is the head of the
family. God the Father is the central figure
of the gospel!"33
with many other fringe religious groups, Flurry and Armstrong taught that God
is only concerned with saving a very few select people, theirs. Armstrong's
justification for this comes from his understanding of prophecy. He explains, "after exhaustive study and
research, I had found it PROVED that this so called 'lost ten tribes' of Israel
had migrated to Western Europe, the British Isles, and later the United
States."34 Once the United States and Britain have been
identified as Israel, we can understand that God has not changed his salvific
plan to the world. He is still only
concerned with saving Israel, however, true Israel is only Armstrong's
followers: "we possess the national wealth and resources of the Birthright
which God had promised to Abraham through Isaac, Jacob and Joseph."35 Flurry contends that once one accepts this,
they posses the key to unlock Bible prophecy, the key of David. Thus the title of his television program,
"The Key of David."36
Armstrong's death, Flurry has taught that the Bible prophesied that the WCG
would change direction as it did.
However, this is not to say that the truth would be lost. "If God's Church goes astray, Christ rebukes
it. If they fail to repent, then He
removes the lamp and raises up another Church or Work."37 Obviously, Flurry believes the other church
is the Philadelphia Church of God.
a public address, Flurry stated that Armstrong fulfilled the role depicted in
Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole
world . . ."38 The subsequent verse describes the successor
to the WCG, Joseph Tkach Sr.: "so when you see standing in the holy place the
abomination that causes desolation . . ."
Tkach is standing in the holy place because he became the Pastor General
of the WCG after Armstrong died. He is
the abomination of desolation because he changed the doctrines that Armstrong
to Flurry, the time between Armstrong's death and Flurry's reestablishing the
truth is depicted in Daniel 8. Verse 14
indicates that 2,300 evenings and mornings will pass before the sanctuary would
be cleansed. After explaining that
2,300 actually refers to 1,150 days, Flurry reveals that this was the time period
in between Armstrong's death and the writing of his book, Malachi's Message
To God's Church Today.39
Finally, God is testing his people with the changes in the WCG. "God's
church has been flooded with His precious truth. Now God is going to see if we JUST
TALK about faith-or REALLY
LIVE BY FAITH-by His word. Do we remember
what we were taught and live by it?"40
1. The Holy Spirit is a person. Christian theologian Millard Erickson
explains that "the Holy Spirit engages in moral actions and ministries which
can be performed only by a person.
Among these activities are teaching, regenerating, searching, speaking,
interceding, commanding, testifying, guiding, illuminating, revealing."41
2. God is not reproducing Himself as a
family. He has made it clear that He will not give His glory to others, and
that He will not create other Gods.42
3. It may be true that a few Israelites
escaped the Assyrians and migrated to Europe.
However, by the time of the New Testament, all tribes were present.43
Church of God: Living Under the Law: Phillip Arnn. This documentation manual and cassette
demonstrate Armstrong's false prophecies for the end of the world and document
doctrinal changes through the 1970's. $13.
Church of God: A Broken Wineskin: Phillip Arnn. This manual and cassette compare the teachings of Armstrong and
Tkach on; God's Government, the Gospel, God Is..., and Born Again. There is also documentation illustrating
Armstrong's plagiarism of J. H. Allen's Judah's Scepter and Joseph's
Birthright which was the basis for Armstrong's US &BC in Prophecy. $13.
Transformed by Truth by
Joseph Tkach Jr. The Worldwide Church
of God, founded by Herbert Armstrong, was considered a cult for sixty years.
Mr. Tkach, the present Pastor General of the church, describes the transition
that has taken place to transform the church to orthodox Christianity. It has a
photo section and Roots of WCG chart, 207 pgs. $23.
1. Worldwide Church of God web page, URL http://www.wcg.org. Also, see the Profile on the Worldwide Church of God written by
Phillip Arnn of Watchman Fellowship (http://www.watchman.org/profile/wcgpro.htm).
2. Flurry, Gerald, "How Your Trumpet
Subscription is Paid," The Philadelphia Trumpet, March/April 2000 p. 1.
3. Key of David web page, URL http://www.keyofdavid.com/geo/na/docs/default.asp.
4. Philadelphia Church of God web page,
Rice, The Worldwide News, "MPC Records Greatest Harvest," Vol. XIV, No.
2, pg. 7; David Hulme, The Worldwide News, Vol. XIV, No. 2, ppg. 7-8; Michael A. Snyder, The Worldwide News,
"Church sets first quarter records."Vol. XIV, No. 8, pg. 1.
6. Joseph Tkach Jr., Transformed by Truth, (Oregon: Multnomah, 1997), p. 113 .
7. Flurry, Gerald, Worldwide Church of God
Doctrinal Changes and the Tragic Results, (Philadelphia Church of God:
1994), table of contents .
8. TT, p. 218.
9. TT, p. 210.
13. Ralph K. Helge, The Worldwide News, "Court rules in favor of WCG
in copyright infringement case, " on web at: www.wcg.org/wn/00october/court_rules_in_favor_of_wcg_in_c.htm.
15. Flurry, Gerald, "How Your Trumpet
Subscription is Paid," The Philadelphia Trumpet, March/April 2000, p. 1.
16. Herbert W. Armstrong, Autobiography of
Herbert W. Armstrong, Vol. 1 (Worldwide Church of God, 1986), p. 351.
17. Flurry, Gerald, "How Your Trumpet
Subscription is Paid," The Philadelphia Trumpet, December 19 99, p. 24.
18. Flurry, Gerald, Malachi's Message to
God's Church Today, (Philadelphia Church of God: 1999), p. 27, emphasis in
19. TT, 211-13.
20. Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the
Ages, (Worldwide Church of God, Pasadena: 1985), p. 37.
21. MA, p. 47.
22. Gerald Flurry, Worldwide Church of God
Doctrinal Changes and the Tragic Results, (Philadelphia Church of God,
1999) p. 71.
23. Flurry, Stephen, God is a Family,
(Philadelphia Church of God: 1999), p. 16
24. Ibid., emphasis in original.
25. MA, p. 37.
26. Ibid., p. 39.
27. Ibid., 34.
28. Ibid., p. 46.
29. Ibid., p.46.
30. Stephen Flurry, God is a Family,
(Philadelphia Church of God, 1999), p. 1-2.
31. MA, p. 37.
33. MMGCT, p. 51.
34. AHA, p. 361 , emphasis in original.
35. AHA p. 361.
36. Ibid, p. 34.
37. MMGCT, p. xv.
38. Flurry, Gerald, "America in Crisis,"
Schaumburg, Illinois, 12 March, 2000.
39. Flurry, Gerald, "Daniel: Revelation and
War," (Philadelphia church of God, 1999), p. 24-27.
40. MMGCT, p. 11, emphasis in original.
41. Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology,
(Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985), p. 862.
42:8, 43:10, 44:6-8.
43. Acts 4:10, 5:21, 13:24, 26:7, James 1:1, I
Peter 1:1, Revelation 7:4-8.