The Worldwide Church of God was built upon the exclusive claims made by its founder Herbert W. Armstrong.

Armstrong concocted a religion, which some called a “cult,” that was apparently an amalgam of several sects. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses he denied the Christian belief in trinity and insisted upon observing his version of the feast days and festivals of Judaismt. Armstrong also incorporated a belief about British-Israelism, which holds one day Jesus will rule from the throne of Great Britain.

This unique blend of theology and practice eventually netted Armstrong more than 160,000 followers, which he ruled over like a dictator for decades. It also afforded him a lavish lifestyle that included mansions, costly furnishings and a personal jet.

However, when Armstrong died in 1986 his religious empire went through a kind of evolution or what some might call a “revolution.”

His successors made an effort to effectively mainstream their isolated group into Protestantism. But after accepting the doctrines and moderate beliefs of their Christian brethren, Worldwide membership dropped drastically.

It seems without its peculiar dogma that the religion lost its attraction. And many Worldwiders felt there was no longer much reason to belong and tithe to the church. Schisms and splintering have subsequently reduced Worldwide to about 60,000 adherents, though its annual revenue is still about $25 million dollars.

The modernization of Worldwide doesn’t seem to have included democratization and/or opened up the issue of meaningful financial accountability to the membership. A power elite still appears to run the organization without referendum and they recently decided to hold an auction.

In what can be seen as a symbolic liquidation they sold off some of the opulent residue that still remained from Armstrong’s glory days, reports The Pasadena Star News.

It appears that the “cult” Herbert Armstrong built may gradually disappear without the man and idiosyncratic beliefs that made it so unique and compelling to its faithful.

The 50-acre Ambassador College campus property in Pasadena, once the crown jewel of Armstrong’s holdings, is now being developed into residential housing to provide designated pastors with pensions.


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