The Elijah Heresies and Truth

Opinions by COGwriter.

Abstract/Executive Summary 

Are you familiar with the prophet Elijah? Does the Bible teach if there is an Elijah to come? There are many views about Elijah. Some are doctrinal, some are prophetic, and some are heretical. (Two related sermons are  available Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies and Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, and CCOG.)

Before getting to prophecies and heresies about Elijah, let's look at the first time he is mentioned in the Bible:

1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1, NKJV throughout unless other sources are stated)

Elijah is immediately shown to be a prophet. Because of his prophetic role, God decided to hide and feed him (1 Kings 17:2-16).

The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906 states this about his name

The name Elijah means "Yhwh is (my) God," (Elijah. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5634-elijah accessed 08/21/15)

Matthew Henry's Commentary has the following about him:

1 Kings 17:1

The history of Elijah begins somewhat abruptly. Usually, when a prophet enters, we have some account of his parentage, are told whose son he was and of what tribe; but Elijah drops (so to speak) out of the clouds, as if, like Melchisedek, he were without father, without mother, and without descent, which made some of the Jews fancy that he was an angel sent from heaven; but the apostle has assured us that he was a man subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17), (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved).

The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906 also teaches:

In I Kings xvii. 1 and xxi. 17, etc., Elijah is called "the Tishbite" (elijah), probably because he came from a place (or a family) by the name of "Tishbe." A place of that name lay within the boundaries of Naphtali (comp. Tobit i. 2). But the Hebrew words elijah must refer to a place in Gilead...

Three different theories regarding Elijah's origin are presented in the Haggadah: (1) he belonged to the tribe of Gad (Gen. R. lxxi.); (2) he was a Benjamite from Jerusalem, identical with the Elijah mentioned in I Chron. viii. 27; (3) he was a priest. (Elijah. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5634-elijah accessed 08/21/15)

The Bible does not say that Elijah was Levite or a priest. The Bible teaches that he was a 'regular person' that God chose to use:

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:17-18)

But even as a regular person, Elijah identified himself as God's only prophet:

22 Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the Lord..." (1 Kings 18:22)

There were many false prophets at the time, many doubted if Elijah was God's prophet, but he still was. Many have problems discerning false prophets from any possible true one from God today (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).

Because of prophecies in the Bible, some are confused about Elijah and many heresies have developed related to him.

There are nine Elijah heresies that are addressed in this article:

Heresy 1 There is no Elijah after John the Baptist since he fulfilled that role. 

Heresy 2 Elijah is still alive and is in heaven.

Heresy 3 Elijah does not come until after the Ark of the Covenant is found.

Heresy 4  The acceptance of the belief that Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) was the prophesied Elijah is necessary to become a church member or even to attend church services.

Heresy 5  Those who believe that HWA was not Elijah or those that think he did an Elijah-like work cannot be trusted to not change what HWA taught.

Heresy 6 Only those who believe that HWA was THE one and only future Elijah and that there cannot be another can be trusted to not change HWA’s doctrines.

Heresy 7 One should support a former WCG evangelist who believes that HWA was Elijah and who also believes there will be no future Elijah.

Heresy 8 The Elijah message is supposed to be about sacred names.

Heresy 9 An actual Elijah is not needed, an Elijah-like work is what the Bible prophesies.

Heresy one is generally held by groups with origins in GTA’s original Church of God, International (CGI) and some of the Protestants.  Heresy two is held by many of the Protestants and Roman Catholics. Heresy three is apparently held by some of the Roman Catholics. Heresy four is seemingly held by the Philadelphia COG (PCG) and some of its offshoots. Heresies five and six are/were apparently held by PCG, Church of God, 21st Century (CG21), the Restored Church of God (RCG), the former Stedfast Church of God (SCG), God’s Church Worldwide (GCW), Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God (CG-PKG), and a variety of very small groups and independents.  Heresy seven was apparently held by some of Raymond McNair’s supporters (CG21).  Heresy eight seems related to one or more 'sacred name' groups. Heresy nine seems to be held by some in the Living Church of God (LCG). Each heresy is dealt with scripturally and with other proofs.  Also some of how these groups deviate from HWA’s teachings is also provided.

Biblical support is provided to address the issue, Could or Must There Be A Future Elijah?  Quotes to support this from HWA about the two witnesses are also provided.   And the fact that HWA never taught that if he (HWA) never came, that God would smite the earth with utter destruction (which is something that Malachi 4:6 suggests) is pointed out.

Quotes from the Bible and HWA are included which show which position is correct.

Laodicea is defined, and the article suggests that those who hold to these heresies, may be Laodicean.  And it notes the Laodiceans obviously do not have the same commitment to truth or the works as the Philadelphia era or Christ would not condemn them for their works.

The article emphasizes that the Elijah heresies actually distort and do not properly respect the legacy of HWA.  And that those who truly were faithful to his legacy would support the placing their top priority on proclaiming the Gospel, while teaching those truths that HWA said God used him to restore to the Philadelphia Church as well as other biblical truths. Those who mainly are interested in learning about the original Elijah may wish to read the article Elijah: Past and Prophesied.

The Elijah Heresies

Among the groups with origins in the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) there are a variety of viewpoints, including many heresies related to the matter of whether or not Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) fulfilled the role of Elijah.

This article will attempt to address the seven major heresies and provide biblical quotes, HWA quotes, quotes from various Churches of God (COGs), as well as my opinions on the proper responses to this subject.  (Nearly all bolding is mine.)

Heresy 1 There is no Elijah after John the Baptist since he fulfilled that role. 

This is essentially Church of God International’s (CGI) position (some Protestants also hold that view; see, for example, Vincent's Word Studies, first published in 1887, on Matthew 17:13).

In a June 2004 CGI  Armor of God Television Program by Charles Groce titled Who Is The End Time Elijah?, he stated that it bothers him that certain ministers take certain titles, who they are not.  He said there are some individuals today who claim they are the prophesied Elijah. He stated that the Bible makes it clear who the prophesied Elijah is—John the Baptist. He stated that if anyone claims to be the prophesied Elijah to prepare the way for Christ's return, it simply is not true. He stated that it is only prideful, arrogant individuals would make that claim. He claimed that there is no scriptural evidence that anyone today will be that Elijah. It was his position that John the Baptist was in fact the fulfillment of the Elijah prophesies in Malachi 3 & 4, that John the Baptist was the end-time Elijah, and there could be no one after John to fill that role.

The Bible shows that those who believe John the Baptist was the only fulfillment are wrong on this and this can be demonstrated from both the Old and New Testaments. 

While it is true that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of some of the Elijah prophecies (see Matthew 11:14) and he came in the "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17), CGI’s telecast failed to mention all of what Jesus taught on this subject. Specifically CGI did not quote the following:

1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead."

10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"

11 Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. ..." (Matthew 17:1-11).

In Matthew 17:11, the term translated “will restore” is the Greek term apokathistemi which means “to reconstitute” or “restore (again)” (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.) and is preceded by the Greek term men which means “truly” in the asseverative sense.  In Matthew 11:14 the Greek term mello is used which means “was,”this term is not used in 17:11.

John the Baptist was not physically Elijah (John 1:21)--but his father was told by an angel:

17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

So, John the Baptist was a type of Elijah.

Let's look at the Jesus comments about John the Baptist being Elijah:

7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written:

"Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.'

11 "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. (Matthew 11:7-14)

The last verse would be better translated as:

14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11:14, Berean Study Bible)

John WAS an Elijah. But is not one that is still to come, as that is what the Greek means.

It needs to be understood that Matthew 17:11 itself COULD NOT refer to John the Baptist. Notice the following that happened at Herod's birthday party:

6 But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter."

9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. 10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. (Matthew 14:6-11)

Consider that because he was beheaded (Matthew 14:10) earlier than Jesus spoke this and taught that Elijah still needed to restore in Matthew 17. Also, John the Baptist did not restore all things.  Thus, the Elijah prophecies must have a fulfillment beyond John the Baptist.

Consider again the order:

1) Jesus said John the Baptist is the Elijah who WAS to come (Matthew 11:14, BSB).
2) John the Baptist was later beheaded (Matthew 14: 10).
3) Jesus said Elijah would still come to restore all things (Matthew 17:11).

While it is also true that Jesus said that John the Baptist was a type of Elijah (Matthew 11:14; 17:12) and John came in the "spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17), John could not in the future restore all things unless he was resurrected in the future to do so--and that does not appear to be God's plan. 

A parallel account of Matthew 17 is in Mark 9:12-13 which states:

12 Then He answered and told them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?  13 But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him."

The Greek term translated in Mark 9:13 as “also” is kai and means “and, also, even, so then, too, etc.” 

Thus, Jesus is saying that 1) Elijah will come to restore all things and 2) That John the Baptist also was an Elijah type, but he was not recognized by the majority.

Furthermore, while I will not claim that my Greek knowledge is perfect, early church writers did believe and teach that Elijah was again to come (one I recall seeing was from the mid-late 2nd century by one who claimed to have met the Christian leader Polycarp; an additional one was from the late 2nd or early 3rd century--these quotes are in the article Who Are The Two Witnesses?).

In the second century, Justin taught that Elijah was still to come to restore all things (Justin. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 49. Translated by Marcus Dods and George Reith. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01284.htm>).

In the third century, the Greek writers Origen of Alexandria wrote:

But if it be necessary to adduce the Scripture from which the scribes said that Elijah must first come, listen to Malachi who says, "And behold I will send to you Elijah the Tishbite," etc., down to the words, "Lest I come and smite the earth utterly." And it seems to be indicated by these words, that Elijah was to prepare for the glorious coming of Christ by certain holy words and dispositions in their souls, those who had been made fittest for this, which those upon earth could not have endured, because of the excellency of the glory, unless they had been prepared before hand by Elijah. And likewise, by Elijah, in this place, I do not understand the soul of that prophet but his spirit and his power; for these it is by which all things shall be restored, so that when they have been restored, and, as a result of that restoration, become capable of receiving the glory of Christ, the Son of God who shall appear in glory may sojourn with them. (Origen. Commentary on Matthew. Translated by John Patrick. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9. Edited by Allan Menzies. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1896.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/101613.htm>)

Early writers seemingly understood that the Greek was not teaching that there would be no future Elijah (though they often had other errors), but that an Elijah would precede Jesus glorious second coming.

Two major Elijah prophecies are found in the book of Malachi. In chapter 4 it is written:

4 Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:4-6) 

Furthermore, Malachi 3:1-2 states:

1 Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts. 2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap.

It is important to note that in other places the Bible teaches that Jesus will come again (e.g. Acts 1:11), that the Bible shows that people did endure Jesus' first coming (He was killed by them, cf. John 19), and He was not not like a refiner's fire in His first coming (outside of Malachi, refining fire is not mentioned in the Bible again until a future time Revelation 3:18)--and that the time the Bible associates with the LORD and refining has to do with punishment and vengeance (Jeremiah 7:7-9)--these did not occur with Jesus' first coming.

While John the Baptist fulfilled the first half of the verses in Malachi 3:1 (and that is the only portion of Malachi 3:1 that Jesus quotes related to John the Baptist in Matthew 11:10 and Luke 7:27) and 4:5, there is absolutely no biblical indication that he fulfilled (or even could have fulfilled) verses 3:2 or 4:6.

Hence, in opposition to CGI's position, the Bible clearly demonstrates that there would be a future Elijah beyond John the Baptist. (Here is an article with more information on CGI.)

Heresy 2  Elijah is still alive and is in heaven.

Roman Catholics DO generally believe that Elijah, whom they tend to refer to as Elias, will come again somehow. But they tend to believe that Elijah is alive and in heaven.

This goes back to second and third century Roman Catholic supporting writers, and is supposedly based upon the following:

9 And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?"

Elisha said, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me."

10 So he said, "You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so." 11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!" So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him. 16 Then they said to him, "Look now, there are fifty strong men with your servants. Please let them go and search for your master, lest perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley."

And he said, "You shall not send anyone."

17 But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, "Send them!" Therefore they sent fifty men, and they searched for three days but did not find him. 18 And when they came back to him, for he had stayed in Jericho, he said to them, "Did I not say to you, 'Do not go'?" (2 Kings 2:9-18)

I have seen many whirlwinds and they do not even go into outer-space. The 'heaven' that Elijah went to was not the 'third heaven' that the Apostle Paul also referred to as 'paradise' where God's throne is (2 Corinthians 2:1-4; cf. Ephesians 4:10), but the 'first heaven,' the atmosphere or sky (the second heaven would be what we call outer-space)--which is was created and referred to in Genesis 1:1. Well after he went up into the sky in a whirlwind, Elijah wrote a letter to Jehoram the King of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:12-15) which demonstrates that Elijah ended up on the earth after he went up (for more details see Where are Enoch and Elijah?).

Yet, many have presumed that Elijah went to the third heaven (which Jesus said he did not per John 3:13) or 'paradise' (like where many feel Enoch allegedly is) and is alive awaiting time to return to the earth. Many believe Elijah will be one of the two witnesses along with Enoch. Some also feel that his appearance along with Moses in Matthew 17:1-9, but the Bible is clear that Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:7) and his body was not in heaven (Jude 9) nor has he been resurrected (see What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrections?). For more details about the vision of the transfiguration involving Elijah, see Where are Enoch and Elijah?

Despite that, back in the late second century, the Roman/Eastern Orthodox Catholic bishop and saint Irenaeus wrote:

For Enoch, when he pleased God, was translated in the same body in which he did please Him, thus pointing out by anticipation the translation of the just. Elijah, too, was caught up [when he was yet] in the substance of the [natural] form; thus exhibiting in prophecy the assumption of those who are spiritual, and that nothing stood in the way of their body being translated and caught up. For by means of the very same hands through which they were moulded at the beginning, did they receive this translation and assumption...If, however, any one imagine it impossible that men should survive for such a length of time, and that Elias was not caught up in the flesh, but that his flesh was consumed in the fiery chariot, let him consider that Jonah, when he had been cast into the deep, and swallowed down into the whale's belly, was by the command of God again thrown out safe upon the land (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses, Book V, Chapter 5, Verses 1-2).

The Roman Catholic saint and bishop Hippolytus wrote:

By one week, therefore, he meant the last week which is to be at the end of the whole world of which week the two prophets Enoch and Elias will take up the half. For they will preach 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth, proclaiming repentance to the people and to all the nations...

It is a matter of course that His forerunners must appear first, as He says by Malachi and the angel,"I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord, the great and notable day, comes; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth utterly." These, then, shall come and proclaim the manifestation of Christ that is to be from heaven; and they shall also perform signs and wonders, in order that men may be put to shame and turned to repentance for their surpassing wickedness and impiety.

For John says, "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." That is the half of the week whereof Daniel spoke (Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist, Chapters 43,46,47)

Let me state here that many Protestants also believe that Elijah as well as Enoch did not die and will personally be the two witnesses.

That was also basically the belief of a sixth century Catholic saint:

Saint Bernard (died 543): "During the three and one half years reign of Antichrist, God will send Henoch and Elias to help the Christians." (Connor Edward. Prophecy for Today. Imprimatur + A.J. Willinger, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno; Reprint: Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford (IL), 1984, p. 75).

Let me state that the New Testament is clear that the Old Testament leaders did not go to heaven:

10 And Jesus, answering, said,...13 And no one has ever gone up to heaven but he who came down from heaven, the Son of man. (John 3:10,13, Bible in Basic English, BBE)

14 But Peter, getting up, with the eleven, said in a loud voice,...29 My brothers, I may say to you openly that David came to his death, and was put in the earth, and his resting-place is with us today. 30 But being a prophet, and having in mind the oath which God had given to him, that of the fruit of his body one would take his place as a king, 31 He, having knowledge of the future, was talking of the coming again of Christ from the dead, that he was not kept in hell and his body did not see destruction. 32 This Jesus God has given back to life, of which we all are witnesses. 33 And so, being lifted up to the right hand of God, and having the Father's word that the Holy Spirit would come, he has sent this thing, which now you see and have knowledge of. 34 For David has not gone up into heaven, but says, himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Be seated at my right hand, 35 Till I put all those who are against you under your feet. (Acts 2:14, 29-35, BBE)

David was a 'man after God's own heart' (Acts 13:22) and he did not go to heaven--nor did Elijah.

Let me state that the New Testament is clear that the Old Testament leaders died, and it even specifically states that Enoch died:

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude -- innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:4-13)

Elijah is dead also.

It should be understood that Elijah and Enoch are dead and will NOT be resurrected to the the two witnesses. It is heretical to believe otherwise. More on this point can be found in the article Where are Enoch and Elijah?

While the pagan idea of the immortality of the soul is accepted by the Greco-Roman faiths, that was not the position of the early Christians--nor did they teach that God's people went to heaven after death (see also Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?).

Perhaps it should be pointed out the New Testament teaches that Moses is dead and has NOT yet received his reward either:

24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. ...

35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented -- 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:24-28, 35-40)

Moses died and has NOT yet received his reward. He is awaiting the resurrection like all Christians who have died (What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrections?).

So, just because some of Jesus' disciples saw a VISION (Matthew 17:9), Moses is NOT alive now in heaven and neither is Elijah. Notice also the following:

Moreover, some say that Enoch and Elias still dwell in that paradise...Elias was taken up into the atmospheric heaven, but not in to the empyrean heaven, which is the abode of the saints: and likewise Enoch was translated into the earthly paradise, where he is believed to live with Elias until the coming of Antichrist (Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica I:102; III: 49).

While Thomas Aquinas seems to have some hesitancy, and is correct that Elijah did not go to the third heaven where God is, it is this author's belief that most who profess Roman Catholicism and have looked into this area believe that Elias (Elijah) will come down from "Paradise."

Since the Bible does not state that anywhere, since God's final Elijah will not claim to have come down from "Paradise," he will not be accepted by Catholics nor most in the world.

It would seem that those who believe that Elijah is still alive and coming rom "Paradise"may dismiss the miracles that the two witnesses as false signs and lying wonders, yet it is them that will be deceived (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

Heresy 3  Elijah does not come until after the Ark of the Covenant is found.

Now going to the third century, here is something else from the Roman Bishop Hippolytus:

His first advent had John the Baptist as its forerunner; and His second, in which He is to come in glory, will exhibit Enoch, and Elias, and John the Divine (Hippolytus. On the End of the World, Chapter 21).

A 21st century Roman Catholic theologian, W. Kurz, seems to support the COG position that the two witnesses are like Moses and Elijah (see also Who Are The Two Witnesses?):

John then prophesies about two witnesses...They have much in common with the Old Testament prophets Moses and Elijah ( Kurz W. What Does the Bible Say About the End Times? A Catholic View. Servant Books, Cincinnati. Nihil Obstat: Kistner H., Schehr T.P. Imprimi Potest: Link F., Paul J.M. Imprimatur: Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxillary Bishop, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 19, 2004. Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2004, p. 157).

But when?

Many Roman Catholics believe that Elijah (along with, in their view, Enoch) will not appear until after the discovery of the ark of the covenant. This is supposedly related to 2 Machabees (sometimes spelled Maccabees). 2 Machabees is one of the so-called "deuterocanoconical" books, which is really part of what could be better called the Old Testament Apocrypha. It is not part of the actual Bible.

The specific passage in 2 Machabees is:

4 And it was in the same writing, how the prophet commanded by the Divine
answer made to him, that the tabernacle, & the ark should follow in
company with him, till he came forth into the mount in which Moyses
ascended, and saw the inheritance of God.
5 And Jeremie coming thither found a place of a caue: & he brought the
tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense in thither, and stopped the
door.
6 And there came certain withal, that followed, to Mark the place for
themselves: and they could not find it.
7 And as Jeremie understood it, blaming them he said: that the place shall be
unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and become
propitious:
8 and then our Lord will show these things, and the Majesty of our Lord shall
appear, & there shall be a cloud as it was also made manifest to Moyses, and
as when Salomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God, he
did manifest these things (2 Machabees 2:4-8. The Original And True Douay Old
Testament Of Anno Domini 1610 Volume 2 Prepared and Edited by Dr. William
von Peters, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005, Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2005
copyright assigned to VSC Corp.).

There is a rabbinic interpretation of the above passage that claims that this ark has to do with the coming of the Messiah. But it needs to be understood that this passage of Machabees does not mention Elijah (nor Enoch).

Yet, notice the following, which is claimed to be based upon an interpretation of that passage in 2 Machabees:

Bl. Dionysius of Luetzenburg

He prophesies that which is the traditional interpretation of...2 Machabees:

"After the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant, Enoch and Elias will restore the Holy Sacrament of the Altar; Because of the fact that the Ark of the Covenant will be in the possession of the two holy prophets and not in Antichrist's hands, the Jews will recognize that Jesus is the true Messias..."

(Luetzenberg, Leben Antichristus, Chapter 29, circa late 17th century: as cited in Birch D.A. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. 509)

Since neither the Bible nor the passage is 2 Machabees states that Enoch and Elijah will come "After the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant," those who believe that ark must first be found simply will not be able to discern the true final Elijah from God.

So, while the general Greco-Roman position that an Elijah will again return is correct, the idea that he must come after the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant is not something that should be relied upon and should be considered a heretical requirement (even though it could be possible that the Ark of the Covenant may be found).

Heresy 4  The acceptance of the belief that HWA was the prophesied Elijah is necessary to become a church member or even to attend church services.

Most of the heresies I plan to cover from here on out are related to beliefs held mainly by Church of God groups.

This particular one is one of the most outrageous.

I was told long ago by a prospective attendee of the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) that one must make a declaration that the late Herbert W. Armstrong was the final Elijah to come in order to attend with PCG (others have also reported this).  The prospective attendee also listed two other extra-biblical criteria for church attendance and membership (these are documented in an article at pcg.htm).  There is no verse in the entire Bible that suggests that the Elijah issue is so important that it is necessary to believe for church attendance. This is an outrageous and anti-biblical requirement.

Although I disagree with many of the former Church of God, 21st Century’s (CG21) Raymond McNair’s positions regarding Elijah (see Heresy 7), he and I do apparently agree on Heresy 4 as he wrote:

I do not believe one must accept Mr. Armstrong as having fulfilled that role, or else he will fail to make it into God’s Kingdom!  Some ministers and brethren mistakenly think it is vital to believe that Mr. Armstrong was the final “Elijah” in order to be saved. And some ministers require baptismal candidates to accept Jesus Christ as Savior before being baptized. But in addition, they also believe no one should be baptized who does not believe that Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the prophecies regarding the end-time “Elijah.” And they disfellowship any member of their church who later doubts or openly rejects Mr. Armstrong as the final “Elijah.”  Such a belief and/or practice is clearly unbiblical! (McNair R.  Was Mr. Armstrong Who He Said He Was?  The Connections advertising section of The Journal, June 30, 2004).

Heresy 5  Those who believe that HWA was not Elijah or those that think he did an Elijah-like work cannot be trusted to not change what HWA taught.

For the record, I should probably state that many in the genuine Church of God (those, in CG7 and CGI normally do not) teach that HWA was an apostle, and thus HWA was ‘one sent.’  And as one sent forth by God, HWA certainly had a variety of truths revealed to him by God (at least 18), though even being in the office of an apostle does not automatically make one Elijah. Holding that HWA was an apostle/one sent/raised up by God, should be enough for anyone to be careful about changing what HWA taught--however the Bible supercedes any writings from his that may be in conflict with it.

The facts that many seem to wish to overlook are that HWA set two criteria for the Philadelphia portion of the COG, which can be found in at least two places:

1)“The government of the kingdom of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be 'government by the consent of those being governed'…At least 18 basic and essential truths have been restored to the True Church since" the year 1933… God has given his Church dual responsibility: 1) 'Go ye into all the world' and proclaim the good news--announcement--of the coming kingdom of God. 2) 'Feed my sheep'. But in feeding the 'sheep', developing in them God's spiritual character, God has given them their part in supporting, backing up, the great commission: 'Go ye in into all the world'… Revelation 3:12 indicates that those of the 'Philadelphia era' will be pillars in the Headquarters Church (Armstrong HW. Mystery of the Ages, Dodd & Mead, 1985, pp. 49, 215, 265, 347).

2) This afternoon I want to speak on the mission of the Philadelphia Era of the Church…Today's mission of the Church you will find in Matthew 24:14. And this gospel of the kingdom…that is the same gospel that Jesus preached…shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come..." 

So, his two criteria were proclaiming the gospel in order to fulfill Matthew 24:14 (see also Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?) and teaching the 18 truths that he believed God used him to restore to the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God. This is something that we in the Continuing Church of God do now in the 21st century.

And after listing the 18 truths (as opposed to claiming he restored "all things," cf. Mark 9:12) that Herbert Armstrong said God used him to restore to the Philadelphia portion of the COG, he concluded with:

Well, brethren, all those things have been restored and there is a mission for this Church that never applied, and has never been done by any other Church (Armstrong HW.  Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era.  Sermon, December 17, 1983). 

The top priority (the mission) of the Church is to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, and Philadelphians teach all the 18 truths restored to this era--the truly most significant doctrines added to the Philadelphia era of the COG according to HWA.  These were HWA’s only stated criteria for the Philadelphia era and are consistent with Jesus’ comments to the Church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13).

One simply does not have to believe that there could be no other Elijah than HWA to hold fast. The group that bests "holds fast" and meets the criteria that Jesus and HWA set for the Philadelphian portion of the COG is the Continuing Church of God. Information can also be found in the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, the article The Final Phase of the Work and the video Leading the Final Phase of the Work. In addition to information on church history and prophecy, some restored items can be found in the article The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law.

Heresy 6 Only those who believe that HWA was THE one and only future Elijah and that there cannot be another can be trusted to not change HWA’s doctrines.

Although HWA did not teach this, PCG, CG21, the Restored Church of God (RCG), the old Stedfast Church of God (SCG), God’s Church Worldwide (GCW), and a variety of very small groups and independents seemed to have espoused some version of this position (Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God, CG-PFK, once taught that, then decided that Ronald Weinland was the Elijah).  

The fact is that ALL such groups have changed various doctrines that HWA taught, yet they seem to wish to hide behind the ‘HWA was Elijah’ mantle to justify their existence.  As this article has already mentioned PCG, it needs no further mention here.  And CG21 will be mentioned in heresy 7.

Heresy 6.A.  The Restored Church of God and David Pack

RCG claims to stand for "precision of doctrine" and has made many prophetic and other mistakes (for some examples, see RCG: Can you see the ‘handwriting on the wall’? Your emperor has no clothes! and RCG: The Real Truth).

RCG disagreed with HWA by making the proclamation of the gospel to the world as a witness its third priority, not first as HWA clearly taught.  Its focus is more of a Laodicean warning than a Philadelphian one. More on RCG can be found in the article Why Not the Restored Church of God.

David Pack did, in my opinion, a misleading job in writing his I WILL SEND ELIJAH TO RESTORE ALL THINGS (Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004 by David C. Pack) booklet.  He left out most of the HWA quotes shown later in this article as they do demonstrate the accuracy of other positions, while taking away from his.  His booklet could not accept that HWA allowed that there may be another Elijah, other than HWA alone (David Pack later changed his mind and claimed that David Pack is the Elijah).  HWA himself did not claim to have restored "all things" which the final Elijah will do (Mark 9:12).

While I do acknowledge that HWA at times felt that he personally definitely fulfilled an Elijah-like role, in none of David Pack's quotes does HWA say that he (HWA) was Elijah. On November 1, 2004, Mario Hernandez told me that in his 6 years of translating WCG literature from English to Spanish (essentially the last 6 years of HWA's life), never once did HWA state he was Elijah.  I have also seen no direct statement from HWA that there could be no other future Elijah or that he was Elijah.

Actually here are two 'proofs' David Pack quotes from HWA co-worker letters. The, first, dated March 19, 1981, states (bolding mine):

As John the Baptist prepared the way, in the PHYSICAL wilderness of the Jordan River for the first coming of the HUMAN Jesus (both man and God), then coming to His MATERIAL temple, and to His PHYSICAL people Judah, ANNOUNCING the Kingdom of God to be set up more than 1,900 years later, SO God would use a human messenger in the SPIRITUAL wilderness of 20th-century religious confusion, to be a voice CRYING OUT the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, about the SPIRITUAL CHRIST, coming in SUPREME POWER AND GLORY to His SPIRITUAL TEMPLE, to actually ESTABLISH that spiritual KINGDOM OF GOD. "Brethren, HAS THAT BEEN DONE BY THIS CHURCH?

The second, dated, August 24, 1982, states:

John had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, but they did not recognize who he was. "Now why, then was Elijah YET, in the future, to come-just before the 'day of the Lord?' Verse 11, Jesus said to 'restore all things.' John the Baptist DID NOT do that!...Have WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST".

It should be noted that both of these 'proofs' prove that HWA felt that the Philadelphia portion of the COG fulfilled the same type of role as John the Baptist, and not only just a single voice (although he taught that God uses one-man-at-at time, see his quote in the article The Final Phase of the Work), not just HWA--but since Elijah will be an individual, there must be someone. And although HWA said that God used him to restore true government and certain doctrines, Herbert Armstrong never stated that he personally restored all things--that is an important distinction.

In David Pack's booklet he also quoted this from a broadcast by HWA dated August 4, 1984:

Malachi 4 and beginning with verse 5, 'Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and the dreadful Day of the Lord.' It's talking about the Day of the Lord and before that time someone will come. Elijah the prophet lived a long time ago. He is gone and dead. But someone will come in the power and the spirit of Elijah."

Note that HWA has been dead for over 29 years and his broadcast statement allows that Elijah still will come--and this individual would thus be alive now, being prepared by God to restore all things.

David Pack's booklet also quotes from HWA's final Feast of Trumpets sermon of September 16, 1985:

There was an Elijah to come and to restore things in the Church. THAT HAS HAPPENED and what has been restored is the government of God-and many of the truths, at least 17 or 18 principal, vital doctrines of truth, have been added to about the three that had survived in the Sardis era of the Church.

Notice again that despite what David Pack asserts, HWA did not say that ALL THINGS were restored, that he personally was the Elijah. Consider also that HWA said the 18 truths are the vital doctrines of truth and an Elijah (a type not the final one) restored things--yet the identity of Elijah was not one of the 18 truth, for further proof of that, please read the article on HWA's List of 18 Restored Truths). It also should be understood that shortly after the above sermon was given, HWA admitted to Aaron Dean that there could be another Elijah still to come, an Elijah that WAS NOT HWA.

One specifically misleading section in David Pack's booklet that I would like to quote is:

And John was also not "a prophet." Since he was a forerunner of Mr. Armstrong, this fact is important. Christ said that he (this one who was a type of Elijah) was actually "MORE THAN a prophet." This is a fascinating statement! The Bible says the Two Witnesses "are prophets" (Rev. 11:3, 10). Mr. Armstrong was an apostle. This means he also was "more than a prophet" (I Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 4:11) and, at the same time, more like John the Baptist than either of the Two Witnesses...A related point needs examination. Mr. Armstrong has been accused of being a "false prophet" many times. Here is the point-and most never seemed to understand this: Mr. Armstrong was NEVER a prophet. He was always "more than" a prophet-he was an apostle! To those who apparently went out to "see a prophet," you missed the entire point of one of the greatest reasons why Mr. Armstrong was the final Elijah! It is also one of the reasons we can now see, in retrospect, his office was greater than that of the Two Witnesses (I, like the rest of the Church, once thought he would be one of them). He was an APOSTLE. They will be PROPHETS. To assert that the final Elijah will be one of the Witnesses is to, in fact, diminish-reduce-the office of Elijah (Pack D. I WILL SEND ELIJAH TO RESTORE ALL THINGS).

The Bible, in Malachi 4:5, states that "Elijah the prophet" is to be sent--I do not believe that God is diminishing the role of the future Elijah by calling him a prophet. David Pack is correct that the two witnesses are prophets and that HWA said he was not a prophet. See also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God.

Actually, this is what HWA wrote:

Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one to whom God speaks directly, revealing personally a future event to happen or new truth, or new or special instruction from God--separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be (Armstrong HW. Tomorrow's World, June 1972).

The Bible shows that Elijah (I Kings 18:36; II Chronicles 21:12), John the Baptist (Matthew 11:9; Luke 7:26) and the two witnesses are (Revelation 11:10) all specifically referred to as prophets. Jesus referred to John the Baptist as:

9 A prophet? Yes, I say to you and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it was written: Behold I send my Messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before you (Matthew 11:9-10).

So how David Pack could write that John the Baptist was not a prophet is simply biblically inaccurate. Clearly since John the Baptist and the two witnesses are prophets whose roles were prophesied in advance, all could be considered 'a prophet and more than a prophet.' Since Herbert Armstrong taught that he was not a prophet, this supports the idea that he was not the Elijah.

David Pack's book made the following misleading statement:

Mr. Armstrong repeatedly said that he knew who the Elijah was.

If HWA specifically said he knew who 'the Elijah' was, other than the context of including the Philadelphia portion of the COG or being one of the two witnesses, I have never seen it. Nor did I see any quote in David Pack's booklet to back up this assertion. The fact that before he died, HWA admitted Elijah could be someone else shows that he did not know for certain who the Elijah was and he did not.

Probably the actual and strongest proof that David Pack cites from HWA about he being Elijah is from HWA's Mystery of the Ages, pp. 290-291. This is the section he alluded to which I will quote in its entirety,

It is revealed in Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:5-6 that God would raise up one in the power and spirit of Elijah, shortly prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In Matthew 17:11 Jesus said, even after John the Baptist had completed his mission, that this prophesied Elijah "truly shall first come, and restore all things." Although it is plainly revealed that John the Baptist had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, he did not restore anything. The human leader to be raised up somewhat shortly prior to Christ's Second Coming was to prepare the way--prepare the Church--for Christ's coming, and restore the truth that had been lost through the preceding eras of the Church. Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfill Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." It was to be at a time when, for the first time in the history of mankind, the weapons of mass destruction were produced that could erase all humanity from the earth (Matt. 24:21-22). This also was to occur just before the Second Coming of Christ (verses 29-30).These prophecies have now definitely been fulfilled. The true gospel has been restored and has now gone in power into every nation on the face of the earth.

(David Pack, in one of his writings, left out the portions above I have bolded above)

I have eight comments on that section of the Mystery of the Ages:

1) HWA seems to be acknowledging here that he was a type of Elijah,

2) HWA states that he and/or someone part of the Philadelphia Church were to fulfill Matthew 24:14,

3) HWA believed that the prophecies related to weapons of mass destruction being available and the gospel being restored and proclaimed were fulfilled,

4) HWA never stated that ALL THINGS were restored,

5) HWA has been dead for decades,

6) Christ has not yet come,

7) The tribulation and weapons scenario of Matthew 24:21-22 has not happened yet, and

8) Since HWA never stopped proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness and appointed others to continue to do that in the event of his death, he was in NOT teaching that there was no future fulfillment of any of these prophecies as others have falsely concluded! (For more details on that, please review the article Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?)

All the quoted statements from HWA prove that one needs to read them carefully and not conclude that they specifically say something that they do not.

Furthermore, notice what else HWA wrote in the Mystery of the Ages:

All teaching came from Christ through the apostles -- and a few times Christ communicated to apostles via the prophets (of which there are none in God's Church today since the Bible for our time is complete) (p. 350).

Since the Bible is clear that God will send "Elijah the prophet" (Malachi 4:5), it should be clear that since HWA said that there were no prophets at the time he wrote that in the church (and at other times that he was not a prophet), that meant that he could not be the final Elijah. (Note: This writing from HWA does NOT mean that HWA felt that God would NOT raise up any prophets in the time of the end--I personally verified this when I asked his long-time aide Aaron Dean about this. Aaron Dean basically said that HWA was frustrated that many tried to tell him that they were prophets, so he wrote that to discourage that, but that HWA did believe God would raise up at least two prophets later.)

Now despite supposedly 'proving' that HWA was the Elijah over a decade ago (in a booklet he revised for several years coming to the same conclusion), in a three-part sermon in January 2015, David Pack took a different tactic by teaching that now he, David Pack, is Elijah (see also Why Not the Restored Church of God?). Thus he stopped believing his own 'proofs' that he used to insist the faithful had to believe.

Here are notes about statements in one of those January 2015 sermons by David Pack:

Elijah...You're going to come to be convinced, if you have the Spirit of God, that I am who I say I am. And Mr. Armstrong is who I say he was, and the Bible says who he was. If I am restoring this doctrine, it is incumbent on you to obey it (Pack D. First a MOSES, Now ELIJAH--130 Proofs!, Part 1)

Without [me] God said he would strike the earth with utter destruction...Now I understand more than ever that God had to look after me in a unique way. I guess He'd have to do that if I were just an apostle, but ...If I were just an apostle...In so many ways I have Elijah's own personality...I'm cut from a different cloth from the rest. (Pack D. First a MOSES, Now ELIJAH--130 Proofs!, Part 3)

In those sermons, David Pack claimed he personally was Elijah and Herbert Armstrong 'Moses.' David Pack is NOT the Elijah. He is also covetous (see RCG’s David Pack claims, ‘You’re not allowed to hold on to your own assets.’).

In that same 2015 sermon, David Pack said:

Did Mr. Armstrong actually restore all things? ... You saw me restore one thing after the other...

Herbert Armstrong was not the Elijah. He was something bigger...He did a 'Moses like' work.

This also goes against the historical teaching of the Radio and Worldwide Church of God that the two witnesses were a type of Moses and Elijah:

The Two Witnesses...

Who are, or will be, these witnesses? ...

1st, they "prophesy" or preach a final warning to the world during "1260 days." ...

2nd, at the END of their testimony...it is "the BEAST THAT ASCENDED OUT OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT" which kills them. ...

3rd, after their testimony is ended, and they have been killed and resurrected, it says in verse 14 "the second woe is past." ...

They do the works of Moses and Elijah. ...

John the Baptist was NOT Elijah as he plainly said, yet he came in the power and spirit of Elijah, and in that sense he wau Elijah. Compare John 1:22, Mat. 11:14, and the explanation in Luke 1:17. So it is likely the two witnesses will be two men who come in the power and spirit of Elijah and Moses or Enoch. (Armstrong HW. What is going to happen! Plain Truth, June-July 1934, p. 7)

"Verse 3: God will empower His two 'witnesses' to proclaim God's truth for this three-and-one-half years, from the same city of Jerusalem. These two have the same powers that God had given to Moses and Elijah. That is why this Fuhrer and his armies can not stop them. So they will be two men coming 'in the power and spirit' of Moses and Elijah - just as John the Baptist came in the 'power and spirit' of Elijah, though he was not Elijah.

"Now notice particularly verses 9 and 10: Evidently they shall not be merely speaking to a few people on a street corner - but broadcasting WORLDWIDE! (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth, June 1967, p. 4).

These two witnesses are two human beings who are given extraordinary power for 3 1/2 years just prior to Christ's return (verse 3). If any man attempts to hurt them before their ministry is up, "...fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies" (verse 5). Note how similar this is to the power given to Elijah (II Kings 1:9-15). They also have power over the rainfall, to produce drought and famine as did Elijah (Luke 4:25; I Kings 17:1-7), and to smite the earth with plagues (Rev. 11:6). Their mission will be to give one final warning (Armstrong HW, editor. The Plain Truth Personal Correspondence Department response on the two witnesses to Mr. and Mrs. Thiel. September 13, 1984).

Notice that at the basically beginning, middle, and end of his ministry, Herbert W. Armstrong taught that Moses and Elijah were a type of the the two witnesses, not that he was Moses, like David Pack is now claiming.

Heresy 6.B.  Stedfast Church of God

SCG had an article from Raymond McNair on the Elijah matter and seemed to share some of his views, and hence comments listed under heresy 5, may, to some degree, apply to the old SCG (SCG no longer exists) as well.

Yet SCG has written:

Our goals: 1) To reach the Church with a warning message about it's condition. But, more importantly, we want to show the Church why it is in the Laodicean condition and how to come out of it. Most groups do not believe they themselves are in a laodicean condition, but that all the other groups are. The Bible says the majority are in this condition and they don't even realize it.(Rev. 3:17) We want to see as many as possible repent before the tribulation, and return to the full truth which they were taught through Mr. Armstrong. We wish all would repent, but scriptures reveal this probably won't happen. They still need to be warned even if the majority will not repent at this time. Getting the Church back on track should be the priority at this time. Then God would accept the following two goals and give His blessing to them. 2) To give a warning message, as God provides the means, to the wayward nations of Israel as described in Ezekiel 33. This message would also contain the gospel. The modern nations of Israel are described in the booklet The U.S. and Britain in Prophecy by Herbert W. Armstrong. 3) To reach the rest of the world with the gospel message as God provides the ways and means to accomplish this task (SCG Home page 5/01).

Are these the proper ORDER of priorities of the Church (Matthew 28:19-20)?

No.

Are these the SAME ORDER of priorities Herbert W. Armstrong established?

No, they are similar to those established by PCG and RCG (see also Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?).  SCG, somewhat like PCG, suggested that the Gospel message should be changed to be warning message to the COGs. 

SCG also relied on the Tkach-era list of restored truths, instead of HWA’s actual list (for further information, please read the article Do you know what the first changes that the Tkach administration made?).  Thus, SCG clearly did not meet either of the two criteria that HWA set for the Philadelphia portion of the COG (further proof can be found in the article, Its Not Stedfast).

Heresy 6.C.  God’s Church Worldwide

As GCW (and some other groups) quote similar statements from HWA, as RCG does, they will not be addressed again (please see Heresy 4.a.). GCW’s strongest public position appears to be that since HWA got the Gospel out, no one else needs to.  This group actually admits to changing some HWA teachings while at the same time blaming others for doing the same thing!

Satan showed his cleverness soon after Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong died, when through the Tkach administration, he persuaded ministers to avoid prophetic subjects! Typically Satan mixes some truth with error. It was said that the Church had made some mistakes - that Mr. Herbert Armstrong had set times and dates which proved to be incorrect. In fact, Mr. Herbert Armstrong, with his natural enthusiasm to finish “the work,” was wary about predicting events with exactitude. He couched his remarks with phrases indicating the possibility rather than certainty of any such events happening at a particular time. Yet the Church was in error in respect to end-time chronology, specifically with regard to the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days of Daniel 12. By placing the thirty days of 1290 plus the forty-five days of 1335 prior to the beginning of the 1260 days, the Church left no room for the day of the Lord, which follows the 1260 days of the tribulation. By this reckoning, the millennium would begin at Christ's Second Coming. The argument for placing the thirty days, plus forty-five days ahead of the start of the tribulation was based upon the theory that the Church would require a total of seventy-five days to get to a place of safety, which it was thought then would be Petra in Jordan. Today we understand that the Church will be taken almost instantaneously to a place of safety (Lk. 17:34-37; Matt. 24:17-21, 36-41). With that misunderstanding corrected, we can now see that there are 1260 days of tribulation followed by thirty days for Christ to subdue the nations and a further forty-five days to prepare Jerusalem and the Messianic temple for the commencement of the millennium on the 1335th day, the Feast of Pentecost. The Church further compounded this error, in respect to end-time chronology, by pushing the three and one-half years for the tribulation back to two and one-half years, to make room for one year to include the day of the Lord, yet the Bible clearly gives a full three and one-half years for the tribulation and today we know the day of the Lord lasts thirty days. God's Church, Worldwide has understood this revised chronology since 1995. This also made us different. Apart from this Church group, I know of no other which has this understanding [Elliot R. GCWW. Hold Fast Letter June 2003].

Why might GCW change the order? Because when Herbert W. Armstrong gave the order he stated that the Church's WORK (to proclaim the gospel) would continue right up until going to the place of safety,

"Luke 21:20 speaks of the same thing as "Jerusalem compassed with armies." This is the correct meaning of this "abomination." It is the armies--not a statue--that make Jerusalem desolate. From this time (Dan. 12:11) to Christ's coming will be 1290 days. Now, verse 12, "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days." Never before have we understood these periods of 1260, 1290, and 1335 days. But it seems evident, now, a blessing is pronounced on us-GOD'S CHURCH--who wait and endure until the 1335 days--approximately 1335 days prior to Christ's coming. But since no one can know the day or the hour of His coming, we probably shall not be able to know the exact day that this 1335 days begins. But apparently that is the time when OUR WORK SHALL END. That will be a time when the UNITED EUROPE shall appear --the revival of the medieval "Holy Roman Empire." We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. Forty-five days later "the beast's" armies will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the Great Tribulation will probably start with a nuclear attack on London and Britain--and possibly the same day or immediately after, on United States and Canadian cities [Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.1, NO.15 NOVEMBER 20, 1979].

In case GCW and others want to argue that Mr. Armstrong meant something else for the WORK, perhaps this quote will be helpful,

Philadelphia has little strength to do this great work that God has given it to do. God has opened the door, and yet look how insignificant, how weak, how little strength we as a Church have to do that work...Revelation 3:7-13: "And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that OPENETH, and no man SHUTTETH; and SHUTTETH and no man openeth." The great door that God has opened to this work is the facility to go into all the world and preach the gospel; the door of radio, the door of the printing press, plus many other such doors. God has set before us an open door and no MAN can shut it. God can shut it, and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church goes to a place of safety. ...The Laodicean Church is not going to he worthy to escape to a place of safety. When it is too late, they will find that the Church of Philadelphia has gone to safety (What Is the "LAODICEAN CHURCH"? Good News, August 1959 Vol. VIII, Number 8).

Herbert Armstrong's written and authorized position always was that the work of proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness would continue until the time to prepare to go to a place of safety. As that has not happened yet (even the GCW literature quoted above verifies that), there is NO justification of the position that HWA felt that the Church was to STOP its efforts on public proclamation (further proof can be found in the articles Should the Church's Top Priority be Proclaiming the Gospel or Did HWA Change that Priority and God's Church Worldwide).

Heresy 6.D. Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God

This group is led by Ronald Weinland, a former UCG minister. One of his book covers states:

Ronald Weinland was ordained a minister in God's Church in 1981. Then, in 1997, he was called to be a prophet for this end-time. A prophet, in this context, is 'one given inspired interpretation of recorded prophesies' (Weinland R.  The Prophesied END-TIME. 2004).

He makes certain prophetic points that disagree with what HWA taught. Specifically, Ron Weinland claims in his book that the Philadelphia era ended in January 1986 (the month HWA died), the open door was closed then (The Prophesied END-TIME, p. 109), and that there cannot be two eras at once/simultaneously. In addition, he states that LCG and UCG claim to be Philadelphia, which his book claims neither can be.

Regarding two simultaneous Church eras, he forgets that HWA said that some in Sardis were still around during the Philadelphia era, which by extrapolation would indicate that some in Philadelphia could be around during the era of Laodicea (and appears to be confirmed by Revelation 3:10-11).  FWIW, UCG does not claim to be Philadelphia, nor does it officially teach the concept of Church eras as HWA did. Ron Weinland’s book (pp. 177-178) is simply inaccurate about how LCG and UCG officially portray themselves regarding Church eras (for details, please see the article on Differences Between LCG and UCG).

He, like others, makes many errors regarding being faithful to the teachings of HWA, and like others has changed the Gospel message.  In his book The Prophesied END-TIME he stated:

He was not only the end-time Elijah that was prophesied to come before Jesus Christ's coming, but he was also the only apostle that God would give to the world at the end time...

Who was this man?...Herbert W. Armstrong...the spirit of Elijah...One would come at the end time...

The end-time Elijah had a commission to restore truth, but only to the Church...That man was Herbert W. Armstrong—the very one who would fulfill the role of the prophetic end-time Elijah...It will become far more significant later, but Herbert W. Armstrong understood that he fulfilled the prophecies of the end-time Elijah to come, that he was the end-time apostle to the Philadelphian Era, and that his commission was summed up in Matthew 24:14.  (Weinland R.  The Prophesied END-TIME. 2004, pp. 73, 75, 85, 89, 106, 108)

This is interesting because 1) Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God does not teach the restored truth on governance as HWA did (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government), 2) Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God fails to mention that HWA taught that the Gospel of the Kingdom was to be preached until going to a place of safety, 3) Ronald Weinland declared himself as an apostle in November 2009 , 4) Ronald Weinland declared himself the final end time Elijah in December 2009 (thus that makes two, not one end-time, Elijahs based upon his declarations), 5) Herbert W. Armstrong wrote and seemingly declared that he was not the Elijah, 6) Herbert W. Armstrong wrote and declared that the work still needed to be done, and 7) Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God like several other groups has changed the work from being a primarily a warning message to the world to a feed the flock message. 

Why for that last point? 

Because according to Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God:

...the end has come…Indeed the end-time has come upon the world, and the six prophetic seals of revelation have been opened.  The end-time did come, once the gospel was preached into all the world as a witness (p.95). 

The correct work according to Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God should be:

addressing what was actually confronting Laodicea”, and not “rebuilding ‘the work’ of Philadelphia (p.177). 

But since he declared himself one of the two witnesses, would that not mean that he should witness to those outside the Church of God? This is simply another contradiction on this matter.

Like PCG’s original version of Malachi’s Message, Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God wrongly teaches:

Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. was the man of sin and son of perdition (p.178).

For the proper identity, please see the article Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?

CG-PFK’s leader has apparently taught against government like HWA said God used him to restore to the Church of God.  Two examples can be found in his letters to UCG:

I am resigning because I can no longer conscientiously support the current practices of this organization. The organization is slowly slipping back into that from which we were jolted loose (Weinland, R. Letter 5/26/97)

What I as a pastor am concerned about at this time, is not doctrine…We are blessed with having a constitution and bylaws that give incredible strength to sound, basic doctrines we hold dear… Too many people have been deeply hurt because of an intolerance to different ideas, programs, and plans of local congregations. There is the distinct feeling from many in the church that H.O. is pushing and pulling for more control over everything (Weinland R. Letter, 12/27/96). 

It should be noted that UCG had made many doctrinal changes from what HWA taught, including governance when Ron Weinland was writing positive things about UCG’s doctrines (further documented proof can be found in the old article, Differences Between UCG and GCG). Another article of interest may be CG-PFK.

Furthermore in his booklet titled Time Has Run Out, Ronald Weinland wrote:

This restoration of truth, which occurred during the leadership of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and the period of time we know as Philadelphia, should be an easy thing to acknowledge. Yes, God revealed foundational truth to His Church once again. This era kept His word and did not deny His name. Sardis was known for just the opposite- letting the word of God die out as they themselves were dying spiritually- denying the life of God to live in and through them.

Our history is a testimony to the truth that God used Mr. Armstrong to restore truth to His Church. Doors were opened by God that made this task possible- doors that no one could shut...

To deny that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was the Elijah to come before the end-time is either ignorant or willing denial of what is true concerning our history and what God did through him. It is God who restored necessary truth to the Church so that a people would be ready for the second-coming of Jesus Christ.

It is true that God Used Herbert Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God. Yet one of the foundation truths that HWA taught was that God is a family and that both the Father and the Son are God. Yet Ron Weinland denies the deity of Jesus. Notice that Ron Weinland teaches Unitarianism and that Jesus did not pre-exist:

Although Mr. Armstrong understood that the Trinity was a lie, God did not give him full understanding of what was true concerning Himself and His Son, Jesus Christ. God did not fully lead him out from the pollution of the false Trinity doctrine. Mr. Armstrong still believed that Jesus Christ had eternally existed...

But there is only one eternally-existing member of Elohim and that is the ETERNAL ONE (Yahweh). Mr. Armstrong was never able to come to understand this about God. (2008 - God's Final Witness, pp. 204, 206).

And while Ron Weinland is not mentioned, an article that comes to a different, and biblically supported opposite conclusion, is Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church?

Ronald Weinland insisted for a long time that Jesus would return on May 27, 2012--he is not the Elijah, as the Elijah, though not perfect, would not be that wrong. Ronald Weinland insisted on other later dates that were also proven to be false.

There are more inaccurate doctrines that Ron Weinland teaches in the Brief Article on Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God.

Heresy 6.E.  Independents Like Geoffrey Neilson

A lot of independents raise a variety of so-called proofs about why HWA had to be the Elijah and why no one else could supposedly possibly be.

On 9/23/06 Geoffrey R. Neilson of South Africa sent me an email titled A summary of why only Herbert W Armstrong can be The Endtime Elijah. The summary was quite long and most of it has nothing to do with supposedly proving why only HWA could be the Elijah (the first 1/3 was essentially why there would be an Elijah after John the Baptist--Geoffrey R. Neilson has that right). I decided to address G. Neilson's reasons as they are similar to many I have seen from independents over the years.

Anyway here is some of G. Neilson's writing on this matter (for brevity's sake, I left out those that do not really claim HWA is Elijah--but have tried to address G. Neilson's strongest allegedly supporting statements):

With God all things are possible.  (END OF QUOTES)

First of all G. Neilson is correct that with God all things are possible. However, that includes that fact that one of the two witnesses could be the final Elijah (see also Who Are The Two Witnesses?).

Let's simply show how G. Neilson and others err on the above--I will try to address the points in the order G. Neilson listed them.

  1. HWA never claimed to restore all things. He claimed to restore 18 truths to the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. While that is hugely significant, that is not the same as claiming to have restored all things. He simply did not claim for decades to have restored all things as G. Neilson now claims.
  2. G. Neilson correctly states that the Elijah was to be a prophet. Yet HWA stated, "Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one to whom God speaks directly, revealing personally a future event to happen or new truth, or new or special instruction from God--separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be (Armstrong HW. Tomorrow's World, June 1972).
  3. While no one currently alive can claim to have restored truths before HWA came on the scene, it does not mean that more truth cannot be restored by the one that God will choose--and this has been happening, though many seem to overlook it.
  4. It is not too late for one of the old-time evangelists to be the Elijah, but the fact is that none of them claim to be--so there was no point in G. Neilson raising that as part of his "proof." God can get anyone anointed that He wants to, and may have already done so.
  5. "The great endtime Falling Away from God's truth cannot occur, until after Elijah's greater Restoration of All Things, from which so much truth can fall"--this not a biblically supportable claim, but is simply circular reasoning on G. Neilson's part. The scripture about falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3) does not state that all things were restored before there was a major falling away (see also The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings). 
  6. With God all things are possible and just because G. Neilson and others may think all things have been restored does not mean that they are (one does not know what one does not know). Also, just because God may restore miracles and certain doctrinal truths, this does not mean that the truths restored by HWA have no lasting value. Truth is truth. If something was true when HWA was alive, it is still true. The fact that God will use someone else to restore more truth does not diminish what God did through HWA.
  7. Herbert W. Armstrong did die decades ago as G. Neilson stated, yet HWA himself wrote, "Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age" (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349).  The Church age has not yet ended. HWA died on January 16, 1986 and thus well before the "very end of the Church age;" therefore his own writings support that another fulfills the Elijah role. The Church age, according to HWA's writings end when the 6,000 years were up. Hence the "very end" of it was NOT over 30 years ago.
  8. Herbert Armstrong believed that Elijah was one of the two witnesses (see Who Are The Two Witnesses?).
  9. The two witnesses are actually on the scene before they are known as the two witnesses. The fact that God may use of them during some part of his life to fulfill the Elijah role or that God may raise up someone else is certainly an option for God. I do not presume to box God in and dogmatically state that God could not somehow raise up an Elijah.

Anyway, inaccurate assertions and circular reasoning, simply are not proof.

Heresy 6.F.  Independents in General and James Malm

These are people who justify their not truly supporting any other group by finding one or more points of doctrine that they feel they are more faithful on than the other groups.

They tend never place their top priority on proclaiming the Gospel, hence they do not “walk the walk.”  They overlook the fact that WCG’s written position (until J. Tkach Sr. changed it in 1991) was:

Since no one knows the day of Christ's coming (Matt. 24:36 ; Acts 1:17) , we may not know the exact time when the 1335 days begin. Apparently, however, at that time, the organized efforts of God's Work to proclaim the Gospel to the world will end. Forty-five days later, or 1290 days before the return of Christ, the beasts armies will surround Jerusalem. Those who are worthy will have been warned and taken to a place of refuge God has provided for them (Rev. 12:14-16) (Letter 061. Personal Correspondence Department. 2/89).

They also have overlooked what Jesus said to the Philadelphia Church and what HWA taught about it.  Specifically, Jesus said He set before the Philadelphia era an open door that NO MAN can shut (Revelation 3:8) and that that Philadelphia era would “hold fast”  to what it has (vs. 11).  HWA interpreted this to mean going through the open door of proclaiming the Gospel as a witness until going to a place of safety, while practicing the 18 truths restored to that era (which was cited earlier). 

I should add that another "independent" named James Malm hinted some time back that he was doing the Elijah-work--but he is not (for details, see Error-Ridden James Malm Not Doing an Elijah Work).

Heresy 7 One should support a former WCG evangelist who believes that HWA was Elijah and who also believes there will be no future Elijah.

Some supporters of the late Raymond McNair, to a degree, espoused this heresy when he was alive.  Raymond McNair himself had ran some advertisements in the Connections advertising section of The Journal that would seem to encourage this. There are no former WCG evangelists that I am aware of who teach that HWA was the final Elijah--three or four of whom I spoke to about this all denied that HWA was that Elijah,

Jesus Himself taught, “"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say? ” (Luke 6:46).  Even though Jesus was Lord, He stated that doing what he taught was what was important.  Even though HWA fulfilled an Elijah role, simply stating that without following what he and the Bible taught about Philadelphia is of no real value.

In the Journal ad dated July 31, 2004 Raymond McNair claimed:

I proved from Mr. Armstrong’s own written words that he definitely believed and taught that God had commissioned him to fulfill the end-time Elijah prophesies of Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11. Furthermore, I clearly demonstrated the falsity of the claim, made by some, that shortly before his demise, Mr. Armstrong repudiated his oft-stated claim that God had chosen him to fulfill the important prophecies concerning the coming of “Elijah” (McNair Raymond   .…And They Knew Him Not!”  Ad in the Connection’s section of The Journal, July 31, 2004).

Actually, Raymond McNair provided no proof that HWA said that he was the Elijah, that he restored all things, or that there could not be a future Elijah.

However, on occasion, Mr. Armstrong may have expressed some doubt in regard to his calling and ministry, concerning himself being the end-time “Elijah,” (McNair, Raymond.  Was Mr. Armstrong Who He Said He Was?  Ad in Connection's section of The Journal, June 30, 2004).

The above, from Raymond McNair, is suggesting that perhaps HWA may not have expressed some doubt.  This is clearly false.  Herbert W. Armstrong admitted to Aaron Dean, his long-time personal aid (and Aaron Dean told me this personally on several occasions for over a decade) that he might not have understood the biblical passages on the Elijah correctly before he died, and that God could raise someone else up to fulfill the Elijah role. Furthermore, HWA specifically expressed doubt to the late Evangelist Dibar Apartian (and who also told me). Dibar Apartian did not believe that HWA was the Elijah when we discussed this several times and he agreed with me about this.  Not only did Raymond McNair about Herbert Armstrong's statements and Dibar Apartians's position on this, he voluntarily joined with Dibar Apartian to be part of GCG, and then later begged R.C. Meredith to be allowed to be part of LCG.  If the Elijah issue was so important to him, why would he have twice voluntarily placed his entire support behind a group that did not share his position?

Raymond McNair's ad asked:

Did Mr. Armstrong ever say definitely that “he was NOT the end-time “ELIJAH”? (McNair, Raymond.  Was Mr. Armstrong Who He Said He Was?  Ad in Connection's section of The Journal, June 30, 2004).

Notice what HWA actually wrote about this:

I have been asked "Are you the Elijah?"  And I say "No." (Armstrong, Herbert W.  Congress of Leading Ministers Hears Defined and Reemphasized Spiritual Organization of Church.  Worldwide News, March 6, 1981, p. 10)

Perhaps Raymond McNair overlooked that as it is pretty plain.

Also, in HWA’s sermon, given on the last day of Unleavened Bread in April 1985, HWA stated the following:

You know there is a prophecy about John the Baptist, while the prophecy is talking about Elijah.  But if you read in {HWA apparently meant “about”} Elijah {“in Malachi”} 3 and verses 1-5, it is talking, not  about  someone preparing the way for Christ’s first coming, but when Christ comes to set on the throne of the earth and remove Satan.  You read verse 1 and you can apply that to John the Baptist.  But you read on through verses 2,3,4, and 5 and you find its talking about the second coming of Christ.  The things He will do then, but He did none of those things that are in verse 2,3,4, and 5 when He came the first time.  Now John the Baptist did fulfill verse 1.  Even Jesus said so.  Jesus said that he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah.  Was he Elijah?  No he wasn’t.  They asked John the Baptist, ‘Are you Elijah?’  He said, ‘No I am not’.  He wasn’t a liar.  He knew the truth.  He was not Elijah.  Am I Elijah?  No, definitely not!  Now I met Elijah.  Elijah has come to me and announced that he was Elijah, but I showed him the way out of the office.  I did not believe him.

In an ad in The Journal dated June 30, 2004, Raymond McNair quoted Herbert Armstrong:

I’m going to say something to you now, that I would not have said five or six years ago under any circumstances. I don’t go out trying to fulfill prophecy. But Jesus said, BY THEIR FRUITS YOU KNOW. And sometimes you look back on fruits and you can tell some things you couldn’t tell in advance before the fruits had been performed…. God was going to raise up SOMEONE who is going to prepare the way for the Second Coming and calling people, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. That’s exactly what Elijah did physically. He reminded them [Israel] that they had gotten away from the Kingdom and the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, and needed the RESTORING OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD (McNair, Raymond.  Was Mr. Armstrong Who He Said He Was?  Ad in the Connection's section of The Journal, June 30, 2004).

Raymond McNair, in his failed efforts running GCG and CGCF, never did have the proper governance or the fruits.  Nor were they demonstrated in his old CG21. 

Perhaps the reason why is in and related to his paper on church government, where Raymond McNair wrote:

Jesus Christ never intended His Church to be run autocratically, and He never set one person over His Church…Christ fully realized that power corrupts and that absolutely power corrupts absolutely (McNair Raymond.  Letter to Council of Elders.  Church Government in the New Testament, April 3, 1998).

This is a totally blasphemous position to take, and, when he was alive, I prayed that Raymond McNair would truly repent for writing it.  God the Father has absolute power.  He granted all authority to the Son (Matthew 28:18).  Neither Father or Son are corrupt.  Jesus was the firstborn of many brethren.  The resurrected saints will have all things in subjection to them (Hebrews 2:8).  They will not be corrupted then either (e.g. Revelation 21:4).

In that same paper, Raymond McNair continued with:

How was it possible for the Worldwide Church of God…led by Herbert Armstrong for fifty years)…to be dismantled…The answer to these questions lies primarily in the fact that the WCG was run autocratically—with ONE MAN having full authority to make all major decisions.  The WCG merely had an ADVISORY COUNCIL OF ELDERS, with no power to serve as ‘checks and balances’ on any mistakes or excesses which the leaders of the corporate organization (the WCG) might wish to indulge in…the kind of Church organization government that Jesus established was never intended to function autocratically (McNair Raymond.  Letter to Council of Elders.  Church Government in the New Testament, April 3, 1998). 

In a sermon given in Southern California in December 1998, Raymond McNair also stated that if HWA would have given the Council of Elders more power, he and the other Council members would have stopped HWA from doing many of the things they did not agree with.

Thus, this shows that Raymond McNair did not agree with the form of government that HWA specifically taught that God used him to restore to the Church.  (Beyond this, it demonstrates that Raymond McNair did not understand that a major part of the purpose of the dismantling of the WCG was to separate the unbelievers from the believers, and the Laodiceans and others from the Philadelphians.) 

Raymond McNair has not demonstrated the fruits that would be necessary to follow him. Simply calling HWA 'the Elijah' while not following his doctrinal practices, such as governance, is simply not Philadelphian. Anyway, Raymond McNair is now dead and I am aware of any real COG evangelists who teach that HWA was the Elijah.

Heresy 8 The Elijah message is supposed to be about sacred names.

In my decades in the Church of God, every now and then some try to claim that 'sacred names' found in the Hebrew scriptures must be used.

This is despite the fact that the ones they advocate were not recorded in the New Testament as it was written in Greek (see Was the New Testament Written in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic?).

Nor did early Christians teach 'sacred names' as a doctrine.

Yet, this issue has plagued various ones in the 21st century.

Furthermore, in December of 2017 someone sent me a paper titled "This is the EliYah Message." This is from a Sabbatarian group calling itself Yahweh’s Assembly in Yahshua. Basically, it falsely claims that the use of 'sacred names' is a restored truth the message that Elijah should be giving in the end times.

The fact is that John the Baptist, who was a type of Elijah, did not teach any version of this. Nor did Jesus. Furthermore, one can search early Church literature and you cannot find that early Christians did this.

That "EliYah Message" is a false doctrine. For more details, check out the article The Bible, Church History, and Sacred Names.

Heresy 9 An actual Elijah is not needed, an Elijah-like work is what the Bible prophesies.

Heresy 9 is more of a semi-heresy. There were times when Herbert Armstrong believed that perhaps it was the Philadelphia-portion of the Church of God that had the Elijah role. However, as he looked more at the Bible, he realized that the prophecies must be referring to an individual.

As far Heresy 9 goes, it seems to be currently held by Dr. Douglas Winnail of the Living Church of God (LCG) and some others in that group that I heard from when part of LCG. Dr. Winnail himself wrote:

Before Christ returns, God will raise up an Elijah-type work to "restore all things" (Malachi 4:4-6; Matthew 17:10-11). (Winnail D. The Mission of the Church. Living Church News, March-April 2006, p. 7)

THE BIBLE DOES NOT SAY THAT A 'WORK' WILL 'RESTORE ALL THINGS.' JESUS TAUGHT THAT ' ELIJAH' WOULD. Also, because of integrity related issues, it is not possible that LCG's work could possibly be the type of Elijah work some there hope it is (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).

Although I never agreed with Dr. Winnail on this, because Dr. Meredith indicated to me privately and also made public statements that differed from Dr. Winnail, at first I concluded that this was simply Dr. Winnail's private opinion. Perhaps I should add that Dr. Winnail tried to defend it to me on one or more occasions. The fact that LCG published it was a concern, and LCG has not issued a retraction as far as I have been able to tell. Prior to the LCG publication, its Dr. Meredith did teach that he personally was not Elijah but that Elijah would probably be a younger man than he (Meredith, Roderick C. The Elijah Question. VTE 131, May 19, 2001)--and that was correct. When I asked Dr. Winnail about an Elijah restoring all things, in an email many years ago, he would not address it.

In 2015, LCG basically indicated that Jesus would do the work of Elijah:

Jesus Christ is coming back to turn the hearts of parents to their children, instead of being focused solely on themselves (Malachi 4:6), and no one will be afraid (Ezekiel 34:23-28). (British Girls Suffer Emotional Trauma. TW News & Prophecy - Friday, September 04, 2015)

Both the Bible and the writings of HWA’s WCG provide specific support for the idea that there will be a future fulfillment of the Elijah prophesies, which actually point to one man (and that is NOT Jesus) being that Elijah and doing the work of Elijah as Malachi 4:5-6 shows. LCG is seemingly referring to 'he' in Malachi 4:6 as Jesus, whereas the context of Malachi 4:5-6 shows this is clearly a reference to Elijah, not Jesus, turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.

Before geting to those writings, here is the first historical quote I found in WCG’s literature about an Elijah:

The Work of Elijah 1.  Did Christ affirm that ‘Elijah’ must come before His own return?  Matt. 17:11…John the Baptist did a one-man work.  But today God works through the Body of Christ – the Church composed of many members (Eph. 4:12, 16)  After Christ’s ministry on this earth, it was no more a single individual that did God’s Work (through the power of His Spirit), but the BODY of Christ…Today the ‘body’ of Christ – the entire CHURCH OF GOD through its voice, its prayers, its tithes and offerings and its various other functions – is heralding Christ’s eminent return (Matt. 25:6)…And the hearts of both parents and children are being turned back to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This is what the ‘Philadelphia’ Era of God’s Church is doing today!...And it is this Church which will be taken to a temporary place of safety just as Elijah was taken to a place prepared by God (Armstrong HW, editor.  Lesson 53.  Ambassador College Correspondence Course. 1969). 

Hence, it was originally HWA’s position in WCG that the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God likely fulfilled the Elijah role.  Later, instead of the Philadelphia era, he felt that it would be just one person, with the assistance of others in the church. Of course, the verses in the Bible clearly are referring to one man; but also one who would have support from the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God.

Herbert Armstrong considered that 'Elijah' was one of the two witnesses as I wrote above under Heresy 6.a.

The two witnesses are actual people. Since Herbert Armstrong died, it is absolutely clear that he was not one of the two witnesses himself (see also Who Are The Two Witnesses?). Elijah did miracles and certain miracles are listed in the Bible to be done by the two witnesses in Revelation 11. These miracles are related to two individuals, NOT to a church era.

As mentioned before, Herbert Armstrong wrote this:

Those called into the Church were called not merely for salvation and eternal life, but to learn the way of God’s government and develop the divine character during this mortal life in the Church age...Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, pp. 201, 349).  

When did he write that the Church age was over? Notice:

At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of Lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium. (Armstrong HW. What If Adam Had Taken of the Tree of Life? Plan Truth, March 1983)

The "very end" of the Church age was not decades ago in the 2oth century! The 6000 years has NOT yet been fulfilled (see also Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?). Since the "very end of the Church age" has not happened, and HWA died in January 16, 1986, his writings support that there must be another Elijah. And it should be pointed out that HWA was referring to an individual in the Mystery of the Ages.

Remember (as quoted earlier) that HWA had it taught that the Philadelphians would continue to get the Gospel out right up until it was time to flee to a place of safety—and we have not fled yet!  It is interest to note that even Ronald Weinland, years ago, wrote around a decade ago:

Today, the name Herbert W. Armstrong is not well known on the earth.  

That was correct then and more so now. Additionally, it seems an unusual burden to require (like some oddly do) that people new to the COGs need to profess that HWA was Elijah (as at least one group does)—especially, for one further example, since there is no evidence that after Jesus’ death, the New Testament Church taught that one needed to believe that John the Baptist (or anyone else for that matter) was Elijah.

HWA wrote:

Jesus shall come, SOON NOW, to RESTORE ALL THINGS! He did NOT restore all things when he first came. John the Baptist did not "restore all things." But the one who was to "restore all things" just before the "day of the Lord" and preparing the way for Christ's second coming, was YET to come, in the future, as Jesus said. Now what are the "all things" to be RESTORED? "Restitution" means restore to a former state or condition (Armstrong HW.  Brethren & Co-Worker Letter, August 24, 1982). 

Note that HWA states ONE (Elijah) comes just before the day of the Lord—an event that still has not occurred, hence some additional restoration beyond what HWA did is needed (and this has been happening in the Continuing Church of God).

In that same a co-worker letter dated August 24, 1982, HWA wrote:

Now why, then, was Elijah YET, in the future, to come - just before the "day of the Lord?" Verse 11, Jesus said to "restore all things"…Have WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST--through us JESUS CHRIST has already begun RESTORING the KNOWLEDGE of what had been taken away--the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Through us the living Christ has been preparing for his SECOND COMING for the PURPOSE of RESTORING ALL THINGS!...It is the living JESUS CHRIST who had been ACTUALLY DOING the Work. He has used YOU and me as his INSTRUMENTS! WHAT A PRIVILEGE AND JOY!

Note how many times HWA used the expressions 'we', 'us', and 'you'--in the context that helped fulfill the Elijah role. As stated earlier, it was HWA's original position that the Philadelphia Era of the COG was the fulfillment of the Elijah role. It was clearly still his position in 1982 that he himself was not the only possible one to fulfill an Elijah role. And while HWA says that the Philadelphia portion of the COG restored many things (and apparently will restore ALL THINGS under the direction of its final leader), he never stated that there was nothing else that needed to be restored. Amongst other items, there were items on church history and end time prophecy that HWA did not restore that are now being restored.

Furthermore, it should be noted that a careful reading of another one of HWA's articles supports the idea that the Philadelphia era will need to have something else be restored. HWA wrote:

This very WORK OF GOD for our day is foretold in the prophecy of Revelation 3:7-13. But there it is revealed that we, today, are a people of but little strength - little power (verse 8)! - within ourselves though we have faithfully KEPT GOD’S WORD! The impact of this WORK OF GOD today is going out only through the power of God! Are you having your part in this very WORK OF GOD? But - let’s face it! - WE DO NOT HAVE WITHIN OURSELVES, AS GOD’S INSTRUMENTS FOR HIS WORK TODAY, ANYWHERE NEAR THE POWER OF GOD THAT ACTIVATED THAT ORIGINAL FIRST-CENTURY CHURCH! For that very reason, the living Christ says (verse 8), He has opened to us the gigantic door of MASS COMMUNICATION! The magnified power of the microphone and the printing press. Yet that is only physical, mechanical power! The REAL POWER that makes God’s Work vital and alive is the Holy Spirit of God! (Armstrong HW. Christians Have Lost Their POWER! Plain Truth, Jun 1958).

The Greek word translated as strength, dunamis, which HWA refers to as power, is the same Greek word that is normally translated as 'miracle' or 'miracles'. Thus, Revelation 3:8 shows that the Philadelphia Church will have some type of miracles, and although I agree with HWA's position that the initial power/miracle had to do with electronic media, I also agree with him that the old WCG did not have, "ANYWHERE NEAR THE POWER OF GOD THAT ACTIVATED THAT ORIGINAL FIRST-CENTURY CHURCH." Thus, HWA acknowledged, howbeit indirectly, that the power of God had not been fully restored to his WCG. And it should be noted that dreams and gifts of prophecy were given to the first-century church (Acts 2:17-18) and thus, according to his own writing, there should be these type of occurrences at the end. One group in the 21st century has that (see Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God and How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).

In addition, HWA’s WCG taught:

These two witnesses are two human beings who are given extraordinary power for 3 1/2 years just prior to Christ's return (verse 3).  If any man attempts to hurt them before their ministry is up, "...fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies" (verse 5).  Note how similar this is to the power given to Elijah (II Kings 1:9-15).  They also have power over the rainfall, to produce drought and famine as did Elijah (Luke 4:25; I Kings 17:1-7), and to smite the earth with plagues (Rev. 11:6). Their mission will be to give one final warning (Armstrong HW, editor. The Plain Truth Personal Correspondence Department response on the two witnesses to Mr. and Mrs. Thiel. September 13, 1984).

So, since HWA was not one of the two witnesses, he obviously allowed that someone other than himself would be the final Elijah. And he meant an actual human being, not an era of the COG.

Here is some of what the Bible says about the two witnesses:

3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. (Revelation 11:3-6)

It should be noted that both the two witnesses and John the Baptist are killed for their work, while HWA was not (I should point out that chapter 2 of D. Pack's booklet on Elijah suggests that mentioning this is a 'twist')--while this alone is not proof, it certainly demonstrates a possible parallel.

Recall that Elijah and Moses did more miracles than perhaps any other men in the Old Testament.  Recall that fire devoured at least 100 enemies of Elijah (II Kings 1:9-12) and Elijah proclaimed he had power to stop the rain (I Kings 17:1), and since he hid on more than one occasion, it can be said that he had only 'a little strength' (like the Philadelphia Church who also hides and has limited strength, Revelation 3:8-10).  (God used Moses to turn water into blood in Exodus 7:20, and in addition to Christ, it may be possible that one of the two witnesses will fulfill, Deuteronomy 18:15, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren”; it is also of interest to note that Moses is mentioned in Malachi 4:4, just prior to the Elijah prophecy in verse 5--D. Pack's booklet also objects to raising this point).

Elijah is to Be a Prophet

HWA did restore certain truths to the Philadelphia era of the COG that (as he himself stated) the Ephesus era originally had, than any other—in that way he truly was one who partially fulfilled Matthew 17:11 about restoring all things.  Yet, HWA never claimed to do the types of miracles that are recorded in the Book of Acts.  The Book of Acts itself quotes parts of Joel 2 about God’s Spirit being poured out and that a fulfillment occurred in Acts 2:1-21, but that fulfillment was not the final fulfillment. 

Why? 

Because Joel 2:28-32 states:

"And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls”.

Malachi 4 specifically talks about Elijah the prophet coming BEFORE the great day and dreadful (the Hebrew word translated as awesome in Joel is the same word translated as dreadful in Malachi) of the LORD. Let's look at it again:

4 "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.  6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4:4-6)

What do these verses in Joel and Malachi show?

They show that there is an outpouring of God’s spirit that leads to some type of miracles before the day of the LORD (see also I Peter 1:5, KJV).  And that this exists in the same time frame as when Elijah the prophet is sent.  Furthermore, looking at the last word of Malachi 4:6 gives an additional clue.  The Elijah turns the hearts of fathers to the children and vice versa or God will strike the earth with “cherem” (the Hebrew term translated as curse, Strong’s #2764).

cherem (khay'-rem); or (Zech 14:11) cherem (kheh'-rem); from OT:2763; physical (as shutting in) a net (either literally or figuratively); usually a doomed object; abstr. extermination (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

In the Bible, when cherem is used in the negative context it seems to signify utter destruction (e.g. Joshua 6:17, I Kings 20:42, Zechariah 14:11)—it should also be noted that HWA wrote that the term ‘curse’ in Malachi 4:6 was “utter destruction” (Armstrong HW.  Brethren & Co-Worker Letter, August 24, 1982).  Thus, it appears that Malachi 4:6 is stating that Elijah will turn enough hearts to prevent the utter destruction of the earth at the day of the LORD. The Day of the Lord has NOT yet happened (see also When Will the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord Begin?).

Isaiah 13:9-13 shows:

9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. 11 "I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the Lord of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger.

Now HWA never claimed that he personally spared the earth from utter destruction.  I should also add that I was told that when the late WCG evangelist Gerald Waterhouse once erroneously indicated that in a sermon, that HWA rebuked him and told him to never say that again. 

Back in 1969, HWA taught that:

The goal of the ‘Philadelphia” Church is the ultimate salvation of all mankind!…What would happen to the earth if it weren’t for God’s Church and the work it is doing today?  Mal. 4:6…Except for the presence and prayers of God’s people, this ‘present evil world’ (Gal. 1:4) would experience ‘utter destruction’ (Armstrong HW, editor.  Lesson 53.  Ambassador College Correspondence Course. 1969). 

Hence this is a fulfillment of Malachi 4:6 that HWA admitted that he personally did not fulfill (through silencing Gerald Waterhouse), but was being fulfilled by the Philadelphia Church.

The Bible clearly shows that the end could not come until the Gospel was preached:

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14). 

Hence if HWA had not come to proclaim the Gospel, this could not have hastened the day of the Lord nor caused God to totally destroy the earth. Why?  Because Matthew 24:14 had to have been completely fulfilled prior to the end (the day of the Lord). And while HWA did his part to fulfill Matthew 24:14, that fulfillment (at most) meant that the end could come, not that God was to immediately destroy the earth—thus more fulfillment is indicated.

Recall that HWA wrote:

Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age" (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349). 

And that HWA had taught that the work of the Philadelphia Church actually does not end until the Church goes to a place of safety” (What Is the "LAODICEAN CHURCH"? Good News, August 1959 Vol. VIII, Number 8).  And that the Church age did not end with his death, as HWA wrote:

"It may be that the Work that God has given me to do is complete, but not the Work of God's Church, which will be faithfully doing God's Work till Christ, the True Head of this Church, returns...Remember brethren, this is not the work of Herbert W. Armstrong...The greatest work lies ahead...Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest. It has only been made possible through modern technology, beginning with the printing press, radio, television...Each of you must commit yourself to support God's Work...God's work must push ahead as never before. God is opening up new doors in television (Letter, 1/10/86). 

Hence, HWA did not teach that his death signified the death of the Church age or the work of the Philadelphia portion of the COG. 

And it is clear from Revelation 11:3-10 that the two witnesses will give a witness to the world which involves miracles.

Now, Revelation 7:9,13-14 states:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands…Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"  And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”.

These are people who are apparently converted during the great tribulation. This also was HWA’s position from The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last,

Now how about this innumerable multitude? They have come through THE Great Tribulation. God will not send His frightful PLAGUES to punish the world, until He has first sent a great supernatural warning. God has warned the world through all His prophets--through His Son, Jesus Christ--He is warning the world right now through this very work. But God is a God of mercy and compassion. He will yet warn this world once again--by supernatural signs, in the sun, the moon, and the stars. God will leave men no excuse. And after the Great Tribulation, when men are seized with stark terror at these supernatural heavenly signs, multiplied thousands will at last recognize that it is really God warning them!...at last, hundreds of thousands of them -- perhaps even some of you--will at last recognize the TRUTH, and at last turn to God in complete submission, fully repenting, and coming through Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world! We of this ministry well know that our real reward in the harvest of precious lives will mostly come after our labors are finished!

Since this occurs after the firstfruits of Israel are sealed (Revelation 7:4,14:4), this may also be related to the first part of the harvest of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25).  Since HWA taught that the work of proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness by the Philadelphia portion of the COG ends when the Philadelphians enter a place of safety, then these are those who may have earlier heard the word, but that responded to the two witnesses (as well as the signs and world events). Hence it is possible, that since it is the two witnesses who come and make the final warning and who restore Elijah-type miracles, that one of them may also be fulfilling some type of Elijah role—especially since this is around the time that utter destruction could occur (Matthew 24:22).

On December 1, 2004, I spoke with Aaron Dean on the subject of HWA and a future Elijah (Aaron Dean had more personal contact with HWA than anyone else in HWA's later years).  Aaron Dean told me that through most of his ministry, HWA generally believed that he would be around until Christ returned.  However, in the final months before he died, HWA changed his perspective on that and other issues.  He (HWA) was no longer certain that he fit certain roles like he had felt earlier.  And HWA, according to Aaron Dean, specifically left room that the Bible allowed that some person other than him could be the final end-time Elijah.  Aaron Dean and I also discussed this on later occasions with the same basic conclusions.

Therefore, HWA did not believe what I referred to above as heresy 6 and changed on heresy 8. He believed that the Bible prophesied two witnesses that would perform miracles similar to Elijah, that the Philadelphia portion of the COG fulfilled at least part of the Elijah role, that a man would be the final Elijah, and that according to the Bible there could be a person other than him to fulfill the final Elijah role.

And the Bible certainly does discuss Elijah-like miracles at the end which have NOT yet occurred.

HWA, Me, and What was Left to Be Restored?

I publicly admit that HWA often suggested that he was fulfilling the role of an Elijah (even in the 1985 sermon where HWA stated, “Am I Elijah?  No, definitely not!,it appears to me that he still felt that he fulfilled an Elijah-like role).  Having communicated with many that HWA knew well for years, it is clear that HWA was not totally sure about this subject (otherwise he would have not admitted to Dibar Apartian or Aaron Dean that he was not sure about it). Furthermore, I once listened to an old audioclip of Garner Ted Armstrong supporting my beliefs here. In it he relates that after a sermon in Belnap Springs where one stated that Herbert W. Armstrong was the "prophesied Elijah to come...My father went to him and rebuked him sternly and said that he made no such claim." I believe GTA that he was faithfully recounting what occurred.

It may be important to understand that the reason HWA never publicly stated that he was THE Elijah or that he restored ALL THINGS was that perhaps God intentionally prevented him from doing so. And this is probably why God had HWA admit that there may be another to come as the final Elijah after him.

Teaching that HWA did an Elijah-like work and allowing that God will have one of the two witnesses as another Elijah in mind is not inaccurate nor wrong. This is also logical since HWA died over 29 years ago and the absolute end has not yet come. More is now being restored in the 21st century (for more about who please see the article CCOG and What is Truth?; look also at Who Are The Two Witnesses?)

I should add that one can believe that HWA was an Elijah and be a part genuinely part of the Church of God, but I also believe that insistence that he was the final Elijah is biblically unsupportable.

It is my belief that HWA restored many things, but his own writings and the facts of history show that he was not the final Elijah. There was a lot that HWA did not restore and I believe more has been restored in the Continuing Church of God (CCOG).

John the Baptist taught:

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. (Luke 3:14, KJV)

Thus, John the Baptist was a type of Elijah taught against encouraging violence and making false accusations. While Herbert Armstrong made some statements against certain violent sports, many did not realize that this meant that Christians should not view them. In CCOG, we have made it clear that Christians should not watch violent sports for entertainment (see Is American Football Evil?). This is something more fully restored in CCOG than it was in the old WCG.

In April 2014, the CCOG Regional Pastor for East Africa, Evans Ochieng commented that proper unity of the COG in Kenya has been restored because of what God led Bob Thiel to do in the Continuing Church of God. He also said that Bob Thiel restored more doctrinal, historical, and prophetic detail in CCOG than any other group, and since this is the time of the end, all should realize that all things needed to be restored (cf. Matthew 17:11). He said that an Elijah must come before the time of the end and that since HWA died long ago, another had to rise before the end. He said it should be clear to those interested in the truth that CCOG was the group doing this and the group that had the consummate truth (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15), and thus had the Philadelphia mantle (cf. 2 Kings 2:9-14; Revelation 3:7-13). 

Even the Living Church of God has taught about restoration--yet it has NOT restored what it says should be done. Here is something published and written by its Dr. Meredith:

RESTORE TRUE CHRISTIANITY!

What would it mean to restore the original Christianity of Christ and the apostles? What differences would we find if the "original Christianity" of the New Testament was genuinely taught and practiced once again?

Wow! This restoration would involve far more than most of you probably realize! (Meredith RC. Do You Live by What Christ Taught? Tomorrow's World magazine, May-June 2006)

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TRUTH?

This magazine can give you the genuine answers to these questions because we in this Work of the living God are earnestly trying to restore Apostolic Christianity—the original Christianity of those who lived in the time of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. We feel that although most modern churchgoers are sincere and well-meaning, they are absolutely deceived regarding the major issues of life, death and the hereafter. They are certainly deceived if they think for one minute that they are practicing true "biblical Christianity!" Meredith RC. What Happened to the Truth? Tomorrows World magazine, November-December 2003)

RESTORING ORIGINAL CHRISTIANITY...

Through this very Work, we are beginning to restore original Christianity. This is a major reason for this Work of the living God at the end of this age. All who respond to His teachings will certainly have a "head start" in preparing to be those kings and priests Christ is now training to assist Him in ruling all the world in the coming Kingdom of God. (Meredith RC. Restoring ORIGINAL Christianity! Tomorrow's World magazine, July-August 2011)

The truth about early and apostolic Christians it is PROVABLY NOT IN LCG AND IS FAR MORE than Dr. Meredith realized despite him being repeatedly told (for details, check out October 2012 Emails Related to GCA Booklet). LCG evangelists Dr. Winnail and Dr. Meredith both told me that knowingly publishing and distributing wrong information was acceptable as long as most who received the information would not realize it was wrong.

Yet, the Bible teaches:

10 Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully, (Jeremiah 48:10)

When I was in LCG in 2011, I was trying to help them restore much of the truth about church history; Dr. Meredith agreed on several occasions, but then failed to keep his word. Dr. Meredith's failure to keep his word on that and other matters was a major reason that the Continuing Church of God had to form.

Where has the historical knowledge of early Church of God been most fully restored?

In the Continuing Church of God! A booklet which has proof of that would be: Continuing History of the Church of God.

Does this mean that nothing else is left to be restored?

No. But it does mean that based upon the criteria published by the LCG that CCOG is the group that has done this restoration the best. CCOG has also restored aspects of biblical prophecy better than LCG and many other groups (for a few example, see Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? and Is the Future King of the South Rising Up? and The 'Peace Deal' of Daniel 9:27 and The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings).

We in the Continuing Church of God are regularly restoring more truth about church history, doctrine, and prophecy. And we have done this more, by far, than any other group in the 21st century (COG or otherwise for that matter).

Was that supposed to happen?

Yes.

Notice something that Daniel wrote:

4 "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12:4)

Consider also the admonition of the Apostle Peter:

18 ... grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Also consider that any who have already died are not relevant regarding all things to be restored just before the Day of the Lord--only one alive then (who would also be alive now) can possibly fulfill the Elijah role to increase knowledge and restore all things. It is not that others cannot add to knowledge, but what was to be restored in the end has to come from someone who is a real follower of God who is alive at the end. Growth of Christian knowledge did not end by January 16, 1986.

What About Laodicea?

Please understand that the calendar groups, sacred name groups, etc. all make the same intellectual argument that those who insist that God could not possibly raise up another Elijah do—they all argue that they have some important doctrinal belief that is more important than doing the Philadelphia work.   The fact is that small groups that may have twigs of the truth (just like HWA said the Protestants do) simply do not have the Philadelphia spirit to place their emphasis on proclaiming the Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness.

Laodicea is made up of two Greek words that essentially mean 'the people decide'.  Sadly apparently each Laodicean has decided what is more important than proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness. Remember, Jesus taught “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven...Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand" (Matthew 7:21,26).

Jesus and HWA taught that the Philadelphia Church's top priority was to proclaim the Gospel by going through doors He would open.  But Laodicea does not--this makes it easy for those with eyes to see which COG is part of which group.  Recall what Jesus said about each of their works,

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,…8 I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name…14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,…Revelation 3:15-20 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:7,8,14,15-20)

The Laodiceans obviously do not have the same type of works or focus on the truth as the Philadelphia era or Christ would not condemn them for their works.  Those who believe that the Philadelphia era was raised up under HWA’s leadership would be wise to meditate on who is doing the same works as HWA’s WCG did.  Jesus told the Philadelphians to ‘hold fast’ (3:11).  Is it not more logical that the remnant of the Philadelphia era would try to proclaim the gospel as their main work as HWA’s portion did?

Furthermore, the recall that the two criteria that Jesus mentioned about the Philadelphia Church were the fact that their works were related to the open door (which according to the Bible in several scriptural passages like Acts 14:27, and HWA, was the open door to proclaim the Gospel) and to hold fast to what they had. It should also be mentioned that the Laodicean churches do not understand key aspects of biblical prophecy and unless they change, they will not possibly know when the Great Tribulation will begin until it it too late. There are dozens of prophetic misunderstandings that the Laodicean COGs hold to (some details are in the news post Is there a need for a prophet now? and the article on the Laodicean Church Era).

The 'COG' Elijah Heresies Distort HWA’s Legacy

The Elijah heresies actually distort and do not properly respect the legacy of HWA.  HWA's legacy was not about the person nor identity of HWA! It was that God used him to raise up the Philadelphia era, restore truths to it, and try to fulfill Matthew 24:14.

Do not those that promote the Elijah heresies remember that HWA himself repeatedly told people to stick to the trunk of the tree and not focus on twigs or branches?  HWA never made the declaration about him being or possibly being the Elijah a criteria for baptism or church attendance--so why some now insist on this is strange.

HWA stood for the Philadelphia era getting the Gospel out--fulfilling Matthew 24:14.  His life was devoted to that aspect of the Church more than any other.

Those that espouse the Elijah heresies should reflect on this quote from James 1:22-24:

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

Paul’s version of this, in Romans 2:13-16, is even stronger:

13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

What James is saying is that even those who may think they understand all details correctly are deceiving themselves if they do not do what is taught.

While what Paul is saying is that even those who may not understand all details correctly are justified in God’s sight if they do what the Bible teaches.  Laodiceans think they are doing enough and know enough (Revelation 3:17), but unlike the Philadelphians who do go through the open door to proclaim the true Gospel (vs. 8), the Laodiceans are not justified in Christ’s sight (vss. 15-16).

Conclusion

I know it is possible there are some mistakes in this article, and as always, I am happy to correct any factual errors. However in spite of any article imperfections, it is clear that the Bible does indicate that there will be one at the end to do the type of miracles that the original Elijah did.

Those who believe that Elijah is alive up in heaven and will return that way will simply not believe the final Elijah nor accept the witness of God's two witnesses of Revelation 11. Many who believe that Elijah heresy will accept a lot more deception (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

The final Elijah is to restore "all things" (Mark 9:12). HWA did not do that, nor did he claim to. And more truth has been restored since his death.

Some in the claim COG groups that I quoted will dismiss the biblical and other truths in this article, and probably will say that I misinterpreted what HWA meant. The plain truth, however, is that I acknowledge that while HWA seemed to feel he was an Elijah, I have yet to see any published statement from him where he directly stated that he was the only possible Elijah, that he restored ALL things, and that there could be no Elijah figure after his death (and even if he did, he sometimes changed his mind on various matters--but the most important criteria is the Bible--and the Day of the Lord did not start by last century). Also the fact that HWA confirmed, within months of his death with Aaron Dean that there could be a future Elijah, supports my basic position even if HWA made any earlier statement that may appear to disagree with that, he allowed for a different view. Since Herbert Armstrong taught that the one of the two witnesses come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and he was not one of the final two witnesses, he clearly allowed for another "Elijah."

Even Herbert W. Armstrong admitted that there could be a future person who was Elijah (other than himself). This should be enough to get people to realize that believing another will come after him is not tarnishing his reputation.

The Bible itself clearly states that God is going to send "Elijah the prophet" (Malachi 4:5)--and he would be expected to be alive now (for some prophecies about possibly who, please see the article Who Are The Two Witnesses?; see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God). Herbert W. Armstrong was not a prophet.

Simply calling Herbert W. Armstrong 'the Elijah' while not following his practices (teaching all 18 restored truths including governance, relying on the word of God over tradition, and proclaiming the Gospel) is simply not Philadelphian.

Finally, because not all of the Church of God will be protected in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14-17; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra), it seems obvious that not everyone in the Church of God will recognize the authority of final 'Elijah,' until sometime after the start of the Great Tribulation.

But people, who wish protection, need to "gather together" now as the Bible teaches in Zephaniah 2:1-3 (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).

Two related sermons are  available Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies and Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, and CCOG. Those wanting more information on the biblical Elijah, may also wish to read the article Elijah: Past and Prophesied.

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