Herbert Armstrong

From the June 2005 Trumpet Print Edition »

A look back at the prescient warnings of a lesser-known spiritual leader By Mark Jenkins

From the very start of his work, when the Church was called the Radio Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong realized in his study of the Bible that he must warn about a coming religiously dominated European superpower just before the return of Jesus Christ to Earth.

In a July 24, 1983, letter he wrote, “The very first issue of the Plain Truth magazine appeared February 1934—just 50 years ago lacking about six months. The article starting on the cover page warned of a coming sudden appearance of a resurrected ‘Holy Roman Empire’ in Europe—a union of 10 nations in Europe under one government, with one united military force. For 50 years I have been crying out to the world the Bible prophecies of this coming ‘United States of Europe’—a new united superpower perhaps more powerful than either the Soviet Union or the United States!”

That warning continued, unabated, right up to Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986.

Knowing that the Bible prophesied a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire, Mr. Armstrong took special care to watch those men who were critical to the planning and formation of the European Union. In the late 1970s, he identified a man we should watch carefully: John Paul ii. The appointment of a Polish pope—the first non-Italian pope in over 400 years—was like an electric jolt to the entire world, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. It was clear to Mr. Armstrong that the return of Jesus Christ was drawing near and that this pope, more than any before him, was setting the stage for the most climactic time in history and preparing the Roman Catholic Church for its role in end-time events.

From our perspective, another man deserves careful scrutiny as well: Herbert Armstrong. The prophecies we often write about—the coming together of the European superpower, the growing alliance between Russia and China, the soon-coming return of Jesus Christ—were covered by him for over 50 years before the Trumpet even existed. Our prophetic understanding is grounded in his work. His instructions to watch the pope as we lead up to the return of Jesus Christ provided an education that far excels that of any news commentator.

Today, both John Paul and Herbert Armstrong are dead, but the actions they took have prepared the way for the prophetic fulfillment of the return of Christ. By reviewing these actions—and Mr. Armstrong’s comments on Bible prophecy during that critical period—we can see exactly how right Mr. Armstrong was to watch the pope.

John Paul II

Karol Wojtyla prepared the way for Europe’s unification, east with west. Read Mr. Armstrong’s comments on this pope’s first trip to Poland, in 1979, and the eventual outcome: “Many of … Pope John Paul II’s activities point to the fact that he can be the pope that will initiate this European reunion, in a ‘United States of Europe.’ As a matter of fact, his having come from Poland, and the effect of his visit there, indicate that instead of the coming ‘resurrected’ Holy Roman Empire including such nations of Israelitish ancestry as Holland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the 10 nations to compose it may include such nations—now Russian satellites—as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia. The latter two are long since, to a considerable degree, independent of the Kremlin. The Soviet Union may soon experience a breakaway of some of the Balkan satellite nations. It does seem that the nations of Israelitish ancestry, in western and northwestern Europe, would likely be excluded from the coming 10-nation ‘Roman Empire’” (co-worker letter, Sept. 20, 1979).

In 2004, just as Mr. Armstrong foretold, eight former Eastern bloc countries were admitted to the European Union—including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. Romania and Croatia are currently in the application process. As Mr. Armstrong stated, John Paul ii precipitated the unification of Eastern Europe with its western counterpart.

The pope also started Europe down the path to religious unification. Mr. Armstrong often talked about how a united Catholic Church would drive Europe, even over the objection of its political leadership. “Bible prophecy says this European unification will be also a union of church and state (Revelation 17). Many European political leaders do not want religious domination, or even participation. But they are coming to realize they cannot be welded together into one great European supernation without the unifying power of the Catholic Church” (member and coworker letter, Nov. 22, 1982).

John Paul II made a habit of being “the first pope ever” to visit certain areas, and his reasons were no secret. He wanted to heal the breach in Europe between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches—a split rooted in a dispute over the infallibility of the pope that goes all the way back to the ninth century. Mr. Armstrong made reference to this dispute: “The Catholic Church is divided between the Roman Catholic Church in the west and the Greek Orthodox Church in the east. The latter has strenuously objected to supremacy of the pope and to the doctrine of papal infallibility. But on this trip we learned in Athens that the Eastern Orthodox church at last is willing to give in on papal leadership, though not yet in agreement on infallibility. I feel sure some compromise or agreement will be reached very soon” (ibid.).

John Paul II spent the rest of his life trying to bring the daughter churches back into the fold. In a May 25, 1995, address, “That They May Be One,” he stated, “How can unity be restored after almost a thousand years? This is the great task which the Catholic Church must accomplish, a task equally incumbent on the Orthodox Church.” But while his life was spent working toward the unity of the Catholic Church, his death was the single greatest catalyst toward achieving that goal. Look at how John Paul’s funeral, the greatest media event in history, brought the world together. Mr. Armstrong’s statements on Catholic unity are right on the verge of coming to pass (see “Returning to the Fold” on page 18). Any actions Pope Benedict XVI will take toward further reconciliation with Protestant and Orthodox religions were made possible by John Paul II.

He Was Right

And yet, on occasion, someone will point out that Mr. Armstrong was not always correct in stating how quickly prophecy might unfold. Remember though, the Apostle Paul believed he would be caught up in the air at Christ’s return as one of “we which are alive” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). When the Apostle John said, “It is the last time [hour],” he truly believed that Jesus Christ was returning shortly. These men, obviously faithful servants of God, were off in their timing by almost 2,000 years.

When the Great Tribulation comes before the return of Jesus Christ, no one will think about the timing of Mr. Armstrong’s comments. They will remember that everything he said came to pass exactly as he said it would in 1934, as well as the words the apostles Paul and John penned so long ago.

How far away does a European superpower seem now? With a Europe-focused conservative new pope, a phenomenon the Trumpet has continually warned we should expect at this time, how probable does it seem that the European superpower will take its final form speedily?

This is not the time to say, as Christ warned against in Matthew 24:48, “My Lord delayeth His coming!”

Far from being wrong in his prophetic statements, Mr. Armstrong has been proven right again and again. He saw the formation of the European superpower on the horizon before anyone else did. He pointed out, decades in advance, that John Paul could be the pope to initiate the reunion of east and west in Europe. In the midst of the Cold War, the headline “Why Russia Will not Attack America!” only ran in one magazine: the Plain Truth. His analysis of world events was consistently decades ahead of those around him. For far more proof of this, please request a copy of our sample Trumpet edition titled “He Was Right,” which illustrates this fact in detail.

Before Jesus Christ came to Earth the first time, John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way. Now, a man in this modern age has prepared the way for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, which will have a far more dramatic outcome for everyone alive—in fact, for everyone who has ever lived. The announcement given during Christ’s first coming of the good news of His coming Kingdom is about to be realized! And, just as prophesied in Malachi 4:5, the world has been prepared before the coming of that “great and dreadful day of the Lord.” •

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