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See November 2011 Addendum at conclusion of main letter.
In Mystery of the Ages Herbert W. Armstrong proclaimed that the Church is one of the seven great mysteries of God. Mr. Armstrong revealed and explained the mystery of the Church from its inception in A.D. 31 through the years of his stewardship. What has happened in the Church since his death twenty-five years ago next month, however, is itself a great mystery—one of vital importance to God's people, the nations of Israel, and all other peoples in this end time.
Why did the Church disintegrate (but not die) in just a few years after Mr. Armstrong's death, losing almost all the miraculous power it received from January of 1934 until January of 1986 to do a great Work in the earth—proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? The miracles of those years moved even secular commentators and religious opponents to ascribe genius to Mr. Armstrong, as a way of explaining the amazing ascent of the Church literally from nothing. They marveled at how the Church, employing only a controversial and unorthodox message, not asking the public for money or members, achieved a great wealth of resources and an international reach and influence unexplainable and unparalleled for an organization of its modest membership.
The Church was so greatly blessed, powerful and united in 1986 that no one remotely foresaw the stunningly rapid disintegration or the stunningly rapid rise of false doctrine and apostasy within. Truly the collapse of the Church was nearly as amazing as its ascent; this assessment too was shared by outside observers.
Many of God's people today assume the new leadership who instituted false doctrine in the Church caused the stunning, shameful disintegration. That answer is true on an elementary level, but there are deeper spiritual issues it cannot explain and does not resolve.
Since many thousands of the Church's members, ministers and headquarters officials—we believe the majority of members—ultimately rejected Joseph Tkach's doctrine of lawlessness, why did God not give the faithful the Church's resources and cast out the apostate ones? Why were the faithful not empowered to hold on to the Church's worldwide recognition, respected name, good will, and high-level government access? Why were they not empowered to keep what God used them to build, much more than the apostate ones in His judgment, with their own diligent labor, sacrifice, contributions, prayers and love? God had done exactly that for the faithful when Garner Ted Armstrong and others attempted a similar apostate “take over” in the seventies, as well as when the state of California attacked the Church in 1979.
Instead, the vast majority of God's people were driven out of the Worldwide Church of God like Judah was driven out of the temple and Jerusalem in Jeremiah's day: the ones called and widely known by God's name, with a large public audience looking on in some wonder, were shamefully unable to “hold the temple” against men who rejected all the Truth the Church was internationally known to represent. Consider this comparison further in Jeremiah 26:2-3, 12-13; 51:51 and Daniel 9:7-8, 16-17. (Scriptural quotes herein are from the NKJV unless noted.)