Raising The Ruins: The Fight To Revive The Legacy Of Herbert W. Armstrong, by Stephen Flurry
In reading this book I found myself in the strange position of having nice things to say about the Philadelphia Church of God, particularly in largely agreeing with their sentiments that it was worthwhile for them to seek the ownership of titles written by Herbert W. Armstrong that they viewed as being essential reading (it was striking to read, for example, that baptism candidates have to read Mystery of the Ages, for example) and that the Worldwide Church of God was obviously unwilling to publish or make available after their heretical doctrinal changes. That doesn’t mean that I approved of this book as a whole, merely that its core message about the worth of having the works of HWA available free of charge to those who want to read them is one I am definitely in agreement with. Mind you, this book is certainly polemical in nature, and not all of its polemics are equally agreeable, as the book attempts to slander a wide variety of people as being proponents of Tkachism, something that I am willing to accept insofar as it involves a great many people, but not Dr. Ward, for example, even with his desire to have AC as an accredited university.
This book is obviously written with a certain perspective, and it is not one that I happen to share. Nevertheless, despite the fact that it is written from one of the more unsympathetic perspectives among the various organizations within the Church of God, it does present an honest view of how PCG sees itself as a keeper of the legacy of Herbert W. Armstrong with a distinct longing to recreate a past before the turmoil of the seventies and nineties. If the author’s view of the period of the early 1980’s as being an ideal time in WCG strikes me with more horror than it does agreement, it is certainly easy to understand why the author thinks as he does, and he certainly has a strong desire in supporting the efforts of his father that is admirable as well. I found myself enjoying the author’s desire to write a lot about the court case between WCG and PCG over the literature of Herbert W. Armstrong as being interesting and also giving me more reason to find the 9th Circuit to be one of the most pathetic institutions of law in our deeply divided country, and was also struck by the fact that the squabble over HWA’s literature nearly became a Supreme Court case, which would have been deeply entertaining to read about.
The material in this book is almost 400 pages or so in length and contains twenty-five chapters in two parts. The first part of the book discusses the feeling of betrayal that the author (and many others, myself included) felt during the course of the late 1980’s and especially into the mid 1990’s as authoritarian leaders sought to corrupt and pervert the biblical doctrines of Worldwide Church of God while at the same time profiting from the support that they had from loyal members and co-workers. The author discusses the deceptive tactics of the WCG leaders that was apparently found out in discovery as well as the involvement of his own father and a few others as being early (and admittedly prescient) targets of that wicked regime. The second half of the book then discusses what PCG believes is its Christian duty to publish the works of Herbert W. Armstrong for a new generation of readers, with a detailed look at the court drama between the two organizations and a discussion of other efforts like the building of a church college and headquarters campus in Oklahoma that the author views as part of an effort to raise the ruins of WCG into a vibrant and godly church again.