Tuesday 18 July 2006

Passing of a generation

It seems Raymond McNair is fighting his final battle with cancer. Once a "leading evangelist" and Armstrong lieutenant, McNair is a rare link to the church that some of us remember, a thriving, thrusting, in-your-face sect with a massive media presence.

In 2006 those high-flying frontmen have largely passed onto their reward. Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, Herman Hoeh... to name just a few. McNair is reportedly bedridden and fading. He once ran the British "Work", later took the more modest role of Director for New Zealand, went through a messy and public divorce, and was portrayed in less than flattering terms ("Buffie") by former ministerial colleague David Robinson in Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web.

McNair has stuck closely to classic Armstrongism, attempting unsuccessfully to first work with Rod Meredith before launching his own obscure ministry. In so doing he has shown a form of integrity, even if it has been misinformed. Robinson devoted chapters to both McNair and Meredith in his 1980 book. His portrait of Meredith is the least flattering. McNair was clearly the more compassionate half of the duo. He was loyal to HWA despite everything he knew about the man, and he has remained loyal to his teachings. Whatever reservations one might have about his chosen path, there were surely worse individuals who ascended to the inner circle.

When McNair passes from the scene, who will remain? One name stands out, embodying the arrogance of a sect that once posed a credible challenge to mainstream evangelical Christianity: Roderick Meredith. But even Meredith, currently clinging on as unchallenged "presiding evangelist" of the Living Church of God, must succumb eventually to the tireless ravages of age. Then, and perhaps only then, Armstrongism will be to all intents and purposes, finally, dead.


Anonymous said...

The death of Armstrongism is wishful thinking. Herbert Armstrong's earliest and most dedicated disciples may pass from the scene, but there are plenty of younger zealots to keep the fires of Armstrongism burning. Armstrongism is a very useful and comforting philosophy to those who are ensnared by it. That's how they got ensnared. Its perpetuation is assured.

What we do lose, with the passing of these men, is a view of history that nobody else can give us. But then the topic of Armstrongism is so emotionally surcharged, that it would be impossible to sit someone down, like McNair, and get an objective accounting.

I am greatly saddened when any Armstrongite dies having not recanted.

Anonymous said...

Gavin, I concur with the generally positive comments you made about Raymond McNair. He certainly does have some admirable qualities, even though I now see the errors of the doctrines he holds dear. I remember his wife's beautiful violin playing at the Feast of Tabernacles too. I'll say a Pater Noster and an Ave for him.

Harry said...

It will take as long for Armstrongism to fade as did the Millerite movement.

No, wait, that's the Seventh Dayers, isn't it?

Let's face it, Herbertism is here to stay even though it may be underground.

Anonymous said...

What I wonder about all of these guys is if they even -believe- in God. Did Armstrong? Do these guys have even a little shred of fear that they might have to account for all the stuff they did in God's name? I don't even mean just the doctrinal stuff, although that's bad enough. I mean the very basic sin that seems to be part and parcel of being in the WCG clergy (incest, adultery, greed, stealing, lying -- basically all 10 of the commandments) that even the "unsaved" recognize as wrong. Have they no fear of God at all?

Harry said...

Alan, I oftened wondered about that myself. Did these people even have a conscience?

Loma Armstrong once admitted to someone in candor that Herbert and Richard just got into religion "for the money.” (

I’m not perfect by any means, but I’d hate to be in their shoes in the resurrection.

DanJer said...

The plague and error of Armstrongism won't be dead any time soon I fear. I may dwindle and grow weak but there are always those who cling to absurdity rather than face reality. There's also a sucker born every minute.

Anonymous said...

"Do these guys have even a little shred of fear that they might have to account for all the stuff they did in God's name?"

No, they had no fear. They'd just argue with god and show him why he's wrong. It is encouraging to see attrition do it's job, though...It may sound unfeeling until you think about the misery and ruined relationships and lost careers and hurt children,etc...

Anonymous said...

Meredith just might be next to die, he has diabetes, cannot stand after a sermon many times, can sit but can hardly talk afterwords as well.
Yes it is too bad that they cannot all recant before death.
But then again they feel that it is ok to lie if it furthers the gospel, at least in their view.
rod 2

Anonymous said...

'Tis no rumor. Meredith hasn't made a big deal of it, but he admitted in last year's ministerial conference that he is diabetic. He's trying to watch his diet to a certain extent, but he does like to eat out from time to time, which makes it difficult to control what he eats all the time.

Anonymous said...

Actually, he's quieted down a great deal on the medical front. I remember one sermon nearly a decade ago, in which Meredith got up with a stack of prayer requests and castigated those members who asked for prayers to the effect that "God would guide the hands of the surgeon." Within a year, his own wife was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, I don't recall him ever stating that seeking medical attention exhibits a lack of faith.

After being treated, Mrs. Meredith's cancer has been in remission for at least half a decade now, by the way.

Anonymous said...

"Since then, I don't recall him ever stating that seeking medical attention exhibits a lack of faith."

At least that's something positive coming from Armstrongland. Armstrong's position on medical treatment was his most damaging dogma.

Anonymous said...

I was introduced to Mr. McNair by a
friend who went to AC. We chatted in the Auditorium after the AM service, remember when the PM congregation was the "place to be"?
He was personable at least. I don't know if he had given sermons in No. California lately, but I would have attended. He, Albrecht and LaRavia gave the best sermons at the FOTs I attended.