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.