This is the first time I have ever written a personal letter to our subscribers to The PLAIN TRUTH. But it's for a very special reason! I am excited about what I feel will be a thoroughly enjoyable, instructive, helpful, sometimes amusing, and always really INTERESTING gift for you — something NEVER BEFORE OFFERED — and, of course, IT'S FREE! — at no cost, whatever to you.
Thousands of you, when you heard The WORLD TOMORROW for the first time, were a little perplexed.
"Who," you wondered, "is HERBERT Armstrong — if this is Garner Ted Armstrong doing the speaking? Are they brothers? Father and son? Cousins?"
Some have written to ask if my father, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, was dead. Others thought I was my father, and my father was my son! I have always tried to mention, from time to time, our relationship so listeners would understand why I asked them to write to "Herbert W. Armstrong" instead of to me, personally. But this is the first time I've ever written to you about it. And the exciting, special offer I have for you is the reason.
But first, I think it's time I answered some questions thousands have been asking — and wondering about. For years my father has been answering the questions so many ask, concerning who he is, whether this is a denominational religious Work, and if so which — how it is financed — who is back of it — HOW we can conduct the world's most powerful broadcast — more than 45 MILLION watts of radio power weekly — and never ask for contributions — NEVER charge for or put a price on ANYTHING. But since I have been doing most of the speaking on The WORLD TOMORROW program, people are asking: "Who are YOU? Did your father just put you on the air, to preach his message for him?"
And so I want to take space to tell you just how I, Garner Ted Armstrong, happened to be speaking on the air, yet always giving listeners the mailing address of Herbert W. Armstrong, my father.
I was not quite four years old when my father originated The WORLD TOMORROW program — back in the first week of 1934.
For over 22 years, thousands of listeners had been hearing HIS voice — listening to his personality — to the message of Christ through HIS efforts. Our familiar address, known to millions, had always been in HIS name. I was trying to make plain to all those who had been listening over the years that I was only CONTINUING in the same work — preaching the SAME truths, PART of the same program they had heard for years.
Not that I just "automatically" followed along. I suppose many have assumed my father may have just "appointed" me to do the program when mature enough, and when his responsibilities grew too heavy.
Not so. This is CHRIST'S doing — NOT THE WORK OF MEN! All who know me, personally, know I was very HOSTILE to the work of Christ through my young life, and into early manhood. Not that I recognized it as the work of Christ. To me — it was just "Dad's religion."
I was quite ashamed of it. I wanted to be LIKE THE WORLD. I wanted to be PART of the world — not knowing that my natural carnal mind just AUTOMATICALLY resented God's LAWS and His TRUTH! Human nature has never changed. There is a time when EVERY young teen-age son begins to "know more than his father." Thankfully, most of them experience profound shock somewhere in their mid-twenties to find out how much "Dad has learned" since the teens gave way to the twenties! So, rather than "automatically" following along in my father's calling — my carnal mind did just the OPPOSITE! It AUTOMATICALLY (Romans 8:7) rebelled!
I continually ran from hearing the truth. My mind was closed. I had never read, believe it or not, ONE of the booklets my father had written. Oh, I suppose I had skimmed lightly through one or two of the many — but had never really READ any of them. I never read The PLAIN TRUTH magazine. That was just something "DAD was doing." Finally, I ran away to join the navy. Discharged after four years, including the automatic extension of one year under President Truman's administration which meant several cruises offshore Korea during the Korean war, I was offered a temporary job in the college mailing office. The Office Manager at the time, Mr. V.R. Mattson, found his responsibilities were growing — that he couldn't supervise the general business office and the mailing at the same time. He knew I had (much to my distaste, since I was never a yeoman) received some office managerial experience in the navy.
I was still smoking, at the time. One of the office rules was an emphatic "NO SMOKING" by any employees. So I merely "went underground," or so I thought! I tried (and any non-smoker will laugh at this) to "keep it a secret" and smoke on the sly! So utterly ignorant was I at the hypersensitive noses of nonsmokers that I would literally walk around the block, have a cigarette, and then return to the office thinking no one would notice.
I was on the waiting list for page boy at CBS, in Hollywood, and had tried out in two auditions for TV talent shows. My goal was television, or the movies, or, failing these, nightclub entertaining. But WHILE I was waiting for my "big break" to come (like, I suppose, hundreds of thousands of equally deluded would- be entertainers do) I needed beer and cigarette money (as I wryly put it). The office job provided that — even though I did not like the environment.
But then a crushing blow to my ego struck! College was about to begin. My father called me in — explained to me there was a student employment program which provided nearly all students with on-campus jobs. He said I could not continue to work in the mailing office; that my position would be given to one of the older students, whose job elsewhere would be taken by one of the incoming freshmen. BUT, he said, I could continue — without any drop in pay (I was making the staggering sum of $42.50 per week for directing 11 other employees!) IF I WOULD SIGN UP FOR A MINIMUM OF TWELVE HOURS OF CLASSES IN AMBASSADOR COLLEGE.
He told me to think it over. I felt it was a trick. I just "knew" he "wanted me under his thumb" and had some ulterior motive of merely trying to "live my life for me" and "dominate" me! That his WHOLE motives were love and concern — and a deep desire for MY HAPPINESS never occurred to my closed, carnal mind. But I found I could take speech classes — and I knew this would be helpful, if I were to become successful on the stage at a later date. Also at Ambassador was a very fine voice instructor, Mr. Leon Ettinger, who was just beginning to pioneer the Ambassador Chorale. I had always enjoyed singing — wanted to do it professionally. I found that, by taking speech, journalism, chorale, voice lessons and physical education I could get by with only ONE "Bible class" (a required course — and the only one I really wanted to avoid). So, while it was a blow to my fancied independence and pride — I relented. I signed up for a light college load.
At first, I paid no attention whatever in the "Church History" course. I drew pictures — looked out the window — slept. I had no special problems in any other classes — except with my clandestine smoking and rotten attitude, that is. But a little more than midway through that college year, I happened to pick up and read the lead article in a series being run by a leading national news and pictorial magazine.
The series was being written as a survey of all the world's major religions — beginning with "Christianity." Many famous theologians (and I knew that these dignified and respected gentlemen had a RIGHT to be right — but that my own physical flesh-and-blood father did NOT have a right to be right!) were contributing. One of the leading ones (still very much so, in the United States) was asked to write an article introducing the series. "First," he wrote — or words to this effect, "let us understand what Christianity IS NOT!" "It is NOT," he emphatically stated, "a way of life!"
And that same day a shocking thing occurred. Out of the dull haze of my usual inattentive, sloppy attitude in Church History class I heard something which really grabbed my attention. We had gone all through the four Gospels — using a "harmony" of the Gospels — in the history of Christ's ministry. I had paid virtually NO attention — doing only the bare minimum to "get by." We had progressed into the book in the BIBLE which IS Church History, the Book of Acts. What caused me to really perk up my ears was a statement which DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED the learned theologian who had written the article in the very respected magazine.
We were discussing Acts, chapter 18, verse 25. It was concerning an eloquent convert, Apollos, who was "instructed in THE WAY of the Lord." Then, in verse 26 the Bible said, "...when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him THE WAY OF GOD more perfectly." And still, in chapter 19, the Bible insisted, some persecutors were speaking evil of "THAT WAY" before the multitude (verse 9).
But whaaaaat? Here was the BIBLE — NOT any literature from my father — this was the BIBLE, the same one, I supposed, out of which ALL Churches got their beliefs, in direct contradiction to the confident statement, read by millions, made by a very leading theologian! I had seen, THREE TIMES, in one open, two-page spread of the Bible, the assertion that Christianity IS A WAY OF LIFE!
I did something unusual — something unheard of, for me. I took out a red lead pencil from my shirt pocket, and made a little mark in my Bible. Not knowing anything about how, I merely made a little red check mark in the margin. I marked each of these surprising passages so I could "find" them later.
From that time on, I began to experiment. I had always supposed "all these Churches just CAN'T be wrong." But now I began to READ, and to STUDY, some of their literature. I picked up religious books in the library; obtained pamphlets and tracts from stands in stores.
And I found, to my surprise, that NONE OF THEM REALLY SQUARED WITH MY OWN BIBLE! I found where, on one occasion, a minister had quoted only PART of one verse to "prove his point" when, if he had included it ALL it really said JUST THE OPPOSITE. I found where a woman "prophetess" had, in one of her books, placed a period and ended a verse where MY BIBLE HAD A COMMA, and FOUR ADDITIONAL WORDS which DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED the "doctrine" she was teaching. THAT surprising scripture was in Isaiah 24:6! She was attempting to "prove" the earth was to be DESOLATE for 1,000 years! So she stopped quoting with the word, "burned." But MY BIBLE said (and so does yours — and so did hers!) "AND FEW MEN LEFT." Only a FEW, apparently — but a few, nevertheless.
From then on I REALLY began to study. I found many points I had "heard" for many, many years, came FLOODING into my mind. While I had rebelled against God, and His word — and against my physical father — apparently SOME of what I had been hearing much of my life had "rubbed off." I began to learn, FAST! And I learned DIRECTLY FROM THE BIBLE! What I learned shocked — STUNNED me. For God's own Word CUT like a two-edged sword! It awakened me to what I was — it hit me as a violent traumatic experience — made me loathe and abhor myself!
I was through fighting God. I was disgusted with myself — with my whole past life — with the world around me. My whole sense of values changed. I couldn't STAND the idea of becoming a nightclub performer.
I hated to go to my father and confess this and ask if I could be baptized. He hadn't known of my hostility — and now I had to tell him. I think I expected stern rebuke for my past opposition, but he showed only love, concern, and desire to help. When he was certain that my repentance was real, he baptized me.
I didn't know WHERE I could be used — I never REMOTELY IMAGINED I would ever become a minister, or ever appear on the air. But now I wanted to become a part of God's Work!
And that is how it REALLY happened. Looking back — I know I was being PUT into Christ's Work. I didn't CHOOSE it. I didn't just "go along" with my father's "organization." I was CALLED into it — was PUT into it.
It's been 12 years, now, since I was first introduced to listeners of The WORLD TOMORROW. Actually, I was asked to appear as a guest when my father did our first 26 telecasts back in 1955 — so I appeared on television before doing any of the radio broadcasting.
My older brother, Richard David ("Dick" to us, at home), had been doing a little of the radio broadcasting earlier. My father felt he might be able to help assume some of the load of broadcasting. He had an excellent radio voice — better, I felt, than mine.
However, Dick was needed in England to pioneer in opening an office there. Later, my parents found need and opportunity for a trip to the Mideast, reporting on turbulent conditions there to our PLAIN TRUTH readers. There were no WORLD TOMORROW programs done ahead.
I had been asked to produce some of the programs a little earlier, just after having been on television for a few brief moments, and then doing one almost complete program on the subject of juvenile delinquency and child rearing. So now, circumstances seemed to place me more and more before the microphone.
And the work was continuing to really GROW, FAST. As I said, I was, finally, beginning to do much of the broadcasting. My father had found that, as two, and then three college campuses were opened up; as The PLAIN TRUTH circulation climbed to over one-half, then past three-quarters, and finally over ONE MILLION; as offices began to be opened overseas — finally girdling the globe — and as more and more administrative and executive responsibilities fell on my father's shoulders — he had much, much more than he could handle.
In those days, I always said, "This is Garner Ted Armstrong, speaking to you for my Father, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong," and when it came to sign off time, would say, "this has been Garner Ted Armstrong, speaking to you FOR my father, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong!"
For many, many programs, I continued this type introduction and "sign off." It even prompted one listener, who had not quite caught the final words clearly to write to "BEN Garner Ted Armstrong." Thankfully, though, no one ever wrote to "HAS-BEEN Garner Ted Armstrong!"
From that point on, I have been doing the broadcasting — and now beginning, once more (though only in a small way, on only FOUR stations in scattered areas so far) in television. So — I ended up on television, and on radio, after all. But for an infinitely greater CAUSE than I had ever imagined!
But meanwhile, although some, hearing my voice and not my father's on the air, have asked: "Is he still alive?" — my father has remained VERY MUCH alive — surprisingly, remarkably so to those who truly know him, and work with him daily in this large and growing work. He is the active director of ALL phases of this globe girdling work, as all of our long-time readers of The PLAIN TRUTH understand, from reading his monthly "personal" column in the magazine, and from having read past issues of his autobiography.
But now to the reasons why we're offering a very special gift to our PLAIN TRUTH subscribers! For years, my father avoided all attempts to publicize his picture, or to give any PERSONAL information in The PLAIN TRUTH magazine. He felt ALL space in The PLAIN TRUTH should be taken up with The GOSPEL of Christ.
But over the years, thousands upon thousands of requests kept coming in. People wanted to know "WHO IS Herbert W. Armstrong?" What is his background? Is he an ordained MINISTER, or a businessman, or an educator, or WHAT? They wanted to know WHO SPONSORED The PLAIN TRUTH and The WORLD TOMORROW program. Was there any CHURCH behind it? Was Mr. Armstrong conducting a one-man "work," or were there OTHERS who performed various functions?
In his earliest years, my father had always sought advice from successful men. He had been greatly impressed by reading many biographical works, and even autobiographies of famous and successful personages. And one I remember his mentioning to me and my brother on many occasions, was the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography was directed to his son. In his middle 60's, my father thought of writing, directly for my brother Dick and me, an autobiography as his life's story. The worldwide Work in which he had been used as the primary instrument had grown big. It was doubling in scope in less than every three years. Although it was employing hundreds in its expanding operations, Dick and I had qualified for the chief executive positions, directly under our father. He felt it necessary to put into writing the whole background of this Work — especially including his earliest experiences which shaped and directed his life toward it.
You see, Dick and I had come along ten years after our two elder sisters — and our parents were not married until they were 25. They had lived — as few people ever have. Our father's earlier life, prior to 25, had been filled with experiences such as few have ever lived through — actually preparing him for this tremendous Work. Often he had tried to relate some of these most unusual experiences. But never had there been opportunity to just sit down and relate the entire chain of exciting, unique experiences and incidents in direct sequence and in order. There was so much we didn't know — so much he felt we needed to know, on the execution of our rapidly expanding responsibilities.
Yet, just as there never was time or opportunity to sit down and relate the entire story, in order, to us verbally, there was the question: How could he take time away from his own increasing responsibilities even to write the story for us? Much of his time had to be devoted to writing articles for The PLAIN TRUTH — writing booklets — writing Christ's Message to be put in advertising space in magazines. A possible solution seemed to be to use this as article material for The PLAIN TRUTH. He had to take time for this — and it would not be taking time away from regularly required duties.
But now the question arose: Would it be right to publish it, or allow others, outside the family, to read it? Would it not be sending out material about himself — and shouldn't he write and publish ONLY about CHRIST and CHRIST'S MESSAGE! As I mentioned above, for years he had refused to allow even his picture to be taken. But finally a radio listener wrote in asking WHY my father refused to publish his picture. He put it bluntly:
If, he asked, you attend a church service, and the preacher HIDES behind the pulpit, and lets the congregation only HEAR his sermon, wouldn't you think he had something to hide beside his face? Wouldn't you become suspicious of him? Don't we who HEAR your Message over radio have a right to know what you look like? — to know something about you, personally — to know who is sponsoring you, whether you belong to some denomination and if so WHICH?
And the requests continued to come in daily, asking all these questions about this Work — who is back of it — HOW it is financed. Then he had to realize that even the Bible — the very Word of God — contains the life-story of MANY MEN and even a few women. Twice the Apostle Paul related the story of his personal life and of his conversion — and God Himself caused this to find space in HIS SACRED WORD to us. It seemed that these personal life experiences would be not only interesting, but HELPFUL to PLAIN TRUTH readers, as well as to Dick and me.
And so, as part of his regular monthly responsibilities in God's Work, my father finally started writing the autobiography in monthly installments for The PLAIN TRUTH. And it has been encouraging — actually exciting — and inspirational! Not only to me, but to many, many THOUSANDS. All of our PLAIN TRUTH subscribers have read, serially, at least a few of the later installments. But The PLAIN TRUTH has become, since the Autobiography began ten years ago, a really BIG circulation magazine — now over one million one hundred thousand copies — read by perhaps three to four million persons.
Yet MOST of these millions have read only the later parts of the Autobiography. Very frequently we receive letters from subscribers wondering if they can receive back issues of The PLAIN TRUTH, so they may read the earlier history of this work, and my father's life.
Some few years ago, the beginning chapters of the Autobiography were made into a 48-page BOOKLET. An OVERWHELMING number wanted it!
Frankly, my father was surprised by the large number of people who have found his life's story not only absorbing and interesting from a personal history point of view, but also very helpful and inspiring in solving their own day-to-day human problems! Thousands have written, telling how they have been HELPED in trying situations, through family tragedies, in their businesses and jobs, and in their marriages and homes — by reading the Autobiography.
I'll tell you one thing. I KNOW my father. I've known all about him for nearly 38 years. I know his personal life. I know his personal tastes, his innermost feelings — his whole temperament and personality! I know his dedication and utter sincerity in this Work of God. That's why I have to shake my head with a wry grimace of incredulity when I see picayunish attempts at SLANDER against him; the attempt to IMPUTE WRONG MOTIVES in his conduct of this Work of God.
But why do I mention these persecutions? For this important reason: The Autobiography is REAL. Every word of it is TRUE — just as it happened! I KNOW, because I have LIVED many of the experiences described. For years, I have decried the practice of so many in this world of ASKING AN EQUALLY UNINFORMED SOURCE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT SOMEONE — INSTEAD OF GOING DIRECTLY TO THAT PERSON!
During Christ's ministry, Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do MEN say that I AM?" He KNEW there would be various false and slanderous accusations, including various MISinformed, though "innocent" GUESSES about Him. The Disciples said some claimed Christ was ISAIAH, or ELIJAH, or one of the old prophets! And the POINT to this is — SOME ACTUALLY BELIEVED such ridiculous fairy tales!
Did they ASK CHRIST? No! They asked EACH OTHER! And NOT ONE OF THEM KNEW Him, personally, the way His disciples did. So He turned to Peter and asked, "But whom do YOU say, I, the Son of man, am?" Peter said, "You are the CHRIST, the Son of the LIVING GOD!"
Peter KNEW who, and WHAT Jesus was!
So now I'm making this offer to you. So you can GET TO KNOW my father — PERSONALLY. So you can "look over his shoulder" in the amazing experiences that have finally culminated in this great and growing, WORLDWIDE Work of God. You'll find out WHY he began studying the Bible. You'll actually come to KNOW him, PERSONALLY, by sharing many of his innermost feelings and experiences. Few people have ever lived such an active, exciting, eventful, or useful life. It is thrilling to read — helpful and inspiring.
Let me tell you what we have, coming off our own Ambassador College presses, soon to be ready for you. A full-sized BOOK, "The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong" in THREE SEPARATE VOLUMES. Volume ONE is just now completing! It's a big, handsome, finely-printed, quality BOOK, containing thirty chapters. It's fully ILLUSTRATED, with earliest pictures, including babyhood, early teen life, earliest preparation for the advertising profession, and all the unusual events which led to the ministry of Christ.
Volume one brings you right up to the beginning of The WORLD TOMORROW program on the air. It concludes with the experiences leading to Volume One, NUMBER ONE of The PLAIN TRUTH.
I know ALL of you have wondered. You wonder what's BACK of this work — what makes it "tick?" WHO and WHAT sponsors it? How did it BEGIN? ALL these questions, and many more, are answered in this personal, intimate look into the life of my father. You'll really KNOW the answers after you've read it. You'll know HOW he was ordained — and BY WHOM. You'll KNOW whether or not he was a member of this, or that, or other religious organization.
Remember — we have NOTHING for sale. This book is GIVEN to you, freely, in the hopes it will inspire and encourage you; that it will give you the real inside story about the Work of God. As my father has written our subscribers before, this is not really our work — it is GOD'S WORK. It also is a PUBLIC SERVICE in the PUBLIC INTEREST, carried on by an educational institution, Ambassador College.
As I try repeatedly to make plain on the air, there will be no follow-up — and by that I mean there will be no subsequent offers that will cost you money — nor any request for contributions (unless you, yourself, of your own free will invite it). Often I say on The WORLD TOMORROW, "No one will call on you." Let me explain, however, that IF any of our listeners or PLAIN TRUTH subscribers write in REQUESTING one of our representatives or ordained ministers to call for personal counseling, then of course we will try to respond — and for this purpose we do have ordained ministers — Ambassador College graduates — stationed in all parts of the United States, Canada, Britain, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, Australia, the Philippines. But no one will call on you UNLESS you first request it, and then, NOT under any circumstances to solicit money or sell you anything — only to serve and help.
I'm sure you understand we NEVER REQUEST CONTRIBUTIONS (unless you yourself first invite it). There is NO PRICE on ANYTHING we offer. Your subscription to The PLAIN TRUTH has already been paid by others. There is simply NO OTHER WORK OR OPERATION on earth like this! This is GOD'S WAY! Of course we do have voluntary Co-Workers, who became Co-Workers of their own free will, unsolicited by us, initiated entirely by themselves, because they WANTED to have a part in GOD'S WORK, and it is their tithes and offerings that make this Work possible. And that too, is GOD'S WAY! My father will write explaining that. Although we gratefully WELCOME new Co-Workers, WE DO NOT SOLICIT NEW CO-WORKERS!
We want our listeners and subscribers to FEEL FREE to request our free literature — and I DO URGE YOU to request this large, well-illustrated, INTERESTING book that will relate to you, in narrative form, the details, the incidents, the experiences, the happenings of my father's life from age three, right on up through boy-hood, young manhood, early business training, his romance and marriage, his conversion, and the development of the Work God plunged him into.
So before you forget — write in for your own FREE copy of VOLUME ONE of the Autobiography. You'll find it stimulating reading! We're really happy that we have been enabled to GIVE something special to our PLAIN TRUTH subscribers over and above the monthly issues of what we feel is the world's finest magazine! I felt I should write to our subscribers and tell them about it — perhaps I can say a few things about the book my father would not want to say, himself.
Sincerely, FROM THE HEART, I thank you for allowing us the privilege of serving you. We have the most JOYOUS, WONDERFUL, GOOD NEWS to proclaim of anybody on earth. It is CHRIST'S OWN MESSAGE. There is peace, happiness, and JOY ahead for YOU! So I am reserving YOUR free copy, absolutely gratis, of The Autobiography.
Don't delay! Send for YOUR OWN FREE COPY by return mail! We're working NOW to finish the printing and binding so there will be a minimum of delay in sending YOUR copy to you. And THANK you for your interest — and your concern.