Herbert Armstrong's Purpose in Explaining "Born Again"

Joseph W. Tkach (or his ghost writer, Michael Feazell) began the "born again" doctrinal change by setting up a straw man, stating that Herbert Armstrong's purpose in his "born again" teaching was to point out the difference between true and false conversion. But Herbert Armstrong emphatically stated that his purpose was to point out the difference between conversion and the resurrection — to show when a person is "born again."

The Error

Joseph W. Tkach, "Personal," Worldwide News, January 28, 1991:
"In his teachings, Mr. Armstrong emphasized that the present life of the Christian, from conversion to inheritance of eternal life, is like the process of gestation. He had come to see, correctly, that the popular 'born again' concept led many people to misunderstand true Christian conversion as laid out in Scripture.

"Thousands might make a decision for Christ at a crusade meeting, but in just a few weeks, only a handful of them would even be attending church. No lasting change of life would be evident in the broad majority of those who professed conversion in such circumstances.

"In the true sense, as Mr. Armstrong always taught, conversion is much more than confessing Christ with the mouth. John was referring to a confession of truth, a confession with understanding, and Mr. Armstrong sought to explain the full depth of that conversion."

"Mr. Armstrong's purpose was to point out the difference between true conversion and false conversion."

The Truth

Herbert W. Armstrong, "Just What do You Mean — Born Again!" Plain Truth, February 1962:
"Do you know that most people who think they have been 'born again' actually have no ... real conception of what it means...?"

"It's about time the TRUTH of what Jesus Christ meant by being 'born again' is made so plain you will UNDERSTAND! For he did not say or mean what most religious people think!"

"A few put major stress on 'a born-again experience' — without the slightest conception of what it means!"

"Nearly every error is based on a false assumption, taken carelessly for granted. The universal error, in this case, is the untrue ASSUMPTION that when one is converted — when one has fully repented, accepted Christ in faith, and received God's Spirit — or, as some state it, 'been baptized by the Holy Spirit' — that he has then been 'born again.'

"The colossal error is merely one of using incorrect terminology — yet the error is far-reaching, and totally hides from the world the overwhelming, ALL-IMPORTANT MEANING of being BORN of GOD!"

"What most religious people — if they use the term — call being 'born again' is simply MIS-NAMED. Actually, the term 'born again' does not apply at all, nor refer to, the experience of a true CONVERSION — the receiving of God's Holy Spirit...."

"Let's understand what it means to be BORN of God — in what respect one shall be different after he is BORN of God — let's see WHEN this spiritual BIRTH takes place!"

"Understand WHAT we shall be, when we are BORN of God! Then, next we shall see WHEN we shall be born of God."

"[I John 3:2 says] that, when HE, Christ, shall appear at His second coming to earth, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM!

"Now what shall HE be like? If you can know that, you can know what BORN-AGAIN Christians shall then be life — for they shall be LIKE HIM!"

"What does the GLORIFIED Christ look like? His eyes blaze forth like flames of fire! His feet glow like finely burnished brass. His face shines like the SUN, in FULL STRENGTH — so bright, it would blind your eyes if He were visible to you now!"

"And THAT is the way YOU and I shall look, if and when we are finally BORN of GOD! These deceived people who talk about having had a 'born-again experience' certainly don't look like THAT!"

"That tremendous, glorious event of being BORN of God is to take place AT THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST — at the time of Christ's second coming to earth!"

"At Christ's coming our vile bodies shall be CHANGED, changed into SPIRIT, made IMMORTAL, fashioned like Christ's GLORIFIED BODY. That is when we shall be BORN of God. And THAT changed does not take place in THIS LIFE! All these religious-professing people who think they have been 'born again' HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED THAT CHANGE!"

Herbert W. Armstrong, Just What Do You Mean — Conversion?:
"This new convert has only been begotten of God — not yet BORN. Many who believe they are 'born again' on receiving the Holy Spirit are more in error in terminology than in what happens (for a full explanation, write for our free booklet Just What Do You Mean — Born Again?)." (p. 14)

Herbert W. Armstrong, Just What Do You Mean — Born Again?:
"Just what do you mean ... born again? Don't be too sure you know! Many professing Christians sincerely believe they have been 'born again' — but do not understand what Jesus meant by those words. The true answer is not only surprising — it is startling!"

"Being 'born again' has been tragically misunderstood and misrepresented! God's Government will be DIVINE GOVERNMENT, by the saints converted into divine SPIRIT PERSONS, born of God!"

"[In John 3] Jesus was comparing also the POWER of one born of the Spirit to that of wind...one average hurricane is much greater than an A-bomb such as destroyed Hiroshima. I am quite certain that no human claiming to have been 'born again' in this human life is capable of exerting a tiny fraction of that kind of energy."

"God's Spirit entering and dwelling in one compares to the physical sperm impregnating the ovum — the imparting of eternal SPIRIT life, later to produce — to bring forth — a SPIRIT PERSON! A fertilized ovum — an embryo — is NOT a born human person. Life from the father has been imparted to it — he has begotten it — but neither embryo nor fetus is YET a born person. In the same manner the Spirit-begotten human is not, yet, a SPIRIT PERSON or BEING, as Jesus said he shall be when born again!"

"It is necessary to make this explanation, at this point, because the popular deception of a deceived traditional 'Christianity' is to claim that when one 'receives Christ' — 'accepts Christ' — 'professes Christ' — or first receives God's Holy Spirit to dwell in him, that he is already 'BORN AGAIN.'"

"I want to make this crystal clear. Millions of sincere professing Christians believe that when they profess Christ (or receive His Holy Spirit) they are 'born again.'"

"The conversion in this life — receiving the Holy Spirit — is only a begettal — NOT a birth."

"Being born again refers to the time — the future state — when we shall BE spirit, no longer flesh and blood — born actually by the resurrection."

"And THAT TRUE BORN-AGAIN EXPERIENCE will be incomparably more GLORIOUS than the false, vague, meaningless so-called 'born-again experience' that deceived THOUSANDS think they have had now." (pp. 1, 10, 15, 18, 19, 29, 34, 45)

Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages:
"While there [in Jerusalem], a notable Pharisee named Nicodemus came to see Jesus.... [Jesus] launched immediately into the fact that the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling all nations, could not be set up UNTIL the time of the NEW SPIRIT BIRTH — the time of the RESURRECTION!"

"Today's theologians do not even know that! They deny a real second birth as a spirit being. They spiritualize away the real truth by assuming that merely saying that one accepts Christ as his Savior constitutes being born again. In this, Satan has deceived them and in turn they have deceived millions of others." (p. 224)

Herbert W. Armstrong, "Was Jesus Christ Born Again?" Plain Truth, February 1963:
"The universally accepted idea of fundamentalist Christians is that being 'born again' means the experience of having one's sins forgiven. They call it a 'born-again experience.' By it they mean a SINNER being converted — experiencing salvation from SIN."

"Millions have the firmly rooted belief that to be 'born again' means the experience of a SINNER being converted and put under grace."

"In other words, the average person who says he has already been 'born again' is spiritually BLINDED to seeing the TRUTH on this point."

"That satanic MOTHER of harlots, described in Revelation 17, has deceived the world. And the world is, spiritually, DRUNK on her false teachings. A physically drunk man cannot see material things clearly and distinctly. They become blurred, out of focus. A spiritually drunk person cannot see GOD'S WORD clearly and distinctly."

"Are you willing to realize that the teaching that being born again means conversion from sin is FALSE teaching?"

"[The] Scriptures are PLAIN. They make PLAIN the fact, and the TRUTH that being 'born again' is NOT the experience of conversion from sin during this life — but being BORN of God, immortal, BY the resurrection.

"That does not in any way nullify the experience of conversion in this life. It simply means that millions have been deceived into calling that experience by the WRONG NAME."

"What these plain statements from God's Holy Word do say, is that being BORN AGAIN is not that experience of conversion from sin in this life — it is NOT anything any human has experienced in this life — it is NEW birth to a NEW life, by a RESURRECTION."

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