Copyright © 2006, 2019 Philadelphia Church of God
“I prophesy to you that, one way or the other, God will provide a way for us to mail that book again.”
— Gerald Flurry
Trumpet, March-April 2001
Ruth Tucker says we don’t base our beliefs on Scripture, but it was actually the Bible that served as our guide throughout the entirety of this struggle. Our God-given commission, grounded in Scripture, is what prompted my father to print Mystery of the Ages in the first place. Then, after the wcg attacked, my father relied on Scripture to establish the framework for our legal strategy: offensive warfare. And after every setback, he turned to God’s word for encouragement.
“I’m not discouraged—I’m not depressed,” my father told pcg members a few days after the Ninth Circuit ruled against us on September 18, 2000. “I want to fight more than ever. I asked the lawyers to fight as if our lives depended on it, but to really fight it with a positive attitude—realizing that God is with us.”1
Soon after the decision at the appellate level, our attorneys petitioned for a rehearing. We submitted a brief to all 27 judges at the Ninth Circuit, hoping one of them would move to have our case submitted before an 11-judge panel. No one responded.
“It’s not over yet,” my father insisted. “We’re going to win this thing in the end. We absolutely know that.”
While waiting to hear if the Supreme Court would accept our case, my dad made this amazing statement in the March-April 2001 Trumpet: “We are in a court battle over Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages. The big issue is, who owns the copyright? … Now there has been an injunction issued. We have had to stop printing and mailing Mystery of the Ages (and all of Mr. Armstrong’s writings).
“We have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is less than a 1 percent chance of our getting into the Supreme Court, but I believe we will. I prophesy to you that, one way or the other, God will provide a way for us to mail that book again.”2
A few weeks after that appeared in print, on April 2, the Supreme Court declined to hear our petition without comment as to why. On the surface, things had gone from bad to worse.
Yet everything my dad kept saying assured pcg members that things would eventually take a turn for the better. That’s because, in relying on the sure word of Bible prophecy, he knew what the lawsuit’s outcome would be even before it ended.
In Unveiled at Last: The Royal Book of Revelation, published about the same time the Supreme Court decided not to hear our case, he wrote,
Should we deliver Mystery of the Ages? I tell you we must deliver it! When the Bible talks about prophesying again, that primarily means the same prophecy—again. God is talking about a message that has been prophesied before. We must prophesy again, because we haven’t yet reached the largest audience possible with Mystery of the Ages. The job is still incomplete.
God won’t allow anybody to stop this message until that work is done. The injunction is only a temporary delay!3
He based his strong statements on certain prophecies in Revelation 10, where God said the “mystery of God” had to be “finished” before Christ returned (see Revelation 10:7, 11). This is why, he went on to say, the pcg has been commissioned to get Mystery of the Ages to the world. “But for this temporary injunction, Mystery of the Ages is going out again. Understanding this really puts things into a greatly reduced time frame,” he wrote.
He didn’t know all the answers with respect to how God would do it—only that God would do it!
In the May 31, 2001, issue of the Journal, Bill Stough wrote,
The director of the Worldwide Church of God’s legal department says that if the Philadelphia Church of God wants to publish and distribute wcg-copyrighted publications it should negotiate directly with the Worldwide Church of God.4
So far as we know, this was the wcg’s first indication that they might annul their “Christian duty” doctrine. And in reading between the lines, Helge was indirectly admitting, There are no plans to annotate or make Mr. Armstrong’s works available in their original form, so go ahead and make us an offer. Reality had set in. They knew they had to, in some form, make Mr. Armstrong’s works available to the public.
Later that year, in September 2001, we produced another book, titled Who Is ‘That Prophet’? My dad wrote on page 86,
I believe we will not lose the court case. Yes, our chances of winning are small. But that only makes greater odds for God. He is like the Supreme Court in that He only takes certain cases. But He usually takes them when you’ve already gone into the fiery furnace! Mystery of the Ages was an open door for us. God has put it on hold temporarily. But Isaiah 22:22 says that when Eliakim opens a door, none can shut it. We must have faith in that.5
Whereas Revelation 10 (as expounded on in The Royal Book of Revelation) revealed that the message in Mystery of the Ages would, in fact, go out again, the prophecies discussed in That Prophet indicated more. Isaiah 22 says that someone in this end time would come as a type of Eliakim. Notice what verse 24 says regarding this man: “And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.”6
Anciently, these vessels were the tools needed to perform the temple services. My dad explained that today, “These must refer to all of our books and booklets. All the glory hangs on Eliakim—all the revelation from Mr. Armstrong ….”7
This was the first indication we had that God wanted more for us than just the right to copy and distribute Mr. Armstrong’s works. He wanted us to own them!
It was around this time that Helge devised the e-publishing scheme. Initially, they wanted us to absorb the costs of the project. In November 2001, however, they told us they would move forward with the e-publishing venture, at their own cost, in order to undermine our argument that it would be futile to request a license.
That same month, we produced yet another book, The God Family Vision. In it, my dad wrote, “Mystery of the Ages doesn’t belong to the Worldwide Church of God. It is the knowledge of God!”8
On pages 132-135 of that book, my dad discussed how the Worldwide Church of God had sold its spiritual birthright, comparing that church to Esau. He wrote, “If you sell your birthright for all the wealth in the world today, it’s still just a bowl of soup!”9 And that’s what the wcg had been doing for a number of years—selling off valuable gifts given to Mr. Armstrong, fine furniture, youth campsites and facilities, festival sites, college campuses. They were even trying to sell their headquarters facilities in Pasadena, including the church’s crown jewel—Ambassador Auditorium.
But would they also sell off Mr. Armstrong’s writings? Up to that time, they had only suggested licenses—and very restrictive ones at that.
As 2002 wore on, though the damages trial had yet to begin and the counterclaim was unresolved, Bible prophecy indicated the lawsuit was quickly winding down. My dad wrote a lengthy article in our September-October issue of Royal Vision. The title speaks for itself: “Habakkuk Reveals the Outcome of Our Court Case.” Regarding Habakkuk 3:2, he wrote,
The pcg has never needed reviving except in the court case. This is a prophecy about God reviving us. So we need to prepare for a spectacular end! Yes—we are going to get Mr. Armstrong’s writings. … I believe that God will have to give us Mr. Armstrong’s writings. I state that in faith, and I strongly believe He will if we have the faith we need.10
Once again, he based such strong statements on what was revealed in Scripture. Notice Habakkuk 1:1-2: “The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!” There was a temple crisis in Habakkuk’s day—a type of what the pcg has endured in this end time.
Verse 3 reads, “Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.” The original Hebrew words for strife and contention indicate that this is referring to a legal struggle.
And notice, God’s faithful people in Habakkuk’s day didn’t fare well in court. “Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth” (verse 4). Again, notice the legal language—law, judgment, wrong judgment. The Hebrew word for judgment, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, means “a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree ….” The Anchor Bible says, “[T]he juridical language of verse 4 is unmistakable … it could be describing corruption in the courts.”
Habakkuk’s reference to a wrong judgment, or verdict, is especially interesting in light of our court battle. There is no mention of a right judgment to correct the wrong. It just abruptly moves into this most inspiring verse: “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you” (verse 5). My dad wrote,
God says He will raise up a work that people will hear about but won’t believe—and this is in the context of the court battle. I believe this has already been fulfilled in general, but is God also saying there will be a specific fulfillment related to the court case, a specific miracle, that will fill God’s people with wonder? A miracle that will remove the injustices and destruction? Do we have the faith to believe?
I believe we will see something dramatic on the scene very soon! I can’t read these verses any other way. This is in the context of a revival, and a court battle, and God says a double wonder is coming.11
Later in the article, my dad wrote, “If God reveals Habakkuk, then it follows that He is going to revive this work soon if we walk by faith. … We must continue. If so, we cannot lose. God will revive His work.”12
This specific understanding of Habakkuk in that Royal Vision article set the tone for my dad’s messages at the Feast of Tabernacles in September 2002. On September 22, he compared two verses in Daniel. In Daniel 8:11, it says that in this end time, Satan will take away the “daily”—meaning God’s truth (see verse 12). My dad explained that this was a direct reference to Mr. Armstrong’s literature and how it had been cast to the ground in this end time because of the court case.
Then, in comparing that passage with Daniel 12:11, we read that God (not Satan) takes away the “daily” just before the Great Tribulation begins. Elsewhere in Scripture, this is referred to as the famine of the word (see Amos 8:11).
The point is this: For the daily to be taken away now (by Satan) and then again just before the Great Tribulation (by God), it proved, my dad said in September 2002, that we would somehow take the daily (in this case, represented by Mr. Armstrong’s literature) to the world again before Christ returns.
A week later, on September 28, my dad expounded on Revelation 10:11: “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” In The Royal Book of Revelation he had explained the general meaning of the verse: that we were to prophesy again, the way Mr. Armstrong did before he died. Yet look at this verse in all its specific detail, he told the pcg membership. “Prophesy again implies that it was stopped. Then God says ‘prophesy again.’ But we must fight our way through it and see how God delivers us.”13
Less than three weeks later, on October 14, the Worldwide Church of God made an offer they had not made throughout the six years of litigation and, in fact, had vowed in 1997 never to make. They asked if we would be interested in buying Mystery of the Ages. Later, they not only slashed the asking price, they tacked on the other 18 works we were seeking in our counterclaim!
Everything we had been fighting for was now ours. No one but God could have predicted such an incredible outcome for the Philadelphia Church of God. Yet given these numerous specific prophecies, that is exactly what He had done.
In the Journal story quoted earlier, the author asked Helge if he was aware of the prophecy Gerald Flurry made in the March-April 2001 Trumpet—that “one way or the other, God will provide a way for us to mail that book again.” Helge responded this way: “[Mr. Flurry] won’t want his prophecy to fail, so what he is probably really doing is pronouncing ahead of time what he is actually planning on doing. Hence his words are really nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.”14
Think about that for a moment. The Ninth Circuit had ruled against us eight months earlier. There had been an injunction served against us. And we had just heard that the Supreme Court chose not to hear our petition. The wcg had won the lawsuit over Mystery at the appellate level and would receive damages from us at trial! Yet Helge told the Journal that my father’s comment, “God will provide a way for us to mail that book again,” was a self-fulfilling prophecy?
It’s as if Helge knew, even then, that we would somehow get these works. And when we did, he wanted everyone to know that it wouldn’t be because God said so, but because of a self-fulfilling prophecy of Gerald Flurry!
But how in the world could Gerald Flurry have “planned” for the case to end up the way it did? Wasn’t it Helge who said our only “right” was to “stand before the bar of justice and have damages assessed against” us? How could my dad have known the wcg would completely reverse its course and willingly give up everything?
After settlement, Helge misrepresented the facts entirely, suggesting that we were the ones who initiated offers to settle—offers that were repeatedly “rejected.” In actuality, long before there were ever any negotiations, the wcg board of directors met and decided they wanted out of this lawsuit. They knew they were trapped. They were afraid of being exposed. And they knew that the longer they litigated, the more material we would have to expose them. This is why, on October 14, they offered to sell Mystery of the Ages on the condition that we drop our counterclaim.
We rejected this initial offer, and many others to follow, just as sure as wcg rejected a number of our counteroffers. What’s more, even after both sides had agreed to the principal terms of settlement on January 16, 2003, contractual negotiations were nearly derailed when the wcg insisted that we either give back or destroy all the documents we had accumulated from the wcg in this case.
We told them this was a deal breaker for us. Besides obtaining the 19 works, we believed God wanted us to write a book about the lawsuit as well, which made the discovery documents an indispensable piece of any settlement agreement.
On February 27, 2003, my dad told Dennis Leap and me that he was getting his “second wind” and was prepared to go back to court if wcg insisted on that clause in the contract. We were actually prepared to give up Mr. Armstrong’s works and go back to court if the wcg insisted on retrieving all their documents. Halting negotiations at the 11th hour, insisting we call the judge to resume litigation—as my dad did—are not the acts of one pressured to make a deal. They are not the acts of one desperately trying to bring about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Four days after we called the whole thing off, Helge wrote to tell us that wcg had reconsidered and, “in the spirit of Christian cooperation,” had agreed to delete the paragraph requiring destruction of court documents from the contract.15
In light of what Helge said in the months that led up to October 14, it makes sense that he would spin the settlement discussions the way he did. All along, he had made no secret of the fact that he felt wcg was in the driver’s seat—that pcg was in a totally indefensible position, faced with the prospect of not getting Mr. Armstrong’s literature and paying out multiple millions of dollars.
In their “ideal” position, the only way the wcg would even talk to us was if we approached them with an offer they couldn’t refuse. But that’s not how it happened. It was the wcg, despite their spin, that was pressured to make a deal in order to get out of this lawsuit.
My father, on the other hand, had prophesied from the start that—one way or another—we would be able to distribute Mr. Armstrong’s literature.
In the end, that’s exactly what happened.Continue Reading: Chapter 25: Raising the Ruins