After yesterday’s article about anti-Semitism, I feel it is important to follow up with a real problem doctrine taught in a few of the Churches of God. There are still organizations that tenaciously cling to old ideas that state that Adam was white (and, I assume that Eve was as well). The funny thing about it is that they teach this alongside of teaching that we should get our doctrines from the Bible. However, this teaching is not in the Bible!
I would like to briefly look at where this idea comes from in part 1. More importantly, part 2 will examine what the Bible really says.
Let’s be frank. Herbert W Armstrong’s Mystery of the Ages is not inspired Scripture. HWA taught that the Bible was closed, although he certainly felt that MOA might have been overall inspired. He stopped just short of calling it inspired, though. A few groups have clung to it like it was, however.
Yet, I do view it as an important work, but it is important more because it is the only systematic theology (I’m not referring the the controversial “Systematic Theology Project” of the 70s) work to actually come out of that time period of the COG. It really is a one-stop shop for all important doctrines that once were Worldwide Church of God (at least at that time).
Some doctrines, such as prophecy, are dependent upon other doctrines, such as British-Israelism. Some, like the race of Adam, have no bearing upon the other doctrines. The rest does not fall apart without it, which should make one examine if it really is a true doctrine or if it is simple speculation.
HWA grew up in a rural Quaker area, and it appears that some ideas he formed early on may have been with him until his death. It is true that some Quakers tend to be more tolerant than more traditional groups, however there still exists the idea today for some that being white helps you get ahead in their schools and their communities. I suppose it should be said that there probably is no group completely devoid of prejudice. His ideas about race, makeup and even skirt length had a lot to do with his upbringing.
Sometimes, the accusation of racism comes up in regards to the separation of blacks and whites during services, at least in some areas, during the 50s and perhaps later (exact dates seem to be difficult to pin down). It is easy, of course, to look back upon events with 21st century eyeglasses, but all that really does is distort the picture.
Right or wrong, that was the way much of society was, and often the church environment reflected that. It is ironic that even to this day segregationists like WEB Du Bois are hailed as civil rights leaders while those following societal norms are vilified. However, this practice also occurred in other mainstream denominations as well, and much less condemnation is often heaped upon those groups.
Having said that, it is a shame that often the church took on the attitudes of society rather than the reverse. It is also a shame that it took WCG longer to shake itself of some of these attitudes than more traditional religions. Like some Biblical examples, sometimes the unbeliever shows theirself to be more honorable than the believer (e.g., Abraham and Pharaoh).