1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1967, 1973, 1974, 1986
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG 1892-1986
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 14 .....
College Competition and Oregon or Bust
CHAPTER 15 ..... Launching a New Business
CHAPTER 16 ..... Researching the Bible and Darwin
CHAPTER 17 ..... At the Crossroads -- and a Momentous Decision
CHAPTER 18 ..... Learning Whether God Answers Prayers
CHAPTER 19 ..... Trying to Convert Relatives
College Competition and Oregon or Bust
ON expert advice, I had put myself through the college of EXPERIENCE -- or, as it is sometimes called, the college of hard knocks. First was a year of want ads on a Des Moines daily newspaper. Later came three years on a national trade journal -- the largest in the United States, involving a great deal of travel, and intensive instruction, training, and experience in writing advertising copy, dictating business letters, and later, writing magazine articles. After six months of Chamber of Commerce work, the seven-year career representing the leading bank journals of the nation began.
All these years I had studied diligently. My major in this study, of course, was advertising and merchandising. I studied what books were available. I read religiously the trade papers of the profession. I studied psychology. As a minor study, I delved into Plato, Epictetus, and other books on philosophy, and continually read Elbert Hubbard (whom I became personally acquainted with) for style in writing. I read human interest articles and other articles on world conditions and on the business of living, in leading magazines.
At the beginning of World War I, I had been able to obtain written recommendations for entrance into the Officers Reserve Corps from such prominent Chicago men as Arthur Reynolds, president of the largest bank in Chicago and second largest in America, testifying that I possessed more than the equivalent of a college education.
But I had not received my education in college. The Challenge for College Competition
This request from my brother-in-law presented an intriguing challenge. I had taken a confidence-shattering beating in the failure of the Chicago business. But the vanity had not been crushed out of my nature by any means. Here was a chance to match wits with college students. Also it offered a total mental diversion from the Chicago nightmare. It was something I could sink my teeth into, with energy and a new interest.
But I knew nothing of how college orations were written, or delivered, or judged. As I mentioned, I asked my brother-in-law if he could bring me copies of a few first-place winning orations.
He brought out to the farm a number of them from the college library, printed in pamphlet form. Immediately I noticed that they were all couched in flowery language -- the amateur college-boy attempt at fancy rhetoric, employing five- to seven-syllable words which actually said practically nothing. All the orations were written on such altruistic and idealistic subjects as peace, or prohibition, or love for fellowman. They displayed ignorance of the WAY to peace, or the problem of alcoholism, or of human experience in living. But they did contain beautiful, high-flown language!
This became very intriguing. Tell me, Walt, I asked, what is the prevailing style of delivery? Do the oratorial contestants go at it hammer-and-tongs, Billy Sunday style tearing their hair out, throwing chairs across the platform, thundering at their audiences -- or do they speak calmly and smoothly, with carefully developed graceful gestures -- or how?
Oh, they try to speak with as much calm dignity as possible -- with graceful gestures.
One Chance in TWO
How many contestants will be in this contest?
There will be six, including me, Walter answered. All right -- tell me, now -- would you rather enter this contest with one chance in six of winning, or with one chance in TWO?
He didn't quite understand. Why, with one out of two -- but what do you mean? Well, Walt, I replied, I guess I'm not much of a conformist. I often break precedent. I figure it this way: if you write a flossy, flowery oration with big words that say nothing, and attempt to compete with these upperclassmen of greater experience on their own terms, you are only one of six contestants, and you probably do not even have one chance in six of winning.
But if you pick for your subject some red-hot controversial topic -- if you have the courage to actually ATTACK something, give the PLAIN TRUTH about it, open people's eyes about it, and work yourself up to white-hot heat of indignation and emotion, and let it fly Billy Sunday style -- to start a big controversy -- well, either the judges will like YOUR kind of oration, or the other kind. You have one chance in two. If they like the other kind, you lose out -- you'll be voted last place. Then they have to choose among the other five. But if they do like your style, there is no one to choose but YOU -- you'll be the only contestant with that kind of oration. So, I figure you will be either first or last. You will not be second or third.
Say! That sounds good! exclaimed Walter. I don't want to be second or third. I want to WIN. If I can't win, I might just as well be last.
What to Attack?
O.K. Now we must find something to attack and expose -- something that is wrong. Something that will stir up the people. What do you hate the most?
He didn't seem to hate anything or anybody. There was nothing I could find that he was really MAD at.
Well, I said finally, we'll have to find something that needs exposing -- something you can really flay with forceful language. Come to think of it, right now labor leaders are resorting to some very foul practices. There have been murders, and gross injustices, both against employers and against the union members themselves. I remember when I visited Elbert Hubbard at his Roycroft Inn, at East Aurora, New York, I read a pamphlet of his that really flayed dishonest labor leaders -- and he has the best, most prolific vocabulary, and the most effective rhetorical bromides of any writer I know. Suppose we attack labor racketeering.
He didn't know anything about it, but he guessed this subject would be as good as any. Immediately we wrote to Roycroft Inn for this booklet I had read. Also we wrote to Governor Allen of Kansas, who had just been on a fiery debate on labor-leader racketeering that had made national headlines.
The Herrin, Illinois massacre had occurred shortly prior to this -- where many had been killed. We went all out to obtain FACTS on how labor leaders (some of them) were racketeering off of their own worker members. Walter explained to me that we were allowed to use a total of 200 words in the 2,000-word oration directly quoted from published sources. We quoted some of the most forceful phrases from Hubbard and Governor Allen.
We did not attack or oppose the PRINCIPLE of unionism. The first line of the oration stated, in the somewhat flowery language which Walter insisted on putting into it against my advice: There was a time when the laboring man was brutalized by toil. Capital held the balance of power. Labor was cowed into meek submission.
What was opposed and exposed was the wrong economic philosophy of labor leaders who assumed that management is the enemy of labor -- that the two interests run in opposite directions -- that laboring men ought to use force and the strike to GET all they can, while at the same time they ought to lay down on the job and give in return as little as they could. The threat of calling a strike for blackmail purposes -- asking a huge payoff from an employer to a crooked labor leader to prevent his stirring up the men for a strike -- murders and violence -- these things we opposed.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR A LARGER VIEW
HWA at age 23, with spectacles. He needed glasses to compensate for one weak eye.
Period photo of Chicago, Illinois, traffic on May 17, 1920 at northside of Michigan Avenue Bridge
Elbert Hubbard on board the Lusitania in 1915. Mr Armstrong met the famed philosopher on several occasions
A photo that Herbert sent to his mother shortly before the flash depression of 1920
A reproduction of a letter from Mr. Armstrong to his mother written en route to Chicago July 23, 1917. Mr. armstrong expected to be drafted at any moment
Front of draft card, with the signature that became known to millions
In front of Del Prado Hotel, Chicago, at age 24
Mr. Armstrong and friend, Ralph Johnson, again in front of Del Prado Hotel - expecting to be drafted
HWA in Motor Iowa, his home state. Iowa then as now, is in the heart of the corn belt and possesses the deepest and richest farm soil in the whole of the United States
Lome Isabelle Dillon (left) and her sister Edith when they were small children
The family of Loma Dillon in the mid 1890's: her mother holds younger sister Edith; her father provides her back support in this photo that Mr. Armstrong came later to treasure.
Ms. Loma Dillon sometime before HWA met her
Ms. Loma Dillon beside pool in front of apartment building in Des Moines where she was overnight guest of the Frank Armstrong family
Loma Dillon shortly before HWA met her
Loma wearing her sister's coat which proved too large
Herbert W. Armstrong and Loma Isabelle Dillon, a vivacious cousin, during one of his Iowa visits in his early to mid twenties
Readers will find this photo a fascinating study in the trends in swimwear. It would be better to label these garments bathing suits in the literal sense, as one could hardly swim effectively wearing them.
On the beach of Lake Michigan, at the end of Wilson Ave. Just after honeymoon trip.
In Chicago the Armstrongs lived one and a half blocks from the lake.
Country store in Motor, Iowa. In upper right room HWA became engaged to Ms. Dillon.
Loma Isabelle Dillon in Jackson Park on the morning of her marriage to HWA
Loma Dillon at the time of her marriage in July 1917. She always thought of herself as a country girl
Loma Armstrong with her husband at a sporting event. The dress is typical of World War I period.
Loma's dream letter. In this letter addressed to Mr. Armstrong's mother, Loma Armstrong relates the remarkable incident of her and her husband's calling.
Bertha Dillon, wife of Walter Dillon
HWA agge 30, on the family farm
Loma Armstrong, right, and HWA, both in their later twenties. Photo taken the Sunday before their first baby was born.
Herbert and Loma armstrong during their early days together.
HWA though born in a small Iowa town, was by nature a child of the city and his intense artistic and cultural interests were reflected in his later work
The First Course in Public Speaking
Now began my first real experience in public speaking. I had given talks before dinner groups of retail merchants three times -- at Richmond, Kentucky, at Lansing, Michigan, and Danville, Illinois, upon completion of merchandising surveys. But I had never studied public speaking, nor looked into any textbooks on the subject. Before this college oratory experience was over I was to become acquainted with the authors of the two textbooks on the subject used in most of the colleges and universities throughout America. As I now look back over the events of those formative years, in writing this autobiography, it becomes more and more evident that the unseen divine hand was guiding me continually into the very experience and training needed for the Great Calling.
After the oration was written, Walter memorized it. He announced that he was finally ready to begin practice on delivery. We went over to the college chapel at an hour when it was entirely unoccupied. I took a seat about two-thirds' way back. Walter went to the platform.
He started his oration. Consternation seized me. He was speaking it in his best attempt to emulate the prevailing college style -- quiet, with dignity, and graceful gestures. Only, his gestures were not graceful. They were so obviously practiced, and not at all natural -- and they were ridiculously awkward. The expression was not natural. I saw visions of winning last place in the contest.
This was a dilemma that had, somehow, to be solved. I saw at once that Walter did not grasp the real meaning of his shockingly powerful speech. He didn't feel it. This labor racketeering crisis then so prominently on front page news was something of which he seemed unaware. The oration was just so many meaningless words. Unless he could become aware of the situation, and really feel with white-heat indignation the scathing indictment of these criminal abuses of unionism, he had no chance of winning.
What to do? An Incident Makes It Personal
At just this time a living incident made the whole meaning of the oration personal. A strike was in progress at the Rock Island Railroad division point in Valley Junction -- now renamed West Des Moines. The morning Des Moines Register reported a bombing of the locomotive roundhouse. Eleven big locomotives had been destroyed.
We went to Valley Junction, and managed to get through the lines to the office of the superintendent. The superintendent showed great interest in learning of the subject of the oration. He gave us considerable time. We went out through the roundhouse. We saw the twisted and tangled masses of steel of demolished locomotives.
We visited a home in town where the front half of the house had been blown off by a bomb. Inside the house at the time had been the wife and children of a worker who had taken up the tools the union men had laid down. For some little time the workmen who had accepted jobs after the union men had walked out had been kept behind barricaded walls day and night. Violence had become rampant. Nonunion workers had been assaulted upon leaving the yards and returning to their homes after working hours -- hence they had been forced to remain behind defense barriers night and day.
Walter was now really outraged. When union leaders try to kill innocent wives and children just because their husbands have picked up the tools they laid down, that is just too much! he exclaimed with heat.
Another nonunion home -- occupied only by the innocent wife and children -- had been rotten-egged.
Back in the superintendent's office he told us one of his problems with the union leaders.
I was powerless to hire or fire a man without consent of labor leaders, he said. In the railroad business it is just as serious a crime for an engineer to go to sleep in his cab as for a sentry to go to sleep on duty in the army in wartime. I had such a man. I tried to fire him. The labor leader refused. He said I did not have proof. I had to employ a professional photographer, and keep him here on the job constantly until this engineer went to sleep again on duty in his cab. When we presented the photographic evidence to union officials higher up, they finally consented to firing the man.
The next afternoon at the usual time we went into the college chapel for rehearsal. As Walter began speaking, the words of his oration for the first time conveyed real meaning to his mind. These words described in dynamic language exactly the way he now felt. I had told him to dispense with all gestures immediately after that first rehearsal. Unless gestures are natural, automatic and unrealized by the speaker, they are not effective anyway.
But this time Walter was gesturing. He didn't know it -- but he was gesturing! They were not the most smooth and polished gestures of the professional speaker -- but THEY WERE TERRIFICALLY CONVINCING! Today Walter was really angry! As the words poured forth, their meaning more and more expressed the very indignation he felt. The delivery was a little raw and rough -- it was somewhat amateurish -- but it was POWERFUL and it was CONVINCING!
There! I exclaimed joyfully, when he had finished, HOLD IT! Hold it right there! Just go into the contest exactly as you went into this rehearsal! Now you have a chance. Of course, the judges still may not like something so radically different from the established style of college oratory. But now you will be either last, or first!
Comes the Final Contest
On the night of the local college oratorical contest, Walter drew last place. He was quite discouraged. He didn't know, then, that the last speaker always has the advantage. He was terribly nervous.
The two students rated the best were, of course, very good as college speakers. Theirs were the usual suave, smooth, flowery big words, delivered calmly with smooth and much-practiced graceful gestures. They were highly applauded. This year the students had high hopes of winning a state championship -- which Simpson had not won for eight years.
Then Walter walked out on the platform for the final oration. He started out calmly but nervously. But after some six or eight minutes the words he was speaking took him right back to Valley Junction. He forgot the nervousness that had seized him at the beginning. He thought only of the outrageous injustices he had SEEN with his own eyes. And for the first time he had an audience to tell it to! He began to gesture. He began to pace back and forth on the platform. He shook his fist. He was in dead earnest! He really MEANT what he was saying -- and HE WAS SAYING SOMETHING!
When he had finished, he knew he had lost -- but at least he had gotten a message over to that audience! He had that much satisfaction.
The judges' decision was announced. First came the third-place choice. It was one of the two supposed best orators. The other was announced as second. First place -- Walter Dillon!
There was little applause. The two favorites had lost out to a green, nonfrat freshman! The judges had been moved by his speech. They had liked it. But the student body and faculty apparently dis agreed.
In the days that followed there was only one topic of conversation on the campus -- the merits or demerits of labor unionism. It became a heated controversy. The professor of economics took it up in class. He dis agreed with Walter Dillon's economics. He favored the union brand of economics. Apparently he had slight socialist or Communist leanings.
One senior said to me, I hope Dillon won't disgrace us in the state contest. We might have won this year, but now, with a green freshman representing us, we haven't a chance. BOY! but wasn't Sutton's oration good?
Yes, I rejoined. It was smooth and well delivered. By the way, WHAT did he talk about? I can't seem to remember.
Why -- why -- stammered the student, I -- I can't seem to remember, either. But it certainly was a great oration!
Well, really, was it -- if neither you nor I can remember a thing he said? Everyone in town seems to remember what Dillon said. He really stirred up a hornet's nest! Do you really think a speech is good if it doesn't say anything? He went away somewhat angrily.
The State Contest
A short time later came the state contest. It was held that year at Central College, Pella, Iowa. There it was the same. Walter was very nervous. I walked with him over the campus grounds while the first few contestants were speaking. Once again he was last speaker.
Once again, after a calm and somewhat nervous start -- not necessarily obvious to the audience -- he relived the scenes of violence at Valley Junction. When he came to the Herrin massacre, the bombing of the Los Angeles Times plant, and the other outrages of violence covered in the oration, he really lived it! Again he paced the floor, shook his fists, rose to a crescendo of indignant and outraged POWER at the climax, then had real pleading in his voice in his final solution of these problems.
Again third place was announced first -- then second. Again we knew he was either first or last. Finally the winner -- Walter E. Dillon of Simpson!
Returning to the campus we witnessed a living example of the fickleness of public opinion. After winning the home contest Walter had been in disgrace. It was just a fluke decision, most of the students said. A freshman had spoiled their chance of winning a state contest. Walter was avoided on the streets. He was shunned.
But now, he returned the conquering hero. Simpson had won the state championship! Walter Dillon was the hero of the campus. It was the first time any freshman had won a state contest. This was NEWS. It even made the front page of the Chicago Tribune! He had bids to join fraternities. The professor of economics was out of town on vacation several days -- until the reverse opinion on his economics subsided. For now the student body unanimously accepted Dillon's brand of labor economics!
Well, it had been an interesting participation in college activity for me. It helped restore shattered morale. I had helped WIN something. I had begun to study public speaking. I had gained invaluable experience in speaking, which was later to be used. My brother-in-law had been deprived without a chance of his ambition to be one of FIVE to win all-state honors in basketball. But he had won the state championship in oratory, which he didn't have to share with anybody.
Walter Dillon continued in the field of education as a life profession, and, much later, he was to become the first president of Ambassador College, and its first instructor in public speaking.
Actually, our experiences in college oratory continued on another year. I promoted a number of entertainment programs in various towns in Warren County during the following year, with Walter billed as the headliner, and charging 25 cents and 35 cents admission. We brought in some comedy and singing talent from college. A year later, by early 1924, Walter Dillon was a smooth and finished public speaker. Following the national contest of that year, its sole judge, Professor Woolbert of the University of Illinois, author of a much-used college textbook on public speaking, heard him, and told me he probably would have given Mr. Dillon the national championship, had he been entered.
Doing Surveys Again
After the rest, and oratorical contest experience of the fall and winter of 1922-23, I realized I had to find something to do.
Once before, the reader will remember, when I was stranded without a dollar in Danville, Illinois, I had brought the merchandising survey experience to the rescue by selling a survey to the local newspaper. It had been highly successful for the newspaper, resulting in a big increase in advertising volume. Newspapers derive their revenue from the advertising.
At Danville, I had made one colossal mistake. Caught off guard when the business manager of the paper asked what my fee would be, I had set it at $50. It should have been $500.
Now the thought of entering upon a business of conducting surveys was uppermost in mind. My brother-in-law borrowed a car, and we drove to Ames, Iowa -- seat of Iowa State College. The idea of the survey was quickly accepted by a Mr. Powers, who was owner or manager (or both) of the Ames Daily Tribune. This time the fee was $500. The price was accepted at once.
This time I put on a more thorough survey than the previous ones. Not only housewives in the town, but students and faculty members, and heads of departments at the college were interviewed. The newspaper put at my disposal a small car. I do not remember the make, but I believe it was smaller than a Ford. This enabled me to interview farmers in all directions.
The survey uncovered some peculiar and astonishing facts. About 75% or more of the day's shopping on school days was done after 4 p.m., when rush hour began in the stores. The women of Ames seemed to prefer doing their shopping when the college girls did theirs -- after class hours.
As usual, most of the trade in some lines went to Des Moines, only 30 miles south, or to the mail order houses. I found out why. Interesting facts were uncovered about certain individual stores.
Curing a Sick Store
One department store, not the largest, and one of a small chain of three or four stores, about half or two-thirds owned by the local manager, came in for the most criticism. Women were satisfied with their stocks and styles, and also with their prices. The big complaint was on the salespeople.
Why, I've stood waiting ten or fifteen minutes to be waited on, one typical customer said, and then the clerk said they were out of the item I wanted, when I could see it in plain sight high up on a shelf. She just didn't want to reach up that high to get it down.
Women universally reported that the clerks never smiled. I learned it would be the most popular store in town if its sales force would be transformed into smiling, helpful, enthusiastic, wide-awake people anxious to please customers.
I gave a private confidential report to each store, which the newspaper did not see, in addition to the general report and summary which was supplied the newspaper. I distinctly remember the personal report I made to this particular department-store manager. The confidential report hit him personally right between the eyes. I had discovered that he underpaid his sales force. He never smiled at them. He maintained a secret spy system, spying on clerks. He was dumbfounded to hear from me that all his clerks were well aware of this.
The whole thing is your fault, personally, I said. But I can show you how to correct it and double the size of your business.
Vell, he said at last, in a Scandinavian accent, this is the hardest ting I have ever had to take in my life -- but I guess ve can take it. Vhat do you advise me to do?
First, raise salaries -- and in a rather dramatic manner. Vait! he cut in. Look! A store can only pay a certain percent of sales in salaries. I am paying them too high a percent already!
Yes, sure, I know that, I responded. But the way to get the percent of sales paid in salaries down is to RAISE salaries, and get your sales force on their toes -- happy -- smiling. Then sales will double, and the percent paid in salaries will go down.
LOWERING Salaries by Raising Them
Tell me how ve do it, he said dubiously.
All right, here's what I want you to do. I DON'T want you to do any additional advertising in the Tribune at all -- until this new system has been working for at least six weeks. Big-space advertising right now would ruin your business. But, once you get this thing corrected, big-space advertising will quickly double your sales volume. First, I want you to plan a big party for the sales force. Have it on your second floor, in the women's ready-to-wear section. Try to arrange for the Home Ec. Department out at the college to prepare the biggest and finest dinner you ever saw. Hire a dance band. Don't try to beat down the cost -- pay what it costs to get the BEST. Then invite all your employees. Let them know you expect them to be there. I think I can pass the word along through some of them, so they will all come. I have made friends with some of them.
After they have had the finest dinner they ever ate, and the dance band has them feeling good -- and have all these dunce caps, noisemakers, confetti to throw -- everything to get them into the most gay mood -- then rise and make a speech. Start out by telling them you have been making a big mistake. You have not treated them right, and they have not treated customers right -- but you never realized it before, and probably they didn't either. Then tell them immediately that you are announcing a substantial raise in salaries for EVERYBODY. Tell them that from now on THEY MUST SMILE while waiting on customers. They must be alert. You intend to treat them right from now on, and they must treat customers right -- or you'll get salespeople who will. You'll probably be paying the highest salaries in town. THEY HAVE TO SELL ENOUGH GOODS TO EARN IT -- at a lower percent of sales than present salaries! If they don't, your high salaries will attract the best salespeople, and those who do not respond will be fired.
He said he would do it if I would come to the party, and sit by his side to bolster him up, and make a speech myself.
The party was held. It had an electric effect. Now, I said to the manager, hereafter you must personally stand by the front door between 4 and 6 each afternoon, greeting customers yourself with a smile, and being sure they are promptly waited on.
Winning With a Smile
Next afternoon about 4:15 I dropped in. There he was, trying to bow and smile stiffly at incoming customers. Quickly I drew him to one side.
No, No! I exclaimed. That will never do! You are acting like you never smiled before -- like your heart is not in it. LOOK at those fine people coming in here. THEY ARE CUSTOMERS! They are coming to SPEND MONEY with you. DON'T YOU LIKE THEM?
He did, but he had never thought of them in that light before. With a little coaching, he began to realize how much he did LIKE these people. He began to smile a natural smile, like he meant it!
After six weeks, this store began really BIG-space advertising, with the slogans I had suggested -- something like MOST PROMPT AND INTERESTED SERVICE IN AMES. Or, Where, you receive quick, attentive, interested SERVICE WITH A SMILE!'
I heard later from traveling salesmen who made Ames regularly that this store had more than doubled its sales volume in six months. Also an Ames shoe store, which had come in for some special criticism and correction. The newspaper DOUBLED its advertising volume.
That was my kind of salesmanship. The newspaper paid a fee of $500, and doubled the size of its business. The merchants found what was wrong with them, and doubled their business. The customers got better service, and were happy. EVERYBODY benefitted! Unless everybody does benefit, salesmanship is not honest! But not many salesmen know that, or the secret of intelligent and PRACTICAL salesmanship!
Important Job Offered
Next I went to Forrest Geneva, then advertising manager of both the Des Moines Register and the Evening Tribune. He had worked in want ads on the Register at the same time I did on the Capital, and we were old friends.
The Des Moines Register was rated (I think still is) one of the ten really great newspapers of the United States. It has a state-wide circulation, and is delivered in nearly all parts of the state early the same morning of publication.
BUT the Register was not getting the big department store advertising in Des Moines. This is the biggest part of the advertising revenue of any newspaper. It actually meant multiple millions of dollars to the Register to be able to carry the big-space store advertising.
Forrest, I said, the one most important thing in this world to the Register is to be able to crack through the barrier and carry the department store business -- and all the other larger stores. I CAN DO THE JOB FOR YOU. I can crack down that stone wall and get you the big-store business.
After I had explained in detail the method of the surveys, and how I proposed a state-wide survey, to show how the Des Moines stores already were drawing a tremendous volume of trade from local stores in other smaller towns and cities all over the state, and how a campaign in the Register, with its STATE-WIDE circulation, which was tremendous, would greatly increase their out-of-town business as well as the Des Moines business, Mr. Geneva expressed his confidence that my method would accomplish the result. Only one dominant morning newspaper, as I remember, in all U.S. major cities, was carrying the local department store advertising. That was the Chicago Tribune.
Herb, he said, I believe you have the idea that will do the job. Give me a few days to take this up with the officers higher up. I'm really enthusiastic over the idea.
A few days later I returned. We want you, said Mr. Geneva. But we have run into a certain situation. As you know, I am advertising manager over both papers. We also have an advertising manager for each paper, under me. Right now we have no advertising manager for the Register. I cannot get the management to approve the addition at this time of both a new advertising manager and you as a special expert. They want you to fill BOTH jobs.
But Forrest, I protested, I would be tied down with the executive job of managing the work of your eight advertising solicitors on the Register, besides all the specialized work of the survey.
Right, we agreed. But that will kill everything. I am not an executive. I can't manage the work of others. I'm like a lone wolf. I have to do my own work in my own way. I often work in streaks. When I'm 'on' I know I'm good. But on the off days I couldn't sell genuine gold bricks for a dime. I'd have daily reports to make out, and that's one thing I just never have been able to do. I'd get way behind on the reports.
Look, Herb, he came back. I know you will make good on the executive job. I won't let you fail. If you run into a lapse, or your reports are not in, I'll stay down myself evenings and do that part of your work for you. No one will ever know.
But I had no confidence in my ability to direct the work of eight men, and make out daily reports. So I turned down the offer to become advertising manager of a great newspaper.
I was to learn much later, beginning with 1947 when Ambassador College was founded, that I could become an executive and direct the operations and work of many hundreds of employees, besides doing about seven men's jobs myself. And long before that I learned to overcome lapses and streaks. But, had I taken that job I might be there today -- an employee on a newspaper, instead of directing the most important activity on earth. We might have averted several following years of financial hardship. But I know now, in the light of events -- the FRUITS, that I was being prepared for this Work and was being brought down to the depths of defeat and frustration until I would give up the false god of seeking status out of vanity.
We Migrate to Oregon
The remainder of that summer, and through the following winter, I put on a survey for a local weekly paper in Indianola, and worked part time writing advertising for local merchants. But most of the time was devoted to working with my brother-in-law on his oratory. We wrote a new oration for the following year, which involved many experiences, although, having won, he was not eligible to enter again at Simpson College.
I was beginning to bog down in the mire. My wife was worried. We were in a rut. I didn't seem to be selling more surveys to daily newspapers. Mrs. Armstrong knew we needed some change to jolt us out of the rut. My parents were living in Salem, Oregon. A complete change of environment might get me started again.
In the late winter of 1923-24, she began to suggest the idea of a summer trip to visit my parents and family in Oregon. But, Loma, I protested, we can't afford a vacation trip like that.
But, she had it all planned. We would go in Walter's Model T Ford. We would take a tent and camp out nights. We would prepare our own food, avoiding restaurant costs. She would ask her sister Bertha to go along, paying her share, thus helping enough with expenses to make the trip possible. Bertha was teaching school, and had a regular income. I had earned some money and we still had a little. Along the way, I would contact newspapers and line up surveys for the future -- thus getting a foundation laid for a future business.
My wife knew I liked to travel. I had been over most of the United States, but never yet as far west as the Rocky Mountains. A trip to the coast -- seeing my parents and family again -- was really intriguing.
Walter and Bertha were swayed by her persuasion. In the meantime, about March 1, 1923, my father-in-law had moved from the farm he was renting from a brother-in-law, sold his stock, and bought a small-town general store at Sandyville, only a few miles distant.
I began to make preparations for our trip. On the second floor above my father-in-law's store was a sort of cabinet-making shop. I had taken manual training in high school. So I began to work out a design and to make folding wooden cots and canvas tops for our trip. Later we purchased a used tent of the type that fastened over the top of the car, so that the car formed one end of the tent. We procured a secondhand portable gasoline stove.
The morning of June 16, 1924, we piled the two seats of the Model T high with bedding. We put our suitcases between the front fenders and the hood. The folded tent, boxes of food, the rest of the bedding, the folded cots, the portable stove, and all the rest of our earthly belongings were piled on a rack on the left running board high up on the side of the car. There were no trunks on the rear of Model T's.
How we piled all this stuff on that little car I can't conceive now, but we did -- and an extra spare tire or two besides!
I had said to a friend of my wife, previously, We'll be back in the fall. But when I wasn't listening, my wife told her: That's what he thinks -- but we are not coming back!
So, D-Day had arrived, the morning of June 16, 1924! (D for Departure.) Walter cranked up the Model T, and we were off for Oregon. One thing we had on the car was air-conditioning. Except for the luggage piled high up the left side, it was all air -- open air. The closed cars, except for very expensive limousines, had not yet come out of Detroit. But we had side curtains to button up in case of rain.
In case of RAIN, did I say? Yes, as, unhappily, we were to experience that very night! We had reached Greenwood, Iowa, the first day out, and pitched our tent beside the car -- with Mrs. Armstrong and me, our two little daughters -- Beverly, age 6, and Dorothy Jane, age almost 4 -- Walter and Bertha Dillon -- all trying to sleep on those flimsy, swaying folding cots I had made.
And then the rains came! We soon discovered the tent leaked! Hurriedly we arose from our rickety cots, delved into the food and utensil box, procured our one wash pan and a fry pan and a stew pan, to catch the leaking drips. There was little sleep. In Iowa, you know, there are sharp and blinding flashes of lightning, followed by deafening claps of thunder when it rains.
For three days and three nights we were marooned there. In those days there were no cross-country paved highways. We were traveling on Iowa mud roads.
Tent Cities -- No Motels
Finally, we decided to make a try over the still muddy roads. A try is what we made. Just outside town the car skidded in the mud, and two wheels bogged down hub-deep. Walter and I started out slogging through the mud to the nearest farm house. An obliging farmer hitched up a team and pulled us out.
We managed to keep chugging along until we reached Silver City, Iowa, near Council Bluffs. Later, as we proceeded farther west, we found roads more gravel than mud. Once on dry roads we were able to amble along at a steady gait of between 18 and 20 miles per hour -- when we were not stopped by some new trouble, which was much of the time.
Most days we awoke by 5 a.m., breakfasted, the women made sandwiches for noon lunch -- there could be no stopping through the day -- we packed everything back on the car, and climbed up on those bedding-covered seats with the car cranked up by 6 a.m.
Most days we drove until nearly dark -- allowing time to get the tent pitched and staked, cots and bedding arranged, and dinner cooked before it became too dark to see. We did carry a kerosene lantern. Walter and I took turns driving. We generally managed to negotiate about 200 miles in a twelve or fourteen hour day of driving.
At night we stopped at camp grounds, provided at every town in those days. That was before the days of motels or trailer-camps. Tourists all carried their own tents and camping equipment. Every town along the way had its tent city which usually filled up by sundown. These camps provided water and sanitary facilities -- of a kind. As we journeyed farther west a few cabins began to appear at some of the camp grounds. These were bare one-room, unpainted board cabins. Some had rickety old beds and metal springs -- but not mattresses or bedding or linen, and little, if any furniture. There might have been an old wooden chair.
Our first stop after leaving Greenwood was Silver City, Iowa. My wife's uncle, Tom Talboy, owned a drugstore in Silver City. We drove to the store.
I don't know which one you are, said her Uncle Tom approaching my wife, but I do know you're a Talboy!
Mrs. Armstrong's mother was Isabelle Talboy before marriage. There are definite Talboy characteristics, and Mrs. Armstrong has them written all over her face. The Talboy family came from England. My wife's great-grandfather, Thomas Talboy, came to the United States from England somewhere near the middle of the 19th century, and started the first woolen mill in the Middle West -- at least west of the Mississippi -- in Palmyra, Iowa. At that time Palmyra was larger than Des Moines. There was no Des Moines -- except Ft. Des Moines. The woolen mill grew and the town grew with it. But today there is no Palmyra -- except a few farmhouses.
My wife's grandfather, Benjamin Talboy, was a lad of 18 when he came from England with his father, Thomas. He and his wife, Martha, whom my wife as a little girl called little curly-haired Grandma, reared a sizeable and successful family of nine, of whom Isabelle was one of three daughters. Uncle Tom, the druggist, as my wife called him, was named for his grandfather Thomas.
We visited the Uncle Tom family for a day. Grandpa Benjamin Talboy was living there, age 93. Little curly-haired Grandma had died at 84. She had always warned my wife against Grandpa Benjamin. He, she affirmed solemnly, was an atheist. My wife warned me against listening to him. But later we learned that he had dared to look into the Bible for himself, and, discovering these teachings diametrically contrary to the accepted popular version of Christianity, had rejected the Christianity. Later we learned that he was probably more of a true Christian, in belief if not in deeds, than his well-meaning little wife!
Our Troubles Continue!
We continued our journey westward from Silver City.
At Fremont, Nebraska, I took out time to contact the daily newspaper office. Another survey was tentatively lined up for the fall, on our return. But this newspaper call consumed a half day, and we decided not to take out any more time for newspaper calls along the way. Everybody aboard was anxious to reach Oregon.
It was at about this juncture that our tire troubles began. These tire troubles seemed to multiply, the farther we traveled. They were an excellent training in patience! We had puncture after puncture -- blowout after blowout. There were eight of them within one mile on one occasion! We carried a repair kit and patched our own inner tubes. We carried along a few boots to plug up blowout holes in casings. Many hours were spent along the drab, dusty roadsides, one wheel jacked up, kneeling beside it, fixing tires.
We bought several used tires -- we could not afford new ones -- and these usually blew out about five miles out of town -- just too far to go back and express our minds to the dealer who sold them!
We made an overnight stop in Central City, Nebraska, at the home of my uncle Rollin R. Wright. His son, John, was one of the two cousins (on my mother's side of the family) I had visited so often as a boy. The Wrights had then lived at Carlisle, Iowa, where my uncle Rollin was an insurance agent. He is the one who gave me and Johnny a good sound spanking that time when he caught us shooting off a .22 revolver. John was, within a day, one year younger than I. Now the Wrights were operating a dairy in Central City. It is always somewhat exciting to visit relatives you have not seen for several years. Next morning I went on the milk route with John. Today he is a minister in the Friends Church and has visited us a few times in Pasadena.
It seems we got as far as Grand Island, Nebraska, before our next vexation. We had made a temporary stop under shade trees because of the intense heat. Little Dorothy Jane, almost four, took off one of her shoes and laid it on the right running board, from where it fell to the ground. The loss was not discovered until we had traveled too far to return to search for it. The child had to travel the remaining days of our journey with only one shoe. To buy new shoes on this trip was not within our means.
We made an overnight stop in Ogalalla, where I had intended to visit the other of these two cousins I had grown up with -- Bert Morrow. He had been running some tourist cabins there, but had moved before our arrival.
It was somewhere along western Nebraska that we encountered something worse than a rainstorm. A driving sandstorm came up. The road became so clouded we could not see to drive. We had to pull over to the side of the road, button up the curtains on the Model-T, cover our heads with bedding to keep sand out of our hair, and remain marooned there until the storm subsided.
Launching a New Business
I SHALL never forget my first view of the Rocky Mountains from a distance. While I had traveled the Alleghenies and the Blue Mountains in the east, I had never seen any really high mountains. I had always wondered what they would look like. They seemed very lofty and awe-inspiring to me.
We drove several miles out of our way in order to dip down into the state of Colorado, before we entered Wyoming. We wanted to be able to say we had been in that state. At Cheyenne we drove up hill to the north end of town to the largest camp we had seen.
But by this time all my hand-made wooden folding cots had broken down, and the canvas tops had split down the middle. We threw them away. From Cheyenne on, we slept on the ground.
In the higher altitudes the nights became so cold we were forced to spread the bed covers on the ground inside the tent, making one long bed. All six of us lined up side by side in that one bed on the ground, to keep each other warm.
At Evanston, Wyoming, the car broke down. We were detained there 1½ days while it was fixed in a garage.
During our journey across Wyoming, Dorothy's arm was bitten by a spider. It swelled up, and she was taken to a doctor. It must have been about this time that we had to telegraph my father to wire us additional funds. We had run out of food, gasoline, and money. Dorothy's arm had to be soaked in hot Epsom-salts water, and held high continually. Mrs. Armstrong, Bertha, and I had to take turns, on one day's driving, holding that arm, lest it hang down.
We stopped off one full day in Salt Lake City. Walter and I played some tennis on public courts near the camping grounds -- we were carrying our tennis rackets with us. We took the guided tour around the Mormon grounds and through the Tabernacle.
Premonition of Danger
At Weiser, Idaho, we visited a day and a half with the families of two of my wife's uncles, Benjamin and Walter Talboy. Walter later held a high government position in Idaho, and once ran for governor.
Leaving Weiser in the late afternoon, we were winding around the figure eight sharp curves of the highway following the course of the Snake River. Suddenly, my wife cried out:
I'm afraid to go further! For the past hour I've been having a terrible premonition of danger! I can't explain it -- but I just can't keep it to myself any longer.
That's strange, exclaimed Walter. I didn't want to say anything -- but I've been fighting off the same feeling.
That was enough for all of us. It seemed foolish, in a way. Yet we were afraid to go on. We turned back toward Weiser.
I'm simply too nervous to drive any further, explained Walt. I took over the wheel. Just before entering Weiser, on a short down-hill slope, I made the horrifying discovery that our brakes had gone out! There were no brakes. There was no reverse! I drove the car into a garage. We were kept one more night at the Talboy relatives in Weiser. Had we not heeded those premonitions, we might have been killed crashing down steep mountain grades around sharp curves without brakes. Later we learned that at the precise hour my wife and Walter had been having their premonitions, my mother in Salem, Oregon, was also disturbed by a terrible premonition concerning our safety. It had grown so strong on her she was forced to remove her hands from the dishwater, and go to a bedroom to pray for our safety! I do not try to explain this. I am merely recording what actually happened!
At Last -- We Arrive
Finally, July 3, we made our last homestretch lap from Pendleton, Oregon. That was a long day's drive in a Model T. But that night, after dark, we arrived at my father's home in Salem, Oregon, on the eve of July 4.
We had been 18 days on the way. It was fast traveling compared to the covered wagon days. Yet, today you can travel from New York to Los Angeles -- coast to coast -- in 4½ hours, by scheduled passenger JET plane! Allowing for the time difference, if I leave New York at 5 in the evening, after a full day of business conferences with radio stations and our overseas advertising agents, I can arrive in Los Angeles about 6:30 the same evening!
Few people realize the rapid pace at which this world is traveling today -- toward its own DESTRUCTION! It is time we slow down to realize HOW FAR this machine age -- atomic age -- space age has plummeted us in these few short years since 1924!
My Father Had Grown Up!
I had not seen my father, my youngest brother Dwight, or my sister Mary, for twelve years! Dwight and his twin sister Mary had been eight years old when they moved to the west. Now they were twenty.
But the biggest change of all was in my father. In 1912, when I was only twenty, I had felt rather sorry for my father. At that time I knew so much more than he! But I was simply amazed at how much my father had learned in those 12 years. It seems most young men know more than Dad, but they grow out of it later. I could see, now, that he knew more than I! Now I had to look up to my father with respect!
He had a nice home which he had planned and built. It was paid for. He didn't owe any man a cent. He had a comfortable salary as a heating engineer. When we found ourselves out of money on the way out -- buying extra tires and such things -- he had immediately wired me $200.
How many young men, getting to know it all from age 16 to 20, have to wait until in their middle thirties to learn how much they ought to respect their fathers! And my father was a GOOD man. He never smoked. He never drank, never used profanity. He never took advantage of another man! I honor and respect his memory. He died in April, 1933, in his 70th year.
After a few weeks' visit with my folks, we drove to Portland to visit my wife's Uncle Dick Talboy, an attorney. Our elder son, Richard David, was named after him. He was an Oregon pioneer, having migrated from Iowa first in 1905. He attended Stanford University in California in 1906 and 1907. He returned to Des Moines to finish his law course at Drake University in 1907, returning to Oregon in 1913. It has been his home ever since.
The very next day Mr. Talboy had to transact some legal business at the courthouse in Vancouver, Washington -- just across the interstate bridge from Portland. He invited me to go along. I had not yet been in the state of Washington, and was anxious to add one more state to my list.
Just as we emerged from the bridge, in Vancouver, I saw the plant of the local daily newspaper, The Columbian.
I asked if I might not hop out right there and contact the newspaper regarding a survey while Mr. Talboy went on to the Court House.
The owner and editor was on a vacation at Seaside, but the Business Manager, Samuel T. Hopkins -- who was later to become a business partner of mine -- was in. Enthusiastic over the survey idea, he felt sure Mr. Herbert Campbell, the owner, would be interested on his return. I said I would call back the following week. We were welcome to remain and visit at the home of my wife's uncle. The following week, I found Mr. Campbell as interested in the survey idea as Mr. Hopkins.
I have only one objection, he said. I believe it is going to take a man of your specialized merchandising and advertising experience to follow it up and make it pay. We have no such man here. Now what I want to know is, can a newspaper of our size afford to employ a man of your experience and ability permanently?
Here was a ludicrous paradox. Here I was, down and out financially, my clothes now threadbare. And here was a newspaper publisher asking if he could afford to employ me! Yet I had had a training and specialized experience such as comes to few men. I had taken a severe beating by the Chicago debacle, but I still had the cocky and confident manner. I spoke with a tone of knowing what I was talking about. Evidently this impressed Mr. Campbell sufficiently that did not notice my rather run-down appearance.
The answer came like a flash. No, you cannot! I said positively. This was a challenge. Herbert Campbell was cocky, Well, I think we CAN! How much is it going to cost us? I had to think fast. Was I going to turn down a survey, because I felt too important to take a permanent job on a small city newspaper? I made a quick compromise proposition.
Tell you what I'll do, I shot back. I'll put on the survey for a flat fee of $500. That will take a week or ten days. Then I will stay on your staff as a merchandising specialist for six months only, at a salary of $100 per week. Take it or leave it!
O.K. I'll take it, he snapped. I had my wife's uncle draw up a legal contract, which he signed a day or so later.
I rented a house in Vancouver, and started on the survey. Pulling a Clothier Out of the Red
About the time we started on the survey in Vancouver, Walter and Bertha Dillon, my wife's brother and sister started in the Model T their return trip to Iowa; Walter to enter his Junior year at Simpson College, and Bertha for another year of school teaching.
This time Mrs. Armstrong took part in the survey, and proved very adept at eliciting confidential information from housewives of their attitudes and feelings toward Vancouver stores.
The survey soon was completed, together with a complete typed summary of all data, interviews, and tabulations of statistics, as well as an analysis of conditions and recommendations.
With this data, I began counselling with merchants about individual merchandising problems.
One clothing store, for example, was running in the red. The owner asked if I could help him. I insisted on full access to his books and all information. Finally he consented.
The survey had uncovered special facts about customer attitude toward this store. One line this store carried was Hart Schaffner Marx clothes. I knew that this firm was prepared to extend considerable dealer-help. At my request they sent a qualified representative to counsel with me and this merchant.
A new policy was inaugurated. Certain changes were made. Until now this store had not carried the more snappy styles young men liked. The owner, past middle age, had bought the older men's styles of his personal liking. I induced him to trust the Hart Schaffner Marx representative fully with selections in ordering.
Also I recommended that he stock in addition snappiest young men's styles in a less expensive line.
Then we began a big-space advertising campaign in the Columbian. I wrote and laid out all his ads. I induced him to spend 7% of sales in this advertising campaign.
But, he protested, You have shown me that Harvard Bureau of Business Research figures show that no retail clothing store ought to spend more than 4% for advertising.
That's right, I explained, but this big-space advertising will quickly build up your volume. The amount, in dollars, spent in advertising will remain the same. But, as sales volume increases, the advertising expenditure will become an increasingly smaller percentage of sales. Also I explained to him it might take six months before his total expenditures would go below his total income, and his books would get out of the red.
It took a lot of courage. But it was a matter of accept my program or go bankrupt. He finally agreed.
It did take about six months. Twice before that time he lost his nerve and wanted to quit. Twice more I talked him into staying with it. At the end of six months his business was showing a profit. The sales continued to increase. So did his merchandising turnover. And likewise his profits. Finally he was able to sell his store at a substantial profit.
Discovering a New Business Potential
Soon I became virtually advertising manager for a leading hardware store, the largest department-drug store, a furniture store, a jewelry store, a dry-goods store, and others.
But my most important client turned out to be the local laundry. The general survey had brought out some startling facts about the laundry situation. I wanted more facts. So a further separate survey was made to get the facts and more definitely learn customer-attitude toward laundries.
I found that very few housewives entrusted their family wash to the laundry. We unearthed many suspicions. Many women assured me that laundries use harsh acids and chemicals which ruin clothes. This, I soon found, was not true.
They shrink clothes, said scores and scores of women. They fade colored things, women assured me. How do you know? both Mrs. Armstrong and I began asking women we interviewed. Has the laundry ruined your things -- have your colored clothes been faded or your woolens shrunk?
Oh mercy, No! they would reply. Why, I would never think of sending my things to the laundry.
Then how do you know the laundry mistreats things in this manner? we would ask.
Oh, I just know! Why, everybody knows how terrible laundries are on clothes, would come the confident answer.
Scores of women said laundries would lose things and refuse to make good the losses. The laundries will never make an adjustment or settle a claim, women assured us.
We found dozens of things wrong with the laundries -- in the public mind.
Then I investigated conditions at the Vancouver Laundry, owned by a man of my name, J. J. C. Armstrong, no relation. Actually, I found that conditions were precisely the opposite of the general public conception.
The laundry washed clothes with a neutral chip soap -- I think that particular laundry used Palmolive, a gentle facial soap. To add alkaline strength, without injury to clothes, they used an expensive soap builder -- a controlled alkali, which could not harm a baby's tenderest skin, could not injure sheerest silks or finest table linens, and yet possessed the strength to get greasiest overalls spotlessly clean. This harmless but effective soap builder was not available to consumers on the retail market. It was sold only in barrel quantities direct to laundries. It was the result of then recent and specialized scientific research, manufactured by one of the largest corporations in the laundry industry, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Corporation of America (ALCOA).
Through Mr. J. J. C. Armstrong I met a laundry chemist, Robert H. Hughes, a special technical representative of this company, the Cowles Detergent Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Hughes explained to me the chemistry of laundering -- why we use SOAP to wash our hands, faces, or clothes.
How Soap Cleans
It's a very fascinating story. Did you ever wonder what causes particles of dirt to cling to clothes -- why clothes become soiled? Did you ever wonder how SOAP removes dirt?
I don't believe the truth will bore you. Briefly, this is the story:
Naturally, dirt would fall off clothes instead of attaching itself to cloth, were it nor for the fact that an acid, or oil or grease, even in slightest amount, is present. This acid holds the dirt to the cloth. Laundries did not use acids, as so many people seemed to believe. There is acid already present on the clothes, else they would not become soiled.
Chemically, matter is either acid, alkali or neutral. These are chemical opposites.
Soap is made from two substances -- fatty acid (oil or fat), and alkali. But alkali, if used alone, would injure and rot cloth. So in the soap factory the two substances, fatty acid and alkali, are mixed by a process called saponification. This converts the two into a new substance, which is neither acid nor alkali, but which we call SOAP.
If the soap be completely pure -- a prominent soap used for faces and even babies is advertised as 99 and 44/100% pure -- there is no free alkali in it. All the alkali has combined with the oil, tallow, or fat, and has been converted into soap. The alkaline content is now utterly harmless. Yet it has an alkaline action that will dissolve the acid that glues dirt to your skin or your clothes, so that the dirt is flushed off in the rinsing.
But a pure facial soap is not sufficiently alkaline to loosen the acid on badly soiled clothes. Therefore soap makers at the time of this story put a certain excess amount of alkali in the laundry soaps sold in stores to housewives. This excess alkali was called free alkali. It was not controlled, or neutralized, in the soap. Alkali is chemically a crystalline substance. In other words, it dilutes into and becomes part of the water. In clothes-washing, it soaks into the fiber meshes of the garment. Rinsing cannot remove it -- it merely dilutes it. The soap and the dirt are flushed away in the rinsing -- but the free alkali remains inside the fiber of the cloth. In the drying process it tends to eat or rot the cloth. It would even destroy shoe leather!
Now WHY does not a pure soap injure the cloth? The answer is that, chemically, soap is a colloidal substance. In solution, or emulsion, it breaks up into thousands of tiny particles. But it does not become part of the water. Its thousands of minute particles discolor the water, float around in the water. In the agitation or rubbing of clothes-washing, the tiny soap particles are flushed in between the fiber meshes of the garment or cloth, but never soak into the fibers. They dissolve the acid, thus loosening the dirt. The agitation breaks up the dirt into tiny particles, loosened from the cloth. The tiny colloidal soap particles have a chemical affinity for the tiny dirt particles, which means the dirt particles cling to the soap particles. The rinsing flushes them away. Even if all the soap were not rinsed off, the alkali is not free but controlled by the soap, and could not eat or rot or harm the cloth.
This scientific soap builder sold by the Cowles Detergent Company contained great alkaline strength, but it was chemically in colloidal form, not crystalline, and the alkali was as completely controlled as in a 100% pure soap. Therefore it could not harm silks, woolens, or the sheerest, daintiest fabrics, although, it had the strength to wash clean the greasiest overalls. Also it restored colors, brought them out newer and sharper than before.
Since those days, however, there has been a complete revolution in the manufacture of clothes-washing detergents sold to housewives. Whether our big-space advertising of the dangers of the free-alkali laundry soaps to clothes then sold for home washing machines had bearing on it, I do not know.
But the chemists on the staffs of leading soap and detergent manufacturers have developed new synthetic detergents. Few housewives, if any, use soap in their home washing machines today. The first household synthetic detergent on the market was Dreft, produced by Proctor Gamble, in 1933. Colgate came out with Vel later in the 30's. Since, there have been many developments in the field of synthetic detergents. They are not yet perfect or foolproof, but chemists have not yet exhausted the possibilities of improvement.
Our campaigns were in the early days of the home washing machine. These home washers were crude, compared to today's product. In our ads, and in special booklets, we figured it out and convinced many housewives it was less costly to send the family wash to the laundry.
A New Business Launched
I began to write big-space ads for this laundry. Armed with complete information of customer attitude and complete factual and scientific information about laundry processes, I was able to assure housewives that their sheerest, daintiest fabrics were actually SAFER at the laundry than in their own hands at home.
Soon these ads became an item of conversation among Vancouver women. It took time to dispel suspicions and build confidence. But gradually the laundry business began to increase.
Before this campaign, laundry business had consisted mainly of men's shirts, and hotel business. But now the family bundle business gradually began coming to the laundry.
I found that the laundry industry was twelfth in size among American industries -- yet, in aggressive methods, and advertising and merchandising, it was the least alive, and the most backward and undeveloped. I sensed, here, a tremendous field for a new advertising business.
I began to develop plans for a personalized, yet syndicated advertising service for leading laundries -- one client in each city.
I learned that not all laundries were using as advanced methods as this Vancouver Laundry. Some laundries were still using as a soap builder plain caustic soda -- free alkali. Some lacked efficiency methods of operation. Many were guilty of haggling with customers over claims of losses or injury, and of refusing to make losses good.
I had become closely acquainted with R. H. Hughes and his reputation among laundry owners as the leading laundry chemist and expert on production methods on the West Coast.
So, Mr. Hughes and I formed a partnership. As soon as my six months' tenure with the Vancouver Columbian expired, we set out to establish a new business as a merchandising and advertising service for leading laundries.
I moved my family to Portland. I would start off every campaign with a local merchandising survey, to determine the local customer attitude. We would accept no client unless the laundry owner would give Mr. Hughes complete latitude and authority within his plant, to install the latest scientific methods and equipment, eliminate lost motion, and speed up efficiency.
I had to be able to make big claims in the advertising. The client had to be able to deliver what the ads promised. The client had to agree to settle every claim without a question -- the customer was ALWAYS to be right in any complaint.
And Then ... BANG!
The general appeal of the ads was syndicated -- the same for all laundries. Yet certain factors peculiar to each local laundry were altered to comply with that particular client's conditions. We ran two large-space ads each week for each client.
The new business started with great promise. Soon we had as clients leading laundries in Eugene, Corvallis, Albany, Salem, McMinnville, Oregon City, and Portland, Oregon; and in Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Ellensburg, Walla Walla, Olympia, Centralia, Chehalis, and Vancouver, Washington.
In six months the business volume of some of these laundries doubled. Our advertising and merchandising service was winning big results for clients.
No matter how many clients we should acquire, I had only one general advertising IDEA to think up and write for the entire number. The new business promised to grow to be a national, universally used service.
This would mean, in another two or three years, an income larger than I had ever before contemplated. Already our fees were grossing close to $1,000 a month. They appeared to promise to rise between $50,000 and $100,000 per month within two or three more years. I began to see visions of a personal net income of $300,000 to a half million dollars a year!
And then -- the bottom fell out! And through no fault or cause of our making. There was one unusual condition peculiar to the laundry industry. They were highly organized in their Laundryowners National Association.
Some bright advertising man, in an advertising agency in Indianapolis, Indiana, put over on the Laundryowners National Association a $5,000,000 advertising campaign for the entire industry -- the entire amount to be spent by this agency in the big-circulation national women's magazines, such as Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, Good Housekeeping, etc. The campaign was to run three or more years. The Association was to pay for it by assessing each laundry-owner member within ½ of 1% of the maximum percent of sales volume a laundry could safely spend in advertising.
Every one of our customers was taxed by this campaign up to the limit they could safely spend. They had no alternative except to cancel out all their own private local advertising. Our field was literally swept out from under our feet.
In Chicago I had built a publishers' representative business that brought me an income equivalent to well more than $50,000 a year or more before I was thirty. The flash depression of 1920 had swept away all my major clients, and with them my business.
Now, with a new business of much greater promise, all my clients were suddenly removed from possibility of access, through powers and forces entirely outside of my control.
It seemed, indeed, as if some INVISIBLE and MYSTERIOUS HAND were causing the earth to simply swallow up whatever business I started.
Reduced to Going Hungry
Soon every laundry client had been forced to drop all local advertising except one. I still had the account of one of the two largest laundries in Portland, running one ad a week in the Portland Oregonian. This supplied an income of $50 per month.
But $50 per month was not enough to pay house rent, and provide food and clothing for our family. We began to buy beans and such food as would provide maximum bulk and nourishment on minimum cost.
One time, a couple days before my monthly $50 check was due, we were behind in our rent, completely out of groceries except for some macaroni -- we did not even have a grain of salt in the house; our gas and electricity had been shut off. We had a small heating stove in the living room, and nothing but old magazines for fuel.
My morale was fast descending to subbasement. I was not so cocky or self-confident now. It seemed almost as if I was being softened for a knock-out blow of some kind.
Religious Controversy Enters
Some little time prior to this, we had been visiting my parents in Salem. My wife had become acquainted with an elderly neighbor lady, Mrs. Ora Runcorn. Mrs. Runcorn was an avid student of the Bible.
Before our marriage my wife had been quite interested in Bible study. She had been for years an active Methodist.
After marriage, although she had not lost her interest in the Christian life and the Bible, she had not had the same opportunity to express it, or participate in religious fellowship with others. While we lived in Maywood, suburb of Chicago, we had joined the River Forest Methodist Church. The fellowship there had been more social than spiritual or Biblical.
But all Mrs. Armstrong's active interest in things Biblical was reawakened when she became acquainted with Mrs. Runcorn. One day Mrs. Runcorn gave her a Bible study. She asked my wife to turn to a certain passage and read it. Then a second, then a third, and so on for about an hour. Mrs. Runcorn made no comment -- gave no explanation or argument -- just asked my wife to read aloud a series of Biblical passages.
Why! exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong in amazement, do all these Scriptures say that I've been keeping the wrong day as the Sabbath all my life?
Well, do they? asked Mrs. Runcorn. Don't ask me whether you have been wrong -- you shouldn't believe what any person tells you, but only what GOD tells you through the Bible. What does He tell you, there? What do you see there with your own eyes?
Why, it's as plain as anything could be! exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong. Why, this is a wonderful discovery. I must rush back to tell my husband the good news. I know he'll be overjoyed!
A minute or so later, Mrs. Armstrong came running into my parents' home, with the good news.
My jaw dropped! This was the worst news I had ever heard! My wife gone into religious fanaticism!
Have you gone CRAZY? I asked, incredulously. Of course not! I was never more sure of anything in my life, responded my wife with enthusiasm.
Indeed, I wondered if she really had lost her mind! Deciding to keep Saturday for Sunday! Why, that seemed like rank FANATICISM! And my wife had always had such a sound mind! There was nothing shallow about her. She had always had a well-balanced mind, with depth.
But now, suddenly -- THIS! It seemed incredible -- preposterous! Loma, I said sternly, this is simply too ridiculous to believe! I am certainly not going to tolerate any such religious fanaticism in our family! You'll have to give that up right here and now!
But she wouldn't! Doesn't the Bible say that wives must be obedient to their husbands? I asked.
Yes, in the Lord, but not contrary to the Lord, she came back.
It was amazing how many logical arguments came to my mind. But always she had the answer.
I felt I could not tolerate such humiliation. What would my friends say? What would former business acquaintances think? Nothing had ever hit me where it hurt so much -- right smack in the heart of all my pride and vanity and conceit! And this mortifying blow had to fall immediately on top of confidence-crushing financial reverses!
In desperation, I said: Loma, you can't tell me that all these churches have been wrong all these hundreds of years! Why, aren't these all CHRIST'S churches?
Then, came back Mrs. Armstrong, why do they all dis agree on so many doctrines? Why does each one teach differently than the others?
But, I still contended, Isn't the Bible the very source of the teaching of all these Christian churches? And they do all agree on observing Sunday! I'm sure the Bible says, 'Thou shalt keep SUNDAY!'
Well, does it? smiled my wife, handing me a Bible. Show it to me, if it does -- and I'll do what it says.
I don't know where to find it. You know I'm no Bible student, I could never understand the Bible. But I know the Bible must command the observance of Sunday, because all the churches observe Sunday, except the Seventh-Day Adventists, and they're regarded as fanatics. The Sabbath was the day for the Jews.
I even threatened divorce, if my wife refused to give up this fanaticism, though in my heart I didn't really mean it. In our family divorce was a thing unheard of -- and beside, I was very much in love with my wife -- though at the moment I was boiling over with anger.
If you can prove by the Bible that Christians are commanded to observe Sunday, then of course I'll do what I see in the Bible!
This was her challenge. O.K., I answered, I'll make you this proposition: I don't know much about the Bible -- I just never could seem to understand it. But I do have an analytical mind. I've become experienced in research into business problems, getting the facts and analyzing them. Now I'll make a complete and thorough study of this question in the Bible. All these churches can't be wrong. I'll prove to you in the Bible that you are mistaken!
This was in the autumn of 1926. My business was gone -- all but the one laundry account in Portland, where we were living at the time. This one advertising account required only about 30 minutes a week of my time. I had TIME on my hands for this challenge.
And so it was that in the fall of 1926 -- crushed in spirit from business reverses not of my making -- humiliated by what I regarded as wifely religious fanaticism, that I entered into an in-depth study of the Bible for the first time in my life.
Researching the Bible and Darwin
WE HAD MOVED TO the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 1924. My wife's brother, Walter Dillon, and her sister Bertha, had driven Walter's Model T Ford back to Iowa in August. Walter finished his junior year at Simpson College in Indianola, 1924-1925 school year, and Bertha continued teaching at the same school where she had taught before the Oregon trip.
During that third college year at Simpson, Walter had married a blonde girl of German background whose name was Hertha. In June, 1925, Walter and his young wife, together with Bertha and my wife's father, had returned to Oregon. With a new bride to support, it was necessary for Walter to go back to teaching school, as he had done before entering Simpson. Both he and Bertha obtained teaching jobs, and my father-in-law bought a small-town store.
During the following years, Walter attended summer sessions at the University of Oregon, and managed also to take, part of the time, some night extension courses at the university, in Portland. Walter kept this schedule, while teaching, until he earned his B.A. at the university, and later his M.A. He soon moved up to a principalship, and finally became principal at the largest grade school in Oregon, outside of Portland.
Walter's wife had been indoctrinated with the theory of evolution in college. One day she and I became engaged in a discussion. The evolutionary doctrine came into the conversation. I mentioned that I was not convinced of its validity.
Accused of Being Ignorant
Herbert Armstrong, you are simply IGNORANT! accused Hertha. Her words stabbed deeply into what was left of my ego. One is uneducated, and ignorant, unless he believes in evolution. All educated people now believe it.
That accusation came hot on the heels of this Sabbath challenge from my wife. Of course, Hertha was only about 19, and had had but her freshman year in college. She was yet immature enough to be a bit oversold on what had been presented to her as a mark of intellectual distinction. Nevertheless, her manner was cutting, and a bit sarcastic, and I accepted it as a challenge.
Hertha, I responded, I am just starting a study of the Bible. I intend to include in this research a thorough study of the Biblical account of creation. Since it is admittedly one of the two -- evolution or special creation -- I will include an in-depth study of evolution. I feel sure that a thorough study into both sides will show that it is you who are ignorant, and that you merely studied one side of a two-sided question in freshman biology, and accepted what was funnelled into your mind without question. And if and when I do, I'm going to make you EAT those words!
And so it developed that I now had a double challenge to go to work on -- a dual subject involving both the Biblical claims for special creation, and also a more in-depth study than before into texts on biology, geology, paleontology, and the various works on the theory of evolution.
Actually, this is simply the study into the TWO possibilities of origins. It threw me directly into an in-depth research of what is perhaps the most BASIC of all knowledge -- the very starting point in the acquisition of knowledge -- the search for the correct concept through which to VIEW all facts.
The two subjects -- or, rather, the two sides of the same subject of origins -- should be unprejudicially and objectively studied together, yet seldom are!
Most believers in the Bible and in the existence of God have probably just grown up believing it, because they were reared in an atmosphere where it was believed. But perhaps few ever studied into it deeply enough to obtain irrefutable PROOF.
Likewise, the educated, who have gone on through college or university, have, in the main, been taught the theory of evolution as a BELIEF. They have accepted it, in all probability, without having given any serious or thorough study of the Biblical claims.
I had come to the point where I wanted THE TRUTH! I now had the time on my hands. I was willing to pay the price of thorough and in-depth research to BE SURE!
The reader is reminded that I had chosen, instead of the university, the process of self-education, selecting my own courses of study. I had studied diligently, after leaving high school at age 18, and continuously up to this incident in 1926. But I was now entering on a field of research in which previous study had been minimal.
I began this intensified study by obtaining everything I could find in the way of books, pamphlets and other literature both for and against what was often called the Jewish Sabbath. I wanted, not only everything I could lay hands on, on the case for Sunday, and against the 7th-day Sabbath. I wanted, also, the arguments or proponents for it, which I hoped to be able honestly to refute.
At the same time, I found, in the Portland Public Library, many scientific works either directly on evolution, or as a teaching in textbooks on biology, paleontology and geology. Also I found books by scientists and doctors of philosophy puncturing many holes in the evolutionary hypothesis. Strangely, even the critics of evolution, being themselves scientific men, paradoxically accepted the very theory they so ably refuted.
But, reading first the works of Darwin, Haeckel, Spencer, Huxley, Vogt, and more recent and modern authorities, the evolutionary postulate began to become very convincing.
It became apparent early that the real and thorough-going evolutionists universally agreed that evolution excluded the possibility of the existence of GOD! While some of the lesser lights professed a sort of fence-straddling theistic evolution, I soon learned that the real dyed-in-the-wool evolutionists all were atheists. Evolution could not honestly be reconciled with the first chapter of Genesis!
Does God Exist?
And so it came about that, very early in this study of evolution and of the Bible, actual doubts came into my mind as to the existence of God!
In a very real sense, this was a good thing. I had always assumed the existence of God because I had been taught it from childhood. I had grown up in Sunday school. I simply took it for granted.
Now, suddenly, I realized I had never PROVED whether there is a God. Since the existence of God is the very first BASIS for religious belief and authority -- and since the inspiration of the Bible by such a God as His revelation to mankind is the secondary and companion basis for faith and practice, I realized that the place to start was to PROVE whether God exists and whether the Holy Bible is His revelation of knowledge and information for mankind.
I had nothing but TIME on my hands. I rose early and STUDIED. Most mornings I was standing at the front entrance of the Public Library when its doors were opened. Most evenings I left the Library at 9 p.m., closing time. Most nights I continued study at home until my wife, at 1 a.m. or later, would waken from her sleep and urge me to break off and get to bed.
I delved into science. I learned the facts about radioactive elements. I learned how radioactivity proves there has been no past eternity of matter. There was a time when matter did not exist. Then there came a time when matter came into existence. This was CREATION, one of several proofs of GOD.
By the laws of science, including the law of bio-genesis, that only LIFE can beget life -- that dead matter cannot produce life -- that the living cannot come from the not-living, by these laws came PROOF that God exists. In the Bible I found one quoted, saying in the first person, I am GOD. This God was quoted directly in Scriptures, proved to have been written hundreds of years before Christ, pronouncing the future fates of every major city and nation in the ancient world. I delved into HISTORY. I learned that these prophecies, in every instance (except in prophecies pertaining to a time yet future), had come to pass precisely as written!
I studied the creation account in the Bible. It is not all in Genesis 1. I studied it all! I studied evolution. At first the evolutionary theory seemed very convincing -- just as it does to freshmen students in most colleges and universities.
I noted evidences of comparative anatomy. But these evidences were not, in themselves, PROOF. They merely tended to make the theory appear more reasonable IF proved. I noted tests and discoveries of embryology. These, too, were not PROOF, but only supporting evidence IF evolution were proved.
I noticed that Lamarck's original theory of use and disuse, once accepted as science, had been laughed out of school. I learned that the once scientific spiral-nebular theory of the earth's existence had become the present-day laughing stock, supplanted by (in 1926) Professor Chamberlin's planetesimal hypothesis. I sought out the facts of Darwin's life. I learned the facts about his continual sickness -- about his preconceived theory and inductive process of reasoning in searching for such facts and arguments as would sustain his theory.
I researched the facts about his tour on the good ship Beagle. I read of how he admitted there were perplexing problems in his theories and in what he had written, but that he nevertheless continued to promulgate evolution. I learned how his colleagues glossed over these perplexing problems and propagandized his theory into scientific acceptance.
Then I came to the matter of the human mind. As far back as 1926 I was concerned about the vast GULF between animal brain and human mind. Could that gulf have been bridged by evolution? It appeared that, even if the evolutionary process were possible, in reality the TIME required to bridge this gulf in intellectual development would have been millions of times longer than what geology and paleontology would indicate.
But, most important, I knew that I, with my mind, am superior to anything my mind can devise, and that I can make. Likewise, it became axiomatic that nothing less than the intelligence of my mind could have produced something SUPERIOR to itself -- my mind! Of necessity, the very presence of human intellect necessitates a superior and greater Intellect to have designed, devised, and produced the human mind! It could not have been produced by natural causes, and resident forces, as evolution presupposes. Unintelligence could not produce intelligence superior to itself! Rational common sense demanded a Creator of SUPERIOR MIND!
I came to see that there was only one possible proof of evolution as a fact. That was the assumption that, in the study of paleontology, the most simple fossils were always in the oldest strata, laid down first; while, as we progress into strata of later deposition, the fossils found in them become gradually more complex, tending toward advancing intelligence.
That one claim, I finally determined, was the TRUNK of the tree of evolution. If the trunk stood, the theory appeared proved. If I could chop down the trunk, the entire tree would fall with it.
I began a search to learn HOW these scientists determined the age of strata. I was months finding it. None of the texts I searched seemed to explain anything about it. This TRUNK of the tree was carelessly assumed -- without proof.
Were the oldest strata always on the bottom -- the next oldest next to the bottom, the most recent on the top? Finally I found it in a recognized text on geology authored by Prof. Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin. No, sometimes the most recent were actually below the most ancient strata. The age of strata was not determined by stages of depth. The depth of strata varied in different parts of the world.
How, then, was the age of strata determined? Why, I finally discovered in this very reputable authority, their age was determined by the FOSSILS found in them. Since the geologists knew their evolutionary theory was true, and since they had estimated how many millions of years ago a certain fossil specimen might have lived, that age determined the age of the strata!
In other words, they ASSUMED the age of the strata by the supposition that their theory of evolution was true. And they PROVED their theory was true by the supposition of the progressive ages of the strata in which fossil remains had been found! This was arguing in a circle!
The TRUNK of the evolutionary tree was chopped down. There WAS NO PROOF!
I wrote a short paper on this discovery. I showed it to the head librarian of the technical and science department of a very large library.
Mr. Armstrong, she said, you have an uncanny knack of getting right to the crux of a problem. Yes, I have to admit you have chopped down the trunk of the tree. You have robbed me of PROOF! But, Mr. Armstrong, I still have to go on believing in evolution. I have done graduate work at Columbia, at the University of Chicago, and other top-level institutions. I have spent my life in the atmosphere of science and in the company of scientific people. I am so STEEPED in it that I could not root it from my mind!
What a pitiful confession, from one so steeped in the wisdom of this world.
The Creation MEMORIAL
I had disproved the theory of evolution. I had found PROOF of CREATION -- PROOF of the existence of GOD -- PROOF of the divine inspiration of the BIBLE.
Now I had a BASIS for belief. Now I had a solid FOUNDATION on which to build. The BIBLE had proved itself to contain AUTHORITY. I had now studied far enough to know that I must LIVE by it, and that I shall finally be JUDGED by it -- not by men, nor by man's church denominations, theories, theologies, tenets, doctrines, or pronouncements. I would be judged by Almighty GOD finally, and according to the BIBLE!
So now I began to study further into this Sabbath question. Of course I had procured all the pamphlets, books and booklets I could find in defense of Sunday observance, and purporting to refute the Jewish Sabbath.
Especially I sought out eagerly everything claiming apostolic observance of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. Early in my study, I learned about the many Bible helps -- the concordances, which list alphabetically all the words used in the Bible, showing where they are used, and what Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic word was originally written -- the Bible Dictionaries, the Bible encyclopedias, the commentaries, etc., etc.
From the exhaustive concordances I soon learned that the command I sought, Thou shalt keep Sunday, was nowhere to be found in the Bible. In fact the word Sunday was not used in the Bible. That surprised me.
I really became excited, however, when I learned that there are eight places in the New Testament where the phrase first day of the week appears. And I read eagerly arguments in tracts or booklets claiming that these established that the original apostles were holding their weekly worship services on the first day of the week -- which is Sunday.
But I became painfully dis appointed on learning by more careful study, that there was not a single instance of a religious service being held on the hours we call Sunday -- Saturday midnight to Sunday midnight. The Apostle Paul, after spending a Saturday Sabbath with the church at Troas, preached to them Saturday night until midnight. But although, in the Biblical manner of ending each day and beginning the next at sunset, that was -- Biblically speaking -- on the first day of the week, it was not Sunday, but Saturday night, lasting until Sunday began at midnight.
I was further dis appointed in this case, when I discovered on careful study, that on that Sunday Paul indulged in the labor of walking some 19 miles to Assos. The others of Paul's company had sailed, beginning sunset when the Sabbath ended, around the peninsula, some 65 miles to Assos. By walking the 19 miles straight across, on Sunday, Paul had gained the extra time to continue speaking to the people Saturday night.
So my effort to find a command to observe Sunday met with dis appointment.
I found there is no command to observe Sunday. Sunday is nowhere called holy time, but to my chagrin, I found this Jewish Sabbath is, and is said to be holy to God. There was not even a single example of any religious meeting having been held on the hours called Sunday!
On the other hand, I had to learn, like it or not, that Jesus kept the Sabbath day as His custom was, and the Apostle Paul kept it as his manner was. Also Paul spent many Sabbath days preaching and holding weekly services, and in one instance the Gentiles waited a whole week in order to be able to come and hear Paul preach the same words on the following Sabbath!
I learned that CREATION is the very PROOF of GOD! A heathen comes along, pointing to an idol made by man's hands out of wood, stone or marble or gold.
This idol is the real god, he says. How can you prove your God is superior to this idol that I worship?
Why, I answer, My God is the CREATOR. He created the wood, stone, marble or gold that your god is made of. He created MAN, and man, a created being, MADE that idol. Therefore my God is greater than your idol because it is only a particle of what my God MADE!
Another comes along and says, I worship the SUN. We get our light from the sun. It warms the earth and makes vegetation grow. I think the SUN is God.
But, I reply, the true God CREATED the sun. He created light. He created force, energy, and LIFE. He makes the sun shine on the earth. He CONTROLS the sun, because He controls all the forces of His creation. He is supreme RULER over His universe.
Then I began to see that on the very seventh day of creation week, God set that day aside from other days. On that day He RESTED from all He had created by WORK. On that day he created the Sabbath, not by work, but by REST, putting His divine presence in it! He made it HOLY TIME. No man has authority to make future time holy. No group of men -- no church! Only GOD is HOLY! Only GOD can make things HOLY. The Sabbath is a constantly recurring space of time, marked off by the setting of the sun. God made every recurring Sabbath HOLY, and commanded man (Exodus 20) to keep it holy.
WHY did He do it? WHY does it make any difference? I found it in the SPECIAL SABBATH COVENANT in Exodus 31:12-18. He made it the SIGN between Him and His people. A SIGN is a mark of identity. First, it is a sign that GOD is the CREATOR, because it is a MEMORIAL OF CREATION -- the CREATION is the PROOF of God -- it identifies Him. No other space of time could be a memorial of CREATION. Thus God chose that very space of time for man to assemble for worship which KEEPS MAN IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE IDENTITY OF GOD AS THE CREATOR. Every nation which has NOT kept the Sabbath has worshipped the created rather than the Creator. It is a sign that identifies God's own people, because it is they who OBEY God in this commandment, while this is the very commandment which everyone else regards as the LEAST of the commandments -- which they REBEL against obeying!
GOD is the one you OBEY. The word LORD means MASTER -- the one you OBEY! This is the one point on which the largest number of people refuse to OBEY the true GOD, thus proving they are not His people!
Law and Grace
I studied carefully everything I could obtain which attempted to refute the Sabbath. I wanted, more than anything on earth, to refute it -- to prove that SUNDAY was the true Christian Sabbath, or Lord's Day.
I read the arguments about law or grace. I was pointed to, and read, Romans 3:20: Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight.
But I looked into the BIBLE, and found the pamphlet had left out the rest of the verse which says: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. That is true, because I read in I John 3:4 that the Bible definition of SIN is NOT man's conscience, or his church DON'TS, but Sin is the transgression of the law. Naturally, then, the KNOWLEDGE of sin comes by the LAW.
And I discovered the pamphlet forgot to quote the 31st verse:
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
I read in a pamphlet, ... the law worketh WRATH (Rom. 4:15).
I turned to my Bible and read the rest of the same verse: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Of course! Because the law DEFINES sin. Sin is disobedience of the law!
I read in one of the pamphlets that the law was an evil thing, contrary to our best interests. But then I read in Romans 7: Is the law sin? God forbid! Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said 'Thou shalt not covet.' And Wherefore the law is HOLY, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. And again, For we know that the law is spiritual (verses 7,12,14).
I learned that GRACE is PARDON, through the blood of Christ, for having transgressed the law. But if a human judge pardons a man for breaking a civil or criminal law, that pardon does not repeal the law. The man is pardoned so that he may now OBEY the law. And GOD pardons only after we REPENT of sin!
The Bitter Pill
But do not suppose I quickly or easily came to admit my wife had been right, or to accept the seventh-day Sabbath as the truth of the Bible.
I spent a solid SIX MONTHS of virtual night-and-day, seven-day-a-week STUDY and research, in a determined effort to find just the opposite.
I searched IN VAIN for any authority in the Bible to establish SUNDAY as the day for Christian worship. I even studied Greek sufficiently to run down every possible questionable text in the original Greek.
I studied the Commentaries. I studied the Lexicons and Robertsons's Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Then I studied HISTORY. I delved into encyclopedias -- the Britannica, the Americana, and several religious encyclopedias. I searched the Jewish Encyclopedia, and the Catholic Encyclopedia. I read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, especially his chapter 15 dealing with the religious history of the first four hundred years after Christ. And one of the most convincing evidences against Sunday was in the history of how and when it began.
I left no stone unturned. I found clever arguments. I will confess that, so eager was I to overthrow this Sabbath belief of my wife, at one point in this intensive study I believed I might possibly have been able to use arguments to confuse and upset my wife on the Sabbath question. But there was no temptation to try to do it. I knew these arguments were not honest! I could not deliberately try to deceive my wife with dishonest arguments. The thought was immediately pushed aside. I know now she could not have been deceived.
Finally, after six months, the TRUTH had become crystal clear. At last I KNEW what was the truth. Once again, GOD had taken me to a licking!
It had been bewildering -- utterly frustrating! It seemed as if some mysterious, invisible hand was disintegrating every business I started!
That was precisely what was happening! The hand of God was taking away every activity on which my heart had been set -- the business success before whose shrine I had worshipped. This zeal to become important in the business world had become an idol. God was destroying the idol. He was knocking me down -- again and again! He was puncturing the ego, deflating the vanity.
Midas in Reverse
At age 16 ambition had been aroused. I began to study constantly -- to work at self-improvement -- to prod and drive myself on and on. I had sought the jobs which would provide training and experience for the future. This had led to travel, to contacts with big and important men, multimillionaire executives.
At twenty-eight a publishers' representative business had been built in Chicago which produced an income equivalent to some $35,000 a year measured by today's dollar value. The flash depression of 1920 had swept it away. At age thirty, discouraged, broken in spirit, I was removed from it entirely.
Then, in Oregon, had come the advertising service for laundries. It was growing and multiplying rapidly. After one year, in the fall of 1926, the fees were grossing close to $1,000 per month. I saw visions of a personal net income mounting to from $300,000 to a half million a year with expansion to national proportions. Then an action by the Laundryowners National Association swept the laundry advertising business out from under my feet.
It seemed that I was King Midas in reverse. Every material money-making enterprise I started promised gold, but turned to nothing! They vanished like mirages on a desert.
Yes, God Almighty the Creator, was knocking me down -- again and again. As often as I got back to my feet to fight, on starting another business or enterprise, another blow of utter and bitter defeat seemed to strike me from behind by an unseen hand. I was being softened for the final knock-out of material ambition.
Now came the greatest inner battle of my life. To accept this truth meant -- so I supposed -- to cut me off from all former friends, acquaintances and business associates. I had come to meet some of the independent Sabbath-keepers down around Salem and the Willamette Valley. Some of them were what I then, in my pride and conceit, regarded as backwoods hillbillies. None were of the financial and social position of those I had associated with.
My associations and pride had led me to look down upon this class of people. I had been ambitious to hobnob with the wealthy and the cultural.
I saw plainly what a decision was before me. To accept this truth meant to throw in my lot for life with a class of people I had always looked on as inferior. I learned later that God looks on the heart, and these humble people were the real salt of the earth. But I was then still looking on the outward appearance. It meant being cut off completely and forever from all to which I had aspired. It meant a total crushing of vanity. It meant a total change of life!
I counted the cost! But then, I had been beaten down. I had been humiliated. I had been broken in spirit, frustrated. I had come to look on this formerly esteemed self as a failure. I now took another good look at myself.
And I acknowledged: I'm nothing but a burned-out old hunk of junk.
I realized I had been a swellheaded egotistical jackass. Finally, in desperation, I threw myself on God's mercy. I said to God that I knew, now, that I was nothing but a burned-out hunk of junk. My life was worth nothing more to ME. I said to God that I knew now I had nothing to offer HIM -- but if He would forgive me -- if He could have any use whatsoever for such a worthless dreg of humanity, that He could have my life; I knew it was worthless, but if He could do anything with it, He could have it -- I was willing to give this worthless self to HIM -- I wanted to accept Jesus Christ as personal Saviour!
I meant it! It was the toughest battle I ever fought. It was a battle for LIFE. I lost that battle, as I had been recently losing all battles. I realized Jesus Christ had bought and paid for my life. I gave in. I surrendered, unconditionally. I told Christ He could have what was left of me! I didn't think I was worth saving!
Jesus said, Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. I then and there gave up my life -- not knowing that this was the ONLY way to really find it!
It was humiliating to have to admit my wife had been right, and I had been wrong. It was disillusioning to learn, on studying the BIBLE for the first time, that what I had been taught in Sunday school was, in so many basic instances, the very opposite of what the Bible plainly states. It was shocking to learn that all these churches were wrong after all!
But I did, later, have one satisfaction. I wrote up a long manuscript about the Sabbath, finally tying it up with evolution, and PROVING evolution false. I gave it to my sister-in-law, Mrs. Dillon. She read it unsuspectingly. Before she realized what she was reading, she had accepted the evidence and PROOF that evolution was false.
You tricked me! she exclaimed. But she did have to eat those words!
At the Crossroads -- and a Momentous Decision
IT WAS humiliating to have to admit my wife had been right, and I had been wrong, in the most serious argument that ever came between us.
But to my utter dis appointed astonishment, I found that much of the popular church teachings and practices were not based on the Bible. They had originated, as research in history had revealed, in paganism. Numerous Bible prophecies foretold it. The amazing, unbelievable TRUTH was, the SOURCE of these popular beliefs and practices of professing Christianity was, quite largely, paganism and human reasoning and custom, NOT the Bible!
I had first doubted, then searched for evidence, and found PROOF that God exists -- that the Holy Bible is, literally, His divinely inspired revelation and instruction to mankind. I had learned that one's God is what a person OBEYS. The word LORD means MASTER -- the one you OBEY! Most people, I had discovered, are obeying false gods, rebelling against the one true CREATOR who is the supreme RULER of the universe.
The argument was over a point of OBEDIENCE to GOD. The opening of my eyes to the TRUTH brought me to the crossroads of my life. To accept it meant to throw in my lot with a class of humble and unpretentious people I had always looked upon as inferior. It meant being cut off from the high and the mighty and the wealthy of this world, to which I had aspired. It meant the final crushing of VANITY. It meant a total change of life!
Life and Death Struggle
It meant real REPENTANCE, for now I saw that I had been breaking God's Law. I had been rebelling against God. It meant turning around and going THE WAY OF GOD -- the WAY of His BIBLE -- living according to every word in the Bible, instead of according to the ways of society or the desires of the flesh and of vanity.
It was a matter of which WAY I would travel for the remainder of my life. I had certainly reached the CROSSROADS!
But I had been beaten down. God had brought that about -- though I didn't realize it then. Repeated business reverses, failure after failure, had destroyed self-confidence. I was broken in spirit. The SELF in me didn't want to die. It wanted to try to get up from ignominious defeat and try once again to tread the broad and popular WAY of vanity and of this world. But now I knew that way was WRONG! I knew its ultimate penalty was DEATH. But I didn't want to die now!
It was truly a battle for LIFE -- a life and death struggle. In the end, I lost that battle, as I had been losing all worldly battles in recent years.
In final desperation, I threw myself on His mercy. If He could use my life, I would give it to Him -- not in physical suicide, but as a living sacrifice, to use as He willed. It was worth nothing to me any longer.
Jesus Christ had bought and paid for my life by His death. It really belonged to Him, and now I told Him He could have it!
From then on, this defeated no-good life of mine was GOD'S. I didn't see how it could be worth anything to Him. But it was His to use as His instrument, if He thought He could use it.
JOY in Defeat
This surrender to God -- this REPENTANCE -- this GIVING UP of the world, of friends and associates, and of everything -- was the most bitter pill I ever swallowed. Yet it was the only medicine in all my life that ever brought a healing!
For I actually began to realize that I was finding joy beyond words to describe in this total defeat. I had actually found JOY in the study of the Bible -- in the discovery of new TRUTHS, heretofore hidden from my consciousness. And in surrendering to GOD in complete repentance, I found unspeakable JOY in accepting JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour and my present High Priest.
I began to see everything in a new and different light. Why should it have been a difficult and painful experience to surrender to my Maker and my God? Why was it painful to surrender to obey God's right ways? WHY? Now, I came to a new outlook on life.
Somehow I began to realize a NEW fellowship and friendship had come into my life. I began to be conscious of a contact and fellowship with Christ, and with God the Father.
When I read and studied the Bible, God was talking to me, and now I loved to listen! I began to pray, and knew that in prayer I was talking with God. I was not yet very well acquainted with God. But one gets to be better acquainted with another by constant contact and continuous conversation.
A Doctrine at a Time
So I continued the study of the Bible. I began to write, in article form, the things I was learning. I did not then suppose these articles would ever be published. I wrote them for my own satisfaction. It was one way to learn more by the study.
I had been reared of Quaker stock. The Quakers do not believe in water baptism. But now I wanted to PROVE, by the Bible, whether I ought to be baptized. So I began to study about baptism -- and receiving the Holy Spirit.
As this study of the Bible continued, I was forced to come out of the fog of religious babylon a single doctrine at a time. It was years later before I came to see the WHOLE picture -- to understand God's PURPOSE being worked out here below, and why, and how, He is working it out. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the many single doctrinal parts ultimately fit together, and then, for the first time, the WHOLE picture burst joyfully into view.
It was like being so close to one tree at a time I could not see the forest. I had to examine every doctrinal tree in the religious forest. Many, as I had been brought up to believe them, were felled on close examination IN THE BlBLE. New doctrinal trees came into view. But finally, after years, I was able to see the whole forest of TRUTH, with dead doctrinal trees removed.
That is why students at Ambassador College today are able to learn the TRUTH much more rapidly than I could. That is why the readers of The Plain Truth, the regular listeners of The World Tomorrow program, and the students of the Ambassador College Correspondence Course are able to come to mature knowledge of the truth so quickly. The pioneer work has been done. The weeds have been removed. The very trunks of the trees of false doctrines have been chopped down and uprooted.
But I myself had to check carefully and test every doctrine, one at a time.
And so next, after repentance and surrender to God, came an intensive study of water baptism.
Disillusioned About Preachers
During my initial six months' study, I had studied not only the Bible, but every book, booklet or tract I could get on the religious subjects under study. On the Sabbath question, I had sought out eagerly and studied avidly everything I could find against the Sabbath and supporting Sunday as the Lord's Day. But I had tried to be fair, and searched also the literature on the other side of the question. But always the BIBLE was the sole authority. Thus I became quite familiar with Seventh-Day Adventist literature.
Never, however, did I attend any Seventh-Day Adventist church service.
Also I checked over carefully the literature of the Church of God, with headquarters at Stanberry, Missouri.
Upon surrender to God, I had lost all sense of animosity toward Mrs. O. J. Runcorn, the elderly lady who had started my wife on the religious fanaticism which proved to be God's TRUTH. We even came to call her and her husband our spiritual parents. Mrs. Armstrong and I visited with her frequently when in Salem at the home of my parents. Through her and her husband we became acquainted with a small group of Church of God people in Salem and near Jefferson, Oregon.
One day when we were in Salem we learned that a preacher of this Church of God had just arrived from Texas, an Elder Unzicker. He and his wife were staying at the home of a neighbor, member of the Church of God. Mrs. Armstrong and I walked across the street to this neighbor's house to see him. I wanted to ask him questions about water baptism.
Questioning Other Ministers
Next I went to a Baptist minister in Portland, to learn why Baptists believe in baptism. He was courteous and patient, glad to explain his church's teachings.
I went to a Seventh-Day Adventist minister. He, too, was courteous and glad to explain his belief, according to the Bible.
Then, finally, I went to see a minister of the Friends Church.
I asked him WHY the Quakers did not believe in water baptism. He explained the Quaker belief. They believe in spiritual, not water, baptism.
Well, Herbert, he said finally, I'll have to confess I can't honestly justify our church position by the Bible. This very thing bothered me a great deal when I first felt called into the ministry. At first, I felt I could not consistently become a minister in the Friends Church because this stand on water baptism really bothered me. But then, I looked at some of the great preachers of the church (naming several, including my own great-uncle Thomas Armstrong), and they all seemed to be holy men of God. And so I decided that if such great and holy men could preach against water baptism, so could I.
To me, this was disillusioning and discouraging. It showed me that ministers are human, like other people, after all. As a boy, I had somehow come to assume that ministers of religion are different from other people. Preachers were HOLY. Other people were sinners. Other people had human nature. But preachers were above the temptation and weaknesses of mortal humans. They were a sort of special species, about half way between ordinary humans and God. I had looked on ministers of religion with a sort of embarrassed awe. I think many people think of the clergy in similar manner.
Of course I was not a minister, and at that time did not ever expect to be. In my Bible study up to this point I had become painfully aware that the heart [human] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). This is true of every human, and I had to realize it included me. But I had to come to see that clergymen are human also -- and perhaps have even a harder fight against temptation than laymen.
My Experience Utterly Unique
Actually, though I didn't realize it then, I was, myself, being literally thrust into the Ministry of Christ, though not at all of my own seeking. And I know now that my experience was, in all probability, utterly UNIQUE! Most certainly the manner in which I was put into it was unlike any other I had heard of.
How does the average minister come to enter the clergy? I'm sure most choose the ministry in the same manner that other young men choose medicine, law, architecture or science as a life profession. So, naturally, they enter into whatever course of preparation is provided by their particular religion, church or denomination. Probably they enter a theological seminary. There they are taught the doctrines of their particular religious organization.
But I did not belong to any particular religion, church or sect. I did not CHOOSE the clergy as a profession. Actually, that would have been the very last choice in my case. But, though it was not yet realized, the profession I had chosen, after thorough self-analysis and survey of professions and occupations -- journalism and advertising -- provided the very background, training and experience to fit me for what I was now being drawn into.
I did not enter the course of study of some particular religion or church. I was not being taught by MAN! I had entered on the in-depth study of the Bible to prove my wife was wrong in a new religious belief. Being challenged also on the theory of evolution, my research led me to question even the existence of God and the authority of the Bible. And I had accepted the reality of the existence of God, and the authority of the Bible, ONLY AFTER finding incontrovertible PROOF.
How do most people come to believe what they do? The philosopher C. E. Ayres commented that few indeed ever stop to inquire in retrospect HOW they come to believe what they do, or WHY they believe it. Most people believe whatever they have been taught, or what they have read, or heard, or whatever their particular group, religion, church, political party, or area of the world believes. They simply GO ALONG. They carelessly ASSUME, because others do.
Our system of education encourages this. It fails abysmally to teach growing children to think for themselves, to question, to seek PROOF before believing. In school and college students are taught to accept and memorize whatever is in the textbook, or given in the lecture. They are graded on how well they have accepted and memorized what has been thus funnelled into their unsuspecting minds. And I know of no seminary that departs from this process, or encourages students to thoroughly question whether their sectarian doctrines are true.
Of course, too, people usually believe what they WANT to believe. That is to say, they refuse to believe what they don't want to believe. But in my case I was forced, on thorough examination and research, to believe what, prior to that research, I had definitely and vigorously not wanted to believe. I was forced, to accept, on PROOF, that which I had started out to prove FALSE. I was forced to admit, under most humiliating circumstances, on PROOF, what I had hoped to disprove.
And what I was forced, on PROOF, to accept was probably the most unpopular belief, and the hardest for most people to accept. But I had, against my wishes, found it to be TRUE, and once proved TRUE, I did finally come to embrace it with gladness and JOY!
In no other manner, I believe, could the mind of anyone have been opened to see the most BASIC, VITAL truths of the revealed Message of God to mankind -- the MOST IMPORTANT KNOWLEDGE OF ALL -- utterly overlooked and unrealized by this world's religions, churches and sects.
It was in this UNIQUE manner that I was brought to discover THE MISSING DIMENSION IN EDUCATION -- the truth as to WHY humanity was put on this earth -- the true PURPOSE of human life -- the CAUSE of all the world's unhappiness, unsolvable problems and evils -- the difference between the TRUE VALUES and the false -- THE WAY that can be the ONLY CAUSE of PEACE between nations, groups and individuals -- the only CAUSE of true success in life with happiness, peace, prosperity and abundance.
No, I know of no one who was thrust into the Ministry of Jesus Christ, untaught by MAN, but by the living Christ through His written Word, in the manner in which I was. I didn't realize it yet, but I was being brought into His Ministry by the living Christ in a manner UTTERLY UNIQUE, and totally unlike any other of which I know!
But back, now, to my study in regard to baptism. Begotten of God
Finally the study of the subject of baptism was completed. There was no longer doubt. Peter had said: REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). To Cornelius and his house, who already had received the Holy Spirit, Peter said: Can any man forbid WATER, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he COMMANDED them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:47-48).
It was a command. There was no promise of receiving the Holy Spirit until after being baptized -- although Cornelius, the exception to the rule, had been begotten by the Holy Spirit prior to baptism. Yet even he was commanded to be baptized IN WATER. What I had learned in this study on baptism is recounted on this link All About Water Baptism.
And so I was baptized forthwith and without delay. Immediately upon coming up out of the water, I definitely experienced a change in attitude and in mind generally. I had already repented and surrendered to God's rule over my life. The natural carnal hostility to God and His Law already had gone.
Yet, now, for the first time, I felt CLEAN! I knew, now, that the terribly heavy load of sin had been taken off my shoulders. Christ had paid the penalty for me. All past sins were now blotted out by His blood. My conscience was clean and clear.
For the first time in my life I experienced real inner PEACE of mind! I realized, as never before, how futile and useless and foolish are the ways of this world, on which most people set so much store. There was a quiet, wonderful happiness of mind in the sure knowledge that now I was actually a begotten son of GOD! I could really call GOD Father!
There were no excitable physical sensations or exhilarating FEELINGS running up and down the spine. Nothing of the nervous system. That is physical -- not spiritual. Nothing of the senses -- nothing sensual, as some people, diabolically misled and deceived claim to experience. But there was a KNOWING! There was an unmistakable renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).
For six months I had struggled night and day, with a carnal mind, to learn the truth about one single doctrine in the Bible. Prior to that my wife and I had read the Bible clear through -- but I had not understood a WORD of it! Most of the time I asked my wife to do the reading, because she could read faster. We got through quicker. But it was like reading or listening to a foreign language. I simply could not UNDERSTAND the BIBLE!
But now, from this point of baptism on, a strange, wonderful, delightful new thing took place. I could read the Bible and UNDERSTAND what I read! Of course I could not understand the WHOLE Bible in five or ten minutes. I still had to study it a doctrine at a time. But it was UNDERSTANDABLE! It MADE SENSE! Even though it took time, I was now getting some place. But I was comprehending and learning so much faster than during that initial six months' study!
It was like a miracle! And indeed, it WAS a MIRACLE! The very Holy Spirit of God had come into and renewed my mind. I had been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the true Body of Christ, the Church of God -- but I did not realize that fact literally. I was still to search earnestly to find the one and only true Church which Jesus founded, before recognizing fully He had already placed me in it!
Learning Whether God Answers Prayers
WHERE is the one TRUE Church today? That is the question that still haunted my mind in the late spring and the summer of 1927.
During that six months' diligent research, I had run the gamut of disillusionment, doubt, confusion, frustration -- and finally, the SURE knowledge, proved, that GOD EXISTS, and that the Holy Bible is His revealed Word.
Finally, sadly disillusioned about believing all these churches couldn't be wrong, I began to ask, where is the one true Church today? I read in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said: I will build my Church.
Therefore I knew He did build it. He said the gates of the grave would never prevail against it. It had to be in existence still. But WHERE? Which church could it be?
I had been astounded to learn that the BlBLE teaches truths diametrically opposite to the teachings of the large and popular churches and denominations today. I saw in the Bible the real MISSION of God's true Church. But these churches, today, were not carrying on the real work and mission of Christ.
The SOURCE of their beliefs and practice was not the Bible, but paganism! There was no recognizable comparison between them and the original TRUE Church I found described in Acts and other New Testament books. Yet somewhere there had to exist today that spiritual organism in which Christ actually dwelt -- a church empowered by His Spirit -- acting as His instrument -- carrying out His Commission.
But WHERE? I was to be some years in finding the answer. I still had to sift out the real truth a doctrine at a time! Mrs. Armstrong and I began to attend many different churches. I wanted to check on each -- compare it with the Bible. I continued almost daily study at the Portland Public Library.
Getting Relatives Saved
One must not assume, from what has been written about my surrender to God, and the change that came with God's Spirit, that I had reached spiritual maturity and perfection at one quick bound. No one ever does. A human baby must creep before it learns to walk. It must learn to walk before it can run. And it stumbles and falls many times. But it does not become discouraged and give up.
The newly converted are mere babes in Christ. I had not learned much, as yet. Vanity was far from being eradicated.
Upon surrendering to accept God's TRUTH -- as far as I had then come to see it -- my first impulse was to share it with my family and relatives. Once the natural-born hostility to God and His Law had been crushed, the Bible TRUTH appeared as a glorious light -- the most WONDERFUL thing I had ever known. I was suddenly filled with zeal to get this precious knowledge to all who were close to my wife and me. I wanted to get them converted.
Suddenly I began to feel so unselfish in this new Christian experience that I felt my own final fate was not important, if only I could get those related by blood or marriage ties into God's Kingdom.
But sad disillusionment followed every overture. I had absolutely no success whatsoever trying to cram my religion down their throats.
Facing the Tobacco Question
Then, immediately I was baptized, the matter of smoking had to be settled.
Of course the Quaker church, in which I had been reared as a boy, taught that smoking was a sin. But I had been unhappily disillusioned to see that in so many basic points the Bible teaching is the very opposite of what I had absorbed in Sunday school.
I've got to see the answer to the tobacco question IN THE BIBLE! I said to myself.
Until I found the answer in the Bible, I decided I would continue as before -- smoking mildly.
I had continued to smoke lightly, averaging three or four cigarettes a day, or one cigar a day. I had never been a heavy smoker.
Now I had to face the question: Is smoking a SIN? I wanted the BIBLE answer, for I had learned by this time that Christ had said we must live by EVERY WORD OF GOD. The BIBLE is our Instruction Book on right living. We must find a BIBLE reason for everything we do.
I knew, of course, there is no specific command, Thou shalt not smoke. But the absence of a detailed prohibition did not mean God's approval.
I had learned that GOD'S LAW is His WAY OF LIFE. It is a basic philosophy of life. The whole Law is summed up in the one word LOVE. I knew that love is the opposite of lust. Lust is self-desire -- pleasing the self only. Love means loving others. Its direction is not inward toward self alone, but outgoing, toward others. I knew the Bible teaches that lust of the flesh is the way of SIN.
So now I began to apply the principle of God's Law. I asked myself, WHY do I smoke? To please others -- to help others -- to serve or minister to or express love toward others -- or only to satisfy and gratify a desire of the flesh within my own self?
The answer was instantaneously obvious. I had to be honest with it. My only reason for smoking was LUST OF THE FLESH, and lust of the flesh is, according to the BIBLE, sin!
I stopped smoking immediately. This beginning of overcoming was not too difficult, for it had not been a big habit with me. Once weaned, I was able to see it as it is -- a dirty, filthy habit. And today we know it is a serious and major contributing cause of lung cancer!
God designed and created the human body. He designed the LUNGS to take in FRESH AIR to fire and oxidize the blood, and at the same time to filter out of the blood the impurities and waste matter the blood has picked up throughout the body. Befouled smoke, containing the poisons of nicotine and tars, reduces the efficiency of the operation of this vital organ.
The physical human body is, God says, the very TEMPLE of His Holy Spirit. If we defile this TEMPLE -- this physical body -- God says He will destroy us! God intended us, if we are to be COMPLETE, to live happy, healthy and abundant lives, and to gain eternal life, to take in HIS SPIRIT -- not poisonous foreign substances like tobacco.
Mrs. Armstrong Stricken
I was now beginning to grow in Christ's knowledge and in His GRACE. His Holy Spirit had renewed my mind. I could now UNDERSTAND God's TRUTH as I studied His Word.
I had come to understand, the hard way, the truth about Law and Grace. I had come to understand the Bible teaching about water baptism. I had come to see that I could not help others unless I, myself, were obedient and practicing what I preached. I had come to see the truth about tobacco. Now God saw fit to teach my wife and me another most important and useful truth. He let us learn it through severe experience, coupled with Bible study.
Along about early August, 1927, a series of physical illnesses and injuries attacked Mrs. Armstrong.
First, she was bitten on the left arm by a dog. Before this healed over, she was driven to bed with tonsillitis. She got up from this too soon, and was stricken violently with a backset. But meanwhile she had contracted blood poisoning as a result of being stuck with a rose thorn on the index finger of her right hand.
For two or three days her sister and I had to take turns, day and night, soaking her right hand in almost blistering hot Epsom salts water, and covering her wrist and forearm with hot towels, always holding her right arm high.
The backset from the tonsillitis developed into quinsy. Her throat was swollen shut. It locked her jaw. For three days and three nights she was unable to swallow a drop of water or a morsel of food. More serious, for three days and three nights she was unable to sleep a wink. She was nearing exhaustion. The red line of the blood poisoning, in spite of our constant hot Epsom salts efforts, was streaking up her right arm, and had reached her shoulder on the way to the heart.
The doctor had told me privately that she could not last another twenty-four hours. This third sleepless, foodless and waterless day was a scorching hot summer day in early August.
Does God HEAL Today?
On this late morning, a neighbor lady came over to see my wife.
Mr. Armstrong, she asked, out of hearing of my wife, would you object if I ask a man and his wife to come and anoint and pray for your wife's healing?
That sounded a little fanatical to me. Yet, somehow, I felt too embarrassed to object.
Well, no, I suppose not, I replied, hesitantly. About two hours later she returned, and said they would come at about seven in the evening.
I began to have misgivings, I began to regret having given consent.
What if these people are some of these wild-fire shouters, I thought to myself. Suppose they begin to shout and yell and scream like these 'holy roller' or 'pentecostal' fanatics do? Oh my! What would our neighbors think?
Quickly I gathered courage to go to our neighbor who had asked them to come. I told her I had been thinking it over, and felt it better that these people did not come. She was very nice about it. She would start immediately, and ask them not to come. Then I learned she would have to walk over a mile to contact them. They were living in some rooms in the former Billy Sunday tabernacle that had been built for Billy Sunday's Portland campaign some years earlier. This tabernacle was out beyond 82nd Street, near Sandy Boulevard.
It was now in the heat of the day -- the hottest day of the year. I began to feel quite ashamed to impose on this woman, by asking her to make a second long walk on that sweltering afternoon.
I do hate to ask you to make a second trip out there, I said apologetically. I didn't realize it was so far. But I was afraid these people might yell and shout, and create a neighborhood disturbance.
Oh, they are very quiet people, she hastened to assure me. They won't shout.
After that I decided not to impose on this neighbor who was only trying to help us.
Let's let them come, then, I concluded.
The Meaning of FAITH
That evening this man and his wife came, about seven. He was rather tall. They were plain people, obviously not of high education, yet intelligent appearing.
This is all rather new to me, I began, when they were seated beside my wife's bed. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions, before you pray for my wife?
He welcomed the questions. He had a Bible in his hands, and one by one he answered my every question and doubt by turning to a passage in his Bible and giving me the Bible answer.
By this time I had become sufficiently familiar with the Bible to recognize every passage he read -- only I had never thought of these Biblical statements and promises and admonitions in this particular light before.
As these answers continued coming from the Bible, I began to understand, and to BELIEVE -- and I knew the same assurance was forming in Mrs. Armstrong's mind.
Finally I was satisfied. I had the answer from the Bible. I believed. My wife believed. We knelt in prayer beside her bed. As he anointed my wife with oil from a vial he carried, he uttered a quiet, positive, very earnest and believing prayer which was utterly different from any prayer I had ever heard.
This man actually dared to talk directly to God, and to tell God what He had PROMISED to do! He quoted the promises of God to heal. He applied them to my wife. He literally held God to what he had promised! It was not because we, as mortal humans, deserved what he asked, but through the merits of Jesus Christ, and according to God's great mercy.
He merely claimed God's PROMISE to heal. He asked God to heal her completely, from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet.
You have promised, he said to God, and you have given us the right to hold you to your promise to heal by the power of your mighty Holy Spirit. I hold you to that promise! We expect to have the answer!
Never had I heard anyone talk like that to God! It was not a long prayer -- perhaps a minute or two. But as he spoke I knew that as sure as there is a God in heaven, my wife had to be healed! Any other result would have made God out a liar. Any other result would have nullified the authority of the Scriptures. Complete assurance seized me -- and also my wife. We simply knew that she was released from everything that had gripped her -- she was freed from the sickness -- she was healed! To have doubted would have been to doubt God -- to doubt the Bible. It simply never occurred to us to doubt. We believed! We knew!
As we rose, the man's wife laid a hand on Mrs. Armstrong's shoulder. You'll sleep soundly tonight, she smiled quietly.
I thanked them gratefully. As soon as they had left, Mrs. Armstrong asked me to bring her a robe. She arose, put it on, and I walked slowly with her out to the street sidewalk and back, my arm around her. Neither of us spoke a word. There was no need. We both understood. It was too solemn a moment to speak. We were too choked with gratitude.
She slept soundly until 11:00 a.m. next day. Then she arose and dressed as if she had never been ill. She had been healed of everything, including some long-standing internal maladjustments.
We had learned a new lesson in the meaning of faith. Faith is not only the evidence of that which we do not see or feel -- it is not only the ASSURANCE of what we hope for -- it is definite knowing that God will DO whatever He has promised. Faith is BASED on God's written PROMISES. The Bible is filled with thousands of God's promises. They are there for us to claim. They are SURE. God can't lie.
If there is any one attribute to God's character that is more outstanding than any other, it is God's faithfulness -- the fact that HIS WORD IS GOOD! Think how hopeless we would be if God's word were not good! And if a man's word is not to be trusted, all his other good points go for naught -- he is utterly lacking in right character.
A Dumbfounded Doctor
Shortly before Mrs. Armstrong had been confined to bed in this illness, she had taken our elder daughter Beverly to the doctor with a felon on her finger. It had not been bandaged for some days.
The morning after her miraculous healing, my wife arose about eleven, ate a breakfast, and then took Beverly to the doctor's office to have the bandage removed. Incidentally this was the last time we have ever called a doctor for any illness in our family.
WHAT are you doing here! exclaimed the doctor, looking as if he had seen a ghost.
Well, answered my wife, do you believe in divine healing?
I don't believe Mary Baker Eddy has any more 'pull' with God Almighty than I have! asserted the physician.
But I don't mean that, Mrs. Armstrong explained, I mean miraculous healing direct by God as a result of prayer.
Well -- yes -- I -- do! replied the astonished doctor, slowly, incredulously. But I never did before.
Studying a New Subject
This awe-inspiring experience brought a totally new subject before me for study. And remember, I had plenty of time on my hands for Bible study. Only one laundry client remained. We were now reduced to real poverty. Although I had been beaten down and had made a complete surrender to God, giving myself to Him, yet without realizing it much of the self-pride and vanity remained. Of course God knew this. He was yet to bring me down much lower. I was yet to be humiliated repeatedly and thoroughly chastened before God could use me.
In those days we were constantly behind with our house rent. When we had a little money for food we bought beans and such food as would provide the most bulk for the least money. Often we went hungry. Yet, looking back over those days, Mrs. Armstrong was remarking just the day before this was written that we were finding happiness despite the economic plight -- and we did not complain or grumble. But we did suffer.
From the time of my conversion Mrs. Armstrong has always studied with me. We didn't realize it then, but God was calling us together. We were always a team, working together in unity.
And now came a new subject to study, and new enlightenment. We entered into it with vigor and joy. We searched out everything we could find in the Bible on the subject of physical healing. We discovered that God revealed Himself to ancient Israel, even before they reached Mt. Sinai, under His name Yahweh-Ropha which means The Eternal our Healer, or Our GOD-HEALER, or, as translated in the Authorized Version, The LORD that healeth thee.
He revealed Himself as Healer through David: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who HEALETH all thy diseases (Psalm 103:3). And again: Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of food; they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Eternal in their trouble, and ... He sendeth His word, and HEALETH them (Psalm 107:17-20).
Then I made a discovery I had not read in any of the tracts and literature we had been sending for and gathering on this subject. Healing is actually the forgiveness of transgressed physical laws just as salvation comes through forgiveness of transgressed spiritual law. It is the forgiveness of physical SIN. God forgives the physical sin because Jesus PAID THE PENALTY we are suffering IN OUR STEAD. He was beaten with stripes before He was nailed to the cross.
Experience of the Crooked Spine
After we had made some little progress in gaining Biblical understanding of this subject of healing, Aimee Semple McPherson came to Portland.
She held an evangelistic campaign in the Portland Auditorium. My wife and I attended once, and then I went alone another time. We were checking up on many religious teachings and groups. Unable to gain entrance, because of packed attendance, I was told by an usher that I might be able to slip in at the rear stage door if I would hurry around. Walking, or running, around the block to the rear, I came upon a sorry spectacle.
A woman and child were trying to get a terribly crippled elderly man out of a car near the stage entrance. I went over to help them. The man had a badly twisted spine -- whether from arthritis, or deformity from birth, or other disease I do not now remember. He was utterly helpless and a pitiful sight to look upon.
We managed to get him to the stage door. Actually, I should never have been admitted, had I not been helping to carry this cripple in. He had come to be healed by the famous lady evangelist.
We were unable to gain contact with Mrs. McPherson before the service. And we were equally unable, after the service. I helped get the dis appointed cripple back into their car.
If you really want to be healed, I said before they drove off, I would be glad to come to your home and pray for you. Mrs. McPherson has no power within herself to heal anybody. I have none. Only GOD can heal. But I do know what He has promised to do, and I believe God will hear me just as willingly as He will Mrs. McPherson -- if only you will BELIEVE in what GOD has promised, and put your faith in HIM and not in the person who prays for you.
They gave me their address, just south of Foster Road. The next day I borrowed my brother Russell's car and drove out.
I had learned, in this study, that there are two conditions which God imposes. 1) we must keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (I John 3:22); and 2) we must really BELIEVE (Matt. 9:29).
Of course I realized that many people might not have come into the understanding about keeping all of God's Commandments -- he does look on the heart. It is the spirit, and willingness to obey. And therefore some who really BELIEVE are healed, even though they are not strictly commandment keepers. But once the knowledge of the truth comes, they must OBEY. In this case I felt sure that God wanted me to open the minds of these people about His Commandments, and that SIN is the transgression of God's LAW.
Consequently, I first read the two scriptures quoted above, and then explained what I had been six months learning about God's Law -- and particularly about God's Sabbath. I wanted to know whether this cripple and his wife had a spirit of WILLINGNESS to obey God.
They did not. I found they were pentecostal. They attended church for the good time they had there. They talked a good deal about the good time they enjoyed at church. They scoffed and sneered about having to obey God. I told them that, since they were unwilling to obey God and comply with God's written conditions for healing, I could not pray for him.
Was This an Angel?
This case had weighed heavily on my mind. I had been touched with deep compassion for this poor fellow. Yet his mind was not impaired, and I knew that God does not compromise with SIN.
Some weeks later I had borrowed my brother's car again, and happened to be driving out Foster Road. Actually at the time my mind was filled with another mission, and this deformed cripple was not on my mind at all. I was deep in thought about another matter.
Coming to the intersection of the street on which the cripple lived, however, I was reminded of him. Instantly the thought came as to whether I ought to pay them one more call -- but at the same instant reason ruled it out. They had made light of, and actually ridiculed the idea of surrendering to obey God. Immediately I put them out of mind, and again was deep in thought about the present mission I was on.
Then a strange thing happened. At the next intersection, the steering wheel of the car automatically turned to the right. I felt the wheel turning. I resisted it. It kept turning right. Instantly I applied all my strength to counteract it, and keep steering straight ahead. My strength was of no avail. Some unseen force was turning that steering wheel against all my strength. The car had turned to the right into the street one block east of the home of the cripple.
I was frightened. Never before had I experienced anything like this. I stopped the car by the curb. I didn't know what to make of it.
It was too late to back into traffic-heavy Foster Road. Well, I thought, I'll drive to the end of this block and turn left, and then back onto Foster Road.
But, a long block south on this street, it turned right only. There was no street turning east. In getting back onto Foster Road I was now compelled to drive past the home of the cripple.
Could it possibly be that an angel forced the steering wheel to turn me in here? I wondered, somewhat shaken by the experience. I decided I had better stop in at the cripple's home a moment, to be sure.
I found him stricken with blood poisoning. The red line was nearing his heart.
I told them what had happened. I know, now, I said, that God sent an angel to turn me in here. I believe that God wants me to pray for you -- that He will heal you of this blood poisoning to show you His power, and then give you one more chance to repent and be willing to obey Him. And if you will do that, then He will straighten out your twisted spine and heal you completely.
So now, if you want me to do so, I will pray for you and ask God to heal you of this blood poisoning. But I will not ask God to heal your spine unless and until you repent and show willingness to obey whatever you yourself see God commands.
They were now desperate. He probably had about twelve hours to live. They were not joking and jesting lightly about the good times at pentecostal meetin'. They wanted me to pray.
I was not an ordained minister, so I did not anoint with oil. I had never yet in my life prayed aloud before others. I explained this to them, and said I would simply lay hands on the man and pray silently, as I did not want any self-consciousness of praying aloud for the first time to interfere with real earnestness and faith. I did have absolute faith he would be healed of the blood poisoning.
He was. I returned the next day. The blood poisoning had left him immediately when I prayed. But, to my very great sorrow and dis appointment, they were once again filled with levity, and sarcasm about God's Law. Again they were jestingly talking about having a good time at church.
There was no more I could do. It was one of the great dis appointments of my life. I never saw or heard from any of them again.
Trying to Convert Relatives
IN ALL my experience since conversion one oft-repeated incident has brought sorrow and regret. Many times a certain individual has been used to bring us light, or truth, or help, or certain advancement or stimulus to the Work of God, only to lose out spiritually and be discarded, once his usefulness was over.
Resurrection Not on Sunday
It was about this time, summer, 1927, my wife and I had learned an exciting, shocking truth. The resurrection of Christ did not occur on Sunday morning!
The crucifixion was not on so-called Good Friday. These I had found to be mere traditions, totally unsupported by any evidence, and completely refuted by the sole historic record -- the Bible.
I had learned -- and found completely PROVED -- that Jesus was in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea three days and three nights. Jesus Himself said so (Matthew 12:40). It was the only SIGN He gave as a miraculous PROOF of Messiahship.
The usual argument employed to discredit Jesus' statement, that this was an idiomatic expression in the original Greek meaning only three parts of days, or either a day or night, did not stand up. We had the same three days and three nights duration expressed in Jonah, inspired in Hebrew which knows no such idiomatic twist -- or idiotic twist. Also many other passages verified the full 72-hour duration.
The crucifixion was on Wednesday. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was late Sabbath afternoon, prior to sunset. This is proved conclusively, not only by all the scriptures on the subject, which are many, but also by astronomy, and by the Hebrew calendar. In the year in which Jesus was crucified -- A.D. 31 -- the Passover was on a Wednesday, not a Friday.
The reader, if not already familiar with this truth, is invited to click on this link The Resurrection Was Not On Sunday, and also, to learn the true origin and full truth about Easter, click on this link The Plain Truth About Easter.
From the beginning of the new Spirit-led life, I wrote, in article form the thrilling new truths being unfolded in this continuous almost night-and-day study. This discovery of the true dates of the crucifixion and resurrection was written in an article captioned Foundation for Sunday Sacredness Crumbles.
I had found that opponents of God's Sabbath can invent some fifty-seven varieties of arguments to explain why they don't keep the Sabbath. But they have only one argument for observing Sunday -- the supposition of a Sunday morning resurrection.
Of course no scripture anywhere tells us to observe the day of the resurrection. That, too, is a man-made argument.
Actually, there is absolutely NO Bible authority for Sunday observance. The only authority for it is that of the Roman Catholic Church -- a fact I believe any Catholic priest will confirm. Protestants, whether knowingly or not, acknowledge the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in observing Sunday.
With a Sunday resurrection illusion shattered, the last supposed foundation for Sunday observance had crumbled.
Disheartening Dis appointment
This article, Foundation for Sunday Sacredness Crumbles, I believe, was never published. I did not write the articles, in those days, with the intention or expectation of having them published. I had been a trained advertising-copy and magazine-article writer. It simply came naturally to put into article form these intriguing, fascinating truths for my personal enjoyment and record.
But, exciting as these new truths were to me, I realized fully I was new in the truth -- a novice spiritually -- a babe in Christ. I deemed it wise to have this newly discovered truth about the day of the resurrection verified by others more experienced in Biblical understanding than I.
It was but natural to look upon the man whose prayer God had so miraculously answered in healing my wife as a man of God. So, even though I felt sure this truth was proved, I wanted to be doubly sure. Also I sincerely wanted to share this wonderful truth with the man whom God had used in sparing my wife's life. So I walked down to the old Billy Sunday tabernacle, out past 82nd Street, where this man was caretaker, one evening, very shortly after my wife's healing.
This man of God promised he would study my article and give me his opinion. Then a few nights later I returned to his living quarters in a corner of the giant tabernacle.
For several minutes other subjects occupied the conversation.
But did you study into my article about the day of the resurrection? I asked, since he avoided mentioning it.
Well, yes, Brother, he replied, I took it to our pastor and we went over it together.
Well, did you find any error in what I wrote? I persisted. Well, no, Brother, he admitted, we couldn't find anything wrong with it. It does seem to be according to the Scriptures, but Brother, we feel that studying into that kind of subject is likely to be dangerous. It might get you all mixed up. We feel it would be better for you to just forget all about that -- just get your mind clear off of that. There are more important things for you to think about and study into. It's best to just keep your mind on Christ.
But, I rejoined, suddenly disillusioned, if the resurrection was on the Sabbath, and not on Sunday, the only reason anyone has for Sunday observance is gone. Don't you think we might be breaking the commands of God and sinning, if we ignore such a truth?
Well, now, Brother, he tried to reassure me, that's just the trouble. You see how it could get you all upset. All the churches observe Sunday. We can't start to fight all the churches. Now we are saved by GRACE, not of works. We think there are more important things in salvation than which day Christ rose on, or which day we keep. This could just get you all mixed up. It could be dangerous. Better just get your mind off of such things.
I walked back to our home on Klickitat Street in Portland, grieved and sorrowfully disillusioned. I had had a lot of confidence in this man. Now here he was, admitting I had brought him a new TRUTH, proved by the Bible, yet rejecting this LIGHT -- and, more, advising a newly converted man who had confidence in him to reject THE WORD OF GOD!
Arriving home, I happened to turn to Hosea 4:6, where God says that because we have rejected His knowledge, He will reject us.
TRUTH, or Consequences
A week or two later I walked back out past 82nd Street to the huge old Billy Sunday tabernacle. This thing had weighed heavily on my mind. This tall, uneducated, plain and simple man had been an instrument in God's hands not only in saving my wife's life, but also in opening our eyes to the truth of God's healing power. I felt deeply grateful. I hoped that even yet I might help rescue this man from the consequences of rejecting God's revealed knowledge.
I found him in the big auditorium. He appeared dejected, downcast, worried.
Brother, he said, on looking up and seeing me, Brother, something terrible has come over me. God has left me. He doesn't answer my prayers any more. I don't understand what has happened.
Poor man! I understood what had happened. He had been a trusting and deeply sincere, if simple, man. God had used this man. God used him to bring my wife and me the knowledge that God actually performs miracles for those who trust Him -- He heals -- if we obey and believe. And how many other people God had helped through this man's prayers I did not know.
Evidently, until God used me to test him by bringing to him a new truth, he had not deliberately rejected truth nor disobeyed God's commands knowingly. God looks on the heart, and until this man followed his preacher in deliberately rejecting light and truth from God which he acknowledged to be truth and which led to willful disobedience, his heart was honest and sincere in his simple way.
But he had rejected God's knowledge. And now God had rejected him!
His prayers were no longer answered. He was now guilty of disobedience of God's Law. And God reveals through John that whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and DO those things that are pleasing in HIS sight (I John 3:22). This man no longer complied with the divine conditions. Yet, if ever I met a man who had the gift of healing spoken of in I Corinthians 12:9, this man had had it.
God had used him to bring to us a truth. We accepted it, and began to walk in it. Then God used me to take to him a truth. He acknowledged that it was the truth. He had seen it proved. Yet he rejected it, and walked in disobedience instead of in the light! God used this man no more.
Of course he had MUCH to learn, had he continued as an instrument in God's hands. True Christians must continually overcome, and GROW in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The servant of God cannot stand still. Either he advances, and grows spiritually against opposition and obstacles, or he falls by the wayside to be rejected. It is not an easy road.
This incident just described is but one of many of its kind. Later I was to encounter many more whom God used to help me and His Work, only to see them endure but a while, and fall aside. Several of these have been among our closest and most loved personal friends. These experiences have provided our greatest suffering in God's service. They were pictured by Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed. It seems the majority who start out on this straight and narrow road of opposition, persecution, trial and test, self-restraint, continuous attitude of repentance, overcoming, growing, fail to endure until the end.
It has grieved Mrs. Armstrong and me deeply to see so many for whom we were grateful -- who had helped us and God's Work -- whom we learned to love so much, turn aside finally and drop out of the race for eternal life.
Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall! How about YOU?
Don't YOU Make THIS Mistake!
That year 1927 was a very eventful year in my life.
As soon as I swallowed my bitterest pill of rebellion, surrendered to obey and trust fully in the Mighty God through faith in the living Jesus Christ, this new Christian WAY became the most happy, joyful experience of my life. Studying the Bible became a passion and a joy. I plunged into it with concentrated zeal.
The all-day sessions at the Portland Public Library did not stop with my capitulation to the truth following the six months' angered study to end my wife's fanaticism.
No longer was it an intensive study driven by anger and determination to have my own way. Now it was an enthusiastic study of eager anticipation, literally thrilling to every new discovery of spiritual light and basic knowledge.
Now a passion swept over me to get our families converted. With the best intentions in the world, I set out on a vigorous campaign. To me, it was the loving and intense desire to share the wonders and glories of Bible knowledge with those we felt we loved most. But to most of them, it was an unwanted effort to cram my crazy religion down their throats.
I did succeed, apparently, in talking one sister-in-law into a certain start. I had to learn later it was a false start. She was baptized, either when I was, or very shortly afterward. But, as too often happens when a high-pressure salesman talks one into something he doesn't really want, she turned against it all shortly afterward.
I had to learn, however, that, even though I had believed I was a pretty good salesman in my earlier business experience, I was unable utterly to cram my religion down my relatives' throats. My efforts only aroused hostility. They said I was crazy.
This is a universal mistake committed by the newly converted. Especially is this true where a husband or wife yields to God's truth without the other.
It actually threatened to break up our marriage -- even though Mrs. Armstrong did NOT attempt to inject her new religious belief into me. In our case the marriage was saved because I accepted the challenge to study into it myself, confident I could prove she was wrong.
But most mates will not study into it. Most unconverted mates, especially if the converted one tries to talk the other into his or her religion, will break up the home instead.
In all the years since my conversion, I have known of many marriages that have ended in divorce because the newly converted mate tried to talk the unconverted one into it. I have never heard of a case where the unconverted mate was talked into accepting it.
Of all things evil and harmful a newly converted Christian can do, the very WORST is to try to talk your husband or wife into your religion. WHATEVER else you do, let me plead with every such reader, NEVER commit this tragic sin. If you love your husband or wife, don't do it!! If you love your Saviour who died for you, and now lives for you, DON'T DO IT!!!
Learning the Lesson
Remember these scriptures: No man can come to me, said Jesus, except the Father which hath sent me draw him (John 6:44, 45). Again, Jesus said: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother ... and a man's foes shall be they of his own household ....He that loveth father or mother ... (or wife or husband) ... more than me is not worthy of me .... And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me (Matt. 10:34-38).
God made every human a free moral agent. Thank God! -- no one has power to force on you any unwanted religion.
Every individual makes his own decision. A religious difference between husband and wife is a serious handicap. The Bible forbids a converted person from marrying an unconverted.
But if such difference already exists, do not make matters worse by talking religion to your mate. Do all your talking to God in prayer. Let your mate see your happy, pleasant, cheerful, joyful, loving WAY of life -- not hear your arguments or nagging! Allow your mate complete religious latitude and freedom -- whether to be converted, religious, irreligious, or atheistic!
I am glad I learned that lesson early. I have had to maintain certain business connections with many people, since being plunged into God's Work. I must maintain contacts with radio men, publishers, professional men. I get along splendidly with them. A big reason is that I never talk religion to them.
I never try to talk anyone into accepting Bible truth or being converted. I go to the world over the air, and in print, and everyone is free to listen, or read -- or to dial out or not read. No one gets our literature unless he personally requests it. We try never to force God's precious truth on anyone. That's GOD'S WAY!!
How NOT to Witness for Christ
Do you know how the Apostle Paul won individuals to Christ? Not the way people attempt to do it today. He said I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. When he talked to an unconverted Jew, do you suppose he spoke as a Christian thinking he is witnessing for Christ would do today? Do you suppose Paul said to the unconverted Jew: Have you received Christ as your personal Saviour?
No, that is not the way Paul spoke to unconverted Jews. Paul said: Unto the Jews I became as a Jew (I Cor. 9:22, 20). Paul spoke to others from their point of view! He talked to a Jew just like another Jew -- from the Jewish viewpoint -- showing sympathy and understanding of the Jews' way of looking at Christianity. Paul did not arouse hostility -- he put it down, so that they were sympathetic toward him, not hostile. He became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews. Even so he gained only a small minority, yet it was a large number.
Perhaps you have had your eyes opened to the fact that sin is transgression of God's Law. Most professing Christians have been taught, and consequently sincerely believe, that the Law is done away. Paul was inspired to write that the carnal mind is hostile to God and to God's Law; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:7). If you say to your unconverted mate who is hostile to God's Law, You're just a rebellious sinner, and your church is just one of these false worldly churches, you have not only aroused hostility, you have yourself been hostile, and you probably have broken up your marriage.
How did Paul talk to such people? Listen: To them that are without law, as without law, that I might gain them that are without law.
First Principle in Influencing Others
One of the first principles of successful advertising I learned early in my career is that to get results you must first learn the attitude of your reading audience toward whatever product or service you are advertising. You must not antagonize those whom you expect to persuade. You must approach them from their point of view -- not from yours, especially if your viewpoint is contrary to theirs. To win them to your point of view, you must approach them from their viewpoint. Otherwise you only arouse hostility.
I know that these words are addressed to a very large number who have made this terrible mistake. That is why I have devoted so much space to this point.
If you believe God's truth, and your husband or wife does not, NEVER TALK RELIGION to him or her. If your mate normally thinks and speaks only of material and worldly things, then you must speak of material things to your spouse.
If the World Tomorrow broadcast has, probably because of your own aggressiveness in trying to get your mate to listen, become a sore spot, go off to some private room to hear the program. Keep the volume turned down. Make every effort NOT to antagonize your husband or wife.
And again, when you talk about it, talk to God in prayer. Let your mate see your good conduct, in a manner that he or she will naturally approve. Avoid every hostility. Be pleasant. Keep cheerful. Be happy. Radiate JOY! Give LOVE and warm affection! Do everything to cause your husband or wife to like you! THAT IS THE CHRISTIAN WAY!
I have No ads on this website and I have nothing for sale...
As it is recorded...
"...freely ye have received, freely give."