During 1955, Ernest Martin became a supporter of the ministry of Herbert W. Armstrong and the Radio Church of God (later known as the Worldwide Church of God). He attended Ambassador College at Pasadena, California, in 1958 and later transferred to the campus in Bricket Wood, England. He was ordained as a minister of the Radio Church of God in 1959 and continued with his studies at Ambassador College to finally earn an unaccredited Ph.D in education in 1966. From 1960 to 1972, he taught history, theology and elementary meteorology at the Ambassador College campus in Bricket Wood where he became Dean of Faculty.
In 1974, Martin wrote the first of five editions of The Tithing Dilemma of which over 100,000 copies were sold. It was this work which triggered the first of many major schisms within the Worldwide Church of God.
Ambassador College, Pasadena, California
Department of Theology
Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D.
27 January, 1974
Dear Mr. Armstrong,
My family and I want to thank you and Mr. Ted Armstrong for the spiritual and material benefits which you have bestowed on us over the years. Indeed, I think my association with Ambassador College has been of extreme value to me in so many ways. I have also appreciated the comments you have made that I have been a profitable servant to you, the college and the church with major contributions both in educational matters and international projects. The confidence you have expressed in me has been very satisfying to me personally.
But, Mr. Armstrong, of late many serious doctrinal and administrative problems have emerged within the church and college. The problems have become frequent and widespread. Ted and other evangelists, In a meeting which Ted asked me to attend, told me that they would take it upon them- selves to inform you of the crises areas now facing the work. Believe me, doubts are rife! Credibility is at an all time low! People all over the United States are questioning whether the church really wants to grow in grace and knowledge. And among the important questions which continually comes to the fore is that of Pentecost.
There are many ministers and laymen which have deep misgivings about the validity of a Monday Pentecost. Because of this, Ted told the minister in the recent conference that the subject would be thoroughly discussed and analyzed. I was pleased that he honoured his word. Over the past two weeks, four meetings were convened to consider the question. Ted asked me to attend them and to comment. This invitation I had to decline (though I desperately wanted to be there). But I could not p–o! You will recall telling me in 1970 that I should never attend any doctrinal discussions among the top ministers unless you called them yourself. The orders you gave me have been faithfully obeyed. This is the reason I could not (and did not) attend.
However my Pentecost paper that was written to you back in 1961 was reproduced at Ted’s request and circulated to all those who participated in the meetings. After having read the paper, many now acknowledge that the real evidence shows that Sunday is truly the biblical Pentecost. I understand that nothing was presented by anyone that seriously challenged the conclusions of my 1961 paper. The central facts for a Sunday Pentecost remain crystal clear and this has to be admitted by all.
There now seems to be two schools of thought on the matter of Pentecost among the top authorities. One school would accept what the Holy Scriptures say and admit that Pentecost should be on a Sunday. The other would probably accent the authority of the church and continue with a Monday. One Vice President was reported to have said, “If the church said that Pentecost should be on a Thursday, that’s good enough for me.’, .Mr. Armstrong, I am certain you would repudiate such an extreme position as untenable. However, the moderato of the conference at the conclusion of the four meetings, finally decided that nothing could be done about the
question of Pentecost and that there was no need to have a full and open forum with you concerning it.
Whatever happens in this matter, I want to concur with the teachings of headquarters. I have always been an individual who has never wanted to deviate from the teachings of headquarters. And I do t propose to go astray from those principles now. But, sir, herein lies a problem! Real headquarters — the headquarters we must all obey .. happens to be in heaven! And that headquarters has given to me, and to everyone, a divine constitution to which our lives must conform. That constitution is the Holy Scriptures. And they have made it plain; Pentecost is on a Sunday’. Yet, the Worldwide Church of God has Pentecost on a Monday.
Changes are necessary! But even the changing of one wrong doctrine is far short of the mark in reaching the fulness of the teachings of Christ. As you are aware, the church has taught that it “hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” This belief has given many people the conviction that the church hardly needs any changing at all in most doctrines. However, there are numerous teachings that desperately need alteration to bring them into conformity with the true doctrines of Christ.
The position of the church forces my wife and me to follow your example of more than forty years ago when you found it impossible to work within the framework of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Really, it is not fair to you for us to remain in the Worldwide Church of God when we feel responsible to teach the doctrines of the Bible which are not accepted by you or the church. This is a very regretful decision to make but our conscience allows us no alternative.
Let me say, however, that we hold not the slightest bitterness towards you or anyone at the college or in the church. Indeed, I personally love you as a man and admire you for the works which have been accomplished. I do not intend to denigrate you, Garner Ted, the college or the church. There is no need to do that whatever. I sincerely hope that you will give my wife and me the same grace that we intend to give to you.
In Christ’s Service,
cc: close friends.