Robert Macdonald and myself have information at that site which we trust would be of some interest. Robert knew Herman Hoeh well - unlike those that have made the most ludicrous and untrue allegations about him. I thought that you would like to hear from someone with first hand knowledge of him, rather than those who hear this from this person and that from that person - and in true conspiracy theory style, try and connect dots to bring about a mosaic that does not reflect reality or the full truth.
Here are just some allegations against him:
1. he accepted all the changes:
- told me otherwise, in fact stating that the group in charge of WCG were "going to go into destruction". He did accept, in the mid-1970s a 14 Abib Passover; seemed to accept a mid-range view on born again; and his ideas on the nature of God mirrors adoptionism. Other than that, I am unaware of anything else he changed. I have personally talked with people who knew him well (including when I was in the USA in 2011) and he told them what was happening under Tkach "was wrong - very wrong".
It is true that he used to sometimes discourage folk from leaving the WCG. But when you spoke with him it was because he felt that the apostasy was allowed by God to test us within the WCG. And that he might set it all right again. I am sure though that he regretted that view later in life.
2. he was a secret Buddhist:
- it is said that he wore a Thai outfit at a feast site once. Whether it was Buddhist or local custom, I know not. But that does not mean he was a Buddhist and said and did everything that cannot be related to Buddhism. Instead, he tried to be 'all things to all men.'
3. he no longer believed in the 'lost' tribes of Israel doctrine:
- he told me otherwise and continued his research
4. he completely eschewed the identity of the Germans with the ancient Assyrians:
- he told me otherwise and applauded my further research and evidence for this truth
5. he had pornography books in his library:
- nothing can be further from the truth. These were medical books as told me by people who saw them - and books on human biology and physical anthropology. Do these anti-Hoeh conspiracy theorists really think that he would let anyone see such books for this claim against him extends back to the 1970s; that his wife would permit it; that he would still have such books in his possession into his 70s? It is all hearsay as are other untrue rumours against other pioneers
6. he was a secret protestant evangelical:
- how could he be a Sabbatarian, Buddhist and Sunday-observing evangelical at the same time? Everything he said and did was the opposite to evangelicalism.
What is interesting is that most of these people had nothing or very little to do with him. Nor do they provide any evidence except hearsay.
The basic Biblical principal is to avoid nonsense:
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2Tim 4:3-4)
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
As one senior minister under Mr Armstrong pointed out to me in a very recent e-mail:
My own article on Hoeh will be updated with further information in due course.
Regards to all,
Comments by others
Your e-mail said that you were writing up additional material on Herman Hoeh. I am adding some more to what I wrote before. That was a general view of him as a person. I wrote nothing on any of the criticisms of him. Thank you for defending him. I feel that most of these criticisms are unjustified, especially the one about being unconverted. I apologize for these comments being a bit disorganized chronologically, but I hope they will be helpful. You may use this material as you see fit. You may use it as source material or publish the whole thing. You may combine it with my first “Remembrances of Herman Hoeh” or make it a part 2. You may share it with others. And you may attach my name.
Additional thoughts on “Our Family’s Remembrances of Herman Hoeh”
Herman Hoeh was a person of many facets and interests. It is difficult to cover his life in just a few pages. He had his critics, but I feel that most of the criticism about him is unjustified.
Some of his critics speak of his “padding” of his academic record for his PhD from Ambassador College. In fairness, other than Dr. Abbott in Bricket Wood and possibly a few in the Music Department, no faculty members had advanced degrees, and very few formal graduate courses were offered in those days. Most graduate courses were self study courses, devised by the graduate students themselves. Ken Herrmann and other others made use of such self study courses. Independent study courses are fairly common in other academic institutions as well. I am not aware that Herman Hoeh ever repudiated his PhD, but he certainly down-played it, and he did drop the title “Dr.” before his name. I believe it was not so much his “padded” academic record, but the fact that he came to believe that his PhD dissertation, the two volume Compendium was wrong in part.
Perhaps more common is the criticism which was directed at his seeming to go along with the new positions of the WCG under the Tkach’s. Again to be fair, middle aged personnel, especially those without marketable skills had few options. I certainly do not say they went along with the changes just to get a paycheck, but a few to some degree, downplayed the changes, or just keep their mouths shut about them. Retirees are especially vulnerable. I can not criticize anyone for choosing to keep quiet rather than risk losing their pensions. For instance, Ken Herrmann went to church services, but made no comments. Ken Herrmann used to say that it was sometimes handy to be hard of hearing.
In a few instances Herman Hoeh commented on some changes. For instance in the 90’s he delivered a sermon to the Imperial AM congregation concerning the change to the Trinitarian position. He pointed out that the Holy Spirit emanated from God, and was therefore divine. To my knowledge he never accepted the concept of the three persons in the Godhead.
Herman Hoeh has also been criticized for remaining on the board of directors of the WCG until his death in 2004. Again, I can not criticize this. The choice for him may have been to resign and have no influence, or remain on the board and have some influence for good.
It is possible that Herman Hoeh went along with some of the changes under the Tkach’s out of loyalty to the organization founded by HWA, for a period of time. Though such loyalty may have been misplaced, I can understand it, as I did the same thing for awhile, even though employment was never a factor in my case. Should one’s loyalty be to a set of “truths” as handed down by an organization, or to that organization itself? Now, I would say neither of the above. One should hold to the truths as one understands them from the inspired word of God. It is my aim to get closer to the truth by study of that word of God.
Even more importantly, my views have changed on what God’s priorities are in determining what makes a person acceptable to God. I used to think minor things were important, and neglected the major things. I majored in minors and minored in majors. I no longer get upset if some one disagrees with me on these minor issues. For instance as an ancient earth creationist, I used to get upset by people with young earth creationist views. Now I accept people for where they are in their relationship with God. Those who are young earth creationists are acceptable to God, so why should I get upset with them? Incidentally, young earth creationism is becoming increasingly common among the second and third generation of those with a WCG background. I may state my position, but I never argue with them. We are instructed to grow in grace and knowledge. (2 Peter 3:18)
Now I perceive God working more through His Spirit directly with individuals He has called, not primarily with other individuals or an organization as an intermediary.
I had never discussed with Herman Hoeh any changes in his views, but I perhaps got a glimpse into his thinking by his actions and associations. Back in the days of the old WCG, it would have been unthinkable to go to a church service of another group (especially a breakaway group) or listen to a minister of another denomination to receive instruction or knowledge. That began to change for me and my wife when in 1979 we started attended attending church services under the ministry of David L. Antion. I did, however, continue to attend church services at WCG from time to time. Dr. Antion urged us to think for ourselves, and from time to time we did attend church services from other COG groups. Moreover Dr. Antion cooperated with some of them, especially in CGI and UCG, in joint activities.
Herman Hoeh was wary of those who tried to get close to him if he perceived that they were trying to use him to advance themselves in the WCG. He never seemed to be wary of me, and accepted me as a friend. I guess I did not present myself as an organizational climber. Another person he enjoyed an association with was Mark Kaplan, who had a Jewish background.
I had been acquainted with Mark Kaplan from my Ambassador days, and I consulted with him in Jewish matters that pertained to the meaning of the feast days. I am not sure if he was ever a WCG minister, but for awhile Mark was employed by UCG as a minister. After he was laid off from the UCG ministry, he used to give lectures in the Pasadena area. My wife and I attended some of these at the home of Harry and Cynthia Curley in Altadena, near Pasadena, Calif. Several others, including Fred Coulter (a former WCG minister) spoke at these gatherings. The last one of these I attended was around 2001. Because of his friendship with Mark, and his interest in things Jewish, Herman and Isabel Hoeh were there to listen to what Mark Kaplan had to say. Herman Hoeh did not shun Mark Kaplan because he had left the WCG. He did not try to diminish his own presence at the event, but mixed around and spoke to many others, most of whom, like Mark, were ex-WCG. This was in stark contrast to his behavior in a previous event he attended. I wasn’t there, but I heard about it. In 1984 he attended the funeral of Dwight Armstrong in Washington state. For him it was a token appearance to honor the memory of HWA’s brother. He and several other representatives of the WCG stood in the back during the funeral service and did not mix with the others. After the funeral service, they spoke briefly to Dwight Armstrong’s widow, Karn (usually spelled Karen) Armstrong and her family. As I recall Karn had left the WCG. I know she did not attend WCG services in El Monte with her husband. Soon after speaking with Karn, Dr. Hoeh and the others left. This time he had definitely changed his approach. It appears that like me, he had come to believe that God works with individuals instead of, or as well as through organizations.
Perhaps the most serious criticism of Herman Hoeh was that his research had at one time been directed toward proving a certain conclusions that he or someone else had already arrived at. This criticism was probably correct. However it is interesting that he later made a statement before the student body about the wrong way to do research. He stated, “You do not say to the librarian, here is my conclusion. I want all the evidence that supports my conclusion. That is not the proper way to do research!” It looks like he had thought better of some of his research methods. In any case he did rethink what he had written in the two volume “Compendium”, and downplayed his PhD.
Concerning these criticisms, I have also been guilty of this kind of sloppy research, especially in regard to geology. That was when I was in Ken Herrmann’s geology student, and I sometimes fed back to him what he wanted to hear. I am in no position to criticize Herman Hoeh!
During the late 60’s I was given the job of teaching geology classes at Ambassador College. In order to qualify myself for the job I was already doing, in 1969 I set out (with Herman Hoeh’s permission and blessing) to get a graduate degree in geology. I finally received a master’s degree in geology from UCLA in 1977, several years after I had been laid off at Ambassador.
In my studies, I had made numerous observations about the two flood model, a modified creationist/catastrophist model that had been taught at Ambassador. This was the model that Ken Herrmann had largely formulated. I pointed out that this model could not explain a myriad of features of the geologic record any better than the one flood model, commonly supported by young-earth creationists. Dick Burky, who was also studying geology at local colleges had also arrived at similar views. I taught what I was learning about geology in my classes. Neither Ken Herrmann, nor Herman Hoeh ever spoke against or contradicted what I was teaching. Both recognized that I had more knowledge of the field. Herman Hoeh at first questioned my ideas, and he gave his assistant, John Hopkinson the task of trying to determine if there was another explanation of why the geologic record appears to indicate long time periods instead of periods of rapid deposition in one catastrophe or another. After a year or two, John concluded the same thing that I had. I have to give Herman Hoeh the credit for recognizing that he did not have the knowledge nor the background to judge such matters.
Herman Hoeh certainly had his own ideas about many things, and on occasion he expressed them. He stated once that the saxophone was an (illegitimate) musical instrument. He had used a more colorful term. Presumably because it was a combination of a woodwind and a brass instrument. And he frequently commented on a healthy diet. He believed carob powder to be superior to chocolate. He extolled the superiority of dill pickles over sweet pickles, presumably because of the absence of added sugar. Several of his friends believed that he had never been to a physician. There is no question that a healthy diet and lifestyle contributed to his lack of illness and disabilities right up to the end of his 75 years. As far as I know he kept on milking his goats to the end!
His sermons were always interesting and well presented. I remember a sermon from the early 60’s in which he speculated on the location of Atlantis. Plato wrote that it was beyond the Pillars of Hercules, believed by many to be the Strait of Gibralter. He proposed that it had been in the North Sea, off the coast of Germany. He made the case that the windswept island of Heligoland (actually two islands at present) was all that remains today of Atlantis. How many sermons does a person remember from 50 years ago? My wife and I both remembered it! Interestingly enough I read a few weeks ago that someone else had made this same proposal about the possible location of Atlantis! His sermons, though sometimes complicated or speculative, were gripping and never boring!
Yes, Herman Hoeh, like all the rest of us was not perfect. In Romans 4 Paul speaks of us being imputed as righteous by faith even though we are still works in progress, never receiving absolute perfection until the resurrection. Though the doctrine of imputation was not understood in the WCG at all, he seemed to recognize that those in Christ are reckoned by God to be perfect. When God views one of His own, He does not see us in our imperfections, He sees us as He sees Jesus, at all times perfect! In those days I had no sensitivity to the presence of the Holy Spirit in anyone, but I did observe on many occasions that Herman Hoeh did have the fruit of the Spirit!
First by the way that he treated his wife, Isabel. He always spoke well of her. That was in a day when some ministers treated their wives poorly. Several minister’s wives died of cancer. In my opinion these minister’s wives were under a lot of stress, contributing to their cancer. Isabel outlived her husband by several years. Second he treated his children well. I recall incidents that illustrate this during the early 60’s at his house on South Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena. A student at the time, I was invited when he had a group of academics and friends over for a meeting with Rabbi Zvi Ankori*. When Isabel entered the room he showed respect to her. Later, his daughter Anneliese, then about three, entered the room to ask a question of her father. He did not criticize her for interrupting the meeting. He answered her question in a way that made her feel like she was a valued member of the family. He then commented to everyone that children are a precious gift of God!
I never heard him speak ill of everyone. Never once did I hear him speak of anyone having a “bad attitude”. He sometimes acted as overall evaluator at Ambassador or Spokesmen’s Club meetings. He never chewed anyone out at these meetings. Once after a speech by a troubled club member he rose above his assigned task as overall speech evaluator. He said, “Let’s not discuss your speech. We need to discuss you and your needs!” Whenever he spoke to anyone, that person felt that he had Herman Hoeh’s whole attention.
My wife is a good judge of a person’s character, and always had good feelings about him. My feelings were somewhat more analytical than hers, but I am positive that Herman Hoeh was a converted man. One might question the conversion of anyone who denied this. True conversion is determined by the Spirit of God dwelling in a person after having accepted Jesus as his personal Savior, not by how much he agrees with someone or some organization. Yes, Herman Hoeh exhibited the fruit of the Spirit. I have no doubt that we will meet again in that blessed day (1 Thes. 4:16) when the dead in Christ will rise to meet him at Jesus’ second coming!
Robert Macdonald, Sept. 2011.
* Zvi Ankori’s PhD dissertation was on “The Interpenetration of Judism and Zoroastrianism”. He is a well known scholar, author and a professor emeritus at Columbia University