This course deals with basic biblical doctrine. Topics include the Church, the Holy Bible, God, the Holy Spirit, the gospel, salvation, holy days and festivals, the law of God, the Sabbath, sin, being born again, church government, marriage, the second coming of Christ, the last judgment, and human potential. Upon completion, students should be able to state and demonstrate fundamental understanding of basic biblical doctrine. Tomorrow’s World television presenter Richard Ames presents a series of lectures on foundational biblical doctrines. 


This course will present an overview of many of the basic doctrines taught by the Living Church of God. Through a review of past and present Church literature, this course will aim to give students a broad basic understanding of what the Church believes, and why it believes as it does. Upon completion of the course, a student should be able to recognize fundamental biblical doctrines, demonstrate an understanding of those doctrines’ implications for Christian belief and conduct, and show basic competence in explaining those doctrines.

There are no Prerequisites or Corequisites for this course.

Ames, Richard F.

Professor of Theology
Part Time
B.C.E. (1959), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; B.A. (1965), Ambassador University; M.A. (1977), Stephen F. Austin State University.
Subject Matter: 
Speech Communication, Theology

Richard F. Ames is a member of the LU Board of Regents. From 1967-77 he taught theology, speech and broadcasting at the Ambassador University campus in Big Sandy, Texas. From 1980-90, he served as Director of Admissions at the Ambassador University campus in Pasadena, California, where he also taught courses in theology and communications and served as Registrar (1988-90). Ordained as a minister of Jesus Christ in 1965 and as an evangelist in 1984, he has pastored congregations in seven U.S. states, and since 1986 has presented hundreds of Bible-based religious telecasts to millions of viewers watching The World Tomorrow, The World Ahead and Tomorrow's World. He currently serves as Director of Media Operations and Treasurer for the Living Church of God. Originally trained as an engineer, he completed a year-long Yale University graduate course in traffic and transportation engineering, and served as a transportation engineer at the Southeastern Virginia Regional Planning Commission in Norfolk, Virginia, before entering Ambassador University in 1962.

Course Credit: 
Three (3) semester hours.
Instructional Objectives: 

As a result of participating in THL 380, a student will be able to:

  1. Acquire a basic understanding of the concept of “doctrine,” and develop an understanding of the basic doctrines of God’s Church.
  2. Identify evidence both inside and outside of the Bible that supports the existence of God and express a rational for the personal belief that God does exist.
  3. Articulate several ways a Christian can overcome Satan, and describe how sin affects the life of a Christian.
  4. Describe the significance of the “spirit in man,” and express several of the problems with evolutionary theory.
  5. Discuss the meaning of the annual Holy Days and how they relate to the plan of God, and identify why God had given mankind 6,000 years to rule himself without His drastic intervention?
  6. Identify the modern descendants (nations) of the ancient Israelite tribes, and explain what lessons can be learned from ancient Israel’s failure to keep God’s covenant.
  7. List the characteristics that identify God’s true church, and articulate the purpose of the Church.
  8. Explain how Christ and the apostles described the Kingdom of God, and articulate ways that human society in God’s kingdom will differ from human society today.
  9. Explain God’s purpose for creating mankind, and express the incredible human potential as outlined in Scripture.
Required Texts: 

The required textbook(s) for this course are:

Armstrong, Herbert W. Mystery of the Ages. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1985.  (ISBN: 9780396087731)

Students may order books through the University Bookstore or on

Students will read the entirety of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s Mystery of the Ages during this course. Mr. Ames will be using the WCG-issued hardcover edition. If you do not have access to your own copy, you may wish to purchase a used copy through an online bookstore, or through an auction site such as eBay. If you have difficulty acquiring a copy, please contact the instructor for assistance.

Additional Readings: 

Other assigned texts, such as LCG’s Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, will be made available online, and printed copies are available at no charge upon request.


This course includes nine online lectures by Mr. Ames—one for each of the course’s nine segments. It also includes seven Tomorrow’s World telecasts.

Course Calendar: 

Plan of the Course


Viewing Assignment:
Lecture 1, Introduction to THL380

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Author’s Statement, Preface, Introduction
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: God’s Sabbath, Separation from the World

Writing Assignment:
“What is truth?”

Discussion Topic:
“What does it mean for a Christian to come out of the world?”


L1 Quiz


Viewing Assignments:
Lecture 2, Who and What Is God?
Tomorrow’s World telecast: The Spiritual Dimension (TW#175)

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Chapter 1, Who and What Is God?
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: Who and What Is God?, The Holy Spirit, The Holy Bible
Article: “God and the ‘Three O’s” (Living Church News, Sep-Dec 2007)
Article: “What Is Christ Doing Now?” (Living Church News, May-Jun 2005)
Booklet: The Real God: Proofs and Promises

Writing Assignment:
“What convinces you, personally, that God exists?”

Discussion Topics:
“How does the Bible reveal to us the mind of God?”


L2 Quiz


Viewing Assignments:
Lecture 3, Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits
Tomorrow’s World telecast: The Coming Spirit War (TW#223)

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Chapter 2, Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: Sin and Its Consequences, The First Death, The Second Death, The Meaning of “Born Again”
Article: “Is There a Real Devil?” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Jan-Feb 2001)
Article: “Dangers of the Occult” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Sep-Oct 2002)
Booklet: Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity

Writing Assignment:
“How can a human being ‘overcome’ Satan?”

Discussion Topics:
“What is ‘sin’ and how does it affect a Christian?”


L3 Quiz


Viewing Assignments:
Lecture 4, The Mystery of Man
Tomorrow’s World telecast: Why Were You Born? (TW#300)

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Chapter 3, The Mystery of Man
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: God’s Health Law Concerning Meats, Divine Healing, Defining Marriage
Article: "Do You Really Want to Eat That?/Don’t Eat the Cleanup Crew!" (Reprint 117)
Article: "The Seven Laws of Radiant Health"
Article: “Evolution: Fact or Fiction?” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, May-Jun 2005)
Booklet: Your Ultimate Destiny

Writing Assignment:
“What role does ‘marriage’ play in Christian life?”

Discussion Topics:
“What is the significance of the‘two trees’?”


L4 Quiz


Viewing Assignments:
Lecture 5, Mystery of Civilization
Tomorrow’s World telecast: Lessons of History (TW#261)

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Chapter 4, Mystery of Civilization
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: The Great Tribulation, The Day of the Lord, Christ’s Second Coming, Annual Festivals, Military Service and War
Article: “Why Has Utopia Failed?” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Nov-Dec 2006)
Article: “Resurgent Germany” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Sep-Oct 2007)
Booklet: Prophecy Fulfilled: God’s Hand in World Affairs

Writing Assignment:
“What do the Annual Festivals teach us about God’s plan in general, and Christ’s return in particular?”

Discussion Topics:
“How do Christians understand ancient Israel’s wars? How does this understanding affect their own attitude toward military service?”


L5 Quiz

Mid-Term Exam


Viewing Assignments:
Lecture 6, Mystery of Israel
Tomorrow’s World telecast: America and Britain: A Special Relationship (TW#297)

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Chapter 5, Mystery of Israel
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: Origin of Modern Israelites, Overcoming Racial Prejudice, The Law of God
Article: “The Chosen People” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Jan-Feb 2004)
Article: “Modern Nations and God’s Ancient Plan” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Jul-Aug 2006)
Article: “Where Did the Twelve Apostles Go?”
Booklet: The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy

Writing Assignment:
“What lessons can we learn from ancient Israel’s failure to keep God’s covenant?”

Discussion Topics:
“How should different physical races interact in society and in God’s Church?”


L6 Quiz


Viewing Assignments:
Lecture 7, Mystery of the Church
Tomorrow’s World telecast: Where Is God’s Church Today? (TW#168)

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Chapter 6, Mystery of the Church
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: The Church, Its Name and Its Mission, Church History, Tithing, God’s Form of Church Government
Article: “Church Government is Vital” (Living Church News, Mar-Apr 2008)
Article: “Seven Lessons from Seven Churches” (Living Church News, Jan-Feb 2006)
Booklet: God’s Church Through the Ages

Writing Assignment:
“What does Scripture tell us about the Laodicean Era of the Church?”

Discussion Topics:
“What is the purpose of the Church?”


L7 Quiz


Viewing Assignments:
Lecture 8, Mystery of the Kingdom of God
Tomorrow’s World telecast: Christ’s Coming Government (TW#283)

Reading Assignments:
Mystery of the Ages: Chapter 7, Mystery of the Kingdom of God
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: The Gospel, The Millennium, The Last Judgment
Article: “Parables of the Kingdom” (Living Church News, Sep-Oct 2004)
Article: “World Government Is Coming” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Jul-Aug 2007)
Booklet: Do You Believe the True Gospel?

Writing Assignment:
“What is the ‘New Covenant’?”

Discussion Topics:
“How did Jesus Christ and the Apostles describe the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?”


L8 Quiz


Viewing Assignment:
Lecture 9, The Big Picture

Reading Assignments:
Statement of Fundamental Beliefs: Mankind’s Origin, Incredible Potential and Ultimate Destiny
Article: “The Missing ‘R’ Word” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Jul-Aug 2005)
Article: “How Will You Spend Eternity?” (Tomorrow’s World magazine, Nov-Dec 2004)

Writing Assignment:
“What is God’s purpose for creating you?”

Discussion Topic:
“What is ‘repentance,’ and how does it affect our lives as Christians?”


L9 Quiz

Final Exam

Course Evaluation

Course Requirements: 

Instructor's Assistant/Contact Info
Mr. Ames will be assisted by Kenneth L. Frank as the faculty aide for this course. To contact them on course related matters, please use the email feature in the Learning Management System (Populi) or email Mr. Frank at [email protected] for course questions using THL380 in the subject heading.  

Due Dates and Extensions
Submit assignments on or before the due date. No late or make-up assignments will be allowed accept for extreme circumstances (permission of instructor is necessary). Students must complete the course by the last official day of instruction as set forth in the academic calendar.

Reading Assignments
Students will read the entirety of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s Mystery of the Ages during this course. Mr. Ames will be using the 1985 WCG-issued hardcover first edition in his lectures. If you do not have access to your own copy, you may wish to purchase a used copy through an online bookstore, or through an auction site such as eBay. If you have difficulty acquiring a copy, please contact the instructor for assistance. Other assigned texts, such as LCG's Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, will be made available online, and printed copies are available at no charge upon request.

Icebreaker Assignment
To officially begin this course you must complete an icebreaker assignment by which you introduce yourself to your classmates through posting a short autobiography on the Icebreaker discussion forum thread. A student will earn points by posting the Icebreaker assignment on time. This assignment is to be submitted by the eighth day of class. You must read and comment on at least two other student icebreakers by the due date in order to get full credit for this assignment.

Writing Assignments
This course requires students to submit nine (9) short writing assignments (between 500–600 words). Please note that any writing assignments submitted after the deadline are subject to grade penalty of 10% per day that the assignment is late. Writing assignments should follow the MLA 8 style as set forth in the document and links on the Info Tab of the course. Use internal citation for your sources and quotation marks where needed. Add a Works Cited page as the last page of your essays.

Discussion Forums
To help students think about the wide variety of doctrinal topics covered in this course, we will be using discussion threads extensively. During each of the nine course segments, there will be one discussion forum topic in which students must participate. To encourage genuine discussion, each student will be asked to make one original comment based on the course materials rather than on other students’ comments, and then to make two replies in response to other students’ comments for each discussion forum. When you post, please be sure to uphold common standards of courtesy in your comments, even if you are disagreeing with what another student has written.

Students are welcome to post more than two replies in a topic, especially if a lively discussion is underway, but posts after the first set will have no bearing on your grade; each student will earn participation credit simply for posting comments and replies. Please do not neglect these discussion forums; they are important points to earn, and they make up a significant part of your grade in the course. These posts are essentially the online equivalent of a "class participation" component of the course, and points will be given unless your posts are clearly off-topic or are "I agree!" responses to others which do not demonstrate that you have thought about the topics. 

Quizzes and Exams
Each of the nine (9) course segments includes an closed-book multiple-choice quiz, to test your mastery of the course materials. There will also be a closed-book Midterm Exam toward the middle of the semester, and a closed-book Final Exam at the end of the semester. Much of the material in the closed-book exams will have been covered in the closed-book quizzes, so students will want to be sure they are familiar with that material before taking the exams. During the closed-book exams, students may consult a Bible containing no notes taken for this course. The Final Exam in this course is to be proctored. When students take these exams, they must do so either (1) in the presence of a Living Church of God elder, deacon or deaconess, or (2) through the university's proctoring service, ProctorU, (3) through a college or university testing center, or (4) through another approved proctor such as a school official (e.g. teacher, registrar or librarian) to whom the student is not related. The proctor must sign and return to Living University a completed Proctor's Signature Form attesting to the student's adherence to the closed-book guidelines of the exam. For more specific information on your proctoring options, see the Proctored Exams section below.


Your course grade will be determined based on the number of points you have earned over the semester as follows:

  • Icebreaker (20 points)
  • Writing Assignments (nine, each worth 40 points, for a total of 360 points)
  • Discussion Forums (nine, each worth 30 points, for a total of 270 points)
  • Quizzes (nine, each worth 20 points, for a total of 180 points) [online, closed-book]
  • Midterm Exam (75 points)
  • Final Exam [PROCTORED] (75 points)
  • Course Evaluation (20 points)
  • TOTAL 1,000 points

Grades are in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning, we believe that the measure of mastery of course subject matter is the completion of 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want students to earn at least 1044 points in this course. If they do not do so then they have not achieved the level of the mastery we would like them to have. We want this course to be competency-based and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades. Mastery of the material is what one's goal should be.

Students With Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

Technology Access
This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

Course Evaluation
Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.