Why the Churches of God Will Not Re-Unite Redux (Introduction)

(In Gary Scott’s former blog XCG, I wanted to revise this article that I original had on Richard Burkard’s blogsite. I will try again on my own blog and I pray with much success!) 

1999, was the last time I wrote the article. It was published on “the worldwide web” on a dear friend’s site by the name of Richard Burkard, a current member of the United Church of God. I have always felt it appropriate to write another version of that article. One that is bolder in its approach and to reflect certain viewpoints that I have progressed over the past half decade. Richard Burkard in his assessment of my article said that I “discussed Sabbatarian churches big and small” and “finds fault with all of them”. To be more specific, they are the splinters of the Worldwide Church of God. By no means the Worldwide Church of God is exempt from this tough-minded assesment and neither its parent organization, the Church of God (Seventh Day) which I have had the pleasure to meet their dynamic, Christ-loving and centered leader, Whaid G. Rose.

With the title article, I put a readers advisory in explaining that I was not attacking the Churches of God but warning of its destructive practices. Years later, I feel I must be bold in what I need to say and need not submit to a “politically correct” view of pleasing everybody. With an assessment that I had made, it obvious I cannot please everyone reading it. My bold response to those who are about to be offended is that you should not be offended but get serious. Get serious with the word of God. This means turn off the TV set of your leader and put aside the literature he espouses and read the Bible as it is. You will be surprised as well as refreshed.

I, with great joy before the Lord, rejoice that Armstrongism and the spiritual bondage that it produced was defeated in the Worldwide Church of God. It is a self-righteous religion, a religion of manipulating and destroying the spirits of people. It produces a religious culture of cruelty and takes a negative view on human beings of not only being evil but also perhaps demonic. It is a religion that is purely self-centred because of its unhealthy preoccupation of avoiding sin. Believers of course are to avoid sin but we in no way stop there. We are created to do good works because we are saved. We are to love one another as Christ loved us and have a love for mankind because Christ died for the sins of humanity. True Christianity is God centred.

A few years ago in Mark Tabladillo’s Jesus Loves Fellowship (JLF) message board, wrote a thread questioning that would the past scandal about the founding WCG leadership doom the ultra conservative fundamentalist splinters? I concluded that if that was so, my automatic wish would be a screaming “YES!” One person on the message board from the splinters (a follower of RCM to be more specific) was upset with my remark (I did make peace with him on our private e-mails) but over a half decade later, I am being more bold that my wish is still yes! I am not backing down and I am so glad that there are people, including former WCG ministers who are behind me, so I don’t have to say, “yes” alone. May I add that as I write in 2007, this person who had that disagreement with me is a “former” RCM, Living Church of God supporter. Hint:  I have almost literally showered this individual with a lot of press on my blog as of late. It also good that a former opponent somewhat agrees with my (and many others) sentiments.

In 1998 was my departure from the Worldwide Church of God. I have explained here before that it was a painful decision that had to be made. It was a very lonely one to say the least but no other decision could have been made. Looking back, it was for the best. A church leadership that thrives on confusing its members and constantly putting their minds on a constant state of altertness without any sense of a “mental rest” do not deserve my time, participation or energy. A leadership that has secret agendas and refusing constantly to be bold and forthright, again does not deserve my support. A leadership that seeks to change practices and a church culture that are not necessarily cultic (no pun intended) but in fact can be just as biblical, in order for the sake to please other evangelical Christians, do not deserve their wishes for me to walk behind them to materialize in anyway. That same year I left the WCG, I was over at a United Church of God local elder’s home celebrating the Feast of Trumpets with Kentucky Fried Chicken and Ravioli (Oh what a meal! Italians really do it better!) and in the moments I spent with the local elder and his family, he in effect told me to get over the idea that a “great deliverer” would come along and settle the upheaval in the Worldwide Church of God. Actually, it is an idea from the old-line members of the Worldwide Church of God who wish to return it to its so-called “glory days” of the 1950’s and 60’s and God forbid that return to a “spiritual and theological Neanderthal” state.

Also this idea from the old-line members of the WCG is that this great deliverer would do the work of the prophet Elijah and would unite all the churches of God, Worldwide, United, Living, Incontinental, International,etc. This is a fantasy. A self-righteous religion such as Armstrongism has been built on faulty sand and has destroyed many lives as probably damned souls as well. In my previous edition, I was hoping that the Churches of God would reunite but under certain conditions. Unfortunately, to one who holds to the tenets of Armstrongism, I was making firm, inflexible, unbending and resolute demands. What I said was too much for them. Believe you me, these demands are still firm and non-negotiable today as they were then. I will not compromise any of them because I strongly believe these demands are a foundation of a healthy religion. Many, if not all, these demands are entrenched in historic Christian faith, which seperates from what I believe to be the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the cults which lines should never, ever be blurred.

Splinters who want to persist in heretical, anti-Biblical teaching deserve to be doomed to irrelevancy. Those so-called “ministers” who preoccupy themselves about their pocketbooks, their comfortable lifestyle, material goods and their imaginary power over the lives of their members deserve the justice of God by seeing it wither away when their members have a real and lasting relationship with Jesus Christ ,have true empowerment by the Holy Spirit and completely and fully conclude that they cannot support a ministry that is in effect “anti-Gospel”. It is immoral for me or any other believe to wish otherwise.

Of course, none of the splinter groups in the collective sense will listen and take note but it is my wish that those who are in these group individually would read this, take note and make the course corrections needed to make the steps to spiritual freedom. I have heard one case that certain circumstances led a minister out of the Church of God, International into a real relationship with Christ through study at a Southern Baptist seminary. Praise God! I pray for a thousand more stories like that in the next few years. I hope this series will in some way also steer many in the same direction.

I have picked several reasons that the Churches of God will not reunite they are:

  1. Defective view on the Godhead,
  2. Defective view on Salvation,
  3. Exclusivity: Armstrongism is Christianity, the Rest is Pagan!
  4. Majoring in the Minors, Minoring in the Majors,
  5. Foundation is in HWA, not Jesus Christ,
  6. A false authority and
  7. an Unteachable Spirit.

It is my hope that the remaining months of 2007 and early 2008, as my schedule permits, I hope to go through all of these seven reasons. Let the liberation from ALL the Armstrongite Churches of God to begin. May the adventure be exciting, challenging and vigorous! Most of all, may it be worth it!

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4 thoughts on “Why the Churches of God Will Not Re-Unite Redux (Introduction)

  1. Good article overall, it reminds me a bit of my own spiritual journey that began in 1994.

    There comes a time in ones life, usually after the anger of their lies clears, that it dawns on you that these people are enabled by us. Stop giving them money to abuse you and they simply vanish like the Cheshire of Cat of Alice in Wonderland. The smile on the preacher’s face is the last thing to go…

    In this sense, as good loyal church members we are our own worst enemies. We’re so eager to please God, we assign attributes of God to these men and their writings, and forget that in the end, they are still men. Sometimes very base men.

    Its also appropriate to examine ones own understandings of “God”, and see if they mesh with the teachings of men and books. If the God they paint is less sane, jealous, and more capricious than a human being, in other words “less perfect” than humans, its time to reject the teaching, doctrine for what it is, one man’s idea and opinion, or perhaps worse – their secret fears and internal darkness.

    As the Apostle Paul called it “the Spirit of faith”, listed with love and hope, are human attributes, which emerge from the spring of the Human Spirit.
    That divine spark of God within us all. Faith does not come by seeing but “Faith comes by hearing”, listening to the Spirit that lies within.

    I won’t argue your point about the “Godhead”, in that regard I’m a unitarian. A good study into dualism and the history of the trinity is well worth your time, but I think its the least of the splinter groups problems. The term “Godhead” always makes me laugh, it brings to my mind the projected disembodied head in the Wizard of Oz. Is God a head, or a living Spirit?

    The big problem with these groups is they do not discern the body of Christ. And for this reason they are weak and sickly. The body of Christ is humanity – that is where God writes his Word on the pages of The Book of Life. As long as you are withdrawing from humanity, you cut yourself off from the knowledge, the hope, the wisdom, the hope that springs from the Word of God.

    When King David was reviled for his misdeeds by someone in the crowd, one of his military men offered to go kill the man. King David’s response was “no, it may be God speaking through this man.” King David “listened” and therefore had “faith” and became known as a man after God’s own heart.

    When was the last time the WCG or its splinter groups ever took any criticism to heart? Their response is to disfellowship the messengers. There lies their problem.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Will! When I do the part about the Godhead, I hope you will understand where my perspective is coming from. I don’t ask for yor submission, just understanding. Thank you again for your response.

  3. Oh I understand perfectly. I think your comments and writing are very thoughtful.

    The longer you go on this journey the less you criticize other people’s spiritual path. Even the xCGer’s. But for the grace of God there go I! We’ve been there.

    There are some things like the Godhead, and the issue of God killing his Son so that he can forgive humans that I find personally incongruent. But the more I understand about God, the more I come to believe, God isn’t all that worried about if we have correct doctrine or ideas. He’s more concerned how we treat each other. And in the WCG world, we all get failing marks on that issue!

    I had to explain my views the other day to a close friend, who left Armstrongism when I did, and is going to an orthodox nondenominational church. He wanted to know how my beliefs differed from his.

    The nearest example I could think of was in Calculus class where they demonstrate how an area beneath a curve can be estimated by a summing a series of rectangles of a certain width under a curve. The finer the rectangles, the more closer to the actual area. I said I felt my “rectangles” were finer than his, but in the larger scheme of things what I believe is also bound to have error. I’m human.

    I think the orthodox “Pauline” explanation of Jesus death, works well for people who believe human beings are born evil and incorrigible. In Paul’s time the church consisted mostly of women, slaves, soldiers, and oppressed people. People that saw the worst of Roman life. Paul says, “You are worth nothing, but God forgives and gives himself for you”, and nothing could be more comforting to such people. And there is indeed NT support for this view, if subscribe 100% to what Paul argues. Its interesting to note however Peter and James did not. And the various newly found gospels also seem to show there was a wide variance in beliefs about Jesus.

    I find the Pauline explanation works less well for people who grew up in good homes, who see a new born baby as an innocent pure human being. I am totally uncomfortable with the Christian use of Abraham and Isaac as type of God and Jesus. To me, its like me going to my neighbor and saying, “I’m going to kill my kid, so I can forgive the wrong you did me.” You’d think I was nuts! Why not just forgive? I know God is saner than I am!

    God forgives because that’s what God does!

    Yet if you look at the Biblical metaphors for God, King, Lord, they are all human tryants, back in Paul’s time, a God who is fickle, jealous, and demanding of praise, didn’t sound strange because Kings behaved that way.

    I’ve noticed that Atheists ask very good questions of Christians. Its a shame more Christians are not thinking about the same questions as they do.
    We’d have a saner Christian community if they did. Instead they waste their breath defending a 6000 year creation myth, and arguments over evolution. Not that you do that.

  4. Thank you again for your brilliant minded comments! I can almost read them for hours! For a moment, you almost convince me to be a Unitarian—just a short moment! LOL!!! It is impressionable that Unitarians like yourself take faith, reason and intellect as one single unit and take it very seriously. For most evangelical Christians (except a few good scholars) I always feel wanting. Charismatics and Pentecostals? As Tony Soprano or anybody from the mafia would say, “forgedaboutit!”

    I do agree with you about evangelical Christianity’s seemingly love affair with one view of the atonement of Christ, which is penal substitution. As of recent, I have become to realize that view of Atonement is becoming more distateful to my mouth. It makes God into Law and Order’s Jack McCoy (played by Sam Waterston) than a loving Father. My alternative? Well, the early church believed in Christus Victor (Christ is the Victor) in which the death and ressurection of Jesus was to liberate humanity from Satan’s dark empire. The Eastern Orthodox church holds to this doctrine still. The Word of Faith movement has too(but probably have twisted and perverted to their own defective theology). After I finish read Gustav Aulen’s Christus Victor and complete reading Recovering the Scandal of The Cross, I would like to write a post on my view.

    I also do not care for Augustinian-Calvinistic notion of Total Depravity and I think that the idea of Original Sin was the most destructive and perverse doctrine ever made. It caused needless hardship, suffering and misery upon millions of peoples for centuries. It is my prayer that this century that this sick doctrine will finally be thrown in the garbage heap once and for all! The early church never believed in this either and again the Eastern Orthodox has an entirely different view.

    So yes, I am for a more saner and rational Christian community. I agree with you a 100% that is also time for American evangelicalism to chuck their rigid notion of creationism and start accepting the notion that Genesis chapter one was only talking about the sovreignity of God over His Creation, not a scientific manual on the creation of the world. Yes, the Christian community has a lot of growing up to do in which I do agree.

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