TRANSFORMED FROM TRUTH
My son Michael thought that the above picture could capture in humor what I believe has happened to the WCG. My wife Joyce coined the expression “Transformed from Truth” many years ago when she first heard of the book improperly titled “Transformed by Truth” by Joseph Tkach (Jr.).
Late yesterday in an email, the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) reported (my comments will remain in italics) the following:
2007 Conference of Elders – Comments From Participants - Interviews with men and women attending the international gathering of elders in Indian Wells, CA…
At the conference, elders received a book titled 35 Beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God. There is nothing new in the book—it is a compilation of articles on our website. If you would like this book as a book, you may download the files:
- Word version, which can be reformatted for different margins or paper sizes: http://www.wcg.org/lit/aboutus/beliefs/35beliefs.doc
- Adobe reader version, for the exact pagination of the conference edition: http://www.wcg.org/lit/aboutus/beliefs/35beliefs.pdf
The documents title page states:
Thirty-Five Beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God
Edited by J. Michael Feazell, Michael Morrison, and Joseph Tkach
Copyright © 2007 Worldwide Church of God.
And the first few beliefs are:
1. The Triune God…
2. God the Father…
3. God the Son…
4. God the Holy Spirit…
Regarding Jesus, WCG made such statements as:
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, fully God and fully human…
Our salvation depends on Jesus being both human and divine. But how can this be? How can someone infinite become finite? How can the holy Son of God become a human, in the likeness of sinful flesh?Our question comes mainly because the only humanity that we can see now is woefully corrupt…
No, the question does not come because the only humanity we see is woefully corrupt. The question comes because the statement that Jesus was fully human and fully God at the same time is a logical impossibility. The fact is that although most mainstream groups that profess Christ cling to such false concepts of God, in order to do so, groups like WCG have to ignore scripture.The Bible teaches that Jesus EMPTIED HIMSELF of His divinity to be born of Mary. And that AFTER the resurrection He was again fully God.
Several articles of related interest may include:
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the BeginningIs binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus is God, But Was Made Man Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it?
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a shorter article than the Binitarian View article, but has a little more information on binitarianism.
Furthermore, here was another WCG belief:
19. The Christian Sabbath…
The Christian Sabbath is life in Jesus Christ, in whom every believer finds true rest. The weekly seventh-day Sabbath, which was enjoined upon Israel in the Ten Commandments, was a shadow that prefigured the true Reality to whom it pointed—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…
The Sabbath commandment, along with all of the Mosaic law, ended with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. To embrace it, or to try to reapply it in the form of a Sunday Sabbath, is to diminish God’s revelation of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of his promises.
To believe that God commands Sabbath-keeping for Christians is to deprive ourselves of the full joy God wants us to have in Christ…
Sabbatarian theology works against the grace of God in Jesus Christ and the plain teaching of the Bible. The law of Moses, including the Sabbath commandment, was given to Israel and not to the church. Although Christians should feel free to gather for worship on any day of the week, we must not make the mistake of thinking there is any biblical reason for choosing Saturday above any other day.
Yes, WCG actually posted the above. Essentially, they are teaching that somehow the Jews who kept the Sabbath were being pointed to the reality of life in Jesus when they kept it, so no one else ever needs to. They also teach, improperly, that the Sabbath deprives us of the joy God wants us to have (ignoring that the Bible teaches that the Sabbath is a blessing for those to whom salvation comes, see Isaiah 56:1-2).
Furthermore, this misunderstanding of Colossians 2:16-17 and Hebrews 4 has been dealt with by various COGs (UCG did a decent job of it in ones of its most recent booklets). I have also attempted to deal with it in an article that discusses some of WCG’s improper logic in the articles:
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles such as one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision.
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
Another belief was:
It is not our practice to baptize infants or children too young to express faith for themselves, since we understand baptism to be an expression of faith, and no one can be saved by their parents’ faith. We do not, however, condemn as unchristian those who do practice infant baptism.
Also WCG admits that baptism is an expression of faith that infants are to young to express, yet baptizing them any way is not unchristian. This is another obvious instance where attempting to fit in with the world’s churches has once again overridden truth and logic. An article of possibly related interest may be Baptism and the Early Church.
The above, though, is consistent with several “beliefs” in the booklet–WCG on many matters takes two sides (or more specifically refuses to take one side or the other) .
Notice from beliefs 32,33,34, and 35:
32…The Bible teaches that unrepentant sinners will suffer the second death in the lake of fire, but it does not make absolutely clear whether this means annihilation or conscious spiritual alienation from God…
33…In a vision, John saw God’s presence eventually coming to earth—not the present earth, but a “new earth” (Revelation 21:3). Whether we “go” to heaven, or it “comes” to us, is of no consequence…
34…Some passages suggest a conscious intermediate state, and others an unconscious state. The Worldwide Church of God believes both views should be respected…
35…Two views of the millenium
or many Christians, the millennium is a very important doctrine, a wonderful message of good news. But we do not stress the millennium. Why? Because we base our teachings on the Bible, and the Bible is not as clear on this topic as some people think it is.
Those interested in more clarity on that last topic may wish to read the article Did The Early Church Millenarianism?
In a major departure from Church of God (COG) teachings, the WCG book essentially admits that Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox represented the true Christian Church.
It calls three documents that they came up with “Historical Documents of the Christian Church”. Here are some of their comments on three of them:
At the request of Emperor Constantine, Christian bishops from across the Roman Empire met at the town of Nicea in 325 to discuss the matter. They wrote their consensus in the form of a creed, called the Creed of Nicea. In 381 another major council was held at Constantinople at which the Creed of Nicea was slightly revised to include a few more doctrines. The resulting Creed is called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, or more commonly, the Nicene Creed.
In the next century, church leaders met in the city of Chalcedon to discuss, among other things, questions about the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. The result was a Definition of Faith they believed to be true to the gospel, true to apostolic teaching, and true to the Scriptures. This statement is called the Definition of Chalcedon or the Faith of Chalcedon…
Church fathers Tertullian, Augustine, and other leaders had slightly different versions of the Apostles’ Creed, but the text of Pirminius in A.D. 750 was eventually accepted as the standard form.
WCG then, in essence, is admitting what the Roman Catholics teach, which is that the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox were the true Christian Church in the fourth through eighth centuries (and by implication, beyond that). Since WCG admits that, it really has little excuse for not being part of them.
Those interested in the truth about early Christianity, where the Church was, and a lot of what it believed, should read, pray about, and study the following articles:
History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible?
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the COG is NOT Protestant.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Churches of God Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Not every belief in WCG’s new book was wrong. Some that they mention are held by both mainstream and COG groups.
However, another belief (#31) was:
31…It is the belief of the Worldwide Church of God that in Christ the Lord makes gracious and just provision for all, even for those who at death appear not to have believed the gospel.
Finally, WCG has held on to at least one belief that most Roman Catholics and Protestants do not share–it is actually a belief that is condemned by most Catholics and Protestants.
Yet, this is a belief that is essentially a COG belief, as well to a lessor degree, a belief of the Eastern Orthodox. And it is an extremely important belief.
It is the belief that, in my opinion, best explains how God is a God of love and how come His plan is one of love.
Two articles of related interest may include:
Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this?
Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants How the COGs differ from mainstream Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a COG background.
Anyway, WCG’s new book simply is a relatively easy way to see that it is not a COG, that it often prefers mainstream as opposed to biblical doctrines, and that it essentially believes that the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox did, in fact, represent the Christian Church from the time of Constantine until at least the early 8th century (and by inference, beyond that timeframe).
Perhaps I should point out that the new WCG book does not explain some of the first changes that WCG made. An article of related interest may be Did You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made in WCG?
A listing of beliefs that the early true Church of God held that are not generally not held (with a couple of exceptions) by mainstream groups that profess Christ is available at the History of Early Christianity page.