Some of the Doctrines and Differences between the Living Church of God and the United Church of God, ia UPDATED 12/01/13

By COGwriter

The Living Church of God (Living) and the United Church of God, an International Association (United) both had their roots in the Worldwide Church of God. Although there are many obvious similarities, this author has often been asked about the differences in their teachings. The intent of this article is not to cause division. The Bible teaches that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed (Amos 3:3), thus true agreement will not come if the groups hold differing views. This article primarily includes quotes from official publications or the leaderships of two churches.

Published quotes from some members, who are not part of the "leadership" have been included, because in some instances those comments seemed to help clarify certain points. The author is aware that several of the quotes which follow may not be the official policies of the respective churches. The author is also aware that many members in United do not share the "official view" of United's leadership on some of these subjects. In addition, quotes from those who were once in United but are now with the group now led by David Hulme (COG, aic) will try to be excluded (as some in United object to them). Some quotes from Living leadership while they were in the Global Church of God are included as these leaders still hold similar leadership positions in Living. Living, itself, started to push certain doctrinal changes in 2012 and 2013 that demonstrated a lack of faithfulness on their part.

For background information, it should be stated that this author has attended United services at least a dozen times in a total of three different congregations. However, the author has had much greater access to Living's videos, tapes, sermons, etc. than United's. (Note any bolding was placed by this author, and many of my comments within each position will be in italics.)

I know that this is a long paper and readers may wish to selectively pick and chose what to read at first. However, if one is affiliated with United and is under the misconception that United teaches the same doctrines as WCG under HWA did, this article should be read in its entirety as it clearly documents that error of that misconception.

Fundamental Difference

Perhaps the fundamental difference between the groups is that United believes it is a continuation of the Church of God, while Living has tended to believe it represents the bulk of the remnant of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. Nearly all the differences which this article documents stem from this fundamental difference.

United: "Jim Franks of Cypress, Texas, chairman of the UCG's advisory committee on doctrine...Mr. Franks believes...UCG is 'not a new church,' he said. 'We are a continuation' " (Warren, John. UCG tentatively sanctions old-WCG voting doctrine. The Journal. August 31, 2001). Note: Jim Franks is now president of a group called COGWA, that split from UCG.

Living: "The Living Church of God cannot claim that all its members are Philadelphian, but we do believe we are a uniquely Philadelphian remnant" (Thiel, R. What is a Philadelphian? Living Church News. Jul-Aug 2001; p.15). "...we are the 'remnant' of the Philadelphian Church living over into the Laodicean era" (Meredith, Roderick C. Wait on God. Living Church News. Jul-Aug 2003; p3).

The following is a list of differences that this article will attempt to document in detail:
1. Broadcast Media and Doing a Work
2. Handling Income Surpluses in 2001
3. Size: Elders, Churches, and Feast Sites
4. Gospel
5. Third Tithe
6. Church Eras
7. Laodicea
8. Philadelphia
9. Petra
10. Who Will Be Protected?
11. Iran: Possible King of the South
12. Herbert W. Armstrong--Elijah
13. Birthdays
14. Born Again
15. Disasters
16. Miracles
17. Voting
18. Jury Duty
19. 18 Truths
20. Last Great Day
21. Unleavened Bread
22. Holidays
23. Catholic or Moslem Europe?
24. Doctrinal Changes
25. Approaches to Prophecy: When is the End? Should it be a major concern?
26. Collapse of US Dollar
27. Governance
28. Who is the 'Man of Sin'?
29. Falling Away

1. Broadcast Media and Doing a Work

United:

"Broadcast Media and Advertising. No budget is projected in this area at this time. The new Council of Elders will develop strategic and operating plans. Broadcast media and advertising will be addressed at that time." (Notes to Proposed Fiscal Budget. New Beginnings. December 18, 1995; p:11)

"Israel sat on the bottom of Mount Sinai for nearly a year (Exodus 19:1, Numbers 10:11). Why? Because this is how God decided to start a church...God took time to teach Israel how to worship Him. He took time to organize and train their ministry and to write their ministerial manuals. He took time to teach them how to conduct worship services. All this was done in Exodus. God then dedicated the entire book of Leviticus to teaching Israel how to worship and walk with Him--a repetition and expansion of the book of Exodus. Is there a lesson in it for us? Yes. Some get overly anxious about doing a work...Some would like to see us do it right this time." (Dick, Bob. From the Chairman: How Would God Start a Church? New Beginnings. March 4, 1996).

For United's 15 month fiscal year ending June 30, 2000 "Public Proclamation" (2,584,544) divided by "Total revenues, gains, and other supports" (19,715,635) = 13.1% (Financial Statements Receive Positive Report from Auditors. United News. November 2000; p.18).

"Presenters are being chosen for a possible radio program for United" (Eddington, Peter. Radio Program Explored. United News. July 1999; p.16). "On May 30 Gary Petty will come to the office to begin taping the first 13 half-hour radio programs for the Church-sponsored weekly radio broadcast scheduled to begin in August...it is hard to know what results to expect from this test phase" (Radio Taping Begins. United News. May 2000; p.16).

"President Les McCullough commented 'My impression is, we need to get the Council to decide, and to agree, on what the purpose of the Church is. I know we have a mission statement. But what does the Council think the purpose of the Good News is? What is our… intent, our aim?… It seems to me we’d be better off if that were all nailed down solidly at the upper level and then passed on down through the lower level…as a Council, it doesn’t seem to me that we’re as focused, and as precise, and as intent on ‘what is the purpose [of some of the things we do]?’ We have some very broad general statements that we’ve made, but we haven’t narrowed our statements down to say ‘this is what we mean!’ ‘Preach the gospel to all the world.’ What do we mean by that? How do we want to go about it?' He recalled that part of our goal historically was to preach the gospel as a witness. That was included as part of the goal, and was understood clearly. Richard Thompson stated that he understood the proposal for a January 2001 meeting by such a new oversight committee was intended to do just that – narrow the focus and bring a report to the Council at its next meetings, in March 2001. 'Then those who are aware of certain things could narrow the focus and bring it to the Council very definitively… I think one reason we’re not as focused is because the world isn’t focused'. "(UCG, aia Council of Elders Meeting Report. December 10, 2000).

UCG's then President Les McCullough reported, "I have had various comments sent to me that we are not preaching a warning witness as we should, and I have to agree that we may not have emphasized the "warning" part as much as we could" (Letter from Les McCullough, February 1, 2001).

For the period ending 6/30/01, UCG spent 2,750,000 or 15.3% of its income on 'public proclamation' (Kirkpatrick Tom. Audited Statements Reflect God's Blessings. United Church News, September-October 2001. p.7).

United dropped to 328,000 Good News English magazines (it now is at 380,000 for Jul-Aug 2012) down from a high of over 500,000 partially due to a massive renewal program for waiting room subscriptions--only 312,000 actually seem to have subscribed to it when it was over 500,000 (Johnson, Doug. UCG Council Of Elders Meeting Report 12/11/02 & 5/15/05 and United News May 2003 & May-June 2005 & Good News March-April 2011).

"In the earliest days of the United Church of God, a commitment was made by its leadership to establish and stabilize the Church and its congregations from the conditions of tumult that existed in the mid-1990s. Having regular Sabbath services and stable congregations in as many areas as possible was a top priority. To the degree possible, the leadership of the Church set about to have local congregations overseen by full-time, trained pastors. Experience has shown that this is the best way to nurture, care for and assist in the spiritual development of the people God has called and chosen. That decision obviously has ramifications when it comes to our budget. Simply put, it takes a considerable amount of money and human resources to establish and maintain stable congregations (and Feast sites) all around the world. That is not an inexpensive endeavor. Nor is it likely to be relatively less expensive if time goes on many more years, since new pastors will need to be trained and put in place to take over for those who reach retirement age. In the short run, considerable resources could be freed up to do other things if the United Church of God’s leadership decided to discontinue local, pastored congregations in all but a few areas (perhaps only those with fairly large concentrations of members). But that would not be wise. If United were to switch to an "either-or" approach—either preach the gospel or take care of the Church—considerable resources could be freed up to do other things. That is, if we were to turn our backs on preaching the gospel, and turn all our resources in on ourselves and our local congregations and our individual salvation, then considerable reallocation of funds would result. The same would be true if we decided that nearly all our efforts should be expended in preaching the gospel, with little or no effort to establishing and maintaining local congregations. We do not believe that this would be wise. Reasonable people of good faith and intentions may disagree, but the leadership of the United Church of God believes strongly that the current model (doing both) is best for the long-term interest of our being used by God to "do the work." We believe that we are following the biblical model in this regard. More to Public Proclamation Than Meets the Eye Some may look at the published financial reports of United and conclude that it does not put a high value on preaching the gospel. That is not a correct conclusion. There are other ways to measure the amount of seed being sown, besides just the absolute number of dollars or percentage of total dollars apportioned in an accounting report to a cost center called "Public Proclamation."...It would take an inordinate amount of time, and in the end would result in highly subjective and arguable numbers, to subjectively apportion these funds between "Church" and "Preaching the Gospel." We choose not to do so...It is helpful to consider other metrics beside money in ascertaining the effort being spent on sowing the seed—preaching the gospel...We are grateful for what God has given, especially in light of the weakened state of the economy and the resultant challenges some of God’s people have faced. We are doing what is necessary to live within the means God gives us. We of course ask that He will provide us with more, as it is His will. That will enable us to do more in both properly caring for the spiritual needs of the Church and sowing the seed of the gospel of the Kingdom of God" (Kirkpatrick, Tom. "Is the United Church of God Active in doing God's Work?" United News, December 2002, pp. 8-9).

Apparently UCG's former treasurer was saying how much money UCG spends to get the gospel out is not that important. It is recorded that twice Jesus taught "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34). UCG, like many other COGs is basically saying that if God gives them more money, they will, after more properly taking care of 'the spiritual needs of the Church' it will do more preaching of the Gospel. I would like to comment that LCG does apportion the differences in its spending, does it the same way that WCG did, and (I believe) has a much smaller accounting staff than UCG.

"Plans are on the drawing board to eventually have a home-office-produced television program...The goal of such a program would be to preach about the soon-coming Kingdom of God and also solicit new Good News subscribers who would then be fed an ongoing menu of the truths of God. There is one barrier in the way of United bringing these plans to fruition, and that is simply cost. We anticipate that preparing a television studio at the home office that includes a modern set, studio lighting, cameras and editing equipment, could be done for around $125,000. Even this amount is not presently available in the Media and Communications Services budget. We pray that in the not too distant future some funds will become available. However, even once a professional television studio is prepared, there is the ongoing weekly cost of airtime. This becomes a significantly higher dollar amount. While we should be able to take advantage of low-cost local community-access television channels, the desire would be to also purchase airtime on broadcast and cable channels that would reach across the country" (Eddington, Peter. Television Efforts Poised for Growth. United News, February 2003, p. 6).

"For the rest of the afternoon Mr. Kilough led a continuation of a discussion from the Council meetings in March on the topics of preaching the gospel and the Church’s media efforts. The focus of today’s talks centered on defining the term “evangelism,” the Church’s target audience and the voice, tone and personality of the our media efforts. The Council was given a 36-page summary of the results of a brainstorming session held in February, 2003 by several Council members and representatives of the Church’s media efforts. The purpose of the session was to bring to the Council some philosophical, conceptual and specific suggestions regarding our printed media. The Council can ultimately use those suggestions and ideas to formulate specific policies. The first step will be to define the term “evangelism.” What does it mean to evangelize? The word is encumbered by a great deal of historical and emotional baggage. What is the Biblical meaning and application of the word? How does it apply to pastors? To local congregations? To lay members? We need to understand not only what evangelism is, but also what it isn’t. Leon Walker pointed out that the problem with the word is the word. We’re comfortable with the concept of preaching good news – which is essentially what “evangelism” means. But because of its connotations, and because the word is so commonly misused by others, the words “evangelism” or “evangelize” make many feel uncomfortable. Victor Kubik said that after eight years it’s time we come to terms with the word or decide to use a different term. We need a Council consensus on the definition, how to use the word or a different word or term in its place. Jim Franks added that we’ve talked about the problem with the word for years. The decision to use the word “evangelize” or the phrase “preach the gospel,” needs to be built on a biblical foundation. Gary Antion commented that Mr. Armstrong had no problem with the word. In the early days of his work he had “evangelistic campaigns.” We should not be so short-sighted that we reject a word or term just because others misuse it. Mr. Kilough suggested that the Council appoint Doug Horchak to chair a task force which will produce a doctrinal study paper on the meaning and application of the word “evangelism.” It was suggested that the study paper propose proper terminology and use of terminology from a Biblical point of view both within and outside of the Church. It should lay out the questions first and then answer them, concluding with suggestions on how to apply the findings in the paper. Mr. Kilough asked Mr. Franks to craft a specific motion to present to the Council on Wednesday, May 8 that would establish the task force and specify the parameters of the study paper. As the head of the task force Mr. Horchak will present the Council with a list of those he would like to ask to serve on it" (Henson, Don. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Wednesday, May 7, 2003 – Cincinnati, Ohio).

"Jim Franks...hearkened back to how the Plain Truth was used to proclaim the message of hope and the Kingdom of God and the Good News was for Church members, showing them how to come out of the world's ways and live as a Christian in this culture. But now the Good News carries both messages. We should ask ourselves what should our message be to the world as opposed to our message to the Church? Mr. Wasilkoff pointed out that the Church now has Vertical Thought, which is aimed at the youth. He asked which categories of audience the Good News most clearly addresses? Mr. Thompson reminded that part of Jesus' message was the need to repent. There are things that are inherently wrong. In bringing a message of hope we can't overlook the need for repentance. Mr. Kilough agreed, citing the apostle Paul's comment that we must "obey" the gospel. Speaking from his perspective as a writer for the Good News, Mario Seiglie commented that there is no feedback from the audience. Writers don't know how readers are responding or whether their articles are effective. Mr. Kilough asked a key question, which started to turn the "brainstorming" session to a more specific topic. He asked if we are diluting our own efforts because we're reaching out to Church membership and the world in general in the same magazine. Would we be more effective in targeting both audiences if we were to distinguish between the Good News and United News?...Mr. Dick expressed that policy springs from corporate philosophy. He stated that our administration will do a good job of developing policy if the Council gives them a clear statement of philosophy....Mr. McCullough offered that if the Council determines the purpose of the Good News, much of the rest of what we're talking about will fall in place...In concluding the discussion, Mr. Kilough directed Mr. Kubik, as chairman of the Media and Communications committee, to write a resolution distinguishing the purposes of the Good News from United News for the Council's consideration and discussion later in the week" (Henson Don. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Sunday , December 7, 2003 – Cincinnati, Ohio).

"The television program will energize the Church as members see the possibilities and results. The actual program is still at least a couple of years in the future, which gives us time to discuss and determine the format and content...Mr. Horchak, chairman of the Evangelism Task Force, gave the Council a report on the status of this study paper project...The task force plans to work with the Doctrine Committee and will strive to complete the study paper and have it ready for Council review by the February 2004 meetings" (Henson Don. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Monday , December 8, 2003 – Cincinnati, Ohio).

"Another area of discussion concerned the proposed budget increase in for health-care expenditures, based on the expectation that those costs will continue to rise as they did last year. Mr. Dean expressed his opinion that the amount budgeted for health-care should be set at the same amount as was spent for that purpose in the last 12 months. He stated that the Council had made a commitment each of the last two years that the next budget would put more emphasis on public proclamation, but this would be the third consecutive year when significant increases had not been put directly into preaching the gospel. He suggested that the budget for health-care be set at the amount spent in the last calendar year and if the expenses go beyond that, then the Church's cash reserves, increase in income or employee co-payments could be used to cover the difference. Dr. Kirkpatrick responded that there had been no commitment or promise in previous years in regard to future budgets" (Henson D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Friday, February 27, 2004 – Cincinnati, Ohio).

"President Roy Holladay...highlighted a few statistics that reflect media efforts in 2003 and into early 2004...The cable-access television program produced in Beloit, Wisconsin, garnered 518 responses in 2003 and the program produced in the Portland, Oregon, area (which is on about twice as many stations) brought in 2,642 responses through November 2003" (Henson D. Council of Elders Works on Plans for 2004-2005. United News. March-April 2004, p.1).

"Victor Kubik gave a brief overview of our media history, which began with United in a "defensive" posture in reestablishing our fundamental beliefs...The next day Mr. Kubik presented the Council with a resolution that recognizes the historical marketing philosophy of the Church for preaching the gospel and establishes that the Media and Communications Committee will use those principles as the basis for preparing a marketing philosophy for United. A media policy will be developed and proposed from that marketing philosophy by the committee in concert with the Council, the president and the media operations personnel. The Council unanimously adopted the resolution (Joel Meeker was not present for the vote)" (Henson D. Council Discusses GCE Meeting, Media and More. United News, June 2004, p.2).

"Following an executive session to open the day’s proceedings, Robert Dick moderated a discussion of the Church’s media philosophy. At a recent meeting, the Church’s managing editors discussed edits they propose be made to the statement of Media Philosophy. The Media and Communications Committee of the Council reviewed those suggestions, and brought some minor modifications of their own to the Council as a whole. Group consensus favored tabling the proposals and revisiting them in May or August after more time could be given to carefully evaluating the proposed changes, given that this document guides all Church media productions" (Johnson D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Thursday, March 3, 2005 —San Antonio, Texas).

"The cost of adding one new subscriber to the Good News file through newsstand distribution has now climbed to an average of $98, primarily, it seems, because many people are content to pick up their copy at the newsstand rather than subscribe...we cannot financially justify supporting this program, especially when we have other advertising methods that add subscribers for $1 to $6 each. As a result, Good News newsstand distribution, as a regular, ongoing program, is being discontinued as of the January/February 2006 issue. The program has also been discontinued in other countries" (LaBissoniere J. Home Office Update, December 15, 2005).

"On December 7 and 8 four more Beyond Today video programs were recorded in the new media center. This brings our total to eight programs. The next four will be videotaped on January 11 and 12, 2006, with Darris McNeely hosting. Beginning on December 18, Beyond Today will air on 105 local-community cable TV channels across the United States plus on the World Wide Web" (Eddington P. Home Office Update, December 15, 2005).

"Some have looked at projected circulation figures for The Good News and wondered why we have set the goal so low. Actually, the number in the Operation Plan is not a goal but an anticipated result of necessary pruning of nonreaders. We have launched an annual renewal (we have been doing renewals every two years) to purge our list of people who are no longer interested in receiving The Good News. This is according to plan and intended to cut waste in order to reach a bigger audience with the gospel of the Kingdom of God. For years we have measured the success of our proclamation efforts primarily by the number of subscribers to our flagship magazine. Many of us have been in the Church a long time and are familiar with the process" (Salyer L. United News, December 2008).

Good News Magazine Circulation 328,000 (Good News Magazine, March-April 2011, p. 2). This is down from 362,000 a few issue before (Good News Magazine, October 2010, p. 2).

"U.S. baptisms 2007 through December: 178.
U.S. baptisms 2008 through November: 134."
(Ministerial Services Reports Church Statistics.  United News, January 2009, p. 2)

"Through November, we have had 29,461 telephone and online responses to the programming. Beyond Today currently airs on 177 cable-access television channels, which air programs 267 times weekly. It is also broadcast on 10 radio stations in the United States and two nationwide cable networks in Canada." (Eddington, Peter.  100th Beyond Today Episode Recorded.  United News, January 2009, p. 1)

Beyond Today is on no more than 35 television stations (Good News Magazine, March-April 2011, p. 29).

The first weekend on WGN America was successful. Beyond Today had a very good beginning on WGN America for our premier telecast on Sunday, July 11. We received 338 phone calls for the day from Gary Petty’s program, “Getting Control of Your Money.” (Media and Communications Services report cited in Member Letter from Dennis Luker. July 18, 2010).

Historically, proclamation of the Gospel has been a tertiary issue for UCG. Which may be why is has taken nearly 11 years to get its own telecast--and over 15 years to get on a major commerical station. This has not been highly effective. Is that hot, cold, or lukewarm? Now some progress has been made as UCG reports:

Beyond Today program ”What is the Real Meaning of Christ’s Birth?” hosted by Darris McNeely, aired on Sunday, December 18, 2011. This episode generated record-setting response out of the 24 programs aired since July 10, 2011. It attracted 1,198 responses. (Eddington P. “Beyond Today” Record Response and “Word Network” Update, December 28, 2011. http://realtimeunited.wordpress.com/)

Living:

"The New Testament pattern was to proclaim the Gospel first and then to feed the sheep" (Dattalo, Fred. Church Government and Church Priorities. Living Church News. Jan-Feb 1999; p.7).

"So the primary function of the true Church of God is to GO to all nations and preach the same powerful message Jesus preached about the coming Kingdom of God!" (Meredith, Roderick C. Should You Be Baptized? Booklet. 1999; p. 17).

Within 9 weeks of its founding, the Living Church of God was proclaiming the Gospel on cable super-station WGN (the transition from the World Ahead to Tomorrow's World was less than 7 weeks). The presenters are used include: Roderick C. Meredith, Richard Ames, Mario Hernandez, Dibar Apartian, Rod King, and Wally Smith. Historically, Living spends approximately 35-47% of its total revenues on "public proclamation" (Dattalo, Fred. Report from Treasurer. Living Church News. May-Jun 2000; p.16; Living Church News, 2010).

"Also, Mr. Wayne Pyle very recently reported, "Our master file shows that 113 of the 57,426 WGN-respondents have now been baptized. This is a ratio of one baptism for each 506 people added to the master file, which is simply superb. Back in Mr. Armstrong’s time, at his peak in the mid-1980s, there was only one baptism for each 1,300 TV respondents who had been on the mailing list for four years. Only a fraction of our respondents have been on file for three-and-a-half years, so it is evident that the Church is really being blessed!" Therefore, brethren, we can be very thankful that—even though we are much smaller—God is adding over twice as many new members to us proportionate to our mailing list as He did in the WCG years!" (Meredith, Roderick. Co-worker letter, August 23, 2002).

"We are also watching the spiritual seeds coming to fruition, with more than 800 baptisms in North America from the telecast alone since its launch in January 1999, of which 414 of these baptisms originated directly from the Tomorrow’s World telecast. Our member files now show more than 1,800 baptisms from all sources in our U.S. and international Living Church of God congregations since 1999... The telecast has been averaging 3,800 responses each week since the beginning of the calendar year"  (Pyle W. MEDIA. The World Ahead Weekly Update. November 30, 2006).

In 2008, we recorded 249 baptisms; 20 less than the previous year (2007 is our record year, so far, in number of baptisms). In ten years, we had at least 2,200 baptisms in the Living Church of God. So far this year, we have recorded 123 baptisms (from January through the beginning of May) (The World Ahead Weekly Update. May 21, 2009).

Matthew 24:14 states: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” This Great Commission is being fulfilled as a result of our international telecasts and magazines, our worldwide presence on the Internet, our extensive mailings, radio in foreign countries, and last, but in no way least, by word of mouth. Through these media we are now virtually reaching all nations on earth!

This past year we added over 120,000 new Tomorrow’s World magazine subscribers in countries around the world. Our international telecasts were watched by 2.7 million brand new viewers in 2011, and our TomorrowsWorld.org Web site drew 1.4 million new visitors around the world.

Thanks to member and co-worker support, the Tomorrow’s World TV programs were carried on 232 TV stations or networks around the world. Eighteen of the TV stations or networks were added just last year. Our TV coverage brought in more than 286,000 responses through free phone calls, letters and the Internet. From all media sources combined, a total of more than 832,000 booklets, reprints, lessons, CDs, DVDs and other published items were sent upon request worldwide—making 2011 our biggest year ever and an increase of 19 percent over all the items sent in 2010. More literature was mailed last year than in our first five years combined! On top of all this, nearly 2 million Tomorrow’s World magazine copies were mailed in 2011.

TV coverage in the United States and Canada now reaches more than 105 million homes via over-the-air telecasts, cable and satellite TV—82 percent of all TV homes in North America can watch a Tomorrow’s World telecast on TV, plus even more millions could see our telecasts on any day or at any time on our website at www.TomorrowsWorld.org. (Meredith RC. Co-worker letter, January 17, 2012)

The proportion of television responses that LCG tends to get per member per dollar is actually higher than WCG used to get.

LCG also holds public lectures to get the gospel out:

In 2010, Living Church of God ministers conducted 102 Tomorrow’s World special presentations (TWSPs) in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and parts of Europe and Africa. Along with thousands of you brethren and co-workers, more than 3,400 new visitors came to these presentations, where they heard the Gospel preached with power. (Ames R. Co-Worker Letter, January 14, 2011).

LCG distributes about 338,000 copies of its Tomorrow's World Magazine (Ames R. Co-Worker Letter, January 14, 2011).

Wayne Pyle reports: Wow, wow, WOW! A number of factors came together last weekend to make last week’s response the highest ever for a Tomorrow’s World telecast. Three new TV stations began airing, plus BET aired two times. The biggest factor, of course, was the program itself: program #318, “Overcoming Satan,” which offered the booklet Twelve Keys to Answered Prayer. The two previous airings earlier this year had both produced 4,000-plus responses. The first airing back in February generated 4,889 replies, and the second airing in April brought in 4,375 responses. But this weekend’s third airing of program #318 shattered all previous response records—making this week’s telecast the third time ever for a Tomorrow’s World program to break the 5,000-barrier….  we are expecting the week to end with well over 5,100 responses (World Ahead Weekly UPdate. September 11, 2008).

Wayne Pyle reports: “This weekend we aired program #265 [“Seven Satanic Deceptions”] for the sixth time! And it is breaking all response records!.... From Thursday through Monday, we received 4,937 phone calls. We are expecting another 400 calls by the end of the week, plus 600 responses through the Internet, office calls and mail replies. These numbers push the total response to over 5,900! And the first-time caller count set a new record with over 3,000 new viewers (52% of the total callers) (World Ahead Weekly Update, November 13, 2008).

As of today, the Tomorrow’s World telecast in North America has produced a total of more than 30,500 responses in the past seven weeks, which is 20.4% above the same period last year.—Wayne Pyle (Media. World Ahead Weekly Update, February 19, 2009)

Just recently, we received the highest response ever to the Tomorrow’s World television program. Nearly 6,700 telephone calls and letters came in response to just one Tomorrow’s World telecast! To date, the telecast has now reached more than 50 million people—men, women and children. Each week, the telecast is reaching from 40,000 to 60,000 new, first-time viewers. Our average audience each week numbers 500,000, give or take (Meredith RC. Co-worker letter. April 12, 2011).

For 2011, LCG received on average 5,500 responses per week to its Tomorrow's World program.

(For a related article, please read Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority?)

2. Handling Income Surpluses in 2001

United:

"Income patterns lead us to believe the United Church of God will finish the fiscal year, if present trends continue, with approximately $900,000 of income in excess of expenditures. “I think God is at least somewhat satisfied with what the UCG is doing!” observed Mr. McCullough... Mr. Kirkpatrick suggests using most of the $900,000 expected income (above budget) for all “one-time” costs associated with the acquisition of a new home office facility (if approved by Council). This would come to approximately $780,000." (UCG, aia Council of Elders Meeting Report. March 14, 2001).

Living:

"Although I did not mention our financial needs in the last letter, many were inspired to send in extra special offerings—for which we certainly thank God! As a result of this, we are now in a position to add some new television stations. We are negotiating to add three or four more commercial stations to our television log—and more later as God enables us. The great God is inspiring our little group of dedicated members and co-workers to go "above and beyond" the call of duty. He will bless us and use us mightily if we seek and serve Him with all of our hearts!...P.S. Even since I began this letter, news has come from our Television Production Coordinator, Wayne Pyle, that we are now approved to go on three new television stations! Each of them will begin airing the Tomorrow’s World program on Sunday, August 19, 2001. Here is the list. If you live in one of these areas, jot it down and encourage your friends and relatives to view these powerful Tomorrow’s World television programs. They NEED this message! Lafayette, LA Sunday 7:30 am KATC/ABC/3 Tyler, TX Sunday 6:30 am KLTV/ABC/7 Joplin, MO Sunday 6:30 am KOAM/CBS/7" (Meredith, Roderick C. Co-Worker Letter. July 27, 2001).

Perhaps I should add how LCG handled its 2007 surplus:

The building has 5,000 square feet of space and will house our television facilities...Because the Church finished 2007 with a surplus of %163,903, funds were available to allow the Church to afford a down payment on the new building (Crockett D. Audit 2007: Counting the Cost, Doing the Work. Living Church News, July-August 2008, p. 19).

LCG has normally had a different emphasis than UCG does.

3. Size: Elders, Churches, and Feast Sites

United: United once had "400-plus elders" (McCullough, Leslie. What Exactly Does the Council Do? United News. July 1999; p.15). United had around 374 churches and groups (Source: Local Churches. http://www.ucg.org 8/1/99). United has had more members (on average) per group than does Living. On February 4, 2011, Victor Kubik wrote:

For your information, in early 2010, there were 492 credentialed elders in the United Church of God, an International Association. Of that number, 323 (66%) are still with UCG. Of that total, we have retained 62 of 131 salaried field ministers (47%); 15 of 20 elders salaried by the home office (75%); 9 of 14 retired elders (64%); and 237 of 327 non-salaried elders (73%).

In the United States, we have retained 250 of 382 elders (65%). Of that total, we have retained 46 of 100 salaried field ministers and 180 of 248 non-salaried elders (73%).

So, UCG lost most of its paid ministry in the USA. It also lost its CEO for the United Kingdom effective 2/8/2011.  From what I have seen UCG lost at least 174 elders from June 2010 through March 2, 2011 (a few were put out by UCG). Many who left UCG, including former President Clyde Kilough recently formed another group called Church of God, a Worldwide Association (COGWA). For more details, please see Concerns about Church of God, a Worldwide Association). Aaron Dean reported that income for its fiscal year ending 6/30/11 is expected to be about US$18,500,000 (Dean Aaron. COE Video, 2/28/2011), which represents a drop of about 22.5% from the prior fiscal year (with a higher percentage of drop in the last 1/2 of the year).

[According to Jim Franks (now with COGWA), COGWA had 170 elders and 8,000 attendees as of March 1, 2011 (Franks J. Letter to the Ministry, March 4, 2011). Organizationally, UCG has been hit hard by this crisis. Which amongst other things, suggests that UCG was not truly "united."

I believe that the 2010/2011 crisis was a wake up call, a “knocking on the door” (cf. Revelation 3:20) if you will, for those in or formerly in UCG.  Yet, it seems that most who are or were part of UCG have not truly understood this warning as they have tended to be satisfied with a work that was not hot (Revelation 3:14-17). This crisis affecting UCG could be have been part of a major warning to those who have rejected Philadelphia-era governance and gospel proclamation priorities to get them to consider their state (Revelation 3:17-19). Perhaps I should add that I have heard from a UCG supporter that there is no crisis in his local congregation and essentially that all is well--but, in my view, UCG losing over 1/2 its paid USA ministers is a problem, and those in or part of UCG should not be satisfied with its works for its approximately 16 years of existence (cf. Revelation 3:14-18).]

United services normally last 1 1/2 hours (I used to attend United about once per year when I travel to areas without Living groups--but once it had a two hour service)--in some areas United services are up to two hours.

"All together at the 62 sites around the world, 20,476 attended the Feast with United" (United Brethren Enjoy Feast at 62 Sites. United News. November 2007, p.1).

"Total worldwide Feast of Tabernacles attendance (including shut-ins who received tapes):

2005: 19,765
2006: 20,436
2007: 20,476
2008: 20,349

The following are the attendance figures from the Church Information System—the number listed as attending fluctuates from month to month.

U.S. Church attendance according to file Jan. 31, 2008: 15,498.
U.S. Church attendance according to file Nov. 26, 2008: 15,345."
(Ministerial Services Reports Church Statistics.  United News, January 2009, p. 2)

Here is the Feast attendance for 2009:

Total Attendance 20,419
Shut ins who received Feast tapes from the home office 695
TOTAL ATTENDANCE 21,114 (United News, November 2009)

UCG announced it had 60 FOT sites in 2010 with an attendance (including shut-ins) of 19,662 (United News, November 2010). However, its attendance at the Spring Holy Days for 2011 was much lower:

Days of Unleavened Bread Holy Day Attendance and Offerings Reported

The totals for the attendance and offerings for the 2011 Days of Unleavened Bread season have been tabulated and reported by the business office. Those figures are as follows:

First Day of Unleavened Bread

Attendance:  8,225

Offering:     $544,408.14 *

(* Once all offerings are processed, which were individually mailed to the home office by those who did not attend a service, the actual amount should reach approximately $560,000.)

Last Day of Unleavened Bread

Attendance: 7,553 

Offering: $547,662.84 **

(** Once all offerings are processed, which were individually mailed to the home office by those who did not attend a service, the actual amount should reach approximately $565,000.)

Gerald Seelig (United News, May 2011)

In addition, the November 2011 edition of its United News reports that including “shut-ins,” UCG’s attendance at the 2011 Feast of Tabernacles at 12,823. Also notice:

Our average U.S. attendance in October was 7,621, with an additional 4,500 worldwide. The number of people attending UCG services each week around the world is in excess of 12,000. (Rhodes M. Letter from Melvin Rhodes, Chairman - "Overview of the December Council of Elders Meeting" - December 9, 2011)

This reduction in attendance would seem to be highly related to the COGWA split.

The front page of the November-December edition of its United News reports:

BY THE NUMBERS

13,037

Attendance aroung the globe at all United Feast of Tabernacles sites.

Living: Living has around 144 elders (Ames, Richard. Into All The World. Sermon. November 2004). Living services normally last 2 hours and there are groups in about 44 countries.

Here is information related to how many congregations that LCG has:

Earlier this year, we broke the 300-mark in our number of official congregations worldwide. To date, we have 306 congregations in 44 countries. About half of them are located in the United States, and slightly more than half are located in other countries. Additionally, we have members scattered in several other countries, where no official congregations have been organized yet. Since part of our mission is “To feed the flock and to organize local Church congregations to provide for the spiritual and material needs of our members as God makes it possible (1 Peter 5:1-4; John 21:15-18)” (Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs), we are very happy to see that God is giving us growth and that more congregations are being organized as a result. Our newest congregation is located in Billings, Montana, where a group of about a dozen will be attending services (World Ahead Weekly Update, November 13, 2008).

As of May 19, 2009, LCG had 315 congregations (World Ahead Weekly Update, May 21, 2009).

In 2010, approximately 8,000 attend LCG services each week. (RCM Announcement, 2010).

Here are the most detailed Feast of Tabernacles statistics that I have seen:

Official Attendance Figures for Feast of Tabernacles 2009
* 44 Feast sites in 30 countries
* 7,612 attendees at our Feast sites around the world (9% increase worldwide over 2008)
* 3,991 attendees in the United States (14% increase over 2008)
* 3,621 attendees in International areas (4% increase over 2008)
* 376 shut-ins received FOT CDs (284 in USA, 45 in Canada, 47 in International areas)
* Overall attendance (including shut-ins) was a grand total of 7,988 (Living Church of God World Ahead, Weekly Update, November 12, 2009).

Here is a report for 2010, one for 2011, and one for 2012:

Our final Feast of Tabernacles attendance figures show that more than 8,000 people attended the Feast at 46 sites in 31 countries. The attendance at sites in the USA increased by 7.5% over last year, and the attendance at international sites increased by 3.6%. This amounts to a 5.7% increase worldwide, which is exciting to see. (Living Church of God World Ahead, Weekly Update, October 21, 2010)

As some of you may have heard, we were blessed to have more than 9,000 people attending the Feast of Tabernacles this autumn! (Living Church of God World Ahead, Weekly Update, December 1, 2011)

Positive reports are still coming in about the Feast this year that was attended by more than 9,130 brethren at 50 sites in 32 countries around the world. (Living Church of God World Ahead, Weekly Update, October 27, 2012)

UCG normally seems to have a higher percentage of non-members attend its FOT sites than LCG does (FWIW, I have, however, met non-LCG members at LCG FOT sites).

4. Gospel

United:

"3.2.1 God's Purpose for Diverse Functions Within His Church The purpose for the various functions established within God's Church is to equip each member to perform the work of service: first to the Church and when the Church has the opportunity, to all humanity . The proper working of each individual member in accordance with his or her function causes the Church to grow." (Constitution of the United Church of God, an International Association, Article 3.2.1).

"The mission of the Church of God is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God in all the world, making disciples in all nations and care for those disciples." (Constitution and Bylaws. New Beginnings. February 20, 1996; p:14) "Amend Article 1 of the Constitution to read: 1.0 Article 1 - Mission Statement. The mission of the Church of God is to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God in all the world, make disciples of Jesus Christ in all nations, and care for those disciples. Submitted by Aaron Dean. As Herbert Armstrong stated: 'The world has preached a gospel about Christ, but not the gospel Christ preached.' This proposed amendment will clearly state the Church's mission: to preach the message Christ preached about the Kingdom of God. The amendment agrees with our pre '86 literature. It shows we support the work God gave Mr. Armstrong and that we only change where God and his word inspire." "Although the Council of Elders recognizes ambiguity in the pre sent mission statement which it should be possible to correct, the Council opposes this amendment as written. Submitted by Robert Dick on behalf of the Council of Elders" (From the Amendment Committee. New Beginnings, September 8, 1997; p:17).

Apparently clarifying its position on the Gospel was not then a high priority for United as it has been many years since United said its mission statement contains ambiguity. Furthermore, on May 2, 2004 Gerald Seelig announced that amending this mission statement lost in a vote of 145 in favor to 180 opposed (Ballot Results. United News. May 2004, p.3)

"President Les McCullough commented 'My impression is, we need to get the Council to decide, and to agree, on what the purpose of the Church is. I know we have a mission statement. But what does the Council think the purpose of the Good News is? What is our… intent, our aim?…We have some very broad general statements that we’ve made, but we haven’t narrowed our statements down to say ‘this is what we mean!’ " (UCG, aia Council of Elders Meeting Report. December 10, 2000).

Living:

"Read what God inspired Mark to write: 'Now after John was put into prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and, saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel.' ' '' (Mark 1:14-15). This is THE gospel. There is only one--and it is about the Kingdom of God...The name of Jesus Christ--that is, his true name--comprising who He is, what he has done for us and everything He has taught, commanded and stood for. This essential information was added--to be taught alongside the Gospel of the Kingdom of God--after the death and resurrection of Jesus...The true Church of God is to preach both elements: FIRST the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and SECOND, the true name of Jesus Christ." (Meredith, Roderick C. Do You Believe the True Gospel? Booklet. 1995; pp:5,6,10)

"How can you not be filled with ALL of the 'fullness of God' and not be God?" "This is the final fulfillment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--the ultimate Good News--that man can be born into the God Kingdom, the God-level of existence." (Meredith, Roderick C. Your Ultimate Destiny. Booklet. 1996: pp:31,33).

5. Third Tithe

United:

"2.1.18 We believe in tithing as a way of honoring God with our substance and as a means of serving Him in the preaching of the gospel, the care of the Church, attending the festivals and helping the needy" (CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF GOD, an INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION). "From Deuteronomy 14, we can identify two other purposes for tithing--attending God's festivals (Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 14:22-27) and caring for the poor and needy (verses 28-29). Since we believe in observing God's festivals and we believe in taking care of the poor and needy, we acknowledge the continuity of this practice...He has provided the perfect financial system, which takes care of the needs of His work, the personal need to attend His festivals, and the need to care for the poor" (Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God, an International Association. Booklet. 1998; pp:43-44).

"Therefore, the Council of Elders has resolved that where governments provide programs, the intent and purpose of which is to provide for the needs of those that the biblical third tithe was designed to assist, and that where such programs are funded by an annual rate of taxation greater than the biblical third tithe, members are not obligated to pay what amounts to an additional third tithe to the Church" (Third Tithe Policy. New Beginnings. November 4, 1996; p:4).

"Despite what national governments may do to help the disadvantaged, there will still be needs within the Church that national social programs do not address....Thus regular tithes and offerings, which would normally be devoted to preaching the gospel and providing for other aspects of the work, have been diverted to the Church Assistance Fund." (Church Assistance Fund Donations. New Beginnings. November 4, 1996; pp.4-5)

"Task Force Report – Member Assistance Greg Sargent presented an analysis of our member assistance situation, and some suggestions for future approaches. He reminded the Council of its 1996 resolution regarding members’ contributions to the assistance fund. As stated at that time, the Church acknowledges that government taxation in areas biblically identifiable as assistance to the needy amount to more than what God requires of His people through the third tithe administration first given to ancient Israel. As Mr. Sargent said: “Third tithe – where did it go? Uncle Sam took it. We must find it.” The Church has less income in this area than it uses for member assistance. Through the central administration of assistance funds (through the home office), a little more than $200,000 of member assistance is given from the operating fund, in addition to using the $469,000 in assistance donations received for this purpose. Additional shortfalls are experienced in local church accounts that administer assistance. There are, of course, legal guidelines to consider. A charitable purpose must be established for the donation. Aspects of member education and ministerial education are involved. Mr. Sargent suggested three action steps:
· Educating the ministry to effectively use Church assistance fund monies and government resources to which our members have contributed for the purpose of helping the needy.
· Educating present third tithe recipients in helping themselves.
· Educating the United Church of God membership in wise financial planning in order to avoid problems and enhance the work of God’s Church." (United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Sunday/Monday March 18-19, 2001).

"the Council discussed our assistance fund and the fact that this assistance fund is sometimes not sufficient to cover the requests we receive for financial help...In September 1996 the Council approved a statement on the use of the third tithe/assistance fund. Notice the following quote from the paper on 'Approved Statement on Third Tithe': “The Council of Elders has resolved that where governments provide programs, the intent and purpose of which, is to provide for the needs of those that the biblical third tithe was designed to assist and that where such programs are funded by an annual rate of taxation greater than the biblical third tithe, members are not obligated to pay what amounts to an additional third tithe to the Church.” ...To this end, there are three methods that can be used to implement this goal. · Better education about governmental resources...· Volunteer “good works” program...· Continued donations to the assistance fund. Even if the above programs are maximized, we still need to provide actual money for those in need of food, clothing and other basic necessities." (Holladay, Roy. Letter from the President March 13, 2003).

The last comments suggest to me that UCG's position that the government meets third tithe needs is and was somewhat disingenuous. It should also be of interest to any that care, that UCG did not get 3/4 of its eldership to agree to the third tithe change in 1996 or any of UCG's suggestions to handle it since (though budgets are approved). However, it appears that UCG has now decided to change back:

"Doctrine Committee chairman Leon Walker discussed with the Council suggested edits to the Church's official statement on third tithe. The edits were put forward to make it clearer that the United Church of God believes in and teaches the doctrine of third tithe. The suggested edits were approved unanimously by the Council" (Henson D. United Church of God, an International Association. Council of Elders Meeting Report. May 9-10, 2006 - Cincinnati, OH ).

As of 6/18/06, here is what UCG's position still was:

"Many nations in our modern world have various social programs, the effect and intent of which is to fulfill the purpose of the biblical third tithe. These programs are financed by an involuntary system of taxation. In most cases the annual rate at which social taxes are extracted is substantially greater than the biblical third tithe...destitute. We, however, pay for this through contributions deducted by the government at source....despite what national governments may do to help the disadvantaged, there will still be needs within the Church that national social programs do not address. Therefore, we should, from time to time, make offerings to the Church Assistance Fund...Therefore, the Council of Elders has resolved that where governments provide programs, the intent and purpose of which is to provide for the needs of those that the biblical third tithe was designed to assist and that where such programs are funded by an annual rate of taxation greater than the biblical third tithe, members who are so taxed are not obligated to pay what amounts to an additional third tithe to the Church. Members not taxed in this manner should follow the scriptural instruction to pay the third tithe" (Approved Statement on Third Tithe. Doctrinal Statement. Approved by the Council of Elders
September 1996).

Living:

""And at the end of every third year you shall bring out a tithe of your produce of that year and store it within your gates" Deuteronomy 14:28)...the third tithe year traditionally begins and ends after the Feast of Tabernacles in the third and sixth year of a seven-year time cycle. "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year--the year of tithing--and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, then shall you say before the LORD your God: 'I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which you have commanded me: I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them'"(Deuteronomy 26:12-13). Notice that God calls this tithe a "holy tithe"...God places great importance on this tithe because He sets it apart for sacred use" (Ehman, Gary F. The Blessings of Third Tithe. Living Church News. Nov-Dec 1999; p. 10).

The Living Church of God sends out "third tithe assistance" (Dattalo Fred. Living Church News. Mar-Apr 1999; p.18).

Which view is correct? Here is an article titled Is Third Tithe Still Valid Today?

6. Church Eras

United:

"You asked if the messages to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 can be applied to eras of church history. As Mr. Herbert Armstrong said in the past, there were seven churches in Asia minor during the life of the apostle John that had certain strengths and weaknesses. Those same strengths and weaknesses could be evident in any church congregation today. Some believe that they also described church eras that began with the apostolic age and until Jesus Christ returns. Since some have disputed this idea, it is a subject that needs more study to see what we can know for sure and what remains in the unknown." (Internet Correspondence from info@ucg.com to Dr. Thiel. November 13, 1997)

"Since seven represents completeness, these seven lampstands seem to portray a composite picture of the Church of God, the light of the world. Paul explains that the Church is one body (I Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:4). However, it has multiple congregations and members scattered throughout the nations. Therefore, these seven specific assemblies of believers appear to effectively represent the totality of the Church. It appears likely that the prophecies of the Church in Revelation 2 and 3 have multiple meanings and applications" (Foster, Roger. God's Church in Prophecy. Good News, expanded edition. Jul-Aug 2000; p. 8).

"Mr. Walker asked for the Council’s input on this question – how should the Church deal with honest differences in opinion on prophetic topics? Not every issue of prophecy will create this dilemma, he stated, but some will. How do we deal with alternate explanations? Richard Thompson: 'It could be that the traditional teaching is that we allow three different explanations – for example, the seven churches of Revelation' " (Johnson, Doug. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Monday, March 4, 2002 - Cincinnati, Ohio).

From January 2002 through August 2002, UCG ran a series of articles on the 7 Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 written by David Treybig. Unlike anything that WCG ever produced, these articles never say anything about Church eras, do not indicate that the Church was predominant at any particular time, do not mention who or when the Church may have been primarily extant, never mention that Herbert Armstrong was used to raise up the Philadelphia era (or that he left the Sardis era), or anything else suggesting that UCG officially believes in Church eras (which is because officially UCG does not). If you disagree with what I wrote, then please ask yourself how United could allow a series of articles on the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 and never mention Church eras, Herbert Armstrong, etc.

Also notice:

"A good example of doing good and being blessed for it can be found in the prophecy regarding the New Testament Church, in part, at the very end time. There will be relatively few who keep God's commandments, honor Christ as the Head of the Church and endure to the very end (Revelation 3:8, 10).

"God prophesies to them that they will escape the Great Tribulation, "I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world" (verse 10). This is a blessing, a direct application of choosing to do what's right and being blessed for obeying God's laws" (Aust J. The Purposes of Prophecy. World News and Prophecy, February 2009).

Now the above is highly misleading. The New Testament Church is NOT promised that protection because of keeping God's laws. Actually, the New Testament is clear that there will be two groups that have the testimony of Jesus Christ and keep the commandments of God--and one will be protected from the Great Tribulation and the other will essentially be turned over to Satan (Revelation 12:17). It is only the Philadelphians and not all who keep the commandments who will be protected (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra ).

(Note: I am fully aware that many of members and even ministers, in United believe in Church eras as Worldwide used to teach and how Living currently teaches them. But the fact that UCG officially will not should set off alarms from those in UCG who think that they are to be protected.)

Living:

"The message to the seven Churches in Revelation 2 & 3 successively shows the history of the true Church from that time forward. These seven Churches describe succeeding eras, or ages, of God’s Church." (LCG Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, Church History, 11/14/02).

"When we recognize that the whole book of Revelation is intended as a prophecy (Rev 1:1) and that certain different circumstances present in the seven churches that could not have been contemporaneous (cf. Rev 2:10; 3:7-8), it is apparent that these seven churches represent the history of the entire Church of God as seven eras which occur in chronological order." (Ogwyn, John. God's Church Through the Ages. Booklet. 1995; p:29)

"In Revelation 3, we read of the two final phases of the history of the Church of God. The Church of Philadelphia was to be characterized by a zeal to do the Work. God promised to set before them an 'open door' as well as to protect them from the future Great Tribulation. However, there is a final seventh stage of the Church described as the Church at Laodicea. This church was to be characterized by spiritual lukewarmness and lethargy. It is described as a worldly church, and certainly one which fit in with the spirit of these permissive, modern times...Will you be one whom God uses to finish his end-time work? Do you have that Philadelphian spirit that reaches out to the whole world in genuine love and concern to share God's message of Truth and hope?" (Ogwyn, John. The Church in the 20th Century. Global Church News, Mar-Apr 1995; p:17)

"In the New Testament, we find described seven eras of God's true Church (Revelation 2,3)" (Meredith, Roderick C. A Turning Point in World Affairs. Tomorrow's World. Jul-Sep 1999; p.5).

"Some say that knowledge of Church eras is unimportant, and believe that it makes no difference in how Christians live or act. Is this the correct attitude? It is not coincidental that many who de-emphasize Church eras also water down key truths restored by Mr. Armstrong-in some cases no longer even considering it their top priority to proclaim the full Gospel as a witness. This may help explain such an attitude-but does it excuse it? Seven times (Revelation 2; 3) Jesus warned: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (e.g. Revelation 3:13). Why would He repeatedly say this if these messages were not important?" (Thiel R. What is a True Philadelphian? Living Church News, July-August 2001).

Those who do not teach (or in many cases believe) in church eras simply will not understand certain key end-time events, nor will they properly support the proclamation of the true gospel in order to fulfill Matthew 24:14 (see also Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel?).

7. Laodicea

United:

"Spiritually, the Laodicean does not deny God or depart from the fundamental beliefs of the Church. Rather, individuals took care of themselves, feeling spiritually wealthy enough--experienced in the Church enough--to do so. Laodiceans aren't the embodiment of evil of the personification of unfaithfulness. They are just people who relay on their own resources...Laodiceans are people who feel more comfortable relying on themselves to recover from disaster than in being dependent on or interdependent with others...

"What is Laodicean? It is spiritual bankruptcy while at the same time viewing own's self as spiritually rich. Christians who may have what to them are arguably good reasons to pull back into isolation need to resist the Laodicean weakness. Christ, although understanding everyone's wounds with perfect sympathy, warns, 'Becoming spiritually independent isn't the solution. It is another problem that portends a greater disaster than any of you have experienced.' Spiritual independence is, in reality, an oxymoron" (Maranville, Cecil E. United Church News. July 2000; pp.11,12).

(Note: The particular warning from Christ cited above is not found in any version of the Bible I aware of, thus the author probably meant it as an interpretation of Rev 3:14-17).

"Recent reports indicate that with increasing regularity, many people today desire spirituality in their lives but are unwilling to follow specific instructions on how to achieve it. Instead of accepting a single organization's teachings, many now pick and choose from numerous ideas in assembling their own eclectic collections of religious ideas. This phenomenon has been called "Cafeteria Christianity" and "The Religion of the Sovereign Self." Like the Laodiceans of the first century, people who engineer their own religions are generally pleased with their choices and believe God approves of their ways — ways that are in direct contradiction with others holding similarly self-designed religious ideas" (Treybig, David. The Message to Laodicea: Be Zealous and Repent. United Church News, August 2002).

"At the regional pastors meeting, held earlier this month, plans were finalized for three-day regional elders conferences, which will begin in March 2005. The regional pastors also discussed issues that challenge both the membership and elders. In a poll taken just before the meetings, pastors identified the following as the major issues challenging the Church: Members with an independent spirit or philosophy. Doctrinal differences within the Church and membership. Members with a "lukewarm attitude." Members trusting information they find on the Internet more than what they hear from the Church. Members who have difficulty with Church government. Evangelism and who should evangelize. Poor health and aging congregations. Church attendance and those who "float" between organizations. The top issues among pastors were identified as: Training of future pastors. How United is or should be governed. Pastoral workloads. Pastoral transfers. Morale of the ministry and in the Church. Health issues. Retirement concerns" (Henson D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Thursday, December 9, 2004 – Cincinnati, Ohio).

"Laodicean can also mean the people decide...Laodiceans have a lack of respect towards God's authority...Its {Laodicea's} politicians specialize in appeasement...The spirit of indifference is the most tragic thing that can occur in the Church...Christ cannot put up with lukewarmness forever...Laodiceans are too undisciplined to obey orders" (Fahey B. "The Letter to Laodicea". UCG Bible Study, March 5, 2005 Chicago, IL).

Specifically, Laodiceans have failed to obey Jesus' command to the Philadelphians to 'hold fast' (Revelation 3:11) and do not have the same work as the Philadelphians do.

Living:

"According to Strong's Greek concordance, Philadelphia means "fraternal affection", "brotherly love", "love of the brethren". Also according to Strong's, Laodicea is a combination of two words, laos which it defines as "people" and dike, which is defined by Strong's as "right", "judgment", "punish", and "vengeance". Smith's Bible Dictionary defines Laodicea to mean "justice of the people". Might the term Laodicean convey that he predominant characteristic of this Church is that people rule, the people judge, or, in fact that the people are judgmental?...

The Philadelphians have God's " command to persevere" (Rev 3:10) and are told to “hold fast to what you have, that no man may take your crown” (v.11). Perhaps this is a warning not to be swayed by doctrinal changes contrary to our core, fundamental beliefs, which are instituted by men, irrespective of their position or education. We are told to be “so doing” when Jesus returns (Mat 24:46). We need to have works of which God approves (Rev 3:8). We must be hot--not lukewarm (v.15).

Herbert W. Armstrong thought those in the Body of Christ who were part of doing the work were going to be protected. He wrote the following, "Those in the true Body of Christ shall be protected until this tribulation will be over (Rev. 3:10-11)--applying to those faithful in God's Work now going to the world. Rev 12:14; U.S.A. 26:20. But YOU must make your own decision -- and to neglect doing so is to have made the wrong decision! God isn't kidding! This is for real!...The decision in now yours!" (Armstrong, Herbert W. The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. 1975; p:60).

And of course he was right--the decision is yours. We all need to heed God's warning to the Laodiceans" (Thiel, B. Philadelphia & Laodicea. Global Church News. Jul-Aug 1998).

“In Revelation 3, we read of two final phases of the history of the Church of God. The Church of Philadelphia was to be characterized by a zeal to do the Work. God promised to set before them an 'open door' as well as to protect them from the future Great Tribulation. However, there is a final seventh stage of the Church described, as the Church at Laodicea. This church was to be described by spiritual lukewarmness and lethargy. It is described as a worldly church, and certainly one which fit in with the spirit of these permissive, modern times...Some of God's people have been overwhelmed by the cares and problems of this life or by personal problems and have dropped by the wayside. Others have been deceived by false prophets and have gone into apostasy. Still others have become so lethargic and softened by comfort that they have lost their vision and merely wish to maintain local churches, no longer caring about doing the Work...Will you be one whom God uses to finish his end-time Work? Do you have that true Philadelphian spirit that reaches out to the whole world in genuine love and concern to share God's message of Truth and hope? Do you consider it important that the House of Israel be warned of the impending time of Jacob's trouble?" (Ogwyn, John. God's Church Through the Ages. Booklet. 1995).

"The Living Church of God cannot claim that all its members are Philadelphian, but we do believe we are a uniquely Philadelphian remnant...Of course, simply attending with the Living Church of God does not make one a Philadelphian; individual members must do their part, and must not allow their lives to be cluttered by the cares of this world so that they themselves become lukewarm (Laodicean)" (Thiel, B. What is a Philadelphian? Living Church News. Jul-Aug 2001; p.15).

"One of the primary dangers for all of us in God’s Church is Laodiceanism. We are definitely in what the Bible indicates is the “last era”—the last church age of God’s Church just before the Tribulation. The Apostle John was inspired to describe this era in very clear terms in Revelation 3:14–22. Note that this era is condemned not for any specific doctrinal errors, but for a complacent, lukewarm attitude. So those who are Laodiceans may have a “watered-down” approach to doctrine in general, but they appear to have most of the Truth. It is just that they are complacent and may say, in effect: “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” (v. 17). Yet, in God’s eyes, they are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” Where do I stand? Where do you stand? Each of us must constantly try to objectively evaluate ourselves—not other people. And I warn you solemnly that not all Laodiceans are in the “other groups!” For we in the Living Church of God have a certain number of Laodiceans, and all of us are in danger of becoming that way if we succumb to the dominant “spirit” of this church age—and of the society around us. discouraged by the continuing captivity of his people and perhaps the general malaise among them, he began to zealously seek God... Each of us must constantly try to objectively evaluate ourselves—not other people. And I warn you solemnly that not all Laodiceans are in the “other groups!” " (Meredith, Roderick. Editorial. Living Church News, July-August 2002, p.3).

(Note: It seems that United teaches that a Laodicean is one that is not part of an organized Church of God, while it seems that Living teaches that a Laodicean rejects governance, waters down doctrine, and rejects proclaiming the Gospel as the top priority.)

8. Philadelphia

United: For years, I had seen nothing in United's literature suggesting that it believes it is part of the Philadelphia era of God's Church. This is not surprising as United does not officially teach Church eras as WCG used to teach them (see 6. above).

However, I on 6/19/04 found one mention at UCG's website, "Year's ago when we talked about ourselves as the Philadelphian church, the only warning that came to the Philadelphia church - do you remember it?" (Pinelli R. The Seven Spirits of Satan. Sermon Transcript, August 28, 1999. http://www.ucg.org/sermons/transcripts/7Spirits.html).

His 'Years ago' comment refers to the WCG days, hence UCG's Director of Ministerial Services has now shown that UCG does not call itself the Philadelphian church--of course that is consistent with not officially teaching Church eras.

Living:

"The Living Church of God traces its history from the Apostolic Church in the Book of Acts (the Ephesian era) to the present. The message to the seven Churches in Revelation 2 & 3 successively shows the history of the true Church from that time forward. These seven Churches describe succeeding eras, or ages, of God’s Church. We believe that the Philadelphia era began in the 1930’s and that we are a continuation of that Philadelphia era" (LCG Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, Church History, 11/14/02).

"...we are the 'remnant' of the Philadelphian Church living over into the Laodicean era" (Meredith, Roderick C. Wait on God. Living Church News. Jul-Aug 2003; p3).

"Remember, though: just calling oneself (or one's church) "Philadelphian" does not guarantee that one actually is Philadelphian. Some who claim to be Philadelphian are not. The Living Church of God cannot claim that all its members are Philadelphian, but we do believe we are a uniquely Philadelphian remnant. Can one find a larger or more effective "corporate body" which retains the Truth as taught by Mr. Armstrong, without adding non-biblical "revelations" or diverting its members from making their top priority the Great Commission of proclaiming the Gospel as established by Jesus Christ? No! One can expect that Philadelphians, who care about doing an effective Work and holding fast to the Truth, will naturally support the Living Church of God. Of course, simply attending with the Living Church of God does not make one a Philadelphian; individual members must do their part, and must not allow their lives to be cluttered by the cares of this world so that they themselves become lukewarm (Laodicean)" (Thiel, B. What is a Philadelphian? Living Church News. Jul-Aug 2001; p.15).

Dr. Meredith has repeatedly stated in various sermons that Living represents the much of the remnant of the Philadelphia era of God's Church. This is actually a key difference between United and Living--United essentially believes it represents the Church of God while Living believes it essentially represents the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. As this article shows, the beliefs and actions of these two groups seem to differ, probably based on this fundamental difference.

9. Petra

United:

"He (Dr. Don Ward) explained, turning to several scriptures, why he does not believe Petra will be the place of safety, although he acknowledges that Revelation 12:13-16 refers to miraculous protection of God's people. 'Petra has been used , unfortunately, to manipulate God's people', he said. 'I don't believe God's people will be protected in Petra during the tribulation.' "He referred to verses in Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Revelation, Micah, Zephaniah, Amos, Matthew and 1 Corinthians to back up his belief that the present area of the nation of Jordan, which includes Petra, will not be a place anyone should want to be anywhere near during the tribulation. "He said the focus on the place of safety, as opposed to the Kingdom of God, has diverted Christians' attention and energies from the activities that should be their first priorities." (Cartwright, Dixon. IBLC kicks off with on-site seminar. In Transition. August 19, 1996; p:3)

The Good News Bible Reading Program has an article dated July 13, 2003 and another dated April 2, 2003 which suggests that it is possible that God may be telling His people that they will be protected in a rocky place, that this may not be literal, but that if so, Petra can be possible.

Living:

"Scripture makes clear that God promises His zealous end-time people protection from the Tribulation. But why have so many in the Church over the years thought that the place where God will protect His people might be Petra?...In three specific references, the Bible seems to associate Petra with God's end-time place of protection for His people, but these scriptures are all somewhat vague and can be understood in more than one way. If these verses do not refer to Petra, though, it would seem that God really has not given us any indication of the location where He will nourish His people during the final three-and-a half year period....(Isaiah 42:11-13)...Isaiah 33...verse 10...(v.14)...(vv.14-16)...Another reference is Isaiah 16. Here God tells the Moabites, who rule the area of Sela or Petra (v.1), to shield His outcasts...While the details of how and where God will protect His people are fascinating, we must all keep in mind that in the ultimate sense our protection does not come from any place--it come from God" (Ogwyn, John. Is There a Real Place of Safety? Living Church News. July-August 2001; pp.5-6).

Hence, Living teaches that Petra is the only place the Bible may specify, but this specification is not certain, while United seems to have two views one is that Petra is possible and another that states that Petra cannot be the place. An article of possible interest may be There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra.

10. Who Will Be Protected (and who will not)?

United:

"Who will escape the worst of the Great Tribulation during the prophesied dangerous times ahead? Is it some particular group or denomination? Will those who study the prophecies of the Bible have a greater advantage? Does knowing about God’s plans bring any special favor to a person? The Bible is plain that it’s not knowledge or self-devised religion that makes a difference with God. Rather, it is the performing of His will in our lives and our sincere acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for our past sins that binds us to Him (Matthew 7:21-23; Galatians 1:4). What should a person who desires protection from the coming Great Tribulation be focusing on and doing in the meantime? Surely the Christlike people with God’s Spirit guiding their thoughts and actions will continue their focus on loving and serving God and humanity as their reason for being. Here are some passages, one from the Old Testament and one from the New, that give us spiritual directives to be concentrating on each day. “Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility.It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore [be alert to your spiritual condition], and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36). Those God chooses will be spared the horrible calamities of the climax of this age of Satan’s world—those intimately close to God and His way of living.“He sets on high those who are lowly [humble],and those who mourn are lifted to safety”(Job 5:11)" (Elliot, John. Who Is Given Protection? Good News, Jan-Feb 2003, p.12).

Furthermore, in the related article, UCG teaches,

"A passage in Revelation indicates that God plans to spare His people, granting them His protection during the 3 1/2 years of tribulation and wrath that will come on humanity (Revelation 12:14). This is affirmed in other prophecies (see Zephaniah 2:3; Revelation 3:10). Jesus’ dark prophecy about the climactic events that will rip the world apart just before His second coming is prefaced with a positive statement to His followers: “Pray that your flight [their escape] will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:20-22, NIV)...Will you repent of humanly devised religious beliefs and traditions purporting to please God while actually rejecting Him, His commands and His ways? The times ahead are forecast to wake us up to the truth. We need to be deadly serious about our dedication to doing the will of God in our lives from here on! Referring to God and His awesome power (Hebrews 12:29), Isaiah the prophet was inspired to ask: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14). These questions impact every person alive at the beginning of the prophesied Great Tribulation. The answer follows in the next verses: “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure” (verses 15-16)" (Elliot, John. Coming Calamities: Doe God Offer Protection? Good News, Jan-Feb 2003, p.13).

Although, unlike groups such as CGI, UCG is actually referring to some type of place of safety (although other than Dr. Ward's comments, I have seen nothing from its literature or leadership suggesting where such a place might be), UCG seems to be teaching that all of God's true people will be protected (this is similar to what CGI teaches). However, UCC fails to teach what the Bible is teaching--that is, that it is only the Philadelphians (Revelation 3:7-10) who are promised to be kept "from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world" (vs.10). UCG should have specifically also cited the following verse, "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17) as it shows that just being one of God's people will not insure protection at the place (see also Revelation 14:8-12). What does all that mean? It means that UCG does not teach that it is the Philadelphians that are offered specific protection in a place in the wilderness for 3 1/2 years (Revelation 3;10;12:14) even though it correctly alluded to a couple of verses without explaining there ramifications! It is UCG who teaches that one needs to be "deadly serious" about this and not rely on humanly devised religious beliefs. UCG teaches that people should repent, but will its members take that admonition to heart? It is UCG who teaches that one needs to live according to "His ways", however, by not placing its top financial priority on proclaiming the Gospel, this is at least one of "His ways" that UCG has rejected. Herbert Armstrong taught that he believed that God used him to raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. He believed that the difference about this era and the previous (Sardis) and following one (Laodicea), was that the Philadelphia era placed its top priority on proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness and that it had at least 18 truths or core teachings restored to it.

"Revelation 12 speaks of a way of escape for the Church "into the wilderness." Figuratively, the Church is likened to a woman in the Bible. When some are taken to a place of safety, it says "the dragon [Satan] was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (verse 17). True Christians are going to become supremely unpopular in an increasingly disobedient world" Schroeder JR. A Coming Time of Martyrdom. World News and Prophecy. Jul 2004, p.5).

The above clearly shows that UCG does believe in a place of safety, and for the first time in any of its literature I had seen thus far, indicates that many will not go to that place. Yet, thus far, I still have not seen who UCG believes will be protected and who will not be.

Living:

"Let this be perfectly clear, there are two groups of God's people mentioned in Revelation 12--one which goes to a place of safety and one which does not. It states: "But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring , who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (vv. 14-17). Note that just keeping the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus Christ is not enough to insure that one will go "into the wilderness", be "nourished", and protected "from the presence of the serpent". For the dragon will “make war” with those who do not go... The Philadelphians are the only ones that God promises to keep “from the hour of trial that comes upon the whole world”. Regarding the letter to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans shows they walk a different path: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent...We have seen that God will not keep those in the Laodicea era of His Church from entering the tribulation. So what, specifically, will happen to those who are not in a place of protection? Some of the answers may lie in the book of Lamentations, which details that time: "The tongue of the infant clings To the roof of its mouth for thirst; The young children ask for bread, But no one breaks it for them...Those slain by the sword are better off Than those who die by hunger; For these pine away, Stricken for lack of the fruit of the field. The hands of the compassionate women Have cooked their own children; They became food for them In the destruction of the daughter of my people...Our pursuers were swifter Than the eagles of the heavens. They pursued us on the mountains And lay in wait for us in the wilderness" (Lam 4:4-19). This book, written by the prophet Jeremiah, foretells what will happen to the modern-day descendants of Israel, and indications are that it may include "spiritual" and not just physical Israel (i.e., Lam 1:4,2:20,4:7,5:21-22). Even if you believe that these prophecies were fulfilled around the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, remember Jesus said, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no nor ever shall be" (Mat 24:21). Thus, we can look at the most horrifying events that have happened in the past and yet realize that the coming Tribulation will be worse. " (v.19). (Thiel, B. Philadelphia & Laodicea. Global Church News, July-August 1998).

"Scripture describes the Church at Philadelphia: "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": I know your works. See I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie-indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you...Jesus told the Philadelphians: "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly!" (Revelation 3:10-11). The Philadelphians are the only ones promised protection! The remnant of the Philadelphians are "given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (Revelation 12:14)" (Thiel, B. What is a Philadelphian? Living Church News, July-August 2001). "Clearly, the Church is taken to a place where God will supernaturally nourish and protect it during the final three-and-a-half year period before Christ’s return. This ties in with Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises the Church at Philadelphia that He would protect it from the “hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world.” By contrast, in Revelation 3:16 He warns the Church at Laodicea that He would spew it out of His mouth. This is the “remnant” (KJV) or “rest of her offspring” against whom Satan makes war in Revelation 12:17. This remnant is part of the true Church, because it keeps the commandments and has Christ’s testimony, but it is tepid and lukewarm, not zealous and on fire. As a result, Christ will spew these individuals directly into the Tribulation to wake them up and bring them to repentance! The Bible shows a clear contrast between two groups of God’s people in the end-time. To one group, Christ says “keep the word of my patience” (Revelation 3:10, KJV) and go through open doors (v. 8) to preach the gospel. The other group is self-absorbed and lukewarm in its approach toward God and His ways. This distinction determines whom God will nourish in “her place in the wilderness” while others will be confronted with the Great Tribulation" (Ogwyn, John. Is There a Real Place of Safety? Living Church News. July-August 2001).

"And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:7-9)..."Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (vv. 13-14). At that time, those that are actually, "Philadelphian" in their relationship with God will be taken to a Place of Safety...However those who are Laodicean and "lukewarm" (Revelation 3:14-16) will be spewed out of Christ's mouth for their own good because they have been unwilling to exercise genuine faith and fully trust God...These people--although they are obviously commandment-keepers--will obviously not have been fully faithful in following Christ and His ways, or in doing the Work as Revelation 3 indicates they should. So they will need the Great Tribulation to humble, teach them and help them make a total commitment to exercise genuine faith in God's ways! (Meredith R.C. Do You Radiate Faith in God? Living Church News. May-June 2006, p. 20).

Hence Living clearly teaches that the Philadelphians, only, will be protected in a place in the wilderness, but that the Laodiceans will not be protected. United does not appear to make any distinction, which I consider to be scripturally inaccurate, as well as personally dangerous. United also seems to mention it less often than LCG does in sermons and literature.

11. Iran: A Possible King of the South?

United: In a UCG World News & Prophecy article titled Could Ahmadinejad Be Daniel's "King of the South"? it states,

"Because Iran is, to this point, intractable in its demand to develop nuclear power, and because it produces the second highest amount of oil in OPEC, neither it nor its new president can be ignored. Back to Daniel's enigmatic prediction. He spoke of two geopolitical configurations, kings of the south and north. It's too soon to tell whether Ahmadinejad will become the first "king," but it is possible that the group backing that king of the south could well be some form of the Islamic ummah (community) (Maranville C.E. Could Ahmadinejad Be Daniel's "King of the South"? World News & Prophecy, December 2005).

Hence, UCG's position seemed to be that the non-Arabic Iran may be the King of the South. And although UCG confirmed that in something else I recall reading, recent UCG articles state:

Eventually Israel will become subject to a European-centered superpower (the "king of the North") who will invade the Holy Land as a result of a "push" by the "king of the South" (possibly an Islamic group of peoples) as explained in Daniel 11:40-45. Schroeder JR. New Middle Eastern Conflicts: A Wake-up Call for Mankind. World News & Prophecy, August 2006).

...Daniel 11:40-45. These verses tell of a "king of the South" doing something so provocative to a "king of the North" that he reacts by taking over the region of Palestine. On the basis of what we can observe today, we anticipate that the king of the South will be an alliance of Muslim nations from northern Africa through the Middle East and that the king of the North will be a core of European nations, smaller than the present EU configuration (Maranville C.E. China Looks to Africa. World News & Prophecy, June 2007).

This is not meant to identify Iran as the king of the South—for the southern power may well rise from the majority Sunni Arab nations. (Rhodes M. This is not meant to identify Iran as the king of the South—for the southern power may well rise from the majority Sunni Arab nations. Good News. May-June 2012, p. 15)

UCG tends to be a bit guarded and seems to change its position more easily then LCG does.

Living: R.C. Meredith has publicly stated that Iran will not be the King of the South (Meredith R.C. Last Great Day Sermon. Clearwater, Florida. October 25, 2005), though Iran may support that king. He has also specifically stated, "The King of the South is not Iran...The King of the South cannot be Iran. Iran is north of Jerusalem" (Meredith RC. Endure with Faith. Sermon, Charlotte (NC), September 10, 2005).

This is a relatively minor difference between the two groups, yet it does show a major difference: LCG will clearly teach what it believes, while UCG tends to be a bit more guarded--even to the point it will teach something that seems to not have biblical support or that easily changes with current events. More information can be found in the article Is There a Future King of the South?

12. Herbert W. Armstrong- Elijah

United: "The United Church of God has taken no position on the subject of Herbert Armstrong being the prophesied Elijah" (HWA Elijah?. Email to COGwriter@aol.com from Info@ucg.org. August 25, 1999).

"UCG teaches that Mr. Armstrong was a modern apostle. They make no statement on Mr. Armstrong being the end time "Elijah." (CGCF Doctrinal Study Paper, posted at cgcf.org 6/30/01)."

"The United Church of God is dedicated to the spirit of Elijah, seeking to have our fathers' and children's hearts turned toward each other" (Maranville, Cecil E.. SBMC and Disposable Fathers. World News & Prophecy. July 2001; p. 15).

Living:

"Herbert W. Armstrong did an Elijah-like work" (Meredith, Roderick C. Special Announcements. Videotape 30. May 8, 1999).

The following is not an exact, but approximate, quote (as it was taken from my notes in a sermon),

"From a biblical point of view, the Elijah question is not a major issue...I am not that Elijah...It will probably be a younger, better looking, man...Herbert Armstrong died over fifteen years ago...Malachi 4 teaches...vs. 5, 'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD'... Mr. Armstrong himself went back and forth on this issue...Elijah may be one of the two witnesses. He (Herbert Armstrong) told Dibar Apartian that he (Mr. Armstrong) was not the Elijah...He (Mr. Armstrong) did not change any major doctrines, such as the Sabbath...but did change positions on other matters...Our policy and practice in the Living Church of God is to honor Herbert W. Armstrong as a teacher, minister, and as an Apostle...,raising up an era of the Church...The greatest minister, perhaps, in the past 1800 years...Mr. Armstrong certainly did do the greatest work in radio, television, and all that...We feel he did an Elijah-like work...We are to follow him as he followed Christ...I feel that the Living Church of God is carrying on the teachings and practices, that is religious not personal practices, of Herbert Armstrong more than any other group on earth...He could have been the Elijah to come, but I don't think we should be dogmatic and appoint him...They (the two witnesses) have power to shut up heaven, like the original Elijah did...These two men are a definite type of Elijah and Moses. And one of them may be the end-time Elijah" (Meredith, Roderick C. The Elijah Question. VTE 131, May 19, 2001).

Here is an interesting quote from Herbert Armstrong on this subject,

"Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age" (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349).

Further information can be found in the article The Elijah Heresies.

13. Birthdays

United:

"On Friday morning Henrikas and I had breakfast together. Then I went to Anne Schotter's Kristlik Kodu (Christian Home). It was Anne's birthday and her son Avo came down from Tallinn for the day...At Bible Study Henrikas covered I Corinthians 15 and I talked about being all things to all men and not causing offense, women's hair and other subjects from I Corinthians 8-11. Then we all went to the Taverna where we celebrated Helge's birthday and had a fun evening of fellowship" (Kubik, Victor. June 12-16th, 2001 in Tartu, Estonia from www.kubik.org). Victor Kubik is on UCG's Council of Elders.

A local UCG website, has a section titled "Important Dates in August (it varies each month) and ends with "© 2007 United Church of God - Grand Rapids". Four of the six important dates listed were birthdays (on 8/04/07). This is different than anything I have recalled seeing in any COG article in my life--hence shows that UCG is more involved with birthdays than groups such as LCG or the old WCG.

Living:

"You don't observe Christ's birth. You're not supposed to have some big birthday party either to observe personal birthdays...Some people have accused me of observing birthdays...I do not observe birthdays and I have never had a birthday party for myself or any of my six children nor my wife or anyone else for over 51 years" (Meredith, Roderick C. Faith for Healing. AUE 123, 3/31/01).

" “Originally the idea [of birthday greetings and wishes for happiness] was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one’s personal spirits are about at that time. Dreams dreamed on the birthday eve should be remembered, for they are predictions of the future brought by the guardian spirits which hover over one’s bed on the birthday eve. Birthday greetings have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day. Good wishes bring good fortune, but the reverse is also true, so one should avoid enemies on one’s birthday and be surrounded only by well-wishers. ‘Happy birthday’ and ‘Many happy returns of the day’ are the traditional greetings” (The Lore of Birthdays, Linton, p. 20). “Birthdays are the times when good and evil spirits have the opportunity to attack the celebrants who at these times are in peril.” What is done to counter these malevolent spirits? “The presence of friends and the expression of good wishes help to protect the celebrant against the unknown pervasive peril” (Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, p. 144). The giving of birthday gifts is a custom associated with the offering of sacrifices to pagan gods on their birthdays. Certainly the custom was linked with the same superstitions that formed the background for birthday greetings. “The exchange of presents… is associated with the importance of ingratiating good and evil fairies… on their or our birthdays” (ibid.). The traditional birthday cake and candles also have their origin in ancient pagan idol worship. The ancients believed that the fire of candles had magical properties. They offered prayers and made wishes to be carried to the gods on the flames of the candles. Thus we still have the widely practiced birthday custom of making a wish, then blowing out the candles. The Greeks celebrated the birthday of their moon goddess, Artemis, with cakes adorned each month and day is sacred; and found out from the day of a man’s birth, what he will meet with in the course of his life, and how he will end his days, and what sort of man he will be” (Herodotus, Persian Wars, Book II, ch. 82). Since it was believed that the positions of the stars at the time of birth influenced a child’s future, astrological horoscopes came into being, purporting to foretell the future, based on the time of birth. “Birthdays are intimately linked with the stars, since without the calendar, no one could tell when to celebrate his birthday. They are also indebted to the stars in another way, for in early days the chief importance of birthday records was to enable the astrologers to chart horoscopes” (The Lore of Birthdays, p. 53). Rawlinson’s translation of Herodotus includes the following footnote: “Horoscopes were of very early use in Egypt… and Cicero speaks of the Egyptians and Chaldees predicting… a man’s destiny at his birth"...When we examine the principles of God’s law closely, as they relate to birthday celebrations, we can understand why neither Christ, nor His Apostles, nor their true followers, observed their birthdays. As noted earlier, the practice has its origin in idolatry and the worship of the sun, moon and stars...Some may view birthday customs as purely secular, lacking any religious significance. Yet we need to be aware of the broader perspective of their origins, and the religious significance they have had—and still have—for vast multitudes of people. " (Reynolds, Rod. Should Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Living Church News, May-June 2002. pp.16-18)

Herbert Armstrong taught,

"There is no command or instruction to celebrate it in the Bible--rather, the celebration of birthdays is a pagan, not a Christian custom, believe it or not!" (Armstrong, Herbert. The Plain Truth About Christmas. 1974, p.10).

Roderick C. Meredith teaches:

"We don't celebrate our birthdays" (Meredith RC. Building Faith and Courage. Sermon, Charlotte-NC, 6/21/08).

While Old Testament Jews and early Christians acknowledged the dates of their birth, they never celebrated them. UCG seems to be more on the celebrating side than LCG. An article of possible interest may be Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays?

14. Born Again

United:

"Re: whether a Christian is born again now, it's plain we need to be careful about word choice so that inaccurate meanings aren't assumed by the general public. Born again conveys more to the average Bible-believing person than having his mind opened to the truth. For that reason, it is unlikely that we will use it in our publications or public speaking. Born from above is the accurate way to translate John 3, while linking begotten with that passage is forcing an analogy not used by John. However, explaining the process of salvation as like the conception of a spiritual life leading to the resurrection which is like a birth, is a helpful analogy... The Bible does not, surprising as it might seem, say that we will be born in a resurrection." (Kubik, Victor. Personal Correspondence Department, August 5, 1995; p:2)."We believe that all who truly repent of their sins in full surrender and willing obedience to God, and who by faith accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, have their sins forgiven by an act of divine grace. Such individuals are justified, pardoned from the penalty of sin, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which literally abides within them and supplies the divine love that alone can fulfill the law and produce righteousness. They are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, which is the true Church of God. We believe in a true change in life and attitude. Only those who have the indwelling presence of and are being led by the Holy Spirit are Christ's" (Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God, An International Association. Booklet. 1998; p:19). "You asked if the United Church of God has an official statement on "born again." No, it does not. But I understand those responsible for preparing one are actively working on it. They agree with you (and others) that such a statement is needed. But the point Jesus made to Nicodemus is clear. We received physical life from our human parents. We receive eternal life and enter the Kingdom of God by becoming God's children. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we become "born again" or "born from above" as children of God" (Fahey, Bob. Personal Correspondence, UCGIA email to David R. July 17, 2001)."In the Bible conversion is represented as a miraculous, life-transforming process...When we receive God's Spirit we begin a new life of spiritual growth, of replacing our selfish human nature with God's divine nature. Baptism points to our being set apart as children of God" (Transforming Your Life, The Process of Conversion. Booklet. 2000; pp:2,41). This may be a good time to point out that UCG's 60+ page booklet, Transforming Your Life, The Process of Conversion, does not teach that the Holy Spirit begets us or that we will be born again at the time of the resurrection (these were 2 of the 18 truths restored to the Church). The terms 'beget', 'begets', 'begotten', 'begettal', or other derivatives do not seem to be mentioned in that booklet.

"Leon Walker led discussion on a study paper about the subject of 'born again' and its accompanying cover letter for the ministry. The paper confirms our traditional understanding of salvation, and the accuracy of the analogy that entrance into the Family of God is comparable to a birth. It upholds our longstanding belief that the traditional Christian concept of “once saved, always saved” is not biblical. And it expands on the meaning of the Greek terms commonly associated with the doctrine. After some comment on the paper itself, and some editing of the cover letter, the Council balloted ten in favor (Messrs. Antion, Dick, Franks, Horchak, Jewell, Kubik, McCullough, Seiglie, Thompson and Walker in favor of the packet as worded), two abstaining (Mr. Dean and Mr. Kilough. Mr. Kilough stated that his abstention was not based on doctrinal content, but on reservations about the cover letter)" (Johnson, D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Friday, December 13, 2002‚ Cincinnati, Ohio).

What I continue to be amazed by is how UCG's leadership continues to use a lot of the same verbiage that the Tkach WCG did, such as in UCG's newest Born Again Study Paper (approved by the Council of Elders, December 2002),

"The Bible uses many analogies and figures of speech to teach spiritual truths. However, one has to be careful in the use of analogies, as each is often limited in context to a specific and direct application. For example, in Matthew 13:33 Jesus used leaven as an analogy of the Kingdom of God. Then in Matthew 16:12 He used leaven as an analogy of the false doctrine of the Pharisees. In 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 Paul states that Jesus Christ is the foundation of God's building, but in Ephesians 2:20 he says that the foundation is built on the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. Analogies are also used in the Bible regarding specific aspects of the salvation process. Paul uses the analogies of a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) and a "new man" (Ephesians 2:15; 4:24; Colossians 3:10) to describe the converted person. The individual is not in a literal sense a "new creation" or a "new man," but there is a definite transformation that takes place at the time of conversion which makes him spiritually a "new" person (Romans 12:2). From the time of his conversion the individual lives differently than he did before. Conversion means a new life, a change of life, a fresh start, a different outlook, a new beginning. The Christian is in that sense a "new man." Conversion describes the transformation that takes place at the time of repentance in the life of the individual. However, a sudden and dramatic change from mortality to immortality will take place at the time of the resurrection (Philippians 3:21). God as our Father has much more in mind than just a relationship with us in this life. His desire is that we attain to the resurrection from the dead, put on immortality and become glorified children in His family and Kingdom. The ultimate destiny of humanity is to inherit the Kingdom of God by being changed from mortal to immortal (1 Corinthians 15:35-54). Another analogy that the Bible uses likens newly converted individuals to "newborn babes" (1 Peter 2:2), needing milk (basic elements) of the Word as they begin a life of growing spiritually. Of course, this is just an analogy. The individual is not literally reborn at the time of conversion. On the other hand, a significant change takes place in his life-so significant that it can be considered the beginning of a new life. So the newly converted individual is referred to as a "babe in Christ." However, at some point every analogy ceases to be valid. We must also be careful not to take analogies as literal" (pp. 5-6).

Basically now, what UCG teaches is that being begotten by at conversion is an analogy and that the new birth at the resurrection is an analogy, and that one does not become a 'new creation' upon conversion--this is a change, but UCG does not want to portray it that way. The only change UCG seems to want to admit to (as a change) is, "The difference in this paper is the additional understanding of the Greek word gennao" (p. 2). Thus its COE concludes (in the preface), "It was concluded by the Doctrine Committee and the Council of Elders that this paper does not constitute a change in the doctrine of salvation but a deeper understanding of the analogies and the Greek words used in the New Testament to describe the process of salvation" (p.2). So once again, UCG leadership is telling its membership why a change is not a change.

"Therefore, the meaning of gennao in Matthew 1:20 is consistent with its meaning throughout the rest of the New Testament. Its contextual use reflects the genealogical or ancestral origin of what has already been brought forth, not a description of the biological process of conception...However, as with any analogy, there are limitations in using the illustration of an unborn child to describe a Christian" (p. 27).

Hence, UCG seems to be saying that one is not begotten by the Holy Spirit upon conception.

"We do not believe the term "born again" is a proper translation from the Greek (p. 2)...Is the phrase "born again" even a correct and appropriate translation? In order to understand fully the concept Jesus referred to in John 3, we must understand the correct meaning of the term "born again" and its role in the process of salvation (p.3)...The explanation of John 3 will show that indeed when one is truly born of the Spirit, he will be a spirit being. We were born of the flesh and are therefore, flesh. John 3 has a duality that should not be denied. This chapter also discusses conversion as a type of birth, but this does not deny the concept of the analogy that Mr. Armstrong taught us for so many years-indeed the paper emphasizes the truth of that analogy (p.2) ...Gennao is used metaphorically in John 3 and other locations to refer to the divine origin of our new life in Christ. Metaphorically, gennao means "to generate" (p. 11)...The response by Nicodemus in verse 4 (How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?") seems to indicate that Nicodemus understood anothen in the sense of "again." But is that what Christ meant? (p.12)...anothen would be more suitably translated "from above" because it more clearly indicates the origin of that relationship than does the word "again," which is not as specific. Therefore, we do not use the term "born again" when translating gennao anothen" (p.12).

Okay, United seems to believe that 'generated from above' remains the best way to translate John 3 even though United admits that Nicodemus seemed think that Jesus was talking about being born again. Furthermore, United's COE has this statement in the preface, "The paper reinforces Herbert W. Armstrong's use of the analogy of begettal at baptism and birth when one actually enters the Kingdom of God" (p. 2). Having read the paper, I can only conclude that UCG's Study Paper reinforces the concept that UCG does not believe that we a literally begotten by the Holy Spirit upon conversion nor born-again at the resurrection--it also reinforces the concept that UCG believes these teachings are simply analogies which are of questionable value. UCG appears to be teaching that being begotten by the Holy Spirit upon conversion and being born again at the resurrection are analogies. Thus, it seems clear that UCG has changed its 'traditional' beliefs on this subject. I guess if you say something is not a change, then I guess you can ignore your constitution when it states that all changes need a 3/4 vote of approval from your entire eldership. The other group that used to say that changes were not a change was WCG--of course they said that when most of the ministers now in UCG were part of them. Perhaps this is where UCG's leadership was able to learn that technique.

Living: UCG's Study Paper on Born Again, takes thirty pages to not say what LCG says in a one paragraph,

"With a physical human birth, there must first be "begettal" (by the male), and "conception" (by the female). With a spiritual birth, there must first be a spiritual begettal and conception. Then after a period of "spiritual gestation" or spiritual growth (2 Peter 3:18), true Christians will someday experience a literal spiritual "birth," thereby becoming immortal children of God. We will literally be born again at the resurrection as Christ Himself was, "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4)" (LCG Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, The Meaning of 'Born Again', 11/14/02).

"In this life, we are 'begotten' or regenerated through conversion and the impregnation of God's Spirit. This Spirit is the Spirit 'of power and of love and of a sound mind' (2 Tim. 1:17). The Spirit of God imparts to us the very nature of God. As we surrender our wills to God, yield to His Holy Spirit and drink of it through regular Bible study and prayer, we grow in spiritual maturity until it is time to be fully 'born of God' at the resurrection of the dead!" (Meredith, Roderick C. Your Ultimate Destiny. Booklet.1996; p. 9).

15. Disasters

United: Regarding the 12/26/04 tsunami,

"Already $500 million has been raised worldwide in relief efforts to help the victims. We are reminded: "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so" (Proverbs 3:27). To this end, the United Church of God has made a donation to the Red Cross International Relief Fund to aid in the effort to assist people in great need. Many have asked: "How can we personally help?" According to the Red Cross, 100 percent of any donations made for tsunami victims will go directly to those suffering. If local churches, members or families would like to make their own discretionary donation, we encourage them to do so...One of our representatives in Southeast Asia, Dave Baker, is presently traveling through that region. Both he and Jeff Caudle have reported that apparently our members have been spared from direct destruction and distress" (Holladay R. Letter from the President. December 31, 2004).

This is similar to its response to Hurricane Katrina:

"Information has slowly been trickling in from several elders along the Gulf Coast, and we are relieved that at this point we have heard no reports of harm coming to any of our own Church members. However, due to the state of poor communications, not all of the affected members have been contacted, so we cannot make any kind of summary statement. Nor do we have more than sketchy reports about what kind of property damage they may have sustained.

"Naturally, many members are inquiring as to what they can do to help. In the coming days a clearer picture will emerge concerning the specific needs of our brethren, and we are committed to help them as soon and effectively as we can. I’m sure we have Paul’s words in the forefront of our minds at this time: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10). "Our advice at this time from the home office is that members who want to "do good to all" should contribute to the organizations that are best equipped and experienced to provide the food, clothing, shelter and medical attention needed. We recommend reputable groups the government is endorsing, such as the Red Cross.

For those who want to reach out particularly to "the household of faith," you can send a check to the home office, payable to the United Church of God, noting in the memo section that it is for the "Assistance Fund." We will likely be helping a number of our brethren in these affected areas using our "Assistance Fund"—beyond what was anticipated in the budget. We will draw on these funds in consultation with the local ministers to make sure we can effectively help members in their need" (Kilough C. Letter from the President. September 1, 2005).

Living: In his 10/23/01 Co-worker letter, LCG's Dr. Meredith reported,

"In every way, dear brethren, we need to increase the power of this Work. For now, more than ever, this world desperately needs what we have to give. It may be helpful to review some of the specific warnings I have given you in the last couple of years—long before the events of September 11, 2001: "December 24, 1999, co-worker letter: "Even as I write, Americans are being warned of potential terrorist attacks right here in the United States. A powerful European Empire is in the making—soon to replace America as the world’s leading power." "From my February 24, 2000 co-worker letter: "God predicts that alternate drought and floods, fires and famine, disease epidemics and increasing earthquakes will come upon us, plus many kinds of ‘terrors’—probably including terrorist threats and attacks." "From the co-worker letter of October 26, 2000: "Greetings from San Diego! A ‘holy war’ coming up in the Middle East? American ships and troops being involved? An escalation of anti-American hatred throughout the Arab world? A cut-off of Arab oil and terrorist attacks right here on American soil? All of these things and more are now distinct possibilities!" "Notice this powerful quote from my March 12, 2001 co-worker letter: "Also, the Arab terrorist organization ‘Hamas’ has proclaimed that they are going to ‘welcome’ new Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a wave of terrorist attacks. So these could begin soon—and will eventually involve terrorism not only in the Middle East but in Great Britain and right here in the United States."

So we have been—almost alone—telling you brethren and co-workers exactly what was going to happen! And as long as we obey Him, the great God whom we serve will continue to use us as His instruments to warn our people of what lies ahead. What an opportunity and what a challenge God has set before us! "

LCG tends to emphasize that these disasters are part of God's plan (and LCG has a booklet titled Who Controls the Weather? that goes into more detail on that subject). UCG does not seem to have the same emphasis. For assistance, LCG tends to focus on those of the household of faith as it does not have the resources to make any significant financial impact for others. UCG tends to take a somewhat more humanistic approach, but also tries to take care of those affiliated with it.

16. Miracles

United:

"The Bible is full of descriptions of fantastic miracles. Many wonder, why don't we see great public miracles today?...The miracles we read about in the Bible were examples of the power and love of God that are important to our understanding. But now that we have the biblical record, there is not the need to continually repeat all the different types of miracles. Miracles were used at times to attract large audiences, and this was especially important in the founding of the New Testament Church. Today, we have the benefit of mass media technology...And miracles aren't necessarily good for us. God gave many members of the Corinthian church miraculous spiritual gifts, but they seem to have done more harm than good in that the gifts went to the heads of the members. So miracles don't necessarily have lasting or deep effects on those witnessing them. So why none today? I guess you could say why bother?" (Sandland, David J. Why No Spectacular Miracles Today? United News, November 2002, p. 18).

Someone sent United a question based on its "Why No Spectacular Miracles Today?" article and sent me United's response. United stated that it believed that there were miracles in the Bible and that the Bible shows there will be some in the future. The wording suggested, to me at least, that United essentially seems to consider the subject of miracles to be of no current interest.

Living: LCG members (as a Church) have on multiple occasions prayed and fasted for the spiritual gifts mentioned in I Corinthians 12:1-11;13;14. LCG teaches that the answer to Why No Spectacular Miracles Today? differently than UCG seems to. Essentially LCG teaches that God will restore the types of miracles and spiritual gifts that were around in the Apostolic age (Ephesus era) when it is His time. Or as Dr. Meredith has written:

"As I wrote you last summer, "In RESTORING Apostolic Christianity, we also need to restore the deep faith that was in many of God’s people at that time. The use of television in private homes had not yet begun in the late 40s and early 50s. The emphasis on materialism was not nearly so great at that time right after the horrors of the Second World War. But it was beginning. And soon people began to get their minds on various kinds of pills and potions advertised on television and elsewhere to ‘cure’ every conceivable ailment. God became less real to people. And it deeply affected even God’s true Church! "Dear brethren, we need to remember that the ‘gifts of the spirit’ were given even to men ordained as deacons. For the Bible describes Stephen right after his ordination as a deacon, ‘And Stephen, full of FAITH and POWER, did great wonders and signs among the people’ (Acts 6:8). And remember that the other leading deacon, Philip, went down to Samaria and preached Christ to them, ‘And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the MIRACLES which he did. For UNCLEAN SPIRITS, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were HEALED’ (Acts 8:6-7). So God certainly gave the ‘accompanying signs’ even to Stephen and Philip… So, obviously, God at various times worked powerfully through dedicated deacons—and Church members such as Ananias (Acts 9:10-20). It was NOT necessary to be an apostle to work miracles!… We need to keep on with a regular practice of fasting and prayer, and ask God to build within His Church a deep ‘atmosphere of faith,’ that God may grant the spiritual gifts so that the world may KNOW that there is a real God, that we are His servants, and that they should LISTEN to His message through us. Over and over in the Bible, we find that this was the pattern that GOD Himself used to attract people’s attention and help them realize where He was working." Note that I said above that we must "keep on with the regular practice of fasting and prayer." Brethren, let us never give up on seeking God, drawing closer to Him and asking Him to pour out His Spirit regarding the spiritual gifts so that we may indeed have the "accompanying signs" as we proclaim Christ’s message all over this world (Mark 16:20). Secondly, please remember that I have often mentioned on the sermon tapes from Headquarters that we’re still only "half a peanut shell" in the Pacific Ocean regarding our size as compared to the major religious denominations of this world. Certainly God is able to use us to do a much more powerful work even though we are only a "Gideon’s army" in physical size. Nevertheless, God is so far using us to reach people through television, radio, the printing press and the Internet as He has done in years past. So, as we see the "day approaching" of Christ’s return, we need to cry out that God will give us even greater power in doing the Work. Please ask our heavenly Father to add more co-workers, donors and members—more "laborers" of every type—to help us get out this message. I pray that He will enable us to get on station after station and to begin to have a genuine impact on this world so that they will know that they have indeed had a "witness" when the very final events occur!" (Meredith, R. Member Letter, June 24, 2002).

In his 11/30/02 sermon and various Church-wide fasts (in 2003/2004/2009), Dr. Meredith has asked members to pray for the types of miracles and spiritual gifts that the Apostolic (Ephesus) era of the Church of God had.

Those in LCG are told to pray for the gifts of the Spirit, even when not fasting. Notice:

On May 31 we will be celebrating the Festival of Pentecost. Please pray that God will grant His people more of the gifts of His Holy Spirit in order to do His Work more effectively—because there is a big job yet to do to warn the world about the dangers ahead and proclaim the Good News about the soon-coming Kingdom of God. (Meredith R. From the Presiding Evangelist. World Ahead Weekly Update, May 21, 2009)

Regarding the 1/29/11 fast, here is some of Dr. D. Winnail and Dr. Meredith wrote,

Currently, the United Church of God is experiencing a traumatic split that will impact thousands of brethren. Please pray that God will guide His people at this critical time to see the importance of working together to fulfill the commission to preach the Gospel, warn the world and prepare a people to serve with Jesus Christ in the soon-coming Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:10-13 & Ephesians 4:1-6).(Winnail D. LCG Weekly Update, 1/09/11)

“So let us really devote ourselves to this FAST and to show our love and concern for thousands who may be adversely affected by the continuing upheaval among God’s people. Ask God earnestly to protect them, to guide them and to keep them from being bitter or completely falling away from the true way of life revealed in the Bible.” (Meredith RC. LCG Weekly Update, 1/20/11)

In addition to spiritual growth, etc. I do believe what Dr. Meredith called for above occurred.  While some people associated with the United Church of God (UCG) split did become part of LCG, most either stayed with UCG or went with COGWA--thus most did not become some bitter that they fell completely away from the true biblical teachings of the Church of God.

The late Herbert W. Armstrong used to say that, "The Church of God goes forward on its knees" and I believe that the calls for fasts and prayer are listened to by God.

Notice also that the call to prayer was part of the fast for 3/28/09:

After reading quite a number of requests to have a Church fast for the last several months, I have talked with our leading ministers here and elsewhere and concluded that we should call for a Church fast on the Sabbath of March 28...

Why a Church fast at this time? We feel that a Church fast would be especially appropriate at this time because so many of our brethren are getting weak and sickly, and deeply need God’s healing! I hesitated to call a fast because I did not want to focus on my personal problem. However, quite a number of other serious illnesses are coming to the fore and as I have studied and prayed intensively—more than ever the last few months—it is obvious that we should be drawing closer to God and crying out to Him for the “gifts” of healings, discernment of spirits and casting out demons (Mark 16:15-20). As the power and scope of our Work increases, it is obvious that we really should have the “accompanying signs” (v. 17). (Meredith R.C. From the Presiding Evangelist. World Ahead Weekly Update, 2/19/09).

Remember that Jesus Christ told us, “‘And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; theywill take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen” (Mark 16:17-20).
 
Brethren, we really need to “cry out” for God to help us, teach us every lesson we need to learn, draw us closer to Him and begin to give us the “accompanying signs” of which Jesus spoke. This certainly would be a powerful witness that God was, in fact, “confirming the word” which we preached if we begin to have these powerful signs from our Father in heaven.
 
Also, we are told to pray for the Holy Spirit. And God shows us in His Word, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). Notice that in the New King James and in the correct Greek it is translated “gifts”—in the plural—of healings. So this is certainly something to think about and pray about so that more and more of our brethren may have the wonderful and inspiring “gift” of being healed by God Almighty. If we truly “cry out” to God about this matter—as God describes His “own elect who cry out to Him day and night” (Luke 18:7)—then He will certainly hear and answer. So I hope all of us will do everything we can to do our part that we may receive more and more of this powerful gift (Meredith RC. Church Fast Reminder. Email to ministry, March 20, 2009.

Living taught that God will be working those miracles through His people relatively soon (though they later denied part of the fulfillment, see How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God and Response to a Letter from Dr. Roderick C. Meredith Dated December 28, 2012 ). Unlike UCG, those in LCG expect more them to appear people soon, and I feel that some once affiliated with LCG have already received more of the spiritual gifts because of the fasts, etc.--but the bulk of the LCG membership does not seem to see that.

17. Voting

United:

"Our history to date shows a real difficulty in getting 3/4 of the elders to participate in balloting" (United Church of God, an International Association, Council of Elders Meeting Report. September 18, 2000). "Mr. Dean said the council sent a questionnaire out to elders to ask them why they do not vote. 'But the people who don't vote don't answer questionnaires', he noted. 'If its a conscience thing, then everybody's voting no anyway...How do you get enough votes to change it when people won't vote to change it? we're kind of stuck. It's ridiculous'...Cecil Maranville of Phoenix, Ariz., asked if the council members believed the approximately 25 percent of elders who do not vote are representative of a similar proportion of the general membership of the UCG that does not believe in voting" (Cartwright, Dixon. Conference focuses on urgency; council answers questions about president's term. The Journal. May 31, 2001).

"Jim Franks of Cypress, Texas, chairman of the UCG's advisory committee on doctrine (not to be confused with the council of elders' doctrine committee) and a pastor in the Houston area, presented a paper to the council ...But "it is our current position that Christians should not get involved in national politics," Mr. Franks told THE JOURNAL. "It is not a problem with issues. It is a problem with voting." The UCG holds annual elections for council members and amendments to the church's bylaws and constitution at each annual general conference of elders. But that kind of voting is not what Mr. Franks and the UCG have a problem with. When a JOURNAL writer asked Mr. Franks if 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, in which Paul wrote about remaining in the same circumstance in which one was called, applies in this situation, Mr. Franks said the apostle Paul was writing about "marriage," not worldly politics. But then he added: "That may be something we need to check into. We have not done a study paper [on voting], only a review to follow past tradition." The reason Mr. Franks believes a review of the WCG doctrine on voting pertains to the present UCG is that the UCG is "not a new church," he said. "We are a continuation. At Indianapolis [at the UCG's founding conference in 1995] we did not feel we were starting something new. We did not need to define every doctrine." Only a paper THE JOURNAL asked Mr. Franks to send this newspaper a copy of his review of the WCG's voting doctrine, but he declined the request. "This was only a paper to support the traditional teaching of the church," he said. "The council of elders' report is the only [official] statement." The council's statement on voting and running for political office, distributed to UCG congregations in August, says in part that "the traditional historic teaching of the Church is that Christians should not vote for individuals running for, or themselves become candidates for, a political office. This has been the continuous and consistent teaching of the Church. At no time has the Church taught anything to the contrary." Apparently the reference to "the Church" in this paper is consistent with Mr. Franks' reference to the pre-1986 Worldwide Church of God. The statement continues: "The Council does recognize that this teaching may be in need of revision. Several ministers and members have expressed concern about the Church's traditional teaching. Furthermore, the actual practice of many members has been at times different from the traditional teaching of the Church" on this matter. Therefore, concluded the statement, the council desires "that this issue be addressed afresh in order to seek greater unity of belief and consistency in practice, in accordance with the biblical teaching on this topic. Of course, any conclusions different from the traditional teaching of the Church should be submitted to the GCE [general conference of elders] for approval." " (Warren, John. UCG tentatively sanctions old-WCG voting doctrine. The Journal. August 31, 2001).

But it approves its own elections,

"At 9:45 am on February 28, 2002 the Council of Elders elected Roy Holladay as the next president of the United Church of God, an International Association. " (Council of Elders Elects New President. UCG webnews announcement, March 2002).

So much so that it wants elders who do not vote to resign,

"The Advisory Committee made its own suggestions:...Undertake a discussion of how to encourage those elders who do not participate to consider resigning from the GCE, but remain an elder in good standing in the Church" (Johnson, Doug. Council Reviews Last Year and Looks Ahead. United News. Sep/Oct 2002, p. 11).

"Your questions are welcome and will be answered by elders of the United Church of God, an International Association...Q. Would it be appropriate for a Christian to vote in a political election? A. It has long been the teaching of the Church that members should not be involved in politics...There is a significant difference between voting and what is commonly called "politics"-the unpleasant and ungodly wrangling over issues, along with vying for personal advancement. Clearly, Christians must distance themselves from all negative and carnal "politics" of this nature (1 Timothy 6:4-5; 1 Peter 2:11-12). In the past the act of voting in a political election has been including in the description of "politics". However, some feel this is an incorrect inclusion and the Council of Elders in the United Church of God has stated that it is looking into the subject" (http://www.ucgsingles.org/questions.html, updated 1/29/03).

Living:

"The Bible teaches that Satan the devil has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9), that God’s people need to be separate from the world’s systems (John 15:19; Revelation 18:4). This separation means that those called of God live a different way of life and that we are in a real sense Ambassadors of God’s government (Ephesians 6:20; I Peter 2:9-10). Thus historically, the Church of God has taught its members not to participate in secular juries or worldly politics. " (LCG Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, Separation from the World, 11/14/02).

"A true Christian must learn to live as Jesus Christ actually lived—not as many people incorrectly imagine how He might have lived. Jesus Himself told us, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). The genuine answer as to how we ought to live and function in a democratic nation is to be found in the Bible—the inspired Word of God. For we are to have the "mind of Christ" (Philippians 2:5). And the Bible is the revelation of God's mind—telling us how the Father and Jesus Christ really think about the fundamental issues of life. Two contradictory messages are being aired during this November-December season in America. On the one hand, we will be told, "Vote for so-and-so as your leader!" On the other hand, in churches and auditoriums across the land—and over the airwaves as well—these majestic words of Handel's Messiah will be sounding forth: "King of kings and Lord of lords, King of kings and Lord of lords!" Most professing Christians don't even grasp or understand the inherent contradiction between the messages described above.... Jesus told Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here" (John 18:36). Clearly, Jesus had no intention of trying to get into this world's politics and wars. He represented another world, another government—the Kingdom of God. Therefore, Jesus would definitely not try to reorganize this world and get into the midst of a lying, scheming political system under the sway of Satan the Devil!...When Christ returns, He rewards His servants according to how well each has done in using God-given time, talents and wisdom in serving God.... Do you see any indication of politicking or voting here? Not at all. Rather, it is just one more scriptural example to make clear to Christians that the best form of government—God's government—is not in any way based on human politicking, compromising, wheeling and dealing, and coming up with half-baked solutions to our problems...How Should Christians Interact with Human Governments NOW? Although Jesus Christ did not actively participate in the governments of this deceived world, He did set us an example of obedience to civil law, showing respect to those in office. When the Pharisees came to ask Jesus about paying taxes, He answered, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21)... Paul tells us to pray for those in positions of authority...True Christians—who make up the church (Greek ekklesia, literally, the "called-out ones")—are like foreign ambassadors.... But we must always remember that our ultimate citizenship is NOT in or from the governments of this Satan-inspired society! Although we should serve others and do good on an individual basis, we cannot and must not get involved with political efforts to reorganize or to clean up Satan's deceived world. For the system itself is NOT God's system!...What would Jesus do in this election year in the United States? He would be so busy proclaiming the GOOD NEWS of the soon-coming Kingdom of God that He would have no time—and no interest—in politicking, voting or taking part in any groups pressuring to clean up Satan's world" (Meredith, Roderick C. How Would Jesus Vote for President? Tomorrow's World. Nov-Dec 2000).

18. Jury Duty

United:

"Although the Council previously issued a statement offering legal support for exemption from jury duty, the Church has lacked a biblical statement that would further assist members in taking a position on the subject" (Kilough, Clyde. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Tuesday, November 17, 1998)."The United Church of God, an International Association supports its members in the exercise of their faith based on sincerely held religious convictions which the Church believes are consistent with scripture. When a member seeks exemption from jury duty pursuant to their personal beliefs and convictions based on the Bible, it is the Church’s position that such action is in keeping with the scriptures. The United Church of God does not condemn any member who may, in good conscience, believe that he or she can, as a Christian, serve as a juror in a particular case. What one does must be governed by his or her own convictions based on the Bible, not by the beliefs or conduct of others. In any event, it is appropriate to ask that a member’s convictions in this regard be respected" (Jury Duty Study Paper, Approved by Council of Elders, March 11, 1999).

"The current status of this needs to be investigated" (Doctrinal study paper for CGCF, posted 6/30/01 at cgcf.org. This is CGCF's comment on the previous statements).

Some in CGCF apparently did not mind United's position as many became part of it in 2001; others were not comfortable with in and many of them formed CEG.

Living:

"The Bible teaches that Satan the devil has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9), that God’s people need to be separate from the world’s systems (John 15:19; Revelation 18:4). This separation means that those called of God live a different way of life and that we are in a real sense Ambassadors of God’s government (Ephesians 6:20; I Peter 2:9-10). Thus historically, the Church of God has taught its members not to participate in secular juries" (LCG Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, Separation from the World, 11/14/02)."The Bible teaches that Christians should not involve themselves in judging others (Matt. 7:1). God’s people ought to decide matters within the Church (I Cor. 6:1-5), but they should not sit in judgment of those outside the Church (I Cor. 5:12-13). Notice that on one occasion even Jesus refused to make judgment when asked to settle dispute over an inheritance (Luke 12:13-14)... If you are member of the Church, please contact your local pastor as he has forms that may be issued to Church members for the purpose of being excused from jury duty" (LCG Legal Affairs Department. Jury Duty Letter. October 11, 1999).

"Members of the Church of God have traditionally avoided participation in the military and political affairs of society. This has not only been an issue in our day, but also has been the historic position of the Church, traced back to the first century...Serving on a jury in a worldly court will bring us into conflict with these principles. “How can that possibly be?” you may wonder. “Don’t mankind’s courts seek jurors who strive to be fair and just?” Certainly, most judges would say that they want jurors who can be fair and impartial, and can render a just verdict. That sounds good, but we need to realize that there is more involved than might appear at first glance. For instance, when I found myself sitting in a courtroom as part of the jury pool and receiving instructions from the judge about what was required of us, most of it sounded good on the surface. As procedures were explained, we were told that our decision was to be made on the basis of what we heard in court. We were expected to render our decision based upon the instructions the judge would give us regarding the law. We were admonished that we must only consider as facts those matters admitted into evidence in court. There are problems with this procedure, however. To begin with, a juror will not be privy to all of the facts of a case. In many instances, the opposing lawyers will have already made efforts to have the judge disallow some information the other side seeks to present. Both sides are seeking to win the case for their clients, so each will only emphasize those points that support their side’s case...The Texas Uniform Jury Handbook, which we were given at the start of the jury selection process, instructs: “The verdict must be based solely [emphasis mine] on the evidence presented by the parties, the Charge of the Court, and rules of law provided by the Judge.” Notice the contrast with the instructions of Scripture, inspired by God, regarding circumstances when decisions of guilt or innocence were to be made. Those involved in determining guilt or innocence were required not to rely only on what they had heard, but also to make diligent inquiry into the facts (Deuteronomy 13:14). Those judging were only to proceed after they were sure that the facts of the matter had been fully established. Deuteronomy 19:15 provides important instruction regarding decisions made in judicial matters. “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter instructions, I would be forbidden by Deuteronomy 19:15 to render a verdict of guilty upon the testimony of one alone—no matter how credible he seemed. To serve as a juror, I would need to agree to use only the rules of evidence acknowledged by the court. I would need to agree to be guided by the laws of Texas as explained by the presiding judge, whether or not they conformed to biblical injunctions. I could not make such an agreement as a Christian—one who is obligated to follow Christ’s example and make all decisions based upon the word of God...There is another very important issue that we have not yet examined. In Scripture, mercy is continually joined with judgment. Jesus Christ instructed His followers in Luke 6:36–37: “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Righteousness and faithfulness will be hallmarks of the way that God’s government is administered. Decisions will be made with equity—utter fairness (Isaiah 11:4). As Christians, we need to be developing this understanding and approach as part of our character. Serving on a jury in a worldly court will bring us into conflict with these principles. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Righteous judgment includes not only the standard of God’s law, but also justice mixed with mercy. You cannot follow Jesus Christ and disregard the importance of mercy...While we may need to make judgments in settling disputes among ourselves, and may sometimes impose church discipline upon brethren who persist in sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 5), we cannot impose God’s way on the world around us "(Ogwyn, John. Jury Duty: A Christian's Perspective. Living Church News, September–October 2002. pp.7-9).

19. The 18 Truths

Before commenting on the '18 truths', it perhaps would be helpful if I first listed them:
1. True Gospel
2. Purpose of God
3. God's Plan through the Holy Days
4. Government
5. Who and What is God?
6. What and Why is Man?
7. Spirit in Man
8. Firstfruits
9. Knowledge of What the Millennium is
10. Truth About the Holy Spirit
11. Begotten Now
12. Born-Again at the Resurrection
13. Identity of Israel
14. Identity Opens Up Understanding of Bible Prophecy
15. Second and Third Tithes
16. Identity of Babylon and Her Daughters
17. Satan has Deceived the Whole World
18. We Are to Be Separate

The above are all from HWA's sermon titled Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era given on December 17, 1983.

After listing them, HWA said, "Well, brethren, all those things have been restored and there is a mission for this Church that never applied, and has never been done by any other Church. This gospel of the kingdom has been restored and shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations."

This statement shows that Herbert Armstrong believed that the Philadelphia era was to continue to preach the whole gospel as a witness including all that was restored. It also shows that the truths mentioned in this article are at least part of those he felt were restored to the Philadelphia era of God's Church.

United: ?

I have never seen any mention of the term '18 truths' that HWA claimed that God had him restore to the Philadelphia era of the Church of God in any official United publication. This is probably because United has changed doctrine regarding numbers 4 and 15 (and parts of 3), nor does it clearly/officially teach numbers 11 and 12. Except for governance, the 9 of the first 10 are mentioned or partially alluded to in United's Fundamental Beliefs. When I have spoken to United members (including at least two ministers) on this subject, I have basically been told that the '18 truths' are not of particular importance. And, unless one claims to be part of the Philadelphia era and believes that HWA was correct that God used him to raise it up and restore those truths to that era, then I supposed this subject is of little importance to such a one.

Living:

"Philadelphians are given a warning: "Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11). Mr. Armstrong wrote that he restored to the Church of God at least 18 truths that the previous era had lost (Mystery of the Ages, p. 251). Philadelphians are the ones who hold to those truths (as well as all other biblical truths)-including governance-and will be able to have a crown and to rule! Philadelphians have "kept My command to persevere" (Revelation 3:10). Holding fast to Truth, while putting a priority on proclaiming the Gospel, is what sets the Philadelphian Church apart" (Thiel, Robert. What is a Philadelphian? Living Church News. Jul-Aug 2001; p.15).

The bulk of the 18 truths are directly stated in Living's Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs. Number 16 is only indirectly alluded to in the statement, but is the subject of at least one LCG booklet (Christianity's Greatest Deception). Also in a sermon by LCG evangelist Richard Ames (Treasure the Truth. Sermon, Charlotte, NC, 8/12/06), he specifically mentioned that 18 truths and mentioned the last three (including number 16) on the above list and correctly noted that the Tkach list (which was in the Worldwide News, August 25, 1986) was incomplete since it omitted them.

20. Last Great Day

United:

"In the Church of God, we have by tradition used the term 'Last Great Day' to describe the 'eighth day' festival of Leviticus 23:36. We see from this section of Scripture that the 'eighth day' is a distinct festival and it is also a Sabbath. While it is connected with the Feast of Tabernacles, it is not specifically a part of this festival... The term "the last day, that great day of the feast" only appears in the book of John. There is no reference in the Old Testament to a "Last Great Day" festival. The reference in John is in the context of the Feast of Tabernacles...Notice the full statement in John 7:37: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink'...This leads to an obvious question. Does John 7:37 refer to the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles as the "last day" or does it refer to the separate festival, the eighth day...One could certainly conclude that this reference in John was to the festival that occurred on the eighth day. On the other hand when the Bible speaks of the Feast of Tabernacles it always mentions seven days. In a seven-day festival, the last day would be the seventh day.... And the last day of the following seven-day feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, was the seventh day...John 7:37 is the only New Testament scripture that mentions "the last day" in association with the fall Holy Days. As with Nehemiah 8:18, this phrase is not an official title for that day. As we have already seen in John 7:37, either the seventh or eighth day is indicated...But if the day referred to in John 7:37 is the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, what's so "great" about the seventh day of the Feast in comparison to the other days? To the Jews, the seventh day of the Feast depicts the time when all gentile nations will be granted salvation, thereby joining the Jews in God's Kingdom...So what was so great about the seventh day of the Feast? Everything, according to the Jewish festival practices during the time of Christ...Although we cannot say with absolute certainty that John 7:37 is referring to the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the evidence presented above points to this conclusion." (The Last Great Day Doctrinal Paper. Approved by the Council of Elders August 2002).

I am wrote an article which points out many errors in United's study paper. If you are in UCG and still have any doubts about its duplicity, I urge you in the strongest terms to get out your Bible and read My Comments on UCG's Last Great Day study paper.

Living:

"Then, finally, every single human being who has EVER drawn breath will have had a genuine opportunity for salvation! And so the SEVENTH of God’s Holy Days, the mysterious "eighth day" coming immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles—but as a separate Festival (Leviticus 23:36)—pictures this wonderful time soon after the Millennium when ALL humanity will finally be given an opportunity to understand the Truth. This is obviously the time Jesus was referring to in John 7: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’" (vv. 37–38). For in the Great White Throne Judgment "anyone"—EVERYONE who has every lived—will finally have his or her eyes opened and be given the opportunity to respond to God and to receive His Holy Spirit" (Meredith, R. The Holy Days — God's Master Plan. Booklet, 1998).

21. Unleavened Bread

United:

"Today removing leaven from our homes for seven days reminds us that we, too, through prayer and God's help and understanding, must recognize, expel and avoid sin. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is thus a time of personal reflection." (How to Observe God's Holy Days. The Good News Magazine, http://www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/bk4/observe.html, March 13, 2004).

Note that a review of UCG entire explanation of 'How to Observe God's Holy Days' nowhere mentions eating unleavened bread those days. This was confirmed to me by other sources. The above quote was the closest I noted in that article.

"Like most doctrinal questions, this one is not new. It was addressed by the Church in the Pastor General's Report in 1982, and at that time Herbert W. Armstrong wrote that the sin lies in eating leavened bread or other leavened products, not in failing to eat unleavened bread each and every day. ...The fact is that biblical Hebrew is quite capable of indicating that a particular activity is to be undertaken every day or every morning or every evening. Had God wished to inspire it that way, He could have done so. It is quite telling that God did not inspire Moses to use the Hebrew expression that would have made clear the requirement for eating unleavened bread each and every one of the seven days...Had it been God's intention to instruct His people to eat some unleavened bread on every one of the seven days, without fail, He would no doubt have inspired Moses to use this same reduplication device to denote the concept of "every" day. He did not choose to do so; hence the evidence points to the interpretation of a seven-day period of time in which unleavened bread, as opposed to leavened bread, is to be eaten...We conclude that we are commanded to avoid leavened bread (and, by extension, all leavened products) during the seven Days of Unleavened Bread. It is not required that we eat some unleavened bread each and every day of the seven, but to abstain from all bread for seven days would weaken the lessons of the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Church is not advocating that we avoid all bread since there is deep significance and meaning in eating the unleavened bread" (Levy R. United Church of God, an International Association, Eating Unleavened Bread Study Paper, prepared by Ministerial Services, December 2003).

I would like to add that HWA DID NOT write what UCG stated he wrote on this matter. While it is true that J. Tkach's ministerial services put out a statement on unleavened bread in the 1982 PGR, HWA did not write it, nor does it mention sin. For more information, please read the article UCG and its Unleavened Bread Study Paper

Living:

"Leviticus 23:6 states, "seven days you must eat unleavened bread." Among other things, the unleavened bread symbolizes Jesus Christ. In John 6:33-35 we are instructed to feed on Christ, which we should do every day, including the seven days of Unleavened Bread, not just when we decide to eat the bread. Our focus should be on becoming more like Christ. Eating unleavened bread every day and focusing on the meaning of that unleavened bread is what is really important. Therefore, during the Days of Unleavened Bread all members of the Church are instructed by Scripture to eat at least one piece of unleavened bread per day. " (The World Ahead (Weekly Update) 3/11/04).

Thus LCG states that we should eat unleavened bread all seven days, but UCG simply does not teach that.

22. Holidays

United: UCG's 4/16/03 on-line commentary was titled, "Not All Christians Observe Easter A commentary by Larry Walker United Church of God pastor, Bend, Oregon". Though the article has several good points, any in the Church of God should be disturbed by Larry Walker's title, as well as by this statement in the commentary: "Both Easter and Christmas became Christian holidays long after the death of the original apostles."

The historical position of the true Church of God is that real Christians do not observe Easter and that Easter and Christmas are pagan holidays with pre-Christian origins. I have an article which better explains why the true Church of God is NOT a Protestant sect or denomination titled Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants . I do not believe that Larry Walker (and others at UCG who were involved in approving and posting this commentary at UCG's official website) actually believe that there are Christians who celebrate Easter--but that commentary and quote certainly give that impression. Brian Knowles (a former PT writer/editor who has a regular column in The Journal), the current WCG leadership, and others who do not believe the majority of teachings and the practices WCG held at the time of HWA's death seem to want those of us in the COGs to accept many Protestants as true Christians. I do not believe that this is UCG's intent, but if UCG publishes more statements like the above, it certainly seems to be providing support to those that do believe that.

Living: The title of the Tomorrow's World telecast for the weekend of April 20th is Easter is Pagan (Upcoming Tomorrow's World Telecasts. Living Church News. March/April 2003, p. 19).Several years ago, the December issue of United's Good News had no articles against Christmas, but instead had one titled something to the effect of How to Buy Toys. LCG/GCG in its same December issue, explained why Christians should not celebrate Christmas.

23. Catholic or Moslem Europe?

United:

"Muslims tend to have their children when young, and to have many of them, in contrast to the native Europeans. Birthrates and immigration will put the Muslim population of Europe at 10 percent by 2020. If people then begin to flee areas with sizable Muslim populations, as has happened in other regions, Europe could be majority-Muslim within decades. Time will tell whether that will happen, but the sure consequence is that Muslim views will have an increasing influence on EU policy decisions." (Maranville C, McNeely D. Islam Crowding Christianity out of Europe. World News & Prophecy, June 2004, p.13).

The bolding was not in the original text, I provided that for emphasis. Those of us in the COG are supposed to base our beliefs on the Bible (II Timothy 3:16) and thus believe in the "sure word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19, KJV)--a Muslim headed Beast is not consistent with world history or the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. If this actually is UCG's view, and it was just published in one of its publications, then like many of those who were once part of us, those in UCG are more and more losing their understanding of prophetic events. However, like many other matters, United has had other positions that appear to differ with what I quoted.

Melvin Rhodes in the Mar-Apr 2007 edition of United's Good News magazine wrote:

What Will It Mean for the West if Radical Islam Triumphs?... What do Islamists have going for them?...After all, high Muslim birth rates and declining Western births mean the demographics are definitely on their side. In other words, either way the West is seriously threatened by Islamists determined to advance radical Islam and the rule of Sharia into the very heart of the Western democracies... Defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq may not worry the average person in the United States or Western Europe, but could defeat there also mean defeat at home? Could the seemingly inexorable advance of radical Islam in the Middle East be replicated in the United States, Australia, Canada or Britain? History shows Islam to be an expansionist religion...The threat is very real. The solution is quite simple: national repentance, a turning back to the true God of the Bible...Just a few years ago there was great national pride in America's military power, a feeling that the country was invincible, that any nation that dared to defy the United States could be soundly beaten, thoroughly and rapidly. Yet now the country faces international humiliation, with the possibility of defeat at the hands of militant Islamists, religious fanatics who seem determined to take the world back to the Dark Ages...In Revelation 6, Jesus Christ warned of the impact false religion would have on the world in end-time events. This chapter describes the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The prophecy shows that false religion will bring a sword on the world like nothing before. It will go out "conquering and to conquer" (verse 2). This will be rapidly followed by war (verses 3-4), which, in turn, is followed by famine (verses 5-6) and disease and death (verses 7-8), the inevitable result of war and famine.

Only national repentance, a turning back to God, can now save our nations from the cataclysmic events prophesied to befall them. The modern descendants of ancient Israel—primarily the peoples of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—have increasingly rejected God and His commands. God warns us of the dire consequences.

While the above suggests that United believes that Islam is the major threat to the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it still does teach that the Europeans will be the ones who takeover the world--but it MAY be allowing that it could be an Islamic, not a Catholic, Europe. However, I suspect that the majority in United still believe that the European power will mainly be of a Catholic, not Islamic, supporting religion.

Living:

"Can you prove, from the Bible, who or what the prophesied Antichrist really is? This is not some esoteric topic. Your correct understanding may affect whether or not you will be able to fulfill the role that God has planned for you in His kingdom!...Probably within this generation, a powerful religious leader will appear on the scene. He will perform awesome signs and wonders. He will be the final personification of what the Bible describes as the "Antichrist."...Therefore, because of this Satan-inspired deception, many of the bloodiest wars in modern history have been waged between professing "Christian" nations in Europe...They forget that the real "power behind the throne" is the mysterious "harlot" of Revelation 17, and that this fallen woman "rides" or controls the Beast of Revelation...Who is this "harlot"—and how does she relate to the Antichrist? Whoever this great "harlot" is, she is very powerful. She has caused the deaths of untold millions in the past, and millions more will die at her hand in the future. She is destined to dramatically change the lives of all those living in the end times...Many scholars do realize, however, that the Beast of Revelation 17 is the Roman Empire and its "revivals" in various forms...So when we come to the "woman" of Revelation 17, it should be very obvious that—letting the Bible interpret its own symbols—this woman is indeed a church! However, this church "sitting on a scarlet beast" (v. 3) is truly a spiritual "harlot."...She is a "mother" church—giving birth to spiritual "harlots" (v. 5). And, as indicated, she deals in "mysteries," as did the ancient pagan religions before her...Who is this great fallen woman—a powerful church—which has and which will again be "drunk with the blood of the saints"? Obviously, she persecutes the true Christians—the true "saints" of God...In his well-documented book, A Woman Rides the Beast (pp. 243–244), author Dave Hunt describes what the "woman" did for hundreds of years during the Middle Ages: "Thus Roman Catholicism became ‘the most persecuting faith the world has ever seen..."...The Papacy Predicted in Advance...He was to sit as a veritable "god" in the temple of God—using some of the very titles of God. In fact, though Jesus called God "Holy Father," Roman Catholics call the pope "Most Holy Father" and "Vicar of Christ"—which literally means "in place of Christ"!...Because the Roman Catholic Church is such an omnipresent and powerful entity, the media usually treads very lightly in attacking even the most outrageous and blasphemous claims of the modern popes and clergy...Although the Bible certainly does not indicate that the final pope will be the "emperor" of this revived Holy Roman Empire; it does show that he will be the "power behind the throne"...So that people will not even try to keep God’s commandments, Satan uses the doctrine of Antichrist to promote the idea that mankind is unable to keep them! The teachings of the Roman Catholic Church—and most Protestant churches—in effect minimize Christ’s humanity, implying in various ways that He was not fully "in the flesh"...the Roman Catholic Church not only admits, but even insists that it is the "mother" of all professing Christian churches! And it insists also that it alone has the "keys" to God’s Kingdom! Truly, it is time to wake up!...As Jesus said: "Watch." Keep your eyes on the revival of the Holy Roman Empire. "Watch" how it slowly but surely begins to gain total power in most of Europe".

24. Doctrinal Changes

United:

"No doctrine can be created by an individual or even a small, unchallenged group of individuals. Our very founding documents require doctrinal change to be ratified by a full three-fourths of the entire General Conference of Elders." (Dick, Bob. Protecting Our Beliefs: What Approach Should We Take? New Beginnings, July 22, 1996; p:1)

"Elders from around the United States said they are concerned about what they perceive as a cavalier attitude on the part of the home office towards UCG's general conference of elders and the church's constitution and bylaws" (Robinson, John. UCG elders say constitution, not blown budget, is the issue. In Transition. January 31, 1997; p:8).

"Please remember that doctrines within the United Church of God can only be changed with a 75 percent agreement of all 400-plus elders" (McCullough, Leslie. What Exactly Does the Council Do? United News. July 1999; p.15).

"Leon Walker [UCG's current doctrinal committee chairman] raised an issue of concern to him dealing with sections 5.1.1 of the Constitution of the Church. This portion of the Constitution requires a 3/4 majority vote of all the elders of the United Church of God to approve any change in the Fundamental Beliefs of the Church. Our history to date shows a real difficulty in getting 3/4 of the elders to participate in balloting. Mr. Walker wondered if the Constitution should be amended to require a 3/4 majority of those balloting, rather than 3/4 of all elders" (United Church of God, an International Association, Council of Elders Meeting Report. September 18, 2000; also available at www.ucg.org/a/council/Cincy9-2000/ce000918.htm).

"Mr. Dean said the council sent a questionnaire out to elders to ask them why they do not vote. 'But the people who don't vote don't answer questionnaires', he noted. 'If its a conscience thing, then everybody's voting no anyway...How do you get enough votes to change it when people won't vote to change it? we're kind of stuck. It's ridiculous'...Cecil Maranville of Phoenix, Ariz., asked if the council members believed the approximately 25 percent of elders who do not vote are representative of a similar proportion of the general membership of the UCG that does not believe in voting...'What concerns me', said Dr. Levy. 'is that the elders generally do not seem to have much of a voice as would be appropriate' " (Cartwright, Dixon. Conference focuses on urgency; council answers questions about president's term. The Journal. May 31, 2001).

"On the second day of meetings, Tuesday, Aug. 7, the council talked about four doctrinal issues, introduced by Mr. Walker, chairman of the doctrine committee: * The 70-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9. * 2 Thessalonians 2 and the "man of sin." * God's covenants. * The meaning of the phrase "perfect in his generations" as descriptive of Noah in Genesis 6:9. The doctrine committee finds itself at an "impasse," reported Mr. Johnson, the council reporter, regarding papers UCG writers have prepared on the 70-weeks prophecy and the man of sin of 2 Thessalonians. The problem is that a writer in each case has produced a paper that differs from traditional Worldwide Church of God teachings extant while WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong was alive." " [Cartwright, Dixon. UCG Council discusses interracial marriage. The Journal. August 31, 2001].

I would like to add, that the article shows later that the other two are different as well--in other words all four papers that the 'doctrinal committee' introduced represent changes in doctrine from what WCG used to teach.

"Mr. Epps, who was a guest at that meeting, conducted at church headquarters in Milford, Ohio, offered a convincing argument to the council, reported Mr. Johnson, that 'perfect in his generations' refers to religion, not race. Mr. Johnson wrote that most council members were pleased with Mr. Epps' explanation 'but agreed that it represents a departure from our historical understanding in the church.' At the end of Mr. Epps' presentation, the council voted to express its approval of Mr. Epps' material as written" (Warren John. Site aims to unravel the mystery of the races. The Journal. February 28, 2002, p.12).

It should be noted that this change was approved by 10 elders on UCG's Council, not 3/4 of the 400 plus General Conference of Elders.

"Mr. Walker asked for the Council’s input on this question – how should the Church deal with honest differences in opinion on prophetic topics? Not every issue of prophecy will create this dilemma, he stated, but some will. How do we deal with alternate explanations? Should the Church only allow publication of our traditional understanding? If not, what vehicle should be used to present any alternative approaches?...Leon Walker: “So you are advocating that we should allow different interpretations to be published, at least in certain publications?” (Mr. Kubik responded that this was correct)...Mr. Walker agreed with Mr. Dick that we do not really have a process to deal with the situation he brought to the Council today. He suggested holding the two papers in question, and having the Doctrine Committee establish a process and criteria for dealing with alternate interpretations of prophetic topics. The Council, when polled, gave its unanimous support" (Johnson, Doug. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Monday, March 4, 2002 - Cincinnati, Ohio).

"Facing a January 6 deadline, the Council completed its work on what recommendations and/or action to take in fulfilling its responsibilities in forwarding and/or dealing with suggested amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws in preparation for the 2003 Annual Meeting of the General Conference of Elders. (Please see Bylaws 12.2.2.6, 12.2.2.7, 12.2.2.8 and 12.2.2.9.) No further details can be given at this time, in order to allow the members of the General Conference to address the issues based on official correspondence from the Amendment Committee and the Secretary of the United Church of God, an International Association" (Fenchel, Matthew. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Friday, January 3, 2003 – Teleconference)? I will tell you what I think it means. I think it means that UCG is once again trying to figure out how to change doctrine and change its constitution without getting the required 3/4 of its eldership to vote to approve those changes."We do not believe the term "born again" is a proper translation from the Greek and, therefore, should not be used to refer to a Christian. But it is true that as Christians we must be transformed once we repent of our sins, accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and become baptized (Romans 12:2). This is truly a new life as well. The biblical analogy of children and babes is just as valid as the conception and birth analogy. This is the essence of the study paper-these items are analogies to help us understand the process of salvation. It was concluded by the Doctrine Committee and the Council of Elders that this paper does not constitute a change in the doctrine of salvation but a deeper understanding of the analogies and the Greek words used in the New Testament to describe the process of salvation. Please feel free to send any comments or input on this paper to the Doctrine Committee of the Council of Elders (Born Again Study Paper, approved by the Council of Elders, December 2002).

"An amendment to paragraph 7.7.1 of the bylaws and the corresponding paragraph in the constitution (5.1.1) has been submitted for GCE consideration at the Annual Meeting. The proposed amendment would make it possible to change a fundamental belief if it receives a three-fourths majority of votes cast rather than a three-fourths majority of all members of the GCE. As explained in the Statement of Justification, this change is necessary due to the number of elders who do not participate in the voting process. However, in order to be passed, this amendment requires approval from three-quarters of all members of the GCE. The Council decided to postpone this vote until after the Annual Meeting. Doing so will give the Council opportunity to fully explain to the GCE the importance of participation in this vote and also allow the vote to take place at a time when this will be the only issue for the GCE to consider. The Council unanimously decided to remove the amendment from the May ballot and remand the matter to the Ethics, Roles and Rules Committee which will bring forward its recommendations as soon as possible" (Henson, D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Sunday, March 2 and Monday, March 3, 2003 — Cincinnati OH).

"The Council then turned its attention to the proposed amendment to Constitution 5.1.1 (which also affects Bylaw 7.7.1). This amendment addresses the constitutional requirement that three fourths of all the elders must agree to a change to the Fundamental Beliefs. The dilemma is that fewer than three fourths of the elders vote at all, making it impossible that a valid update to a doctrine could ever be passed" (Henson D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Sunday, February 29, 2004 – Cincinnati, Ohio).

"Aaron Dean presented the Council with two versions of an amendment to 5.1.1 of the Constitution, which states that the Fundamental Beliefs of the Church may be amended by a three-fourths majority of "… the General Conference as it is constituted at the time of a duly called meeting of the General Conference." The purpose of the amendment was to change the paragraph to read that the Fundamental Beliefs of the Church could be amended "… by a three-fourths (3/4) majority of the valid ballots cast by the General Conference." The reason for the proposed amendment is that one-fourth or more of the General Conference usually does not participate in the annual balloting, which means that it is unlikely that a change to doctrine could ever be passed even if 100 percent of the elders agreed with the concept. Robert Dick pointed out that if this amendment were passed it would allow a minority of elders to change doctrine – a position diametrically opposed to United's philosophy. For example, approximately 290 of 455 elders voted in last year's General Conference of Elders. If three-fourths of the valid ballots cast could change doctrine, last year doctrine would theoretically have been changed by 48 percent of the GCE membership...Mr. Franks agreed, pointing out that the three-fourths majority is only referenced in context of the Fundamental Beliefs. There may be a way to define another process for changes to doctrine that are outside of the Fundamental Beliefs. Those changes would still need to be approved by the General Conference" (Henson D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Monday, March 1, 2004 – Cincinnati, Ohio).

In other words, it seems that UCG keeps attempting to come up with ways to allow prophetic and other doctrinal changes (such as Church eras, Last Great Day, and 'born again') without having to get a 3/4 majority of the eldership to approve such changes. Although many in United seem to feel that its form of governance insures 'doctrinal integrity' (and to some degree it might), it mostly seems to be a stalemated position where UCG can never fix/clarify any official position without violating its constitution (which I believe it has done regarding being born again, third tithe, and Church eras to name a few).

"Mr. Pinelli also listed maintaining doctrinal purity as a key accomplishment of the Church over the last 10 years. "As a result of all of us working together—between Ministerial Services, the Council, the Doctrine Committee—we feel like we have really gotten a good handle on the doctrine of the Church, and the purity of doctrine we have seen come out of United is a result of everybody working together."" (United News. December 2005).

If all the changes in this article are the key accomplishment of UCG, why would anyone support it? These changes certainly do not insure doctrinal purity.

Living:

"Again God's Word states 'Without counsel plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established' (Prov. 12:15). For this reason, the...Church of God has established a Council of Elders 'to assess and guide the overall direction of the Work and all major projects of the Church' and 'to have final authority over all major doctrinal issues'" (Meredith, Roderick C. What is the Biblical Form of Church Government? Global Church News. Sept-Oct 1995; p:7).

LCG updated its Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs during its November 11-14, 2002 Council of Elders' meeting. I personally had submitted some suggested changes to my then local minister, who then advised that they be sent to LCG's Director of Church Administration, who after reviewing and editing them, proposed those changes at LCG's August COE meeting. The Council discussed them, advised suggested edits, which the Director of Church Administration had made. The revised statement was then discussed at the 11/14/02 meeting, additional edits made, and the updated statement was approved on 11/14/02.

25. Approaches to Prophecy: When is the End? Should it be a Major Concern?

United:

"Genesis 49:1 "Jacob called his sons and said gather together that I may tell you what shall befall you in" the next one hundred years . (Now I misread it on purpose. Sometimes we read right over this, but this is a very significant thing that it says). "I want to show you what will befall you in the last days ", The last days before the 6,000 year plan of God, before the return of Christ happens....To conclude, though we do not know the details and though we do not know the exact timing, we do not know those things; we do know this, that God will bring His word to pass, what it says in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Genesis, all of these prophecies that we have read. Events are progressing toward this end. America and Britain are increasingly hated and opposed by other nations, and the fault line between us and the European nations is deeper than most people realize" (Kirkpatrick T. Where Are We in Bible Prophecy? Sermon Transcript — September 17, 2005 http://www.ucg.org/sermons/transcripts/200509prophecy.htm 5/13/06).

It is midsummer and there seems to be a lull in the news as I write. No big event or crisis has erupted. You can tell this by the headlines on the Internet—there are none...

When you look at the flow of events in the Bible, from creation forward to today, you see a lot of high points such as the time of Abraham, the Exodus, David and Solomon, and Christ and the apostles. But these events are separated by at times hundreds of years when not much seems to be happening.

But something is happening in those in-between years. Everyday life is taking place. People are "marrying and giving in marriage." Babies are born and families grow. People rejoice and mourn within the normal cycles of life and death. Life goes on, and sometimes it is no more exciting than sitting on a front porch and watching the hours slip by.

But that's okay. God did not determine that we would always be hyped up in alert mode. Prophecy is not to be used that way. Prophecy is a compass that helps us see our world for what it is, from God's point of view. We can understand the high points of history and know that God is guiding the world to a point where He will completely take over with the appearance of His Kingdom.

…Enjoy the life you have and make the most of it within the framework of God’s way of life. Understand that at times life is experienced while sitting on a “front porch.” (McNeely D. Restoration: View From the Front Porch. World News & Prophecy. August 2007).

Forward! Now is Not the Time…

We have glimpses into the identity of the Beast, the False Prophet, the King of the North and the King of the South. We know that things will get really bad before the end of this age.However it grates on me when at a time of great calamity, terrorism, natural disaster or loss of life that some are quick to pontificate, “There it is! Prophecy is being fulfilled!” Lively discussion ensues as speculation of what exactly in the Bible this particular catastrophe might refer to while we simultaneously watch televised reports of horror, misery and grief in the lives of thousands and even millions of people.

The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for all things. There is an appropriate time to proclaim. There is a time to mourn and weep. As Christians we need to be sensitive to how we act and react…

An important aspect of our Christianity is to know when to proclaim and when to be like Jesus, who knowing that Jerusa- lem would be destroyed, wept because of what was going to happen: “He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke:19:41-42[41]And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,[42]Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.).

A Christian is not noted for his intel- lectual prowess—it’s his love that carries meaning. (Kubik V. Forward! Now is Not the Time. United News, May 2011)

While Victor Kubik is correct that love is important, I would suggest that the Book of Daniel shows that the wise (who presumably would be certain Christians in the end time) would understand what is happening.  Daniel 12:10 specifically states, “the wise shall understand” (NKJV).

And while love is important (and the most important element for Christians), I believe that those of us who have the “love of the truth” (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10) will want to include the truth about Bible prophecy to help warn the world (Matthew 24:14).  It is not that I do not believe that UCG in general or Victor Kubik in particular are opposed to that, it is just that I feel that articles with titles such as “Now is Not the Time” indicate that we are not as far along prophetically as we seem to be.

Living:

"The Bible clearly reveals a 6,000-year period during which human beings follow their own ideas apart from the Creator...Most biblical chronologists realize that the probable end of the 6,000 years since Adam will occur around the years 2015-2025. And, remember: There is a 3 1/2-year Great Tribulation foretold to occur just before Christ's return! So the above dates indicate an approximate starting time of the Tribulation as early as the spring of 2015. That is nine years from now as I write. And even this period could be "cut short." So all of us need to really draw close to God and act on the Truth! But the point is not to set an exact date. These facts and these figures, rather, should help us realize that we are finally nearing a definite end to the time when carnal human society will keep right on going the way it always has. People have predicted Christ's return before. But this time--near the end of 6,000 years of human turmoil is different! Christ's coming will occur within this generation!" (Meredith RC. When Will the END Come? Tomorrow's World. May-June 2006, pp. 2,30).

World events and Bible prophecies keep moving along—typhoons in China, hurricanes in the Caribbean, record droughts, floods and earthquakes—all overshadowed by growing concerns of more turmoil and violence in the Middle East (Winnail D. World Ahead, Weekly Update. August 23, 2007).

There is a God in heaven, but our nations have been giving Him only lip-service – or have ignored Him completely. Because of our individual and national sins, He is withdrawing His protection and blessings. 

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will reprove you, and set them in order before your eyes” (Psalm 50:16-21). 

How will our Creator “set them in order” before our eyes? He will do this by showing mankind His power over the weather, and His authority in our lives. “Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver” (v. 22). 

God will reverse the cycle of flooding and drought we are entering, if we as a people cry out to Him, turn from our evil ways, and begin to seek Him and obey His commandments. He tells us: “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). 

The punishments coming upon the sons of Jacob – and the rest of the world – will not be brought about for any other reason than to bring us back to the God and Father who loves His creation and must bring mankind to repentance before He can bless us. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6). 

God spells out clearly what He will do for those who humbly obey Him (Deuteronomy 28:1-14), as well as the consequences for disobeying Him (vv 15-68). God is not “kidding around” with us! He is real, and He rules over all that exists. He will bring mankind to its knees (Philippians 2:9-11). If we do not bow to Him now, and receive His protection, we will have no choice but to do it later when everything around us is in ruin. Which way do you choose?  (Davis D. Why Flooding and Drought. LCG Commentary, August 24, 2007).

God told Ezekiel {5:4}...problems will go to the whole house of Israel...In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste {Ezekiel 6:6}...Disaster will come upon disaster {Ezekiel 7:26}...

Brethren this our responsibility--this is the work of Jesus Christ...If we warn the people...see what it says in Ezekiel 33..."So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me...Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul..."...Therefore...say to the house of Israel: 'Thus you say, "If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us..."...

We must tell the descendants of Israel...their sins...God wants us to do that...Brethren, events are building up right now...

The descendants of Joseph {like the USA and UK} will be taken captive for their sins, abortion, homosexuality,...their pride, {Amos 6:6-8}.  (Meredith RC. The Destiny of America and Britain. Sermon, July 24, 2010)

If, in the plan of God for mankind, we are truly at that point where, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8), then we need to acknowledge that things are going to get worse.  The earthquake tragedies in Japan, in New Zealand, and in Haiti are just the beginning.  The political upheavals in the Middle East and the religious radicalism that is gripping the entire world will continue.  Economic turmoil that seems to be spreading from nation to nation is not going to go away.

As Christians (believers in Jesus Christ), are we changing our lives so we can be acceptable in the eyes of God to gain His love and protection in these perilous and evil days that are before us? Are we bearing the good fruits that make us His children of light?  Are we walking circumspectly (carefully) in this world and, finally, are we redeeming the time? (Wilson R. Redeem the Time. LCG Commentary, April 14, 2011)

As the Southeast picks up the pieces from last week’s storms, and Texas tries to recover from devastating wildfires, floods from spring rains now threaten vast portions of the American Midwest... Is God trying to get our attention? With troubles mounting in modern Israelite countries around the world, what a privilege it is that we in this Work know why these things happening, and can help others to understand it as well! (McNair R. World Ahead Weekly Update, Living Church of God, May 5, 2011).

The Bible also teaches, "Woe to you who put far off the day of doom" (Amos 6:3).

26. US Dollar to Fall

United:

Could the Dollar Fall?

…by Darris McNeely

Ending the dollar’s role in the world economy is not an easy matter. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “… Central banks around the world hold more U.S. dollars and dollar securities than they do assets denominated in any other individual foreign currency. Such reserves can be used to stabilize the value of the central banks’ domestic currencies” (”China Takes Aim at Dollar,” March 24, 2009).

Before the dollar, the British pound sterling formed the underpinning of the global economy. It took two world wars and several decades to change from the pound to the dollar as the world standard. Since the end of World War II, the dollar has been king.

Although the current financial problems ignited in America have led to a global meltdown, it will take more than what we have already experienced to topple America from its current role. That is not to say it could not or will not happen. At the current pace of events, it seems it will not happen in the near term.

Creating another world currency requires several factors to be in place. Research analysts at Stratfor Global Intelligence outlined what those factors would be:

“As to a world beyond the dollar, the issue is that a reserve currency is not decided upon; it creates itself. Two things are needed to create a reserve currency. First, there must be sufficient liquidity to support a global system. That requires a central bank with an enormous amount of autonomy from a state government, and the U.S. Federal Reserve is unparalleled on this count. Not even the European Central Bank can compete. Second, the economy upon which the currency is based must be large enough to withstand fluctuations caused by other economies buying and selling its assets in massive amounts. Again, the United States is the only economy that potentially could qualify…”…

What would it mean for you?

What would it mean for the American consumer if the dollar were no longer the world’s reserve currency?

Since the end of World War II, the dollar has been the dominant world currency. For most living Americans this is the world into which they were born. This is all they have known. Americans enjoy one of the world’s highest living standards due to the stability and wealth created by America’s dominant economic role.

Yet the United States is now the world’s largest debtor nation ($10.6 trillion)…

Here is what would happen in the United States if we woke up one morning to find the dollar was no longer the number one world currency.

1. Everything Americans import would cost more—everything.. .

2. The credit market would collapse. Investors would flee toxic assets, further locking up the economy.

3. The U.S. Federal Reserve would print more money to combat the credit squeeze and the likely result would be hyperinflation, meaning higher prices for available goods. Remember the stories of Weimar Germany where it took a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread? Not pretty.

4. American power and influence in the world would seriously decline…

5. Big losers from the fall of the dollar would include Japan and Latin America. Because they hold much of America’s debt, China and the Persian Gulf states would see huge losses. Israel and Egypt would also suffer because of massive amounts of American aid they would lose. What this would mean to the Middle East calculus is unknown, but Egypt could be destabilized as a result.

6. World politics would be altered. The vacuum of power created would be contested. The EU, which would stand to gain from the fall of the dollar, would be among the chief contenders. China would no doubt make a play as well, but a number of factors would hinder its bid. Stability would rise out of the potential period of chaos when another power would became the global economy’s main engine. America’s time in the sun would be over.

7. American lifestyles would change radically…What this would mean to the social fabric of the nation is unknown. But our way of life would dramatically change…

America losing the pride of her power?

Those pushing to create a different world are no doubt working hard to bring about the demise of the dollar and thus America’s role in the world. In this publication we often speak of America losing “the pride of [its] power” (Leviticus 26:19). Military might is what we think of first in this regard; however, nothing would so radically change America’s leading role in the world as the dollar losing its reserve status.

For one, America’s crippling foreign debt would get worse with decreased ability to finance the burden. In time the country would be at the mercy of those holding its obligations, with little room to maneuver. Economic slavery would be on the horizon.

However, it’s unlikely this is going to happen in the near term. China and several Arab states hold too many dollar-denominated instruments to see this change. They would lose too much. Right now the United States is too big, too rich and too powerful to fail. There is too much at stake on the global scene.

That does not mean things couldn’t change—and change quickly—but the proper circumstances have to be in place.

It will not happen until the God of heaven wants it to happen. God has blessed America with its wealth, power and resulting prestige. He will move to change that when it fits His timing for His great plan for all the nations. (World News & Prophecy, June 2009)

To have analysis of this, please see (UCG: Can the Dollar Fall?). But basically, UCG is telling its people that this is a long term process and that they have lots of time.

Living:

Handwriting on the Wall! On July 4, the United States, currently the most powerful nation in the world, celebrated 234 years of independence. The following day, on Monday, July 5, British-born Harvard professor and economic historian Niall Ferguson opened the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival with a stark warning that the American “empire” could suddenly collapse—possibly within the next two years—due to the country’s rising debt! Citing historical examples, Ferguson pointed out that economic debt can lead to a loss of military power and global respect—which he saw firsthand on a recent trip to China—where China’s leaders were not interested in being lectured by Americans about economics or democracy. He noted that the recent financial crisis “has accelerated a fundamental shift in the balance of power with the U.S. shedding power and China absorbing it.” A number of factors are coming together—tax cuts, two wars, the financial recession, the resulting federal stimulus and bailout programs, and the growth of entitlement programs—that spell trouble for America in the days ahead. This is what Bible prophecies have long foretold. When nations forget God and turn away from His laws there will be serious consequences unless they repent (see Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28). The Scriptures, the Church of God and prominent historians have been warning for decades about the direction that America and other Israelite nations have been going—yet, those warnings have gone unheeded. Hopefully, we can learn from this and make the changes in our lives we need to make—before it is too late! (Winnail D. LCG Wolrd Ahead Weekly Update, July 8, 2010).

The U.S. and the British-descended peoples have enjoyed living off the resources of the world, but the prophet Habakkuk warns: “… Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you” (Habakkuk 2:7–8). (Winnail D. Sudden Calamities Ahead! Tomorrows’ World, Volume 10, Issue 5. Sept-Oct, 2008).

Hebrew prophets also warned repeatedly that the future demise of God’s chosen Israelite peoples would come “suddenly” and unexpectedly (Isaiah 9:14–15; 29:5; 30:13; Jeremiah 6:26; 15:8). Modern financial analysts realize this could happen if the nations lending to America decide to dump the dollar and call their loans. The prophet Habakkuk’s warning…, “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?” (Habakkuk 2:7)—may also ring true for debt-plagued nations like America and its Israelite cousins. Prophetic scripture contains a sobering message: debt and disobedience lead to the demise of nations! (Winnail, D. Debt, Disobedience and Demise of Nations. Tomorrows’ World, Volume 12, Issue 2. March-April 2010, p. 27).

The days are coming when, “Suddenly, your debtors will rise up in anger. They will turn on you and take all you have, while you stand trembling and helpless” (Habakkuk 2:7, NLT).(Ciesielka W. A New World Order is Coming.  Tomorrow’s World, Volume 11, Issue 1. January-February 2009).

Jeremiah 17:1-4 explains that national punishment is the eventual result of national sins and false religion.  Ultimately, this punishment will lead to our wealth, and even our people being given “as plunder” to foreign nations (vv. 3-4). Furthermore, this tragic collapse will happen suddenly and when many do not expect it (Isaiah 1:7, Habakkuk 2:7, I Thessalonians 5:3)…

Millennia ago, God warned of the consequences of debt and greed: “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you…” (Habakkuk 2:6-8). (Ciesielka W.  Economic Collapse!  America’s debt crisis.  Commentary.  http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/cgi-bin/tw/commentary/tw-comm.cgi?category=Commentary1&item=1272484006)

Essentially, LCG believes that although the US dollar will have ups and downs, the long term trend is down, and that the US dollar will collapse suddenly (see also LCG: USA Economy Faces Potential for Sudden Collapse). UCG seems to believe that there is much more time than LCG does for this.

27. Governance

United:

"The General Conference of Elders (General Conference) hereby recognizes its responsibility: (1) To approve changes in the doctrine of the Church. (2) To ratify the annual strategic plan, operating plan and the budget that pertains to those plans. (3) To nominate and elect the Council of Elders, with prayer and fasting." (Constitution of the United Church of God, an International Association. 4.1. New Beginnings. November 27, 1995; p:17).

"Corporate boards must never be permitted to hold the power or (sic) hiring or firing over the heads of any of God's ministry. To do so would be the height of presumption. We must not let such a procedure be the practice of the Church of God." (Ward, Donald. The Church must not Repeat Previous Mistakes. In Transition. October 30, 1995; p:7)

"What is governance? What is the role of a council of elders? What is the role of a president? What is the role of the home office staff? How are they supposed to interact with each other? How should our governance be structured? Should we be balloting? Ask a dozen members these questions and you may get half a dozen answers--at least the mail that arrives at my office indicates such is the case." (Dick, Robert. The Issue of Governance in the United Church of God. New Beginnings. November 17, 1997; p:1)

"We all want the same thing--to serve God and do His Work. Will we be able to work together to achieve that goal? I say yes, if we are willing to cooperate in the form of governance that God established in the forming of the United Church of God. I have heard some say that the form of governance we have in United is not working. I say that some are not working the form of governance that we have in United." (Luker, Dennis. The Importance of Our Governing Documents. New Beginnings. July 14, 1997; p:16)

"What exactly does the Council do?...Every member is part of two or three committees that function year round. Committees work varies in intensity, coming to a head prior to the meeting of the full Council. The committees do preliminary work on a given subject, which is then presented to the Council for deliberation or action". (McCullough, Leslie. What Exactly Does the Council Do? United News. July 1999; p.1).

'Our history to date shows a real difficulty in getting 3/4 of the elders to participate in balloting" (United Church of God, an International Association, Council of Elders Meeting Report. September 18, 2000).

"A time is coming, however, when one ruler will solve the problems of this world--one man with the right system of government" (Rhodes, Melvin. Extreme Right Appears in Central Europe. World News and Prophecy. March 2000 p.8).

"President Les McCullough commented 'My impression is, we need to get the Council to decide, and to agree, on what the purpose of the Church is. I know we have a mission statement. But what does the Council think the purpose of the Good News is? What is our… intent, our aim?… It seems to me we’d be better off if that were all nailed down solidly at the upper level and then passed on down through the lower level…as a Council, it doesn’t seem to me that we’re as focused, and as precise, and as intent on ‘what is the purpose [of some of the things we do]?’ We have some very broad general statements that we’ve made, but we haven’t narrowed our statements down to say ‘this is what we mean!’ " (UCG, aia Council of Elders Meeting Report. December 10, 2000).

"Leon Walker moderated the next major session of Thursday’s meeting, dealing with a study paper on godly governance...Does the Church need government? · Is there a biblical blueprint for governmental organization?...Do ministers have authority over other ministers? · Does the ministry have authority in the Church? · What is a godly attitude toward authority? · What are the limits to authority?...Aaron Dean and Don Ward asked if certain wording in the document could be clarified to make it clear that we are referring to God’s government as He works with humans on this earth (not His heavenly operations). A small number of other minor edits were also suggested, and the manuscript was relabeled a “study paper” rather than a “doctrinal study paper.” This writing reflects our understanding of how God has worked with humans throughout the pages of His Word, rather than setting forth a doctrinal presentation such as tithing or Holy Day observance. This paper accurately describes our belief and practice, according to Mr. Walker. Mr. Walker then asked the Council for its guidance on how to share this material. The Council unanimously resolved (Gary Antion absent) to distribute the study paper to the General Conference, and request that any editorial suggestions be sent to the Doctrine Committee within the next 30 days. If no substantial changes are suggested, the manuscript will be published with no further Council approval required." (UCG, aia Council of Elders Meeting Report. March 15, 2001).

"Mr. Walker responded by stating his belief that the Council needed to review the applicable article of the Bylaws itself. Has it created problems for us, due to its wording, that we don’t wish to have? He elaborated on his meaning. “I believe it is wrong for a ballot, with the purpose of reaffirming an officer, to result in his departure, based on a minority ballot,” he said. This would be possible if the officer in question served as a member of the Council (as the president may, based on the governing documents of the Church). The officer would normally recuse himself from a ballot on his own reconfirmation, and could theoretically fall one vote short of the simple majority of the entire Council (7) required by Bylaws 9.1 for his continuance in the job (a vote of 6-5 in his favor, with his own abstention). Richard Thompson stated, “What we’ve done is to create two sets of numbers resulting in the removal of an officer. Do we want that? It is either eight to remove him at any point [in time], or possibly only five to remove at the time of reconfirmation.” " (UCG, aia Council of Elders Meeting Report. May 8, 2001).

" Is it possible to determine why elders ballot against various amendments? Would that knowledge help in rewording those amendments to aid passage in future annual meetings? Burk McNair suggested some type of tear-off portion of the ballot. Leon Walker agreed with the concept of feedback, but wasn’t sure if this was the appropriate way to ask for it; Richard Thompson concurred and was concerned that this could slow the whole process of balloting. Robert Dick expressed the difficulty of maintaining any privacy in the balloting process should this approach be taken, and proposed an alternate one. What about an exit poll approach to solicit the input? Aaron Dean agreed, and stressed the importance of obtaining the feedback on the spot, before it is forgotten. Mr. Walker stated that he would just like to know some of the reasons elders voted against certain amendments" (UCG, aia Council of Elders Meeting Report. May 8, 2001).

"David Register joined the Council meeting by phone from southern California to give a report from the Advisory Committee for the 2003 Annual Meeting of the General Conference of Elders, which he chairs. The committee consists of Diane Bailey, Peter Eddington, Larry Greider, Joe Horchak, Charles Melear, David Register, Randy and Kay Schreiber, Greg Thomas, Tony Wasilkoff and Robin Webber. Roughly one month before, the Advisory Committee had sent a survey regarding the 2003 General Conference of Elders to all elders. Eighty-four elders returned surveys, representing about 20 percent of the General Conference...The Advisory Committee made its own suggestions: Select a theme and appoint the Advisory Committee to recruit speakers and presenters for Council approval. Approve a suggested time line. Undertake a discussion of how to encourage those elders who do not participate to consider resigning from the GCE, but remain an elder in good standing in the Church. Perhaps a letter from the president and chairman would be helpful in explaining this procedure. Have the president and chairman write a letter to all elders about eldership responsibilities in United. Have the committee write an article about the survey results to try to stimulate participation in the 2003 GCE" (Johnson, Doug. Council Reviews Last Year and Looks Ahead. United News. Sep/Oct 2002, p. 11).

"Robert Dick addressed the Council, presenting its members with a working paper of the study by the task force appointed at the August 2002 Council meetings...to study committee standards and practices. The report addresses the history of the Council’s committees and their function, an examination of the original intent for Council committee work, and a description of the typical “evolution” of the work of boards of directors in non-profit organizations in general. Future focus includes discussion of how governance (the Council) and management (the Administration) are defined and function, and a questionnaire that needs input from task force members in anticipation of further progress. The committee is composed of Administration members Peter Eddington, Roy Holladay, Tom Kirkpatrick, and Richard Pinelli; and Council members Gary Antion, Aaron Dean, Robert Dick (chairman), Jim Franks, Victor Kubik, and Richard Thompson" (Johnson, D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Friday, December 16-17, 2002‚ Cincinnati, Ohio).

"Mr. Thompson presented a proposal to the Council to establish a new task force which would have the responsibility of identifying questions about and making recommendations concerning the next step in the CSL (Christ-centered Servant Leadership) program. The suggestion of this new task force triggered a discussion of the status of the program and whether there is need for another taskforce: Mr. Antion questioned the purpose of the new task force because the Council seems to be in agreement with the principles of CSL (Mr. Antion). Mr. Thompson responded that the purpose of the new task force is to offer a fresh perspective on the status of the project and suggest the next step. Mr. Walker asked whether the Council had formally approved the CSL project. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Kilough acknowledged that there had never been a formal resolution on the program, but also reviewed the Council’s previous discussions and the direction it gave to the CSL taskforce. Mr. Kilough explained that he remanded the CSL to the Education Committee and they will bring a formal proposal. Mr. Franks made the point that the new task force doesn’t stop the CSL program from going forward. Our regional pastors, in particular, have asked some important questions about the CSL, which the task force should be able to address. Mr. Thompson explained that one reason for the new taskforce is to deal with all the current issues and recommend the next step to the Council" (Henson, D. United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Meeting Report Sunday, March 2 and Monday, March 3, 2003 — Cincinnati OH).

"A big “thanks!” also goes to all of you for making this year’s Annual Meeting of the General Conference of Elders one of the best yet. You made it that way first by sincerely seeking God’s guidance, then by sacrificing to participate and working hard to contribute. The exit survey results showed, most interestingly, that “fellowship opportunities” rated as the number one answer for both “primary reasons for attending” and “areas of most benefit.”" (Kilough, Clyde. Letter From the Chairman. United Church of God an International Association, 6/4/04).

So, the number one, the primary reason to attend UCG's GCE meeting is not to work on proclaiming the Gospel, clarify doctrine, or participate in UCG's form of governance? UCG's elders say the most important reason is to meet friends.

"As part of our commitment to positive change, we as a Council are redefining what we—and the Church at large—expect of a president in the coming years" (Kilough C. Letter From the Chairman, February 28, 2005).

"There is need for a better understanding of the roles of the Council of Elders, the Church president and the National Councils and how they function together. Mr. Walker acknowledged that this issue has been discussed several times but never fully resolved. He proposed that starting by defining the role of the president would be "putting the cart before the horse" and that it would be better first to define foundational concepts. Then, he said, defining the president's role will be much easier. Mr. Walker asked the Council to consider some questions about those foundational concepts. What is the United Church of God? Are we merely an association of independent entities around the world with no overall global central administration? Are we just tied together by certain doctrines or policies, but not by a common administration? Each National Council has its own bylaws due to legal requirements in its respective country. But does the United Church of God transcend national boundaries and legal documents? Are National Councils the supreme administrative authority for each area? Or do they recognize an authority over them? If so, is that authority the Council of Elders?" ...Tony Wasilkoff stated that the fear some international areas have, based on history and experience, is that the "strong arm of headquarters" will try to take control. He said it's important to coordinate with international areas, not to control them. He commented that the Rules of Association are designed to further good relationships and effectively facilitate the work of the Church. What's sometimes missing is how to do what we intend" (Henson D. United Church of God, an International Association. Council of Elders Meeting Report. December 12, 2005 - Cincinnati, OH).

This letter is to inform you of a decision reached today between the Council of Elders and President Clyde Kilough. The Council held an executive session teleconference on April 8, 2010, where it was decided that a change in the office of president of the United Church of God was needed. Since Mr. Kilough had previously indicated that if the Council desired a change in the office of president, he would likely be willing to resign, the Council decided to ask him for his resignation as president…

Today I accepted the resignations of Jim Franks as Ministerial Services operation manager and Larry Salyer as Media operation manager…

While it may not have been evident to the membership at large, in recent months a serious level of conflict existed about certain issues between the Council of Elders and some administrators…

During these past months, certain administrators severely disagreed with the oversight and direction that the Council was providing, even though they are bound by the bylaws of the Church to support it. (Holladay R. April 2010)

May God so enrich us spiritually that we may together truly reflect the name by which we are called today—the United Church of God. (Holladay R. Letter, May 20, 2010).

By now, one would think that United would know how it is governed and actually be "united", but apparently it is still unclear on governance and not united. It seems to be moving from a presbyterian (rule by elders) to an episcopalian (rule by bishops/overseers) form of governance as its top leadership wants elders who will not vote to resign. In addition to replacing top USA leaders, it lost much of its Latin American ministry in June 2010, and at least 161 elders from then through January 2011 (for more details, please see Concerns about Church of God, a Worldwide Association).

It is interesting to note that United believes that in the future 'one man rule' is what God will implement. It is amazing to note that United spent over 20% of its revenues in its last fiscal year (and pretty much all the previous one) related to home office and management (for more details see Brief Financial Comparison topic towards the end of this article). Jesus taught, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34). It should be noted that United's Council of Elders must not have cared much for the administrative governance in United as it removed David Hulme, Les McCullough, Roy Holladay, and Clyde Killough from being president. These frequent changes must make it difficult for leaders in United to work together for the same goal.

Living:

"It is clear that God's government throughout the Old Testament--AND in the soon coming World Ahead--was (and will be) a hierarchical government under God's direction, based on the Holy Scriptures...Throughout the New Testament, we find the Living Christ directing His servants to follow the same pattern of government he had inspired over the previous 1,300 years...Again God's Word states 'Without counsel plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established' (Prov. 12:15)...A dedicated servant of the Living God will always try to seek the counsel of at least several qualified individuals before making any major decision. Also, a true servant of God will spend much time in thoughtful fervent prayer to God--asking HIS WILL to be made clear--before making an important decision...A key distinguishing attitude of God's true servants is that they do regard themselves as that--servants...(Matt. 20:25-28). All authority in God's Church should have this attitude of service--and should act accordingly." (Meredith, Roderick C. What is the Biblical Form of Church Government? Global Church News. Sept-Oct 1995; pp:5,7,8)

"In founding God's Church, Jesus worked primarily through one man, Peter, even though He originally chose His 12 disciples. Few have ever noticed that Peter was the real leader. Acts 15: Here is the crux chapter, not generally understood... The Jerusalem conference showed that PETER was preeminent over even Paul, although Paul was the ONE MAN God worked through primarily in the ministry to gentiles... This crucial crux chapter has been misunderstood, twisted and distorted. I have tried to take space to MAKE IT CLEAR in this article" (Armstrong, Herbert W. Originally published in Worldwide News article 2/19/78 and quoted in the Living Church News. Jan-Feb 1999; p.7).

A quote from Herbert W. Armstrong may be of interest here ,

"The PURPOSE for which Christ built the Church exemplifies its WORK...1) To ANNOUNCE to the world for its witness the coming Kingdom of God...2) To prepare the people to whom God adds to the Church...God has always worked with humans. He has worked with O N E  M A N at a time...The WORK consists of proclaiming the Gospel, by radio, by television, in print" (Armstrong HW. JUST WHAT IS THE WORK? PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.3, NO.6 February 6, 1981).

RC Meredith wrote:

"Dear brethren, if you, each of you, see that you can better SERVE your brethren, and the people in the world whom we must 'witness' to, and God Himself by taking a certain action--then you should take that action. You should be constantly be thinking of better ways to give, to help, to serve--REGARDLESS of any title or immediate reward that may come your way. THIS is servant leadership!" (Meredith, Roderick C. What is Servant Leadership. Living Church News. Jul-Aug 1999; p.2).

"Christ’s government will also be hierarchical —with those in authority appointed to their offices. There will be no voting and no politics, but rather a deep faith that Christ will install the right people in each office. That is why it is vitally important that we in God’s Church today learn to teach and practice God’s form of government in the Church— looking in faith to our living Head, Jesus Christ, to guide and orchestrate the government in His Church. For if we do not even have the faith now to trust Christ to lead His Church, how can we expect to have any significant responsibility in His soon-coming government?" (Meredith, Roderick. After God's Own Heart. Living Church News, Sept-Oct, 2002. pp. 1-2).

Living spent about 8% of its US revenues in its last fiscal year related to headquarters administration and management (for more details see Brief Financial Comparison topic towards the end of this article). This suggests that Living's form of governance is, at least, much more economically efficient than United's form. But subsequent events have shown that despite claims of carrying out God's form of governance, LCG has not done all that it should--and seems to have rejected parts of it (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).

Those interested in learning more about Church governance may wish to read the article The Bible, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Roderick C. Meredith on Church Government.

28. Who is the 'Man of Sin'?

United:

So, some have speculated that Antichrist had become the popular terminology for what this prophesy was talking about. In fact an interesting prophecy over in of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 talks about this. It says, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day"--talking about the Day of Christ's return--"that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God."

That's interesting because the word translated "opposes" literally means to be against, to be contrary to, or anti. No wonder this is why the man of sin that's mentioned here, is most often associated with the Antichrist. This end time False Prophet is a deceiver. (Meters S. Who is the Antichrist? http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-program/news-and-prophecy/who-antichrist/ May 2011, viewed 05/18/13)

The above appears mainly to be based upon tradition. I should mention that Aaron Dean, who is with UCG and on its Council of Elders (and currently is also its treasurer) agrees with my position on this that the 'man of sin' here is the Beast, the final King of the North, and not the false prophet.

Living:

One of the most vital yet neglected prophecies in all of the Bible is found in 2 Thessalonians 2...

In verse 8, Paul revealed that the “lawless one”—who obviously has various religious teachings that in fact do not involve obedience to the Ten Commandments—will be revealed, “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the workings of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (vv. 8-9). So no local “apostasy” in anychurch or small group of churches could possibly fulfill this awesome prophecy—and certainly not without the one who is in charge showing great power, signs and lying wonders.

For those of you who understand prophecy, it becomes obvious that this great “man of sin,” or “man of lawlessness,” ties in directly with the “second beast” of Revelation 13. For obviously describing the coming military/political leader of the final revival of the Roman Empire in Revelation 13:1-10, the Apostle John goes on to describe another “beast” who comes out of the earth and “he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon” (v. 11). So this man looks like the “lamb,” Jesus Christ. Yet His message is that of the “dragon” identified in Revelation 12:9 as Satan the Devil! This coming powerful religious leader “exercises” all of the authority of the first “beast” and causes the revived Roman Empire to persecute the true saints...the great false religious leader—the “ false prophet” (Meredith RC. LCG co-worker letter, April 17, 2013)

The above suggests that if one does not agree with the conclusion that the false prophet is the "man of sin" of 2 Thessalonians 2, then one does not understand prophecy. But is the man of sin the false prophet, the second beast of Revelation 13, or not?

On more than one occasion over the past 5 years, I sent Dr. Meredith detailed biblical information explaining why the man of sin was not the second beast of Revelation 13, and until I saw the above, I never really received a negative response from him (though he had previously published older information with a similar position).

Interestingly, in his The Falling Away sermon (recorded on June 1, 2012), Dr. Winnail taught that the Beast, the King of the North, may be the son of perdition in 2 Thessalonians 2.  Yet it now seems that Dr. Meredith has clearly settled on another position.

Both LCG and UCG officially teach the same, somewhat traditional, but not biblical position on this. For a biblical analysis of this topic, please review the article Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?; here is a related article in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?

29. Falling Away

United:

Since Living came out with its changes on the 'falling away' matter, I have had several conversations with Aaron Dean, who is a Council member for UCG. He repeatedly has stated that United holds to the position that the 'falling away' of 2 Thessalonians 2 has to do with those who essentially appeared to have been true Christians departing from the faith, such as what is taught in 1 Timothy 4:1.

Aaron Dean was also the closest COG leader to the late Herbert Armstrong in the last decade or so of his life, and Aaron Dean stated unequivocally that HWA had the same view as he has.

Living:

Falling Away - Implications
Clarifying this issue and powerfully delivering this prophetic warning about a universal falling away from the fundamentals of biblical Christianity, led by a Beast, a Man of Sin and Miracles will clearly set the Living Church of God apart from false prophets and false apostles who preach the falling away has already occurred in WCG...

This is why a correct understanding of the Falling Away is important!

* Enable LCG to deliver a powerful warning about a major prophetic end time event that is coming in the years just ahead!

* Will set LCG apart from false teachers who are saying this event has already occurred...

HWA did not apply “the” falling away to church members who know the truth and fall away.
(Winnail D. The Falling Away. Must-Play DVD DVE704, June 1, 2012)

It is unclear how teaching it Dr. Winnail’s way enables LCG to preach the warning message better than it could before.

In that sermon he orally stated (words may not be exact as they are from my notes), “This will be an issue that will clearly set apart the Living Church of God from others who will be teaching something very different...This is also going to set the Living Church of God apart from false teachers that say it has already happened.  It doesn't fit with the prophecies of Jesus Christ or the prophecies of Revelation...This perspective that 2 Thessalonians 2 only applies to the Church of God takes it out of its biblical and historical context.”

Various comments about Herbert Armstrong (HWA), etc. mentioned in the LCG 'must-play;' sermon are in error.

A summary of my concerns about the sermons basically is:

Dr. Winnail made many statements that seem to be incomplete as far as the Bible, the historical WCG writings, and Church of God doctrine show.  Dr. Winnail claims his teaching is what now sets the Living Church of God apart from other COGs.  And since he received backing from the Council of Elders of LCG, this clearly is a position that LCG has taken.

Furthermore, on May 18, 2013, many in LCG watched a "must play" sermon titled "The Great Rebellion," also known as the "falling away" (which is a term also often used in that sermon) by its top leader, Roderick C. Meredith. The reason of this degree of emphasis by him for this is that many people still clinging to LCG do not agree with the incorrect position that LCG has said will set itself apart from other COGs.

LCG's position, as now repeatedly and publicly espoused by two of its top Charlotte-based evangelists, is that the "falling away" of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is not a departure from the true faith, but a further departure from God by "billions" who do not accept otherwise the truth of the Bible.

In the "must-play" sermon, Dr. Meredith cited at least three Protestant commentaries for proof. But oddly, when the text of one was shown, one of those commentaries that Dr. Meredith was referring to correctly taught that the falling away meant, "the falling away from the faith."

Of course, that contradicts the position that Dr. Meredith was espousing as he specifically taught in that same sermon that the "falling away" is not a departure or falling away from the true Christian, Church of God, faith.

For more details, see The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings here is a related link in Spanish/español: La Apostasía: Enseñanzas de la Biblia y de la WCG. There are also two YouTube videos on the subject that you can watch The Falling Away Part 1: From the Bible and Church History and The Falling Away Part 2: Positions Presented by Others.

Comments

I would like to add that other than on governance issues, none of the "doctrinal changes" in United were approved in accordance with "Our very founding documents require doctrinal change to be ratified by a full three-fourths of the entire General Conference of Elders." (Dick, Bob. Protecting Our Beliefs: What Approach Should We Take? New Beginnings, July 22, 1996; p:1) or "Please remember that doctrines within the United Church of God can only be changed with a 75 percent agreement of all 400-plus elders" (McCullough, Leslie. What Exactly Does the Council Do? United News. July 1999; p.15). This puzzled me, until I realized that it is now only the Fundamental Beliefs of United which require this 3/4 majority in order to be changed (although it appears that third tithe as well as the 'Last Great Day' may have been 'Fundamental Beliefs" that were changed without 3/4 vote, see comments on Third Tithe and Last Great Day above). A careful reading of UCG's 'Fundamental Beliefs' shows that only 2 of the 18 truths Herbert Armstrong restored to the Church of God are discussed within the 'Fundamental Beliefs", while 2 others are alluded to that have not yet been changed and others may be taught in other literature.But most astoundingly, the December 2005 edition of the United News contains this statement:

"Mr. Pinelli also listed maintaining doctrinal purity as a key accomplishment of the Church over the last 10 years."

Its former director of ministerial services believed that maintaining doctrinal purity is UCG's key accomplishment over its last 10 years, yet UCG has changed many doctrines (as this article documents). Mr. Pinelli himself left UCG and now is in COGWA.

Interestingly, Larry Salyer reported that UCG was asked the following,

"How does UCG establish, approve and ratify doctrine? What does UCG believe and teach on what it means to be born again?...Where does United stand on military service, voting and jury duty? ... Does UCG believe and teach Church eras? Does UCG teach that there will be a "place of safety?"... If we believe and teach the same doctrines, is there any other biblical justification for our remaining separate organizations? We also discussed a document prepared to answer questions previously raised in the Task Force meetings. It contains brief summaries of various doctrinal teachings not mentioned above, including tithing, preaching the Gospel, the nature of God, Church government, ministerial ranks, wearing of crosses, and unclean meats" (Salyer, Larry. CGCF Member Letter, April 20, 2001).

Nearly all of these issues had been addressed in this article prior to Larry Salyer's letter as well as in the previous article Doctrinal Differences Between the Old United Church of God and the Old Global Church of God. Larry Salyer left UCG in 2010.

Why This Article Exists

United and LCG can teach or believe whatever they wish too--though I wish both would move closer to the teachings of the Bible. In the past, I have sometimes been criticized by some affiliated with UCG for writing/updating this article. Perhaps this is a good place to explain why what UCG teaches is of any concern. THE REASON THIS ARTICLE WAS INITIALLY WRITTEN WAS BECAUSE UCG LEADERS/MEMBERS HAVE TOLD PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS THAT UCG TEACHES THE SAME DOCTRINES, OTHER THAN GOVERNANCE, AS GCG/LCG. THIS IS UNTRUE, AND THIS ARTICLE SERVES TO SHOW ALL WHO HAVE EYES TO SEE THE DIFFERENCES. Please understand that the purpose of the COGwriter website is to help unify the remnant of the Philadelphia era of the Church (here is a related article, What is a True Philadelphian?). Some affiliated with United have argued that their minister teaches many of the doctrines raised in this article the same as Living teaches. I do not disagree with that nor dispute that there are a lot of doctrinal opinions in UCG. But the fact is that officially UCG does not fully teach what HWA called the Incredible Human Potential. Specifically in that area UCG does not teach that at conversion we are begotten by the Holy Spirit and that we are born-again at the resurrection. UCG leadership is well aware that it does not teach what WCG used to teach on these (and other) subjects. I would also add that Living has its own problems as well and I have documented some of them in various articles (e.g. What about the Living Church of God? How does it differ from the Continuing Church of God?).

Concluding Comments

When this article first came out (around late 1996) United members criticized it because they said that some of my quotes were attributed to older United statements (which is odd, since United did not start until 1995). The fact that United still is often trying to define what evangelism and its mission is (United has had one or more committees looking into this), should be clear to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, that the United form of governance is not assuring that United puts its top priority on proclaiming the Gospel or holding fast to the doctrines held by WCG when Herbert Armstrong was alive. But it has made some progress. Notice also the following:

"God will set before us an open door and no man can shut it. God can shut it, and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church has gone to the place of safety...Philadelphia has little strength to do this great work which God has given it to do...It is the Church of Laodicea who had no vital part in the work of God today even though they live today and are part of the generation which will see Christ return" (What is the Laodicean Church? Good News, August 1959, p.12).

Note: This is HWA's, not UCG's Good News. Although some believe that the doctrinal differences among the Churches of God are miniscule, this author does not believe that one can examine the teachings of the main groups and come to that conclusion (nor apparently would Herbert Armstrong, for proof please check out some quotes from HWA on holding fast to doctrine).

For years, I have claimed that UCG was never truly "united" and the major splits for COGaIC and COGWA, as well as all of the other ministerial splits have proven my perceptions in that area to be correct. For years, I have also had concerns that LCG was losing its "love of the truth" (see Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God and Response to a Letter from Dr. Roderick C. Meredith Dated December 28, 2012). This is part of why I do not believe that LCG can possibly lead what I have referred to as the final phase of the work.

I strongly believe that many of those in many of the COGs will simply not heed certain soon-coming prophetic warnings as they simply will not be in the right spiritual condition to do so. The longer people linger in compromised groups, the more likely they will be affected. So, while some have criticized me for pointing out the differences and some of the doctrinal and prophetic deficiencies in United and Living (here are a couple specific to Living: Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? and The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings), the truth is that Jesus spent a lot of time warning the differing church groups with His messages in Revelation 2 & 3. In spite of my own imperfections, I am trying to also do so. And, if I actually have misquoted something from United or Living and you notice it, please bring it to my attention and I will strive to correct it.

Otherwise, I will remain convinced that this article does, in fact, properly document various differences between the two groups.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that I am with the Continuing Church of God as in 2012 I concluded that Living had too many integrity (scriptural and personal) issues to be able to continue to support it.

Notes New Beginnings was an official publication of the United Church of God and was replaced by the United News; World News and Prophecy, Council of Elder's reports, and any UCG study papers quoted are also publications of United. The Global Church News and World Ahead magazine were official publications of the Global Church of God. Tomorrow's World, The World Ahead Weekly Update, and the Living Church News are publications of the Living Church of God, and any "commentaries" cited are from official LCG websites.. In Transition and The Journal were never official publications of the United Church of God, but were both controlled by members of United (although The Journal's editor is no longer a member of UCG, aia, but did publish the Good News, and was an editor for it until 12/02). The booklets and letters cited were official publications of the those that produced them. The e-mail responses to this author were from United's official web site. I have also included some comments from CGCF's final (posted 6/30/01) Doctrinal Study Paper on UCG as they raised several of the same issues and most often did not receive straight answers from UCG. This article does not include any statements specifically attributed to David Hulme (who was UCG's first president and who left after being removed) though it does include one or more comments from former UCG members (while they were still in UCG).

Laodicean Warning to God's People if you have read this far you are probably a current or former member of one of the Churches of God and may be interested in reading this warning article which was also published in The Journal. You may also wish to read the article What about the Living Church of God? How does it differ from the Continuing Church of God?

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Thiel B. Some of the Differences between the Living Church of God and the United Church of God, IA. www.cogwriter.com (c) 1999/2000/2001/2002/2003/2004/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013 1201