By COGwriter (This article was published in the January 30, 1998 edition of The Journal an update was added July 31, 1998 and is at the end)The Global Church of God and the United Church of God, an International Association both had their roots in the Worldwide Church of God. Although there are obvious similarities, this author has often been asked about the differences in their teachings. The intent of this article is not to cause division, but to document some of the differences which seem to exist. This article is going to QUOTE statements written by United members or reported by members of United in written publications as well as facts and quoted information from Global (including some as reported by members in United).
Published quotes from United members, who are not part of the "leadership" have been included, because there appear to be a variety of published opinions on doctrine within United. Also, in some instances those comments seemed to help clarify certain points. Thus, this article clearly cites the source of each statement. The author is aware that several of the quotes which follow are not 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.
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)
"Amend Article 7 to end of Bylaws as follows: The words 'elect', 'elected' or 'election' shall be replaced...to remove 'political' language." (Andrews, Steven D. From the Amendment Committee. New Beginnings. September 8, 1997; p:23)
"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)
Global: "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). For this reason, the Global 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'...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)
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) "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." (Andrews, Steven and Anderson, John. Church Assistance Fund Donations. New Beginnings. November 4, 1996; pp:4-5)
"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)
"Broadcast media and advertising" + "Print media and advertising" = "Total evangelism" "4% of proj. exp". (United Church of God financial analysis. In Transition. January 31, 1997; p:9). "said one elder who also wished to remain anonymous,...'Even if all the noncommitted funds were spent to preach the gospel, only about 5 to 6 percent of all UCG expenses will be spent on what Jesus Christ told us to do: take this message to the world.'" (Robinson, John. UCG elders say constitution, not blown budget, is the issue. In Transition. January 31, 1997; p:8)
Global: "We believe that Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:14 does apply to us and is our responsibility: 'And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.' Therefore, we began preaching to the world on the radio about seven weeks after the Global Church began in 1993--even though we had only several dozen members at that time! Then, we went on television in May 1995". (Meredith, Roderick C. Dear brethren and friends. Global Church News, August-September 1997; p:2)
The World Ahead is on 63 television stations and 17 radio stations, in 4 languages and in 12 countries (Source: World Ahead Magazine. November-December 1997; pp:31-32). Six presenters are used: Roderick C. Meredith, Jean Carion, Mario Hernandez, Dibar Apartian, Syd Hull, and Richard Ames. (Sources: Meredith, Roderick C. Dear brethren and friends. Global Church News, August-September 1997; p:2 and Robinson, Thomas E. World Ahead telecast adds presenter. The Journal. November 21, 1997; p:24)
"Television and Radio" + "Publishing and Editorial" + "Mail Processing and Distribution" = "Preaching the Gospel" 42% (of) "How the money was spent in 1996". (Salyer, Larry. Global Director gives update on 1996 progress. In Transition. January 31, 1997; p:4).
United: "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 present 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)
Global: "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).
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." (Kubic, Victor. Personal Correspondence Department, August 5, 1995; p:2)
Global: "When we put all the N.T. scriptures together, we believe the Bible reveals that Christians are not 'born again', 'born anew', or 'born from above' NOW but will be 'born of the Spirit' (i.e., actually composed of Spirit) at the moment of our resurrection to immortality (1 Jo. 3:1-3-8; 1 Cor. 15:50-54; 1 Thes. 4:13-17)." (McNair, Raymond. Personal Correspondence. September 27, 1995; p:4)
God is/has/is like a Family?
United: "2.1.1 We believe in one God, the father, eternally existing, who is a Spirit, a personal being of supreme intelligence, knowledge, love, justice, power and authority. He, through Jesus Christ, is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them...2.1.16...We believe that the reason for mankind's existence is literally to be born as spirit beings into the family of God." (Constitution and Bylaws. New Beginnings. February 20, 1996; pp:14-15)
"First it is important to note that the statement 'God is a family' appears nowhere in scripture...it seems a more precise statement would be: God is like a family." (Faukoury, Gary. The God family and human destiny in Scripture. In Transition. November 18, 1996; p:10)
Global: "The Father is the greatest spirit Being in existence (John 14:28)...The Bible clearly reveals that both of the divine Personages known as the Father and the Son are eternally self-existent (John 5:26)...Ephesians 3:9 records that God 'created all things through Jesus Christ'...God IS one!...How is God one?...God--two Beings at present--is ONE family--but God wants US to all become ONE FAMILY with him. What a marvelous opportunity." (McNair, Raymond. The God You Can Know. Booklet. 1995; pp:4,5,9)
United: "Our position on abortion has not changed. It is clearly the taking of a human life, not to be used as a method of birth control. There are complexities attached to questions about abortion in the cases of rape and incest. We have in the past dealt with these on an individual basis, as people seek counsel." (Kubic, Victor. Personal Correspondence Department, August 5, 1995; p:2)
Global: The Global Church of God believes that ABORTION is to be equated with MURDER!... Is abortion, due to either a pregnancy brought about by incest or rape, murder in the sight of God? The taking of an innocent life is murder, regardless of the circumstances, or the emotional factors involved in the taking of the life." (McNair, Raymond. Personal Correspondence. September 27, 1995; p:5)
Wearing a Cross
United: "Re: wearing a cross as a symbol of devotion to God, I see this as a personal matter about which the Church of God need not make an issue." (Kubic, Victor. Personal Correspondence Department, August 5, 1995; p:2)
Global: "'Would it be wrong to wear a cross as an article of jewelry to show one's devotion to God?' ANSWER. The Bible forbids any kind of idolatry--reverencing of, or the worship of, anything other than the true God (Ex. 20:3-6). When one diligently researches the origin of the 'cross', he will find that it is a very ancient symbol, which was reverenced by the pagans thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ." (McNair, Raymond. Personal Correspondence. September 27, 1995; p:6)
Note: United has since taken a different position on the wearing of crosses.
United: "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 biblial 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." (Andrews, Steven and Anderson, John. Church Assistance Fund Donations. New Beginnings. November 4, 1996; pp.4-5)
Global: "'And at the end of every third year you shall bring out a tithe [a third tithe] of your produce of that year and store it within your gates' (Deut. 14:28)...How was this third tithe to be used? It was destined to those who were physically poor and needy. 'And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger [a landless foreign immigrant] and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do' (vs. 29)...The three tithes, which our Creator ordained to be a great blessing to all mankind, were designed to insure that these three important needs would always be taken care of: 1) God's ministry, 2) His festivals, and 3) the needs of the poor." (McNair, Raymond. Does God Really Command Three Tithes? Global Church News. Nov-Dec 1994; pp:14,17)
United: "Paul said that our change from physical mortal beings to glorified, immortal children of God--'the revealing of the sons of God'--is the pivotal event of God's entire creation, and our ultimate destiny." (Hulme, David. What is Your Destiny? Booklet. 1996; p:6)
"I believe we are to become God beings. So did Herbert W. Armstrong. Yet I have not heard any minister in the Worldwide Church of God or United Church of God say that since 1992. I have heard that we are to be in the Kingdom of God, in the family of God as sons of God, but not that we are to become God." (Lyon, Bruce. Writer reviews "The Incredible Human Potential". The Journal. September 25, 1997; p:28)
Global: "'Will true Christians literally become God at the resurrection? That is, literal members of the God family, born into that family at the resurrection? In other words, born sons of God, lessor in rank than the Father and the Son. Is God's purpose to reproduce himself?' ANSWER. Yes, God is now reproducing himself in the process called spiritual salvation." (McNair, Raymond. Personal Correspondence. September 27, 1995; p:4) "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; p:33)
Petra and the Place of Safety
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)
Global: "Rev 3:10...'Because you kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you' or 'I will keep you safe' 'through the hour of trial...which shall come upon all the world to try them which dwell on the earth'...If we are obedient to the instruction he gives, he promises us physical protection, physical refuge at the time of the end...
"Rev 12:14...'And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle that she may fly into the wilderness into her place where she is nourished...for a time, times, and half a time'...3 and 1/2 years...'out of the serpent's reach'...We are given three clues within the context of this verse of where the place is. So, first of all we are told you must go to this place or her place. Secondarily it says this place is in the wilderness...The third clue is that it is out of the serpent's reach...What area will be out of the devil's reach during the time of trial that will come upon the earth?
"Psalm 27:5 'For in the time of trouble', specifically the end of the age, 'He shall hide me'--where?--'in his shelter...in the secret of his tabernacle he shall set me upon a rock.' Daniel 11:41...'these shall escape out of his hand...Edom, Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon'...is the area of Modern day Jordan....Isaiah 16:4...'Let my outcasts dwell with you Moab; be you a covert to them from the face of the spoiler.' The spoiler is the King of the North...God has outcasts dwelling in the south of Moab at the close of the age.
"Isaiah 42...'Let the inhabitants of Sela sing', the word is Sela, translated rock, 'He shall prevail against his enemies.' In Isaiah 33...verse 15 'He that walks righteously...his place of refuge shall be the fortress of Sela. Bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure.' Sela...today it is still called the Greek name Petra. Sela and Petra ...both mean the same...both mean rock." (Smith, Harold. Place of Safety. Global Audiocassette, 1995)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to Dr. Thiel. November 13, 1997)
Global: "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 Laodecia. 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)
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)
Global: "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 Global 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)
"The church teaches essentially the same doctrines that Herbert W. Armstrong, the late pastor general of the WCG, referred to as the trunk of the tree". (Overton, Mac. Global Church of God said to teach the same doctrines as Mr. Armstrong. In Transition. May 5, 1995)
New Beginnings is an official publication of the United Church of God. The Global Church News and World Ahead magazine are official publications of the Global Church of God. In Transition and The Journal were never official publications of the United Church of God, but were both controlled by members of United. The "booklets" cited are official publications of the respective churches. The e-mail response to DrThiel was from United's official web site.
This writer has been told that Mr. Victor Kubik disavows writing the letter that had his signature on it. Whether he wrote it or not is not the issue here; the issue is that it was written by someone in (or connected to) United's "home office" (and sent to a prospective member) representing United's position (at the very least those of the actual writer) on those matters at that time.
There are many subjects were Global has stated a position and United has not yet (and to a lessor degree vice versa), thus those types of differences were not included above. There are other subjects which the two churches do not agree upon that this article did not address.
July 31, 1998 Update. Although some in UCG have criticized my statements regarding UCG's position on preaching the Gospel, Church eras, etc., UCG's new booklet titled Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God, An International Association, confirms that UCG does not teach church eras.
Since this booklet does not teach about Church eras, and I have quoted the UCG's official position (that is what I specifically asked UCG for), my quotation on this subject still stands. Also, UCG's member letter of June 17, 1998 and ministerial letter of June 26, 1998 indicate the UCG is not yet in a position to redirect much more of its finances to support more of the public proclaiming of the Gospel yet. I would like to add that other than on governance issues, none of the "doctrinal changes" in UCG 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)
A more recent article is Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God.
Laodecian 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 recently submitted to The Journal.
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B. Thiel 1998. Link update 2007