There have been several improper reports about me and why I (Bob Thiel) left the Living Church of God (LCG) and felt compelled to begin the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) on the internet from some who claim that they are part of the Church of God. Perhaps several of the real reasons were not clear enough to many. Part of this would be probably because I decided to not go through personal details about the likely motivations, etc. of those who made it so that staying with LCG was morally impossible for me.
The simple reason that I left was that I was convinced that LCG could no longer have the Philadelphia mantle because it did not sufficiently value the truth. LCG could no longer be considered the group that would lead the final phase of the work.
Why did I conclude this?
There were many reasons and circumstances. In the late Summer of 2005, Dr. Roderick C. Meredith (presiding evangelist of LCG) formally asked if I would be a volunteer advisor to the 'doctrinal committee' (basically meaning an advisor on these matters to the Charlotte-based evangelists) in the areas of doctrine and prophecy. I agreed. But over time became clearer that LCG's top leaders would not fulfill various promises, even when repeatedly reminded. Those promises, which began no later than 2006, mainly had to do with correcting literature/doctrinal errors that one or more of them had agreed to handle (see October 2012 Emails Related to GCA Booklet and December 2011 Proposed changes to LCG's Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs), the final phase of the work, and restoring information on church history, doctrine, and prophecy. They would not correct errors and did not have sufficient love of the truth. In 2011, it was becoming clearer that various leaders also did not take Matthew 18 seriously enough personally, and this was completely confirmed (to me at least) when instead of making biblically-needed corrections himself, at least one of the top leaders violated Matthew 18 and published for wide distribution, improper statements about me in September 2012. In January-December 2012 various promises were also not kept and there were also new some doctrinal concerns that came out. The rejection of biblical authority showed me that LCG really did not fully understand biblical governance.
Character counts. The bottom line is that I left LCG because LCG had (and still has) integrity and priority issues in conflict with scripture and had insufficient love of the truth. Therefore, I concluded that it no longer held the Philadelphia mantle as it could not be the church with 'the pillar and ground of the truth' (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15), nor did it have the ability to be able to complete the final phase of the work.
Now, for some more details. In May 2012, it appeared to me that a doctrinal change had possibly crept in--and it was one that the top leader of LCG had told me years earlier that he did not agree with, so at the time I thought that this change perhaps was simply the improper view of another LCG leader. But that doctrine became not only official, it was essentially declared as the defining doctrine for LCG. Here are some LCG statements on that:
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...
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.
Other statements that came out from sermons from an LCG evangelist were that if one did not accept this change, one had "spirit of error," was being "led by the error of the wicked," and "blinded to reality." In other words, those who held fast to the original teaching that the falling away has to do with those affiliated with the Church of God were being labeled as either not Christian or being influenced by Satan. My efforts to get LCG to not teach this condemnation were unsuccessful--and they condemned me for submitting inquiries about this.
On this particular doctrinal matter, an official statement from LCG improperly claimed:
“HWA did not apply “the” falling away to church members who know the truth and fall away.”
Yet, HWA specifically also taught that the falling away of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 had to do with Christians and that the later verses like verse 7 had to do with the Simon Magus type of "Christianity" (see Armstrong HW. The Incredible Human Potential. 1978, pp. 8, 161-162; coworker letter, February 21, 1974)--plus the church HWA ran did as well (see articles, Neff L. Why Some Fall Away. Good News, January 1961; Antion D. Will You Fall Away? Good News. May-June 1968--quotes are also in the article The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings). Thus the assertion was not true. And LCG would not correct this improper claim--actually it took it a step further and published the following:
As many readers of this magazine know, the organization led by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong for more than 50 years underwent a terrible crisis in the early 1990s, as his successors abandoned long-held doctrines of God’s Church and tried to bring the organization into “mainstream Christianity.” Scores of thousands left the Worldwide Church of God as its doctrines were changed. That organization even changed its name, acknowledging openly that it no longer considers itself a “Church of God.”
So, could that have been the “falling away” prophesied by Scripture? No less an authority than Mr. Armstrong himself would disagree with that assertion. (Tomorrows World, July-August 2012)
But that was highly presumptuous and not really true. Twice after that was published I spoke to Aaron Dean (who served as a personal aide to Herbert Armstrong in his latter years and probably spent more time with him then than any currently in any of the COGs) about how Herbert W. Armstrong viewed the falling away in his latter years. Aaron Dean specifically told me that it was Herbert W. Armstrong's view that the falling away would come as the result of his death and that at least 50% would fall away from the old Worldwide Church of God. Well, that did happen as the result of the Tkach-apostasy.
Another doctrinal issue was that LCG also began to more publicly teach that a Jerusalem temple would be required when it previously told me (in writing) that it would not do that again. LCG also began to distance itself from biblical teachings such as "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8)--and this was something that I had tried to resolve internally with LCG before (one of its top leaders told me that that although the Bible teaches "All that dwell on the earth will worship" the Beast, that this was only a reference to those in the final revived Roman-Beast Empire and did not mean the world"--which also seems to conflict with LCG's current "great rebellion/falling away teaching').
Dr. Meredith and others also made statements to me directly and indirectly that they would NOT teach certain beliefs publicly as they felt that teaching about certain doctrinal subjects would get them kicked off of television stations, especially those that were or leaned toward Protestantism--although I tried to work with them on this, they would not budge. This was another reason, to me at least, that LCG could not be counted on to lead the final phase of the work. I have emails from one or more LCG evangelists where they objected to doing parts of the warning message themselves, as well as notes from a meeting where they told me, and one was Dr. Meredith, that they were afraid that I was/could become too bold and that they did not want to take bold proclamation steps that could trigger the persecution that they teach is biblically prophesied
In addition, LCG would not correct other important literature errors that it had told me that it would. Instead LCG informed me in writing on 10/18/2012 that it would knowingly send out tens of thousands of improper booklets that perpetuate certain Catholic myths. Furthermore, it did not correct the known errors in its Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, which it had known about for at least two years (and told me would be corrected publicly by January 2012; see also December 2011 Proposed changes to LCG's Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs) (some of these matters are also listed in the article What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God?). Around that time, I also learned that LCG actually spent money in an effort to prevent me from taking certain steps that could be involved in proclaiming the gospel.
Furthermore, although all the LCG evangelists at one time or the other agreed with me privately about handling certain aspects of what I have termed the "final phase of the work," collectively they basically decided to not do what would be necessary for parts of this to be implemented (such as correcting known errors in literature that could cause "way of truth" to "be blasphemed," 2 Peter 2:2, and they also made statements indicating that they were not willing to boldly proclaim various truths). Instead, on 12/28/12, LCG sent out an improper letter against me that contained improper railing accusations and bore false witness (see Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel). Dr. Meredith has published, on at least two occasions, clearly false items about Bob Thiel, which he refused to discuss despite my repeated efforts--and this is remains something he has not repented of (my last reminder to directly to him was an email I sent him on 2/21/13 in response to an odd email he sent me on 2/20/13).
By 2011, I was aware that there seemed to be problems with Matthew 18:15-17 with at least part of the top leadership with LCG. Here is what Jesus taught:
15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)
So, because there were integrity issues that I felt needed to be dealt with, in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17, I tried to work with LCG on this in 2011 and 2012, and instead they violated it so much in 2012, this was a factor in my departure (see also Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel).
Notice something I wrote in a letter to Dr. Meredith on June 9, 2011:
I should perhaps let you know that I was once told by of the Charlotte staff that "Matthew 18:15-17" does not apply around here" (meaning Charlotte). I asked, "Shouldn't it?" And this staff member responded, "Of course it should, it just doesn't."
The person who told me that Matthew 18:15-17 did not apply to Charlotte, specifically told me he was referring to the top leadership--the evangelists and some others there in LCG Charlotte. This employee gave up on Matthew 18 with them. Although I tried repeatedly, this matter was not addressed. And, instead of keeping promises or responding to my Matthew 18:15-17 comment, it was ignored. But I complied with Matthew 18:15-17 as no church leader is above scripture.
LCG has ignored Matthew 18:15-17 both ways. The first is that certain leaders function like Matthew 18:15-17 does not apply to them if they have faults (like not keeping their promises), but also that they can violate it related to those who were affiliated with their organization.
Sadly, my own experience was that Dr. Meredith did not respond to my bringing up his lack of keeping his promises to me (he absolutely sinned against me), and then when I was with others to get him to do it, he still did not keep them, so I finally told "the church" in 2012 and 2013.
Furthermore, when Dr. Meredith sent out "to the church" letters against me, he never once 1) spoke to me about the issues per Matthew 18:15, 2) came to me with one or two others to discuss matter and 3) although I never refused correction (as no one told me about personal problems), he "told it to the church." Furthermore, what he told "to the church" contained false information and improper accusations (see Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel). This is not proper governance. LCG is not what its members hope that it is.
Related to Matthew 18:15-20, notice something I posted in January 2013:
01/05/13 a.m. As expected, some associated with the LCG ministry have leaked the 12/28/13 letter to me to anti-COG sources on the internet. They can later try to explain this to God as obviously several with insufficient love of the truth or trust in the word of God would not actually want to first talk to me to find out if these things are so (Matthew 18:15-20). The reality is that that letter contains false accusations, improper statements, and a variety of false statements. The Bible warns against spreading such things, for "whoever spreads slander is a fool" (Proverbs 10:18).
01/04/13 a.m...Yet, on September 6, 2012, with possible disregard of Matthew 18:15-17 and matters of prophetic authority (1 Corinthians 12:28), Dr. Meredith publically criticized Bob Thiel without previously discussing the related matters with him; nor did Dr. Winnail take certain steps related to promises related to doctrinal matters (Revelation 3:14-19).
Paying lip service to God's governance is not the same as truly accepting it. LCG has on several occasions I am aware of, violated Matthew 18:15-17 both ways.
The rationale? Basically, it appears to be that since Herbert Armstrong ordained Dr. Meredith as an evangelist so long ago, if something is or is not fine with him, that is God's government at work. That is simply not true. Here is something he wrote me on December 28, 2012 as part of his rationale for dismissing things about me (bolding and italics his):
Therefore, as the one Christ Himself has put in the office of Presiding Evangelist...I want to tell you...recognize that authority for your own good.
I have never challenged that Dr. Meredith was ordained as an evangelist. Yet, he and others need to realize that Christ expected His leaders to actually follow His words better than Dr. Meredith has, especially in the past couple of years. Dr. Meredith and others need to live by every word of God and not decide that they can overlook portions that are not convenient to their understanding of church governance.
To make sure this is clear, I did attempt to tell Dr. Meredith certain of his faults per Matthew 18:15-17 privately, and also tried to get others to assist as Matthew 18 says to do when that did not work, then finally I have told "it to the church" (Matthew 18:17) as Jesus said to do.
But, LCG not only did not approach me first, nor bring in others to discuss the matters with me, instead they publicly "told it to the church" on two or more ocassions and then what they told contained false witness. Nor would LCG correct any of it when told. Those who feel that LCG has proper church governance need to re-examine that (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
In summary Bob Thiel left LCG because:
Bob Thiel left LCG because he concluded that its approach to the truth, the word of God, doctrine, literature, condemnation/insinuations against members, and not keeping its word were not consistent with a group that could hold the Philadelphia mantle for the Church of God or finish the final phase of the work. He also had a dream a few years back that seemed to be being fulfilled (see Dreams, the Bible, and the Continuing Church of God).
Instead of speaking with me about several of these matters as I was led to believe would happen in late December 2012, on 12/28/2012, I was shocked to receive a factually incorrect letter from Dr. Roderick C. Meredith where he attacked the messenger (me) instead of dealing with the issues raised. Based upon its tone, numerous inaccurate statements, accusations, and his unwillingness to address the real issues that I wanted to bring up, this letter is 100% proof (to me at least) that my view that the Living Church of God lost the Philadelphia mantle was correct. And the letter proved that further attempts at reconciliation would be futile (see also Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel). I was saddened by this development and had hoped to avoid having to make a variety decisions. But, God’s will is to be done (Matthew 6:10; 1 John 2:17).
And all of this, combined with the fact that I had been told by a minister in LCG who laid hands on me that my anointing by him on 12/15/11 for a "double-portion" of God's Spirit was the type of event that showed the passing of the mantle to me, helped me conclude by 12/28/12 that it was necessary to leave LCG and form the Continuing Church of God. The faithful work of God must be done (Matthew 24:14) and LCG demonstrated to me that it could not be the main group that God would use to lead or accomplish it. Perhaps I should mention that while some question my ordination, many also questioned the Apostle Paul's (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:5, 22-29)--others have also had concerns about God's anointing and ordinations (2 Kings 9:1-11; Jeremiah 43:2). God does not always do things the way humans think He does (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).
Now, while I never have questioned Dr. Meredith's ordination, it should be understood that the late Herbert W. Armstrong stated that Dr. Meredith "should never, ever be over the church." Why mention that here? Because matters have not always preceded in the Church of God the way many of its leaders or members thought it should (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).
As far as God's view on certain older leaders, notice also the following:
13 Better a poor and wise youth
Than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more. (Ecclesiastes 4:13)
Dr. Meredith made me promise, over my objections, over a decade ago that I had to tell him when I felt he was 'pulling punches' (compromising in statements on doctrine and prophecy). He then bore improper witness against me for me keeping my word. Some may not feel that Ecclesiastes 4:13 applies here, but my experience says that it does. God replaced top religious leaders before (2 Kings 2:9-13; Isaiah 22:15-25), so it should be no surprise that He could do this again.
24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)
Yet, sadly, most in LCG do not REALLY seem to understand what Jesus meant here. People are not improper judgments based upon false and improper accusations, yet it seems that many in LCG seemingly have done so. All of God's commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172) and, thus, judgments need to be based on the Ten Commandments.
Additionally all should understand, that in the past, Dr. Meredith has specifically taught that LCG members were not to follow him in the event he commits some type of major apostasy. By accepting and promoting the falling away change, allowing LCG to be defined by that change, and by allowing the repeated condemnation of those that do not agree with that change, combined with not keeping his word, being unwilling to accept the correction he asked for (from me personally and others), knowingly putting out incorrect literature, and not repenting of sending out improper accusations, encouraging a form of institutional idolatry that he used to condemn (Meredith RC. Second Commandment. Plain Truth, March 1960, p. 27), etc., I believe that this demonstrates that he has committed sufficiently major apostasy. But since it was in a lot pieces, many seem unwilling to realize the seriousness of all of this.
Hopefully, this will help some better understand why I did what I felt had to be done.
It has been my experience that about a third of those in LCG (and probably a higher percentage of its employees) realize that LCG has significant integrity, hypocrisy, and/or doctrinal issues. Yet, most dismiss them as insufficiently important for many reasons--I believe that when they do so, they are denying the word of God (cf. Revelation 3:8). They rationalize that since LCG does have a major media presence, does have more congregations to attend than CCOG, Dr. Meredith was ordained by the late Herbert Armstrong, they do not personally have to believe the heretical teachings themselves (even though one of them, the falling away, has declared to be THE doctrine to separate LCG from others), and LCG has a ministry that they are comfortable with, that somehow God will work it out and they do not have to be that concerned themselves--this attitude is close to, if not truly, idolatrous and Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-19).
The Bible teaches:
40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: 41 'Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.'" (Acts 13:40-41)
And most in LCG (and other COG groups) will not believe it, even though they were told and could see the truth if they were willing. The Final Phase of the Work is not being led by LCG, but CCOG.
The fact that the Continuing Church of God proved itself to be the most successful non-GTA group to leave WCG/GCG/LCG in its first 30 days of existence (see CCOG met COG proclamation goal) is overly discounted by many who cling to organizational hopes over love of the truth. Love of the truth is something I repeatedly tried to remind LCG it needed more of (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10; John 8:32). The fact that as of March 2014, cogwriter.com is significantly more popular than any LCG website, despite the vastly more manpower and money LCG expends on its websites compared to what CCOG does.
Many who claim to be Philadelphian have compromised too much. LCG has repeatedly been relying on traditions of men instead of the Bible or proper biblical church governance to try to justify improper positions (the 'man of sin' doctrine is one such example)--it claims to practice proper church governance but is unwilling to really do so (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
The Bible, of course, teaches, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). And I believe that God has worked it out--it is just that many do not realize that God does not always work things out the way humans, even in the COG, think that He will (the Tkach succession comes to immediate mind here). Many also overlook the fact that the late Herbert W. Armstrong did not have the type of baptism that most in the COG require and that he left the old CG7 for similar reasons that I left LCG (A.N. Dugger, former CG7 leader, had problem in being unwilling to change incorrect doctrine, proclaim certain doctrines publicly that he agreed were right, boldly try to fulfill Matthew 24:14, etc. and he also had some personal integrity issues). If you believe that you would have personally been willing to follow Herbert W. Armstrong and support the Radio Church of God then, you should be even more willing to support the Continuing Church of God now.
Anyway, unless there is a massive change at LCG, I believe that it will not again have the Philadelphia mantle and hence is not the group that those who wish to be Philadelphian would chose to support. I believe that the fruits and the approach that the Continuing Church of God has already began to demonstrate can help those who wish to be Philadelphian realize that they should support the Continuing Church of God.
If you believe that you are Philadelphian (in whatever group, if any, you may be part of), but you suspect that LCG could possibly be more Philadelphian than the Continuing Church of God, then I have a mild challenge. Please watch the entire two part sermon The Falling Away Part 1: From the Bible and Church History and The Falling Away Part 2: Positions Presented by Others as well as study the article The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings. Also, study Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? and/or watch the video Who is the Man of Sin? and the article Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel.
If after you watch/read those, you do not believe that the Continuing Church of God is biblically correct, then I would agree with you that LCG is a probably better choice for you. But if you study them and act like the more "fair-minded" Bereans, to search the scriptures and the other source materials I refer to in order to see if what I said is so (Acts 17:10-11) and you find it to be, then you need to ask yourself how a group like LCG that promotes such blatant error, and is sticking to those errors apparently for at least the sake of its organizational unity (which in the past Dr. Meredith called idolatry), can possibly still have the Philadelphia mantle?
Are you like the Bereans or are you sure that what I am saying is not so?
I have not bore false witness on these matters. Character counts. Anyone who believes that I have not been accurate about this has sadly chosen to believe a lie.
Anyway, hopefully this article will help those still trying to sort this out. Do you really want to be Philadelphian and support the final phase of the work?
Despite all I have written about this, someone in August 2013 totally misconstrued why I left, so here is another synoposis worded a different way: Because of false statements made by evangelists in the Living Church of God, repeated promises broken by evangelists in the Living Church of God, LCG evangelists acting as they were above the Bible and not applying Matthew 18, LCG evangelists knowingly distributing error-filled literature demonstrating insufficeint love for the truth, having significant prophetic misunderstandings introduced by LCG evangelists, and a disregard for the final phase of the work by LCG evangelists, it was necessary for Bob Thiel to leave the Living Church of God. Hopefully, that is clear.
(Note: A brief list of LCG doctrinal concerns is included in the article What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God? and December 2011 Proposed changes to LCG's Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs.)
(Also, the following three posts should help demonstrate that the Continuing Church of God is serious, as well as effective, about working to fulfill Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20: CCOG met COG proclamation goal and CCOG announces Bible News Prophecy magazine and CCOG magazines and articles in the Spanish language. It may also be of interest to note that CCOG also had materials available online in the languages of Tagolog, Kiswahili, Mandarin Chinese, and more. We have also reached people in at least 220 countries via the internet as well as millions over the radio (see also the post Continuing Church of God first year anniversary: What is being accomplished? and/or watch the sermon Continuing Church of God first year anniversary: What is being Accomplished?). CCOG is getting the gospel out. God's will is to be accomplished--are you really willing to support His plan?)
Thiel B. Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God. http://www.cogwriter.com/why-bob-thiel-left-the-living-church-of-god.htm 2013/2014 0320