This article discusses the Living Church of God (LCG), and to a lessor degree, the Continuing Church of God (CCOG).
The top leaders in the Living Church of God were all once part of the old WCG. When WCG went into apostasy under the Tkach Administration, a long-time evangelist named Roderick C. Meredith was essentially told to stop preaching or he would lose financial support. He ignored the financial offer and formed the Global Church of God. Thousands who had been part of the old WCG then supported him. In 1998, after he made a variety of public statements about governance (some of which were contradictory), a leadership coup took over GCG, and the Living Church of God was formed. Most who had been part of GCG went to LCG. Currently around 9,000 people are affiliated with LCG.
The Living Church of God, like the old WCG, believes that the book of Revelation reveals a succession of seven churches, sometimes called "church eras," which show certain characteristics of the true church throughout history.
However, regarding other COGs, LCG was initially unique.
Like GCG, LCG initially took up the 'Philadelphian work' (Revelation 3) by placing its top priority on proclaiming the Gospel while also teaching the 18 truths that Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) claimed were restored to that era--no other large COG did both (others improperly changed the work, while some will not teach all the 18 restored truths).
Here are some historical quotes from LCG teachings on these points:
These quotes shows where Living differed from the other COGs--Living claimed to represent the largest remnant of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God, taught the 18 truths that God used Herbert Armstrong to restore to the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God, and placed a high priority on proclaiming the Gospel. It also has the largest television presence of any COG and hence made significant financial commitments to gospel proclamation.
The Living Church of God is the remnant of the Philadelphia Church continuing into the Laodicean era (Winnail, D. Lessons from Revelation 2 & 3. Sermon, DVE 407. March 7, 2007, Charlotte, NC).
We believe we are the Philadelphia remnant. Philadelphia means brotherly love. (Winnail, D. Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, and You. Sermon, PENE-11-PM. May 23, 2010, Charlotte, NC).
'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...
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!...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, July-August 2001).
We are trying to do that work today--the work of the Philadelphia era of the Church (Meredith RC. The Destiny of America and Britain. Sermon, July 24, 2010).
As far as I can tell, LCG was the first major group which knew that the 18 truths were not the 1986 Tkach list (some other groups rely on an article published by the Tkach administration in 1986 or do not teach believe they must teach the 18)--although sometimes the Tkach list has been apparently used in some sermons by some LCG leaders.
Yet, beginning in 2012, LCG began to officially teach that those that do not agree to a certain doctrinal change (related to 2 Thessalonians 2:3; see The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings) have somehow been led by, or blinded by, Satan.
That was not a Philadelphian attribute.
In meetings with the three Charlotte evangelists and myself held on December 15 and 16, 2011, Dr. Meredith promised to make certain changes and corrections to LCG's Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs by the end of January 2012. This had been promised in the past, but this time he seemed insistent that he would at least resolve the main issues by then (see also December 2011 Proposed changes to LCG's Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, my proposed changes to the Statement are in shown in red and explanations are shown in the footnotes that were also submitted).
Yet in January/February 2012, it was becoming clearer that promises to correct and resolve certain matters that were made to Bob Thiel in mid-to-late December 2011 were not going to happen (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God or en el idioma espaÃ±ol: Â¿Por quÃ© Bob Thiel dejÃ³ la Iglesia del Dios Viviente?). This was causing concern.
Furthermore, for Passover 2012, a DVD was sent out featuring Dr. Scott Winnail where he made a biblically-improper comment to the effect that Jesus was not present at Passover--and while he may not have meant it the way he said it, his statement was basically consistent with certain Protestant statements that I heard in the past and this was a concern. I believe I later discussed this with my then LCG Regional Pastor who seemed to agree with me, but as far as I could tell, LCG was not planning on correcting it and never did send out a retraction.
In May 2012, Dr. Meredith sent out one or more disturbing statements related to the falling away of 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So, I immediately sent him and the other Charlotte-based evangelist an email with some of my concerns while urging them to look at additional facts and scriptures.
On June 1, 2012, a carefully scripted must-play sermon was produced in LCG's television studio featuring LCG Evangelist Dr. Douglas Winnail (which I did not see until July 14, 2012--and it caused me to start making changes to the COGwriter.com website--beginning that day). The subject was on the falling away of 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The sermon relied heavily upon Protestant commentaries and did not actually quote a variety of relevant scriptures or quotes from the old Radio Church of God/Worldwide Church of God that disagreed with Dr. Winnail's conclusions. But seemed to give the impression that it did (some that were missed are in the article The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings).
Here is some of what Dr. Winnail taught in that sermon:
Falling Away - ImplicationsClarifying 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.Â 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.
Thus, according to Dr. Winnail the "falling away" doctrine is what is to set LCG apart from others--and therefore he considers this as a defining doctrine for LCG. I asked Dr. Meredith about that, but never got a response, hence I concluded that he must agree with Dr. Winnail (especially since Dr.Winnail, orally and in writing, insisted that his position was the position of the Council of Elders and his position was in an official "must-play" scripted sermon--though at least one Council member told me that he would not accept Dr. Winnail's position). Those interested in a more biblical and historical view of the subject of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 may wish to read the article The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings (in Spanish/espaÃ±ol: La ApostasÃa: EnseÃ±anzas de la Biblia y de la WCG) or watch the two videos The Falling Away Part 1: From the Bible and Church History and The Falling Away Part 2: Positions Presented by Others with the former one more biblically-focused latter one more related to LCG-positions.
Beyond the doctrinal error itself, there was something highly disturbing about the sermon. And that was the implication that those who did not agree with it had the "spirit of error."
Dr. Winnail stated, while showing 1 John 4:1-6, 2 Peter 3:17-18, and Luke 21:36, that:
You must be able to discern the spirit of truth from the spirit of error.
...do not be led by the error of the wicked...These are admonitions we find in the scriptures...Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free...
Watch and pray that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
The above suggested that those who disagree are following the spirit of error, and hence not Christians (Dr. Winnail also made other comments between those shown above that did so as well) as that is clearly what scriptures such as 1 John 4:1-6 teach.Â
So this was a major concern to me and I began to change the COGwriter.com website immediately after watching it, while also contacting the three LCG Charlotte-based evangelists and certain ministers about this (I also met with Richard Ames on October 8, 2012). But without getting this matter resolved from Charlotte.
On October 18, 2012, I received an email from William Bowmer (Executive Editor for LCG's print publications) where he informed me that despite known errors in LCG's God's Church through the Ages booklet, that at least 20,000 more would be sent out--thus admitting that LCG was knowingly providing incorrect information to those actually interested in COG history (for more details about the errors, etc., please check out October 2012 Emails Related to GCA Booklet; for a more accurate overview of church history, please check out the pdf booklet Continuing History of the Church of God).
Then on December 15, 2012, I watched LCG sermon DVE727 titled Watch and Get Ready by Dr. D. Winnail. In it, after referring to why Protestant commentaries support his position on the "falling away," Dr. Winnail stated that those who do not agree are "blinded to the reality" of what he was teaching. Since it is Satan who blinds the world (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9), this seemed to be an attack against the people of God who did not agree with Dr. Winnail's falling away position.
Thus, in two different sermons Dr. Winnail suggested that those who did not agree with him were being influenced by Satan or perhaps not even Christians. This, in my view, was extremely serious, crossed the line, was totally inappropriate, and not at all a Philadelphian approach to this subject.
Watching those sermons caused me to make multiple attempts to contact Dr. Meredith to see if he would disavow any of these statements and conclusions. Instead, on 12/28/12 he ignored the issues that I raised (cf. Revelation 3:14-19) and issued an improper and error-filled letter against me (for the letter and details see Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel). Dr. Meredith attacked the messenger (me) and would not deal with the message or issues raised. He wrote things about me that he should have known were not true and then passed it on to the LCG ministry, who then got it posted all over the internet. This was just another example of how LCG did not seem to believe that Matthew 18 applied to its leaders and that there was insufficient "love of the truth" at LCG (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God). Attacking the messenger and not dealing with the issue was highly inappropriate (as was publishing statements against me that were not true; see also Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory letter to Bob Thiel).
This, combined with other earlier responses, clearly demonstrated insufficient love for the truth and that further attempts at reconciliation then were futile. Therefore, the Continuing Church of God was then formed as it was clear that LCG no longer could possibly have the Philadelphia mantle (especially since an LCG minister had started to suggest that to me about a year earlier).
It should also be noted that a must-play sermon from Dr. Meredith was played in many LCG congregations on this falling away subject in May 2013, which improperly confirmed Dr. Winnail's position. Some details are in the article The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings.
LCG has, for some apparently carnal reasons, chosen to define itself by a doctrinal change that is wrong and in conflict with scripture. Why would any choose to overlook this?
LCG has had a change of direction because of the falling away promotion and self-identification. This is a concern and should be a concern to those that remain part of it. The directional change, etc., sadly helps demonstrate that LCG has identified itself as a Laodicean organization.
In addition, it also wrote that if one did not agree with its biblically incorrect view on the identity of the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians (see Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?), one does not understand biblical prophecy.
Hence, in at least two different ocassions in which it promotes prophetic error, LCG is teaching that this is what defines it as a church. Yet, many still support it. Do those in LCG not understand Christ's warnings to the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-22)?
Many have recently asked me for a list of doctrinal differences between LCG and the Continuing Church of God. The following is not all inclusive (there are more that I will likely add later), as far as doctrines, unlike Charlotte, CCOG believes:
Anyway, while there are others, the above gives some reasons why those who wish to truly be part of the Philadelphia remnant would want to consider supporting the Continuing Church of God. (More information can also be found in the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God. Here is a related link in Spanish/espaÃ±ol: DeclaraciÃ³n de las Doctrinas de la ContinuaciÃ³n de la Iglesia de Dios. Here is a related link in Tagalog: Paglalahad ng Mga Paniniwala ng Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos.)
The bottom line is that because LCG has integrity issues (some of which are more important than many doctrinal differences) and other factors, it no longer can hold the Philadelphia mantle and it has demonstrated that does it did not have the ability to be able to complete the final phase of the work.
Notice something that the Bible teaches:
15... I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)
The pillar/the mantle will be with the group/leader that has the most truth, values the truth the most, and makes major effort to proclaim the truth--that is clearly now CCOG and not LCG.
If you believe that you are Philadelphian, and 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 and study the related article The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings with your Bible; also check out the article Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? If after you study those, you do not believe that the Continuing Church of God is correct, then I would agree with you that LCG is a probably better choice for you. But if you watch 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, 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 (for those who want to know a little more about why I left LCG, please check out the article Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God). Those who believe otherwise are believing a lie.
As far as gospel proclamation priorities go, let me state that in its first month of official existence, the Continuing Church of God. reached more people with parts of Christ's gospel of the kingdom than any other non-GTA group as far as I have been able to tell. Basically, two million or so via radio and 100,000 or so via the internet. Thus, CCOG has the fruits that Philadelphians should be looking for. And since then? CCOG has reached millions more via radio and millions more on the internet, as well as put out printed materials in four languages, and internet materials in at least six languages (for specific details, please check out CCOG's weekly Letters to the Brethren).
Although some in LCG prefer to believe their internet impact is higher than it is, I like to use a source such as Alexa to give a relative impact on how websites compare to the multiple millions of sites out there. One page suggested that there are about 500,000,000 websites.
Alexa Rank Checker is one of the most accurate and freely available tools to find out how well your site ranks up against millions of other sites on the Web. http://www.seomastering.com/alexa-rank-checker.php viewed 10/31/13
The lower the number of an Alexa rating the greater the impact. For example, google.com has an Alexa ranking of 1, meaning it is the most popular website in the world, and facebook.com has an Alexa ranking of 2, meaning that it is the second most popular website in the world according to Alexa (number 3 is YouTube.com). As of 2013, Alexa provides traffic data, global rankings and other information on 30 million websites, and thus any not Alexa rated have very limited reach and simply are not popular.
Here is the Alexa ranked popularity of the main websites of CCOG and LCG that were displayed by Alexa 10/30/13:
The above suggests that the popularity reach of the Continuing Church of God greatly exceeds LCG's reach. Yet, that is not completely accurate as LCG's youtube presence is included above as Alexa does not do so for individual channels. But it does show, that even without having a full-time internet staff that the Continuing Church of God basically does better reaching people over the internet. Some indicated to me that even while in LCG, the internet success of cogwriter.com was a concern to some LCG leadership do to pride and/or envy on their part.
But the Alexa rankings clearly do show is that despite all the money and effort that LCG has put into its internet presence, the COGwriter.com website is much, much, more popular than any offical LCG website.
Only one can lead the final phase of the work and, without massive change, it will not be LCG--and LCG is not leading it now.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Apparently, however, some in LCG did not want people to hear the above about Alexa, as they do not want people to believe the facts.
Why do I say this?
On November 29, 2013, Wallace Smith of the Living Church of God posted the following:
This particular fellow likes Alexa, and for good reason. It is the only “measuring” instrument that I know of that makes his internet efforts look so decent. I explained why that is in my post. However, this time he has trotted out a quote from a source that seems supportive: a website called “seomastering.com.”
Before looking at what the website actually says, it’s worth noting two things. One is that I’ve read that many “SEO” folks like Alexa because it is so easily manipulated to make websites seem better than they are...
“Alexa ranking is deeply tilted towards web sites which have many webmaster viewers. This is because web masters are much more likely to have Alexa toolbar installed.” (page: http://www.seomastering.com/seo-articales/alexa-ranking.php)
Note: The last comment is under the section of their page titled “Troubles with the Alexa Rank.”
Ha! Convenient, huh? Maybe our Alexa fan should check out his sources better. Could have been too busy patting himself on the back. Admittedly, it’s hard to do type on your blog and pat yourself on the back at the same time. (I know. I’m currently having the same difficulty. )
Actually, the hits keep on coming.
That last webpage talks about how to increase your Alexa rankings. If your Alexa ranking was a good read of your site’s actual popularity, then the way to increase your ranking should be “improve your popularity.” (Duh.) However, check out the list: It is full of all sorts of “cheats” and “shortcuts” that, with one exception, have absolutely nothing to do with having a truly popular website. Rather, they are exactly the sort of things that I explained in my post would impact a website that has a perverse appeal to COGers, who are known to have a disproportionate number of Alexa toolbars installed...
In the case of our Alexa fan, the users with an unusually high are COGers...
Again: If someone is aware of these things and he continues to use Alexa as evidence of the “greatness” of his personal work, he is either being dishonest or he is self-deluded.
Thus, in addition to passing on insults, Wallace Smith is flatly accusing me of being dishonest or self-deluded. He also later in his post claims my use of (verifiable) numbers is deceitful.
The facts prove that neither of those accusations against me are true.
Wallace Smith also posted:
And as for the “flag draping” Alexa fan I mentioned parenthetically up there who keeps beating the same drum–no matter how tattered and torn that drum gets–forgive me as I mix my metaphors by recommending a prescription: (1) Read Proverbs 20:10 & 23, (2) consider what you’ve claimed of others concerning having (ahem) a “love of the truth”, and (3) prayerfully study Matthew 7:3-5.
My apologies for those who find all of this minutia boring. Frankly, I do too. But when minutia is used to deceive (even self-deceive) and accuse, it’s helpful to get some honest perspective. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be convincing anyone, as I have heard of literally zero people who find such figures convincing. But in the event that anyone ever does get confused by such nonsense and “horn tooting”, hopefully this can be a resource for them.
Wallace Smith's "perspective" on this is not, in my view, honest. I am also not 'flag draping.' Yet, if he is saying that most of the people he knows prefer to believe a lie than the facts, that is sad, though probably true. LCG simply does not have the Philadelphia mantle anymore, so it is little surprise that most there will accept these improper attacks against me as valid and will choose not to believe the truths I try to report.
It was only because someone else associated with LCG seemed to believe what Wallace Smith posted and mentioned that post in an email dated December 13, 2013 (I long ago learned not to trust Wallace Smith's judgment on many matters, hence do not tend to frequent his website--back when I was in LCG, I attempted to follow Matthew 18 and on various occasions had others try to dispel his misinformation from him about matters, include me and my writings--so apparently now is the time to "tell it to the church") that I decided to respond to Wallace Smith's post with the facts.
What are the facts?
Anyone can check out the Alexa rankings by simply going to Alexa.com and entering a website URL. Sadly, others seem to want to dissuade people from accepting the facts. Do you wish to believe the truth or are you more comfortable accepting thinly veiled accusations?
Millions of articles have been viewed by people in at least 220 countries via the internet and millions have been reached 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.
There are a few complaints about/against LCG that perhaps should be addressed here. They vary in terms of relevance.
1) I have heard that LCG and groups like it are a cult.
The Bible shows that the true Church of God would be a little flock (Luke 12:32) and called a variety of names (including cult per Acts 24:2,5,10-14, New Living Translation). For more information about Christians being part of a 'cult,' please check out the article Is the Genuine Church of God a Cult?
2) I have heard bad things about Roderick Meredith (plus HWA did not appoint him to take over the Church).
So have I. Some of his statements are not Philadelphian and contradict facts I am aware of. Also several public statements made in 2012 and 2013 clearly contradict the Bible. But he has made efforts to proclaim the gospel (in a manner that will not get him kicked off television stations), does claim to believe the Bible, etc., despite publishing clearly false items about Bob Thiel--which is something he has not repented of (see also Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel).
3) I have heard that some member(s) or minister(s) in LCG has (have) made one or more mistakes.
This is true, though some who say things like this often do not have the whole story, though sometimes they do.
Though imperfection, per se, is not a biblically sanctioned reason to not be part of a group (though requiring one to believe something against one's conscience, would be a valid reason, cf. Acts 24:16; and there are other valid reasons; such as knowingly and publicly bearing false witness--which at least two in LCG have done against me).
4) I do not believe in hierarchical governance.
Those who state this do not seem to understand what the Bible teaches about governance and also clearly do not accept the 18 truths that HWA stated were restored to the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God, hence I would not expect them to support groups tht profess it unless they are led to do more Bible study on the topic.
HWA himself taught:
But to go on with the things that have been restored...The government of God has been restored to the Church, and the government of God has been placed in the Church. You read that in Ephesians 4 and I Corinthians 12. Christ is the head of the Church and under Christ in the administration of the government are an apostle or apostles, then evangelists, then pastors, then all are called elders, all ministers all the way up clear down to the lowest. So then there are teachers and elders both speaking elders and preaching elders, deacons and deaconesses. And the Church is restored in that form of government. The Sardis Church even didn't have the right form of government (Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, 12/17/83).
The government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be 'government by the consent of the governed' (Armstrong HW. Mystery of the Ages. p.49).
Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote about Jesus' idea of governance:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).
People who wish to live by every word of God should realize that God supports a biblical hierarchical governance (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government). The reality is that having a biblically proper form of governance helps protect people from various heresies and unstable doctrine. However, this is not to state that LCG now properly accepts God's form of governance (it has demonstrated inappropriate interpretations sometimes and refuses to truly accept the order in 1 Corinthians 12:28--and absolutely shows signs of what Dr. Meredith used to refer to as institutional IDOLATRY), but unlike some other groups, it claims to.
Despite its claims, it has refused to accept that God could now have any in an office above an evangelist (letter of 12/28/12 and FOT sermon 2012), despite what the Bible teaches (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God). So, there is a problem amongst those in LCG who claim to believe in hierarchical governance as they have demonstrated an unwillingness to humbly accept how God has handled certain matters.
5) LCG does not truly practice Matthew 18:15-17.
Sadly, to a significant degree, this is true. 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.
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 to point our their issues 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. There is a major pride issue amongst at least three evangelists in LCG.
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; for more details, see Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel):
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 expects 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. There is a major pride issue amongst many leaders and members of LCG when it comes to the matter of governance which reminds me of what I have heard from Roman Catholics (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
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 also 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.
6) LCG has old leaders and will not be around long enough to support the organization.
It is true that LCG is led by one in his 80s who has health and other issues, and refused to accept admonitions that he requested (cf. Ecclesiastes 4:13).
God places leaders in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28) and it is He, and not man (or an organization per se) we should look towards.
The teachings and practices, not the age of, leaders is the issue all should consider.
7) I have heard that LCG has integrity issues.
Sadly, this is much more true than it should be. See also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God (En el idioma espaÃ±ol: Â¿Por quÃ© Bob Thiel dejÃ³ la Iglesia del Dios Viviente?) A major problem that those in LCG have is that they willingly deny God's word (hence they are not Philadelphian, as the Philadelphians do not deny it per Revelation 3:7-8) as they often misundertand proper church governance (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
LCG repeatedly has held church-wide fasts for spiritual-gifts (mainly, but not always only for healing), yet has difficulty accepting various spiritual gifts. Its leadership demonstrated that it would betray someone that it repeatedly stated that God may be considering/using/training as a prophet (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God). Thus, how can any believe that God could raise either of the two witnesses from LCG if they discount gifts that they have allegedly had people fast for? (Another item of possibly related interest may also be Dreams, the Bible, and the Continuing Church of God.)
Despite all I have written about my departure, 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, 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.
A major problem is that many in LCG seem to believe that if something is taught by an evangelist, it must be accepted or at least tolerated, even when they are convinced that it is in violation of the word of God. This is similar to how those in the Church of Rome also view their leaders positions and this is a major error (e.g. The Falling Away: The Bible, WCG, and LCG Teachings).
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.
Many in LCG realized that I was LCG's most prolific supporter from the beginning until sometime in 2012. While I have explained some of the reasons why I left LCG (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God), I have tended not to write much about why some in LCG may have wanted me out. While closer observers of the COGwriter.com website could have seen that from the date that I first watched the "falling away" sermon, I began to distance myself from LCG, basically none seemed to realize why LCG began to distance itself from me.
After the leadership in Charlotte realized that I was not accepting the "falling away" changes, on September 8, 2012, members in the Living Church of God were read at services a letter from Dr. Meredith condemning my new book Barack Obama and the Destruction of the United States. He stated it had “much of which we do not agree with.” A few days later, Dr. Meredith wrote me in an email dated September 13, 2012 where he discussed LCG concerns about the book. Dr. Meredith (nor anyone in LCG) had once talked to me privately or with any others about their concerns as Matthew 18 indicated that they should, before "telling it to the church" (Matthew 18:17).
At the onset, let me state that there were no doctrinal problems that LCG stated that the book contained. One of the main issues seemed to be having Barack Obama, etc. on the cover. According to Dr. Meredith’s 9/13/12 email to me the book, “certainly could get government agencies looking into our negativism.” Dr. Meredith objected to what he called the “alarmist” tenor of the book (cf. Joel 2:1; Ezekiel 3:16-21) as well as my use of Catholic (2 Corinthians 2:11) and Muslim prophecies (cf. Acts 17:22-30).
Later, on December 28, 2012, in a letter to me that was supposedly intended to have had limited distribution, but that one or more LCG leaders made public (see also Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel), Dr. Meredith wrote:
I have understood for years your tendency to bring in “odd” or “Catholic prophesies” or put unusual twists on scripture in such a way that no true prophet of God would ever do.
The above statement was quite strange to me. If the above is something that Dr. Meredith understood for years as he wrote then, why would he tell me that God may consider me to be a prophet and never object to me about my use of Catholic and Islamic prophecies?Â Why would he a year earlier have told me to continue to do the types of writings and other works I was doing? The Apostle Paul considered that he was a prophet (1 Corinthians 13:9), and he cited non-biblical prophecies/sources, etc. (Acts 17:18-30) as he tried to reach all (1 Corinthians 9:19-22) should this have disqualified him according to what Dr. Meredith seemingly implied?
Some asked me about “errors” in the “Obama” book. Here are the actual “errors” Dr. Meredith specified in his September 13, 2012 email to me:
Perhaps you did not realize it, but there are a number of easily provable factual errors such as your statement on page 13, “In his 2007 book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.” But this book by Barack Obama was actually published in 1995, not in 2007. On page 44 you give us “17 Reasons Why Barack Obama is Apocalyptic.” Yet on page 45 you promise “fifteen” reasons before listing 17.
Now, within a day or so of receiving this email, I wrote Dr. Meredith back and informed him that the edition of the Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance book I quoted from was dated 2007 (the fact that Barack Obama had earlier editions, did not invalidate the publication date of edition I cited). Thus, this was not a factual error. Additionally, while it is true I originally write that I had at least fifteen 'apocalyptic' reasons and later increased it to at least seventeen, the fact that I overlooked one mention in the book that said fifteen was an error in editing, which I fixed in the book within days of learning of it.
THOSE WERE THE ONLY ACTUAL “ERRORS” THAT DR. MEREDITH POINTED OUT TO ME IN MY BOOK!
Furthermore, LCG members should ask themselves if publicly blasting me my book without at least discussing the issues with me was appropriate as LCG knew about the book before it came out?
As far as Dr. Meredith being against me for my quoting Catholic and Muslim prophecies, there are many problems with the hypocrisy of that which I will now attempt to address.
1) In 2007 or 2008, my paper on Catholic prophecies was distributed to the LCG Council of Elders, some of which made positive comments about the insights my paper on them provided.
2) Additionally, Dr. Meredith told me in 2009 that he was praying for the success of my book 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect. Dibar Apartian read the book at the time and also approved its content. That particular book had many of the exact same Catholic and Muslim prophecies that were also in the Barack Obama and the Destruction of the United States book.
Chapter 8 of 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect was titled Barack Obama, Islam, and the End of America. I would also add that chapter 8 of 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect had the same photo of US President Barack Obama that was on the front cover Barack Obama and the Destruction of the United States book combined with the fire that was shown on the cover on my 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect book.
3) All of the three Charlotte-based evangelists in the Living Church of God (and others in that church) cite Catholic and Muslim prophecies themselves. LCG literature contains references to the prophecies of Catholic Bishop Malachy and this has happened even after 'condemning' me for doing so. For one example, see the cover article by Dr. D. Winnail in May-June 2013 edition of Tomorrow's World magazine titled Francis I: The Final Pope? It referred to the Malachy prophecies. Others have as well (e.g. The pope resigns: what’s next? LCG Commentary, February 15, 2013).
Furthermore not including the weekly updates, LCG has mentioned the Imam Mahdi in at least nine articles (for one example, see Middle East events and Muslim prophecy, Commentary, April 06, 2011) and one booklet. Here is a quote from a booklet by Dr. Meredith:
Indeed, a coming "Mahdi" whose arrival Muslims are expecting in Bible prophecy known as the "King of the South" (Daniel 11:40-45) will soon arise and have a dramatic impact on world events. This powerful Muslim religious leader will unite many of the more than one billion Muslims. He will pose a genuine threat to the coming European Empire, which will have to crush that threat in order to continue exploiting Middle Eastern oil to further its military ambitions. (Meredith RC. Prophecy Fulfilled: God's Hand in World Affairs. LCG booklet)
The Imam Mahdi is a person specifically from Shi-ite Muslim prophecy.
LCG has also referred to other non-biblical prophecies in a variety of its materials.
4) Back in 2009, when I visited Charlotte, to encourage me to use Catholic prophecies, evangelist Richard Ames told me that the old Radio Church of God had used Catholic prophecies the same way that I had used them. He then had William Bowmer give me a copy of a 1964 Good News article by the late David Jon Hill that did so titled Will You Be Deceived by Antichrist?
5) On December 15, 2011, while in Charlotte again, I discussed a book I was working on that did that extensively went into Catholic prophecies Fatima Shock! The next day, on December 16, 2011, Richard Ames publicly prayed, with “amen” concurrence from Dr. Meredith and Dr. Winnail, that I would continue to do the type of work that I had been doing--and that work included the frequent references to these non-biblical prophecies as a means to reach those without a Church of God background. It was not right for Dr. Meredith to give “amen” concurrence if for year he had problems with what I was doing. People should ask themselves why he clearly changed?
6) Six months later, Dr. Meredith published the following in a semi-annual letter that came out one week after my book did:
All kinds of “miracles,” visions of the Virgin Mary and other strange sights and events will begin to take place—startling many…(Meredith RC. Semi-annual TW subscriber letter, May 18, 2012)
Dr. Meredith probably posted what he did after reading at least parts of my book Fatima Shock! (he had received a draft copy in 2011/early 2012) or based his writing on statements I made to him during my December 14-20, 2011 visit to Charlotte. However, unlike Dr. Meredith, I never once said that Marian apparitions (which is what Dr. Meredith is referring to) would appear, only that there appearance is consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecy. Since the Bible does not specifically make Dr. Meredith's claim, yet Catholic prophecy does make those claims, it shows that Dr. Meredith has relied on non-biblical prophecy for some of his prophetic statements.
7) Probably the reason that the condemnation of Catholic prophecies came out when it did was that several leaders in Charlotte understood that at least one of those non-biblical prophecies seemed to point to me personally. And if people considered that any Catholic prophecies could ever be true, this would interfere with certain leaders' visions for the future of LCG. Thus, by condemning my use of them, some apparently hoped that various ones would not consider that one or more could potentially be correct. Because if so, that would have been further confirmation that my prophetic ordination was valid. Of course, I have not ever claimed that any should rely on non-biblical prophecies, only that they should be considered in the light of biblical prophecy, etc. But this was apparently “too close for comfort” for some in September-December 2012.
8) In his letter to me of September 13, 2013, Dr. Meredith admitted that I did not treat non-biblical prophecies the same as biblical ones as he wrote, “I know you don’t say it that way.” Hence, I was somewhat condemned for something that Dr. Meredith realized that I had not done. Yet, he and others condemned me. And others went along with it, misunderstanding that proper church governance does not violate the command against false witness.
9) In January 2014, LCG minister Wallace Smith posted some negative things about me and made inuendoes regarding me and 'heathen prophecies' that he had concluded. It is not that everything in his post was wrong, but that he made statements he tried to relate to me that were false. Yet, he never offered actual proof that I did anything false, instead he, in my view, was highly misleading. The fact that he attempted to pour over many 'heathen prophecies' when he wrote about and prepared sermons/telecasts, etc. related to Mayan predictions and 2012 should point out further hyposcrisy.
The Apostle Paul considered that he was a prophet (1 Corinthians 13:9), and he cited non-biblical, pagan, prophecies/sources, etc. (Acts 17:18-30; Titus 1:12) as he tried to reach all (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). Furthermore, various prophets, such as Micaiah (1 Kings 22:10-28) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 28:1-17; 44:15-29) explained how pagan prophecies impacted God's prophecies. And what I have tried to do is follow Paul, Micaiah, Jeremiah, and others who have done this. Condemning me for properly citing, explaining, and often denouncing non-biblical prophecies is wrong and hypocritical. But that is what LCG did, and for some reason seems to recently wish to continue to do.
Thus, the facts are that for one book I was publicly condemned, without any warning or private consultation, for being a book of warning (“alarmist”), making one editing error (I wrote fifteen one place I meant seventeen, and this was immediately corrected), and for doing what all three of the Charlotte-based evangelists of the Living Church of God had previously told me to do (and four, if you include the late Dibar Apartian).
In December 2013, I learned that various ministers in LCG were still attempting to slander my reputation. Of course, this is not a new thing, as Jeremiah went so far as to write, "Every one of them curses me" (Jeremiah 15:10). Notice also something that Jeremiah said to God and how God responded:
15 O Lord, You know; Remember me and visit me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your enduring patience, do not take me away. Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke. 16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. 17 I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, Nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, For You have filled me with indignation. 18 Why is my pain perpetual And my wound incurable, Which refuses to be healed? Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream, As waters that fail?
19 Therefore thus says the Lord: "If you return, Then I will bring you back; You shall stand before Me; If you take out the precious from the vile, You shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, But you must not return to them. 20 And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; And they will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you; For I am with you to save you And deliver you," says the Lord. 21 "I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible." NKJV (Jeremiah 15:15-21)
Those who 'wrote Bob Thiel off' because of the public condemnation of me by LCG should consider who was doing what was biblically-appropriate? Was it my using the term fifteen once, when it was clear that I meant seventeen? Or was it hypocritical and other LCG errors which should be important to Philadelphia-remnant Christians?
Perhaps I should add that an LCG minister told me that I was considered by one of the Charlotte-evangelists to be the biggest 'intellectual threat' to his ambitions and that was likely a factor certain of the letters leading to my departure (there were also one or two field ministers who held a similar view). I would also add that my unexpected anointing by an LCG minister apparently also caused several to worry that they might lose influence in LCG if I remained around.
Pilate realized that the "chief priests" turned against Jesus because of envy (Mark 15:10). And I would suggest that the facts about what LCG did to me suggest envy as at least a partial motivation, much more than love.
Believe or not American football seemed to be another 'behind the scenes' reason that LCG forced me out.
In the Summer of 2011, I had written a possible commentary for LCG about American football. I ran it by at least two-three members of LCG Council of Elders, none of whom had real objections to the content. But it ended up not being published and I never received an answer from LCG's editorial department as to why.
Later (December 17, 2011) after directly hearing certain comments, I believe I had figured it out--at least one leader in editorial (Richard Ames) was a major football fan. That was something I initially had not realized.
Dr. Meredith himself was later influenced by at least two very close to him (including at least one top evangelist, Richard Ames, and one relative, his son Jim) who were (and still are to the best of my knowledge) big fans of American football (not to be confused with soccer).
Partially because of this, they wanted my influence in LCG reduced. They also by late March 2012 knew about my prophetic anointing and I believe that they wanted no chance that LCG might officially decide to truly tell its members the plain truth about American football and to highlight what the late Herbert Armstrong wrote about it (for details about the truth and Herbert Armstrong's writings on it, please see the article Is American Football Evil?).
Oddly, the love of the violent sport of American football seems to have been a signficant reason why many stayed with LCG and did not come into the Continuing Church of God. This is despite the fact that many within LCG know it must be wrong. Notice two LCG published quotes which help demonstrate that:
If our leisure is spent watching, reading about, or "playing" fighting, war or murder, then are we focused on "turning the other cheek"? If our pleasure is to dwell on bloodshed or violence, if we want to "get inside the mind of the killer" as one popular television show promotes, then are we aligning our minds with God, or with Satan who was a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44)?
No Christian can deny the Bible's condemnation of hatred, which is the spirit of murder. Those who immerse themselves in media violence are being flooded with that ungodly spirit.
Some will attempt to justify violent entertainment as simply an enjoyable pastime. Do they consider the sobering warning of Isaiah 33:15, where God describes the person He will protect in times of danger: "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." (Ciesielka W. Violence. LCG Commentary. http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/violence)
One of the fun questions that I’ll focus on in this post was this: “Will there be football in the Millennium?” Actually, the conversation during table topics was more broad, asking about sports in the Millennium in general, but with tonight’s Super Bowl event on folks’ minds (which might be going on right now as I type this, come to think of it), football had a starring role in the discussion.
The question and conversation also reminded me of a question I received from an elderly widow lady in one of my congregations. She is a sweet lady who happens to enjoy football on television. She had read someone preaching something that unnecessarily troubled her and came up to me at services to ask for counsel, worried that watching football might be “evil” in some way. For such a sweet lady in my care to be so worried unnecessarily about something which was not a sin required a response.
At the heart of the question about any particular sport being played in the new society after Christ’s return is this: Is the sport inherently evil? If so, then: no, of course, it would not be played.
So, is football inherently evil? No, it isn’t. Some might say that “No” is only the right answer for touch football or flag football, as if tackling is somehow the “inherently evil” quality. (Smith W. Thoughts in Route, February 15, 2012).
Super Bowl seems to be discussed much on this blog...Not that it is inherently evil (Smith W. Thoughts in Route, November 22, 2012)
One unique aspect of our modern society is its proliferation of violent entertainment. Of course, other societies have reveled in violent amusements, as did the ancient Romans in their Coliseum. However, such entertainment is now widely available, in many more forms, than ever before.
Sociologists have estimated that by the time the average U.S. child starts elementary school, he or she will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on television...As long as people fail to control their selfish desires, violence will continue. Anyone can break this pattern, but first there must be a change on the inside. (Sena P. Break the Pattern of Violence! Tomorrow's World magazine. Mar-Apr 2008)
In the movie, Hunger Games is a futuristic reality show modeled after the Roman gladiatorial games in the Coliseum...What criteria should Christians use to judge whether a movie, TV show, or video game is acceptable to God? The answer can clearly be found in the pages of the Bible!
The book of Isaiah was God’s warning to the physical Jewish nation. He directed them to change their pagan and violent ways lest He be forced to destroy them. Isaiah’s warnings are also for us today. God clearly tells His people: “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly… Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil,” will be blessed by Him (Isaiah 33:15). Although movies and violent video games are “not real,” if we imbibe in them are we really stopping our ears from hearing bloodshed and our eyes from seeing evil? We are commanded not to “see” or even “think” evil (Ezekiel 20:7; Zechariah 8:17)...
True Christians who love God will hate evil, and keep their eyes, ears, and minds far from it (Psalm 97:10). They will “love good” (Amos 5:15) and seek to fill their lives with things that are “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if virtuous and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). (Winnail S. LCG Commentary, January 23, 2014)
God is called “the God of Peace” in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The Bible shows us that God rejects violence, war and brutality...
Beyond the actual violent events that we learn about, extraordinary violence entertains us. Our society takes pleasure in cruelty and savagery. Today, we love violence as much as, or more than, Roman society did in the days of the gladiators! Now, these fictional depictions of violence are not enough; “Reality television” has taken the inevitable shift to exhibitions of people really getting hurt, maimed or even killed. The human tendency is to push to a new level of “extreme.” Today’s “extreme” will soon become tomorrow’s mainstream. How far will we push it? What will be the new shocker that sells big?
Comparable to the surge of violent fictional and reality TV, is the dominance of top-selling video games that focus on killing and warfare. With titles like, “Assassin’s Creed,” “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.,” “Warhammer,” “Left For Dead” and the new game “Dante’s Inferno” (which uses “collected souls” as game currency), video games are becoming more and more outrageous...
We should never wish pain on anyone. (Kendall P. Violence is Not the Answer. LCG Commentary. January 30, 2014)
Fictional violence does not result in physical pain or bloodshed or damage to video game characters or actors. It also does not have to result in character loss, though it can be inappropriate and can affect the mind.
But as far as professional American tackle football goes, the rules of the game, as well as how it actually is played, result in violating one of the "seven laws of radiant health," which according to Dr. Meredith is "Avoid Bodily Injury" (Meredith R.C. Seven Laws of Radiant Health. @1955, 1973 Ambassador College).
Do the people who watch this type of savagery wish to be hurt themselves like happens to the participants? Consider that "the hope of the hypocrite shall perish" (Job 8:13; cf. Romans 13:9-10).
The hypocrisy of writing against violent entertainment and personal injury, while condoning American tackle football, should be obvious.
It has not ceased to astound me that men who expected their wives to abide by the 'no makeup' policy for years in the old WCG do not believe that they should not be entertained by violent sports. To me, that also is a sign of hypocrisy.
Of course, to come out clearly against the sport of American football would cause a group like LCG to lose financial contributions from many American males--and yes, fear of losing financial contributions is a problem that LCG has (and I am not referring mainly to American football here). Those interested in learning more about American tackle football and why Christians should not be fans of it can read the article Is American Football Evil? and/or watch a YouTube video titled Should Christians watch American football?
There were several reasons that LCG wanted my influence cut, but none appeared to have been biblically-sanctioned. And this appears to be what led to several improper letters about me being produced (e.g. Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel).
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
So, as the first step in this test, I wrote up an exposition of some 16 typewritten pages proving clearly, plainly, and beyond contradiction that a certain minor point of doctrine proclaimed by this church, based on an erroneous interpretation of a certain verse of Scripture, was in error. This was mailed to the Stanberry, Missouri, headquarters to see whether their leaders would confess error and change. The answer came back from their head man, editor of their paper and president of their "General Conference." He was forced to admit, in plain words, that their teaching on this point was false and in error. But, he explained, he feared that if any attempt was made to correct this false doctrine and publicly confess the truth, many of their members, especially those of older standing and heavy tithe payers, would be unable to accept it. He feared they would lose confidence in the Church if they found it had been in error on any point. He said he feared many would withdraw their financial support, and it might divide the Church. And therefore he felt the Church could do nothing but continue to teach and preach this doctrine which he admitted in writing to be false. Naturally, this shook my confidence considerably. This church leader, if not the church itself, was looking to people as the SOURCE of belief, instead of to God! Yet, here was the only Church holding to the one greatest basic truth of the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, kept in the NAME of God, and in spite of this and a few other erroneous teachings, nevertheless being closer to the whole truth than any church I had found. If this was not the true Church of God, then where was it? (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, 1973 ed. pages 315-316).Mrs. Armstrong and I continued to fellowship with these brethren. I continued to work with them, and with their ministers, as far as that was possible. The lay brethren continued to look to me for the leadership for getting the Work of God going to the world. But from that "all-day wrangle" I was independent of them and their ministers, financially. From that time I was dependent, solely, on God. We did not ask or solicit financial contributions from any except those who voluntarily became financial co-workers with us. And that has been the policy ever since (page 385).
Herbert Armstrong obviously felt that CG7 did not properly administer Ephesians 4:11-16 as they were too carnal on certain matters, and felt he had no choice but to leave them. And that is what I have also done with LCG, and why the Continuing Church of God had to form.
The Living Church of God contains a mix of people. Back in/near 2009, despite it still then (in my view) having the 'Philadelphia mantle' within it, when I was asked if I felt that the majority in LCG were Philadelphian, I responded with "No."
But I felt then that, although there are scattered Philadelphians, LCG had more Philadelphians in terms of number of people than any other group. However, as more doctrinal changes have been introduced, been insisted upon, and often improperly accepted, this has changed. There are truly vastly less Philadelphians in LCG than I used to think that there were. LCG has truly become a Laodicean group, and hopefully the remaining Philadelphians will wake up (cf. Matthew 25:1-13) before it is too late and "gather together" (Zephaniah 2"1-3) with the Continuing Church of God.
What I have noticed in the past couple of years is an excessive willingness to abide by positions coming from Charlotte even if they disagree with the Bible, actual facts, etc. (e.g. Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?). Decades ago Dr. Meredith considered this type of reliance on a church to be IDOLATRY (yes, he capitalized that in his writing about that in the article: Meredith RC. Second Commandment. Plain Truth, March 1960, p. 27--this is also quoted in the article The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government). Nowadays, he seems to consider such idolatry to be loyalty.
This is highly disturbing yet most in LCG do not understand the ramifications of that as sin, nor its relationship to Laodicea:
17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' â€” and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:17-20).
I personally believe I was called to support the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God and be part of the work (hence COGwriter, etc.) and that LCG itself no longer properly represents it, but that the Continuing Church of God now does. It should be clear that CCOG's commitment to truth and its gospel proclamation efforts demonstrate it for any who are truly willing to look at the facts. Perhaps I should mention that during the years when I was an official (by his appointment) advisor to Dr. Meredith, I repeatedly told him that he seemed to have a major problem in being able to distinguish between Laodiceans and Philadelphians. The end result of that is that LCG is no longer the leader of the Philadelphian remnant and is primarily composed of Laodiceans (and people who will end up that way if they stay there too long).
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 it is Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-19).
The Bible, of course, teaches, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). Many forget that God sometimes changes leadership (2 Kings 2:9-13; Isaiah 22:15-25) and also that the late Herbert W. Armstrong left the old CG7 for similar reasons that I left LCG (see also the article Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).
If you believe that Herbert W. Armstrong was right then, are you willing to do what is right now? Will you support the truth or a compromised version?
Some articles of related interest may include:
Do You Believe God Used Herbert Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God?
What is a True Philadelphian?
The Thyatira Church Era
The Sardis Church Era
The Philadelphia Church Era
The Laodicean Church Era
Are the Laodiceans the Modern Sadducees and Pharisees?
Thiel B. What About the Living Church of God? www.cogwriter.com (c) 2002/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014 0420
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