COGWA and James Malm


Late yesterday, COGWA (Church of God, a Worldwide Association) posted the following from its president, Jim Franks:

A lot has happened in the past nine months and even more in the past few weeks! As an organization we now have all the officers and operation managers in place.

And COGWA’s focus since its inception, as I have long written here, has been its internal matters such as governance.

James Malm posted the following also late yesterday:

God Governance is Patriarchal NOT Pyramidal!…

COGWA has opted for this same pyramid system that HWA introduced; although it remains to be seen just how bullying and dominating Jim Franks will become…

Lucifer instituted the “Pyramid” system whereby there were layers of authority and each layer intervened and came between the top and the lower layers.

In this way he came between the angels and God and they were taught that to question or disobey him would cut them off from God. That was the beginning of the “Pyramid” system of church governance.

While I do not agree with all of COGWA’s priorities, nor do I agree that their governance system is a proper pyramid as the elders vote for the top leaders, apparently, James Malm does not realize that God’s governmental system is somewhat pyramidal.

Notice the following scriptures:

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)

28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:28-31)

Notice that God, not Lucifer, appointed layers of authority in His church according to what is recorded in the New Testament (and there are verses in the OT that support this as well).  While we all must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), and hence obey God rather than men when men are in error (Acts 5:27-29), that does not mean that God did not institute a hierarchical form of government to assist His people.  As scripture shows, He truly did.

Furthermore, perhaps it should be mentioned that when God dwells on earth in the Holy City New Jerusalem, the type of shape it has seems to be that of a pyramid:

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. (Revelation 21:10-16)

The above is not declared to be a cube.  It is a pyramid that has a square foundation.  James Malm and others may wish to consider this as another indication that a somewhat pyramidal hierarchical form of governance is biblically sanctioned.  And even if New Jerusalem is somehow not a pyramid, it is obvious from the Bible that God set up layers of leadership in His church (1 Corinthians 12:28-31) to assist His people so that they would not be affected by every wind of someone’s imagination (Ephesians 4:11-16).

COGWA itself  was formed out of a split from the United Church of God (UCG) in 2010.   James Malm has often improperly attacked both groups based on his misunderstanding of doctrine and his repeated efforts to make railing accusations against the motivations of the leadership of both groups.  I suggest that he prayerfully consider Jude 9-11.

And while regular readers of the COGwriter page are aware, I do not support the type of governance nor priorities that I seem to see that COGWA and UCG have.  Nor do I consider that they are as hierarchical as the Bible indicates.

Yet, I have not attacked their leaders personally like James Malm has, nor do I agree with much of what he tries to imply about them.  I believe that the bulk of leadership and membership in those groups are Christian, and despite doctrinal issues, including governance and gospel proclaiming priorities, I do believe that they think they are doing what they should be (though obviously I believe that they need to be warned to reconsider matters that we disagree upon–cf. Galatians 6:1-4).

Anyway, Jesus said you would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16-20).  And that includes James Malm as well.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Attending the Church of Choice This article discusses whose choice is important to worship God; should you attend the church of your choice or the church of God’s choice?
Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Roderick C. Meredith on Church Government What form of governance did the early church have? Was it hierarchical? Which form of governance would one expect to have in the Philadelphia remnant? The people decide and/or committee forms, odd dictatorships, or the same type that the Philadelphia era itself had?
Should a Christian Vote? This article gives some of the Biblical rationale on this subject. Would Jesus vote for president/prime minister? Is voting in the Bible? This is a subject Christians need to understand.
Unity: Which COG for You? Why so many groups? Why is there lack of unity in the Churches of God? Has it always been this way? What can/should be done about it?
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God? This is an article for those who wish to more easily sort out the different COGs. It really should be a MUST READ for current and former WCG/GCI members or any interested in supporting the faithful church. It also explains a lot of what the COGs are all about.
Concerns about Church of God, a Worldwide Association This seems to be the largest group that came out of the United Church of God. Here is some history and concerns about it.
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from evangelists?
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.

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