UCG Responds

Ancient Laodicea has many ineffective structures


The situation related to the UCG crisis seems to be affecting more and more who were once parts of that organization.  Late today, in response to a letter from 110 or so elders (see UCG Crisis May Have Widened), UCG put out the following from a letter by its president, Dennis Luker:

Open Letter to the Elders of the United Church of God

December 13, 2010

Dear Fellow Elders of Jesus Christ,

An “open letter” addressed to me was submitted on Saturday night, Dec. 4, carrying the names of a number of ministers. It restated various allegations, many with roots in past issues considered resolved by the Council of Elders, but which appear unresolved by some signers. Since the letter was addressed to me personally, I wish to make a few comments.

Let me give the only answer available to any elder—from Scripture inspired by Jesus Christ and written by the apostle Peter:

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:1-5).

Let’s face facts: the ongoing struggle within the United Church of God over the past months and years has been about power and control. It’s been about not having the humility and faith to accept our duly elected and appointed governing authorities. We will never have perfect governing documents that will erase all disputes and turmoil from this or any organization. But we can achieve peace and unity, if we are willing follow the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ’s example?

Let’s see, in UCG the elders vote for those to be on the Council of Elders, which seems to be the top tier in UCG.

Jesus, however, did not vote for the twelve apostles (nor ask others to vote for their preferences), He prayed all night over the decision, then He appointed them:

12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles (Luke 6:12-13, NKJV).

14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15).

The Apostles then appointed others.

Jesus also always deferred to the Father (Luke 22:42).  Jesus believed in and practiced servant leadership in a hierarchical top down form of governance.  He inspired the Apostles, like Paul, to write about that:

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 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 (1 Corinthians 12:27-28).

Again, I am not saying that how UCG is organized is necessarily biblically any worse than how those that left it are set up (and in some ways it is likely better than some).   I have not taken sides on the UCG crisis in the sense that I do not believe that either UCG nor the bulk of those that split off from it this year (like those affiliated with IAO) have actually indicated that they would repent and embrace Philadelphia-era church governance or the Philadelphia priority of public proclamation of the gospel.

UCG’s Dennis Luker ended his 12/13/10 letter with:

With all my heart I sincerely hope and pray that you will rethink and re-pray your position and truly unite with us. But if not, then we are at an impasse.

Fellow elders of the “open letter,” you know where I stand from my president’s message given to the Council of Elders last week. Where do you stand?

Your fellow elder,

Dennis Luker

This indicates, to me at least, that the crisis that UCG is facing is fairly severe.  But there is a better alternative, in my view, for UCG elders.

The bottom line continues to be that the Living Church of God has a governance structure more closely related to one that Jesus would support than that involving voting like UCG has.  Those who ridicule hierarchical governance through improper examples seem to forget that God expects people to follow leaders as they follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; Acts 5:29).  And that is what we in LCG try to do, as should all Christians.  Voting is a Laodicean concept (Laodicea is made up of two Greek words that basically mean “people decide”).  Recall that in Revelation 3 the Laodiceans are condemned by Jesus for having a work that differs from that of the Philadelphians–people need to look at all relevant scriptures on that as well as proper biblical governance.

Any interested in supporting the remnant of the Philadelphia era of the COG should prayerfully check out LCG.

Those not interested will either remain part of UCG (or where ever they are), go with one of the former UCG break-away ministers/groups, go somewhere else, or drop out. God will hold all accountable for what they do and do not do.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

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? 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.
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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