UCG Explains Democracy, COGWA Explains Balloting


The latest edition of the United Church of God’s publication World News & Prophecy has the following in its lead article titled Is Democracy the Answer?:  It author, Frank Dunkle, writes:

First of all, straight democracy or majority rule is itself a form of tyranny…Secondly, even where democratic government has been more successful—limited to choosing representation and referendums on key issues—there have still been serious consequences…

California voters have often used ballot initiatives to overrule or bypass their state legislature, taking government into their own hands. This exercise of direct democracy on the surface sounds positive, but the results have brought the state to the brink of financial disaster…

The Bible, while it stresses many principles of personal freedom, individual initiative and collective responsibility, does not teach democracy—though it also does not condemn democratic rule itself. Rather, it reveals that a world government ruled by Jesus Christ at His return is the real solution to governmental problems.

It always amazes me that UCG realizes that the Bible does not endorse democracy and that the Kingdom of God will not be a democracy, yet it is basically governed as an aristocratic democracy (UCG has a presbyterian form of governance).  BTW, I believe that the article’s comment that the Bible does not condemn democracy is misleading–for details, please see the article Should a Christian Vote?.

COGWA (Church of God, a Worldwide Association) formed by ministers breaking away from UCG in 2010.  It choose a similar governance style to UCG (see COGWA Chooses Balloting).  A few days back it posted its new bylaws.  Here is some of what it says about balloting:

Balloting.  While the term “balloting” is technically synonymous with the term “voting,” for ecclesiastical reasons the Corporation endorses and prefers the term “balloting.”

In other words, its seems COGWA is saying that it endorses presbyterian voting (representative democracy with the elders/presbyters/ministers voting) for its form of governance, but is concerned that many in the church may be offended by the term voting, so it (like UCG) prefers to use the term “balloting” to obfuscate the fact that they endorse a form of democracy.

As far as the presbyterian form of church governance that both UCG and COGWA have adopted, notice what the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about that:

The government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be ‘government by the consent of the governed’ …

The Presbyterian Church is organized with the presbyters or ministers in control. The Congregational Church delegates top authority to the congregation–“government by the consent of the governed.”

And so it goes. The churches of this world of Satan are organized according to humanly devised patterns. But the Bible gives explicit directions in regard to Church government. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. God’s form of government is, indeed, hierarchical. God the Father is head over Christ–the sole Lawgiver and supreme authority…

We have just covered the truth that GOD set officials to serve on the human level under Christ, in the Church. Members do not elect them. Yet in the churches of this world some believe in government by the entire congregation–“democracy”–and call themselves “Congregational.” Others have organized themselves into government by ministers or presbytery and call themselves “Presbyterian.” ” (Mystery of the Ages, Dodd & Mead, 1985, pp.49, 242, 244, 246-247)

Part of the reason that Herbert W. Armstrong’s comments are relevant here is because the majority of ministers in both COGWA and UCG claimed to once be loyal to his ecclesiastical teachings.  But they have tended to not follow him (nor the Bible) on that as well as other ecclesiastical priorities he (and I believe Jesus) set for the most faithful church in Revelation 3:7-13.

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 (COGWA) 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 Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. and is the subject of Revelation 3:7-13.  The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the Living Church of God.
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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