Distortions of COG Positions

Order of the Sacred Treasure


Yesterday, Shadows of WCG, an anti-COG site, started a series that the anonymous webmaster (who calls himself “J”) titled “The Key To Understanding Why Armstrongism is a False Gospel” (http://shadowsofwcg.com/?p=661).  And it is full of distortions.

Shadows of WCG makes many mistakes, and since the webmaster acts like he knows what he is talking about, I would like to deal with some of the distortions he has in the article.

His first distortion is calling COG teachings “Armstrongism” (though it is true that the late Herbert W. Armstrong held COG teachings).  For now, however, there is no point in debating that inaccurate label as church history shows that those who have followed COG teachings have often been branded with various labels by our critics (for more details, please check out the articles at The History of Early Christianity page).

Mistranslations are Often Relied Upon by COG Critics

Now, the Shadows of WCG article begins with an inaccurate analysis of my COGwriter news post titled Mistranslations: Why Many Do Not Understand About the Sabbath and the Holy Days

Shadows of WCG failed to point out, for one example, that the translators translated the same Greek expression the same three Greek Strong’s words (#4983, 3588, & 5547) used in Colossians 2:17 are used four other times in the New Testament and in those times the KJV translates it as “the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12)–as does the NKJV–and that by not doing so in Colossians 2:17 the translators have demonstrated inconsistency in their translations which reflects an anti-Holy Day bias.

The Shadows of WCG webmaster apparently does not understand that what was done away in Colossians 2:14 was not “The Old Testament law!” as he asserts, but the penalty for breaking that law.

Notice what Colossians 2:14 states:

…having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14).

The handwriting of requirements (often also called the hand-writing of ordinances) was wiped away and nailed to the cross.

Which requirements were wiped out?

The Ten Commandments and Holy Days?


Understand that the expression “the handwriting of requirements” is a Greek legal term that signifies the penalty which a lawbreaker had to pay–it does not signify the laws that are to be obeyed–only the penalty. It is only through the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that the penalty was wiped out (“the handwriting of requirements”). But only the penalty, not the law!

Even some Protestant commentators realize this is so. Notice what Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible states about Colossians 2:14:

Whatever was in force against us is taken out of the way. He has obtained for us a legal discharge from the hand-writing of ordinances, which was against us (v. 14), which may be understood,

1. Of that obligation to punishment in which consists the guilt of sin. The curse of the law is the hand-writing against us, like the hand-writing on Belshazzar’s wall. Cursed is every one who continues not in every thing. This was a hand-writing which was against us, and contrary to us; for it threatened our eternal ruin. This was removed when he redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal 3:13. (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.).

In addition, let us look at the Greek term exaleipho translated as “wiped out” in Colossians 2:14:

exaleipho (ex-al-i’-fo); from NT:1537 and NT:218; to smear out, i.e. obliterate (erase tears, figuratively, pardon sin) (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

In other words, exaleipho has to do with wiping out sin. This is also confirmed in Acts 3:19 where Peter also uses the term exaleipho, which is translated as “blotted out” below:

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

Hence, it is sin and the related penalties that are to be blotted or wiped out. And the penalties could vary from “being unclean to the evening” (Leviticus 11:24-28) to the death penalty.

But what about the law of God? Was the law of God to be wiped out?

Remember that the Bible clearly teaches that sin is lawlessness:

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. (I John 3:4-5).

Notice that Paul wrote:

Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1-2).

Thus, the New Testament makes clear that the law of God continues, thus it was not nailed to the cross or somehow wiped out.  The reality is that mistranslations are necessary for those who wish to claim an non-COG version of “Christianity”.

The Bible, however, also shows that the requirements of the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 9:1,6-10), which were part of the penalty of sin, were blotted out.

And why?

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins…By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all (Hebrews 10:4,10).

Jesus’ one sacrifice was and is sufficient–we do not have to sacrifice animals any morel

Another requirement (which is related) would be the death penalty of sin, as “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) or other specific ceremonial penalties associated with the Old Testament statutes (such as making a sin offering, being put outside the camp, or washing).

So while there were some items that were done away, the Ten Commandments, for one example, were not done away–if so, early professors of Christ would not have kept them.  Shadows of WCG and other anti-law COG critics simply have overlooked the FACT that early professors of Christ (which knew biblical Greek better than current scholars) did not believe that the Ten Commandments were done away (see The Ten Commandments and the Early Church). For more on the laws and statutes, please see the article Which Laws Are Done Away? Which Remain?

Supposed Beliefs of “Armstrongism”

But the main reason that I decided to actually post about Shadows of WCG article is because of J’s assessment about what the COGs stands for is often distorted or in complete error.

So, let’s look at some statements made by him:

Armstrongism does not believe Christ had the victory over sin and death at his death on the cross…

To his dying day, the false prophet and false teacher Herbert Armstrong taught that man does not have access to God except those in the Worldwide Church of God…

Armstrongism forces people backwards into a time when there was no access to God.

These statements about the COGs are not true.

Yet, because webmasters like “J” at Shadows of WCG make them, people who rely on COG critics above what the Bible actually teaches never will truly understand what the COGs are all about.  We in the COGs, specifically the Living Church of God, do believe that Christ had victory of sin when He was killed and resurrected and that all who ever lived will be offered salvation.  But we also agree with the Apostle Paul who wrote:

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31, KJV)

True Christians realize that the Ten Commandments teach love toward God and neighbor, while anti-law critics tend to look for excuses to not keep it–such people professing Christianity were warned about by the Apostle Jude:

3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4, KJV)

I believe that real Christians keep the same faith that the original apostles kept, and that included the Ten Commandments and the Holy Days.

Here is another distortion from Shadows of WCG:

Armstrong does not hold any weight to Christ’s words “It is Finished”, minimizing it to simply his work on earth and not the entirety of his victory over the physical world of death and the door opened wide to access to the Father and the Holy Spirit

Untrue.  We in the COGs do believe that Jesus finished the work on earth that the Father gave Him to do when He spoke that.  Yet, Shadows of WCG seems to want to believe that Jesus was saying that the Ten Commandments, etc. were finished by His sacrifice.  And this is utter nonsense according to what Jesus and the New Testament writers taught (for details, see What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? and Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect?).

And the following tirade at Shadows of WCG is simply not true:

Armstrongism forces people backwards into a time when there was no access to God. Armstrongism forces people backwards into slavery. Armstrongism forces people into a rigid, legalistic system – in many ways, a loveless system – a system that produces shadows and no substance. Armstrongism forces people into justification by works and not by faith – believing that by being “of the circumcision” they can win favor with God – missing God entirely in the process. Armstrongism takes a covenant that is long old, obsolete, and useless and attempts to resurrect it – replacing the reality of access to God under the New Testament – a spirit led life of faith and substance – into a less glorious and imperfect system that enhances sin and guilt. Don’t believe me? Read the reports of those who have bought into the shadows and not the reality. There’s enough proof to fill a hard drive.

Those truly in the Church of God are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), striving to live God’s way of life as Jesus and the Apostles did (1 Corinthians 11:1), and promoting it to the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20).

The Ten Commandments reflect love, breaking them is evil (please see the article The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil).  Those who do not truly believe the Ten Commandments often are those involved in wars, immorality, and persecutions.  The fruits of violating the laws of God are not good.

Another inaccurate statement in the article at Shadows of WCG:

The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love.

That is not really quite what the Bible teaches.  Notice what the Apostle James was inspired to write:

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25, NKJV)

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.  (James 2:8-13, NKJV)

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:18-20, NKJV)

The Apostle James is clearly teaching that love involves more than just claiming faith, it involves doing and obeying the law of God.

Sadly, Shadows of WCG does not get is as J wrote:

The fruits of Armstrongism are imperfection, greed, envy, ego, haughtiness, arrogance, flamboyance, and an emphasis of the physical over the spiritual – which is exactly what one would expect when they focus on the law over the reality.

Only one who does really understand the Ten Commandments and has overlooked the warfare, sexual immorality, and persecutions that Protestants and their ilk have engaged in could make that claim.  Now certainly, people in or associated with the COGs have made mistakes, but the Bible is clear that God’s people have always had problems.

Interestingly, the following statement from Shadows of WCG is somewhat true (calling it “Armstrongism” notwithstanding) but is done in a manner that many could be misled by:

Armstrongism does not believe Christ gave all access to God when he died on the Cross and forgave man of their sins.

What we in the COGs actually teach is that the Father must call people to Christ:

44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44-45, NKJV)

The Father is calling some now and will call all others later.  Unlike the Protestant god, the God of the Bible will offer salvation to all that ever lived.  And this idea did NOT originate with Herbert Armstrong.  But many Protestants do not understand the place of the law or salvation (please see the article Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants).

Anyway, there are many critics on the internet that simply do not get it.  They overlook mistranslations.  They overlook what Jesus and the apostles taught.  They overlook how early professors of Christ actually understood the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and salvation.

But you do not have to be like those critics.

To see some of what Herbert Armstrong wrote and what the COG believes on various related matters, please see the following articles:

Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today? Includes quotes from the 1973 edition of The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong and explains how he is and should be viewed today.
Which Laws Are Done Away? Which Remain? What about the Ten Commandments? What about the 603 regulations in the Old Testament?
Were the Ten Commandments in Effect Before Mount Sinai? Some have said not. This article provides biblical quotes to answer this important question.
Job and the Ten Commandments Was Job written prior to Mount Sinai? Did Job know about the ten commandments? This article provides biblical answers to those questions.
What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? This article quotes what Jesus actually said about them (His words are in red).
Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross? Some have said so. This article provides some biblical quotes to answer this important question.
What Did Paul Actually Teach About the Ten Commandments? Many say Paul taught against the ten commandments. Is this true? This article quotes Paul with his words in green.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
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.
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians?
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?
Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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