Saturday, August 28, 2010

Can a Philadelphia Fellowship Exist in the Laodicean Era?

John Carmack posted about eras of the Church in his blog. In his post, he accuses Bob Thiel of inconsistency for saying that LCG is Philadelphian while also saying this is the Laodicean era.

Here is a link to John's post:

Robert Thiel replied to John's post in his COGwriter blog. Here is a link to that reply:

Whether or not Bob Thiel is correct about LCG being Philadelphian, he is not inconsistent.

A single organization, such as LCG or some other group, can be Philadelphian during the Laodicean era if the majority of the WHOLE Church of God, the collective body of every person who has God's Holy Spirit, is Laodicean.

My understanding of the doctrine of the eras of the Church is that the characteristics listed in each of the seven messages in Revelation describe the PREDOMINANT condition of the Church during the era the message corresponds to. I think that is how Herbert W. Armstrong described it. So if the predominant characteristic of the whole Church in our time (and that could simply mean the characteristic of the majority of the members) is Laodicean, then you can call this the Laodicean era on that basis. So if 70%, for example, of all those who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them and are therefore part of the Church, regardless of which organization they attend, are Laodicean in attitude and spiritual condition, then this is the Laodicean era.

You can still have individual members who are in the Philadelphia condition, or the Sardis condition, or some other condition described in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, but they will not be the majority of the whole Church of God. This is why Christ tells everyone to listen to what the Spirit says to ALL the churches, because each of us can individually be in any of the seven conditions described (Revelation 3:22). Mr. Armstrong taught that we were in the Philadelphian era, but he also taught that not everyone in the Church was Philadelphian in spiritual condition. So no matter what the era, every member should examine himself in light of all seven messages, because any individual person could fall into any one of those categories, even though the characteristic of the era predominates during that era among most members.

Could there be enough Philadelphians in one fellowship to make that the predominant characteristic of that fellowship, even while the majority of the Church as a whole including all organizations is Laodicean?

It is possible. Today, the Church of God is split up into many organizations. One fellowship could be Philadelphian while a majority of members in other fellowships and in the Church of God as a whole are Laodicean.

So it is not inconsistent to teach that this is the Laodicean era while teaching that a particular fellowship, which is just a small part of the entire Church of God, is predominantly Philadelphian.

Is that the case at this time? Is there a Church of God fellowship that is in the Philadelphian condition right now?

I think Bob Thiel thinks there must be a Church of God fellowship that is Philadelphian at this time because there must be such a fellowship that will finish the work and go to a place of safety before the tribulation. And while I agree that there will be a Church of God fellowship that will be mostly Philadelphian before the tribulation begins, I do not agree that such an organization MUST exist now. Bob Thiel might be right. It might exist now. But there is another possibility.

It may be that NO existing Church of God fellowship has the majority of its members in the Philadelphian condition. But when God's time comes, He can gather most true Philadelphians into a small group, maybe one that does not exist now, and it would be that group that finishes the work and goes to a place of safety before the tribulation, while rest of the Church of God, the majority of all members in all other fellowships, are Laodicean and do not go to the place of safety.

Philadelphia is promised an open door to preaching the gospel (Revelation 3:7-8, Colossians 4:2-4, 2 Corinthians 2:12, 1 Corinthians 16:8-9), so perhaps one measure of how many Philadelphians are in an organization is how effectively that organization is preaching the gospel to the world.

And while some groups are more effective than others, I do not see any group today that is as effective in preaching the gospel to the world as Mr. Armstrong was.

This is a time when every member of the Church of God, regardless of organizational affiliation, should examine himself or herself in light of all seven messages to the churches in Revelation, and strive to be zealous and 100% faithful to God and His word. Laodiceans have time to repent. Philadelphia is a goal to strive for.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Should the Church Feed the Flock Only, Introduction, Chapter 5

A Brief History of the Scattering of the Church, Chapter 5

Finding the Solution, Chapter 5

Following the Chain of Events Backward, Chapter 5

Finding the Root Cause of Laodiceanism -- False Doctrine?, Chapter 5

Was Preaching the Gospel to the Public a Cause of Laodiceanism?, Chapter 5

What About Tares?, Chapter 5

Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves, Chapter 5

When and How to Judge, Chapter 5

The Cause of the Church's Scattered Condition, and the Solution, Chapter 5

Focusing on the Bible, Chapter 5


Norbert said...

There is one other rather common condition that was prevalent in the WCG under Mr. Armstrong's guidiance. Though it is rarely brought up in a direct manner within CoG circles, it too predominates this Church's historical reputation. At least in the public eye for anyone who knows how to dig up those past facts. I believe it could be described as "crying wolf".

There's a discussion about it on one of UCG facebook pages here:!/topic.php?uid=2204532071&topic=11403

Such information does make me wonder about what is predominant in one person's view may not necessarily be predominant in another's. What is concidered predominant within the CoG may not be how the outside world views them or how they are seen by Jesus Christ.

And in my opinion when there is a just cause behind anyone viewing the Church's behavior, even whether it's concidered a small thing. Then the principle given in Rom 2:24 "For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written." also has some fearful relevancy.

Anonymous said...

Please note: Rev 3:20 "if any MAN hear my voice".... there is your answer. Church no, Individuals yes.