Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Three New Papers are Published

The UCG Current Crisis blog has published three documents from some signers of the December 4 letter summarizing actions of the Council of Elders over about the last year and a half and answering some of the things said and written by Mr. Dennis Luker.

These seem to be important documents.

Here is a link to the post:

Here are direct links to the documents. Each is a .pdf file which may be downloaded:
What Really Happened In Latin America?:

What Are The Real Issues?:

What Were the Real Efforts to Seek Reconciliation?:

As I read these documents, I got a definite sense of action in the wind, that these documents are declaring the reasons for actions yet to be taken. The document titled "What Are The Real Issues?" reads as a list of grievances such as one might find in the United States Declaration of Independence. Just as the Declaration of Independence set the stage for a war of independence that severed the authority of England over its American colonies and created the United States of America, so these documents may be setting the stage for some kind of action leading to total separation of those who will not or cannot follow the Council's agenda.

The United States Declaration of Independence starts out, "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." No such preamble starts any of the documents prepared by UCG ministers, but I almost get the sense that the statement, "they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation" may be implied.

I have said before that I expected most of the split in United Church of God to run its course before Passover, 2011. Most organizational changes in the Church of God seem to happen after the Feast of Tabernacles and before Passover, not during a holy day season. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong started a work separate from Church of God (Seventh Day) late 1933 and early 1934. Mr. Armstrong died and Joseph Tkach became pastor general of Worldwide in January 1986. Mr. Roderick Meredith started Global Church of God after the Feast in 1992 and before Passover 1993. United Church of God was started just before Passover 1995. David Hulme and UCG went separate ways after the Feast 1997 and before Passover 1998. Larry Salyer and Raymond McNair took control of Global Church of God and Mr. Meredith started Living Church of God shortly after the Feast in 1998.

These documents summarize what has happened from the beginning of the split, and they build a case that the actions of the Council and administration have been unethical, unchristian, and illegal. This may be a preparation for something.

The last paragraph of the document titled "What Were the Real Efforts to Seek Reconciliation?" says that the issues that divide UCG have nothing to do with governance structure, but rather unethical and abusive behavior, implication being that this wrong behavior is on the part of the Council. Now, it may be true that the DIRECT issues that are causing division are not about governance structure, but indirectly they may be. If, as this document alleges, the wrong behavior of the Council is the heart and core of the issues that divide UCG, then the cause of that wrong behavior is the present make up of the Council. In other words, it is WHO is on the Council that determines the actions of the Council. If the division is the results of wrong actions by the Council over the last year and a half, then those actions have taken place because the majority of the Council members were willing to take those wrong actions. The real issue is, who are the Council members? Are they ethically qualified to lead the Church?

And if the answer is "no", then the next question is, "who put them there?"

And the answer to that question has very much to do with the structure of governance.

The twelve original apostles were chosen by Jesus Christ after He spent all night in prayer to know the Father's will (Luke 6:12-16, John 15:16), and one became an enemy, who was appointed for a purpose (John 6:70-71, Acts 1:15-17). The current UCG Council members were chosen by the balloting of about 500 ministers in a process that gives the majority the legal power to force its will on the minority.

You cannot separate the fruits of that process from the choice of that process and say, "It doesn't matter" (Luke 6:43-44).

More to come...

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

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

Government in the Church, Chapter 5

Following the Bible -- Pattern of Government, Chapter 6

Church Government, Chapter 7

How Is the Church Organized?, Chapter 7


Richard said...

Do you think Passover could be the "all-in moment" in this tension?

After all, how can someone properly take the Passover (including washing one another's feet) if they're harboring ill feelings toward a brother in the faith?

But then again, the ouster of Clyde Kilough practically occurred during the days of Unleavened Bread this year, didn't it?

author@ptgbook.org said...

I think the attitudes of Church of God members do improve around Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. And to the extent that the division is being primarily motivated by bitterness or unwillingness to forgive on the part of some ministers on either side of the divide there could be some improvement. But that may not be the motivation for the division. There may be deep-seated disagreements about policy or doctrine that are driving this split. And if that is the case, people on both sides may be very sincere in thinking that they are doing the right thing and that they need to keep doing it. For people with that attitude, they will still take a stand for what they think is right, even if they become more forgiving towards others. That is why I say there is not likely to be reconciliation. I don't think that the split is about grudges, ill-will, hard feelings, bitterness, hostility, or unwillingness to forgive. I think it is about deeply felt disagreements about what is right.

I still feel the root cause of this division has not yet fully come out. It might simply be doctrinal liberalization. So far, that seems to be the most likely issue. The Council and administration has had plenty of time to simply say that Church members are not to operate a business on the Sabbath, period. That would be consistant with the doctrine of UCG in years past. But they have not done so.

Also, I do not assume every minister involved in the split on either side is necessarily converted, and an unconverted person may not be moved even by the meaning of Passover.