Just for the record, I do not accuse any individual on either side of this controversy of deliberate idolatry in the way he understands the scriptures, and I hope no one accuses me of that. In the past, I have said that UCG as an organization seems to be making an idol out of their commitment to using balloting to select leaders, not because I think they are mistaken in their views, but because they seemed to be so committed to their governance system that they seemed to be unwilling to even consider changing it. But I usually try to avoid accusing particular individuals of anything more than making a mistake because I cannot know any man's heart as God knows the heart.
Anyone can make a mistake in understanding of the scriptures, and only God can judge a particular individual for his attitude, views, and teachings because only God knows the heart. We make a mistake when we become too harsh towards each other for our differences. I would not want God to be harsh with me when I make mistakes, so I try not to be harsh with others. There is a way to debate controversial issues honestly and with respect, and I try to have a right balance in that.
Could I be wrong about governance? Of course I could. I am human. Perhaps I misunderstood the Bible about something. But I want to strive the best I can to understand the scriptures and believe what I read.
If someone is to show me I am wrong, it will have to be through the Bible, through logic, or through historical information I can check up on or know about. God can also put me through experiences through circumstances that will teach me lessons and make me think about things with a fresh perspective. And God can use us to correct each other and teach each other, and I am always aware that God may show me something through correction from others, so when someone disagrees with me, I try to follow their logic and compare it to mine to see if I might be wrong.
But that is not just true about governance. It is true for any doctrine, the Sabbath, the holy days, the nature of God - you name it. My commitment is not to these doctrines, but to the Word of God itself. I only believe the doctrines of the Church as long as I see that the Bible teaches them, but if someone showed me something in the Bible I did not see before, my commitment to God to believe what He says requires me to compare it with everything else in the Bible with an open mind and believe what God says, even if it means I have to change my doctrinal beliefs. No one has shown me from the Bible that I am wrong about the Sabbath or any other major doctrine so far.
Over time, God will correct our mistakes to the degree we are willing to believe what He says, but sometimes that correction and our learning takes time and we should be patient with each other. None of us knows everything perfectly yet, so we should still be willing to learn new things, even from each other. "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17). See also 1 Corinthians 13:9-13, 2 Peter 3:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Acts 17:11, and Proverbs 11:14.
The reasons I believe top-down governance is what the Church of God should have rather than using balloting to choose leaders is that I see many examples of God using top-down governance in the Bible, but no examples of God setting up a system of balloting, and the Bible seems to teach us that we should learn from the examples in the Bible and not just commandments. Also, I see the fruits of Mr. Armstrong's top-down governance, and it seems to be better and greater fruit than anything produced by a group governed by a system of balloting. I think the fruits of his leadership are good, in spite of his mistakes and shortcomings, because none of us would be here if it was not for the work God did through him. I might be persuaded that I am wrong about governance, but I don't know how anyone can do so except to show me from the Bible that a) we are to learn only by the commands of God, not His examples, or b) the examples of the Bible endorse balloting as much as top-down structure in God's government. Show me one of both of these, and I will reconsider my position. Or show me from the Bible some other way. But personal insults will not persuade me much, nor would I expect them to persuade those who disagree with me.
COG NEWS UPDATE:
Michael Hanisko has reported on COGWA finances in his COGWA – Beloit blog. Steve McNeely, a COGWA accountant, reported that June income was over $800,000, and income for the year so far is about $3,880,000. He also reports that COGWA has a reserve in the bank of about $1,430,000 and that just under $400,000 of that is reserved for preaching the gospel.
Here is a link to that post:
More to come...
Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:
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