Sunday, January 29, 2012

Should a UCG Member Leave Because UCG MIGHT Change Doctrine?

Someone commented in my December 12, 2011 post, "COGWA Headquarters Location", that UCG to date has not made any doctrinal changes, and UCG members should not leave that Church just because they MIGHT make doctrinal changes in the future.

I agree that UCG has not made any major doctrinal changes. As far as I know, they have not made any minor changes either, though I have not been watching them closely enough to know definitely one way or another.

Let's assume for the sake of discussion that they have made NO doctrinal changes to date, zero, nada. Should a UCG member leave that organization just because he or she thinks they MIGHT make changes in the future?

Though some UCG members who left to go to COGWA may have left because they expect UCG to change doctrine, many who left UCG to go with COGWA did not leave because they thought UCG might change doctrine, but they left to stay with their pastor who was leaving. In other words, when their pastor left UCG, the members had to make a choice to leave UCG or leave their pastor. Some of them stayed with their pastor giving greater priority to their relationship with the man they know than with a corporate organization. I do not fault them for that.

UCG has not officially changed doctrine, and maybe they never will, but it is not wrong for a member to read the signs of the times (Matthew 16:2-3) and foresee and avoid future problems (Proverbs 22:3, 27:12). Many members do not want to invest in the growth of an organization if that organization is getting ready to turn away from sound doctrine. They would rather invest the tithes and offerings God has entrusted them with in whatever group they believe will be most faithful now and in the future. Church of God members have the right to make those kinds of judgments. That is the right exercise of godly wisdom.

It's really up to each individual to exercise judgment to stay or leave, and there are so many factors involved including personal circumstances and levels of understanding that it is probably wrong for anyone to judge another member for leaving or staying in UCG. For one person it might be best to stay and for someone else it might be best to leave. God can give each person the wisdom and discernment to know God's will and make the best decision for that particular person, not someone else.

While I have seen no concrete proof that UCG is going to change doctrine, I think there is strong circumstantial evidence that many leaders and ministers in UCG want to change doctrine and are getting ready to make the attempt. The strongest evidence, in my opinion, is the Sabbath paper they published, one that I think is was very provocative and in its implications seemed to change doctrine and contained errors, a paper that was bound to provoke questions from members, questions addressed to their pastor who was then forced to take a stand for or against the paper. It appears to me that this paper was used as a vehicle for pressuring pastors to leave UCG, and it would be those pastors who were the most loyal to the Sabbath doctrine who would be pressured to leave. Now, if that is the case, and if UCG leaders are 100% faithful to the old doctrines, why and how could they use this method to get rid of the pastors they wanted to get rid of? As soon as those pastors left, UCG seems to have reversed itself on the Sabbath paper, basically affirming the old Sabbath teaching. It appears that once that paper had served its purpose in helping to get rid of most of the paid ministry, it was no longer needed and it was in effect disavowed. I think once the COGWA ministers were out of UCG and could no longer vote in UCG elections, UCG leaders had a different priority, namely, to reassure their members that they would NOT change doctrine so they would not leave to go to COGWA.

UCG ministers may not all be in agreement. They stuck together during the split to support their own side, but now that they won that battle, cracks in their unity may emerge. Probably, some want to change doctrine a lot, some a little, and some do not want to change doctrine at all. Time will tell whose policies will prevail in UCG.

I do not agree with the governance structure of UCG or COGWA, and I am concerned about COGWA's inability to do a strong work of preaching the gospel because of their budget situation. They have too many paid ministers and not enough tithe-paying members to support the ministry plus an effective work of preaching to the public. But if I didn't care about those things, if I were attending with UCG and my only priority was sticking to the old doctrines, I would definitely be considering going to COGWA at this point.


MTCOGSM said...

Hello once again, author!
I see here by this post that, by your own admission & I mean no disrespect, you have not paid that close attention to how UCG has subtly begun to slide into doctrinal change and even heresy in some cases. Have they really changed no doctrine, not even minor ones, as you suggest? I recall a long time back that you were writing about governance being doctrine—which I agree with—but certainly that is not at all what I am referring to here.(you did mention this later in the post) Some of what brought on the split was this, beside the wanting to change the governance somewhat from what was shaping up under the new council majority; The Sabbath was being weakened by their (UCG) approach to it—allowing a business to function on the Sabbath that was owned by people more committed to their business than to keeping the Sabbath. (Their business was working, even if they were not—see the fourth commandment.)this was seen as watering down. Now I know that those who slumber when it comes to Spiritual matters do not see this the same way. (open eyes & ears will understand) Then there was the matter of Fasting and a wrong explanation to reasons for that.

However, since then there have arisen even more obvious but subtle issues, as was already being seen by some of the ministry that left; such as the Gospel message itself being diluted. (The UN news, Jan.2012, page 3 a small box with “Mission statement” indicating by the wording they think that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is something besides the kingdom of God; not one and the same.) On page 3, in “forward” Mr. Luker mixes truth with error; he indicates that healing is part of the “Gospel message” when quoting scripture that never says it is—a trend of Mr. Meredith as well in LCG— Scripture actually places healing as an accompanying sign, and not part of the Gospel message. (Mark 16:17) several of the BT programs are weak—don’t use proper scriptures to fit the theme—a youtube on Jan. the 9th (BT daily blog) which Darris McNeely totally missed the mark by trying to promote the observing of the resurrection, associating that with the days of ULB as being how the COG observes the resurrection.
These are only a few minute examples—and I fear if I looked deeper, I would find many more.
I was once at the point of thinking UCG was at least preaching the Gospel, which COGWa is still using excuses not to do, until I began to focus on the message itself and the subtlties within. Now I am not too sure. For all of the problems, protestant spins and blending of Scripture in LCG—it is probably still the most on track with truth and less doctrinally compromised of these three. It is the one I find has the most truth in its telecasts and is more doctrinally sound. Others are further back in the pack. However, I did listen to a sermon from David Traybig (COGWA) about how the COG is to function and found it to be good and factual.

So I think if you were more atuned to what is going on in UCG, you may also find the need to alter some things in this post from the way you have presented it. Just my opinion—and you may not see these things the same as I do. Normally, I can find agreement with you, but this one I do not find that much. Any true Christian is not going to follow his/her minister into another organization if they are not being loyal to truth of Scripture and what the COG was commissioned to do. However, that being said, most of us also know the COG has never been perfect and we have to test all things, looking for the good and staying away from heresy and watering down of truth to the best of our ability.when looking for truth, we have to see it thru the guidance of the Spirit, not just men.
Editor said...

Some of what you mention I was aware of, and some I was not aware of, as I mentioned, I have not been observing the details of what UCG is teaching in some of these areas. But even in the items you mentioned that I was aware of, I am taking a conservative approach, not saying definitely that it is a change in doctrine without to my mind absolute proof that a definite change in doctrine is intended, and not just a sloppy or poor explanation of doctrine. In other words, I am trying to give UCG the benefit of the doubt in areas that to me may seem like gray areas. A particular speaker or writer may stretch a doctrine here or there, either intentionally (because that particular man really does want to change doctrine), or unintentionally because he is doing a poor job of explaining a doctrine (or doesn't understand it well). But that is a long way from absolute proof that UCG leadership is definitely and clearly, and maybe officially, changing doctrine. Rather, that is what I would lump together as "circumstantial evidence". I think some ministers in UCG want to change doctrine, and those ministers may try to start to move in that direction as far as they dare in their own writings and speaking, but I have found no proof that convinces me personally, beyond reasonable doubt, that the Council has definitely started to change doctrine.

For example, I posted many months back, when the split was first developing, about a statement Dennis Luker made about Christ being "fully God and fully man", and I thought that phraseology was suggestive of the trinity idea, because that is how some trinitarians and Catholics talk about the nature of Christ. Christ was never fully God and fully man at the same time. He was fully God but not man before He was born of Mary. After His human birth He was fully man but not fully God - He no longer had the infinite power of God. Then in His resurrection He became fully God, as He is now, but He is not fully man. Yet I have to acknowledge that Mr. Luker's letter in no way proves that He believes in and is now teaching the trinity. He could just be wording his letter poorly. And even if he secretly believes in the trinity, he does not establish official doctrine, the Council does, and to really make it official they need a vote of the whole ministry. Unless Mr. Luker had said clearly that God is a trinity, I cannot accuse him of teaching that doctrine.

In the matter of the teaching about employing people to work on the Sabbath, the Council appeared to be changing doctrine, or getting ready to change doctrine, then backed off and went back to teaching that members should NOT employ people to work on the Sabbath, and my interpretation of this is that they never intended to change the doctrine at this time but used their letter to provoke a split to get rid of ministers who would vote against them, and it worked. It seemed to be a political move, in other words. Right now, the UCG doctrine remains (as far as I know), DO NOT employ people to work on the Sabbath. Yet the fact that they could use such a ploy is part of what I call circumstantial evidence that there are many in UCG who want to change doctrine and that UCG is likely to change doctrine, clearly and officially, in the future.

But I don't want to accuse them of what they are going to do in the future. I will wait to see what happens. If they really change doctrine, events will make it crystal clear beyond doubt, and then I will know. In the meantime, I will be patient.

Also, people can repent, and events can occur that can change who the leaders are.

John D Carmack said...

I disagree that many left because their ministers left, although under the circumstances it could easily be perceived that way.

I too would argue they have already changed doctrine, albeit subtly. The reason I left UCG was because they obviously had no interest in treating some members (ministerial and lay both) like brothers, and their subsequent lawsuits and speech have proven they have lost sight of how people are supposed to treat one another. These things are applications of doctrine. I could name numerous other things, some of which MTCOGSM already pointed out, but one of the largest is due to the appointment of John Elliot, one of the authors of the "Sabbath paper" that was withdrawn, who has continued since the split to weaken views towards the Sabbath. It is not a matter of what they might do, but rather what they have already done and in some cases denying there's anything wrong with any of it.

BUT, setting all that aside and answering your more generic question, I don't believe one should leave any organization for what they MIGHT do. That is prejudging a group of people. It would be similar to divorcing your spouse because they might cheat on you, IMO. Furthermore, Mt 18 tells me that the parties are required to try to work it out until all else is exhausted.

Of course, Ro 12:18 says to live at peace with everyone "if it be possible". Alas! It is not always possible. said...

"...and their subsequent lawsuits..."

John, did I miss the news? Did someone sue somebody over the events involved in the split? I had not heard that before. Up till now I have been thinking that both sides exercised restraint in obedience to 1 Corinthians 6:1-7.

John D Carmack said...

Read the email forwarded by Clyde Kilough's (written by Kambani Banda, whom Bob Thiel did not identify): "Since you have already shown yourself more than willing to resort to the legal process by filing lawsuits against a brother, why aren’t you willing to go to the police with these allegations?"

See also

There also was the complaint by "Sarah Luther", whoever she was supposed to be, filed shortly after the split. This to me is no different than taking a brother in front of the law. said...

Ok, thanks John.