Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beware of Those Who Preach Against Organization

There are some who claim affiliation with the Church of God who love to speak against "organization" or "corporation" in the Church of God, and they often accuse brethren and ministers of being more loyal to Church of God corporations than to God. Some who teach against organization are also disrespectful to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and are filled with a spirit of accusation. While they speak of the need for repentance, they are blind to their own need to repent (Matthew 7:3-5).

Now, there is a time to give godly warnings and correction in the spirit of "iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17), turning a sinner from his ways and towards righteousness (James 5:19-20, Daniel 12:3), and giving a warning to those who need it (Proverbs 24:11, Ezekiel 3:16-21, 33:1-11). But Satan, who is the great deceiver and counterfeiter, can inspire false teachers to stir up a spirit of accusation among the brethren in the guise of godly correction. But their criticism and fault-finding is anything but godly.

I have been reminded of these things after reading a post by Mr. Wally Smith in his "Thoughts En Route" blog titled "On Talebearing, Pettiness, Food Fights, and Passover", dated March 15, 2013. Actually, there have been several good posts in that blog (which I think is one of the best blogs on the Internet) about this subject. Links:

"Has the Church given up its freedom to speak?":

"Follow up to 'Has the Church given up its freedom to speak?' ":

"Warning: The internet is full of ninnies":

"On Talebearing, Pettiness, Food Fights, and Passover":

Some characteristics of those who wrongly accuse others is a tendency to blow things out of proportion, to assume the worst about people they accuse, assuming guilt on the flimsiest of evidence, and assuming wrong motives, which they cannot prove. They also make personal accusations against individuals and spread unfavorable (and sometimes inaccurate) information and gossip about individuals that others cannot know or prove or disprove. I am not talking about debating a doctrinal position or practice someone might openly teach, but revealing personal details about people's private lives and accusing them of sin, which matters have no purpose in an open forum like the Internet.

And some may have found a gimmick or method of accusing others that may sound righteous, but isn't. "Stop following corporations and organizations and start following God", they may say.

Beware of those who rant against organization and corporation in a general sense.

While it is true that our first loyalty should be to God, not to an organization, we must realize that God Himself uses government and organization to accomplish His purposes, and He requires that we respect those He places in office in those organizations.

Those who speak against all organization are often really against authority, even the authority of God's government, and ultimately even God's authority. They like to use God's name to back up their personal opinions, but they often are worshipping a god of their imagination, a god they created in their mind and in their own image, a god who agrees with their opinions. But people like them do not really submit to God's word.

And they love to speak evil of dignitaries.

"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

"For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) - then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.

"But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption .... These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" (2 Peter 2:1-17).

"But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

"Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!' But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah ....

"These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit" (Jude 5-19).

By the way, I often wondered why these two passages are so similar. Read them together, as if side by side, directly in your Bible (you will have to do a lot of page flipping, so have book markers handy), and you will notice that, while the words differ, the sequence of thoughts and points is nearly identical. I don't think one man copied from the other. Perhaps God gave both writers the same inspiration, letting each man choose his words and examples to express the same thoughts God was inspiring in their minds to show us by example how God inspired the New Testament writers, but let them choose their own words and examples, to express the thoughts God was inspiring.

I notice that those who teach against organization do not seem to have zeal for God's work of preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel about the tribulation to come. That takes organization to do it effectively. It takes teamwork.

We should be motivated by love to want to get the message of the true gospel and the Ezekiel warning out to the world. But those who rail against organization and incorporation do not seem motivated that way.

Don't be infected by a spirit or attitude of accusation and disrespect against Mr. Armstrong and all authority in the Church of God from those who criticize all Church of God organizations. Don't be fooled by their claim to be teaching repentance and loyalty towards God. Their teaching is spiritual poison.

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:




MTCOGSM said...

Author, you probably do not realize this--but when you made this statement; "Stop following corporations and organizations and start following God", they may say.

Beware of those who rant against organization and corporation in a general sense."---you just made critizism of HWA yourself, because he said almost exactly that very early in His ministry. He wrote about it in 1939.
I am not sure of where you are trying to go with this; it sounds like you are being critical of others while your doing the same thing. (Not an accusation just surmising what this looks like.
Editor said...

Mr. Armstrong did, to a certain extent, warn about organization, and he was still learning about government at that time. Later, he changed. But from what I have read in his early writings, he did not have the other characteristics I described. He did not talk about individuals and their personal faults, he did not speak evil of dignitaries, he had a zeal for preaching the gospel to the world, and he did not display a general attitude of accusation and criticism. But even when he taught about organization, he tried to follow the Bible the best he understood it at the time, and I never had the sense that he had a wrong spirit of accusation. He reasoned from the scriptures about it, even though his understanding was not complete at that time.

Moreover, it was harder for him because he never saw and experienced the right form of organization in the Church of God Seventh Day. On the other hand, we have the teachings and example of Mr. Armstrong of the right kind of organization. If after seeing that right example and the scriptures that teach it, we reject it, we have a more serious problem than Mr. Armstrong had when he was trying to learn about government without seeing a right example.

I certainly have to examine myself to make sure I am not being critical in a wrong way. But I am teaching a general principle, the same that Jude and Peter taught, that we have to be careful about reading the writings of or listening to those who have a spirit of accusation, and we have to be careful we ourselves do not learn or imitate that same spirit.

In a sense I am defending Church of God fellowships that have organization and are incorporated from those who unjustly accuse them just because they are organized.

And I am not naming individuals and attacking them. I am describing a wrong kind of behavior, teaching why it is wrong and what we should be wary of, and then each person can evaluate if he or someone fits. Each can also examine himself.

It is as if I teach against adultery, describing how it destroys homes, explaining what God says about it, and warning members not to commit adultery. That is not wrong because I am attacking the sin, and anyone can examine himself and ask, "am I guilty?" But if I said "so-and-so committed adultery", then that would be different.

MTCOGSM said...

I understand what you are saying---I am just not sure you really understand what your saying. Many in Christ's day would have labeled Him as attacking the Sadducess and Pharisees for their organizational efforts--but that was not really the case.
Some seem to think the apostle Paul attacked others--but here again that would be wrong---however, in both cases SIN was what was being "attacked"--if you can use that word in this situation.
I hope you can grasp what I am trying to get at here.
The editor said...

Yet, there is a distinction between right criticism and wrong criticism. There is a distinction between the kind of rebuking Christ, Paul, and John the Baptist (and the prophets of old) did and the "speaking evil of dignitaries" that Peter and Jude warned about. It is the kind of foul attitude that looks for and exaggerates faults, sometimes inventing faults that do not exist, speaking disrespectfully of those one should not, the kind of disrespect and spirit of accusation that Satan, the "accuser of the brethren" displays, the attitude Jude and Peter talk about - that is what I am against. I am not against the rebuking that Christ and Paul did.

Jude and Peter were not talking about Christ and Paul when they warned about those who speak evil of dignitaries.

Everyone who reads information on the Internet, everyone who reads the Journal (I do not recommend the Journal), everyone who listens to others in conversation, needs to seek the spiritual discernment to know the difference. That spiritual discernment comes from God, and we seek it as we seek God, through prayer, Bible study, meditation, and fasting, and it also comes as we believe what God says and strive to do it. It comes from the Bible and from the Holy Spirit. We need the discernment to know the difference between the kind of right rebuking Christ and Paul did and the kind of wrong accusations and criticism that those Peter and Jude warned about engaged in, and Satan engages in also (Revelation 12:10, Zechariah 3:1-2).

There is NO EXCUSE for showing open disrespect and contempt towards Mr. Armstrong - none, nada, zilch. That right there is a clue that the speaker or writer is more inspired by Satan than by God. There is also no excuse for attacking organizations across the board, whether they are at fault or not. No organization is perfect, and if an there is something in the organization that needs correcting, then it should be corrected so we have BETTER organizations, better equiped to serve God. To attack organizations across the board, or to attack corporations as if it is wrong for a Church of God to incorporate, is really an attack against the preaching of the gospel, and I think those who do this are enemies of the gospel.

If you find examples of those who speak against "organization", as if organization itself is wrong, look in their writings for zeal for preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel. I doubt if you will find it. They tend to miss the big picture and they tend to not care about our nations being warned, and the reason I think is a lack of godly love.

MTCOGSM said...

Why do we have all of these differing organizations in the first place?
Is it not out of selfishness on the part of many of those "leaders" to hold the "chief" seat? Mr HWA also addressed these things--He expalined in a letter--or maybe a PGR--why some ministers fail and some of those very ministers are the ones who have formed the "organizations" you are now standing up for---so once more it seems that you are subtly speaking against Mr. HWA's approach.
I do not apologize to anyone for telling the truth and if that means pointing out that some COG organizations are letting down or perhaps even failing in what they were called to do---then your critizism applies to me as well.
No offense has been taken by me however, because of your misunderstanding. It is the same kind of thing when someone (Evangelist) says God does not want Laodiceans in his kingdom. well that would be the same things as saying he don't want Philadelpians in his kingdom or those of Ehpesus. it is not the era of time or letter to a certain city and those Christians that is the problem--it is the attitude they have let themselves develop. Not all of Laodicea are lukewarm, if you can exercise some discerment---There are a lot of so called "Philadelphians" that think they are rich and have need of nothing--so are they really Philadelphian in Spirit and attitude? I don't think so--but here again we are talking about characteristics of some organizations that really need to wake up. they do not show love of all the brethren--but focus on their own little groups as being the best or doing the best job. (some are doing better than others--don't get me wrong)it is these organizations today that are competeing against one another and even pointing fingers at each other; still claiming to be the COG.(Which is not any single organization)
The organizations themselves is not the problem---it is the mindset behind their forming that is---it is continuing to scatter the true COG and that is what I am against----this is also the same thing HWA was against.
perhaps you have not read what HWA really said about this. what he said in 1939 is going on today and it seems to me you are supporting it by this writing. So i think HWA would be scoulding you if he were alive.