Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Will the Nine "Mutually Submit" to Some among the Fifty?

The ministers coming out of COGaic conducted an online deacons and elders meeting last Sunday and published an audio recording of answers Brian Orchard, Peter Nathan, and Steven Andrews gave to questions submitted, at least some by email, by the deacons and elders who participated. As I understand it, there are about 50 deacons and elders coming out of COGaic.

Here is a link to a page for that recording:

Mr. Andrews said that in order to have a checking account to receive tithes and offerings even though they have not formed a corporation, it was necessary for them to file as an unincorporated association. The name of that association is "Church of God, a Family Community". That is not necessarily the name of a new Church they are organizing, but it can be used for now.

They may or may not incorporate. But they are doing what they have to do organizationally and administratively as the need arises. Mr. Andrews said he is finding it difficult to take care of routine business matters, such as insurance, without a corporation, so they may have to form one soon.

In my last post, I called them "ex-COGaic", but now I will use their name "Church of God, a Family Community" (COGFC) until they adopt a permanent name.

Church of God, a Family Community says it does not have a model for what governance in the Church should look like. Yet they have talked about "mutual submission" as a part of governance, and they have said that the process of mutual submission was at work in their three-day conference and was responsible for the results. They judge those results as good.

I would be curious about how "mutual submission" worked in the conference. Maybe one of the ministers who attended the conference could speak about that in a future sermon or Bible study. How did they mutually submit to each other? How does that work in practical terms? What does the term "mutual submission" mean to them, exactly? Examples might be helpful here, such as, "One of the ministers in the conference wanted one thing and I wanted something else, and here is how I submitted to him..." - something like that.

They may not have a model of a complete structure of governance. But surely they must have in mind a model of how "mutual submission" should be practiced because they said they actually practiced it during the conference. How did they do it? What did it look like? Perhaps one of them can speak about this in a future sermon. It would be useful to know.

They also judge that the fruits of that conference were good. They judged that God's Holy Spirit led the conference, and they believe their discernment of this is accurate, that is, they believe that their sense or discernment that the Holy Spirit led the conference is a correct discernment, that the Holy Spirit really did lead the conference.

But it is possible that a human being can reach certain conclusions, based on his own human reasoning, and think that the Holy Spirit has led him to his conclusion, yet be wrong. Many Catholics and Protestants think that the Holy Spirit leads them, but many of them are wrong. For if the Holy Spirit is leading every decision and conclusion made by men claiming to be led by the Spirit of God, God's Spirit is leading different men to different, contradictory conclusions, and that makes no sense. God's Spirit will lead us to truth, and if our conclusions are wrong, it is not the Holy Spirit that has inspired those conclusions. Our mistakes are our own, and we can make mistakes even when we think we are being led by God's Spirit.

These men may have trusted that they had the discernment to recognize what kind of spirit leads their thinking, but how do they know they have that discernment?

We have to go by the Bible. Only the Bible is infallible. Humans can make mistakes, and they can even attribute their wrong thinking to the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, yet be mistaken. But the Bible is never mistaken. And God can use His Spirit to help us to understand the Bible as we believe and strive to obey it.

Two major decisions were made in the three-day conference which took place about three weeks ago. Those two major decisions are apparent by now to the elders and deacons, but I doubt they all completely agree with them.

One decision was that the model of hierarchical governance for the Church taught and practiced by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong would NOT be adopted, but that a new form of governance would be developed or learned. As part of this decision, they also decided to develop or learn that new model of governance slowly, so it will probably take a long time to work out.

Secondly, they decided not to preach the gospel to the world at this time, but only to concentrate on feeding the flock, and they plan to preach the gospel to the world only at some indefinite time in the future.

I leave it to you to judge, according to the Bible, if these two decisions are the fruits of God's Holy Spirit guiding the conference in those two major decisions.

Yet it is apparent, according to the recording made available in the website after this deacons and elders meeting, that some deacons and elders are very concerned about preaching the gospel to the world and may not be in complete agreement with the decision to postpone this aspect of obedience to God.

So I would like to ask a question, a question that any Church of God, a Family Community member can ask any deacon or elder, and any elder can ask any leading minister who attended the conference.

If you are an elder or deacon in Church of God, a Family Community who wants to preach the gospel, try asking Mr. Nathan, or Mr. Orchard, or Mr. Andrews, or any of the nine ministers who attended the conference this question:

"If one of us, or several of us, inspired by the Holy Spirit and based on what the Bible teaches, feel a sense of urgency to start NOW preaching the gospel, and want to use some of our tithe money to put up a website to preach the gospel to the world, do you nine ministers who attended the conference have any objection? If you are too busy formulating a model of governance and feeding the flock to have time to preach the gospel, do you have any objection if we do it? It won't interfere with or slow down the work you think has greater priority. You nine ministers can go full speed ahead with feeding the flock and defining a model of governance for the Church based on family and based on mutual submission, and we, a small group of elders and deacons, supported by a handful of members, will go full speed ahead with preaching the gospel. We won't slow you down, and you won't slow us down, but all of us can go full speed ahead with what God leads us to see is important. Ok? Any objection if we do this? Can we go ahead with this?"

I am curious to know what answer will come back. But I can guess.

And if the answer comes back, "We think we should all wait and do this together at a later time, not now", you might say, "God has led us to see the urgency of preaching the gospel now, so will you submit to our request? Will you practice mutual submission in this case by submitting to the spiritual needs of those of us who feel we MUST support the preaching of the gospel NOW? For we are not able to have a clear conscience before God the Father until we do this! For if we keep silent, we are like the man in the parable who lost his salvation because he buried his pound or mina in the sand. Our reconciliation with the Father becomes impossible and our salvation is at risk. Please don't force us into this position."

Again, I can guess the answer.

I do not think they would submit to such a request.

Surprise me. Show me I am wrong.

And if such leaders do not submit to the request of those elders, deacons, and members to preach the gospel as the Bible commands, now, how can they complain that Mr. David Hulme did not submit to their requests, desires, or opinions when they were in COGaic?

These men speak of "reconciliation". But by resisting those, in the whole Church of God (scattered members and scattered fellowships included) and possibly in COGFC (Church of God, a Family Community) itself, who understand the need to be prompt about obeying God's command to preach the gospel, they may actually be dividing the body of Christ. And will they again speak of reconciliation, a couple of months or a few years down the road, when ministers and members have to leave COGFC in order to preach the gospel? Will they, in the future, speak of reconciliation with those with whom they are presently creating division? And if that happens, will such talk of reconciliation have any credibility?

I am not against COGFC. I am not trying to be an adversary. I think I see some good things in them. I want to see them succeed. I have concerns about them, and while I may seem to be speaking confrontationally or with hostility, I want to see them do the right thing, according to the Bible. I am frustrated with them, but not hostile. I am worried that they will go off track, indeed, that they have already started off-track.

They speak of focusing on feeding the flock, healing the flock, and making the flock healthy. They think that is the proper approach and that they should wait until the flock is healthy before preaching the gospel. They feel they need a healthy flock as a base for preaching the gospel.

There are two fallacies in this approach.

First of all, the flock is not fed by just words. It is fed by the examples of the leading ministers. In effect, the flock is being fed by the examples and decisions they see Peter Nathan, Brian Orchard, and Steve Andrews making as much as any words that are spoken to them. The saying, "actions speak louder than words" is true in this case. And when they see that these men have made the decision, based on their reasoning but not based on the Bible, that obedience to God's command to preach the gospel should be postponed indefinitely, that action speaks louder than any words in any sermon the flock hears. For it tells them that obedience can be postponed indefinitely. That is the message they will "hear" from the leaders' decision to postpone preaching the gospel. And if the leaders postpone obeying God's command to preach the gospel, why should not any member postpone accomplishing a difficult reconciliation with a brother?

So the flock is being fed a poor diet, a polluted diet, and that will not make them healthy.

Instead, the leaders should show by example that they will obey ALL of God's commands without delay, including preaching the gospel, and the members will be motivated to also obey God's command, without delay, to reconcile with God and man. Do not ask the members to do something you are not willing to do, to obey all of God's commands promptly and without delay. For if the leadership and ministry do not obey God's command to preach the gospel, saying, "we will do it later", how can you correct a member who doesn't want to forgive or reconcile with his brother because he says, "I will do it later"?

So giving the flock a diet of "reconciliation" without "preaching the gospel" will not heal the flock but will make the flock sicker. It would be like a doctor treating a sick patient by feeding him all starch and no protein.

The second fallacy is the idea that the leadership must choose between preaching the gospel or healing the flock. There is no such choice. Both are required AT THE SAME TIME. Yes, focus on healing and feeding the flock, but at the same time focus also on preaching the gospel.

To say, "We will not preach the gospel now because we have to focus on feeding the flock", would be like a man who says, "I will not focus on avoiding murder because I have to focus on avoiding adultery". James wrote, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:10-11). The lesson here is, you cannot pick and choose what to obey and what not to obey. So I could paraphrase and change the example, but the point is the same: "For He who said, 'feed the flock' also said 'preach the gospel'. Now, if you feed the flock, but do not preach the gospel, you have become a transgressor of the law". Why? Because the same Lawgiver commands both.

And if none of the leading ministers feels he can do both, ask among the deacons and elders who can start to do this. Surely, among 50 deacons and elders and even more members, there must be someone who can start the ball rolling, who can start a small website, start writing an article, set up a pay-per-click advertising account, and start writing a few ads and making some plans. The other leading ministers will then only have to review those preparations and give the go ahead to try it on a small scale, or tell the person what is wrong and what has to be fixed.

In assigning leadership roles to Peter Nathan (doctrine, training, education), Brian Orchard (pastoring), and Steve Andrews (administration), COGFC has left a huge vacuum. Ask for volunteers, and likely it will be a minister or deacon or member who has been urgently asking about when you will preach the gospel, and let him start to coordinate matters concerning "media" or "public proclamation" or "preaching the gospel" - however it is worded. If there are people willing to fill the vacuum in COGFC, don't stand in their way - let them work.

There is probably an enthusiasm, a fire in the belly, of many people leaving COGaic for preaching the gospel. They feel they have been set free and can now go all out to do what God commands. Don't disappoint them. Don't quench that fire, don't kill that enthusiasm and zeal thinking you can start it up again whenever you want.

The idea that we must correct ourselves before we correct others is based on the "beam in the eye" teaching (Matthew 7:3-5). Notice that this teaching is in the context of judging your brother (Matthew 7:1-2).

But the "gospel" means "good news". And the Ezekiel warning is a warning, not necessarily just judging. Remember, the Ezekiel warning is not just for the wicked to turn from his way, but the righteous to continue to practice righteousness. So giving a warning is not being judgmental because we should even be warning the righteous to continue as he is doing. So if the same warning is given to the righteous as well as the wicked, how can it be judgmental to give the warning?

Suppose I say to you, "I have great news, wonderful news! God is going to set up His kingdom on this earth and bring peace and happiness to all mankind! Isn't that great?" Would you say, "Stop judging me, you hypocrite! What right do you have to judge me, since you have a beam in your own eye"?

If I share information with you about an approaching danger, information I have but you don't have, am I judging you? If I am your next door neighbor and I call you and say, "I just heard on the radio a tornado has been sighted in our neighborhood just minutes away and it is heading right for your house and mine - better get in your basement", will you say, "Stop judging me, you hypocrite, you have a beam in your eye."?

Christ USED men with beams in their eyes, serious character flaws, to preach the gospel, including Judas. His beam in the eye teaching was never intended to prevent someone from obeying God's command to share with others the knowledge God has given us.

Did Christ wait till His twelve apostles were reconciled with each other and with the Father before sending them out to preach the gospel? Did He say, they need spiritual healing, they need to be converted, they are spiritually sick, especially Judas, I can't send them out yet? No, He sent all twelve of them out to preach the gospel, even while unconverted. And that is not the only example in the Bible of people with problems being commanded to preach the gospel or a warning message in spite of their problems.

But did the nine ministers in their three-day conference take the time to look up these examples in the Bible before they made their decision? And did they believe the Bible, did they believe God, or did they believe their human reasoning and assume that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, even though it went contrary to God's teaching in the Bible?

Certainly we should deal with our problems and seek a closer relationship with God. We should repent of all of our sins and strive to overcome them. We should reconcile with God the Father and with each other. But we should at the same time share with the public the knowledge God has given us, for He has given us that knowledge for that purpose, so we can share it with others. You can't reconcile with God if you are not doing what He says.

The leading ministers in Church of God, a Family Community, speak convincingly about the importance of preaching the gospel. Perhaps they are sincere. I am glad they are acknowledging the importance of preaching the gospel. I am glad they are zealous and enthusiastic about the United States and Britain in prophecy doctrine, which is important for preaching the gospel. But they need to match their words with actions, and I find no biblical reason for any delay in preaching the gospel.

We have been given precious knowledge. It is wrong for us to keep silent about it while it benefits us alone. Read the account, as an example for our learning, in 2 Kings 6:24-33 and 7:1-11. Especially notice this: "Then they said to one another, 'We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household' " (2 Kings 7:9).

If we remain silent about the good news God has given us, use it for our own benefit to reconcile with each other but not share it with the world, while we "wait until morning light", might not some punishment come upon us? God gave us this example in 2 Kings for our learning - and perhaps as a warning.

God will judge each of us as individuals for what we do or fail to do now, not what we claim we will do at some indefinite time in the future.

This is the sixth post in a series about ministers and members leaving Church of God, an International Community (COGaic). Here are links to related posts in this blog, also about Church of God, a Family Community:

"Peter Nathan and Other Ministers Leaving Church of God, an International Community?", dated December 28, 2013, link:

"New Website of Ministers Leaving COGaic", dated January 4, 2014, link:

"New Church Coming out of COGaic and 'Mutual Submission' ", dated January 5, 2014, link:

" 'Beam in the Eye', and Preaching the Gospel to the World", dated January 14, 2014, link:

"Decision Time for Ex-COGaic Ministers and Brethren - Where Will they Stand?", dated January 17, 2014, link:

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




Church Government, Chapter 7


Anonymous said...

One note on the number of elders: the recording was a bit fuzzy in that part, but after listening a couple of times and given Mr. Nathan's accent, it seems more likely that he said 15, not 50. said...

Ok, thanks for the correction. said...

John Carmack has written a very good post on the subject of submission, and he gives some good examples from the Bible that I missed. His post is titled "Does God Ever Submit?", dated January 29, 2014, link: