Monday, February 24, 2014

Heart-to-heart to Mr. Brian Orchard and Ministers of COGFC

I would like to write this for any COGFC leading ministers willing to read this, especially those who have been giving Bible studies and sermons and have helped to set the current direction of COGFC, such as Mr. Brian Orchard, Mr. Steve Andrews, and Mr. Bob Rodzaj.

I will keep this short, because I sense few will read it if I make it long.

You have used the phrase, "what God is doing", but you do not seem to recognize what God is doing in the minds of some of the brethren. Something different is happening in your minds, and you may assume that if the same thing that is happening in your minds is not happening in the minds of others, what is happening in the minds of others is not of God. But God is doing something with some of the brethren at the end of this age that is very important. He is stirring some up to white-hot zeal for finishing God's work of preaching the gospel to the world. That kind of zeal will be necessary considering the enormity of the job that must be done.

But you do not seem to think this is of God. You feel the need to explain to these brethren that they need to refocus on reconciliation and drawing closer to God. You may feel the need to explain why that reconciliation needs to happen before preaching the gospel rather than at the same time.

You talk about reconciliation and tearing down barriers, but you seem to be blind to the fact that you are actually creating barriers between yourselves and many of the brethren. You talk about reconciling to God, but in the minds of some you hurt your credibility because they see that you are not doing what God says.

How are you creating barriers?

You are forcing some members to choose between you and God. You are forcing them to choose to depart from COGFC ministers or disobey God's law and God's will. In other words, you are creating a conscience problem for them. And that is true, even if you are right about the need for Church healing before preaching the gospel. You are not right, in fact, because the scriptures do not support your position, and many brethren who understand the need to preach the gospel now, not later, know this.

Perhaps you cannot help being blind to the need to preach the gospel now. God evidently has not opened your mind to see that because He is not working with you the same way. But you should at least be able to perceive, if you have any empathy at all, that this is an absolute need for the brethren who feel this way. And while you preach reconciliation with God and with scattered sheep, you are alienating some of the sheep in your own fold.

There is a need for Churchwide repentance/healing/reconciliation. That is true. God may be working in your minds to see that need and to take responsibility for helping to fill that need. But that should be done at the same time as preaching the gospel to the world. And at the same time God may be working in your minds to see the need for Churchwide repentance and healing and reconciliation with God and with brethren, God is also working in the minds of many of the brethren, apparently not you, to see the need to preach the
gospel and warning to the world right now, not later, not after repentance. You feel that what you are doing is what "God is doing", but you do not have enough empathy with the brethren or spiritual discernment to see what God is also doing in them. So you hold them back. And what could be a good message of repentance becomes a false message of a false repentance that fails to recognize the need for the Church to repent of its failure to zealously preach the gospel to the world.

Brethren who see the need for preaching the gospel are boxed in. They agree with you that the Church needs to repent and seek out lost sheep, they want to support you and stay with you, but they cannot stay with you because you are forcing them to sin.

For those brethren, to fail to preach the gospel now is sin. To support a ministry that is postponing any action to preach the gospel, without themselves doing something on their own, would be, for them, sin. And you are forcing them to choose between sin or leaving you. That is not reconciliation.

Should we be careful not to create a conscience problem with others in the Church of God? Consider these scriptures:

"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).

"But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).

"For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ" (1 Corinthians 8:10-12).

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!" (Matthew 18:6-7).

Did God force someone to violate his conscience, and sin? Consider this account:

" 'And your food which you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; from time to time you shall eat it. You shall also drink water by measure, one-sixth of a hin; from time to time you shall drink. And you shall eat it as barley cakes; and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight.' Then the Lord said, 'So shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, where I will drive them.' So I said, 'Ah, Lord God! Indeed I have never defiled myself from my youth till now; I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has abominable flesh ever come into my mouth.' Then He said to me, 'See, I am giving you cow dung instead of human waste, and you shall prepare your bread over it' " (Ezekiel 4:10-15).

Ezekiel had a conscience problem with what God told him, so God gave him another way that did not offend Ezekiel's conscience. In this God sets the example for us.

You are also spiritually starving the membership, not feeding them, because part of our spiritual "food" is finishing God's work. "Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, "There are still four months and then comes the harvest"? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!' " (John 4:34-35). To the degree Christ is living in the brethren, those brethren will also feel that their spiritual food is to finish God's work of preaching the gospel, and you are not feeding them that food - you are not giving them the opportunity to do it.

When you tempt members to stay with you for the sake of their friends when they know they should go elsewhere to support the gospel, you may be leading them into sin, and if you do, you are sinning against Christ.

You cannot prove your current course of action by the scriptures or by any spiritual principle taught in Bible or by any valid logic:

1) The beam in the eye passage was never intended to be used to say that we should not preach the gospel until we improve our own spiritual condition, because if that were the case, Jesus would never have sent Judas out to preach the gospel. Neither would God have required Jonah to preach repentance to Nineveh, because Jonah had a bad attitude towards God and man, both before preaching to Nineveh and afterwards, but God used him anyway. It is God who does the correcting - we only have to deliver the message, like a mailman, that God has given us to deliver. We point people to the scriptures and the scriptures will teach and correct them. We also share the good news of God's plan and coming kingdom with them.

2) Setting a right example only reaches a few around us. It does not reach 500 million people - there are not enough of us for that.

3) There is no precedence in the New Testament after the Church started on Pentecost for postponing preaching the gospel until those who are to do it first draw closer to God.

4) God commands preaching the gospel, and you can only reconcile to God by doing what he says while you are seeking him.

5) There is absolutely no reason why preaching the gospel and seeking a deeper Churchwide repentance/healing/reconciliation cannot be done at the same time, in fact, they reinforce each other and can only be done effectively together.

Besides preaching repentance/healing/reconciliation, you have also spoken of the need for trust. But by saying one thing, but doing something else, you are destroying the trust that could exist between you and the brethren. By speaking of the importance of preaching the gospel, but not actually doing it, you cast doubt on your sincerity when you say it is important.

You are building a wall between yourselves and those who know that they MUST do something to preach the gospel, now, not later. God is working in them to know this, God is stirring them up to preach the gospel with urgency, but you are not giving them an opportunity to do what God is leading them to do while they are with you.

In this, you are building walls, not tearing them down. And those brethren who understand the need, whose minds God has stirred, will have to leave you. You are forcing them out more surely than David Hulme forced you out of COGaic.

That is sad, because you may really have something to offer for repentance, reconciliation, and drawing closer to God. But on the other hand, how real is your knowledge and commitment to reconciliation if you can't understand reconciliation with those who want to obey God in your own fellowship. So maybe the things you say about Churchwide repentance, healing, and reconciliation are really smoke and mirrors after all, because these are subjects you do not really understand and believe, and if you do not understand these subjects, how can you teach the brethren about them?

You have chosen to take a very different path than Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong took. He was human and could make mistakes, and if he has made mistakes in doctrine or practice, and we can see those mistakes in the Bible, we should correct them. But such correction should come from the Bible. In your case, you cannot prove he was wrong from the Bible, either in government or in preaching the gospel. He had the right structure of government and he placed the right emphasis on preaching the gospel, and all of us, you included, are able to know the true gospel because of his emphasis on preaching the gospel. But you have taken a different direction from him without proving to the brethren that he was wrong in either of those two things. And you have placed a veil over your decision making, so the brethren do not know how decisions are being made or who is making them.


John D Carmack said...

So, are they setting a timetable for things? Are they saying, "We will do x and y, and in one year, we should be ready to do z"? Or, are they just simply saying, "We are not yet ready"?

If it is the former, then that is one thing. However, if it is the latter, then "later" never seems to come. said...

From what they have been saying, it seems to be the latter. I don't remember the exact words, but in one of the sermons or Bible studies, one of the ministers, and I think it was Mr. Steve Andrews, in talking about Church reconciliation and healing, said that Church healing had to happen before preaching the gospel, and said, we don't know how long that will take. His tone and inflection seemed to say to me, "indefinite".

However, there may be pressure from those in COGFC zealous for the gospel building for COGFC to make some kind of commitment, so it would not surprise me if they try to establish some kind of time table at the March conference for preaching the gospel to the world, maybe some targets or goals, and maybe even a small start. I am looking forward to finding out what will happen.

I believe they said the first day open house will be online - if so, I plan to listen to it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insightful perspective, as always.

There is a letter from Brian Orchard on their website today; apparently more of the other ministers are moving to other organizations, including Bob Rodzaj, Ted Budge and Stephen Elliott. said...

Thanks for the information. I was able to include it in the post I had prepared and just published a little while ago.

Anonymous said...

maybe you can explain how belief in "church eras" is critical for salvation?

thanks said...

I don't think it is critical to salvation, but it might be important for doing God's work and being able to be protected during the tribulation. It can be important for that because it will help Philadelphians understand the need for them to separate from those who do not want to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.