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.

Monday, January 2, 2012

How Europe May Finally Unite

With all the attention given to the growing unity of Europe, it remains a fact that Europe has not yet fully united. A "United States of Europe" doesn't exist. The beast power has not formed yet.

Europe is in no way ready to challenge the United States militarily. Not even close. The United States, though weakening, is still the most powerful nation on earth today.

Yet Bible prophecy predicts the rising of the beast power and the fall of the United States, probably in less than about two decades. And it is clear that the United States is weakening fast, mostly through economic problems and internal divisions.

I usually resist the temptation to speculate, except in my private thoughts. Not always. Maybe 5% or less of my speculative thoughts about the Church or the world make it into this blog. Like now.

How might a final, strongly unified European Empire form?

I think we can see clues in what has been happening in Greece and other weaker nations of the EU with their budget problems. They basically spend themselves into debt they cannot manage in order to provide "government benefits", or welfare, to the people, more in payouts than they take in in taxes (sound familiar?). And when government tries to cutback welfare spending, the people riot.

So here is a possible scenario.

The stronger nations of Europe, Germany and France for example, which basically have the power to control the Euro, tighten the rules to force smaller, less responsible nations to cut spending. They have to do that or the Euro will be ruined.

Germany will not allow the Euro to go down. It can't afford that. Germany wants a united Europe, and for that to go forward, there must be confidence, confidence in the idea of a united Europe and confidence in one European currency. If the Euro fails, that confidence is permanently damaged or destroyed. No one will be quick to trust the Euro or any other common European currency again, and the very idea of a united Europe will be harder to realize.

So Germany will require nations like Greece to cut welfare spending or leave the Euro-zone, and if they leave the Euro, they will still have to cut spending one way or another.

Now, under current circumstances, the strain may not be too severe. There may be some civil unrest, but it will be manageable.

But if there is a European and worldwide economic crisis, a severe recession or depression triggered, perhaps, by disruption of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf because of a war involving Iran, then hardship in some countries in Europe may reach the breaking point where rioting and internal division outpace the government's ability to manage them.

In that case you could have, in Greece for example, revolution, civil war, anarchy. If that happens, one or more sides may appeal to Europe to help to restore order and end human suffering and death, and Germany could send in the army. This would be a precedent that establishes a central European government, backed by a strong military, which would have real authority - authority backed by force - over individual nations in Europe. And if such an authority is successful, if it restores order, ends suffering, and brings a good result in the eyes of the people, that will tend to establish it firmly and permanently. There will be no going back after that. Independence of individual nations will be lost.