The Church of God has become scattered since the death of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong 26 years ago. We are also greatly reduced in power - power to preach the gospel to the world.
We do not have the growth and power we had in the early days of the Worldwide Church of God, in the 1950s and 1960s when Mr. Armstrong was alive. We also do not have the healings we had at that time.
Many are sick in the Church today and are in need of healing. We pray for God's intervention, and though some are healed, many are not.
We need to build an atmosphere of faith within the Church.
Faith comes from Bible study and from our choice to believe what God says in the Bible. The apostle Paul wrote, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). When this was written, the Bible was not complete or widely available. People received the word of God by hearing Old Testament scriptures read on the Sabbath and by hearing the preaching of the first century apostles, whose message was backed up by public miracles from God. Today we receive the word of God by reading the Bible. Increased Bible reading and study is one way of building faith.
Also, faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4, 9). Faith comes from God.
We have a need for more power and for more faith, faith for healing and power to preach the gospel and a warning message to the world. Yet, we don't have it. Why?
If we want to build an atmosphere of faith so we may have more healings (we do), and if we want to have more power for preaching the gospel (we do), why hasn't God supplied the faith and power we want and pray for?
Could it be that God sees something wrong in the Church, even something wrong in the best of the major Church of God fellowships, that we as a Church have not acknowledged? Could it be that we have a sin we don't see and have not confessed before God? Could it be that God is withholding miraculous healings to get our attention until we really examine ourselves to the point of seeing clearly what we have not seen before?
This kind of thing has happened before.
Read the account in Mr. Armstrong's autobiography of the first time he began to fast. What prodded him to fast? God was not answering his prayers for healing his wife and for other problems.
How did Mr. Armstrong fast?
He did not call a Church-wide fast, nor did he ask other Church members to fast for his wife's healing. He also did NOT, during most of this fast, pray for his wife's healing! In fact, he didn't ask for anything from God during his fast (till the end of the fast), except that God would show him what was wrong with him!
Read the account in the autobiography.
He had faith. He knew God answered prayer. He had received answers to his prayers before, including miraculous healings. But something was wrong. God was no longer answering his prayers as before.
Mr. Armstrong had the faith to know that the fault was not with God, it was with himself. So he fasted, prayed, and studied the Bible only to find out what was wrong with himself.
And through that period of fasting, God have him the answer. Once Mr. Armstrong understood his sin and repented, he prayed one more time for his wife's healing, and God answered him immediately.
That is the kind of fasting that is needed today in the Church.
We can't assume we know our own sins clearly. "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults" (Psalm 19:12). We still have human nature, and our human nature makes us tend to "look away" from our own sins without even realizing it, and Satan also tries to blind us to our own faults. But fasting can help us overcome Satan and his deceptions (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 17:14-21, Leviticus 16:5-31, Revelation 20:1-3).
What might the Church's fault be that prevents God from inspiring us with the faith that will enable our prayers for healing and power to preach the gospel to be heard and answered? And what might our fault be that prevents God from answering our prayers?
I will make a suggestion, for what it is worth, for consideration.
What I will say is not anything different from what I have said before.
Faith must be towards God and God alone (Hebrews 6:1).
"But of course," you might say. "That is obvious."
Not so fast. Let's think about this in more depth and not just assume that the faith we are trying to build is directed towards God.
"Faith", in the context of the way the Bible uses the term, is always faith towards God. But true godly faith is not always the kind of "faith" people have, in the world or in the Church of God.
Catholics have "faith". They have faith in their concept of God as a trinity. They have faith in their Catholic traditions and doctrines. They have faith in their church and its authority to interpret the Bible. Some of them have faith that their trinitarian "God" will protect them and provide for them. And that faith can be very strong in some cases.
Protestants have "faith" that God loves them, that their sins are forgiven because they have accepted Christ. Atheists and agnostics have "faith" in the scientific method as the best and only trustworthy method for discovering truth.
Millions of people in every religion have faith in their traditional beliefs, in their religious teachers and authorities, and sometimes in their own opinions and "insights".
How is it with Church of God members?
Can a Church of God member or minister have faith in his Church of God doctrinal traditions he has held for years? Can a Church of God member have faith in his pastor, his Church leader, or the ministry of his Church of God fellowship in general? Can a Church member have faith in Mr. Armstrong and in Mystery of the Ages? Can a member have faith in his own opinions?
To that last question, most experienced ministers will say, "yes", because they have had discussion sessions with people whose "faith" in the truth of their opinions was rock-solid.
But what about a member having faith in Church of God traditional doctrines, or faith in the Church ministry? Is that possible? And if a member had that kind of "faith", what would it look like? From the outside, would it look different from true faith in God and God's word, the Bible? Probably not much. In behavior and conversation about doctrine it would look about the same, as long as the ministry is teaching true doctrine from the Bible and as long as our traditional doctrines are generally correct.
But God looks at the heart. He sees not only what we say and do, but He sees our inner motives, why we say and do. And to God, faith in traditions and ministers will look very different in the heart from faith in God and the Bible.
But members whose faith is in their COG traditions or in the Church ministry more than God and the Bible can change, especially if the ministry points them in the right direction, teaching them to believe the Bible more than the ministry.
But what Church of God organization does that today?
Instead, too many ministers compete with God for the faith of the members. They teach the members to believe and trust the Church's doctrines more than what the members can see for themselves in the word of God. They do this by teaching the members to have faith that Christ is controlling the teaching of the ministry to make sure it is accurate. But God, in the Bible, nowhere promises to make sure that the ministry's doctrines are accurate, rather, the examples in the Bible and in Church of God history show that even the true Church and true ministers can make mistakes in doctrine.
Why do some ministers teach members to believe and trust that God will make sure the ministry only teaches the truth on everything and that they should "trust Christ" to lead the ministry to teach accurately without error? Why do they teach members to believe and trust the Church's interpretation of the Bible rather than let the Bible interpret the Bible and believe what they see in the Bible for themselves?
Part of the answer may be that ministers are afraid of each member interpreting the Bible for himself, then spreading his own doctrinal ideas among the congregation, causing confusion, division, and error.
This is a legitimate concern, but there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with this.
Teaching the members to trust the Church's interpretation of the Bible because Christ is head of the Church and to assume that the Church's interpretation of scripture is correct is the wrong way to deal with the problem.
For many of us who did not grow up in the Church, we had to give up our former beliefs. Whether we were Catholic, Protestant, or non-religious, when we heard Mr. Armstrong say, "Don't believe me, believe God, believe your own Bible", we had to make a choice, and when we chose to believe the Bible, we knew we were choosing to believe God more than our Catholic or Protestant ministers or more than our personal, non-religious opinions. Yet, millions of listeners never came into the Church because they made the opposite choice - they chose to continue in their religious traditions. They believed their ministers and priests more than the Bible, more than God. In this, they followed Satan, who deceives the whole world. They no doubt were sincere and well-meaning - they were deceived by Satan and by the traditions of this world and didn't realize they were making a mistake. In their minds, they were doing the right thing. The real guilt and blame is on Satan's head. But the result was, they didn't believe the Bible. They didn't believe God's word.
Perhaps Lucifer himself made the choice long ago to disbelieve God's warning and teaching about the way to live, and his choice to doubt God's word was the beginning of his downfall. Now he leads most of mankind to make that same choice. But we in the Church of God, who have been called by God to overcome Satan in this age, must be different.
Believing God more than man is a way of life, and we must continue in that way of life.
Now, we all make mistakes. In this physical life, we only know in part (1 Corinthians 8:2, 13:9-10, 12). This means that two Spirit-filled true Christians can read the same verses in the Bible and come to different conclusions. The Bible is a large book, and sometimes many verses must be put together correctly to fully understand what God is saying on a particular topic or doctrine. We all come from different backgrounds and with different experiences, talents, and perspectives. Also, we need God's help to understand, and He helps each person with the help that person needs, to teach each of us, to test us sometimes, one point at a time. And God does not give all of us instant understanding at once.
But God is able to see past our sincere mistakes, our misunderstanding of this scripture or that scripture, and He looks at the heart. Are we willing to believe Him, in other words? Are we really trying to understand what God is saying in the Bible so we can believe and do it, even though we make mistakes because we are human?
We have to believe what God says as a way of life. Whenever we are faced with a choice, believe the Bible or doubt what the Bible says, we must choose to believe the Bible because the Bible is God speaking.
So because we only understand in part, because we are human and can make mistakes, a Church member may have a different understanding of what a portion of scripture means, and as a result, a different view of a doctrinal question, than the ministry.
Who is right? Is it always the ministry? No, there is no promise in the Bible of that. Ministers are human too.
Could God open a member's mind to understand a point of truth in the Bible that the ministry does not understand? Might God do this to test both the member and the ministry?
God did this with Mr. Armstrong and the Church of God Seventh Day. Mr. Armstrong was only a lay member of the Church, not yet ordained, when God revealed several truths to him through the Bible and used Mr. Armstrong to take these truths to the Church of God Seventh Day leadership, which rejected them.
So a member could be right and the Church wrong on a particular point.
But even if the member is wrong, until he is able to see his mistake, he must continue to believe what it appears to him that God is saying in the Bible because he must choose to believe God's word even when he misunderstands it.
Instead of teaching members to believe the ministry, the Church should teach them to believe what they see in the Bible, and if there is a difference of belief between the ministry and a member, in the process of time God will show the ministry and the member who is in error. But in the meantime, the member should not discuss the issue with other members.
So members should be taught a simple formula for developing faith in God and His word while respecting the ministry and keeping peace in the Church:
1. If a member sees something in the Bible different from what the ministry teaches, take the question to the ministry with an open mind, willing to learn, but a mind that believes the Bible first.
2. The ministry may be able to show the member, from the Bible, that the member is in error, so the member can see his error and be corrected.
3. If after counseling, the member still cannot see, from the Bible, that he is wrong, then the member should continue to believe what he sees in the Bible, even though it differs from what the ministry teaches, until God opens the mind of whoever is wrong to see his error, whether that be the member or the minister, even if this doesn't happen till the return of Christ.
4. In the meantime, to preserve peace and unity in the Church and to uphold the office of the ministry to whom God has given the authority to teach, the member should respect the ministry, avoid contradicting the ministry in conversation with other members, and refrain from discussing this particular doctrine with other members.
Will some minister please tell me, what is wrong with this formula? It encourages members to put their faith in God's word. It puts God and the Bible first. It preserves peace and unity in the Church. No member lies about his beliefs, but instead he tactfully declines to discuss with other members any doctrines he isn't in agreement with the Church about, so there is no hypocrisy. It preserves honesty, it preserves peace, it preserve respect for the ministry and the office that ministers hold, and it teaches the member to direct his faith towards God, not man.
And if this formula is the right way to handle doctrinal disagreements, why isn't it taught more in the Church? Is there any Church of God fellowship that teaches this? Is there any minister who teaches this?
Some ministers quote 2 Peter 1:20: "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation", but the context shows that it is talking about the inspiration of the writing of scripture, not the reading of it, for the next verse says, "for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). No scripture in the Bible was written based on private understanding or interpretation of events and doctrine, but men wrote as God inspired them by His Holy Spirit.
God has not given the ministry authority or "dominion" over the faith of the members (2 Corinthians 1:24). Only God has authority over what we believe.
This post is about building an atmosphere of faith, and I am suggesting that the ministry should actively teach members to believe the Bible more than the Church. That is the right kind of faith, the kind of faith I think God will help to build in the Church and the kind of faith He will honor with answers to prayer for healings and power to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.
God is a jealous God, and if the leadership of the Church is inadvertently pointing members in the direction of believing the Church more than the Bible, I don't think God will give the gift of greater faith or the gift of more healings. God will give us faith and accept our faith only if that faith is pointed in the right direction, towards God and His word, not towards the Church and its leadership and ministry.
God has promised healings, and if He has withheld those healings, it may be because He is showing us that there is a problem in the Church and its teachings that needs to be corrected.
"He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:7-9).
Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:
Chapter 6 - Obtaining God's Help -- Practicing What We Preach
Chapter 9 - Repentance
Monday, August 27, 2012
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What about 1Cor.14:29-33? how does that fit your scenario? Don't think I am "qualified" for this but, OH Well--why not.
"Will some minister please tell me, what is wrong with this formula?"
Can you see what is wrong with this question, and therefore a flaw in your reasoning? It kind-of contradicts some of what you have said and a scriptural approach. You may never get your answer-and that will be because of your own "formula"! (unless of course, I have misunderstood what your trying to say-but then again-I would not be able to help anyone else see this error-if it is such-until YOU come to see.)
"Mr. Armstrong was only a lay member of the Church, not yet ordained, when God revealed several truths to him through the Bible"---
4. In the meantime, to preserve peace and unity in the Church and to uphold the office of the ministry to whom God has given the authority to teach, the member should respect the ministry, avoid contradicting the ministry in conversation with other members, and refrain from discussing this particular doctrine with other members."
If God had wanted HWA to do this, most of the truths that have been restored would have never been restored because that ministry never did accept them. Instead, HWA did what the scriptures actually indicate he should do-and went right on to preach those truths the Holy Spirit had opened his mind to see, both to those members around him and the world-did he not? Eph.3:9-10 What is "the church" really made up of? Maybe this is a question you could answer for your readers.
Editor for mtCOGsm
Your points and questions are good, and they have forced me to think more about this issue.
I don't say I have all the answers yet, but here is my thinking so far.
(part 1 of 5)
Let me first talk about Mr. Armstrong and the Church of God, Seventh Day.
I don't know much about the Church of God Seventh Day in the 1920s and 1930s, except what I remember from Mr. Armstrong's autobiography and what I have read in some of his letters. But I don't think they had a good understanding of government in the Church. Mr. Armstrong also did not understand government well at that time, as is made clear in some of his letters to the brethren and co-workers after 1934. He has learned and changed in his understanding of that doctrine just as he has with other doctrines. Mr. Armstrong, when he was with Church of God Seventh Day, had to deal with the fact that he understood some doctrinal truth that the Church did not have, yet at a time when neither he nor the Church had a good understanding of government.
As I understand it, two doctrines God revealed to Mr. Armstrong while he was with COG7D include the truth about the identity of the lost tribes of Israel and another doctrine he does not identify in his autobiography, but it may have been the truth that the Church should observe God's annual holy days. As far as I can tell from the autobiography, the Church leadership (Andrew Dugger) accepted the truth of these doctrines but refused to teach them, yet I see no evidence in the autobiography that they prohibited Mr. Armstrong from teaching them. Much later, after Mr. Armstrong left the employment of that Church and started what became the Worldwide Church of God in late 1933, those doctrines plus other doctrines Mr. Armstrong was learning may have contributed to differences of opinion between the group led by Mr. Armstrong and the COG7D groups, and they moved farther and farther apart.
The contentions Mr. Armstrong had in the Church of God Seventh Day, in his autobiography, were about other things, for example, whether a prospective member should be baptized before he understood the doctrine of clean and unclean meats. Even in those contentions, I think the arguments on both sides were about what the Bible taught on the subject, not whether the Church had the authority to rule on the matter. I don't think the Church ever claimed that authority directly, but rather, when Mr. Armstrong gave them reasons from the Bible they couldn't answer, they tended to back off a bit, yet without agreeing. Instead, they just pressured him that they would take away his salary as a minister, and this led to the separation, or something like that. Then, of course, when Mr. Armstrong raised up a separate work, he was reporting directly to Christ, not through the COG7D leadership, so he wasn't under their authority anymore.
What I am saying is that, while Mr. Armstrong was a minister in COG7D (or a member before ordained), neither he nor COG7D leadership had a good understanding of government and a diligence to apply the scripture that we should "all speak the same thing" and that there be no divisions over doctrine (1 Corinthians 1:10). By the time Mr. Armstrong understood the importance of this and of government in the Church, he was already out of COG7D, so he could teach what he wanted.
(continued - part 2 of 5)
I cannot tell from the autobiography if Mr. Armstrong taught the new truths he was learning, about the lost tribes or about the holy days, to COG7D brethren while he was with them, but I find no record that there was any controversy about it. So either Mr. Armstrong did not teach those subjects at that time, or the COG7D leadership did not object to his teaching of those new truths. If he taught them and the COG7D leadership objected, it is surprising that Mr. Armstrong did not mention it in his autobiography.
If, while he was still with COG7D, Mr. Armstrong applied point 4 of the formula I described, at the proper time God would still have begun to separate him from COG7D authority, as He did in 1933, to have Mr. Armstrong start up a separate work at the time. God would still have caused Mr. Armstrong to understand that God wanted him to do a work separate from COG7D authority so he could preach the truths God wanted him to preach.
1 Corinthians 14:29-33 is not 100% clear to me. It may be that there were many prophets in the Church of God at that time - "prophet" is list as an office in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28). If that is the case, the environment at that time was different than the Church in our day. God may have inspired prophets to speak to the congregation during services. What Paul is saying is, do things in an orderly way.
One thing is clear to me, there is to be no confusion or division within the congregation. This might be an example of letting clear scriptures interpret unclear ones. Whatever it was to be like at that time with several "prophets" speaking, it was not to result in confusion. Today, if each member taught other members whatever he thought was true about doctrine, even if it contradicted the Church leadership, there would be plenty of confusion and division.
(continued - part 3 of 5)
Here is what I am looking for when I ask, will some ministers tell me, what is wrong with this formula?
It is not that I think there is anything wrong with it. I thing this procedure is the right way and best way to handle doctrinal disagreements and it is the only way that I know of that is consistent with God's law and way of life in the Bible. It was taught by the ministry in Worldwide under Mr. Armstrong's authority in the early 1980s when I came into the Church (assuming I correctly understood what they were teaching). It is based on principles in the Bible.
Now there's always a chance I could have overlooked some scripture or principle that would show me wrong, so I will keep an open mind if anyone does show me I am wrong with this formula.
What I am looking for is discussion, not silence. Yet, even if there is silence on this subject, I want others, ministers and members, to at least think about it. It is meant as a challenge, "let us reason together."
I address my question to the ministers because they are most directly involved in this issue. They are the most familiar with it because they have to deal with members who have "different ideas" all the time. And they are the ones who must teach this, if it is to be taught by the Church. And if anyone knows of a problem with this formula, either in scripture or from a practical point of view, the ministers should know. But I welcome feedback from anyone who wants to respond. Iron sharpens iron, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.
I don't really expect Mr. Meredith, Mr. Hulme, Mr. Holladay, Mr. Franks, or any of several other high-ranking leaders of COG fellowships to respond by name in this blog. Those men are probably too busy to notice much and respond to what I write.
But there are many COG fellowships, some small, and all of the fellowships, both large and small, have pastors and elders who are qualified to explain what their group's teaching is. I would welcome it if any such pastor, who could email me even anonymously if he chooses, would explain, "this is what our group teaches on this subject," and then either endorse or refute this formula.
I would also welcome hearing sermons or reading articles in COG publications and websites on this subject.
(continued - part 4 of 5)
There is also the possibility that among the many smaller fellowships there are one or two that are actively teaching these things and I don't know about them. I would like to discover any such Church of God fellowship, if it exists. Maybe someone will tell me about such a group.
I have heard this formula taught in Worldwide in the early eighties. I do not hear it taught anywhere since the scattering and division of the Church of God. Yet this formula is just as important now as it was then because it has a direct relationship with faith.
My question, "will some minister tell me..." is an invitation to enter a discussion (and anyone can respond anonymously for this purpose if that is best), but more than that, it is an encouragement and challenge for Church of God speakers and writers in all the fellowships to "state their case," in sermons and articles, regarding how doctrinal disagreements should be handled by members. If they and the fellowship they are members of agree with this formula, I encourage them to teach it more, because it is an important application of and lesson in faith. If they do not agree with it, then I encourage them to explain in their articles and sermons, from the Bible, what they think is the right approach and why. And I would hope they would explain why they are changing the approach from what was taught while Mr. Armstrong was alive.
The silence on this issue (like the silence on the cause of the UCG/COGWA split) bugs me and provokes me into asking challenging questions in this blog.
(continued - part 5 of 5)
Why is this issue not talked about much?
I suspect, though I do not know, that some ministers prefer not to put a spotlight on this issue because they do not want their members and prospective members to know what they really think. Because, some ministers may inwardly believe that God guides them and the top leadership of their group into truth apart from the Bible. Why would they think this? Because they really can't prove some of their beliefs from the Bible, and in some cases, they may not really believe the Bible because they cannot explain parts they do not understand. But they can't admit this. They have to outwardly profess belief in the Bible because only by the Bible can they justify doctrines different from majority, mainstream Christianity.
It may be that to them, the Church of God is like a "little Catholic Church", just with different doctrines, but still looking to tradition and ministerial authority more than the Bible for truth. In their minds, we are small, the Catholic Church is large. We have Saturday, the Catholic Church has Sunday. We have the doctrine that God is reproducing Himself in man, the Catholics have the trinity. We have the holy days, they have Christmas and Easter. But to these men, God guides our traditions and ministers in doctrine, even apart from the Bible, just like the Catholic Church believes God guides its traditions, its priests, and its pope, only we are right and they are wrong.
But they can't admit that because, if they justify following tradition and ministers in doctrinal belief apart from the Bible, then how can we say the Catholic Church is wrong? Or if a Church of God minister says, "well, there are some mistakes in the Bible", then how can we say the Catholic Church is wrong?
I hope I am wrong about this. I hope very few, if any ministers in the Church of God think this way. I just don't know.
I only know that what I described above is not how I want to think. I want to think that God puts doctrine into the Church through the Bible, not into the minds of the leaders apart from what members can honestly see in the Bible. The ministry has authority over the work of the Church including the official doctrines that will be taught, and God can put new doctrinal knowledge into the Church by opening the minds of the leadership to understand things in God's word they never understood before. But then they should be able to explain it to the members FROM THE BIBLE so members can see it for themselves. The ministry does not have authority over the faith of the members.
I want to put a spotlight on the issue of how doctrinal disagreements should be handled in the Church of God because I think it is of critical importance to faith and to our ability to finish the Work.
From one scriptural example, the idea that no member lies, "No member lies about his beliefs, but instead he tactfully declines to discuss with other members any doctrines he isn't in agreement with the Church about, so there is no hypocrisy"
What about Ananias, and Sapphira,
"you have not lied to men, but to God."?
Also: "Mr. Armstrong also did not understand government well at that time, as is made clear in some of his letters to the brethren and co-workers after 1934. He has learned and changed in his understanding of that doctrine just as he has with other doctrines."
The question would be: Why should a person assume Herbert Armstrong understood government any better at the conclusion of his life?
Sorry. I misworded my comment and that resulted in misunderstanding. I did not mean to say that no member in the Church of God lies. What I meant was, if the formula or process for handling doctrinal disagreements I described is followed, no member has to lie to avoid contradicting the ministry if he disagrees. He avoids contradicting the ministry, not by lying and pretending he agrees, but by declining to discuss the particular doctrine he disagrees about.
Obviously, members of the Church of God are still human and we still have free moral agency, and some members have lied and do lie. If any members lies, that is a problem and sin for him to overcome if he wants to make it into the Kingdom of God.
I know Mr. Armstrong's understanding of government has improved since the days he was with COG7D because I have read his letters and I can see the improvement. At one time he thought there was to be NO organization higher than the congregational level. Later he understood that there is indeed organization higher than the congregational level, and this is shown by the epistles of Paul in which he shows he has authority over the gentile Churches of God he raised up. I would call this an improvement in Mr. Armstrong's understanding.
I know what the Bible teaches about government because I have seen it myself in the Bible. I know what Mr. Armstrtong taught about government because I have read several of his letters on the subject. I am not assuming he learned more about government - I know it because I have seen the evidence.
As you mention, "I know it because I have seen the evidence" is part of the dilemma facing the Church because others have seen the same evidence and have come to know a different conclusion.
The thing is I'm not sure how the 4 points you've mentioned would have altered present day circumstances regarding this issue.
In my view there can be a tension and breaking point between those four points and the one point idea of, “Don't believe me – BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE – BELIEVE GOD!”
@ author; "He avoids contradicting the ministry, not by lying and pretending he agrees, but by declining to discuss the particular doctrine he disagrees about."
Sometimes silence to a minister on a certain subject, is taken to mean "agreement" which can lead him to feel you support his wrong ideas or approach to certain truths. I personally believe that God would have us stand up for the truth when it is being maliegned or mis-represented.
How are we ever going to be able to teach it from the heart if we don't?
The member does not have to be silent with the minister. He is free to talk to the minister in private about his disagreement, standing up for the truth as strongly as he feels necessary, one-on-one. What I am saying is that he should not be telling other members about it.
In other words, give correction to the minister who is teaching the error, but privately, not in front of other members.
Obviously, the exception is where the matter is so important it is foundational to the member's faith. For me such a matter is whether we believe the Bible first, whether prophecy proves that God inspired the Bible, even government in the Church from the top down (not voting). Those are matters that to me are so fundamental or important I would take a stand, even if other members asked me about it, but also, I would probably not stay in a fellowship that taught error on those subjects.
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