Friday, December 25, 2015

Theory of Evolution vs. Faith in God's Word

Many people in the Church of God may be troubled by what they read or hear about the theory of evolution and what secular science teaches on that subject compared to what they read in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

We in the Church of God have learned a tradition, a tradition of doctrine based on the Bible. We have learned both the doctrines themselves, doctrines that come from the Bible, and the process of learning those doctrines, and that process is simply believing what God says in the Bible. That process can also include first proving that God exists and that the Bible is inspired by God (the proof is fulfilled prophecy), then believing God's word out of faith and trust towards God and Christ, trusting that they cannot lie and will only tell us the truth.

This trust in God's word is the foundation of all the doctrines we have believed, including the Sabbath and holy days, Israel in prophecy, the coming Kingdom of God, the mortality of the soul, and every other doctrine we have believed. It is also the foundation of the doctrines we have believed concerning the creation account in Genesis and the flood during the days of Noah.

Yet, just as our religious doctrines are in conflict with the traditional doctrines of mainstream, traditional religion, which believes that God is a trinity, Sunday is the Christian sabbath, and the soul is immortal, so our doctrines about creation, equally based on the Bible as our other doctrines, are in conflict with mainstream secular teaching in schools and universities.

But this presents a problem to our members and their children. For while almost no Church of God member would send his children to a Catholic or Protestant religious school to learn the traditional, mainstream doctrines that are contrary to Church of God doctrine, most members, unless they home school their children, cannot help but let them receive a secular education in the public schools. Young people attending college must often take classes in biology and evolution, especially if they major in any of the sciences. And it is here that they are exposed to indoctrination diametrically opposite to the doctrines of the Church regarding creation.

Thus, the faith of the membership and young people in the Church in the word of God regarding creation is being directly challenged in a way that it is not challenged in other doctrines of the Church regarding the soul, the nature of God, the Sabbath and holy days, etc.

It is almost impossible to escape the doctrine of evolution. It is taught everywhere: in libraries, on TV, in movies, in news articles, and most importantly, in colleges and even high schools. Evolution has become the established religion of the United States and most of the world. It is the lens through which everything else is viewed.

And it is godless. It is atheistic. It is taught and virtually forced on the public with a militancy that rivals the militancy of false religions throughout history. And that is fitting, for evolution has become the religion of atheists.

What do I mean by "evolution"? By evolution I mean the theory that all species of life on earth have come into existence through natural causes only, that they came into existence from a common ancestor through random mutation and natural selection only.

Atheists hate religion with a passion. They are on a crusade to wipe religion out. They are aggressive, militant, forceful, and intolerant. And they give no quarter. They are not trying to be reasonable or fair. They do not hesitate to "play dirty". They view religion as their enemy, and evolution is a tool in their hands to destroy it. And they are very clever and articulate.

Deep down they hate God, and they express their hatred by denying His existence. They do not believe in God because they do not want to believe in God.

And they directly challenge the faith of our members and young people in the Bible.

But we can maintain our faith in the face of these challenges if we have proved that God exists, if we have proved that God has inspired the Bible, and if we stick to our commitment to God to believe what He says.

Atheistic science uses its interpretation of physical evidence, which they say points to evolution, to contradict what God says in the Bible. And they can present what appears to be very convincing arguments in favor of evolution.

Mr. Armstrong said in his autobiography that before he came into the Church of God he went into a dual study of the Sabbath and the theory of evolution. This occurred in late 1926 and early 1927, as I recall from the autobiography. He said that his head was swimming when he studied evolution because the arguments of science were very convincing. Yet, he felt he disproved, once and for all, evolution.

Yet, as persuasive as science's arguments in favor of evolution were in 1926, they are even more persuasive today. Much physical evidence has been gathered and interpreted according to evolutionary thinking in the last 80 years. Science has learned about DNA and genetics, and the scientific community has accumulated many more fossils during that time. And scientists have had eight decades to polish their theories and sharpen their arguments.

The Church of God may be better equipped to deal with challenges to the Bible than many other religion bodies. That is because we do not share some of the errors in understanding the Bible that some groups outside the Church of God make. Many religious people outside the Church think that the Bible says that the earth is only six thousand years old. But we understand that the earth existed and was covered in water before the six days of creation took place. Mr. Armstrong understood it, and he showed this to us from the Bible. The earth could have existed for millions of years before God renewed the face of the earth during the six days described in Genesis. Yet we know these were six literal days and that the Bible is literal.

Nevertheless, there may be other aspects of what science teaches that our ministers, members, and children of members cannot explain in a way consistent with the Bible, cannot reconcile with the Bible. Does this mean that the real physical evidence science examines, be it genetics, DNA, fossils, or any other evidence, is inconsistent with the Bible? No. It simply means we do not know how to explain certain things. There are some things we do not know.

There are answers. We may not always know what those answers are.

"For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

Today, as Paul says, we know only in part. We do not know everything.

But neither do scientists.

At some point, we simply have to choose whether we will trust scientists and what they say or God and what He says. And for myself, I choose to trust God.

I can't explain how every bit of evidence in the earth fits with the events in Genesis. There are parts of the Bible I cannot explain. But I trust that God is telling me the truth. I trust God more than I trust scientists and their interpretation of the evidence.

And as far as those events in the Bible are concerned that are clear and understandable to me, I trust that they are absolutely true. God is faithful, and He cannot lie (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18).

So when Genesis says that God renewed the face of the entire earth in six days, and gives the details of what He did on each of those six days, I believe what God says, literally. When He says that he destroyed all air-breathing animal life on planet earth in a flood in Noah's day, except for those in the ark with Noah, I believe Him literally. Can I answer every objection a scientist might make? No. But I don't have to.

What is it about the teaching of science and scientists that is more trustworthy than God? The answer: nothing.

What is trustworthy about man? Nothing. What is trustworthy about God? Everything.

Everything science and the scientific community says about the origin of things, everything this secular, atheistic educational system says about the origin of the universe, the earth, biological species, and man, is fallible. Any of it can be in error. From the reporting of evidence to the interpretation of that evidence, there is no part of human activity that is error-free.

They say "to err is human". That is an understatement.

Human lives are catalogs of error. The teaching of man is full of error, just as a general principle. The religions of man are full of error. The governments of man are full of error. And the science of man is full of error. And not just error, but deliberate lies, in many cases.

Politicians lie. Businessmen lie. Religious leaders lie. But are scientists exempt? No, scientists are just as human, just as carnal, as anyone else. Scientists lie.

Not every scientist, necessarily. Some may have high moral standards and always tell the truth, as best they understand it. And that is true for businessmen and some politicians (I suppose). But scientists can lie just as they can make mistakes.

But God neither lies nor makes mistakes. His word is true and is trustworthy.

Everything regarding the physical evidence that science claims proves evolution is based on man's work, and is therefore subject to error and possible deceit. All physical evidence in their teaching, from fossils to DNA sequences, has been collected by man. All physical evidence used to support evolution has been described, reported, and interpreted by man. And at any step of the way - collection, describing and reporting, and interpretation - errors, mistakes, sins, and lies can come into play, especially when you take into account that Satan is the deceiver of all mankind. So what part of man's explanation, contrary to the Bible, is trustworthy?

Not that we have to ignore all physical evidence. Much of it we can explain, and we should explain those parts of the evidence, according to the Bible, that we are able to understand.

But some of it we may not be able to explain, either to ourselves or to others.

But that is exactly the point at which God tests us to know if we believe what He says.

There may be simple explanations for the physical evidence, consistent with a literal reading of the Bible, that God does NOT want us to understand right away. He can reveal that to us later, but first He may want to test our faith in His word.

For what kind of test is it if we have a simple explanation for every fossil, every DNA sequence, every point of evidence, that is consistent with the Bible? Not much of a test. It is easy to believe the Bible under those conditions.

But show us some evidence and an interpretation of the evidence that seems contrary to the Bible, evidence we cannot explain in any way consistent with the Bible, and then we are really tested.

But the test is the same, believe God or believe man. For no matter how convincing man's evidence and the interpretation of that evidence is, it still comes from man and can be in error at any point of the process of gathering, reporting, and interpreting.

The Bible is full of scriptures in which God commands us to trust in Him and His word more than in man and the teaching of man.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).

" 'For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,' says the Lord. 'But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word' " (Isaiah 66:2).

"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him" (Proverbs 30:5).

"Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help" (Psalm 146:3).

"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit' " (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Suppose a scientist showed me physical evidence that he says proves the Bible account false. He shows me the evidence, or he reports the evidence. He interprets it. And he says to me, "Can you explain this any way consistent with the Bible account?" And I say, "No".

But I still believe God, not the scientist. The scientist could have lied concerning the evidence. He could have made a mistake reporting it. He may have made mistakes or lied in the interpretation of it. His argument is not reliable.

But I trust God's word. I have proved God exists. I have proved through fulfilled prophecy that God inspired the Bible and the Bible is God speaking. I trust Him that He will tell me the truth and not lie to me. And when God tells me through the Bible that He renewed the face of the earth in six literal days, and that he destroyed the earth in a flood during the days of Noah, I believe Him, unconditionally. I believe God whether I can answer the scientists' arguments or not. I trust God whether I can explain what the scientists claim is physical evidence or not.

Christ will answer everything when He returns to set up His kingdom. All mysteries will be solved. Today we know in part, but in that day we will know fully. And when Christ reveals the answer to me in the kingdom of God, I may hit myself in the head and say, "Of course. Why didn't I think of that? How stupid of me. It is so simple, why couldn't I think of it before?"

But we humans have minds that are limited. We do not think of everything. And it may be that God does not want us to have the explanation until we first prove to Him that we are willing to trust what He says more than what the scientists say. Then, in the kingdom of God, God can reveal to us all things we have not understood in this life about science.

But to be in that kingdom, I have to prove to God now that I will believe and trust Him unconditionally for eternity.

So maybe it is not such a bad thing if I cannot answer every argument of science according to the Bible. For that gives God the chance to test my faith, and it gives me the chance to pass the test so God can give me eternal life, trusting me to trust Him for eternity because I can prove my trust in Him now.

I believe the Bible is very clear that the six days of creation in Genesis were six literal days, that the renewing of the face of earth prior to the creation of man was a planet-wide event, that the human race started about 6,000 years ago, and that Noah's flood was world-wide, not just a local flood, and that all land animals at that time on the entire planet Earth, except the animals with Noah in the ark, died.

When the Bible is clear, I trust what God says unconditionally, and I don't care what science says, or how much "evidence" they claim to have for their teaching, or what that "evidence" is. Nor do I care if I can answer the arguments of scientists. When science teaches things that are not against the Bible because they fill in details that the Bible is silent about, I can accept those teachings, conditionally. But I do not accept anything science says that contradicts what God clearly says in the Bible. In those cases, science is mistaken or is lying.


It may be that this issue becomes a crisis for many Church of God members and their children at some point in their lives. It may even become a crisis for the Church of God or in various Church of God fellowships at times.

But that is not necessarily a bad thing. God wants us to face trials, crises, and tests to know where we stand. He wants us to believe and trust Him unconditionally. So He has to test us. He sets us up with challenges that may make it hard to trust Him, not easy at all. It must have been hard for Abraham to trust God when God told Him to sacrifice his son. But Abraham passed the test, and we have to pass the test also.

These trials of our faith can be hard, but they contain within them the seeds of an eternal reward IF we choose to trust and believe God all the way and remain steadfast in our commitment to believe Him and His word, the Bible, right to the end.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' " (Romans 4:3).

One more thing. If we look at or hear about physical evidence, and we cannot think of an explanation of the evidence that is consistent with the Bible, and if we then conclude, "the Bible must be wrong", are we not showing more faith and trust, not only in scientists more than God, but in OURSELVES more than God? For we are really saying, "I am so smart, if I cannot think of an explanation consistent with the Bible, then there is none. I can't think of any way this evidence can fit with the Bible, so because I cannot explain it, the Bible must be wrong".

Here is a link to chapter one of Preaching the Gospel. This chapter shows how to prove the existence of God and how to prove that the Bible is inspired by God and is God speaking. It also has a section on evolution, a section on the respect we should have for God's word, and a section on how to understand the Bible:

Chapter 1 - The United States and Britain in Prophecy

Monday, December 21, 2015

Incorporation of Church of God, The Father's Call

There has been some organizational activity recently in Church of God, the Father's Call (COGFC), the fellowship that came out of COGaic (David Hume) and is currently led by Mr. Brian Orchard. COGFC has formed a corporation, and this was announced in a sermon by Mr. Orchard given on December 12, 2015 entitled, "Review, Refresh, Reaffirm". A couple of weeks before that he gave a sermon entitled, "The Importance of the Identity of Israel", on November 28, 2015. I want to comment on both sermons before I discuss the incorporation.

Links to both sermons can be found in the COGFC sermons page, link:

The Importance of the Identity of Israel

Why did Mr. Orchard and several other ministers and some members separate from David Hulme and COGaic a couple of years ago?

There have been a number of issues that were voiced as contributing reasons:

1) In the matter of governance, many of these ministers seemed to feel that Mr. Hulme should have submitted to their views on certain issues, though the exact issues on which Mr. Hulme failed to submit to these ministers was not necessarily clearly articulated. But in discussions and explanations, there was heavy emphasis on the need for "mutual submission", with the implication or assertion that Mr. Hulme should have been more submissive to these ministers while they were in COGaic (even though Mr. Hulme had authority over them).

2) There was an issue about the doctrine of the identity of Israel. Ministers and members leaving COGaic seemed to feel that Mr. Hulme was de-emphasizing or abandoning the doctrine of the modern identity of the lost ten tribes of Israel and that this doctrine was important and should be retained and taught.

3) Many members, and some ministers, seemed to be concerned with Mr. Hulme's failure to effectively preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.

I don't say these were the only issues, but these three seemed to be important to many people at the time.

Many lay members in particular, if not many of the ministers, seemed to have a strong desire to preach the gospel to the world, and they knew that Mr. Hulme was not doing that to any significant degree. They had hopes that this new group would allow them to finally do that.

But the lay members did not have to deal personally with Mr. Hulme very much. The ministers did, and any personality conflicts or offenses over the leadership style of Mr. Hulme loomed larger in the minds of the ministers than the members.

And of course, when pastors left COGaic, it was common for many members of their congregations to go with them simply because the members wanted to continue to be pastored by them.

At that time, around January 2014, nine leading ministers formed a council of elders. They had a conference and came to some agreements. They agreed to try to develop a new model or form of governance, something they said would be based on the family model and "mutual submission". They also seemed to agree to postpone the preaching of the gospel and just feed the flock for a while till the Church was spiritually strengthened, but with the implication that they agreed that the preaching of the gospel should be done and they wanted to do it, but not right away. No time frame was decided on how long they would feed the flock only, whether a month, a year, or ten years. They said that the Holy Spirit led them to reach their agreement.

They began giving sermons and Bible studies to the membership of their congregations, and in many of the sermons there was a focus on the importance of the identity of Israel, the preaching of the gospel, right governance, and drawing closer to God. But a few months later, four of the nine left the fellowship for other groups, three going to Living Church of God (LCG), which does preach the gospel, and one going to United Church of God (UCG).

During the rest of that first year, the primary leaders of COGFC seemed to be Mr. Brian Orchard and Mr. Steve Andrews. They seemed to work in agreement, and both regularly gave sermons and Bible studies. COGFC was not incorporated but functioned as an association. Then around the beginning of this year, Mr. Steve Andrews no longer gave sermons and Bible studies. The fellowship was led by Mr. Brian Orchard with the support of the remaining three of the original nine leading ministers besides himself.

I have gotten the impression that since COGFC formed, some COGFC members have been unhappy with the fact that COGFC is not preaching the gospel to the world.

I give this background because it may be important for understanding the reason for and content of Mr. Orchard's sermon on the importance of the identity of Israel.

At the time COGFC came out of COGaic and started to function as a Church of God fellowship, I sensed, and I think many members sensed, a close connection between the doctrine of the identity of Israel and the doctrine of preaching the gospel to the world. They seemed tied together. To me, the identity of Israel doctrine helps us focus on the way we preach the gospel, to whom, and why.

But I found no such strong connection between those two doctrines in Mr. Orchard's sermon. He said that the identity of Israel doctrine is important, but he seemed to give reasons other than preaching the gospel, primarily. You can listen to the sermon and form your own opinion.

The sermon is presented as explaining why the doctrine of the identity of Israel is important, or why the doctrine of Israel in prophecy is important. To me, that means explaining why it is important to know that the United States and other English-speaking nations are descended from Joseph, one of the sons of Israel, and are thus part of the lost ten tribes of Israel, along with several other western nations in Europe that are descended from many of the other tribes. That, after all, was one of the issues that many thought was a cause of separation from David Hulme two years ago.

But Mr. Orchard really didn't talk about that. Instead, he seemed to talk about why Israel's role is important, both anciently and in the millennium. He also made a comparison with the Church. He said that Israel was to be an example, a role model, for the rest of the world, and that this job of being an example is now passed on to the Church. He talked about how important Israel is in God's plan for salvation.

But he never said why it is important for us to know that the Jews are not all of Israel, that the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several other European nations are all part of Israel in addition to the Jews.

That is what the "identity of Israel" doctrine is. Not just that Israel is important in the Bible or in ancient history, or that Israel is important for God's plan of salvation, or that the Church should set a good example as ancient Israel was supposed to do but failed, but that the Jews are only part of Israel, and that the United States, Britain, and other major nations are Israel.

That is what the term, "identity of Israel doctrine" means to me. That is what the term, "United States and British Commonwealth in prophecy doctrine" means to me.

We English-speaking people are Israel, not just the Jews. Why is it important to know that? Mr. Orchard didn't explain this. Yet, this was apparently a reason for separation from David Hulme.

He certainly talks about the doctrine. He gives some interesting background about it, including the similarities and differences with British-Israelism. But he doesn't really explain its importance.

In other words, just about everything he says about the importance of Israel can apply just as well even if you think that all Israel is only the Jews.

I will tell you why I think the doctrine that the United States and many other modern nations ARE Israel is important. It is not that the Church is to learn the lesson that we need to set an example for the world which ancient Israel was supposed to set, but didn't. It is not just the lesson that Israel will be important in the millennium as the model nation. You can learn those lessons just as well even if you think that only the Jews are Israel.

The identity of Israel doctrine teaches us that we have to WARN the people of the United States, Britain, Canada, and several other nations of the coming of the great tribulation if they do not repent of their sins, because the tribulation falls first and foremost on those nations. Not China. Not Russia. Not Japan. Israel, that is, the English-speaking people.

"Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7). "Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head....and said....'The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them...' " (Genesis 48:14-16).

Jacob put his name on the sons of Joseph in a special way, and God says through Jeremiah that the great tribulation will fall on Jacob. It is important for us to know who Israel is today so we can warn them.

Jesus also placed emphasis on preaching the gospel to the "lost sheep" of the house of Israel when He sent out his disciples (Matthew 10:5-6).

We need to know the identity of Israel today so we know who to primarily preach the gospel to, who to warn, and what to warn them about.

Mr. Orchard does make the point that God in His mercy warns, and if the warning is not heeded, He punishes. But he does not connect the dots to say, that means we need to deliver God's warning to the people of the United States and Britain.

The identity of Israel doctrine is important also for proving that the Bible is inspired by God. The very prophecies that prove that the United States and Britain are Israel also prove that God inspired the Bible, for no man could predict these things thousands of years in advance.

But being able to prove that the Bible is God's word may not seem important to those who think that God's Holy Spirit is leading them apart from and contrary to the Bible.

Finally, he repeats his past teaching (and wrong teaching) that you have to preach the gospel by example first, because your example and teaching have to be consistent, or as I might word it, you have to practice what you preach.

Why do I say that is wrong? You should practice what you preach and set a good example. But there is no excuse for waiting till you are setting a better example before you preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning, as I have made clear from the Bible in many previous posts. You have to do both at the same time. You have to preach the gospel from day one even while you are working to improve your example. This is proved by examples in the Bible, which I explain in my previous posts.

Jonah was a carnal man who ran from his responsibilities, hated his neighbors, and was angry with God for showing mercy. But God sent him to warn Nineveh. Judas was a thief and became a betrayer, but Jesus sent him to preach the gospel.

It is God's warning, anyway, not ours. We are only the delivery boy. And God's example is perfect. He does not need to wait two years before He gives a warning until He, God, learns to set a better example. And He can use us as tools to get HIS warning message out, not ours.

Yes, it is important to set a good example and to live what we preach. And if we do, our preaching will be more effective than if we don't. But failure to even start to preach the gospel is itself a bad example. COGFC is showing the world, and the rest of the Church, that they do not believe the Bible and they do not love their neighbors as themselves.

Mr. Orchard didn't say anything like this, and I didn't expect him to.

You can learn the lesson that the Church should set a good example, which Israel failed to do, even if you think that the Jews are all of Israel, not the United States and Britain. But for giving a warning to those who are going to go through the tribulation, you have to know that the United States and British nations are Israel so you know who to give the warning to. Otherwise, we would warn the Jews, but not our own nations.

Review, Refresh, Reaffirm

In the sermon, "Review, Refresh, Reaffirm", Mr. Orchard first reviewed certain principles that COGFC stands for in a general way before he went into details of incorporation.

He said that their basic foundation is family-style governance. He said it takes time to develop this because, while it is easy to say, "family-style governance", it is not easy to implement. He said that all members of the Church must have full access to Christ. He also talked about submitting one to another, quoting Ephesians 5:21, and referred again to governance in the Church.

He said that it doesn't matter much what the structure or form of governance is - it is the attitude that is important.

I will only comment that the structure of governance AND attitude are both important. Attitude is certainly important, but the choice of the structure of governance reflects the attitude of the people who choose that structure of governance. If ministers organizing a structure of governance choose an unbiblical model, this reflects a bad attitude towards God and His word.

I agree that every member should have full access to Christ, and we do. I believe that the principle that every member must have full and direct access to Christ and to the Father is one hundred percent compatible with top-down governance. Some see a contradiction. They may ask, if Christ is the head of the ministry and leads the members through the ministry, how can we have direct access to Christ, since our access to Christ is through the ministry?

The answer, as I explain in my book, Preaching the Gospel (see chapter 8, "Government in the Church of God", section "Organization of the Church and Limitations on the Authority of the Ministry" - see organization chart in that section, link: ), is that Christ leads the Church through the ministry only in matters of the administrative work of the Church - teaching, setting official doctrine, resolving disputes, disciplining members for open sin or creating division, distributing to the poor, preaching the gospel, etc. In those matters, Christ indeed governs the Church through the ministry. But in matters of the personal salvation of every member, such as Christ interceding for us with God and helping us to understand God's word and God's law by the power of the Holy Spirit, the access of each member to Christ and the Father is direct, not through the ministry. We all have direct access to Christ and the Father through prayer and Bible study.

Sometimes it is hard for me to understand what Mr. Orchard is saying when he refers to "family-style" governance and submitting one to another. He rarely uses examples to illustrate his points. Perhaps he himself is not fully clear in his mind what he means by "family-style" governance, which might be one reason why he finds it hard to implement it.

What Mr. Orchard is teaching about having a right attitude of governance, what he may call "submitting one to another", may simply be loving authority. The term "loving authority" is not new in the Church of God. This term was used in the Church when Mr. Armstrong was alive. Not every minister in Worldwide practiced loving authority, but some tried to, and even those who did not practice it at least acknowledged the principle in their teaching. Today, Living Church of God uses a term with a similar meaning, "servant leadership".

What "loving authority" and "servant leadership" mean is that those who have authority exercise it for the good of those under their authority. They have an outgoing concern for those they govern, and they make decisions for their long term good. They serve the people, and not themselves. It is the way God the Father and Jesus Christ exercise authority over the members of the Church. They love the Church, and They use their authority for our good. Jesus Christ set the example, and He gave His life for us. "You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:8).

Mr. Orchard often quotes Ephesians 5:21 about submitting to one another. Ephesians 5:21 is really talking about submitting to each other's needs, as Christ submitted to our needs when He gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

Submitting one to another can also include the principle of humility - the humility of realizing that we are human and sometimes need the good advice and counsel of others.

If this is what Mr. Orchard means when he talks about family-style governance and submitting to each other, then there is nothing new about it. It is the same as "loving authority", which Mr. Armstrong taught, and "servant leadership", which Dr. Meredith teaches, perhaps with the added concept of humility to listen to the advice of others.

But if he means a kind of consensus building as a form of governance, where no one man has the authority to make decisions without the consent of the others, then he is talking about something very different. And a structure of governance that does not allow the one in an organization who reports to Christ to make decisions without the agreement of others is NOT biblical as a structure of governance for the Church.

Incorporation and Bylaws - Actual Governance Structure (finally)

Towards the end of the sermon, about the second half or the last third, Mr. Orchard explains some of the details of the new corporation. Here are some points he made.

The legal structure of COGFC has been changed from an association to a corporation. One reason this has been done is to provide stronger liability protection. The corporation is legally a church and a 501(c)(3) corporation.

The bylaws of the corporation are on the Father's Call website, link:

The bylaws can be changed.

The corporation will have a "governing body", which is the same as the "board of directors" and the "council of elders" - all different names for the same thing. At the present time, there are four members of that body. I presume that includes Mr. Brian Orchard as the senior pastor plus three other leading ministers.

Decisions of the council of elders must be unanimous. If they cannot reach unanimous agreement, no decision will be made until they can reach unanimous agreement.

There will be a business management committee to manage and conduct the day-to-day business affairs of the Church. There will be linkage between the council and the business management committee in that the senior pastor on the council of elders will also be on the business management committee. He will be the channel of communication between the two groups.

Mr. Orchard said that requiring decisions of the council of elders to be unanimous is based on Acts 15. He also said there will be no voting. I will comment on this later.

The previous weekend there was a conference to discuss how to effectively work within these bylaws to function as a Church. That conference also focused on website development.

The main tool of any work must be the Internet. The Website will be the primary means COGFC communicates with the world. COGFC plans to build a more reliable and professional website.

They will begin to develop separate material oriented specifically towards the world.

He reminds us that no person can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (true), and unless the Father draws someone, there is nothing we can do. This last part is wrong, and I will explain why later in this post.

He said that COGFC has the opportunity to represent unity of spirit, and that their goal is to offer a place where Christ can bring His sheep where they will receive good food and clean water.

The Bylaws on the Website

After listening to Mr. Orchard's sermon, I read the bylaws from the website, and here is what I have found.

The exact title of the corporation is "Church of God, The Father's Call". Their main address is 261 Oakhurst Lane, Arcadia, California.

The fourth paragraph of the Preamble says that individuals serving in administrative positions cannot at the same time serve as part of the governing body of the Church.

The first paragraph of section 6.1 says that the Business Management Committee will be composed of corporate officers.

Ok, maybe I am missing something, but if the Business Management Committee is made up of officers, and officers are administrative positions, then this seems to be saying that a member of the Council of Elders, which is the governing body of the Church, cannot also be a member of the Business Management Committee. But I thought I heard Mr. Orchard say in his sermon that the senior pastor on the Council of Elders will also be on the Business Management Committee. But how can this be if the Business Management Committee is made up only of administrative positions (corporate officers) and someone in an administrative position cannot also be on the Council of Elders?

I am not a lawyer, and maybe there are subtleties here I am misunderstanding. But on the surface it seems that Mr. Orchard's statement to the Church is in contradiction to the bylaws. Perhaps someone can explain that to me.

But if this is a contradiction, I would think this could be a problem. I assume that the "senior pastor" on the Council Mr. Orchard said would also be on the Business Management Committee would be himself. If the Business Management Committee can only be composed of officers, this would exclude Mr. Orchard from being on that committee. The purpose Mr. Orchard gave of someone from the Council being on the Business Management Committee was to facilitate communication, or in other words, prevent problems from occurring from miscommunication and the two groups going in two directions. This was no doubt said to reassure the membership that this will not be a problem and that it is safe for them to send their titles and offerings to the main office because the Business Management Committee (President, Secretary, Treasurer) will handle the funds properly according to the will of the Council.

But if only officers can be on the Business Management Committee (which the bylaws seem to say), then no one from the Council can be on that committee, and Mr. Orchard's assurance to the members to the contrary is in error. Is it not legally dangerous to make a statement to your tithe-paying financial supporters to assure them that there will be good oversight over the funds if that statement is not true?

Perhaps the answer is that an "officer" is not necessarily an "administrative position", and additional officers can be defined as described in section 7.1. But it seems strange to me that an "officer" of the corporation would not be an "administrative position".

The only other matter of importance in understanding the governance structure defined in the bylaws is in section 6.2.4. A Council member can be removed by the unanimous decision of the other Council members. So, since there are 4 Council members, 3 of them can remove the fourth.

A few minor matters I noticed. There may be a general sloppiness about the bylaws that should be corrected. I have not carefully proofread them, but even with a quick read I noticed typos. Section 7.1 has a grammar error. The last sentence of the first paragraph of section 7.1 says, "Other officers as may be appointed..." As written, this is a sentence fragment. The word "as" should be removed.

Section 6.5.1 paragraph (e) has the word "repeatable". This is a misspelling of the word "repealable", which is clearly the intent given the beginning of the sentence (maybe someone left auto-correct on in the Microsoft Word processor, and it changed "repealable" to "repeatable" thinking "repealable" is not a word).

"Council of Elders" is sometimes capitalized and sometimes not. This no doubt is inconsequential, but the inconsistency gives the impression that the bylaws were put together in haste.

Perhaps the next time these bylaws are revised, minor errors will be corrected and ambiguities will be clarified.

There are a number of places in the bylaws where statements are made that there will be no voting, and I am going to comment on that next.


Is this a system of voting? Yes, I think it is. Why? The Council can only make decisions by unanimous agreement. How do you know if a decision is unanimous? You have to get agreement from each member. And it has to be clear, definite, official, and recorded in the minutes because it is legally required. That is a vote.

It doesn't matter if the agreement is in writing, verbal, or a simple nod of the head. It can be a hand gesture, a simple "ok" sign made with the thumb and forefinger or a "thumbs up" sign - whatever the form of agreement, it has to be clear enough to be recorded in the minutes, and it is a vote.

A vote does not have to be on a paper ballot to be a vote.

My Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus gives a definition of a "vote" as "the choice or opinion of a person or body of persons expressed usually by a ballot, spoken word, or raised hand". I would add, in the context of the way we use the term "voting" in our Church of God conversations, we are talking about expressing a choice or opinion in a way that is legally binding in some way. We don't think of opinion polling as voting when it carries no authority. But when people agree in advance that the expression of choices by people in a group will carry authority based on the number or percentage that agrees, that is voting.

To make decisions, every Council member must express his choice clearly and definitely. That choice must be recorded in the minutes. And it carries legal authority. That is a vote.

But just as United Church of God (UCG) never called their voting "voting" (they called it "balloting"), so COGFC does not want to call this "voting". Statements that there will be no voting are in various places in the bylaws and Mr. Orchard's sermon. But it is voting nevertheless.

In routine matters, a vote of 100%, or 4 out of 4, on the Council of Elders in COGFC is required for every decision. But for extremely important matters, in practical terms, the required vote may be 75%, or 3 out of 4. Why? Because if Brian Orchard and 2 out of the other 3 members of the Council are determined to do something, and one member refuses to go along, they can kick him out and replace him with someone who agrees. And every Council member knows this.

There is nothing about this governance structure that is biblical. Acts 15 is not the model.

Acts 15 does not say that everyone there came to unanimous agreement on a decision. But they knew Peter had authority, and James formalized and summarized Peter's decision, and after that no one opposed it because they respected the authority of Peter. They submitted to the decision even if they did not agree with it in their minds. They supported the decision because they accepted the top-down authority of Peter.  This is at least possible from the account.

Up to Peter's decision, it was discussion time, and everyone could voice their opinion. But once Peter made the decision, it was time for everyone to obey, and they did. They did not even come together for the purpose of making a decision, but to "consider" the matter (Acts 15:6). There is no indication that unanimous agreement was a requirement for resolving the issue.

The model of governance in the Bible, as I prove in chapter 8 of my book, is 100% top-down. That is the structure that will be practiced in the kingdom of God. The Father is the head of Christ and Christ will be king over the whole kingdom of God. David will rule over all Israel and the twelve apostles will each rule over a tribe. The twelve apostles will not have to agree unanimously to do what David tells them to do.

Is this hierarchical governance I have described "family-style" governance? Yes it is, because it is based on God's family, which is 100% governed from the top down.

Suppose Christ, through the Holy Spirit, guides Mr. Orchard to make a certain decision. Does Mr. Orchard have the authority to implement this decision according to the bylaws of the corporation? No, not without the consent of two or three other members of the Council. He cannot obey Christ unless two or three other men agree that he can obey Christ. That is a problem because each man on the Council has free moral agency. Christ cannot and will not FORCE any member of the Council to obey Him. Allowing the other members of the Council to have veto power over Mr. Orchard's decisions is a placement of trust in man that the Bible does not teach. By allowing these bylaws, Mr. Orchard is trusting in the other members of the Council to let him obey God, assuming he is trying to obey God.

A godly structure of governance, true family-style governance based on the God family, would give Mr. Orchard full authority, under Jesus Christ, to make decisions for COGFC. He would then not need the permission of men to obey God.

But he would have a problem. If he had full authority, some people might ask him, "Why did you leave David Hulme? I thought you said the governance model under David Hulme wasn't working and you wanted to develop something new. I thought you left David Hulme because you wanted to preach the gospel."

Website Development and Preaching the Gospel

Mr. Orchard made the statement that this new corporation and bylaws will work if COGFC leaders and members submit one to another. He also said that they have an opportunity to represent unity of spirit.

But unity of spirit will not "work" if the direction is wrong. It will not work if it is not truly of God and according to God's word, the Bible. Members of a group headed in the wrong direction can submit one to another. Members of false Christian groups can submit one to another. Members of a football team or a business organization can cooperate and help each other for the good of the team. Even the Nazi party had a certain "unity of spirit" in that they agreed on certain things, such as hatred towards the Jews and the desire for Germany to be militarily great and to conquer surrounding lands.

But COGFC is not heading in the right direction when they teach and practice a policy of not giving the warning to Israel and preaching the gospel to the world as a witness.

It has been TWO YEARS since COGFC began to form, and they are STILL not preaching the gospel or planning to do any more than make their website more professional and add some material developed for the world. I wonder how many members who left COGaic to go with Mr. Orchard, hoping to be a member of a group that preaches the gospel (because David Hulme was not doing it), expected that two years later he would still be doing nothing to preach the gospel to the world. I wonder how many of them would have stayed with David Hulme if they knew that Mr. Orchard would not be preaching the gospel for two years.

Mr. Orchard said that they wanted to provide a place where Christ can bring the sheep to receive good food and clean water. But COGFC is not that place and will not be that place till they repent of their disobedience towards God and Christ in not preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the world.

Right now, the spiritual food that COGFC provides the flock is poisoned and the water polluted. They feed their flock a spiritual poison - the poison of thinking they can ignore and postpone God's teaching to preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the world.

In rejecting the preaching of the gospel to the world, they are rejecting the second greatest commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). By focusing inwardly on themselves, they are rejecting the very principle of outgoing love itself. And as God makes clear in Ezekiel, the blood of the people will be on their heads. To put it bluntly, God will count us as murderers if we neglect getting the Ezekiel warning out to the world. And this is the way of life that COGFC teaches its members by their sermons and by their example.

COGFC plans to improve the Father's Call website and start to build material for the general public. But that is a small part of preaching the gospel to the world. Without spending money for advertising, the world and the general public will not come to the website. The message will be lost in the general clutter and maze and volume of material on the Internet.

One advantage of incorporation is that it may be easier for COGFC to publish their financials openly. They should do this, not only for their own members, but openly for all who are interested, as Living Church of God does.

The real key to know if they are serious about preaching the gospel to the world is how they spend their tithe and offering income. If all or almost all of it is spent on minister salaries, I say they are not serious about preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.

I said before, that Mr. Orchard was right in saying that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him, but mistaken in saying that if the Father does not draw someone, there is nothing we can do. There certainly is something we can do, even for those the Father does not draw to Christ, and God commands us to do it. We are to WARN. Whether they listen or not, we are to warn them. That is something Mr. Orchard and COGFC seem not to want to accept.

And according to God's message to us in Ezekiel chapters 2, 3, and 33, if we fail to warn the people, we become guilty of murder in the sight of God.

List of COGFC Related Posts in this Blog

Below is a list of posts with links on the subject of "Church of God, The Father's Call" (COGFC). These include all the posts I have published before now about that group, so it is a pretty complete list.

There is a reason why I have posted so often about COGFC. As I explain in one of my posts listed below, COGFC is a kind of experiment or case study of the fruits and consequences of certain approaches in the Church of God. God uses experience to teach us lessons, and we can learn from our own experiences as well as the experiences of others. God is teaching the whole world a lesson in the fruits of Satan's way of life by allowing Satan to deceive and rule mankind for 6,000 years. Likewise, God can teach us lessons about the Church and about certain spiritual principles by letting us see the good fruits that come from good choices and bad fruits that come from bad choices. We can learn lessons from the good or bad choices, and their consequences, of COGFC.

Some of these are not directly about COGFC, but are about issues they discuss or things they teach that tend to separate them from much of the rest of the Church of God, such as not preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel, the structure of governance, and assuming that the spiritual influence in one's mind is from the Holy Spirit but without testing that influence against the Bible to see if it is really from God (that is my wording and interpretation of their position, not theirs).

These posts are listed in the same order I posted them, with the earliest first. You can thus check them out in the order listed and get a bit of the history of how this group has changed since they first formed after leaving COGaic (David Hulme) and where they stand on certain issues.

In some posts, there are links to COGFC sources in their website that no longer exist or now require a password to access.

Be aware in reading these posts that this fellowship consisting of Brian Orchard and various ministers who left COGaic together have not had a permanent, clear, and distinctive name of their fellowship during the last two years, so at various times in past posts I have called them "Church of God, a Family Community" or "Father's Call Church of God" or possibly other names. But they now seem to have settled on the name, "Church of God, The Father's Call", at least for the corporation they use, and this can serve as a distinctive name for their fellowship in writing about them on the Internet from now on. I will abbreviate their name, COGFC.

"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:

"Will the Nine 'Mutually Submit' to Some among the Fifty?", dated January 22, 2014, link:

"What Is Your Church Identity?", dated January 26, 2014, link:

"Fasting to Know God's Will and Isaiah 58:6-8 ", dated February 6, 2014, link:

"The Importance of the Identity of Israel Doctrine", dated February 8, 2014, link:

"Has God Made the Church an "Ezekiel Watchman" for Israel?", dated February 13, 2014, link:

"Peter Nathan Is Going with Living Church of God", dated February 15, 2014, link:

"Update on Church of God, a Family Community (COGFC)", dated February 19, 2014, link:

"What Good Does It Do to Preach the Gospel If We Do Not Live It?", dated February 22, 2014, link:

"Heart-to-heart to Mr. Brian Orchard and Ministers of COGFC", dated February 24, 2014, link:

"Philadelphia Must Come Out of Laodicea", dated February 25, 2014, link:

"What Is the Church of God's Greatest Sin?", dated February 27, 2014, link:

"Update on Church of God, a Family Community Open House", dated March 3, 2014, link:

"COGFC's Governance Structure and Model", dated March 6, 2014, link:

"Does the Ministry Stand between Us and God?", dated March 8, 2014, link:

"Brian Orchard's Bible Study on Repentance ", dated March 16, 2014, link:

"LCG Announcement of Hiring former-COGFC Ministers - Wrap-up with COGFC", dated March 18, 2014, link:

"Human Reasoning", dated March 24, 2014, link:

"False Repentance Movement in the Church of God", dated March 28, 2014, link:

"Do Our Choices Really Affect the Preaching of the Gospel?", dated May 16, 2014, link:

"Avoiding a Spirit of Hostile Competition / Church of God, a Family Community at Six Months", dated June 26, 2014, link:

"Suggestion for COGFC Members Contributing Articles for a Website to Preach the Gospel", dated July 25, 2014, link:

"Philadelphia's Open Door - Does It Apply to Individual Members?", dated September 17, 2014, link:

"Church of God, a Family Community (COGFC) at One Year", dated January 1, 2015, link:

"How Do You Know God Leads Your Understanding of the Bible?", dated January 4, 2015, link:

"COGFC Direction", dated January 13, 2015, link:

"New Development in COGFC Governance Structure ", dated February 5, 2015, link:

"Herbert W. Armstrong Taught Loving Authority", dated February 20, 2015, link:

"Two Approaches to Understanding the Bible", dated March 10, 2015, link:

"Is Matthew 24:14 a Command to Preach the Gospel to the World as a Witness?", dated March 26, 2015, link:

"Did Worldwide Go "All Out" to Preach the Gospel?", dated March 28, 2015, link:

"We Need to Respect the Office of the Minister", dated March 30, 2015, link:

"Showing Mercy", dated April 9, 2015, link:

"What Is Wrong with Preaching the Gospel Only by Example?", dated May 3, 2015, link:

"Paradigm Shift from Herbert W. Armstrong to the Father's Call - a Case Study in Progress", dated June 21, 2015, link:

"Oral Tradition in Israel and the Church of God", dated November 12, 2015, link:

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