Did Mr. Armstrong make a mistake when he named Mr. Tkach as his successor?
Mr. Tkach changed all the important doctrines Mr. Armstrong taught, and as a result, many fell away and the rest were scattered into many competing fellowships. Why was this not a mistake?
It was God's will to scatter the Church at this time, to rebuke us and to test us.
We had become Laodicean. Christ says to the Laodiceans, "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:16). The scattering that occurred after the death of Mr. Armstrong was Christ vomiting us out of His mouth. He still loves us, but He wants us to repent. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19).
The scattering of the Church of God after the death of Mr. Armstrong was intended by Christ to bring some of us to repentance. But to bring about that scattering, Christ needed to appoint someone to replace Mr. Armstrong who would take the actions that would lead to the scattering. Mr. Armstrong could not do it himself. He would never deliberately scatter the Church. But Mr. Tkach could do it by changing doctrine. So Christ took Mr. Armstrong out of the way and appointed Mr. Tkach to replace him.
Christ appointed Mr. Tkach, not Mr. Armstrong. Christ arranged events and inspired Mr. Armstrong to cause Mr. Armstrong to appoint Mr. Tkach. In the letter Mr. Armstrong wrote to the Church naming Mr. Tkach as his successor, Mr. Armstrong plainly stated that it was Christ who was appointing Mr. Tkach, and he was right. Christ knew what he was doing. Christ did not just allow Mr. Armstrong to name Mr. Tkach as the next pastor general - He caused it. He inspired Mr. Armstrong to know that it was Christ's will that he name Mr. Tkach his successor.
So it was not a mistake.
Mr. Armstrong no doubt made mistakes in some of his thinking. He thought Mr. Tkach would be faithful to true doctrine from the Bible, the same body of doctrine that Mr. Armstrong taught. Christ had a different reason. Mr. Armstrong did the right thing for the wrong reason. But what he did was not a mistake.
When Mr. Armstrong named Mr. Tkach as the next pastor general, he made the right decision but for the wrong reason. His thinking that Mr. Tkach would be faithful to doctrine was a mistake. But the appointment of Mr. Tkach was the right decision for a different reason, a reason Mr. Armstrong did not understand.
Jesus Christ made the decision to appoint Mr. Tkach, and that was the right decision. Christ made that decision, knowing Mr. Tkach would change doctrine in a wrong way, because Christ wanted to scatter the Church of God because of its being Laodicean and lukewarm. He did this for a good reason - to test the Church and to shake the Church up to help its members wake up and begin to take things seriously. Too many members were just coasting. They needed a hit on the side of the head to wake up.
Jesus Christ inspired Mr. Armstrong and led him to appoint Mr. Tkach. That was not a mistake. But Christ did not reveal the real reason to Mr. Armstrong, and Christ allowed Mr. Armstrong to choose Mr. Tkach using a wrong reasoning process, and that reasoning process was Mr. Armstrong's mistake. Mr. Armstrong didn't know that Christ wanted to scatter the Church. Frankly, it would have been difficult for Mr. Armstrong to deliberately name an unqualified man, but that was what Christ wanted at that time - a man unqualified to properly lead the Church in true doctrine. This would cause the Church to be scattered.
So Christ allowed Mr. Armstrong to make a mistake in his reasoning process to name Mr. Tkach, thinking Mr. Tkach would be faithful, but Christ wanted Mr. Tkach for the opposite reason - He knew Mr. Tkach would be unfaithful in matters of doctrine.
We the members were lukewarm, and Christ gave us the kind of leader we deserved.
So Christ let Mr. Armstrong make a mistake in evaluating Mr. Tkach's qualifications and character. Christ led Mr. Armstrong to name Mr. Tkach by letting Mr. Armstrong see Mr. Tkach's strong points - perhaps his hard work, courage, energy, obedience to Mr. Armstrong, etc. - but hiding from Mr. Armstrong an awareness of Mr. Tkach's flaws in understanding the Bible.
So Mr. Armstrong, in that sense, used wrong reasoning but arrived at the right decision for God's purposes. He made a mistake in thinking Mr. Tkach would be faithful to true doctrine, but he made the right decision - the decision Christ wanted him to make - to appoint Mr. Tkach.
Here is an example that illustrates how Christ can let his ministers make "mistakes" that are not really mistakes.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Mr. Gerald Weston, presiding evangelist of Living Church of God (LCG), had scheduled a ministerial conference where ministers would gather from all over the world to meet. Hotel space was rented. With COVID-19 starting up, Mr. Weston had to make the decision about whether or not to cancel the conference. After getting advice, he decided not to cancel. He expected the conference to take place. If he had cancelled, LCG would have lost money on hotel space it had booked because of penalties for late cancellation, or something like that.
But, as I understand it, a short time after that, the hotel cancelled, forcing the conference to be cancelled. Here is the important thing. Because the hotel cancelled, the Church saved money because the hotel did not charge a cancellation penalty.
Would you call Mr. Weston's decision to not cancel earlier a mistake? He thought the conference would take place, so he didn't cancel the hotel reservation. He was wrong about the conference taking place, but the decision to not cancel was the best decision because it gave time for the hotel to cancel, and because it was the hotel's decision, they charged the Church no penalty. But if the Church made the decision to cancel a week earlier, the hotel would charge us a penalty.
Do you see what I am driving at? Mr. Weston made the right decision for the wrong reason. I don't call Mr. Weston's decision not to cancel the hotel reservation a mistake. It was the very best decision that he could make. By waiting for the hotel to cancel instead of LCG cancelling, LCG saved money.
But Mr. Weston wasn't trying to save money. He thought the conference would take place. He was wrong about that. But Christ worked it out perfectly.
This is why some ministers have said that God makes even the Church's "mistakes" work out. But I don't call those kinds of decisions "mistakes". Some of the reasoning that leads to those decisions may be mistaken, but the decisions themselves are right in God's eyes.
One more example, this time an analogy, not real.
Suppose you are praying for a better job. Or if you are single, you might be praying for a wife. Then suppose you are taking a train, and there are many trains at the train station. You get on the train, but after the train pulls out of the station you realize you got on the wrong train. You figure you made a mistake, and from your point of view, it was a mistake, but not from Christ's point of view, because He caused you to get on the wrong train. Why? Because on that "wrong" train, you meet an old friend who has his own business, you have a conversation, and it leads to an offer for a better job, just what you prayed for. Or, you meet your future wife, who is in the Church, on that train. That "wrong" train was actually the right train for Christ to answer your prayers. It was not a mistake from God's point of view.
Or, while riding on that "wrong" train, you pull out a Church booklet, a passenger notices the title and asks about it, a conversation takes place, and that passenger ends up coming into the Church. It was the right train from God's point of view, but your thinking was in error when you got on it.
So Mr. Armstrong's decision to name Mr. Tkach as the next pastor general was not a mistake from God's point of view. It was exactly what Christ wanted to happen in order to carry out what He said He would do in Revelation 3:16.
Sunday, April 25, 2021
Did Mr. Armstrong Make a Mistake in Naming Mr. Tkach as His Successor?
Did Mr. Armstrong make a mistake when he named Mr. Tkach as his successor?