There are two types of COGgers, inclusives and exclusives, open and closed. Which people identify with says a lot about whether they're caught up in a sectarian spirit or not.
Take Ken Westby. Ken was one of those who took the high road in the mid-70s and walked away from what was then a very successful religious operation and a comfortable ministerial lifestyle. Is Ken "open" or "closed"? Here's a quick quote:
"The Azusa Street Revival launched an amazing modern movement and I'm sure there are many sincere Christians included in it, but to suggest it is a modern display of the events and gifts of the Pentecost following Christ's resurrection is folly and has no basis in Scripture."
Ken seems to be stating two things. (1) He believes that there are genuine Christian people within the Pentecostal fold, and (2) Pentecostalism nonetheless isn't the same thing as the early church experienced. Fair enough, he's being gracious in his disagreement and leaving open the possibility that the Good Spirit works among these people too.
Now compare what another COG commentator has to say about Ken's comments.
"There are no sincere real Christians involved with the Azusa Street Revival--there are many sincere people who do not truly know Christ. And actually, that is a problem with ACD--ACD's [sic] denies the pre-existence of Christ and the accuracy of the New Testament (please see the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning), hence I do not believe that ACD really is a COG."
Here's a typical exclusionist in full cry. Those boundary markers are really important, and they have nothing to do with the beatitudes or loving service to others. Nope, those boundaries are dogma. When you think "faith" means "doctrine" it's really important to patrol the perimeter, bark at those beyond and chase out any who are out of step. That is what makes a sect work. He does both things here: yaps at the Azusa-style Charismatics - they're definitely beyond the pale - then nips at Ken's heels to demonstrate that he has no right to be counted as a member of the inner circle, a brother or an equal.
How anyone can stay quite this staunch and rigid I'm not sure. The society in Jesus' day was, as far as we can tell, a very exclusionary one with lots of religious boundary markers. The Jesus portrayed in the Gospels doesn't seem to have given a hoot about them.
Most of us were drawn into the WCG (or a splinter) at a time when we saw the world in black and white terms. Good and evil, God and Satan, blessing and cursing, Sabbath or Sunday. Most of us are still not so good at recognising shades of grey. But life is a subtle thing, and the "heretical" Samaritan is the one who stops to help the stranger, the "heretical" Quakers are at the heart of the anti-slavery movement, and the "wicked liberals" have done more to establish a just society than all the Bible-waving evangelists added together. Which kind of makes you wonder whether the COGs, which have contributed so little to the betterment of our world, do anything but look utterly foolish when they utter their jeremiads on society's alleged ills. Faith is a lot more than assenting to some doctrine or other, and doctrinal correctness is a lot less than faith.
He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the will to win
We drew a circle and drew him in.
Which seems a nobler thing to do than putting one's energies into patrolling the boundaries and piddling on the fence posts.