The latest issue of the Bible Advocate features two former WCG ministers. The late Richard Wiedenheft left in the "rebellion" of 1974. He pastored an independent Sabbatarian church for many years and published a newsletter called Focus On Truth. He later gravitated to the Church of God (Seventh Day). His article When Defeat Spells Victory appears in this issue.
Also appearing in the April/May BA is an interview with former Plain Truth editor Brian Knowles on the topic of repentance. The BA asked Brian (among other things) "Can there be corporate repentance for a church?" Here's his reply.
Throughout church history, denominations and their leaders have changed their official teachings, doctrines, and dogmas to comply with a better, more mature understanding of Scripture. This represents a form of corporate repentance. To be alive, the church must be a growing, dynamic entity — not just in numbers but in spiritual maturity. Collectively we are animated by the Holy Spirit, which leads us progressively into truth (John 14:26). Growth in knowledge and understanding is mandated in Scripture (2 Peter 3:18). This requires ongoing repentance of inferior understanding and the adoption of better understanding. Such repentance is a function of leadership. Instead of endlessly rehashing the basics, we should be going deeper into more mature understanding (Hebrews 5:11—6:3).
Also notable is a column by COG7 president Whaid Rose with a title to send a chill of horror down the spine of many hardline Armstrong devotees: Embrace the cross.
The BA is currently marking its 150th year in print, making it one of America's oldest religious periodicals.
Can there be corporate repentance for a church?
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Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.
I always found it somewhat puzzling that...
1. Repentance from acts that lead to death
2.Faith in God
3.Instruction about batpism(s)
4.Laying on of hands
were considered baby food and not meat. These are the meat of all Fundamentalist churches. Paul did not write Hebrews but whoever did, was not much of a fan of the basics
Opting for the mystical, cosmic and unknowable, but oh so fun to gaggle over, God and Christ as we see in WCG's current Barth worship, I suppose, is the alternative approach.
On "Corporate Repentance"
We live in a society that has a seat for every butt. There is a church for every need, idea, want, belief and agenda.
Aside from the rightness or wrongness of WCG in doctrine (all Churches have somethings "wrong") the problem in WCG was a "leadership" that felt it had the right and was compelled by "a miracle from Christ" to change everyone instead of move out. Their true Jesus had plenty of seats they could have occupied already established.
If it was a "miracle from Jesus" then the Jesus who inspired it was a trickster who must have been incapble of warning the faithful away from the error in the first place.
The Tkaches and Co. had more of an obligation to give up their positions, if they felt the church was so wrong, and put their own butts in a seat that felt good to them and leave WCG to those who saw God, Jesus and the Bible from that perspective.
(The idea of a Jewish like Christian faith in the NT is not hard to come up with if one removes the Cosmic, Gnostic, Church hijacker, Paul from the picture as Peter, James and John probably wished they could have done.)
Instead, for WCG leadership, the power, money and position seems to be too much to give up and damn the sheep, full speed ahead. No one has ever held them accountable for hijacking the church rather than leaving it themselves.
When reckless change causes sincerely confused people to end their lives, grow bitter or get stuck or depressed, I think we have our answer about CR Tkach style.
CR, in the WCG context is not about doctrinal change. It is about grievous disrespect by specific individuals for the people who built the church on their own hopes and income.
You can't forgive a corporation. You can only forgive specific people and it's specific people who must exibit repentance.
I can't forgive "WCG" I have to forgive Joe Tkach Sr. Joe Jr., Dan Rogers, Mike Feazell, Bernie Schnippert, Greg Albrecht...
All these men have apologized for their lack of theological understanding, but NONE of these men have apologized for the reckless, unecessary and deep pain they have caused misusing positions they should have given up long ago if they felt the church was incorrect.
It's easy to repent of the perceived errors of others. You look good doing it. Not so easy to repent of the damage one causes personally. The changes wrought in WCG over months take most sane church leaders a generation to mature to if they care about the people. I never got the impression the Tkaches cared about anyone within the Church, ministers or members.
Some forgiving is easy. This reminds me of the absolute awe Pope Paul inspired when he forgave the man who tried to kill him. Excuse me....the Pope has to forgive him. He's a professional forgiver. It's his job! He's the Pope! More normal is the loon George Bush attacking a whole country because "they tried to kill my dad."
There is a seat for every butt was not their idea of a good living. Going from "somebody" to "nobody" was not in their cards. So let the people scatter as, for them, there will always be a seat for every butt, but "as for me and my house, we shall hijack the corporate church and serve ourselves."
Don't be enamoured by WCG's Corporate Repentance. Don't expect the individuals who hurt so many and even mocked those who gave their lives to that specific hope of a calling and biblical perspective, (which is perceptible from the NT too as are many others), to ever understand just what it was they did to real people.
I believe my brother in law, a full time, lifetime WCG minister is dead now from the stress of their reckless corporate repentance. It's what his children believe. He spent the last five years of his life trying so hard on the outside and dying on the inside..until he did way too young.
Other ministerial friends have died of drinking to hide the pain and one committed suicide. And then there are members who did as well and continue to struggle alone and putting on a good face.
Corporate Repentance for WCG is not "we're sorry we believe the wrong things." It needs to be "we're sorry we did the wrong things."
sorry, too long,
I have many friends who being Catholic take the "changes" wrought by the Pope on all topics eternal with a grain of salt.
The WCG Papacy only ever accepted the freedom it dictated.
in my view....
I agree entirely will the usually sane sounding Dennis here. However, you can’t ask people to give something they do not have. In the case of Joe Jr. and his gang, the missing item in question is compassion. Surely, if they had any, they would have resigned their positions long ago.
But it is not too late. We can only hope that the obvious destination of their collective spiritual journey will be the realization that they are incompetent on every level needed to guide the church forward. It may dawn on them that in even worldly matters, the stuff of bricks and stucco and the precious herding of assets, their long claimed long suit, they have utterly failed at the task. They need only look at their cubes in Glendora to know the truth. Or they can check the bank accounts. Surely they will come to the logical conclusion that as new spirits in the great communion of Christ, babes anew themselves, they can hardly be called out for leadership—by their own admission, not by the call of God and not by the logic of matriculation as found demonstrated in human organizations here on the old prime material plain. No, a novice and his novice friends may not lead, no matter how earnest. Leadership is earned through experience of what works, not simply through trial of failure. Only one beam of light need show through.
It could happen. And if they are truly converted, it will.
As for Bush starting the War in Iraq because of attempts on his father’s life, I amk sure that is true on some emotional level. I have even read the same source Dennis has. However, it should be noted that up until the time of the invasion, Saddam Hussein himself thought he had weapons of mass destruction. I would call it a comedy of errors, if it wasn’t so tragic.
According to the one and only issue of the "Good News" I could stomach reading post-changes, WCG also goes that one step further; i.e., if those of us exited don't wish a "reconciliation", well then, it just MUST be the fault of those who don't wish to reconcile, not us wishy-washy hand-wavey, cruise-taking, European-vacation-every-year Levitical priesthood!
(And you don't EVEN want to get me started on the article about "tipping your 'servants' 20% gratuities". That just made me see red.)
It's not that Junior and Weazell don't WANT to take personal responsibility; it's that, thanks to the six-figure-salaries they're both pulling down, they CAN'T.
Dennis and all:
You are correct, there cannot be such a thing as "corporate repentance", it can only be done by individuals.
But there is also to be found a corolary truth within this also...
Being a card carrying member of a (so called) God's Church does not make you "righteous" or "acceptable" to God either!
God is not interested in saving "corporations", he can only save individuals! So much emphasis from COGs to make sure that you are "in" the right ORG. When the Judgement Day comes, I doubt that Christ will check to see if you have a bonafide "membership card" from some human made organization.
Being a "member" of something is meaningless. Repentance and a personal relationship with Christ is done on an individual basis, and it is all that matters in the end. God wants to love individual people, not corporate by-laws and 501c-3s !
Sure cooperation and fellowship can possibly be found in grouping with others, but in the end, we all stand before God alone, as an individual.
Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA
Hello Mark, Sane? probably not.
Well said and it is the element of compassion that is missing.
I alwasy found their Office of Reconciliation to be almost a deliberate insult. While I'm all for racial reconciliation, seems they missed the real target audience.
Office of Exiled Members Reconciliation
Office of Ex Members Reconciliation
Office of Marginalized Pastors Reconciliation
Office of Depressed, Dis-couraged and Dead Member Reconciliation
Office of Financial Accountability
Office of "Ok Jesus Didn't work a great Miracle"...we screwed up Reconciliation
Office of Family Reconciliation
Office of we will not leave ministers high and dry reconciliation.
Go spend some time reading the WCG's Surprising God Blog and you'll see the fruits of being able to sit back on your ass and pontificate about absolute nonesense. No wonder they moderate the content. They could not stand up to the other side of their coin.
Ok, I"m going to go look for a life...and work on forgetting the story.
Gavin said, "The BA is currently marking its 150th year in print, making it one of America's oldest religious periodicals".
MY COMMENT - HWA use to label the COG7 as "dead Sardis", but they appear to be very much alive. It's the WCG that now appears to be dead.
Reminds me of the expression, "what goes around comes around" :-)
Well WCG was Philidelphia because they had and have such love...COG7 Was Sardis and dead.
But Sardis lives and Philly is dead so WCG must have been Sardis and PCG is Philly. But PCG is nuts so Sardis must have been Philidelphia making WCG Laodicean and the splinters Arkadelphians because they had to save themselves from the flood of stupidity.
Oh ask Bob Thiel, he knows everything about such things
We are not tree-huggers or sandal wearers here.
We embrace the cross,and the also the rosary,as a good Romanische Katholische should.
Dennis wrote: "Ok, I"m going to go look for a life...and work on forgetting the story."
Those sob's still get me pissed off also after all these years! Where is Terry Ratzmann when you need him?
Terry Ratzman is dead. His painbody killed a number of innocent people and then it killed itself taking Terry along with it.
I met brother Whaid at this time in 2000 when he visited a COG7 congregation in Toronto. He truly is the anti-Armstrong or another expression, "He rocks!"
When some big name leaves the Seventh Day Adventist church, or the Worldwide Church of God, they often go to the Church of God Seventh Day for a while to write for the Bible Advocate magazine. Eventually they have a falling out there too and go elsewhere.
That COG7 really needs to strengthen the things that remain that are about to die....
'...Being a "member" of something is meaningless. Repentance and a personal relationship with Christ is done on an individual basis, and it is all that matters in the end. God wants to love individual people, not corporate by-laws and 501c-3s ! ...'
All committed Christians are 'members' of the Body of Christ, his Church. However, each local assembly is an independent unit - composed of 'members'. Given that there must be order in the group isn't it appropriate from a disciplinary aspect that such 'members' be 'registered' as such? (Though the manner of such discipline is important.)
Anon May 03, 11:07,
I've been to churches where, afaik, there was not on an 'official' membership list.
I've also been to churches at which many who attended regularly were not on the 'official' membership list.
Seemed to work ok for those churches.
Because of what kinds of infractions and disciplining are you suggesting 'attendees be registered members' is needed?
ANNONYMOUS 11:07 WROTE:
Given that there must be order in the group isn't it appropriate from a disciplinary aspect that such 'members' be 'registered' as such? (Though the manner of such discipline is important.)
1) Chaos ALWAYS tends to order itself. Care to define what "order" is supposed to be? Where do the regulations stop or start? If Gods Spirit is there, then wouldnt natural order be expected? Who is managing the ants or the bee hive? If it is a group not led by the spirit, then perhaps your request is valid amongst mere carnal men. Such fears are not necessary amongst the truly converted and faithful.
2) If someone is, lets say, commiting some kind of adultery, simply do not fellowship with such kind. Converted people will not enable such behavior or want to be around such. Why does there need to be the force of a governing mob to "enforce" anything?
3) Registering?? My Bible says "let every person examine THEMSELVES to see if they be of the faith" before taking of the Lords Body. Yourself, Not some executive committee, or governing body.
The only registering I see mentioned in the Bible is where "THE BEAST" requires registering identification! Sorry Bub, but you can keep that!
Annonymous, you are lacking faith that the Holy Spirit of God is the "unified field theory" and will guide you in sincerity and truth. Perhaps you really havent been around truly converted people. Any time you rely on Mans discernment and direction, you will reap the "law of unintended consequences".
Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA
In the old school WCG, and the splinters which pattern themselves after that, the system was intrusive and domineering in members' lives. Not that the Holy Spirit was present in these groups, but even if He/it was, the micro management governmental style would not have allowed the HS to work in peoples' lives on an individualized and personalized basis similar to examples in the Bible.
The more difficult the sell, in the ACOGs, the more the possessive form of God's name was invoked to add imperatives. Hitlerian, legalistic, snooping supervision was called "God's Government". The implication was that if you objected, it wasn't just human ministers that you were rebelling against, it was God Himself. In all communications, WCG was referred to as "God's Church". This was to emphasize that if you were to look for another church, or go independent, you were literally turning your back on God.
Then there were "God's Health Laws", "God's Childrearing Methods", and a plethora of other activities ascribed directly to God. It was part of the internal jargon of the WCG, and was part of the brainwashing associated with the organization (cult).
But, many of the people who were part of these groups, or have just recently left them, still carry some of these attitudes into the basic ways in which they define things. It is impossible for an ACOGger to even visualize a church where people can freely come and go for spiritual nourishment, and contribute or not contribute in accordance to what is in their hearts. No, a church has to be a governmental structure where everything is registered, and regulated. The fact that this stifles or quenches the individual workings of the Holy Spirit would never occur to such folks. Freedom and Christianity are supposed to go hand in hand. They are not intended to be non sequiturs.
The bottom line is, God places more importance on what we do of our own free will. If our actions are based on authoritatively imposed legalism, the commands of some yelling minister, or fear of the Lake of Fire, they are of no value whatsoever.
Lussenheide said, "2) If someone is, lets say, commiting some kind of adultery, simply do not fellowship with such kind. Converted people will not enable such behavior or want to be around such.
MY COMMENT - Of course, an exception to this example was the sexual preditor Garner Ted Armstrong.
I seem to recall a statement in the 1960s by that idiot Roderick Meredith ("5 more years") who said God's true servants have strong sex drives. Does anybody else recall such a statement?
Byker Bob said, "Then there were "God's Health Laws", "God's Childrearing Methods", and a plethora of other activities ascribed directly to God".
MY COMMENT - It's time for a relevant excerpt from my unpublished essay, "My reflections of the Worldwide Church of God - 1972 In Prophecy - God's Practical Joke?":
“Spanking And A Praying”
First, I wouldn’t wish the Worldwide Church on any child. Besides the psychological affects of being made to act differently from other children in school (not celebrating Christmas, Halloween and birthdays, etc.) and the heavy burden of believing that “time is very short” and great calamity is about to happen on the earth, the Church preached excessive corporal punishment on children for even the most minor of offenses. I remember fathers who openly brought “spanking boards” to Church to discipline small children who could not sit stoic on hard metal seats through the two to three hours of Church services. Fathers were measured by how much they displayed that they had their family under control. Our church Pastor use to say he had a “spank account” for his very young daughter. I remember one woman whose motto was “I’m a spanking and a praying” when referring to her child. Spanking was more of the rule, and not the exception in the Worldwide Church of God (Fraud).
In reference to Christmas and “worldly holidays”, I’ve had to ask myself which is worse: giving a child gifts at Christmas or terrorizing a child with false end time predictions that time is very short and that the world is about to end in 1972? Excerpted is an e-mail that I sent to a family member recently regarding giving my daughter Sarah Christmas gifts:
“…I give Sarah gifts at Christmas. I do this because what will be remembered thirty years from now will not be the theological arguments against Christmas, but the fact that she didn’t get any Christmas gifts at all from her father. So, I give her gifts at Christmas – throw me in the lake of fire.”
As mentioned, I have had to discard anything in my mind that is sourced to Armstrong and the Worldwide Church. I wouldn’t want my own daughter to think she’s different from other children – and excluded from activities her friends enjoy. I give my daughter “year end” gifts and she’s never had a “spank account”.
End of Excerpt
Anonymous said, "Where is Terry Ratzmann when you need him?"
MY COMMENT - I find it very ironic that after all the many years Armstrongite ministers preached about persecution and the martyrdom of the saints (i.e. true members of God's church - the WCG), the only martyrs that I am aware of were those who became "self inflicted martyrs" at the hands of Terry Ratzmann.
However, you can’t ask people to give something they do not have. In the case of Joe Jr. and his gang, the missing item in question is compassion.
Compassion, in this case, is important, but nowhere near as important as honesty, which is totally lacking in the WCG as a long term deficiency from the beginning.
Besides the psychological affects of being made to act differently from other children in school (not celebrating Christmas, Halloween and birthdays, etc.
Although you made valid comments about bad child rearing practices in the WCG, I believe you error in the above mentioned quote.
Many a Jew, Muslim and others are well adjusted and do just fine in life without Christmas, Halloween , et al.
There are very important lessons in learning that "being different" than other idiot kids, that is both desirable and preferred. In fact the sooner anyone learns that the mass of society are brain dead, walking zombies who will indulge any whimsical or carnal activity the better. Greatness in life requires leadership, and leadership is seldom found in "acting like everybody else".
I did not grow up in the COG, but began attending on my own, by myself at age 17. Where I grew up in the inner city slums, you had virtually 100% drug use, promiscuity, crime and so forth. I only knew a couple of guys in my large High School who were not blowing at least a little weed, if not worse dope on a regular or daily basis. I had my life threatened on more than one occassion and had to learn to either fight or run in order to stay live. Thank goodness I "was different" in school!
But dont blow this off and say, well thats just the inner city. Even today in suburubia some 25% or more of teen girls have an STD. Drug and alcohol abuse is common. Child and teen unhappiness is at an all time high. Goths, rappers, gangers, tweekers and all manner of dysfunctional sub groups everywhere.
Kids being made to act different?? Great! Dont you think that this is self evident to any enlightened parent with a soul with a vision for a better future for their children?
Being like everybody else, means, in general, mediocrity, dysfunction, and overall malaise and unhappiness. Overcoming this requires a deliberate disconnecting from the "system" and in being different!
Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA
The Luss wrote:
"Being like everybody else, means, in general, mediocrity, dysfunction, and overall malaise and unhappiness. Overcoming this requires a deliberate disconnecting from the "system" and in being different!"
Glad you are stating that you are speaking a generalization.
And, it may be my prejudicialness, but it sounds to me as if you are saying kids who keep 'traditional' holidays like Christmas and Easter are not sufficiently 'disconnected from the [bad] system' enough, to rise above the more negative aspects of the culture in which we live.
Say it ain't so, Luss!
It is not weird to not keep Christmas and Halloween.
If anyone is having an issue with "being different", this shows immaturity, regardless of the specific issue. Lamest remark,(again about ANY topic) to ever come from a kid..."all my other friends are doing it".
Being different, in most areas of life is good!
Bill Lussenheide, Menifee,CA USA
Just a simple question. Do you think people should do the strange behaviors of Xmas and Halloween just for the simple reason that everybody else does?
Say it aint so Mel!
Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA
'...Annonymous, you are lacking faith that the Holy Spirit of God is the "unified field theory" and will guide you in sincerity and truth. Perhaps you really havent been around truly converted people. Any time you rely on Mans discernment and direction, you will reap the "law of unintended consequences". ...'
To return to this topic: didn't it take Paul to urge the Corinthians to intervene? And wasn't there then a decision to (temporarily) exclude the offender?
Noticed an ironic letter in this same edition of the Bible Advocate, from the ‘Dead Sardis’ COG7 Church.
“Calculating Christ’s return
The article on the Millerite Movement
[“CoG7 Journey,” January-February
’08, p. 16] is one of the best
I have ever read. The author is to
be congratulated. One CoG7 spinoff
is the largely defunct Herbert
Armstrong Movement. He predicted
Christ’s return in 1972, calculating
this as being two times 19, or 38
years from when he began his work
in 1934. Your article correctly notes
that as to the day and hour, no one
A “largely defunct HWA movement”, while the ‘Dead Sardis’ COG7 church lives on!
Thank you. You make many valid points. I guess I have become use to being different starting from my WCG origins.
I am glad your overcame the environment in which you grew up in. It speaks highly of you!
"I seem to recall a statement in the 1960s by that idiot Roderick Meredith ("5 more years") who said God's true servants have strong sex drives. Does anybody else recall such a statement?"
Yep, for sure! Even God's false servants have one of those!
"King James Bible
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: he could see women, and was still a horn dog man right to the end.!
I wince at the memory of being "different" in the WCG in the 60's. We just weren't different, we were FREAKS in every sense of the word. Any attempt of conformity was not even dreamed of, and every kid I knew just wanted to blend into the crowd for even a moment. Yeah, we wanted all the holidays and to dress like everyone else, and when I became a teenager, I had the nerve to ask why Christ was able to blend into the crowd, and celebrate the holidays of HIS culture. Of course I got no answer. Now, my grown children's main complaint of their own childhood was the absence of these certain holidays. It IS important to a kid, and you can hang the "growing character" bit. I am not going to hell because I celebrate birthdays, or halloween or christmas, and because I did not spank my kids to the rhythm of Blessed and Happy is the Man". I'm sorry I feel this way Bill, but I didn't have the pleasure of joining up at the age of 17, it was forced on me from the age of 4. You can build character in children in far less damaging ways than making them oddballs. After all kids are immature.
"There are very important lessons in learning that "being different""
Yes, if there is a good reason for it. The theology of the WWCG is not a good reason.
I had my first (albeit Jebus-free) Christmas last year with my wife and infant daughter. We had a really good time and I already look back on the holiday with fondness, and look foward to the next, knowing my daughter will enjoy it even more as she will be older.
The Apostate Paul
Dear Mr. The Lussenheide,
"If anyone is having an issue with 'being different', this shows immaturity, regardless of the specific issue."
I'm not saying it is more mature to celebrate Christmas and Halloween. I'm not a proponent of some silly, "do it because 'everyone else' does it" approach.
Then you(the Luss) wrote:
"Just a simple question. Do you think people should do the strange behaviors of Xmas and Halloween just for the simple reason that everybody else does?"
I suppose I mostly answered above.
Although, I notice your use of the phrase, "strange behaviors", and chalk it up to the aversion that was inculcated in herbdom relating to anything that they considered 'of Satan'.
I've been talking to FDLS folks, and they think it should be clear to me that any toy(or wall or anything else for that matter) painted red, or woman not wearing a prairie dress with bonnet, or not seeing black people as "filthy" is strange behaviors of the 'world'.
Anyways, it ain't so.
I don't believe ppl should do stuff just because others do.
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