The COGs and Their Thin Skins: Living Church of God (LCG), Continuing Church of God (CCOG), Bob Thiel and Some After-Thoughts

I see that Bob Thiel posted “The Philadelphia remnant: it is really all about love” sometime after my last post about his new organization.  Now, I don’t know whether or not he is reacting directly to what I wrote or what someone else wrote.  While he occasionally checks in here, I have no preconceived notions that he reads this blog on any regular basis whatsoever.  Frankly, I’m still not convinced he’s got it.

It is for times like these, I believe, that this blog exists.  What is love?  More specifically, what is brotherly love?  What is godly love, for that matter?  You know, I’ve touched upon some of these in the past, but my recent studies have me pondering whether or not the modern and postmodern Church has missed the point.

For starters, one person, who doesn’t want to be named, emailed me pondering whether or not the Church organizations have focused so much on what they perceive to be “agape” that they have forgotten about brotherly love.

That really got me thinking.  And studying.  So far, it’s been a bit surprising, actually.  I hope to share some of this with you in the very near future.  Do we truly understand the difference between godly love, brotherly love and friendship?  Is there a difference?  These are questions I need to sort through in light of all of this bandying about of “Philadelphia mantles” and other nonsense.

Meanwhile, “Author” at the Preaching the Gospel blog yesterday posted “Robert Thiel Leaves Living Church of God to Start a New COG Group”.  There are a number of things in his post I don’t agree with, but there is one statement with which I can concur (albeit with an addendum):

In this matter, I think Dr. Thiel is wrong and is making a serious mistake.

The difference is, perhaps, in why I think Thiel is wrong.  The addendum is that I believe LCG may (and I stress “may”, for we only have one side of the story) also be wrong.

Interestingly, Dr. Thiel stated that he had suspended his membership in LCG on July 14, 2012. This may be news to many LCG members who have been reading his blog thinking he was a member of LCG. I wonder if it will be news to the members of the video group he leads or hosts. If a man “suspends” his membership in an organization only in his own mind, but makes no announcement to the rest of that organization, what meaning does it have?

Author is not the only one to point this out, BTW.  In fact, when I first read Thiel’s assertion that he suspended his membership on 14 July, I could not help but scratch my head.  When I also learned he was still running a video group in spite of this, my mind went tilt.  It seems to me to be less than honest, to put it quite mildly.

Let’s set aside for the moment the whole silliness over eras and such, and concentrate upon brotherly love in the context of what we know about the situation.  IOW, this is a good case study as an introduction to what brotherly love really is.

You know, it has been said of art and pornography alike that it is hard to define, but you’ll know it when you see it.  If we believe that only Christians can see and understand brotherly love, then we need to re-read Jesus’ words:

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

~ Jn 13:35 (NKJV)

Even outsiders, even unbelievers, would recognize the love of brother for brother.

So, standing as an outsider to LCG, did either Bob Thiel or LCG exhibit brotherly love in what transpired?

Back to Author’s article, though my main intent isn’t so much his article as it is to address the Thiel-LCG situation.  Author lists a few public disagreements Thiel has had with LCG.  Who was right, and who was wrong?  For me, it does not really matter.  You can be totally right in a factual sense, but you can be totally wrong with what you do with that information.

My view is that Bob Thiel should have submitted to the authority of Dr. Meredith and the LCG ordained ministry in these matters as long as he was a member of or attending with LCG. He should not have contradicted LCG in public, though it is not wrong for him to offer his views to the LCG leadership in private.

Here is where I think I disagree most with Author.  Although, I have to admit that it isn’t clear whether or not Thiel first tried to address these privately, he does give that impression.  Still, is it necessarily wrong to have doctrinal differences and express one’s opinion?

I ask this because it has been my impression that all of these church organizations tend to be very thin-skinned.  You know, when I write about “The Sin of Being Offended”, does anyone doubt that this has as much to do with church organizations as the lay member?  Have we as human beings beaten the drum of “all speak the same thing” that our views have gone off into the ditch?  Whatever happened to the verses about doubtful disputations?

Speaking as one who has studied what happened between the 1970s and 1990s to the church organization I once knew and have myself witnessed the UCG-COGWA split, I have come to the conclusion that any organization that cannot sustain small differences of opinion will inevitably disintegrate.  If even small criticisms cannot be readily received, then there is no incentive for growth or even acknowledging there is anything to overcome.  The organization will split because it is unhealthy, and it cannot fight off any infection that it cannot recognize.

Obviously, I am not talking about expelling poisonous attitudes or people.  That is part of recognizing and dealing with infection, after all.  However, allergies are not healthy, either.  Allergies attack things that aren’t even harmful to the organism and create a response to try to rid the body of it.  This actually weakens the body, as it overproduces histamines to counteract essentially inert matter.

God gave you and I a brain.  Nowhere does the Bible so much as suggest we are to hang those brains up at the church door.  In fact, if we aren’t supposed to use our brain, then all that Bible study is nothing more than a waste of time.  The consequence to this is that there will be differences of opinion.

In practical matters, this means:

  1. A member should realize that they are one voice of many.  Expressing their opinion the right way is one means of spiritual growth.  Feeling fear to be able to express that fear is still fear.  Love crowds out fear (1Jn 4:18), and fear is a type of torment (ibid).
  2. A church should realize that people will grow at different rates, and that includes the church leadership.  Not every challenge is a rebellious act against authority.  If God does not beat them down for every minor misunderstanding, then neither should the members receive such treatment from the church.
  3. God and God’s Church isn’t so weak that it cannot withstand discussions from different points of view about satellite (non-core) doctrines.

At the same time, this requires, as any freedom requires, certain responsibilities:

  1. A member has the responsibility to try to understand the doctrines of the church as they stand.  The member has the responsibility to realize the church has been around longer than they, and the likelihood that others haven’t come before them with similar questions is very small indeed.  It should only be after a great deal of prayer and study that rejection of any doctrine should take place.
  2. The church has the responsibility to understand that length of time in existence, amount of collective study of the leadership or conviction of those who passed down traditions does not guarantee correctness.  Grace and mercy are part of the Christian walk, and not extending that to any member sincerely struggling with questions is not acting in a godly manner.
  3. Getting tangled up in the weeds on the side of the road does no one any good.

Yes, I used that ‘G-word’ “grace”.  We must never become ashamed of what ‘The G-word’ “Gospel” teaches, and if we cannot treat one another with grace, dignity and mercy, then we are simply another ‘g-word’ “goats” that will stand on the left hand of Christ’s throne, ready to be cast into the Lake of Fire.

I am not kidding, and I am not exaggerating.

How does the case study in Thiel vs LCG look now?  Pretty bleak for both sides, no?

Do I really need to repeat yet again that we are talking about minor matters here?  What was disfellowship used for in the NT?  For that matter, when was it used in the OT?  Murder, adultery, fornication with one’s stepmother, rebellion against parents, breaking the Sabbath, etc.  Was Thiel guilty of any of these?  If he was truly disfellowshipped (which is far from clear), then I would say it potentially could have been an unjust putting out.

Then again, was Thiel guilty of division?  This does have potential, as well.  However, division over what?  A salvation issue?  Why the stubborn insistence of LCG to change a doctrine on such flimsy reasoning?

Is it “philadelphian”, full of brotherly love, to make mountains out of molehills?  Is that even Christian?  Or, is it the way of the world, filled with politics that is vicious, divisive and will exaggerate every minor point and flaw of “the other side”?  If a dispute is between two Christians, should there even be “another side”?

Jesus said offenses would come, and they certainly did soon after the Church was founded in 31 AD.  We see disputes about which of the elderly widows were being properly served.  We see a greater dispute about circumcision years later.  However, what we do see is people coming together to resolve those differences rather than ending up with 12 or 13 different church organizations.

Instead, what we see is some organizations (and their supporters parroting) claiming to be “Philadelphian”.  Well, you know, I’m good looking.  I’m so good looking that women swoon when I enter the room, and men instantly become jealous.  I’m so good looking that I must hide from the paparazzi.  You know I am because I told you so.  You don’t believe me?  Well, that just means you’re jealous.  Anyone can see that I am because I have said I am.

I will assume you are reasonable and can easily see through such an argument.  Just because a church leader stands up and says “We are Philadelphian” does not make it so any more than me standing up and saying “I am good looking” makes it so.

How would I really know whether or not I was good looking?  Perhaps someone else would tell me.  After all, my own view is going to be skewed, so it doesn’t count for much unless someone else can see and appreciate certain things.  Still, if only one person tells me, then it still may not mean very much.

How would I really know that I have brotherly love?  If I perceive myself as being giving and loving, that doesn’t mean a whole lot in reality.  Everyone views themselves as being virtuous, after all.  Even more than looks, brotherly love means nothing at all unless it is being perceived and received by another person.

2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.

~ Pr 27:2 (NKJV)

The sad truth is that no organization who claims to be “philadelphian” is.  Neither can they beBoasting is not brotherly love, and it shows arrogance, which fights against love.

10 Arrogance leads to nothing but strife,
but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.

~ Pr 13:10 (HCSB)

“Those who take advice” should be the members of any given group or congregation.  At the same time, church leadership has a responsibility to set the example and be able to publicly correct themselves if needed.  Those who are filled with arrogance have crowded love out, and instead they become self-serving, self-righteous and abominable in God’s eyes.

HWA defined love as “outgoing concern for others”, as I have pointed out in the past.  Somewhere in either the definition or follow-up explanation, he always used the world “selfless” to describe love.  Arrogance and pride are the opposites.  They serve self and self alone.  Arrogance only reaches out long enough to justify itself.  However, it has no true interest in others.  Others are simply the accessories required to serve self.

The interesting thing is that everyone can change, if they have the mind to do so.  The sad part is that the arrogant cannot acknowledge their problem.  The “Christian” landscape is scattered with the spiritual fatalities of those who have suffered at the hands of the arrogant, some being self-inflicted wounds.  Yet, they do not change because their arrogance prevents them from seeing themselves as they truly are.

Is this really God’s Spirit?

17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
I cast you to the ground,
I laid you before kings,
That they might gaze at you.

~ Eze 28:17 (NKJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

~ Gal 5:22-23

I submit to you two things about this passage in Galatians 5:

  1. The correct translation is “meekness”.  It is a type of humility put into action.  Moses was meek.  Jesus was meek.  Yet, Moses ground up the golden calf and made Israel drink it sprinkled in their water.  Jesus made whips and drove out the money changers in the Temple.
  2. You cannot have love without some form of meekness.  If self is never squelched, then love will die.

I’m sorry, but I have not seen any fruits of meekness out of LCG for a very long time.  Neither have I seen any such fruit from Bob Thiel in perhaps even longer.  While we are at it, there is no meekness at all in the leadership of the extremely misnamed Philadelphian Church of God, Weinland’s Church of God – Preparing for the Kingdom of God, David C Pack’s Restored Church of God or in any of the writings of James Malm.  Their bitterness is a poison that will spiritually kill all who drink of it.

One thing that these organizations and people have in common is that they will squelch individual thought rather than enable the individual to grow at the rate they need to grow.  Satan is the one who is into possession, brain washing, hypnotic and hidden influence, slander, accusations, attacks and punishing anyone who dares to have independent thought or action.

“God is a gentleman” goes the saying.  While that is arguably an oversimplification, the end result is that God will not force anyone to be in His family who does not come willingly.  Satan seeks to squelch individual thought and desires in order to supplant them with his own.  God seeks to change and then shape hearts and minds with the willing assent of the individual.  While a person may be forced into a situation where they must make a decision, God still gives the person the right to make that decision on their own.

I daresay that if many of the Protestant churches misunderstand and undervalue the Law, then many of the COG organizations misunderstand and undervalue love.

Love still is not an organization.  Love still is not a “mantle”.  Love is not beating one’s chest saying, “We are the True Philadelphians!”  Love is not pointing the finger and saying, “You are Laodicean”, either.  Love is not about getting people lined up to join your particular organization either!

49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

~ Lk 9:49-50

We are only told about a few instances in which Jesus said, “Follow me.”  He engaged the Pharisees on a regular basis, but where were any of those discussions about belonging to a particular group?  Where did they engage in arguments about “brotherly love”, let alone belonging to the correct “Philadelphia remnant”?

What is truly amazing is that the apostles did not really consider they were starting anything truly new.  It wasn’t their goal to create a “church” in the same way we think of a “church” in all honesty.  They believed their religion was the logical continuation of Judaism but with the recognition of Who the Messiah was, even to the extent they still met in the Temple and met with others in the synagogues.  In fact, it would not be evident for some time after Pentecost 31 AD that God was calling anyone but Jews.

We need to examine our COG-speak under a microscope.  What is a “Philadelphian remnant”, anyhow?  If you are an outsider to the COGs, would that even make sense to you?  Wouldn’t you be inclined to believe it to be a silly argument for argument’s sake?  Couldn’t it be that would be the case because it really is?  Would they look at someone beating their chest about how “Philadelphian” they are and want to join because “ye have love one to another”?

You know, if it sounds illogical, then it probably is.

I have searched 1 Corinthians 13, and I cannot find “Philadelphian mantle” or “Philadelphian remnant” anywhere in it.  Neither can I find “you must believe the same way about every little thing”.  Nowhere does Paul call love “thin-skinned”, and he certainly did not write to make mountains out of molehills.

What I do find is this:

4 Charity suffereth long [puts up with differences lovingly and for long periods of time], and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up [does not have to beat its chest and claim to love more, have more of The Truth™, be The True Church, etc.],

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly [making mountains out of molehills, arguing about which side of the tomb the napkin was laying], seeketh not her own [not looking for “converts”, paying members or even high attendance numbers to parade around, as though that’s what counts], is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil [no gossip and no slander!];

~ 1Co 13:4-5

Yet, when I look at the many corporate churches, I see people who are willing to silence people at the drop of a hat, kick people out of their synagogues churches over minor matters, puff themselves up with talk of how great they are, give their leaders vaunted titles (sometimes silly ones that are supposed to impress us), and they have no compunction for speaking evil of others or scaring their own crowd by saying the others will go into the Great Tribulation or even the Lake of Fire for some imagined wrong.

It’s just not that hard to see why a skeptical, postmodern society would not be attracted to any of this.

Paul wrote about how God is blasphemed through the misconduct of Christians.  How much more will this generation be judged?

And, it is actually even worse than that.

10 Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of the Adversary: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God.

Likewise, anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God.

~ 1Jn 3:10 (CJB)

From the context, it is easy to see that not loving one’s brother places them as being children of Satan.

That should be a sobering thing to contemplate.

Another sobering thing to contemplate is a statement Jesus made.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

~ Mt 24:12

The question is: Is Jesus talking about the world or the Church?

I think the answer is “Yes”.

12 thoughts on “The COGs and Their Thin Skins: Living Church of God (LCG), Continuing Church of God (CCOG), Bob Thiel and Some After-Thoughts

  • John G

    John D,

    I also agree that the answer is “Yes” …

    This present evil world is Satan’s world composed of his kingdoms and it reflects his thinking both in the world (Eph 2:2 “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” and more than we would like to admit Satan’s thinking is also evident within God’s Church (2 Thess 2:4 “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” PLUS James 4:5 “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”)

    So how much love, Godly love, and meekness (name a fruit of God’s Spirit) will any sealed Firstfruit have? It depends upon how much of the fullness of God’s fruits God wants to give out to fulfill His purpose in their lives. It is God’s Spirit that overwhelms/overcomes Satan’s spirit within human beings.

    This post has looked into what other’s think of Bob Thiel’s “fruits,” as well as by what Bob Thiel himSELF writes, and it appears that they are characterized more by Satan’s spirit having predominance in his life rather than God’s. Well, how does Rod Meredith stack up? Doug Winnail? Any of us?

    We all fall short to one degree or another. James 4:5 is true as is Romans 7:17, 20-21.

    This post talked about grace. Yes, we all will need grace, and mercy, and we’d all love to have the fullness of the fruits of God’s Spirit, but so far it appears that God has made that available to only one human being: Jesus Christ. Meanwhile we’re all learning to hate evil to one degree or another.

    Bob Thiel’s writing about brotherly love won’t “cut it.” People “see” through it…well, perhaps most people. Bob has been hypocritical to a big extent also regarding the Living group he was “part” of. Bob led us to believe he was supporting the greatest, only true, organization…God’s Church?…on earth, but in reality his mind was becoming double-minded, which I think reflects Satan’s actions/thinking in one’s life, but such is life…….life goes on.

    Enuf for now……some “2-cents” worth………although God is looking forward to more “broken spirits:” that spirit that dwells within human beings will one day be broken and it will one day benefit everyone of us.

    Time will tell……..


  • Paul

    It’s one thing for the average member to have differences of belief or opinion. It becomes much more problematic when when a high profile member with a significant internet audience does, and makes it known.

    It can’t help but create a problem.

  • Big Red
    Big Red

    Well, I agree with your main point about brotherly love and the allowance for small differences of opinion. I think that Thiel’s case involved more than that, however.

    1. He had a habit of saying, “we in the LCG believe,” and that would turn out not to be the case, in many cases. I’ll call it a wash, because maybe he was mistaken. But there was a persistent pattern to it.

    2. He wants an explanation from LCG headquarters before he plays a video for the church group he hosts. Really? Nice of him to host the group, and everything, but they’re not “his” flock. Didn’t he know that?

    3. He promotes a mix of biblical and occult prophecy. That is a direct violation of God’s law, and a fairly egregious one at that. It’s not a small matter.

    4. By his own words, he had been lobbying for the LCG to recognize him as a prophet for some time. His own accounts of those events betray a spirit of vanity and desire.

    In short, I suspect that Thiel and the LCG had been having trouble for some time; and that it was the occult stuff and the prophet thing which brought the situation to a head. If you or I were a member of the ABC COG, and started telling everybody how we were prophets, promoting things in violation of God’s law, then it might raise a few antennas.

    • John D

      @Big Red: You may well be right about the whole situation, and only having one side’s opinion masks a lot of other things.

      In regards to #1, I guess I rarely backtracked on his assertions about what LCG believed. Perhaps he started believing his own press about being the “official unofficial spokesman”? I would like a couple of examples, though, as I don’t like it when things are just thrown out there.

      #3 is odd, I’ll admit. “Promote” may or may not be the right word, but he seems obsessed with such things. It’s one thing to say, for example, that Tammuz was miraculously born by a sunbeam, according to mythology, as a counterfeit of the Gospel message. It’s downright disturbing to never really move on from that point. At any rate, it teeters on idolatry, IMO. In his mind, he may not be putting Mayan and Catholic prophesies first, but what image is he giving his readers? At any rate, he’s not the first, and the ending is usually stranger than the beginning.

      One thing to remember, though, is that I’ve seen no official word that he was disfellowshipped. FWIW.

      And, no case study is going to be perfect. I’ll be the first to admit that. The majority of the time, at least in the reasonable groups, it is the individual getting all steamed up and stomping out the door over something. However, there have still been past exceptions.

  • Big Red
    Big Red

    Well, I’m not sure that I’m right about the whole situation between Thiel and the LCG. I’m going by the publicly available information and looking at the timeline. Obviously, they’ve been having problems for some time. It looks like came to a head over the prophet thing.

    I want to address my first point. You’re right in saying, “I don’t like it when things are just thrown out there.” Yeah, no kidding. Don’t blame you for wanting examples.

    Providing a list of examples is difficult for me, however, because I never took notes. I would contact the LCG sometimes, and ask “do you teach XYZ?” And the answer would be no. The issue over Habbakuk is one thing that comes to mind.

    And that holds true for other COG groups. I would ask them about a belief or teaching, and sometimes discover that Thiel misrepresented their position. His assertion on Pack’s view regarding the King of South is one immediate example that I can think of.

    In one post, Thiel heavily implied that Ron Billingsley (COG-ff) basically admitted to being a fraud during a phone conversation. Well, Mr Billingsley had a very different take on the conversation. And frankly, Thiel didn’t come off looking good over that one.

    Let me give you a specific example from history. Thiel claimed that HWA “went back and forth” over the issue of accreditation for Ambassador College. He implied that HWA was a confused old man who couldn’t make up his mind.

    Talk about rewriting history. HWA initially approved the idea of accreditation. After he learned that curriculum requirements mandated instruction in contradiction to Church teaching, HWA refused it. That’s a far different cry from the ‘he was a confused old man’ argument.

    Here’s the bottom line: Too many times I discovered that Bob Thiel misrepresented other COG groups or events. I don’t accuse him of being deliberate about it. Often, I think it’s a case of him trying to cover too much ground, making quick surmises on a thread, and then presenting his opinions as facts.

    What I do know? He isn’t as reliable as he presents himself. He’s not wrong about everything, of course, but trying to spot the falsehoods is like trying to walk through a mine field. You never know. Consequently, I pay little attention to his blog, anymore.

    My proof? Just do the backtracking and check out his claims. Don’t take what he says at face value. If you see something that concerns you about another COG group, for example, then just ask them. That’s what I did.

    Long story short, I suspect that there will be more information coming out about his break with the LCG. Causes and reasons.

  • John D

    I received the following email from someone, and I wanted to share it with you. The name has been removed.

    Hi John,

    I appreciate very much the article you wrote on the thin skins of the COG organizations – which, it seems to me, has filtered down to their adherents (those who identify solely with a corporate organization, instead of the ekklesia – and, IMVHO, this is the root of the lack of godly love and brotherly love that we see).

    Dogma should be reserved as what God says, through His word, is absolute. I think God knew that humans, under Satan’s influence – and we battle that more pervasively because we are striving, with God’s help, to think, act, speak, be like God, following in every footstep of Christ’s example and Satan, still convinced that he will triumph over God, is determined to try to prove God wrong about everything and that means attacking us without cessation – would take opinions, ideas, speculation and present those as dogma (“God says”).

    That is why it is critical that we stay close to God, that we pray for wisdom, understanding, discernment, and we know God’s word inside and out by studying it daily. That close and “without ceasing”
    communication between God and us is the only way that we will ourselves know what God says is absolute and non-negotiable and what areas require us to apply God’s spirit and the understanding He grants each of us – and it’s not all the same, because God is not a cookie-cutter God – to grow up into His spiritual image.

    If we all understand the same things the same way, then why would there need to be more than one of us? It doesn’t make sense. And how are we going to be able to relate personally the wide variety of people in the millennium and the GWTJ if we don’t, to some degree, have individualized paths to the kingdom?

    All we have to do is look at creation. God didn’t make every tree an oak tree. He didn’t make every bird a robin. He didn’t make every dog a collie. He didn’t make every cat a Siamese cat. All though each of these shares characteristics with its species, the specific types look different, act differently, and have different functions. It is foolish, IMHO, to believe God would do anything different with the creation that He made with the purpose and intent that they become eternal members of His family.

    Take good care!

  • Steven

    “If you are an outsider to the COGs”

    I am if you will an outsider. Perhaps more informed that the norm but still an outsider. I first came into contact with WWCG in the 80’s listened to Mr. Armstrong and believed he was on the right track…..those of you with the COG’s please forgive the pun. I was 16 at the time living in a rural community and though I did tithe my allowance and became a “co-worker” I was never a member.
    In the 90’s I had moved to the big city and kind of lost track… caught up in the world. One day while channel surfing I heard that the pastor general of WWCG was going to be on 100 Huntley Street …..I was like what? I watched it and learned that WWCG had gone protestant I was floored but bought Transformed by Truth, the index at the back of splinter groups was extremely helpful. It was shortly after this that I got my first computer and internet.
    So I began looking up splinter groups and also began reading COGwriter. So what do I as a somewhat informed outsider think? I am still in agreement with the central doctrines of the various COG’s but I really have to wonder…..if they all belonged to the same WWCG and all held at one time exactly the same doctrines why then the need to form so many splinter groups? Why not just leave WWCG and join an existing group? Could it be that there was more to it than doctrines… maybe a very human desire to be the one in charge? Again I’m an outsider and that’s what I see from the outside.
    In recent days UCG splits and COGWA is born…..because of a doctrinal difference? Again from the outside that’s not what I see. I acknowledge that I may be wrong…..when viewed from your position.
    Which group do you join ….and why? What for example is the real difference between UCG and COGWA?
    So what do outsiders really see…… a cult, but you know that already. But did you know that from the outside you really do look like a cult? I don’t simply mean the rejection of the trinity, any group that rejects the trinity is going to be labeled a cult. Now keep in mind that I accept the basic doctrines of the COG’s so I also reject the trinity. But aside from that take a look at the stories of former members of WWCG, wrecked marriages, ruined childhoods complaints about abusive leaders, sex scandals, money scandals…….are these all really just disgruntled ex members…..really? Throw in Mr Flurry who writes himself into the bible, oh and of course there is Mr Weinland one of the two witnesses ya ok, and now there is Mr Theil….a prophet…..maybe one of the two witnesses! It is little wonder the COG’s are seen as cults. Not because you are but because you keep doing things that look cult like. I don’t mean you individually but rather collectively.
    That’s what we see from the outside……is the view from in there really all that different?

    • John D

      Frankly, Steven, a lot of what you said are the same things I’ve been harping on for some time now. Some of the groups are more dysfunctional than others, but at the end of the day they all have a lot of problems. I have the advantage of being introduced to WCG early in life, then going my own way for a while and returning later in life. I really sometimes think it does take an outsider’s view.

      It’s always been that way, granted. The first century church wasn’t any less dysfunctional, and we see that in the writings of Paul, Jude and John. Even James talks about actual warfare, so you have to wonder if he’s talking literally or not.

      Now, we can blame some of this on Satan. I cannot deny that. What is shameful, however, is the extent to which we allow his influence in our midst. You know, when we are told to avoid evil, stay away from the unclean thing, etc., it is also talking about Satan’s influence in our own lives as well. He preys on weaknesses that are already there, though. If we could all learn to check our egos and our “certainty” about disputable things, then perhaps there would be a lot fewer groups.

  • Steven

    Hey John

    I reread my post and kind of thought that it might have been a bit harsh for a first post. I’m glad you didn’t take offense.
    In some ways I think the breakup of WorldWide was one of the best things that could have happened.
    If you go on the internet today and type in COG you will get the following result “About 48,100,000 results (0.30 seconds) “ Had WorldWide not gone into apostasy I don’t think this would be true. There is so much material available, tonight for example is FI online which I will attend, while next week will be a double feature, UCG’s bible study followed by FI online. On Friday night there is Ron Darts Weekend bible study. None of this would be true (well probably Ron Darts Bible study)if WorldWide were still functioning. Everything would be done at one site with only one vision and there would not be 48 million Google hits. And to be frank from everything I have seen they were too controlling to have allowed anyone else the freedom to have a blog or website.
    The downside of that is the current situation where Mr.Thiel seems to have gone rogue. All in all I would prefer the freedom that we currently enjoy.
    I wish we could all get along and agree to disagree privately rather than airing our dirty laundry for the whole world to see.


  • Big Red
    Big Red

    John D hit the nail on the head in the second paragraph of his reply to Steven. When we read the NT, we discover that the early church had a lot of problems with false ministers as well. The book of Jude is shouting at the top of its lungs, with triple exclamation points.

    If the early church went through these kind of trials, should true Christians of today expect anything less? No. Satan is going to hammer on the Church like nobody else.

    Frankly, most of the turmoil in the the COG happened because ministers sought positions or influence out of vanity. Plus, you had lay members who joined the church for the wrong reasons. It’s the same type of thing that happened in the NT church. “Outsiders” look on this and label the COG a cult. Yet, they don’t look at the simple, common folk who follow God’s word as best they can.

    In his second comment, Steven suggested that he might become a member, or he might be thinking about it? Something like that? I apologize if this sounds a little presumptuous, but I like to offer some advice to anyone thinking about joining the church. I’m just speaking as one regular guy to another:

    Better be sure of what you’re doing. You’re life is going to get several times harder. Satan is going to come after you with a vengeance. You’re going to get hit with a blizzard of problems. Satan will find any little crack in your life, and he’ll drive a Mack truck through it. If there’s any doubt in the back of your mind…. guess what.

    Am I trying to discourage any prospective members out there? Yes. But I’m only trying to do it the sense of being straightforward about it. Jesus Himself warned His followers to “count the cost.” He wasn’t joking.

    • Steven

      Hi Big Red

      Yes I have been considering joining for a while now.

      There is only one group near where I live….about a 2 and a half hour drive. If that’s considered near. The church in question would not necessarily be my first choice, but maybe I am putting to much emphasis on the church and not the members.

      I understand the cost in joining any group but I have to say that there is a big price to pay for not being in any group. I go to the web cast services and bible studies but I find the complete isolation difficult. Not knowing anyone with similar beliefs and being completely out of step with everyone I know is hard. This season in particular is difficult to go through alone.

      There is also the issue of baptism, since I have not been. This has been playing on my mind a lot lately.


  • Big Red
    Big Red

    You made a really good point in your third paragraph. Having the support and fellowship of those with similar beliefs is important. After all, nobody understands a soldier better than another soldier.

    The issue of baptism? I would only suggest that prospective members give it some time. Be sure that’s what they really want to do. You know. It sounds like you have a really good head on your shoulders. You’re not walking into something with closed eyes. (I’m just speaking as an older guy whose been around the block a couple of times). My best to you!

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