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|God Speaks to the WCG|
The WCG Heritage
At the tender age of 16, God caused me to develop an intense interest in the literature produced by the Worldwide Church of God. The year was 1966. The WCG first gained my attention when they offered their magazine, the Plain Truth, at the end of one of their daily radio broadcasts from an off-shore ship station in Britain. Radio London was one of several 'pirate' stations broadcasting from the coastal waters of the British Isles. These stations were considered an unwelcome threat, and were outlawed by Act of Parliament a year or so later.
Not only did the British government resent this invasion of 'American religion', but the WCG's broadcasts of the World Tomorrow were regarded by many mainstream churches as a threat to orthodox Christian belief and practice. The WCG was accused of being a cultic influence. And it was! But not for the reasons imagined. However, God used that avenue, initially, to awaken in me an interest in Him and in His Word.
Why the WCG Is a Cult
The founder of the WCG (formerly, Radio Church of God), Herbert W Armstrong (HWA), was a cult leader, although those in his church - of which I was one for many years - could not see that. We held him in high esteem, and most WCG members hung on his every word. To us, that was not merely justifiable, it was correct. After all, he was the instrument God had used to bring us the truths we were now perceiving from God's Word, so wasn't it right that we should venerate him?
That was the mentality in the church. Outsiders, however, did not have firsthand experience of WCG belief and practice. All they could see were the doctrines the WCG promoted. Since many of these were markedly different from what they conceived the Bible to be teaching, the WCG was labelled a cult. For example, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, in their book The Deceivers, take this stand in their analysis of the WCG. But it is not correct.
The term 'cult' is a convenient negative epithet to throw at any group you don't understand or don't agree with. However, in its most accurate Christian usage it differentiates those who follow a man from those who follow Christ. There are many Christian groups with wide variations in doctrine, but the doctrinal differences should not necessarily classify them as cultic. (More on this subject is to be found in chapters 9 &10.) What is more significant is whom they are following.
Until his death in 1986, HWA held a tight grip on the WCG, dictating what spiritual truth members should believe. Whenever a man holds this much control over the minds of others, while he may have some truth (not all available truth, mind you), he will inevitably foist error onto his followers, too. He has taken the place of Christ, the Head of His Church, and put himself in Christ's place. That alone is sufficient deviation from the most important Truth to enable doctrinal truth to be significantly compromised in other ways. WCG dogma often stemmed from this wrong psychological basis.
When Joseph Tkach (senior) took over at the helm of the WCG in 1986, it was not long before criticisms of the former regime made Tkach believe that he had to radically reform the church, and rid it of its cultic stigma.
But men without the Spirit of God cannot discern properly between true and false, or truth and error. Joe Tkach fell into the same trap as Josh McDowell and Don Stewart. He thought that doctrine was the biggest problem to be tackled; that there was not so much wrong with the main structure of the church. After all, nearly all other churches had a similar structure, with leadership and laity, and that system seemed to have worked well for decades, if not centuries.
In the ensuing years, Tkach tackled what he thought was unfavourable about the WCG, and which, once changed, would curry the favour of the greater part of the evangelical fraternity outside the WCG. But, unseen by church members, his motives were to please men, not God. This reliance upon human reason was the biggest factor accelerating the church's downfall.
The Root of WCG Demise
The people of God come together to worship and adore God, to be taught truth from His Word, and to listen to what He has to say. Jesus made all that possible through His life, death and resurrection. And He is the ever-present Mediator walking amidst the lampstands of His Church via His Spirit.
In the WCG, however, members come together out of habit (more often than not) to listen to their church leaders, to pay them respect and even homage, and to be taught their (WCG leaders') brand of 'the truth'. Worship has been reduced from spiritual (in the spirit) to physical (in the flesh), from what should be divine to what is merely human.
Humanism has replaced true Christianity. WCG members end up merely seeing and following their human church leaders, not Christ. Remember this:
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey...? (Rom 6:16).
The transition is subtle. It goes unnoticed, but it has a devastating effect on the spiritual viability of the group.
If the Spirit of Christ is occluded by church leadership, that group dies like Sardis. This is what has happened to the WCG.
When people implicitly trust and obey their church leaders, deception is able to take deeper root than if they think for themselves. If 'loyal' members are presented with 'new' theology, they are less capable of sifting truth from error, because their minds have been demonically cloned through their leadership's manipulation and control. The processes of spiritual demise and ruin have set in. Satan holds sway.
This is the ruinous nature of cultic theology. The belief system is not important here. There are myriads of pseudo-Christian cults with many different beliefs, who all claim to believe what the Bible says. Clearly, such confusion is not truth, but error mixed with some truth, or truth mixed with a lot of error! Satan is not stupid. He allows you to hold some truth - even much truth - so long as there is sufficient error along with it to make it relatively worthless, and to get you worshipping and following someone or something other than the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.
This is the WCG heritage, and the root of its present situation.
Jesus Speaks to the WCG Today
God has much to say to this church, and He has said it already. Just as Jesus spoke to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1-3) through His servant John, who recorded His words, so He has also spoken in this day to the WCG via His servants. I am one of those, for which claim I make no apology. The verification of my ministry for Him is to be found in the pages which follow - to those who have the humility to read what is written. I am a prophet - merely one mouthpiece among many whom He uses at this time.
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10).
And the Spirit of prophecy has given what follows in the succeeding pages.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near (Rev 1:3).
Just as Revelation's words contain Jesus' blessing to the obedient and His condemnation of the disobedient, so does what follows. God help you to heed.
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