United Church of God

The ‘Daily Mail’ of Tuesday 11th January 2005 carried a large advert headed ‘When disaster strikes – Where is God?

Readers were invited to make contact either by text, email or snail-mail with a group called ‘The Good News’ based in the UK in Watford. So who are this group known as ‘The Good News’. Well the group based in Watford are the British Isles base for a worldwide organisation known as the United Church of God. So who are they and what are their roots. Herewith are some extracts from a brief history of Herbert W Armstrong’s cult that was known as ‘The Worldwide Church of God’ that are found on the website –

http://www.wcg.org/lit/AboutUs/history.htm

‘In the early 1930s, Herbert Armstrong began a radio ministry, a magazine and a church that eventually became “The World Tomorrow,” The Plain Truth, and the Worldwide Church of God. He had many unusual doctrines. These he taught so enthusiastically that eventually more than 100,000 people attended weekly services. After he died in 1986, church leaders began to realize that many of his doctrines were not biblical. These doctrines were rejected…Many people considered Herbert Armstrong to be the leader of a heretical cult. Today, the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God reject Armstrong’s doctrinal errors…Armstrong accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, as divine. But he did not have the theological training to know how to reconcile the biblical data that Jesus is God and the Father is God and yet there is only one God. He mistakenly taught that God is a family, and that the Father and the Son are two beings in that family, and that when humans are resurrected, they will be born again as members of the God Family.

Armstrong did not see biblical proof that the Holy Spirit was a distinct person, so he taught that the Holy Spirit was an impersonal force…In addition to the weekly Sabbath, the WCG observed seven annual Sabbaths, based on Leviticus 23. WCG members also avoided pork, shrimp and certain other meats (Lev. 11). They gave one tithe to support the ministry, used another to keep the annual Sabbaths, and in some years gave a third tithe to the church for its poor members…WCG members were not allowed to vote, serve in the military, marry after divorce, go to doctors, use cosmetics, or observe Christmas, Easter and birthdays. All this emphasis on rules, however, meant that grace was rarely mentioned. Many members became legalistic in their own relationship with God, and judgmental of other Christians.

Armstrong viewed himself as God’s apostle, leading the one true church. Armstrong had supreme doctrinal authority…Armstrong also had many unusual ideas about prophecy, and these may have been the most attractive doctrines of all. He taught that the United States and Britain are modern descendants of the northern ten tribes of Israel, and that therefore many biblical prophecies apply to the Anglo-Saxon peoples. He saw himself as an end-time fulfilment of prophecy, with a message of warning for the “Israelite” peoples. The Great Tribulation would soon start, he warned in the 1930s, in the 1940s, in the 1950s, in the 1960s, in the 1970s, and in the 1980s…In 1986, shortly before he died, Herbert Armstrong appointed Joseph Tkach (pronounced Ta-cotch) to be his successor…In 1991, Tkach revised the church’s explanation of what it means to be born again, noting also that humans will never become Gods. He also announced a study about the modern identity of the lost ten tribes, and accepted the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Membership, attendance, and income began to decrease slowly…But perhaps the most traumatic change came in December 1994: Tkach announced that Christians do not have to keep old covenant laws such as the weekly and annual Sabbaths, two and three tithes, and avoid pork, shrimp and other meats…Many members did not accept these changes. After decades of understanding their identity as Christians in terms of Sabbath-keeping, and after making many sacrifices in order to keep the Sabbath, they could not easily accept the idea that it really didn’t matter.

In early 1995, hundreds of ministers and 12,000 members left to form the United Church of God

So the group behind the placing of this advert are in fact those who today wish to perpetuate the cultic teachings of the false ‘prophet’ Herbert W Armstrong. The ‘Fundamental Beliefs’ of this group can be found on http://www.ucg.org/about/fundamentalbeliefs.htm

Some errors are obvious such as –

‘We believe in one God, the Father, eternally existing, who is a Spirit, a personal Being of supreme intelligence, knowledge, love, justice, power and authority’. –

In this statement there is a clear denial of The Trinity.

‘We believe that the Father raised Jesus Christ from the dead after His body lay three days and three nights in the grave, thus making immortality possible for mortal man’.

This false teaching that the resurrection of Christ made ‘immortality possible for mortal man’ paves the way for the false teaching of ‘conditional immortality’ and ‘annihilation of the wicked’.

‘We believe in the commanded observance of the seven annual Holy Days given to ancient Israel by God and kept by Jesus Christ, the apostles and the New Testament Church….We believe that those meats that are designated “unclean” by God in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are not to be eaten’…We believe God’s purpose for mankind is to prepare those whom He calls, and who elect through a life of overcoming sin, developing righteous character, and growing in grace and knowledge, to possess the Kingdom’

These requirements in relation to ‘Holy Days’ and ‘unclean’ meats are not scriptural in the light of passages such as Romans 14:1-6 and Colossians 2:16; 20-23

‘We believe that at the return of Jesus Christ a resurrection to spirit life will take place for all who have been God’s faithful servants. We believe that after Jesus Christ has ruled on this earth for 1,000 years, there will be a resurrection to physical life of the vast majority of all people who have ever lived. We believe that after these people have had an opportunity to live a physical life, if they become converted, they too will receive eternal life. We also believe that those who reject God’s offer of salvation will reap eternal death’

This statement holds out the false hope of ‘post mortem salvation’ and affirms unscriptural ‘annihilation’.

The Herbert W Armstrong ‘connection’ is clear to see when reading the personal profiles of the ‘Council of Elders’ as this example will demonstrate –

Aaron Dean was born on September 20, 1952, which he later learned was the feast of Trumpets. His mother was listening to Mr. Herbert W Armstrong but was not yet a member. Aaron’s father died in a construction accident, and at that point it was suggested that his mother join the “widows” in Big Sandy, so his family moved. All his schooling was Church related, beginning with the church’s Imperial Schools in 1958. In 1960 a friend convinced his mother to move to Pasadena, California, where Aaron finished Imperial and then attended Ambassador College. He graduated from Ambassador in 1974. 

Mr. Armstrong shocked him with a phone call on graduation day and asked that he become part of his traveling group and not go on to the pre-arranged ministerial trainee assignment. “They will understand” he said. He left the next Monday morning on a “three week” trip! “Six weeks later” Mr. Dean left the traveling group in Paris to fly to New Jersey to marry his fiancée, Michelle Gemon. Aaron says: “Michelle has been my greatest asset, since she came to College knowing almost nothing about the Church or the Bible, and her Lutheran background taught her nothing of the Sabbath or Holy Days. She has been able to give me a perspective that I wouldn’t have had as a ‘Church kid.’ “In Church affiliation, I witnessed much in the 70s, both good and bad. I do understand the complaints made by many of those years, although I know most do not understand the why’s and often apportion blame to the wrong people. I watched God do a lot in those years, but also witnessed some of the manipulation and misinformation, which in spite of the success and growth, cost much in human and physical resources.”

“After the legal battles with the State of California in 1979, and the subsequent ‘putting the church back on track’ by Mr. Armstrong, it was requested that I become his personal assistant. I refused three times, but he was decided that declining was not an option. I have learned from Scripture and personal observation, that if God makes you do something you will not fail, but if He doesn’t you will pay a dear price. I think this is part of the ‘fear of God’ which is the ‘beginning of wisdom.'” Mr Dean wore many “hats” up until Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986. Earlier travel involved being away from home around 300 days a year, and usually involved a dozen countries per year. The 80s schedule was 100 days per year and nearly a dozen countries per trip with a 75 percent reduction in cost. Indeed it was God who helped a 92-year-old man in his last year visit nine countries in 24 days. Along with setting up campaigns and meetings, Mr. Armstrong allowed Aaron to negotiate the student projects in foreign countries, which were so effective in demonstrating a way of life where other means were nearly impossible. Indeed, he was kept busy seven days a week, usually 20 hours a day. Being home from traveling in the later years of his life allowed Mr. Armstrong more involvement in day to day direction of the church.

Because of his age and physical weakness He used Mr. Dean as his eyes and ears in personal as well as administrative service. Of necessity, Aaron dealt with all aspects of the organization, whether church, college, or foundation, and in all countries. He served on the Council of Elders, and most of the boards of the corporation. Mr. Armstrong only allowed him one outside duty, that was a request of him by King Leopold III of Belgium that he serve on the board of his Belgium foundation. Mr Dean adds: “I was saddened at the death of my mentor in 1986. Michelle and I wanted a family, and God granted us a son, Aaron Jr., and daughter, Crystal Michelle. They truly filled a void for us. “I completed an MBA and began teaching business administration at Ambassador University until its close in 1997. I truly enjoyed teaching our young people and was able to minister to many, who were losing their direction.” Aaron now works near his home in Gladewater, Texas, for a small agricultural company that deals in soil fertility. In addition to helping the company market products in the United States, he is making contacts and opening up work in foreign markets. This has allowed him to visit scattered members in other parts of the world.

Mr. Dean writes that, “In times of few resources, my being a ‘tent maker’ in an unusual position hopefully will prove helpful in my service to God. Mr. Armstrong’s final request was that we ‘prepare the bride of Christ.’ I believe this is done on a personal and not a corporate basis. We can’t afford personal complacency with the job Christ is about to give to us at His return. We must be prepared to teach. “I hope to add to our world a perspective of the spiritual organism and to the personal growth of God’s children, and most of all to be willing to follow where Jesus Christ, the true head of the church leads according to God’s will and not our own, which so often creates confusion and division.” Mr. Dean concludes: “I allowed my name to be placed on the Council ballot, and accepted my appointment to the Council, with much prayer and some concern. Council service is very demanding, and I must consistently pray my job allows me the blocks of time off to be helpful and effective. More importantly, many years have taught me that you are only effective if God places you in a position when He wants something done, even when your intentions are noble.

I am not for one moment calling into question the zeal and sincerity of the likes of Aaron Dean and the other elders whose profiles are listed on http://www.ucg.org/about/council/index.htm but the reality is that they are seeking to perpetuate the unscriptural errors of the false prophet Herbert W Armstrong and these are teachings that have been and are leading precious souls to a lost eternity in hell. The cry must go up – “Take Heed”!

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 13 January 2005

 

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