Worldwide News – 12th November 1979, Page 3
By Herbert W. Armstrong
I WRITE THIS IN the form of an OPEN LETTER to a number of ex-ministers and dissident members who have gone out of God’s Church in a spirit of accusation, disagreement, emotional resentment and bitterness.
I wish it might help them. I doubt if it will. But I do have high hopes that it may help the MANY still faithful, loyal and loving brethren in Christ to avoid this pitfall of Satan that has deceived some who have thought they were above being deceived by Satan.
Don’t think you can outsmart Satan! Don’t think you are so strong Satan could never out-maneuver, trick or deceive you! NONE of us can match wits with Satan. Our reliance must be on the one who IS stronger and more powerful than Satan – JESUS CHRIST!
What IS God’s Church?
First, fasten firmly in mind just what IS God’s Church. It is NOT a human or secular ORGANIZATION – it is a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM! Yet in I Corinthians 12 it is revealed as a well ORGANIZED spiritual organism, with CHRIST as living, active HEAD – actually and literally directing and guiding it!
“There are differences, of administrations, but the same Lord” (verse 5). Administrations require administrators – but the Lord Jesus Christ over them, guiding, leading, controlling them.
CHRIST IS IN THE PICTURE! Yet the embittered who have gone out, accusing, have not realized they actually were accusing the living, active JESUS CHRIST! They seldom spoke of Him in the connection of their disagreement! They left Him out of the picture! They spoke of the Church, the Work, the things about which they were disgruntled or in disagreement, as if this were merely a worldly, human organization, which a man named Herbert W. Armstrong had somehow maneuvered to make himself the HEAD (which he certainly NEVER did) and with whom they DISAGREED!
One, my own son, has said, “I never did agree with my father.” He spoke as if it were Christ’s human apostle who was wrong. He did not seem to see CHRIST as LIVING, ACTIVE HEAD, merely using His chosen apostle as His instrument – almost comparable to a puppet – with CHRIST as the living, responsible, active HEAD! If in viewing a puppet show you disagree with something the puppet is caused to do, you are actually disagreeing with the one ABOVE, who is manipulating and guiding what the puppet on the strings is doing.
But the dissidents have made their accusations and disagreements against the “puppet” – for they would fear to accuse Jesus Christ directly! Yet, indirectly, that is precisely what they have done, whether realized or not!
Who is head of the Church?
A parallel case is found in I Samuel 8, when GOD – the YHWH who later became Jesus Christ – was ruling Israel through His instrument Samuel. The people became dissatisfied, disgruntled. They decided to overthrow Samuel. They, like our dissidents today, could not see GOD in the picture. They saw only the human Samuel.
They wanted to do away with Samuel and have a king like the other worldly nations. But what did GOD (in the Person who is JESUS CHRIST today) say?
“And the Lord [YHWH] said unto Samuel… they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me [the future CHRIST], that I should not reign over them” (I Samuel 8:7).
They did not realize it was the future CHRIST who had brought them out of hard slavery and bondage in Egypt, set them up as HIS NATION, brought them into the promised land and was their REAL ruler!
Nor do the rebellious dissidents (and perhaps even some loyal members) realize today that it is CHRIST who raised up HIS ONE AND ONLY CHURCH OF OUR TIME (even though He used me as His servant – his “puppet” so to speak).
The LIVING Jesus Christ put HIS GOVERNMENT into God’s Church. He prepared me for years before He called me to be His servant – His chosen apostle – His puppet as it were.
But there is one DIFFERENCE in the puppet analogy: Christ chooses His prophets and apostles as human men with MINDS – whereas a puppet, of course, has no mind. A servant GOD uses, therefore, being human, can make a mistake. But if he does, it is CHRIST’S responsibility to correct him – not the Church members or ministers Christ has placed under him.
To illustrate, take King David – a man after God’s own heart. God USED David. But David made some mistakes. One terrible mistake – a terrible sin – was when David had Uriah killed – a MURDER – so he could cover up his sin of adultery and have Bathsheba for his wife.
But IT WAS NOT THE PLACE OF THE PEOPLE UNDER DAVID TO CORRECT HIM! That was GOD’S responsibility. AND GOD DID NOT NEGLECT IT! He sent His prophet Nathan to make David realize his sin. David REPENTED – REALLY repented. Read his prayer of repentance in the 51st Psalm!
It is GOD’S responsibility to correct His chosen apostle – not YOURS – not the minister under him, though I would listen gratefully with open mind if one prayerfully came to me in sincerity, about any disagreement. But CORRECTION and any ACCUSATION against God’s apostle is NOT the responsibility of the ministers or the members – that is CHRIST’S responsibility – AND I KNOW, IF SOME DON’T, THAT HE IS NOT “ASLEEP ON THE JOB.”
DO NOT take it upon yourself to take CHRIST’S responsibility away from Him! When you do, IT IS CHRIST, you accuse, not His servant who is merely His instrument, trying with all his might to faithfully obey Him!
The POINT of this article is: Some have, and others may have, not realizing it, ACCUSED CHRIST, supposing they are only venting their emotional accusation or disagreement or resentment on A FELLOW HUMAN BEING.
When the pope of Rome visited the United States in early October, he answered some Roman Catholic dissidents, who disagreed with traditional Catholic doctrines and teachings, by calling them “a-la-carte Catholics” – those who chose which teachings and doctrines they agreed with – and said they were not really Catholics!
There is one difference in the analogy – in Roman Catholicism, the pope is the living HEAD of the church, while in the Church of God, CHRIST is the living Head. In the Catholic Church, they claim that the CHURCH, guided by the pope, is the AUTHORITY – while in GOD’S Church, the BIBLE is the authority!
We sent Gene Hogberg during the pope’s U.S. visit, traveling to the various cities where the pope appeared. In his very fine article in the December Plain Truth, a masterpiece of journalism reporting his coverage of the papal visit, he notes that the pope said nothing or almost nothing about the living Christ. The pope’s official title is ” Vicar of Christ,” which means “IN PLACE OF CHRIST.”
How Christ put me in His Church
Dissidents are always misrepresenting experiences of the early days – events they know nothing about – of how Christ brought me into God’s Church.
When the TRUTH is known, what a contrast from the way dissidents have acted in our time.
An article in The Worldwide News has covered much of how God brought me into His Church. Let me here cover a few other significant experiences of those days.
God had brought me through a business experience preparing me for certain activities He would require of me after He called and conquered and converted me. During that intensive six months’ preliminary almost night and day study, God revealed to me certain very basic, fundamental TRUTHS needful for the commission to which He was calling me. One, most basic, was the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, based on the LAW OF GOD, and the fact that the real TEST COMMANDMENT of God’s law is the Sabbath. Another was the truth of U.S. and British true identity as the birthright tribes of the “lost” 10 tribes, the house of Israel. Another was the annual Holy Days.
I was in close touch with Seventh-day Adventist literature (but not with the church) and with the Church of God, Seventh Day, and with their members in Oregon.
One of the first things I learned was that both Catholicism and Protestantism teach the precise OPPOSITE of the plain teaching of the Bible. This brought great perplexity and consternation. I had, since age 18, lost all active interest in church and religion – yet I supposed at least the Protestant churches were true churches of God. Now I asked, in bewildered hopelessness, “WHERE, then, is the one TRUE Church Christ founded?” I read in Matthew 16:18 that the true Church would not die out.
I knew it had to believe in the LAW of God, and that the test commandment was the Sabbath. That narrowed the possible TRUE Church down to three – the Seventh-day Adventists, the Seventh-day Baptists and the Church of God, Seventh Day. Then I learned that the TRUE Church always would be kept in the NAME of the FATHER, GOD! That left only the one.
But I could not readily accept them as God’s one true Church. They seemed too small – less than 2,000 members, nearly all in the United States, if not all. They were weak and impotent spiritually. They did not know or preach the TRUE GOSPEL, but a “third angel’s message.” They had no understanding of the KINGDOM OF GOD or what would take place in the Millennium – they knew only there would be a thousand-year reign with Christ ON EARTH, but no details about it.
Yet I knew of no other that could be the true Church. With this lack of real PROOF, my wife and I decided not to join them until more sure – but to begin meeting with them, attending their services, fellowshipping with them. They were a humble, plain, yet sincere people. They had one major doctrine ALL accepted – the weekly Sabbath.
Otherwise, they were divided in doctrines – a sort of a-la-carte religion. Elder Stith believed there was no devil. Elder Dugger and many ministers believed there was. Some believed Christ would come before the Millennium, others were postmillennialists.
Proper channel for questions
Now what did I do? What example did I set, so radically DIFFERENT from some who have gone out from us today?
Remember I was not even a member. I was not even a minister, from my conversion – early 1927, until 1931 – and then ordained by the Oregon Conference, separately incorporated. I did begin preaching a bit about 1930. I continued intensive Bible study.
I realized I did not agree with them on certain points, especially some God had been revealing to me. They knew nothing of our identity as the birthright tribes of Israel. I DID NOT PREACH OR TEACH THIS or any other doctrine contrary to their general teachings! Instead, I did what a very few disagreeing ministers today should have done – I refrained from preaching it to their members, but I did take it privately to their headquarters! In this case, I wrote a manuscript that later, with revisions, became our booklet U.S. in Prophecy. I sent this to their headquarters at Stanberry, Mo. I could not afford to travel there in person.
After much delay, the answer came back from their executive leader, A.N. Dugger, saying it was the TRUTH – God had a purpose in revealing it to me – but the church could not accept or preach it. He REJECTED TRUTH, which he admitted was truth! His letter was photographically reproduced in the first edition of the autobiography. I did NOT teach it to their members!
They did not agree or have the truth about the annual Holy Days. I took this up privately with their leaders. They “laughed me to scorn,” rejecting the TRUTH. I carefully refrained from proclaiming it to their members. But when the parent Church of the present Worldwide Church of God was raised up in 1933, I did teach it to them, our own brethren, and they received it!
There was another very small teaching in which they were in error – re: Matthew 28:1. I did not go to their members with it, but I wrote an 18-page analysis PROVING their error, sent it to Stanberry headquarters. They admitted in writing I had proved them in error, but said they could not correct it, because many older members and ministers would not accept it. And for the sake of unity they would have to continue teaching the error.
A few ministers – a very few – have gone out in the past year, saying they disagree on some doctrines – but they never brought their disagreement to headquarters to “Come… let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us” (I John 2:19).
Brethren, God has not given His people an a-la-carte church where each picks whatever doctrines HE or SHE prefers and rejects the others!
Speak the same thing
God says, through Paul: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you” (I Corinthians 1:10), for speaking or preaching DIFFERENT doctrines causes DIVISIONS, and God commands, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE which ye have learned” (when you came into the Church) “and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
God, from the founding of His Church, has put HIS DOCTRINES and TEACHINGS into His Church THROUGH HIS APOSTLES! I have PROVED, brethren, through the years, that if an incorrect teaching, belief or doctrine has been put into the Church through me, that my mind is OPEN – that the living CHRIST will cause me to see it – and in that way HE will correct it through His servant.
Christ GUIDES AND RULES HIS CHURCH!