The March-April 2000 issue of LCG's magazine, Tomorrow's World asked a provocative question: What is true Christianity? (Roderick C. Meredith, What is True Christianity?, Tomorrow's World, March-April 2000.)
Let's take a look at what Meredith had to say on this issue.
Nearly two billion people call themselves Christians—followers of Jesus Christ's teachings. Yet they are divided into more than 450 different sects and denominations, with contradictory doctrines and styles of worship. Just what is a true Christian? Is a Christian someone who follows the customs of today's professing Christian sects? Or does the Bible reveal a very different answer?These are leading questions. He mentions that there are all these churches and asks questions designed to make the reader yearn for a one, true church to be a part of.
It is asserted that "Or does the Bible reveal a very different answer?" Let us face the facts. This is Meredith presenting his ideas. It is loaded language using the Bible as a prop to justify what Meredith happens to teach to his followers within LCG.
It is high time someone pointed out what true Christianity is all about! So-called "mainstream" Christianity is losing millions of members. Scores of different ideologies and different types of "New Age" teachings are now coming to the fore, but the pure religion of Jesus Christ seems to be totally neglected by most religious leaders.What is this "true Christianity" and this "pure religion of Jesus Christ" that Meredith speaks of? It is his own religious organization, the Living Church of God, which was founded just a year and a half before this article's publication after a power struggle broke our between Meredith and the Governing Board within the Global Church of God.
And what is WRONG with the mainstream Christianity that millions have grown up in and are taking for granted? Do not all these churches teach the Christianity of Christ?What is this "Christianity of Christ" that Meredith speaks of? It is his own religious organization, the Living Church of God.
The truth is that the greatest and most bloody wars in all human history have been waged primarily in Europe—the very heart of western, "Christian" civilization. In fact, the professing Christian church directly instigated a series of "holy wars" during the Middle Ages, called the "Crusades" (Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed., Crusades). The article describes the supposed BLESSING put on the murderous and blood-thirsty activities of the Crusaders: "The knight who joined the Crusades might thus indulge the bellicose side of his genius—under the aegis and at the bidding of the Church; and in so doing he would also attain what the spiritual side of his nature ardently sought—a perfect salvation and remission of sins. He might butcher all day, till he waded ankle-deep in blood, and then at nightfall kneel, sobbing for very joy, at the altar of the Sepulchre—for was he not red from the winepress of the Lord?"In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a Crusade. Should all Christians collectively be blamed for this without distinguishing between the innocent and the guilty? This emotive anecdote is designed to horrify the reader with disgust with the purpose of helping to convince the reader that only Armstrongism is the true form of Christianity and to be loyal to Meredith's LCG.
Were THESE men true followers of the humble carpenter of Nazareth who said: "Love your enemies"?
Yet remember that these men called themselves by the NAME of Christ—Christian. It seems that nearly all western religions, philosophies and sects must persist in applying the name of Christ to their ideas, teachings and practices. In ancient times, the pagans openly and honestly acknowledged their worship of the various "gods" and demon spirits of their own choosing.With these words Meredith seeks to inspire deep loathing at the mainstream Christian churches.
Almighty God inspired the Apostle John to describe the Devil as "that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, who DECEIVES the WHOLE WORLD" (Revelation 12:9). Again, in Revelation 20:1–3, God describes how Satan will soon be restrained "that he should DECEIVE the NATIONS no more."After this he quotes Will Durant. However it is important to note that Meredith did not believe that the "true Christianity" was suppressed after the time of the Apostles to be replaced by proto-Catholics by reading Will Durant. He was persuaded of this by a voice he heard on the radio that belonged to one Herbert W. Armstrong.
These inspired scriptures certainly show that most people and nations have been misled and DECEIVED by Satan the Devil! This, very frankly, is the "key," which explains WHY there are so many obvious contradictions in our supposedly "Christian" society. It shows why this world is so mixed up and CONFUSED about what the word "Christian" really means. It shows that our civilization has NOT been following Christ, but has been DECEIVED into going many different ways under Satan's confusing influence!
Our dictionaries have preserved part of the truth about what a "Christian" is supposed to be. The American College Dictionary states: "Christian, pertaining to or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings… believing in or belonging to the religion of Jesus Christ."Why is Meredith appealing to a dictionary to determine what is this "true Christianity," this "pure religion of Jesus Christ," this "Christianity of Christ" that he speaks of? Odds are the author of this dictionary is from one of these mainstream Christian churches or is secular.
But what was the teaching of Jesus Christ? What was His religion— Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, "Mind Science"—what?Note how Meredith is denying Catholics and Protestants hold "the teaching of Jesus Christ" or "His religion". Whatever Meredith thinks "the teaching of Jesus Christ" or "His religion" is it is not Catholic or Protestant according to him. Because for him it is his LCG.
The only authoritative answer is found in the inspired record of what Jesus did teach and of the perfect EXAMPLE He set for us to follow. Your Bible contains this inspired record! With the above questions in mind, we need to look into it—honestly— openly—without prejudice. What DID Jesus—the Author of true Christianity—actually TEACH and DO? And remember that a true Christian is one who follows Christ and His teaching!Again why is Meredith appealing to a dictionary to insist that Catholics and Protestants are not a part of "true Christianity," "the pure religion of Jesus Christ," "the Christianity of Christ" in his view?
The word "kingdom" means government. Jesus was talking about the coming government of God over this earth. He commanded: "REPENT, and believe in the gospel!" To "repent" means to be so sorry that you are not only willing to quit—but to turn around and go the other way. Of course we must repent of SIN. But what is sin? God answers: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4, KJV). So we must repent of disobeying God's Government—of breaking His LAW!To one unfamiliar with Armstrongism it might not be readily apparent what law Meredith may be talking about here. It is to various Jewish rituals and practices that Meredith insists that Christians are required to do to be "true Christians." Meredith does this because he is imitating HWA. This flies in the face of what most Christian churches do.
Jesus OBEYED God. He did NO SIN—and sin is the "transgression of the law." He obeyed God and suffered persecution willingly and in all this set us an EXAMPLE that we should follow His steps! ...
This passage clearly shows that the true Christian must LIVE just as Jesus Christ did live—following His example. The New English Bible renders this in more modern English: "Here is the test by which we can be sure that we are in Him: whoever claims to be dwelling in Him, binds himself to LIVE as Christ Himself lived." So we are LITERALLY to follow the inspired EXAMPLE of Jesus Christ's perfect life! And we have seen that Jesus DID KEEP the Ten Commandments—LITERALLY (John 15:10).In all likelihood Jesus celebrated Purim. But HWA decided there was no need for his followers in the Radio/Worldwide Church of God to observe Purim. So although HWA appealed to the observance and celebration of Jewish festivals mentioned in the New Testament in fact he disregarded their example in observing Purim.
Furthermore what does Meredith mean when he says, "So we are LITERALLY to follow the inspired EXAMPLE of Jesus Christ's perfect life!" It is mentioned that Jesus was unmarried. Should we refuse to be married? Of course not. Meredith does not teach this either. But what is there to stop one from doing such a thing?
If you really study the inspired record of Jesus' life carefully, you will see where Jesus prayed constantly on both knees to God the Father and fasted when He was in need of being especially close to God (Mark 1:35, 2:20, 9:29). You will see where Jesus literally OBEYED the fourth commandment—setting us an example (Luke 4:16, 31).It is mentioned that Jesus was circumcised. Should Christians be circumcised to prove themselves as Christians? Of course not. Indeed parts of the New Testament explicitly condemned those who said Christians are to be circumcised to prove that they are Christians.
In all likelihood Jesus celebrated Purim. Should Christians be expected to celebrate Purim to prove themselves as Christians? HWA decided they did not need to do so. But what is the difference between the days observed in Armstrongism and Purim? Why is it necessary to observe this and that because Jesus did it but not celebrate Purim?
It is very simple and tempting and yet quite incorrect to say, Jesus observed the Sabbath therefore Christians must do so as well. But for one advertising man in the 1920s in Eugene, Oregon who was trying to convince his wife not to observe the Sabbath he found this convincing and used the skills he learned in the field of advertising to promote his views.
Instead of consulting with leaders and representatives of the Christian churches this individual chose to determine these things by himself in the local library.
He was unfamiliar with the history of how Christianity and Judaism separated.
He did not see that the Jews who followed Jesus Christ would naturally continue observing Jewish rituals as Jews. But that did not prove that they were Christians since they were already observing these things before Jesus' ministry.
He did not see how the early Christians taught that non-Jews who converted to Christianity did not need to be circumcised and did not need to become Jews to be a Christian (Acts 15; Galatians). This included worshiping on the Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths this advertising man in Eugene would later promote.
He did not see that the discussions in the New Testament about circumcision was about observing the law including the observances he would later advocate.
He did not see that if the early Gentile Christians had been required to observe the Holy Days as HWA did it would have been mentioned in more detail in the New Testament. Instead the New Testament contained instructions about the Eucharist.
He did not see that adopting these Jewish festivals was exploiting their festivals for his own followers. Jews did not ask for him to observe these festivals in his syncretistic religion. And then HWA used these festivals that are precious to Jews to trash the mainstream Christian churches to get a following of his own. Jews never asked for their beautiful festivals to be exploited in this way by HWA and his imitators.
He did not see that British Israelism was an act of thievery against the Jews.
He did not see that he was doing for the most part the same thing which the Apostle Paul condemned in his letter to the Galatians. He selected what Jewish practices were to be observed and those that are not observed by his followers. As Walter Martin would put it, Armstrongism is the new Galatianism.
You will see where Jesus refused to be drawn into worldly wars and politics (John 18:36–37). You will see that Jesus OBEYED the commandments of God both in the letter AND in the spirit; that He lived a life of GIVING and SERVICE; and that He conducted Himself as an ambassador of a foreign kingdom or government—God's Government in heaven, which will soon come to replace ALL governments on this earth. Therefore, Jesus had no part in the religions, politics, wars and disputes of His time.It is not immediately apparent to the unfamiliar reader but this is an introduction to HWA's prohibitions against voting and military service.
Meredith then asserts that one must have the Holy Spirit to "really" keep the commandments.
In plain language, if you are without God's Spirit you are NOT a Christian! ... It is actually CHRIST who keeps the commandments all over again—just as He did over 1,900 years ago—in your mortal body! It is His righteousness operating in your body, which you have willingly yielded to Him as His instrument.Elsewhere LCG teaches that one gets the Holy Spirit by being baptized.
Since your old self must be buried or baptized for the remission of SIN, you must REPENT of sin! Recall that "sin is the transgression of the law." So you must repent of BREAKING GOD'S LAW! You must be baptized in a watery grave as an outward acknowledgement of the death penalty you have brought on yourself by disobeying the LAW of your Creator, and of your willingness to let the old self die.In other words for Meredith "receiving the Holy Spirit" is a euphemism for getting baptized into LCG.
Then, after real repentance of your rebellion against God and your own carnal ways and desires, and fulfilling the ordinance of humility in being baptized and accepting Christ's shed blood as payment for your past sins in FAITH, you are PROMISED the "gift" of God's Holy Spirit. Then, through His Spirit, Christ places His nature within you—His love, His faith, His strength to overcome your own weaknesses and the temptations of Satan and of this world.
The LOVE you receive through God's spirit is not mere human love, but the very love of God, because the "LOVE of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:5).
Furthermore Meredith and the one he imitates, HWA, denounced the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and insisted that the Holy Spirit was merely a force from the Father and the Son. This will not be apparent to a reader unfamiliar with Armstrongism. HWA eventually taught that God is a family of spirit beings currently composed of two beings but HWA's followers will be 'born' into this family and become as fully God as God is God, though of lower rank. This is very different from what has been traditionally taught in Judaism and Christianity.
Meredith insists that when one observes these things he recommends it is not the person doing it but the Holy Spirit allowed Christ to live within the believer (LCG member).
Not through your strength, but through the spiritual POWER, which God's Holy Spirit imparts, you CAN follow the perfect example of Jesus Christ. You CAN yield to let Jesus live the same kind of life in you, which He DID live over 1,900 years ago—keeping the same laws of God, worshipping on the same Holy Days which God ordained, remaining separate from this world's society, politics and wars, and—through constant Bible study, earnest prayer, occasional fasting, and consistent spiritual overcoming and GROWTH— you can yield to let God fashion you in His spiritual image to be born of Him in the resurrection as His LITERAL SON—possessed of His very nature! This is, in fact, the very PURPOSE of your existence!According to Meredith all of one's purpose is to be found in joining LCG and doing what LCG's leaders say. Some of LCG's teachings are alluded to. Observing the Sabbath and annual Sabbaths as interpreted by LCG's leaders based on HWA's teachings. Not voting or participating in public affairs. Not serving in the armed forces. Spending a lot of time indoctrinating oneself into believing LCG's dogmas through "Bible study," meaning learning to interpret the Bible as LCG does. Spending a lot of time praying to LCG's God. And fasting sometimes.
Who are the True Christians?So it is insinuated that those who worship on Saturday and observing "the same Holy Days" are the true Christians. But there are hundreds of Armstrongite groups that also observe these Sabbaths. Why join Meredith's LCG?
Down through history, God has always set apart and marked those who truly serve Him by keeping His commandments and His LAWS.
That is not addressed in this article since it is made for people unfamiliar with Armstrongism. It is assumed that those reading this article will not be familiar with Armstrongism and think the ideas presented here as unknown but worth following.
Meredith threatens that unless one worship on the days Meredith advocates God will not listen to the prayers of such people.
The true God does not even hear our prayers unless we keep His commandments!LCG's God is different from the God worshiped by the Christian churches. But he presents the God of LCG as the same as the Christian God worshiped by Catholics and Protestants. The unsuspecting reader might not see these differences and think it is necessary to join Meredith's group to be good with God.
True Christianity then, the Christianity of Christ—is a WAY of life! It involves the Living Jesus Christ living His life within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then we can truly worship God in the way He tells us to. We will be given spiritual LOVE to have the genuine out-flowing concern, the patience, the kindness and the mercy we need toward our fellow human beings.But getting "the power of the Holy Spirit" within us requires getting baptized by LCG. So this talk is really a call for the reader to join Meredith's LCG.
Meredith ends this article with the following words.
For real Christians are called not just to be "nice" people— NOT just to "roll around heaven" all day with nothing to do. Rather we are called to join with Christ in RULING this world and bringing genuine peace and JOY to the earth when Christ's Kingdom becomes a glorious reality at His Second Coming. That is the very purpose for those called now to be true Christians.Here Meredith mocks the hope of Christians going to Heaven to be with God after death.
Armstrongism is descended from the Millerite Adventists of the 1830s-1840s. This movement and those derived from them has long been fixated upon Christ's return. While Meredith mentions that his followers are to be rulers over the world after Christ's return the God Family doctrine is not mentioned.
But Meredith never mentions that once one joins LCG he or she is expected to send three tithes to Meredith's LCG for the rest of one's life. This is a strong motive for Meredith to get people to join his following.
Meredith is wrong. LCG and Armstrongism are wrong to insist that they are the only true form of Christianity in all the world. There is no need for Christians to observe the festivals he advocates. There is no need for a Christian to join LCG or pay tithes to them in order to get God's favor.