Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Encounter with an LCG Minister

I began reading LCG's writings in early 2000. I read and encountered many of their ideas: British-Israelism, the Sabbath, and so on. All of this was very interesting.

In the first issue of Tomorrow's World that I received in the mail was one article that convinced me that Christians are now required to observe the Sabbath. It mentioned that Jesus observed the Sabbath, therefore it argued that I should observe it as well. I was totally convinced on this matter. This made me trust them. I chose to trust them.

(It never occurred to me to ask the following question: "11. If we must follow the example of Jesus in all things like keeping the Sabbath, then why do Sabbatarians not follow the example of Jesus in circumcision, animal sacrifices and keeping Passover?" Thus it is clear that not everything Jesus did in His earthly life is to be imitated. Those who wish to learn more on this issue would do well to read this critique of HWA's Which Day is the Christian Sabbath? All of these issues were unknown to me at the time.)

I was quite impressed when I read some of their articles stating that their predecessor Herbert W. Armstrong, a name I had never heard of before, predicted the fall of the Iron Curtain back in the 1950s. (At the time I had no idea about HWA's inaccurate prediction that Christ would return in 1975.)

I was impressed with their doctrine that Queen Elizabeth II is the continuation of the House of David. I was also impressed with their assertion that Britain and America are descended from Ephraim and Manasseh. I had always wondered where the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel went. This doctrine seemed to explain many peculiar scriptures which I did not understand. (They never mentioned that Americans and British are not genetically related to Jews. If such genetic evidence existed we can be sure that LCG and Co. would never let us forget it. These issues were unknown to me at the time. I was also unaware that HWA plagiarized this doctrine from the British-Israelism movement.)

Yet it wasn't till I read A Different Gospel? in the July-August, 2000, issue of Tomorrow's World that it dawned on me just how unusual this group was. This article seeks to link radical feminist theology with the ancient Gnostic heresies. It contained this statement denying that the saved go to Heaven:
The ultimate goal of Gnosticism—to be freed from the fetters of this world (spirit from matter, light from darkness) and to return to a Kingdom of Light—is remarkably similar to the belief about going to heaven to behold the beatific vision (look on God) for all eternity. This differs dramatically from biblical promises that the saints will rule with Christ when the kingdom of God is restored to this earth (p. 27.)
When I read that statement it hit me: "Oh my goodness! Going to Heaven is a lie. They are a teaching me a very different religion. All those churches are false." Yet I had by this time trusted them and instead of running away I only embraced them even more.

Alas I completely believed them. The memory of my shock after reading this stands out in my mind. It was a strong indication to me that this was not just your regular religion. Now I had come across some intriguing ideas, and I was aware of their Sabbatarianism, but this was the first time I realized that believing in them meant rejecting such a widespread belief. Some people would have been shocked and said to themselves, "Wait. That's not right. These people have got this wrong. I have no need to listen to them." Or they were like me and just accepted this bold assertion and went along with them. (I was completely unaware that the Jehovah's Witnesses also teach this doctrine about (most) believers not going to Heaven.)

I was also very impressed with their observance of the Holydays. I myself had read of these days in Leviticus 23. In fact once I decided to fast on the Day of Atonement before I had encountered Tomorrow's World. Seeing them teach me to observe those days further persuaded me that I had found where God is working today. This reminds me of what Pam Dewey wrote about the allure of this religion, "For those with previous specific doctrinal beliefs derived from their own Bible study, such as observance of the annual Biblical Holy Days, the WCG may have been the only organized group they were aware of which believed and practiced such things." (I did not realize that this church has in fact changed the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.)

I must say here that I was very unschooled with Christianity. Although I was a believer I was not very knowledgeable about Christianity, hence why I found Tomorrow's World's writings to be so convincing. I never tried to understand why Christianity does not observe these festivals or does not teach what they teach.

And so I ended up writing to LCG saying I would like to attend services with them. I got a phone call from their minister. He seemed like a nice enough chap. He gave me a little small talk about what a minister like him do. He said something about visiting but it didn't seem that important to me. Naturally I was very happy that I had finally talked with one of God's True Ministers. A man ordained by the true church which had endured for 2000 years under everyone's noses. He asked me when he could visit. I wasn't interested in that. I wanted to go to services. Then to my horror he dismissed me, told me we'll talk another time. I could not understand why he rejected me like that.

I had no idea of the elaborate steps one must go through to attend an Armstrongite church service. It is expected that a minister visit a prospective member before he is allowed to attend. The prospective member must get pass the minister before he can even attend. If the prospective minister does something the minister disapproves of (for example, smoking tobacco) then the minister will insist that the prospective member change before he or she can attend.

And I, like a lamb among wolves, was completely unaware of this practice and simply wanted to join their church. I had already given them my allegiance earlier. He wanted to see how much I knew and I told him that I had been studying the truth for years. I was expert in it. I saw no reason why I should have him visit me in order to attend church. And then he just dismissed me. Call back later.

After my renunciation I remembered that many times they appealed to me that if I was called by God to be a part of the First Resurrection I needed to be in contact with them and be a part of the Work. To me it seems that making people panic about World War III, and that they are called and they need to join together with other believers now. One would think that this organization would allow anyone who felt called to come and gain needful fellowship with fellow believers, that they would make it easy for you to join and begin to be saved. Instead they have forced those sincere and deceived people who wish to be right with God to pass through their minister. Rather than showing a sincere desire to save those (alledgedly) called they are made to undergo frustrating tests in order simply to get into church. This is not right.

Some, I imagine, would have given up on all this, or switch their allegiance to another COG splinter. But this was not enough for me to give up on them. So what if the minister rejected me. I have proven to myself that they are God's Church and I want to be a part of the work God is performing now. LCG is where God is working and being treated like this does not prove that they are not the work God is working through. My allegiance was still with them.


  1. The idea is to root out people that are potential trouble makers or not considered "converted". It all falls down because no such system exists for individual minsters, and, Armstrong's church was notorious of having people with "outside" influences in the fray joining it (eg, Stanley Radar, Tkach).
    Even today, there are some ministers in these splinter groups (not all of them), that I seriously question. Gerald Flurry is one of them, he is definately a fake, planted there to make the Churches of God look bad.

  2. You sir are a total liar. I never visited with a minister before attending service and it is not required. Also I smoked for the first 1 1/2 years I attended the church. You really must be biblically illiterate. The reason animal sacrifices are not made any longer is because we no longer need a sacrifice for sin, Christ was that sacrifice for all humanity, for all eternity. But, contrary to popular belief that does not mean you can sin with impunity. All examples set by Christ should be followed. None of your claims here are based on fact, not one. The Feast of Tabernacles was never changed. And why should they teach the false doctrine of going to heaven when you die? NOWHERE in the bible does it teach that. Should you believe all the mainstream religions? Remember Matthew 7:13, Enter by the narrow gate..... and the Bible calls GOD's true church the little flock. And finally they are not trying to scare anyone into the church. Read Isaiah 58:1 Spare not,lift up your voice...... They are doing what the WORD of GOD says to do. So stop spreading LIES and doing satans job for him. He is using you. If you are truly a Christian ask God for forgiveness and to bring you back to the truth. Remember Romans 1:28

  3. I don't know what COG church you attend, but a ministerial visit and specific approval by the minister is almost always a general requirement required for COG attendance. Questions of a personal nature are asked during this initial visit(s) and must be answered to the satisfaction of the COG minister for attendance at any time thereafter.

    You wrote, "I never visited with a minister before attending service and it is not required.", but did not identify the splinter.

    Roderick Meredith, as director of the field ministry, was responsible for much of the Gestapo-like visit policy of the COG and with reports in triplicate to Pasadena.

    Stan Gardner

  4. Also in the link Redfox provided:

    Before that we didn't even know where the church was because it was kept very secret. (The church was only a "front" for what actually was a multi-million dollar organization.) I learned later that they wanted to make sure no one walked in unannounced that hadn't read enough of their literature to make a decision to want to become a member. Furthermore, no unscreened stranger could locate the address in the phone book, because it wasn't there. All visitors came through a minister first.

    The first service we attended was in the basement of a Masonic lodge with no windows and hard floors with metal folding chairs. (I found out years later that their services were usually held in unusual places: Masonic lodges, theaters, rotary clubs, roller skating rinks, school cafeterias, auditoriums, etc..."

    It's a solid fact in the sixties and seventies you could not locate the local RCG/WCG churches in the phone book, and walk-in without prior ministerial approval. Anywhere in the world. This was not by accident, but by design. Does that fit an organization that is open to the general public to attend?

    Stan Gardner