Why I Will No Longer Affiliate with Hierarchical Church Organizations
by Will Blair, Akron, Ohio
Jesus Christ said, "you will know them by their fruits" (Mat. 7:15-16). Since the WCG splits, I have seen jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissension, heresies, and envy (Gal.5:19-21). I have seen hierarchical church organizations crop up not to support the brethren, but to support a ministry (John10:11-13). I have seen a satanic system (hierarchical church organizations) turn men into corrupt, self-seeking, self-righteous, deceitful, arrogant, control freaks. The system drives men to be lords over the brethren.
This is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Jesus explained to His disciples that it is wrong to be lords over or exercise authority over the brethren (Matt 20:25-28; Mark 9:35, 10:42-45; Luke 22:25-27). He taught leaders to become their servant or "slave".
Jesus brings up authority again in His letter to the church of Pergamos where He hates the doctrine of Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:15). If we were to break down Nicolaitan into two separate Greek words "Nikao" which means to prevail over or overcome and "Laos" which means the people, we would have the phrase "those who prevail over the people" or "those who overcome the people". This seems to be consistent with what Jesus was teaching His disciples about authority.
Does Jesus Christ give His disciples an example of servant authority? Yes! We read in John 13:3-5 how Jesus in the foot washing example demonstrates love and humility to His disciples—two traits many of us seem to lack. In verses 13-15 Jesus states that if He, being their Lord and Master, wash their feet, they also should wash one another’s feet. He said He was an example of how to serve the brethren. He did not say, "I give you an example of how to prevail over or overcome the brethren."
God has given man a choice of blessing and cursing, and He tells us to choose blessing, because blessings will lead to eternal life (Deu. 30:19). God has imparted to us in our creation a free will to make choices and decisions. I, for one, choose to make my own decisions, and choices and not let some hierarchical system make them for me—especially when it comes to my own salvation (Phil 2:12). I am free in Christ Jesus (Gal. 5:1).
The hierarchical system is a system that primarily takes. It serves the people to some degree, but it mostly takes from the brethren to serve those who are in power (Ez.34:4). Similar to our own government, we pay taxes but who benefits? A small amount is returned to the people with great publicity, but those who are in power and the very rich get most of the benefit. So it is with the religious hierarchical system.
They attempt to control where your tithe is sent, your doctrine, your spiritual growth, the Feast you can attend and with whom you may associate. Breaking one of these controls may result in disfellowshipment. What does Paul have to say about men who would make themselves out to be something they’re not? (Gal. 2:6.)
What type of authority did Jesus give His disciples? We read in Luke 9:1-2 and Mark 6:7, 12-13 that Jesus gave His disciples authority over demons, diseases and to preach the kingdom of God. Jesus did not give His disciples authority to make personal or doctrinal decisions for the brethren—especially if it contradicts what He taught.
The system is what corrupts men, turning them into egotistical, greedy power-hungry, self-righteous men who seek to rule and not to serve. I look at it this way: I have attended the GCG as well as the UCG-IA and I could find no differences in their doctrine and very little differences in how they are governed. Why are they separate?
Let’s take it to the next level, UCG-IA had some internal problems and their ex-president started the Church of God an International Community. The GCG had internal problems and split into the Living Church of God. There were a couple of splits in the Church of God International. Why are these organizations separate from each other? Is Christ divided (1Cor.1:13)? Is it because they want to serve the brethren, or does the hierarchical system prevent them from loving and working with each other? Do they seek power of their own or are they carrying out the will of God (2Cor.10:12-18)?
Who has absolute authority in the Church and in heaven and on earth according to the Bible? The answer you can read from your own Bible (Matt 28:18; 16:18; Eph 5:23; Col 1:18; Phil 2:10-11). The Bible obviously teaches that Jesus is the head over the Church--it is called the Body of Christ (Col.1:24; 1Cor.12:27; Ep.1:20-23) and not the "Body of Global" or "United" or "Living" or "Philadelphia" or whatever.
Paul said to "follow me as I follow Christ". Does it look like any of these hierarchical churches follow Christ? Paul also taught us not to get wrapped up in following after men and saying "I am of GCG" or "I am of UCG" or "I am of LCG", etc (1Cor.1:12-13).
The Bible teaches that those who follow a man or men will be cursed (Jer.17:5). Unfortunately, too many of God’s people "love to have it so" (Jer.5:30-31). Is this what is happening today? Do we align ourselves with hierarchical organizations because one claims to have more truth than the other? Do we believe being in the right hierarchical church will determine our salvation? Do we allow these hierarchical churches to do our thinking for us?
Hierarchical churches have become a barrier to the body of Christ separating us from one another. God places members into the body of Christ, not hierarchical churches (1Cor.12:18). The church is made of individuals God calls (John 6:44). The church is not GCG, UCG, PCG, LCG or any other hierarchical organization. The church is people who have God’s spirit (1Jn 3:24, 4:13).
It is time we become like the Bereans and not accept everything at face value. Let us search the scripture to find out what is true (Rom.12:2; Acts 17:11). Let’s be led by the Spirit of God and not by men who seek their own power (Rom.8:14).
When will the madness end, and when do we start acting like Christains toward one another? When will we follow the example of Jesus Christ to live our lives in love and humility esteeming one another? John 13:35 has been mentioned in a lot of sermons and articles lately. When are we going to take it to heart? &