[This group is a small split from the Philadelphia Church of God and their response is probably quite similar to the thinking of the PCG and other related groups.]
Church of God’s Faithful, PO Box 279, Eutawville, SC 29048.
May 9, 2000
I am responding to the form letter you sent to other “Hierarchical Leaders” and me.
You had requested four of our booklets, which we promptly mailed to you the 1st of April 2000. From the study of the booklets, you should have determined that we of the Church of God’s Faithful believe our commission is to warn the Laodicean Church. We believe the Laodicean Church is the Philadelphia Church of God, located in Edmond, OK, headed by Mr. Gerald Flurry. We send our warning material only to members and ministers of the PCG.
Response: I realize that Herbert Armstrong and many protestant writers before him view the churches of Revelation 2 and 3 as seven church eras. I realize that the PCG and its off-shoots have written hundreds of pages on the subject. I do not mean to offend you, but when I stand before the judgment seat of Christ, I plan to disregard all of those words and say that I listened to the words of Christ who said seven times: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).
There are very few things in the Bible that Christ repeats seven times. But since I have ears, I am going to listen to all seven messages that Christ gave and examine myself to see if I have the problems Christ talks about. And if I do, I am going to do what Christ says: “Repent!” Christ does not instruct anyone to go join another church!
Letter: Through a study of the first two booklets, Elijah’s Message to the Philadelphia Church of God and Bloody Jezreel our beliefs on these points are clearly made. We sincerely believe Gerald Flurry was raised up by God to lead the very powerful Laodicean Work of Jesus Christ (Rev 3:14–19). The 7th Candlestick (Rev 1:20) was ignited and given to Mr. Flurry as his work began in Jan. 1990.
The centerpiece of the PCG Work was the book authored by Mr. Flurry, Malachi’s Message to the Church of God Today. This book, of course, contained the truth of the biblical book of Malachi that the priesthood, or ministry, goes off-track in the end-time. He brings out the vital understanding, also, that “a man of sin” takes control of the Church of God (the Temple) and causes a “great falling away” from truth (see 2Thes 2). This book, Malachi’s Message, was sent to all members of the WCG. I am sure you received a copy.
Gerald Flurry was the one God used to warn the WCG and her daughter churches that have split off from her. Please read the enclosed paper, God Speaks to Us.
Response: Gerald Flurry, the PCG and their off-shoots greatly exaggerate their affect on the WCG. I worked at the WCG headquarters from 1977 to 1992 and had many friends in many departments and in the field ministry. Please note the following points:
1. Thousands of people were concerned about the WCG’s doctrinal changes before the PCG even started. Many members left on their own to join independent groups or existing organizations. I specifically know that the plans for the Church of the Great God, the Global Church of God and even the United Church of God began in 1989 and 1990.
2. Gerald Flurry was not known by Herbert Armstrong and was largely unknown to Pasadena Headquarters staff (until he started the PCG). Of the ministers who did know him, very few considered him an effective leader and teacher. Some of Mr. Flurry’s early writings reflected a clear lack of understanding of how Mr. Armstrong and his assistants worked. Hence, even though Mr. Flurry had a working organization and was paying his ministry, nearly all of the WCG full-time ministers waited to join another split-off group.
3. While Malachi’s Message was a helpful book in sorting out some of the WCG errors, it had errors of its own and had to go through many revisions. Many WCG members never got it, fewer kept it, and even fewer read it. I still meet people who were members of the WCG in 1990, but who do not know anything about the PCG.
4. The priesthood, and the ministry have gone “off track” repeatedly throughout history. It happened in the first century, it happened in our day, and it happened many times in between. One should have a good grasp of history before concluding that Scriptures were written “specifically for today” (or specifically for 1986).
Letter: In answer to your first question; Do not the members in your own church organization prove that the Eternal does not always govern from the top down?
For someone to have worked for the WCG for 18 years, it is a pity you did not learn the basic number one truth taught by Mr. Armstrong. Absolutely, God does rule from the top down! God is in charge and He is in the process of creating God-Beings like Himself and Christ our Lord. We are commanded to follow those over us, as they follow Christ (1Cor 11:1). God needed to conduct a test to determine if the begotten son’s of God would follow Christ, and love the truth, or just follow a man (2Thes 2:10).
As HWA often said, “you just don’t get it.” What a truth that was! Ministers and members who were only following a man and not keeping their eyes on Christ, turned from the truth, some a little, some a lot. But most all turned from the truth. However, God is still in charge and Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church.
Response: Yes, for 18 years, I heard Mr. Armstrong preach that if there was a problem in the church, God would correct it from the top. Before he died, he commanded us to follow the pastor general who would replace him. But now you tell me that God conducted a “test” (putting Joe Tkach in the WCG) and required each member who loved the truth to disobey both Herbert Armstrong and his successor. Then, God gave “faithful members” another test to see if they would disobey Gerald Flurry and follow you. (Hmmm… your members may have caught on by now, and will be studying to determine when it is time to disobey you and follow someone else.)
All, joking aside, I think you are right and Mr. Armstrong was wrong. There are many scriptures that show we must obey God rather than the leaders who are over us (Dan 3:18; Matt 10:28; Acts 4:19; 5:29; 1Cor 11:19; 1Jn 4:1). God never promised that our leaders would brings us all to the truth, but that His Spirit would (John 16:13). God commended the Bereans not for accepting one teacher as being “inspired of God”, but for checking each doctrine that he taught (Acts 17:11).
Letter: You are being impatient Mr. Edwards. Don’t worry, God is working it all out. There are 3 ways God will use to make it plain where Christ is Working in His One True Church.
(1) Those faithfully following Christ will recognize where His Church is through new truth being revealed in that Church (John 16:13). This is happening at this very moment.
(2) The power of Jesus Christ in His Church will be obvious to all to see when it is time for the miracles, signs, and wonders to begin as “training” for the 2 Witnesses.
(3) For those who refuse to believe the new truth and those who will attribute the miracles, signs and wonders to the power of Beelzebub (Mat 10:25), they will understand, finally, in the Great Tribulation (Rev 12:11).
Response: I certainly agree with point (1). I have learned a lot of new truth since leaving the WCG, and I know of many others in a great variety of congregations who would say the same. Yes, people who have never attended a Church of God group are learning truth through the Holy Spirit—and if Christ claims them, they are in His Church!
As far as points (2) and (3) are concerned, please realize that hundreds of Christian groups for hundreds of years have claimed that they are soon going to have miracles, signs, and wonders that will prove they are God’s Church—and it has almost never happened. Some groups claim to have great healings and miracles now—but have been found to hire actors who pretend to be sick, then well. I have witnessed healings and miracles of God, but most have been in a quiet way which could easily be doubted by skeptics. I believe that God may again send servants who will do great miracles for all to see. But having those miracles, and promising to have them are two very different things—I hope you will accept my desire to “prove all things” rather than to “accept all promises”.
Letter: Mr. Edwards, you very much need to read, study, and believe our booklet, The Day of the Lord. It explains the last part of your 1st question. You say our people had to “think for themselves.” That is true! They thought of what they had learned in the past from God’s Elijah, held fast, and continued following Christ. Mr. Armstrong died, but Christ lives on! And He is here in the Day of the Lord! He has come suddenly to His Temple (Mal 3:1) and beholds the mess that it is in. Those who could think, and remember to be faithful, are being made into His Special Treasure right now, at this time, in the Day of the Lord. Please request our booklet, you have much to learn.
Response: I refuse to believe that Christ “has suddenly come to His Temple” just because you say that He has. You have no proven prophetic track record and Herbert Armstrong, who some men have declared to be “Elijah”, did not either. HWA frequently used terms like “in this decade”, “in ten to fifteen short years”, “in your lifetime”, “in this century”. Most of these have proven false. God told us not to listen to prophets whose word does not come to pass (Deut 18:22). How can HWA be “Elijah” if Elijah was a prophet and HWA was not?
As far as answering question #1 is concerned, you have verified that people joined their groups because of their personal understanding of what was right, not because they received a top-down command from God’s human leaders to join the groups.
Letter: To answer the second question quickly: All of us who were called by God, either directly or indirectly, by the ministry of Mr. Armstrong are begotten sons of God and are brethren. The accompanying article explains this thoroughly.
Response: I read this 13-page article and the essence of its arguments are the same as those given by many other groups: “God has one church organization and those who are not in your group are in rebellion against God—unity will be achieved when everyone quits their group and joins yours”. You also use the circular argument of claiming you are the “True Church” because you have all the right doctrines, but then you command your members to believe your teachings because you are the “True Church”.
The reality is that “church organizations” do not exist in the Bible; the word “church” always either refers to all believers or to the believers in a specific geographical area. The idea of believers aligning themselves with certain human leaders was condemned by Paul (1Cor 1:10–15; 3:1–9). Unity exists among all those who follow Christ and trust Him to correct His wayward sheep.
Letter: Your third question involved HWA’s work ending: Yes, Sir! You can be absolutely sure God intended for Mr. Armstrong’s work to end… because it was completed! Again, all of these questions are explained in our booklets. Also, please be aware that God Almighty knows exactly how much time has expired since the death of His Servant, Herbert Armstrong. He knows all about time and He has revealed to the CGF the greatest secret involving time, of all time! Please read our booklet, The Little Book… Unveiled at Last.
Mr. Edwards, I have briefly answered your questions here. They are thoroughly answered in the accompanying paper and in our 7 free booklets. Jesus Christ is the Head of His Faithful Church. My Job is to warn Gerald Flurry of the fact that he has left his commission, has become rich and increased with goods, has need of nothing, has become lukewarm to the Law of God, and with his abusive government has gone way off track (Rev 3:20). Another part of my job is to answer any questions that those of the “Outer Court” may ask me, as you have done (1Pet 3:15; Prov 26:5). I sincerely and truthfully before God want to help any of my brethren that I can. However, I must stick to my commission; our Lord will do the rest.
Response: Since I told you that I would print a letter up to 3,000 words, but cannot print hundreds of pages of booklets, I was hoping that you would answer the questions directly. This is what Christ and the apostles usually did. By referring to numerous books, it seems that your answer is extremely complicated, or that you do not have a good one.
I think it is good that you are willing to point out that Mr. Flurry has abused church government—I have received many similar complaints from his members and former members. It may be that God has given you the job of exposing him. I think if you would honestly study the issue, you would also find that Herbert Armstrong abused government in a very similar way.
Letter: I have answered you, so please answer this for me; once you have read and studied our material and you realize it is truth from God, what are you going to do?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
In brotherly love and in Christ’s Service,
Robert G. Ardis.
Response: If I realized that your material was the truth, then I would join your church organization and do whatever you told me to do since you claim to be the “true shepherd” whom God is using today (page 12 of your attached article). In reality, I will put your literature in my files in the company of the writings of numerous other teachers who claim to be the one man who speaks for God. I believe your group, as well as many others that stemmed from the PCG, are much too obsessed with identifying the “Laodicean church” and interpreting other prophecies very specifically with no proof that these interpretations are from God.
After spending a decade reading many such prophetic interpretations, seeing some of the prophecies fail, seeing some of the groups scatter, and seeing some of the teachers die, I do not believe it just because it seems to “sound good” or “make sense”. To teachers such as yourself, I ask this question: “Would you keep on teaching what you are teaching even if no man or woman agreed with you?” If your honest answer is “no”, then you might think about whether your commission is from God or whether it is a fiction reinforced by the other people around you who agree with you.
I thank you for writing and it does seem that you have a desire to help others and to teach those who follow you. Teaching the Bible, encouraging people to find Godly solutions to their problems, praying for them, organizing services for them are all good, important things. I believe that God will reward you for these. A stricter judgment is required of teachers (Jms 3:1). I hope you have thought about what you will say in the Judgment if Christ asks you, “Why do you think I gave you the commission that you claimed?” Christ is merciful, and will judge leniently if we really did not understand (Luke 12:47–49).
May God strengthen you and each member of the “Church of God’s Faithful” to better follow Him.
— Norman Edwards
L. Wayne Pyle, a Living Church of God Member
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