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The Living Church of God


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The Living Church of God

History

The Worldwide Church of God (WCG) was founded by Herbert W Armstrong (1892-1986) in 1933, as the Radio Church of God. Prior to his death in 1986 Mr Armstrong appointed Joseph Tkack to succeed him as Pastor General of the WCG. Joseph Tkack, Jnr (Joseph Tkack’s son) brought changes to the doctrines and practices of the WCG, and this caused many hard-line Armstrong supporters to form their own churches, and they declared themselves to be Armstrong’s true successors. Most of these churches were formed in the early 1990’s, and one of the largest was the Global Church of God (GCG). It was established in 1993.

On November 25, 1998, the GCG’s Board of Directors fired GCG’s founder and presiding evangelist, Dr Roderick C Meredith. The main issue seems to have been one of authority, between Meredith and the board. Meredith and his supporters incorporated another “Armstrongite” church, the Living Church of God (LCG).

Meredith’s explanation, in a letter, for not accepting the views of the board was that as ‘Herbert W Armstrong explained clearly over and over again, God has virtually ALWAYS worked primarily through one man in leading and guiding any particular phase of His work down through the ages.’ He then cites Moses, Saul, David to Nehemiah and then Peter and Paul in the New Testament. (Special Emergency Letter, November 21st 1998) In this letter he expressed his regret at having a board and practising democracy, and declared himself to be ‘the one Christ has used to raise up and lead the Global Church of God.’ Four members of the Board wrote to the brethren and explained that they had finalised Dr Meredith’s departure after he had refused to resign, because in their opinion he had ‘a compelling need to be pre-eminent in every way above the brethren and the rest of the ministry.’ (The Journal, November 30th 1998)

It is suggested that about 20% of the people remained in the Global Church of God and about 80% followed Meredith to form the Living Church of God. In March 2003 it was estimated to have a membership of about 6000. It has a magazine called Tomorrow’s World and a television programme also called Tomorrow’s World. Its headquarters have been in San Diego, USA, but it seems that since March 2003, they have moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

Fundamental Beliefs

In common with the original Worldwide Church of God, the LCG has several beliefs which are quite contrary to orthodox Christian doctrine.

1. God is a Family

This belief denies the Trinity, believing that ‘God is a divine Family which began with two, God the Father and the Word…The Father is the Supreme Being in the Godhead…and Jesus acknowledged that His Father was greater than He.’ (The Living Church of God Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs)

 

2. The Holy Spirit

The teaching is that the Holy Spirit is not a Person – ‘it is not a Being. The Spirit is inherent in the Father and the Son and emanates from them throughout the entire universe.’ (The Living Church of God Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs)

3. Salvation

Salvation is an ongoing process, and ‘our salvation will be complete at the resurrection … Salvation is the result of the application of both God’s law and His grace.’ (The Living Church of God Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs)

4. The Annual Festivals

They observe the seven annual festivals of the Old Testament. They do not observe Christmas and Easter.

5. The Sabbath

The teaching is that ‘the word of God reveals that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.’ (The Living Church of God Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs)

6. The meaning of ‘Born Again’

‘with a spiritual birth, there must be a spiritual begettal and conception, and then after a period of ‘spiritual gestation’ or spiritual growth, true Christians will someday experience a literal spiritual ‘birth’ thereby becoming immortal children of God.’ (The Living Church of God Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs)

7. Church Government

After the experience of a board and a council at the Global Church of God, the LCG has reverted to an authoritarian style of leadership, claiming that ‘God’s way of governing has always been government from the top down’ (The Living Church of God Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs)

8. Church History

The LCG believes that it traces its history from the Apostolic Church. Herbert W Armstrong interpreted the seven churches of the Book of Revelation as eras, and believed that the Philadelphian era began in the 1930’s. The LCG follows this teaching, and states We are a continuation of that Philadelphia era.’ (The Living Church of God Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs)

9. Separation from the World

LCG teaches that God’s people need to be separate from the world’s system and teaches its members not to participate in secular juries of worldly politics. They hold to conscientious objection against military participation.

10. Origin of Modern Israelites

In a similar vein to other groups the LCG are followers of the British-Israel teaching that the descendants of the “lost” ten tribes of Israel are the inhabitants of Northwest European countries and wherever they have migrated eg USA. These Anglo-American people will be overtaken by a time of great trouble because they have dishonoured the Creator.

Prophecies

Following Herbert Armstrong, and in line with the above teaching of British-Israelism, Roderick Meredith has given doomsday prophecies, which have not happened.

For example, in 1965 Meredith predicted that ‘Bible prophecy indicates that the final attack on the US and Britain by this coming ‘Beast’ power could easily be launched perhaps as early as the spring of 1972 – or earlier if this final work of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is cut short’ Quoted from (Watchman Expositor vol 10 no 7, 1993 from Plain Truth magazine in 1966). Whilst the current leadership of the WCG has stepped back from doomsday prophecies, and Joseph Tkack has actually agreed that it emanates from a faulty premise ie that it is somehow important for Christians to know the answers to such questions. Quoted from Watchman Expositor, vol 10 no 7, 1993 from The Worldwide News, 9 December 1991, p 1), Meredith continued the tradition in the Global Church and declared that ‘if teachers cannot see the revealed future, then are they true servants of God? Quoted from Global Church News, vol 1 no 1, p 5)

Where does this leave Meredith when he is wrong? The LCG lists as the third of its threefold mission ‘to preach the end-time prophecies and to warn the English speaking nations and ALL THE WORLD of the coming Great Tribulation.’ The LCG continues a practice which has been shown to be flawed. What does that say about its credibility?

Conclusion

It claims to be ‘the Church of God’ yet denies many orthodox teachings. Whilst its members are relatively small (perhaps a few thousand), the LCG has influence through its publications and particularly, its television programmes. The readers and viewers need to be aware of its unorthodox teachings.

References:

1. Centre for Studies on New Religions -web site- a/ Schism in the Global Church of God. Birth of a New ‘Armstrongite’ Church, The Living Church of God by Massimo Introvigne. b/ Note below

2. News of the Living Church of God – web site-

3. The Plain Truth –web site-

4. The Living Church of God, Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs

5. Watchman Expositor, vol 10 no 7 1993

6. Collection of Documents on the Schism in the Global Church of God (November 1998).

Published CCG Ministries