In Part 1, we examined how the Churches of God are different than Evangelicals, and then we examined a few areas where evangelicals get it right. Not theologically, mind you, but more of the attitude and results of some of their theology. There are books and articles on the differences, so I’m not going to try to cover that in one or even in one series of articles.
In an unexpected response from COGWriter, Robert Thiel, he wrote:
Now LCG is definitely not evangelical in the modern sense. We did not come out of the Protestant movement and our history predates the establishment of Rome.
Ironically, the only COG (or, should I say “ex-COG”?) that I know for sure qualifies as evangelical is GCI/WCG, the parent physical organization that most other COGs came out of. In that case, it was more of an intentional change towards Protestantism rather than having a history behind it, though, which makes it an odd exception in the history of American theology.
Anyhow, that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from the evangelicals. Of course, we have to bounce anything, and I mean anything, off of the Bible in due course. However, I was able to come up with some rather noteworthy positive attributes of evangelical organizations. Yet, there is a longer list of negative items we can learn to not do. In fact, if you alter some of the specifics, a couple of these have been done by those attending a COG.
REMINDER: Generalizations follow. These will surely differ somewhat from organization to organization.
1. Hit people over the head with the Bible. The situation this is most interesting is when someone is discussing items with an unreligious nonbeliever. For example, for a while I read and posted on a forum that basically preached to atheists and agnostics. I always thought it odd that people would quote Scripture to them without any meaningful context. However, it can also be interesting even when the recipient believes in God but comes from a completely different frame of reference.
2. Tell people they are going to hell straight off the top. OK, that might work with some people, but it isn’t going to win over the majority. In fact, it is more likely that the intelligent will dismiss it out of hand as superstition. Others will likely be insulted and stop listening shortly thereafter.
3. Absolutely exalt Jesus, yet hardly ever mention the Father (Whom many consider to be the stern and austere OT God of rules, laws and consequences). Yet, Jesus constantly pointed to the Father during His ministry. Of course, you can go to the opposite extreme and use “In Jesus’ name” as some magic pass phrase and not what it truly means.
4. Involvement in politics. Most evangelicals are firm believers in political involvement. However, when you roll in the mud with pigs, you’re likely to end up muddy yourself.
5. Proclaim your love for others when your actions speak otherwise.
6. Be quick to jump to conclusions about others’ motivations. OK, this happens everywhere, but evangelicals seem to be very quick to pin “liberal” and other labels on people. At the same time, they’ve been known to get egg on their face from endorsing the wrong person or candidate.
7. Be quick to judge whether or not a particular event is God’s judgment on a particular group, ala Pat Robertson.
8. Be quick to ask for intervention, from God or men, of a questionable nature and sometimes for the promotion of equally questionable parties. For example, Pat Robertson extolled assassinating Hugo Chavez, while one Focus on the Family media person asked for God to rain upon the last Democratic Convention.
Again, I point these out because the COG is not immune to things like these. In each case, it is productive to ask, “What would Jesus do or say in this case?” He is our example of the right way to conduct ourselves.
Prior to Passover, it might be a good idea for us all to think about these things and ensure we are keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, including its religions. And, if you really haven’t witnessed any of these in some form while in the COG, I’m not sure if you are blessed or blind. In either event, ensure you aren’t the one doing them.