James Malm of The Shining Light website and blog seems to be having a field day with United Church of God’s (UCG) problems in Latin America. Specifically, he charges Dennis Luker, the new president, with:
This message is equating loyalty to the corporate entity with loyalty to God.
Sorry, but I beg to differ. UCG’s stance has long been that there are physical organizations, but the spiritual Church is found amongst the many organizations.
However, what Luker does do is challenge the ministry to make a choice and do it in peace. If you don’t like the way things are run, then peacefully separate. If you want to be an employee of the church, then you need to follow it’s rules. It really amounts to that.
It puzzles me that some seem to believe that rules that would be taken for granted in the “outside world” of employers and employees are somehow supposed to not exist within a corporate church culture. In the “world”, an employee who refuses to do what his or her boss tells them to do would be censured and perhaps even fired. I’m sure that if an LCG minister refused to return to headquarters when RCM wanted him there, I’m sure that action would be taken, especially if there are other accusations of a serious nature.
Not surprisingly, Dr Robert Thiel states on Church of God News in “UCG: Not “United” in Latin America”:
Dennis Lukers comment about “one-man rule” above is one of the most adamant cold and lukewarm written statements from any UCG president that I have seen (there have been several on gospel proclamation, or lack thereof, in a similar category).
Could it be that he is “lukewarm” about the “one-man rule” because it is not a Biblical issue? I mean really, who cares? I am still looking for “Thou shalt be ruled by one man, and he is to be My chosen man” in my KJV, but I just haven’t found it yet.
I have no illusions that oversight by council is much messier than oversight by a single individual. There is the joke that a camel is a horse designed by committee. Sure, it gets the job done, but I wouldn’t put it in the Kentucky Derby.
I also have no illusions that oversight by one individual is also more prone to corruption because you take away the checks and balances. I think we’ve all seen instances of that occurring.
You know, what all of the corporate COGs seem to forget is that God has laid out a system of governance. It isn’t a church, either!
20Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He replied to them by saying, The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed or with visible display,
21Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].
~ Lk 17:20-21 (Amp)
20And having been questioned by the Pharisees, when the reign of God doth come, he answered them, and said, `The reign of God doth not come with observation;
21nor shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there; for lo, the reign of God is within you.’
~ Lk 17:20-21 (YLT)
How can this be? Did not Jesus say His Kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36)? Yes, but like the grain of mustard seed, it starts small and within the hearts of true believers. From that, it grows into a mighty tree.
We need to separate out the physical from the spiritual. Christ will come and setup a physical Kingdom to rule over physical people, but the ultimate goal is a Kingdom of spirit beings that will live with Christ and God the Father (S. Rev 21 – 22).
For now, we need to concentrate on ourselves. We are to “judge not” because we cannot give righteous judgment, but you can bet we will be ruling over cities when Christ returns.
The Church of God has too long ignored the fact that we must now grow spiritually in order to be able to rule one day over a devastated world. We must, in conjunction with God’s Holy Spirit, learn to rule ourselves. We must learn the lesson of the Book of Judges.
Ah, but they had a king! They just did not have a physical king!
7And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (1 Samuel 8:7, King James Version)
My salvation does not depend upon what Herbert W Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, Gerald Flurry, Stephen Flurry, Roderick C Meredith, Richard Ames, Dennis Luker, Leon Walker, Roy Holladay, David Hulme, David C Pack, etc, etc, etc, did, does or will do. No. It depends upon what I do. I can accept God’s gift of salvation or reject it. God freely gives it to those who will respond, but I have to lay my hands upon it, repent, be baptized and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It also does not matter upon the type of physical government over the Church. It can be a council, elders, judges, pastor general, pope or even a king (how’s that for your “one-man rule”?)! It just doesn’t matter.
The Church today is much like the time of the Judges. Satan makes his attacks, the church becomes scattered, God’s people cry out, and they are saved for a while. Finally, in the end times, far too many have decided to setup men as their rulers to take the place of God.
In the “he said, she said” back and forth of UCG, I don’t know for sure who is wrong. I do know that the preponderance of evidence seems to not favor Walker. It certainly appears like a power grab, and I’m sure that many believe it is, given the history of men doing so within the Church throughout its history.
I believe it was not only blunt but gracious of Luker to give everyone concerned an out. If you cannot abide by the organization’s rules, then stop the fighting and separate. UCG has come a long way from the times of publicly marking and disfellowshipping people from the pulpit. Just state the facts and move on. That does not sound like obedience to the corporate church is the same as obedience to God to me!
However, the spirit of pride and rebellion does resemble another ruler. We need to be careful that our actions and speech are not of his kingdom.
If we cannot rule ourselves, and if we cannot get along with others, then how can we ever be entrusted to rule people who have been devasted and traumatized by the events we see in the Book of Revelation?