There are certain topics, just in case you haven’t noticed, that get me going. Why? Well, for starters, because they are not in the Bible. Take the doctrine of eternally burning hell, for example. That teaching just is not in the Bible. It misrepresents God and distorts one’s image of Him. I have no doubt this doctrine offends Him.
There are some “doctrines” in Church of God (COG) circles that also are not in the Bible. It’s sad, because Herbert W Armstrong’s most famous quote is probably, “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible!” In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not he “came up with” a particular doctrine or not. What matters is whether or not it is provable in the Bible. Otherwise, we too risk misrepresenting God and may even offend Him.
We are not talking about preferences here, although people can and have made doctrines up about a lot of things. But, when you say, “The Bible says…” or “This teaching is from the Bible…” or “This is Biblical teaching and the others are not…”, then you need to put your money where your mouth is and prove it. If you cannot clearly defend the belief based upon the Bible, then I would suggest to you that you are dividing people instead of bringing them together.
I want you to consider some chilling words:
32What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32, King James Version)
18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19, King James Version)
To call a doctrine “Biblical” then means it must be based squarely upon the word of God, or you are misrepresenting God.
7Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7, King James Version)
How do we take His name in vain? By using His name when He uttered no such word.
19And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
20But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. (Deuteronomy 18:19-20, King James Version)
When someone misrepresents God, he makes God out to be something that He is not. It is a form of idolatry.
Not only that, but adding to His words makes you a liar.
5Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
6Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6, King James Version)
What is the fate of idolaters? Liars?
7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:7-8, King James Version)
I agree, we need to go by the Bible more than the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong. I like and respect Mr. Armstrong very much, but our faith must be in God's word, not any man, and Mr. Armstrong himself taught, as you say, "don't believe me, believe your Bible." He was right to say that, and we are right to follow it.
If the teaching that God's governance in the Church of God is not by the voting of men is only based on Mr. Armstrong's teachings and example, then that is not sufficient for anyone to judge that voting is wrong. But if the Bible teaches the same thing, if Mr. Armstrong received this doctrine from the Bible, then his example and teaching adds weight but the real proof is in the Bible.
A key issue concerning governance in the Bible, although this is also an issue with other doctrines as well, is the question, does God teach us in the Bible only by commands and instructions, or does He teach us by examples also? I think it is clear that the Bible teaches by example as well as commands (John 13:15, 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11, Philippians 3:17, Hebrews 4:11, James 5:10, 1 Peter 2:21, 2 Peter 2:4-6, Jude 7-8).
God SHOWS US His government in the Bible. Men holding positions of authority in God's government are ALWAYS appointed from a higher authority. There were no elections or voting in the New Testament Church of God. Paul appointed elders, and he was appointed by Christ. No one voted Paul into office. Everything was by appointment. That was the tradition and the practice of the Church of God as made clear by every example and instruction in the entire New Testament. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle" (2 Thessalonians 2:15). See also 1 Corinthians 11:2. For evidence that elders were appointed by those higher in authority rather than elected by ballot box, see Titus 1:5.
We are commanded to live by every word of God, not just the commands of God, but the examples which are written in the Bible for our teaching. That is why God gave us the book of Acts. God shows us the pattern and we should follow that pattern.
OK, let me try that again.
email@example.com wrote: "God SHOWS US His government in the Bible."
Only by reading your own biases into the text.
"Men holding positions of authority in God's government are ALWAYS appointed from a higher authority."
But, God's government isn't here yet, is it?
Who does the appointing then? If you say "God", then when did He speak it? If He did not audibly say it, nor write it, then how are we to know? What is the sign?
You should base a doctrine upon conjecture.
"There were no elections or voting in the New Testament Church of God. Paul appointed elders, and he was appointed by Christ. No one voted Paul into office."
No one voted in the other 12, either. All 13 were appointed by Jesus Himself. Shows that the "one-man rule" is not a doctrine of the NT Church, since there were 13 in charge.
Still messed that up! You should *not* base a doctrine upon conjecture.
Hmmm — I take it you're NOT buying the claim some ministers made years ago, that Herbert Armstrong's writings will "someday by Scripture"?!
@Richard: You know, even as a teen, I thought that one was pretty far out there. I used to eat up a lot of HWA's writings, but I thought MOA was a disappointment on too many counts. Yet, there were people falling all over themselves praising it.
At least most of the people I knew had enough sense to say "perhaps" or "maybe" his writings would some day be scripture. Those were still some strange times, though.