Today, Dr Robert Thiel published “UCG News: Some Negative Trends”. Once again, he takes the opportunity to take potshots at UCG in various forms, making sure to use the word “Laodicea” more than once yet again.
However, he makes a good point about the amount being spent on the web. Whether or not it is influenced by the decision to move more into commercial TV, I do not know (a point that Thiel conveniently leaves out, which is odd since he would apparently agree with the move). I think the struggle to balance where to put the money for the proclamation of the Gospel will be ongoing as various circumstances change over time, but I hope UCG does not forget how they managed to get such large coverage on the web in the first place. Because of the way the Internet works, the more popular you are the more popular you become due to caching, web links, blogs and other commentary. It can take time and effort to catch up once you fall behind.
Thiel, however, reconsider some of what he wrote.
Dennis Luker seems to, at least, to understand that Satan is influencing that organization.
What organization does Satan not try to influence? What person does Satan not try to influence? God warns us in several places about wolves in sheep’s clothing, but does God remove the wolves? Well, since a few have left, perhaps God does. Time will tell, of course.
You know, for someone who belongs to an organization that has a unique distinction of making headline news at one point in time, it seems a little more compassion about Satan’s influence would be in order.
My first concern about UCG has long been that its initial leaders rejected the form of church governance that they all had taught prior to the formation of UCG and the fruits of this have not been good. The Kingdom of God has hierarchical governance, and while UCG leaders recognize this, they have decided a different way is better for them at this time.
The Church, however, is not the Kingdom of God. I just don’t know why people seem to be so unwilling to admit that. Even HWA pointed that out a few times, even though he was inconsistent about it when he spoke of church governance.
My other long-term concern has been that UCG’s focus never really has been on public proclamation of the gospel. UCG simply does not view the commission in Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20 the way I think that they should.
And, of course, Thiel is allowed to have and express his opinion. I have made the point more than once, however, that I don’t believe God calls us into an organization so we can watch videos week to week. Admittedly, there are some UCG congregations where the pastor and supporting elders simply cannot provide adequate coverage. Yet, UCG has taken great pains to keep them to a minimum.
Proclaiming the Gospel, getting them through the door but not feeding the flock you have just is not a long term strategy for success. That’s why HWA put so much emphasis on a college. It’s the same reason that some of the world’s churches are doing so poorly. They proclaim their version of the Gospel but there is no spiritual growth afterwards. Instead, it leads to stagnation, and stagnation leads to decay.
UCG has decided to take a 2-pronged approach. It is reflected in the motto “Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People.”
Something I have written about before is that people become attracted to the Gospel when they see it lived out in everyday, ordinary lives. The COGs have long overlooked this mostly untapped resource, and there are signs that UCG may be trying to change that. However, you cannot do that if you do not feed the flock.
I will also ask the same question I asked before: Does anyone know the number of retirees and widows that the various COGs have supported after the split? You know, the ones that the “progressive” leadership at WCG/GCI abandoned after finding “grace”? I know PCG has pretty much abandoned or tried to abandon some ministerial widows as well. I know UCG has taken some under their wing, but how many I do not know. Have any others?
This [the proclaiming of the Gospel], however, has not seemed to be that big a deal for those who remain and support UCG.
When widows are being helped, then the Gospel is being proclaimed, in my opinion. When people are being trained in the ways of God, then the Gospel is being proclaimed in their very lives. When people are being cared for, loved and provided opportunities for growth, the love of Christ is being played out in front of their eyes, and the Gospel is being proclaimed.
If anything, UCG could do more of this rather than less! It is time for God’s people to wake up and stop being lukewarm about what really counts: Love!
Since Thiel quotes Mt 28, let’s look at those verses, shall we?
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ina]’>[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
~ Mt 28:19-20 (NIV)
Every modern translation I checked has the rendition of “make disciples”. It is not enough to simply proclaim the Gospel. Disciples must be taught (cf. v 20). That’s what “feeding the flock” is all about!
So, what I read is that discipleship and taking care of the household of faith (Gal 6:10) are very important as well.
I consider that rejection of proper church governance is both a lack of humility and lack of faith issue.
I have already wrote what I believe about adding to doctrine that which is not in the Bible. One person at the top claiming to speak for God is not humility in most cases. There are far too many “Elijahs”, “Elishas”, “prophets”, “apostles” and “witnesses” to count!
In the end, all men’s organizations are corrupt. It is human nature, after all, and who in the Church is immune to this?
Some will argue that having one man at the top is more efficient, as though efficiency is the measure of Godliness. I would really like to see that verse! However, remember that the same organization that can get good things done quickly can also become corrupt just as quickly. Corrupt leadership has been most evident in dictatorships. History bears this out. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
HWA was often susceptible to the words of flattery and yes-men. If even he was not immune to it, what makes us think that anyone else can do better?
Laodicea is made up of two Greek words that basically mean “people decide”–the implication is that they decide that their own criteria are more important than those in the Bible. Because of this, they reason around placing the proper emphasis on the public proclamation portion of the work of God. What about you? Will you follow the criteria of the Bible or your own?
I intend to follow the Bible, Dr Thiel. That includes the fact that there is no commandment about how to govern ourselves before Christ returns, only that things should be orderly. It is not “reasoning around” to see that those who neglect the feeding of the flock are making an even worse mistake. It takes a great deal of lukewarmness to not attend to the basic needs of the congregation.
Furthermore, Laodicea can also mean “the people judge”. Continuing in judgmental attacks against another COG is being a Laodicean. Adding to doctrine what is not Scriptural, but rather something conjured up from a person’s judgment, is being a Laodicean.
Finally, using traditions of men, even if from HWA, to judge another or another group instead of the word of God is Phariseeism.
Of course, those who will be blind about governance will continue in their blindness, no doubt. If they do not seek to govern themselves, no matter what “structure” they may be under, then it just won’t matter.