Get your coffee while its hot, grab a chair, and let’s chat. Let’s talk politics – church politics, that is. You’ll hear some old stuff, but you’ll definitely hear some new stuff. You’re bound to hate just about most of it.
I originally thought I would break this up more, but I didn’t for one main reason: There is so much stuff already strewn all over so many places that I became determined that packing most of it into one place made more sense. Because of this I’ll tell you what is not in this article. It doesn’t include an updated timeline (see below), and it doesn’t directly address the Sabbath paper (although this article does contain some important background material). However, I do include in this article a conclusion that you may or may not agree with.
We have discussed a couple of major elements of the schism within UCG. In particular, there appears to be an “old guard” element that is a politically conservative group in that they believe that a president should have top-down authority within the church organization, and there is a “new guard” element that is politically liberal that wants less bureaucracy, less government and hearkens back to 1995 when it was decided that no one man should control the organization.
If only it were that simple, eh? You can see the philosophical divide is deep as well as wide.
And, what of some assumptions about the whole UCG governance. How many assumed what Larry Roybal did? “However, in my mind, I thought that the president would remain in office until he could no longer perform his job adequately or would be removed because of some kind of unbiblical action.” In other words, you are voted to be president and they carried you out with your boots still on.
I have had an opportunity to hear a different side of this for once. Not official papers being put out by the president or the council, and certainly an informal and unofficial discussion. What is perplexing and often not discussed is that there really are more than two sides to all of this. In fact, my particular friend described it as a “plate of spaghetti”.
If you will recall the resolution that led to Clyde Kilough’s resignation, it read in part:
“Now, in retrospect, 15 years of history has proven sufficient to strip away our innocence and reveal that our governance system has indeed both strengths and weaknesses. It is highly alarming, though, to see that we have reached a point where the weaknesses have begun to frustrate and divide people, stymie the work God has given us to do, and foster fears in ministers and members alike that another church split is looming if we cannot resolve some of these divisive issues.”
Whether or not this resolution was “legal” or if the deck was stacked or any number of items, it does reveal a divide much larger than that of a single administration and a specific council.
One thing that is unusual about the amendment itself is that there was ample opportunity to discuss it prior to when it was introduced. In fact, there was at least one hour and a half discussion about cleaning up the governance papers during the time the resolution was written, and not one of the authors said a word about it. It appears to me that there already had to be an atmosphere of deep mistrust between the COE and the administration in order for this to happen this way.
One supporter of the resolution later on admitted that they had never envisioned the amount of turnover of the office of president within UCG. It really came down to a political end run to change governance and make it appear above board.
The “Liberal” Card
Using “conservative” and “liberal” labels don’t help. It seems that some want to play those cards because they know it confuses the situation and causes an emotional response that can cause fence sitters to swing their direction.
For example, a “conservative” in American politics actually wants smaller government (or, so they say) rather than larger. Yet, in UCG, it really is just the opposite. You want to maintain the top-heavy good old boy network. You can easily cover that though, since you are the party of “values”. Never mind that the opposing side has the same stated values you do.
When that smokescreen of “values” doesn’t work, call the opposing party “liberal” and hope that the associated baggage that comes with that label sticks.
However, what if one or both parties were willing to sacrifice their stated ideals in order to gain control of the situation?
Well, you would have what resembles the politics of the world, would you not? You would have situational ethics. You would have “campaign promises” that are discarded like yesterday’s newspaper. You would have smear campaigns that throw mud all over your opponent.
You would have the situation that reportedly Scott Ashley addressed in a Q&A back in July according to http://ucgcurrentcrisis.webs.com/apps/blog/show/4416110-scott-ashley-q-a-grand-junction-co-july-17-2010. It’s difficult to read as written, but there is a lot to consider there. Now, I don’t know how accurate it was recorded, but I think there’s enough there to get an idea of where the COE is coming from.
What happened in Latin America was more than just one of the old guard raising up in defiance of the more “liberal” new guard. In fact, it flies in the face of the normal course of things in that “conservative” usually is equated to “values”. This shows why a distinction needs to be made. It is not “values” where lies and slander are being spread about people and groups of people.
It’s a real problem when you are spreading misinformation about the organization you are supposedly working for. It’s a real problem as well when you are persecuting the people trying to translate and disseminate official church communications in order to suppress the official communication.
Out of this, the trumped-up charge of breaking the Sabbath was leveled against a family. The family was suspended, and several L.A. brethren walked out of services because they knew what was going on. They were suspended. While unsure of how many walked out of services, 80 appealed to have their suspensions overturned.
The outcome of this was that the COE was accused of being “liberal” and trying to change doctrine. We will discuss the Sabbath issue, yet another tangled web of intrigue, at a later time because there is a timeline of events that precedes Abigail Cartwright’s version (as well as certain events actually being left out).
Once that “liberal” card was thrown, however, that was the point where the enemy can move in. We should be familiar with his tactics by now. Once the divide has opened, it is time to divide and conquer.
Just like in worldly politics, you have people who have a hidden agenda. You have people not devoted to building something up, but rather are devoted to tearing things down. Some pages on the Internet have so much bitterness and animosity oozing from them that I have to clean my laptop screen afterwards. Dr Don Ward gave a sermon, which I’ll get to in a minute, that explains many will have a root of bitterness. I beg you to consider which spirit some of these people are dealing with.
Some of those people might not even belong to the organization/state/country to begin with. I highly recommend you listen to a very excellent sermon by Dr Ward:
“… And, for some of the enemies of the church and tares in the church, they’re not really concerned with the truth about doctrine – or anything else. Their goal is to stir up trouble, try to make the church look bad, do the work of the Devil, and destroy it and you if they can. Wise Up!”
~ Ward, Don. (30 Oct 2010). Ministers of Reconciliation. Audio sermon retrieved from: http://www.ucg-houston-south.org/audio/103010%20Ward%20-%20The%20Ministry%20of%20Reconciliation.mp3.
You have to question why people would use a pseudonym, a fake identity, to criticize a church – any church. You have to wonder why anyone would stand up to say, “I am Abigail Cartwright” as though AC was Spartacus. Well, AC is not a real person. AC is not accountable to anyone else because she is an invention of someone’s imagination.
Again, you would have to wonder why someone else outside of an organization would spend so much time trying to appear to be part of that organization. There is one in particular who seems to have an axe to grind but doesn’t show up as being a member anywhere.
So, are these the types of tactics that are used by honest people? Are these the actions of people of God? Are these the actions of those who promote “values”? Sorry, but if that’s the behavior you are trying to promote, then I want nothing to do with it.
Again, whose spirit is evidenced in these things?
New Guard Makes Overtures and Mistakes
Of course, the new guard pretty much stepped in it with that Sabbath paper. I even got my friend to see that it was a really bad idea for more than one reason. Basically, they played right into the old guard’s hands, giving them ammunition to make more serious charges. Again, it’s a topic in itself, but the damage has been done and may be irreparable in some people’s minds.
Not everything has been so negative, however. There have been attempts at communication, even if they haven’t been very clear. That’s a lot more transparency than you would have gotten in the past.
Also, the administration has made overtures to other COG groups in that he acknowledges that the “Church of God’ is a larger spiritual body. That’s probably no shock to anyone, but Dennis “Call Me Denny” Luker has mentioned it a lot more than any predecessor that I can recall.
Thirdly, the administration has tried to hold talks with the L.A. ministers. Talks have been held with two, and one of them is Leon Walker. The other? Well, he was fired by Leon Walker shortly thereafter simply for meeting with UCG. Needless to say, none of the rest are going to be quick to jump on the meet-with-UCG bandwagon under those circumstances.
Fourth, UCG has been proactive in assisting the brethren in Latin America as much as possible. There have been some surprises along the way as a result.
- UCG setup a Feast site in Latin America in short order. Now, that might not seem like much, but consider the effort and expense of doing so on short notice.
- The site wasn’t very large, so a minister one day sat down at a table with some members. One in particular was shocked. When asked to explain why he was so surprised, he mentioned that no minister ever did that before. Essentially, the ministry was in a different caste than the rest.
- One member was so thankful for the site. He was thankful for the instruction he was receiving. Apparently, some of the members suffered in spiritual food and teaching.
- One area did not have services every Sabbath. If the minister was not there, they weren’t allowed to even hold a Bible study without his presence. This, in spite of the fact that there were elders of a few years there. There was no attempt to develop them spiritually.
- Another member said that he would never go back to Walker’s organization now that he has seen it can be different.
- One man was refused entrance into services because he was late. That in spite of the fact that he travelled 5 miles by bus to get there, and he was late because the bus broke down.
So, what of the regional pastors? Well, that’s sort of interesting as well.
Regional Pastors = Old Guard
Discussions about streamlining the organization have gone back to at least 2000. Fundamentally, the situation was a rather top-heavy one. There were about 3 – 4 fewer RPs than in WCG, in spite of the church being much smaller and the number of ministers to supervise being significantly fewer.
Unfortunately, there has been little incentive to reduce the number of them in the past because it had become an old boy network. Each of them received travel expenses and a “salary supplement” for this additional duty. In fact, it turns out that there are a lot of “salary supplements”, and this COE is really keen on cutting costs. If you haven’t seen it yet, COGWriter Dr Robert Thiel has mentioned on Church of God News that “UCG 2010 Financial Statements Show Income Drop”. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you probably realize that worldwide the economy isn’t doing so great, and in the US especially. It turns out that this is a legitimate cost cutting move after all.
Why wouldn’t they tell us this before? Well, a ministers salary is a “touchy subject” it seems. Seems to me that it shouldn’t be. If I pay tithes, I think I have a right to have a much better idea of what it’s being spent on. How do I know it is going for Godly purposes otherwise?
Back to the RPs, though, it is somewhat coincidental that they also signed letters that were sent to the COE. What you don’t hear is:
- The COE answered them. Apparently, not one of the RPs responded back. No “I’m sorry”, no “Thanks for telling me” and not even a rebuttal.
- 6 RPs were caught slandering the COE and/or administration. 3 were actually advocating bloc voting, in spite of supposedly being against it.
- Apparently, at least one of the RPs was part of the group that wanted a revote for COE members because “liberal” members could not have been voted in unless there was “bloc voting”.
Now, I’m sure that many of them were busy, dedicated men. The lack of response might just mean that they accepted the response from the COE and went on their way. However, it would appear to not so in all cases.
Here is one other irony of the situation, though: If the old guard really wants to get things done, if they are really tired of the political paralysis of the administration and COE and if they really want a more streamlined government, then this is one way for it to occur.
Who knows? Maybe in the long run the elimination of an extra layer will loosen up the gridlock that seems to have occurred over time as well as save money.
What Is Next?
What is to become of all of this? How can UCG move forward? Well, certainly Ward’s sermon (you will listen to it, right?) has some good ideas. However, can both sides sit down and discuss it?
Well, like my friend said, it is the worst he has ever seen it. It is the worst I have ever seen it. When asked if the church was going to split, he answered, “I think it beyond fixing now.”
So, back to the question I posed last week, “Do they,” the UCG administration/COE, “want a smaller church?” That’s one way to view it, but is it what was intended? Or, is it just the realization that the two sides cannot reconcile, at least for now? If nothing else, it takes two sides to cooperate, but it only takes one to cause trouble, and at least one side appears quite unwilling to sit down with the other.
Is the administration being hard nosed or are they standing their ground on principle? Or, is it just what other people want to paint of them because they want to paint one group as the victim?
And, what of the third parties? Will they reveal their true agendas? Will they finally spin off into their own little corner of the web like so many others, to be ignored by the rest of us? How many will they take down with their poison?"
As for us? Let’s all do what Dr Laura always tells her listeners to do: “Go Do the Right Thing”.
This was very informative and well put (as well put as any situation this complicated is going to get).
As far as these third parties go… No one having the Spirit can be deceived unless they allow themselves to be deceived. If people aren't willing to examine themselves and their motives, then they aren't any better off being in UCG than any other group, no matter how you slice it.
Interesting post. I've come to believe the problems in LA predate the sabbath issue. It just brought them to the surface.
You mentioned "trumped up" charges of sabbath breaking but yet said the present administration "stepped in it" with the sabbath paper. Are the facts different than presented in the sabbath paper? For instance I believe there was a real problem in LA with the sabbath but my conclusion is based on the facts as laid out in the sabbath paper. I think the admin came to the wrong conclusion with the paper.
"And, what of the third parties? Will they reveal their true agendas?"
If you consider me a "third party" whose "agenda" you need revealed to you, I can state it simply as follows, though the same information is in my website in longer form. I believe that Mr. Armstrong was correct in three major doctrines or teachings of his that seem to be a controversy among many COG fellowships and scattered members today. They are, zeal for preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public, willingness to change doctrine according to the Bible and put the Bible first over tradition, and following the principle of government from the top down. I believe these three teachings are from the Bible and my "agenda" is to teach them and support them to the greatest extent I can in the whole Church of God. I do this because I think greater understanding of these issues is needed at this time, and because I passionately believe these teachings are right and can be proved from the Bible.
I also am waiting for the agenda of the UCG Council majority to be revealed (or the agenda of those who appose them). Unlike some, I do not think what is happening is only a power struggle between personalities. I do not think the top leaders on both sides in UCG are so carnal as to be fighting over essentially nothing. I believe there must be some very substantive issue(s) involved under the surface, an issue or issues which both sides have passionate feelings about, something bigger than just who holds positions of power. I think both sides are fighting what they think is the good fight for what is right. I think their motives are probably sincere in that sense, though some methods are clearly wrong. I see hints and suggestions here and there but no smoking gun as to the root cause. Sooner or later it will come out.
No one has suggested to me why the move or lack of a move to Dallas was so important. When the Council majority placed greater emphasis on preaching the gospel to the world, I thought that might be an issue. James Malm of the Shining Light blog has said the issue is doctrine, and I am leaning towards agreement with that, though I am not sure. I tend to think it may be doctrine because of circumstantial evidence (including the Sabbath paper) and because I have heard of no other issues worthy of such contention. But I can't be sure because I have seen no proof. Not yet.
But if someone says to me, "it's just personalities and desire for power, no real issues other than that," I don't buy it. There has to be somethong more, and I am still waiting to find out what it is. Right now, doctrine is the best candidate.
While I do not agree with everything the "old guard" says & does, you are still leaving out some facts:
*People are posting information on Facebook and other sites because whenever something seemingly negative is posted on Realtime United blog it is deleted
*People in church areas where the pastor supports the COE and have a different opinion are being followed around services to find out what they say. They are also being tracked down at home if they don't show up for services.
*Why didn't the COE publish the answers to the RPs to the members?
*COE didn't even make an effort to communicate with LA ministry to find a solution to a successor for LW. He is over 70 – and time for a replacement. Instead of firing him outright, they could have approached LA/LW about a succession plan. Even someone in a normal business world would approach it better than the COE is.
*Using the term trumped-up charges assumes that the evidence is bad.
*The Sabbath paper that came from the COE defended keeping your business open on the Sabbath. Regardless of what the family in Chile did – this is a doctrinal change that didn't go through any internal channels. It is more proof of abuse of the system by the COE.
*While it is obvious the church in Chile was experiencing a serious internal divide, you can't just assume the COE side is telling the truth. The Sabbath paper dragged the family more into the spotlight – probably to try to distract people from the way the COE is acting.
*The "liberal" side has historically been for more local control. However, every action they have taken for the past 10 months or so has been consolidating power to that side. No dissention is tolerated. I would even go so far as to say that I probably would agree with a lot of their positions/ideas. However the implementation of them is so poor and so intolerant that it dis-credits them immediately.
*People are posting under other identities because if their true identity is know to the COE they will be suspended for dissention. No one in Indianapolis signed up for the thought police, which is what is being enforced right now.
*If the old guard really wanted a split – then when CK, JM, LS were demoted they would have run off to start their own church. Instead (until the past couple of weeks) all of them have kept heads down and really not said that much. I think they were trying to keep the organization from splitting, because if that's what they really wanted, they would have already done it.
*All we hear from the COE side is if you don't support us – you're rebellious or deluded. That is not the way to win people over to your side – think about it!
To be very fair – stuff Larry Roybal and LW have said is beyond the pale, but was apologized for. That is not brought up.
People on the old guard side have been horrendous about the name calling, unethical, liars, etc. And people should have had better attitudes about the move recision.
The problem is the COE thinks they have all the answers and no one else does. In every communication the problem is everyone else but them. Everyone knows it takes 2 to tango.
Dr. Ward's sermon was excellent. Both sides need to realize where they have been wrong and repent of how we have all treated each other. Then maybe someone can really talk.
@firstname.lastname@example.org: I appreciate your input. I have read your website and your blog, and you do not have a hidden agenda. Even though we might not see eye-to-eye on some things, I can say you've not been given to slander or hypocrisy, at least that I have seen. However, I would advise you that James Malm relies a lot on AC's website for information, so it may or may not be accurate.
@Anonymous: I will go into more detail on the L.A. Sabbath issue next week. You might be interested in knowing who backed what at what time. Meanwhile, you might start with asking why the paper was written in the first place. While that won't answer all the questions, it might at least partially explain it.
Admin? Which admin?
@Anonymous UCG Member: You bring up some excellent points. Actually, it isn't even that they consistently delete things on the Realtime blog. It is still a mystery to me what they let through and why.
Frankly, there wasn't time to give Leon Walker a pat on the head and a gold watch. As far as his age goes, well, most of the ministry is up in years. In spite of UCG's size and resources, that has been an issue, and it hasn't been addressed very well.
"You can't just assume the COE side is telling the truth."
No, but I do want to present the other side.
It appears that perhaps either side hasn't yet learned that trust is earned — but then that leads to the next Reflections article this weekend.
I almost forgot: "…If their true identity is know to the COE they will be suspended for dissention".
Perhaps. How many lay people have been suspended, though?
Even if they did, it isn't like it was before. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, though: There are 398 other COGs out there.
At any rate, even some of the ones on those forums who are using their real names have an obvious attitude. I sometimes think that if Melvin Rhodes makes coffee that someone will accuse him of unfair treatment towards the used coffee grounds. I mean, really, is this the type of behavior and attitude we've been reduced to?
"If the old guard really wanted a split…"
No, not all of them do, or a much larger one would have occurred by now. Of course, it still seems to be the direction it is all going anyhow unless one side or the other, and hopefully both sides, is willing to change some priorities.
The fact of the matter is that the focus on government, the focus on personalities and the focus on defending/justifying/rationalizing one's stance means the focus is not on Christ.
I don't think that your thesis holds. The Sabbath paper, as you yourself have admitted, advocates a different position than what was accepted in the past by the Church. It was issued by this new administration. Hence a strong indication that this new administration – council is more permissive or …. liberal. Thus it would seem that the lable applies.
Second, if eliminating the added pay perks that went along with being a regional pastor was the reason why those positions were eliminated, I suppose then that the new " regional pastors " are also not receiving them? Is that the case? Also, how do you account for the fact that the new " regional pastor " team is made up of core supporters of the new regime. Was that an accident?
Finally, anonymous anecdotal evidence concerning how " terrible " Mr. Walker's regime in Latin America was is hardly persuasive in light of the fact that the overwelming majority of the people under his pastoral care chose to exit formal affiliation with UCG. Two facts here, one anecdotal and anonymous, the other objectively provable. Which one is more credible?
(BTW if we accept the anecdotal evidence concerning Mr. Walker, shall we also accept what has been reported concerning Mr. Seigle's conduct?)
@Anonymous: Well, again, you might be surprised about the Sabbath issue. Then again, maybe not. In any event, as you said, it is a "strong indication", which is different than strong evidence. Apologizing for and withdrawing the paper is a step in the right direction, but I'd be the first to tell you it isn't enough.
I honestly don't know if the new RPs are receiving the supplements or not, and it isn't likely I'll know any time soon. Since there are now 11 – 3 = 8 less supplements to pay out, it is still a cost savings.
"How do you account for the fact that the new ' regional pastor ' team is made up of core supporters of the new regime. Was that an accident?"
Of course not, and neither is it necessarily wrong. What organization doesn't put in place officers and executives that support it?
Furthermore, are you really going to tell me that the old guard has not been doing the same thing prior to this?
As far as anecdotal vs "objectively provable", what are you referring to? The numbers? Perhaps some in L.A. don't really know, and it is likely that they are only getting one side of the story. And, it can be very effective when you threaten people with being disfellowshipped if they attend somewhere else.
Then again, why do people stick it out in places like PCG, where spiritual abuse happens in spite of having access to information? I liken it to a spiritual Stockholm syndrome.
As far as Mario Seigle's conduct vs Mr Walker's and anecdotal evidence, it boils down to who is more believable. I know one promotes a rather more bizarre story that is difficult to believe even on the best of days, let alone in this poisonous environment. Even then, when you look at the totality of behavior, one side seems to stand out in its behavior.
Of course, neither side is without fault in this.
May I ask just one follow-up? How is it actually established that Abigail Cartwright isn't a real person, or a real UCG member?
If you aren't on Facebook, you might not know the history of AC. "She" started the group UCG Current Crisis originally on FB, but was twice suspended because of the false identity. That's why it was moved to webs.com.
However, there is still a FB page for "I am Abigail Cartwright" [broken link removed by admin], so here it is in her/his/their own words:
"Who is Abigail Cartwright? Obviously a pseudonym, not for one person, but for many. People who love God…"
Thanks John for your balanced and excellent post and for having the courage of putting your name to your site. However, could I ask for more facts and sources. For example. “In fact, there was at least one hour and a half discussion about cleaning up the governance papers during the time the resolution was written, and not one of the authors said a word about it.” What is your source, proof? Another, “One supporter of the resolution later on admitted that they had never envisioned the amount of turnover of the office of president within UCG.” I seem to remember reading this somewhere else, but if you could state your source, I could then check it for myself. Likewise your 6 point comments on Latin America. Where is the proof, sources for your information?
Some other posts also lack source clarification. For example, one anonymous posting states “the pastor supports the COE and have a different opinion are being followed around services to find out what they say. They are also being tracked down at home if they don't show up for services.” Which area, which pastor? How can I be sure this is true if I cannot track down the source and independently verify this?
My point is it is so easy to start off unsubstantial rumors which the Bible itself warns against.
However, I think this applies most to the COE themselves. We are getting more transparency than ever, I suspect partly because the internet is forcing this, but they could do so much more. What were the contents of the letter sent to the regional pastors? What is the financial basis for their removal? How much do they/did they earn in salary and bonuses? What were bonuses paid for etc.? Unless the COE put it all out there, then rumors will persist.
It is a pity that so many of us, unlike you John, hide behind anonymous or pseudonyms (myself included). Is it something to do with our past and the threat of disfellowshipment that was often used? In my own case, I have firsthand experience. Several years ago in UCG I got a ministerial rebuke about quoting publically available web information on a members web site to other members.
@BureauCat: I guess it's a sign of the times, but as I said, "an informal and unofficial discussion". There's a definite lack of trust from all concerned. It isn't just one side or the other, it is on both sides.
I wondered about the whole tracking people down at home, though. I know of a case where someone was seriously put out because "no one called" when they stopped attending. I have to wonder how much is perception and how much is real. In the case you mentioned, is the minister being paranoid? Is the member? Both?
I do know one thing, and that's that the ministry needs to understand the lay people have the right to certain things know as well. If they don't want rumors, then they have a responsibility to put out information.
While it isn't ideal, at least my friend knows that some information needs to be put out. I think there is a realization amongst a few that the old way of doing things just won't work any longer.
Furthermore, if the ministry cannot tell the difference between honest inquiry and malicious rumor mongering, then how do they expect the lay members to? If the ministry keep treating the lay members like children, then how long will the lay members live down to their expectations?
Paul was rather put out in reference to one congregation because they had not grown spiritually. They were expected to judge certain matters themselves.
You cannot judge without information.
At the same time, there are very real people behind the stories, the flying accusations, the slander and the disfellowshipping. Some information is better to not be spread. Unfortunately, some don't seem to care even about the human aspect and will use any excuse to raise an accusation.
"Out of this, the trumped-up charge of breaking the Sabbath was leveled against a family. The family was suspended, and several L.A. brethren walked out of services because they knew what was going on. They were suspended. While unsure of how many walked out of services, 80 appealed to have their suspensions overturned."
I don't understand this quote above. How was this a trumped up charge? Did they not admit that they kept the business open? Is this not a change in policy for UCG? What are the circumstances of 80 being suspended? I haven't heard anything about that! Were the 80 in support of the family?
You brought up some interesting ideas.
Taken separately, personalities, desire for power (which can just be a misreading of a good ambition -1 Tim 3:1-) and doctrine may not be a problems all. They can also be rather good or at least rather useful things separately.
However putting them all together with only one having the wrong motivation, can create a recipe for disaster. Let's do some social math.
A person can have a personality (1 Sam 17:28), add some proper ambition and then some wrong doctrine. What do you get?
A person can have some right doctrine (Mt 23:3), add his personality and then some selfish ambition (the desire for power, loves to be first -3 Jn 1:9-). What do you get?
A person can have ambition, add right doctrine and then some self centered and indulgent personality. What do you get?
It is possible that no one in these events are without spot and blameless (perhaps a few are), even those who have the right doctrine may not without spot and blameless (perhaps a few are).
Maybe it is just me–but I am having a hard time figuring out where you stand on all of this? One post seems to say one thing and I think I can see where you are, then another one comes and gives another impression. Are you thinking the "new guard" as you put it, should be supported–or the "old guard"? Do you stand for the truth of Scripture or are you just a follower of the organization? (UCG)
If I am not mistaken, you pointed out recently that the COG is a Spiritual organism. I personally think these so called "rebels" are probably getting a bad rap. Most of Israel fell right in line with the ten spies who gave a bad report and Joshua and Caleb were probably considered rebels too.
(BTW) I have my reasons for signing this way.
One of the above comments has it figured out.
@MTCOGSM: Or is it admin, or is The editor? Tell you what: I will call you what you want to be called (within reason) if you'll drop the "Mr Carmack". My parents used to call me "John D", but most call me just "John".
"I am having a hard time figuring out where you stand on all of this?"
Perhaps a better question is to whom I owe my allegiance. And that, sir, would be Jesus Christ. Everyone else, myself included, has flaws and failures. Everyone else is suspect.
I hope you stick around and read tomorrow's Reflections article. It has a message for all sides.
Hi John – want to state again for the record that there has been bad behavior in the old & new guard over these issues.
There wasn't time to give LW a gold watch because the COE decided to fire him so fast. While LW could have at least cut his trip short when it became clear it was an order to him, it was the COE who came down fast and heavy.
There have been 2 lay members suspended – Tony Garcia in California and Dave Buchanon in Texas. I think that Tony may have been allowed back. But just saying that they can jump ship to another COG is pretty callous. We all have our local church families that no one wants to split up. Especially due to a disagreement in the ministry!
I do not want to cause any further issue for the family who was tracked down by giving identifying information, but I can assure you that they have been harrassed by the "new guard". Believe me – I would like nothing more that to think that this story is ridiculous, but it is not. With everything going on – can you really put it past them? You can't, and that is the real shame of it all. You are probably right I shouldn't have brought this up without being able to verify it.
Also – I will agree with your comment about people on the "old guard" side. The attitudes displayed by some feed into the distrust. Calling people names doesn't help. I think that people in the "new guard" are sincere, but lording it over people in the way they are is the true cause of the division. I agree with the statement that someone would say "Melvin Rhodes got coffee this morning" and use it in a bad light.
You are absolutely right about the focus needing to be on Christ.
Went on the South Houston website today and Dr. Ward's sermon has been removed.
Would anyone have a copy they could email?
It's a bit large for an email. Tomorrow I should have some time to put it on a website if people are interested.
See if you can access Dr Ward's sermon here.