OK, I tried to understand this one, but it doesn’t make sense to me. COGWriter Dr Robert Thiel wrote:
Leon Walker made the following statements on 11/19/10:
As you know, Denny Luker sent a letter to the Spanish ministry still credentialed by UCG demanding that they choose between him or me—as though that was the issue. The letter contains many errors regarding this issue—including the concept that I have formed a group in competition with UCG. This is totally false. I have not formed any new group. I have visited with and spoken only before United Church of God congregations in Latin America, pastored by ministers still credentialed by UCG. However, Mario Seiglie has traveled to Latin America and formed groups in competition to the UCG congregations—contrary to the UCG Rules of Association.
This morning Mario began a telephone campaign calling the Spanish ministry and asking what they plan to do regarding Mr. Luker’s letter. Mario attempted to intimidate them by stating that if they reject the Council of Elders they are rejecting the government of God. How arrogant! Did Mario believe that when he rejected the WCG Pastor General in 1995 that he was rejecting the government of God?
The hypocrisy of those who rejected the governance system that they all publicly proclaimed that they supported prior to UCG’s formation in 1995 has long been obvious to me. And apparently Leon Walker decided to also point it out.
Now, keep in mind that Leon Walker uses the word “hypocrisy” nowhere in his letter. Rather, he used the word “arrogant” and indirectly points out hypocrisy of rejecting WCG’s government and then saying later you must submit to the “government of God” (Mario Seiglie’s words, according to Walker), that is, UCG.
However, Thiel’s comments paint a rather broad brush if you ask me. He is taking Walker’s comments out of context and saying, if you follow the logical conclusion, that changing your mind about government is hypocrisy. In essence, everyone no longer in WCG must be a hypocrite for rejecting what government God placed in the church.
Where do we draw the line, then? I changed my mind when I decided to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Was that hypocrisy? Some have decided that the Hebrew calendar is wrong and have tried to keep various forms of “biblical” calendars. Are they hypocrites? What about people who find out Christmas is of pagan origin and quit keeping it? Are they hypocrites?
Mind you, and I wrote Thiel about this, there are probably tares in any group. Did some hypocrites leave WCG and go to UCG? I think some of the history of the organization points to the answer. Did some hypocrites leave WCG and go to GCG? Did some hypocrites leave WCG and form PCG? I think the answer is “Yes” in all cases, but calling an entire organization as “hypocritical” for rejecting a non-Biblical doctrine is being pretty judgmental, if you ask me.
A hypocrite isn’t one who changes their mind about something. A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be for one thing, yet secretly is for something else. If Seiglie indeed said what Walker says he did, then that would be hypocritical because that is not what UCG teaches, not for the reasons Thiel gives.
I appreciate this post.
I have,long ago, concluded that Bob Thiel is simply not a very deep thinker. Actually, to be more accurate, not a very good thinker- period. Not even close to being a deep thinker. I believe he is very sincere, but, as we all know, sincerety is not enough. Almost everyone is sincere.
I think it is important to say this about Bob on your blog. He says what he says publicly. So I think it is right to point out his lack of good thinking publicly.
Why all the fuss about "Dr" Thiel. By your own definition, "A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be for one thing, yet secretly is for something else." Another blogger (I believe it was Ambassador Watch) challenged Theil to produce evidence about his supposed advanced degrees. As Thiel was challenged, he changed his story several times and when one of the colleges were called, they never heard of him. I believe the outcome of that was he was exposed as receiving his advanced degrees from diploma mills.
To be honest, I do ignore quite a bit of what he says, but whether you, I or anyone else likes it, he is a noted blogger on COG matters.
As to his degree, I cannot say. From what I've been told, his doctorate is in the area of natural remedies (not sure what it's actually called). I haven't bothered to check what organization granted it.
Getting back to the point;
"The hypocrisy of those who rejected the governance system that they all publicly proclaimed that they supported prior to UCG’s formation in 1995 has long been obvious to me."
How far off is he? Now –lets be honest!
Anyone who has talked to very many of the ministers in UCG–or even listened to some of their sermons–has got to know that they could not really have supported the governing system under HWA in their heart and then so quickly abandon it and claim it really never existed. As I have said before–the first thing that was changed under Tkach was government, but very few saw it. Then those who went out with UCG changed from what they had been supporting to a more worldly and democratic type government, even when they had the opportunity to continue in it to get the Gospel out. Where do you find ANYWHERE in scripture that God's servants VOTED among themselves for leadership. Christ called the Pharisees hypocrites several times because they professed to be teachers of the Law but were actually wanting people to follow their own traditions.
Has UCG not done the same thing? How many of you have really proven solidly from scripture that there really is no ranking authority of top down government set in the Church by Christ? when did you start getting that idea? Under HWA–or UCG?
@The editor: Actually, the first deacons were chosen, not by the apostles, but by the congregation. Did they write names on a piece of paper, raise hands or put stones into a bucket? We don't know, but no matter the mechanics, they were chosen by the congregation.
You said, " As I have said before–the first thing that was changed under Tkach was government, but very few saw it."
Would you please elaborate on this comment? How, and perhaps when, did Joe Tkach change the governance structure? Are you referring to disbanding the council of elders that HWA had and putting "his (Tkach) boys" in positions of authority. If so, I don't see that as any change. I am interested in your thoughts on this.
By the way, whether one saw a need to change the governance structure in WCG or UCG seems irrelevant, if the change came after careful thought and study.
Personally, I concluded years before UCG started that titles like apostle, evangelist, pastors, etc. are not ranks. Yes, there is a need for a "chain of command" in any organization, but that in no way, requires one man rule. The chain of command should facilitate each member in the church using their gifts and abilities to the fullest extent. It should not be a military or corporate chain of command. Those with more influence, and that is all it should be (with one clarification below), should be the best servants, the most humble, etc. There is a time, administratively, when authority is needed. But these times should be rare.
Yes, when Christ comes and rules that will finally be God's government. Although, even then humans will not be part of the "kingdom of God." Christ has proven that he will always rule according to the Father's principles. As long as man governs there is always a need for accountability and checks and balances.
"Actually, the first deacons were chosen, not by the apostles, but by the congregation."
The apostles chose to ask for and receive the recommendation of the congregation, as advice. The congregation recommended the deacons. The apostles accepted their recommendation and made the men deacons by giving them their office and authority.
The "choosing" includes the decision of the apostles to ask for the congregation's recommendations and then to approve them. The choosing was not all the congregation, but the apostles too. It was a collaborative decision.
The congregation had no authority over the process, only the apostles.
If there was any kind of balloting, it was the kind that is done in an opinion poll. It is like when a pastor asks for a show of hands on who prefers morning services and who prefers afternoon Sabbath services.
Okay John, let us take a moment and look at this together; (I see @ptg.book may have beat me to this, but oh well.)
DID the congregation orchestrate this or was it the apostles? What really was the authority here; the people of the congregation or the apostles? Did the congregation (Or even elders—such as the GCE) gather the apostles together and say; this is what we are going to do? Perhaps we have been directed to focus on the wrong aspect of these verses by someone who wants us to see it a little differently that it really is.
Acts 6:2-4 (RSV) 2 And the TWELVE summoned (CALLED) the body of the disciples (to them—they did not go to the people—they called the meeting) and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” (Now did the people set the criteria and the guidelines? Was this done by vote? NO, they were directed from the top down—by the apostles set in place by Christ, who is head overall—this was done by the Holy Spirit through the appointed leadership of the COG directing it—right? Note it;)
V.3 Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom WE may APPOINT to this duty.” 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (No picking your best friend by vote—he had to have specific fruits that were obvious)
Then after this was done and the individuals were brought at the request of the apostles, it was still in the hands of the apostles and they made the final choice to use these men, through prayer and laying on of hands. It was not the congregation’s idea nor was it their choice in HOW to choose or WHO to choose, nor did they have anything to do with the anointing! To see this any other way is to ignore a lot of facts found in these Scriptures and head down a path away from the whole truth! IF your minister comes into a new hall for Sabbath meeting—looks around and says “okay whoever is responsible for set-up, I WANT the chairs set this way and the lectern over there and the sound man right over here, the tables at the back set such an such”—when the people do that was it their decision? This method of choosing leaders is basically the same thing you see under Moses, is it not? Deut 1:13-17 (Moses said) 'Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.' 14 "And you answered me and said, 'The thing which you have told us to do is good.' 15 "So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men, and made them heads over you, leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, leaders of tens, and officers for your tribes.
16 "Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, 'Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. 17 'You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man's presence, for the judgment is God's. The case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.'
To Jim; Collective leadership done God’s way will be top down, whether it be one man or several, as in a council—but it will always be submissive to the head of the COG and guided by the Holy Sprit. When human reason or ideas of man by careless-ness or in defiance of what is seen in Scripture is employed—it is no longer God’s Government. God and Satan both use top down governing, whereas God always governs for the benefit of the governed–Satan is out to have it his way no matter how he has to do it.
His end game is to counterfiet in order to decieve and then destroy. God governs to GIVE life.
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: "The congregation had no authority over the process, only the apostles."
I disagree. It looks to me like the choosing was delegated to the congregation, and the process was unspecified for the most part.
"If there was any kind of balloting, it was the kind that is done in an opinion poll. It is like when a pastor asks for a show of hands on who prefers morning services and who prefers afternoon Sabbath services."
That's still voting.
"a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or body of individuals." ~Dictionary.com
A judge makes a juror vote on a case. That does not make it anything but voting. The judge sets the rules by which the vote is to be cast, but it is still a vote of 12 people.
As far as determining who would serve as deacon:
1. The congregation had to voice an opinion. Someone had to put names forth, and people had to agree or not.
2. How likely is it that the majority of the congregation was not in favor of any of these men? Do we really expect the deacons to receive adequate resources and respect if there wasn't some type of "buy-in" by the majority of the congregation?
Therefore, a majority of opinions were expressed in favor of these men, and they were put forward as deacons to be anointed by the apostles. The congregation voted, and the apostles confirmed.
The editor wrote: "Now did the people set the criteria and the guidelines?"
Doesn't matter. Rules and criteria are always in place when people vote. You asked for one example of voting, and I gave it to you. The people were asked their opinion, and they gave it.
It doesn't have to be a "popularity contest", either. That's not what voting means. It simply means individuals express their opinion in some fashion and it is somehow noted. Like anything else, the motives may be pure, or they may not be pure.
The only other reasonable alternative I see would be if they cast lots. However, if that were the case, they would have not been following the guidelines set down by the apostles I would think.
Look at this another way: Throughout the NT, we are told in various ways to submit to one another. How is that possible if we don't know what other people think? How can that be done if we don't know the others' opinions? Voting, balloting, or whatever you want to call it, is just another way of expressing one's opinion. Following what the majority rules is just another way of submitting to others.
I think Scripture is clear that apostles are over the Church. Of course, who today can legitimately be called such? Ministers and elders are over congregations. Beyond that, there are no clear-cut guidelines I can see. Even if you believe that one of the lists of offices are ranks, what are the guidelines for putting them into office? Basically, other than prayer and fasting.
"It was not the congregation’s idea nor was it their choice in HOW to choose or WHO to choose…"
Sorry, but that's incorrect. The whole point of that passage was that the congregation chose WHO to serve. Furthermore, they weren't told how. They were only told to look for certain qualifications.
"IF your minister comes into a new hall for Sabbath meeting—looks around and says “okay whoever is responsible for set-up, I WANT the chairs set this way and the lectern over there and the sound man right over here, the tables at the back set such an such”—when the people do that was it their decision?"
That example doesn't come close to fitting the passage in question. The apostles specifically asked the congregation to choose the men for ordination. Your example is just one of someone micromanaging the setup for services and not asking anyone's opinion.
Excellent response to "author" and "editor", John.
Very useful "iron sharpening iron."
Thanks for a great debate. Even with those that I disagree with, present good well-structured arguments.
I believe that there is clear evidence of collective leadership and voting other than Acts 6.
Acts 8:14 “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them” NKJV
“They” sent Peter and John, indicating a joint decision was arrived at, no one individual decided this. Adam Clarke’s and Barnes commentaries also agree on this e.g. “there was no individual ruler among the apostles-there was not even a president of the council” Clarke.
“This shows conclusively that there was no "chief" or ruler among them. They acted as being equal in authority”. Barnes
2 Cor 8:19 “but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind,” NKJV
Both Clarke and Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentaries refer to voting here for the word “chosen” e.g. Appointed by a show of hands; from cheir, the hand, and teinoo, to extend.” Carke.
Vines Dictionary mentions that this word was “primarily used of voting in the Athenian legislative assembly and meaning ‘to stretch forth the hands’ (cheir, ‘the hand,’ teino, ‘to stretch’). The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament states “Raising the hand expresses agreement, and hence first means to vote for.”
This word is used in Acts 14:23 “So when they had appointed (ordained KJV) elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” NKJV
In this case most commentators refer the meaning to select by raising hand rather than voting. E.g. “Other meanings that develop are ‘to select’ and ‘to nominate.’" Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
Could this mean that Paul and Barnabas were involved in some type of voting here? Obviously most commentators do not take the literal meaning of this word, but prefer the meaning to appoint. However I raise this as a possibility.
And then we come to the replacement of Judas. Peter sets the criteria for the new appointment, but he does not choose the person. “They” all propose 2.
Acts 1:23 “And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias., (26) And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” NKJV
an object used in casting or drawing lots, which was either a pebble, or a potsherd, or a bit of wood Thayer's Lexicon,
But notice what other word this casting of lots is used with "was numbered with"
"to vote or reckon (one) a place among" (sun, "with" or "among," kata, "down," and psephizo, "to count or vote," originally with pebbles, psephos, "a pebble"), is used of the "numbering" of Matthias with the eleven apostles,
Strong’s says this word is made up of a combination of three Greek words
1. "Sun" union with
2. "Kata" Down from or according to
3. "Psephizo " to count with pebbles Thayer adds “to decide by voting, to give ones vote by casting a pebble into the urn"
Also let me take up the point about Satan and God government’s structure being the same. They are not the same. There is only one Satan, he shares with no one. However the God head is currently made up of the Father and Son (Word). Yes the Father is in charge, but they share this role in practice.
“that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us,” NKJV
Perhaps Jim Butler sums it up best. As no one has a full measure of the Spirit, “as long as man governs there is always a need for accountability and checks and balances.”
Well John, have it the way you want it, but it is your opinion, as it nowhere says they "voted" nor does it imply that to me. obviously we read the Scriptures differently becuase I don't read that into Scripture, nor do I see it and we may both be wrong. collective leadership does not do away with top down rule or leadership, nor ranks–for that matter. However, I can safely say that those who are looking to have a vote in who sets where in the coming kingdom, will have to learn that is not the way Scripture indicates it will be done and I will just leave it at that. been nice chatting and thanks for the forum.
MTCOGSM, you say we will have no say in who sits where in the kingdom. Yet what does Paul say in Corinthians?
1 Cor 6:2-3 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? (NKJ)
The point is no one human is capable of true Godly judgment now as we only have a deposit of the Holy Spirit. Therefore checks and balances are needed in the judgments we need to make as physical humans. If a man after God’s own heart and a future king, David, could abuse power on more than one occasion, what hope for the rest of us?
Obviously senior positions in the kingdom God has worked out. But the above scripture indicates to me that when we are ready (i.e. Fully Spirit) we will be involved in the judgment process in the kingdom.