Who Are You Going to Obey?

One subject that comes up over and over again ad nauseum is who has the ultimate authority in God’s Church.  The Bible provides a very good answer for that, but many will attempt to reason around it.

 29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29, King James Version)

Seriously, shouldn’t that settle the matter?  If someone comes along and teaches something other than what is in God’s Word, then should we listen to them?

Question: Who were the apostles speaking to?

 20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20, King James Version)

Question: Are there any exceptions?

You know, Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) said and taught many things during his lifetime.  Many of those things were true.  We in the Church of God have an entire package of doctrines that were restored by his efforts.  There may have been other groups that held bits and pieces of these truths, but God raised him up to restore a systematic theology to the Church.

Question: Was he always right?

HWA taught not to believe him but believe our Bibles.  Admittedly, he did reserve the right to make decisions in various “gray areas” such as makeup, but his basic approach usually was that the Bible corrected all.  Even later in life, he corrected such things as how Pentecost was to be reckoned.  Why?  Because he continued to study and learn.

HWA was a fallible human being, and so he was not always correct.  That’s why I’ve always given credit where credit was due in that when UCG first formed, it went through the doctrines to prove them.  Very few, if any, other groups did that, including PCG and GCG (which was headed at that time by Roderick C Meredith).

That is why UCG rejected HWA’s notion of governance.  “Church government” is not a phrase found in the Bible.  There are principles of governing, many of which should apply to any form of governance, but there is no “Thou shalt have an apostle”, “Thou shalt appoint seventy elders”, or any other form of governing.  The form of governance is not as important as how the leaders govern.

In fact, Christ spoke of “fellowservants”.

 45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

 46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

 48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

 49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

 50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

 51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:45-51, King James Version)

Are there any evil servants today?  That rule by fear and intimidation?  That take monies that were set aside for the poor and widows and build opulent houses?  That are hypocrites, play acting that they are religious?

Should we be fearful of those placed over us in the Church?

 5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 6So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Hebrews 13:5-6, King James Version)

While a reverential attitude should be maintained towards God, should we be ruled by fear?

 7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, King James Version)

Did Jesus command the Church to be fearful?

 32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32, King James Version)

Should anyone fear God?

 28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28, King James Version)

It is clear that the wicked have God’s judgment to fear.  Should we fear those in a church?  Of being put out of a church organization?

 2They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (John 16:2, King James Version)

It is clear that we should be unafraid of doing what God tells us to do and believing what the Bible tells us is true and not worry about ignoring the teachings of men that do not mesh.  Note this is not about rebellion or having a rebellious attitude, but it is about putting God first (Ex 20:2-3).

No matter whose teachings it is or was.


  1. I could start a debate on the nature of government in God’s Church, but there’s really no point in doing so. Broadly speaking, we probably agree that God’s government is founded upon God’s law; and that Jesus Christ is the head of the church.

    My principle request is that you reconsider the PCG as representative of the more conservative off shoots of the old WCG. Perhaps you didn’t mean to imply that, but that’s how it came across. At any rate, Gerald Flurry has changed more doctrines and teachings than almost any group that I can think of.

    Now, I would like to mention the LCG. For those LCG members out there who read your post, I would like to caution that I do not consider them to follow in the same vein as the PCG. Not at all. That would be a case of comparing apples with oranges.

    The LCG has made a number of doctrinal and administrative (church discipline) changes from the old WCG years. And they use precisely the same logic as you mentioned – that Mr Armstrong was fallible; that they’re progressing onward to a new, higher understanding.

    And this is the way of it, you see? Almost every off shoot uses this same logic to arrive at different conclusions on a host of matters. And that is precisely the reason the Church is so divided!

    Finally, I would like to add a personal note regarding your question about ‘rule by fear and intimidation.’ I never had a problem with that in the old WCG. In fact, I had a couple of confrontations with ministers. Being a lowly lay member, one might assume that I would keep silent. God commands that we do not bear false witness, however, and it gave me the courage to stand up. And it worked out very well. I would later defend one of the ministers against accusations that I knew to be false.

    I did have a problem with rule by fear and intimidation when the Tkach administration took over. Church members were standing in the rain, but they were afraid to talk about the weather. When I interviewed the pastor about the doctrinal changes, he was very frank. Keep silent about my doubts and get with the program, or else. I had never experienced anything like that before. It made my decision fairly easy.

    Take my observation for what it’s worth.

  2. Big Red wrote: “My principle request is that you reconsider the PCG as representative of the more conservative off shoots of the old WCG. Perhaps you didn’t mean to imply that, but that’s how it came across.”

    I was speaking in more general terms, although PCG is certainly representative of exactly what I’m talking about: Putting the doctrines of men above the commandments of God. Their shifting and changing teachings are the result of building upon the sand instead of the teachings of Jesus. They are the most extreme example of this, and I believe God allows it to show just how off-track we can jump when the writings of men, such as Mystery of the Ages is elevated to the level of Scripture.

    PCG also exemplifies rule by fear and intimidation. They have such a hold on people that some believe by leaving PCG they lose their salvation, let alone go through the Tribulation. There is much about that wicked organization that I do not write about because I cannot prove it. However, I can say with a certainty that it is not led by God.

    Over the course of its history, WCG sometimes exhibited similar, although not as extreme, variations on that theme. In most cases, the ministers that exercised control and manipulation of this degree wound up in stern and controlling organizations that exhibit the same type of control, and PCG is only one and the most extreme example.

    However, there are others who put forward the teachings of men rather than the Bible. James Malm, Ronald Weinland, William Dankenbring, etc., are also examples of this, where the clear teachings of the Bible are marginalized.