The Bible calls for humility in the Christian walk, so how are we doing?
4 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
~ Jas 4:1
The Bible is quite clear. Humanity has a heart problem. Mankind has an attitude problem. People instinctively reject revealed knowledge, which was symbolized by the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Instead, people take it to themselves to determine good from evil, and then they are left for themselves and others to experience the consequences. It takes a great deal of pride to believe, even for a moment, that you know more than your Creator, yet we are all guilty of this!
Icarus is a character from Greek mythology. You’ve probably heard the story if you studied Greco-Roman civilization in history class in grade school. His father fashioned together wings with wax in order to allow them to escape Crete. Wax, naturally, melts in the hot sun, and so Icarus’ father, Daedalus, warns Icarus to not go too near the sun lest the wax melt and the feathers fall apart. Icarus does not listen. He is having fun flying high, and so he flies higher and higher, becoming complacent in his abilities and the situation, until the sun finally melts the wax and he falls into the sea. This occurs in spite of Daedalus’ warning against both complacency and hubris.
Do we even understand how dangerous arrogance and pride really are? Yet, there are those who would step over that line boldly into out and out narcissism in order to gather followers after themselves. Only the spiritually blind follow them, for those who are reasonable, let alone have God’s Spirit, recognize the egomania reflected of the attitude of Satan himself.
Yet, how many of us are without sin? Every sin has its roots in selfishness and pride, after all, except only for those that are done truly in ignorance. So, who of us can truly say we have no pride?
And so, some resort to gossip and slander, making accusations without any proof against others. As I’ve said before, for everything God has created, but most especially parts of His plan, Satan has created a counterfeit. God gives us justification through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but the world engages in self-justification rooted in hubris.
And, so, why are there so many splits in what was once at most two or three organizations?
10 Arrogance leads to nothing but strife,
but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.
In spite of what the Bible says, most of the ones with the most arrogance will hunker down in self-justification, and the blind continue to walk over the ledge like lemmings.
Who are these arrogant leaders? Who are they not? Again, aren’t we really talking about a continuum? Is there anyone not guilty? Are there any followers who have not turned a blind eye to this or that?
Ironically, mistakes and events are not enough for the truly narcissistic, and so they must lash out and accuse without foundation. They will pluck the smallest statement out of context and twist it to fit their agenda.
And, those who are blind follow on to their destruction.
Both the leaders and the followers suffer from a similar problem, ironically enough. They look to themselves as the arbiter of right and wrong, eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Maybe they pick more good fruit than evil fruit, but it still is the wrong tree. Worse, it is a counterfeit. Even the “good” may look good, taste good and maybe not even harm you. It also has no nutritional value, and thus you die anyhow.
The arrogance involved in slandering other groups and their leaders is quite amazing. The leaders will strut around, proud as peacocks, not knowing the hunter has laid a trap for them.
12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
Not being satisfied with self-justification and comparing themselves to other groups, they take on titles such as “doctor”, “apostle”, “prophet”, “Elijah”, “Elisha”, and so on, in order to elevate their status in the eyes of others. Why? Because no matter what they will tell you, Prophet Dr Robert Thiel, Elijah and Apostle David C Pack, Elisha, Pastor General, Joshuah and who knows what else Gerald Flurry really do crave the adoration and veneration of men. So, they give themselves titles, tear down others, and lead others into perdition.
When out and out slander doesn’t work, James Malm and others will pick out subtle texts to slander the motives of others, as though he were able to see men’s hearts and had the authority to judge them.
And yet, these are merely the most obvious. Honorable mention goes to Ronald Weinland, and the only reason he isn’t obvious is because he is behind bars, sort of out of sight, out of mind.
I once heard a minister say, “I know of no incorrect doctrine in xCOG, no not one.” Really? How much hubris does that sort of thinking take? “We are the true church, and all the others are not,” is the prevailing attitude. “We have the truth — all of it,” when that is a prerogative only for God.
This is the type of hubris that in reality requires repentance. Only the Bible is totally correct, and even then it is purposefully vague. Why? To test us.
We are tested by what we do not know and what we do with what we do not know as much as we are by what we know and whether or not we follow what we know.
And, I can guarantee one thing: You, your minister and your organization is wrong about something.
Living Church of God and James Malm are incorrect that there is a “great” falling away. The word “great” does not even appear in the text.
United Church of God has a history of alienating members that think, act and speak differently, which was one of the major causes of the UCG-COGWA split. Elevating John Elliot to the Doctrinal Committee spoke volumes about the fact that they want doctrine to toe the company line, not necessarily what the Bible says.
I repeat this history as a backdrop against their proposal to take away congregational feedback from changes to their fundamental beliefs. Without this history, all sorts of spin could be thought up, but those with eyes to see can see it yet another example of “the minister is always right and the stupid ignorant lay member must listen to God’s minister”.
Is COGWA any better? Maybe. Maybe not. If you listen to the slander, particularly that which is constantly pointed to Jim Franks, you would certainly believe not. However, the continual charges of whipping the membership into line keeps on coming without any proof.
Yet, there still is a certain attitude that “this is the way that it was always taught, and therefore it must be correct.” Making three resurrections a fundamental belief is a fundamental mistake. The Bible never clearly states how many resurrections there are. Sure, there probably are three, and the wording of Revelation makes it difficult to come up with another number. However, there is more than one way to read the text and that ambiguity should not allow a fundamental belief that simply is not. Otherwise, the Bible would name a specific number.
All of them are wrong about eating out on the Sabbath. It is not, as Malm claims, because cooking is not allowed on the Sabbath. There is no “Thou shalt not cook on the Sabbath” command. However, Nehemiah makes it quite clear that conducting business on the Sabbath is wrong, even if it involves food. Business is business. If it is OK to go to a restaurant on the Sabbath, then it is OK to run one on the Sabbath. If it is OK to pay you for food on the Sabbath, then it is OK to receive money for creating the food on the Sabbath, and restaurant owners can keep their place of business open on the Sabbath.
Some things are black and white. The questions are: What will you do with the knowledge you have? Will you grow in knowledge, grace, character and wisdom, or will you use your knowledge to justify yourself in relation to others?
Other important questions would be: Who will you follow? Men or Christ? When you are comparing yourself to others, who are you really following? Do you compare yourself to what men say you should attain to or what the Bible says?
Differences will arise. Then what? Do we cause strife and division, thinking we must be special, we have special knowledge or that it must be our way or the highway? When you read through the NT, do you really get the idea that knowledge came all at once like a bright light, or did it come in bits and pieces? What is that about a weaker brother not having knowledge? Doesn’t that show that not all grow and come into all of the truth at the same rate?
Will God reward doing the right thing for the wrong reason (and having the wrong attitude)? Will God reward doing the wrong thing for the right reason (and having the right attitude)? Think about that.
Ironically, UCG is supposed to be the most “liberal” and inviting of the church organizations, and yet it is COGWA that has had the most member input into its website Life Hope & Truth. It has a lot of quality material on it as well. It shows that not everything COGWA does is totally top-down, and that sometimes reputations are not well deserved.
Speaking of which, since when did “Laodicean” mean activity by lay members? It seems odd that the label seems to go to the groups that have the most active membership, and therefore outwardly seem to have more zeal, such as UCG’s Kingdom of God Seminars. Attempts at getting members involved are often scoffed at by critics, but they seem to be just as willing to hypocritically apply the “Laodicean” label to those who show a little initiative. Talk about trying to have it both ways!
What I’ve shown here is that most of the labels we see running around were developed by the critics of those groups. Some, such as “destructive cult”, may very well be deserved. However, even that should not be applied without defining exactly what that means.
Most of the labels were created by others to justify themselves, in order to compare themselves against what Paul taught.
This Passover, are we going to examine ourselves or others? Who will we be responsible for at the resurrection? Will Christ let us by with the excuse, “Well, I wasn’t as bad as that guy!”?