UCG NEWS: From the President
Dear fellow elders and wives, deacons and deaconesses, and staff members,
Thank you for your loyal support regarding the special offering that we requested to help us balance our budget. The total for that offering is over $667,000. With the cutbacks that we are making to balance our budget, this special offering helps immensely with our cash flow and bank balances.
Our regular income is steady and good at about $16,000,000 per year thanks to the faithfulness of all the brethren and our co-workers. But, we have had to do some serious trimming to bring our expenses down and live within our actual income.
As you know, we lost about one-third of our income two years ago in the church split. Some who left predicted that we would collapse, so we decided to step out on faith and not make cuts in preaching the gospel and caring for the congregations. We replaced most of the ministers who left with faithful elders who became new pastors.
I am reviewing this again so that you understand why we have needed to make some serious budget adjustments. We should have done so sooner but we were hoping for an increase in income that did not come. Now we are operating within the actual income that God gives, not what we hoped for. We have learned an important lesson and will not make the same mistake again.
Please thank the brethren for their generous offerings, and your congregations for the offerings sent from local church funds. Please do make a public announcement about this and let the brethren know how much we love and appreciate them. It is obvious that their hearts are in supporting God’s work!
And, thank you faithful servants of God’s people for your love and loyalty during good times and difficult times. God will see us through until we finish the work He has given us to do!
Your servant in Christ, Denis Luker
Michael Snyder Book Review
Well informed brethren know that Michael Snyder was the public relations expert that was reaching out to the evangelical community, crowing about doctrinal change in WCG as Joe Tkach was lying to the WCG that no changes were being made.
Michael Snyder has been doing the same thing for UCG in the past year or more, reaching out to the evangelicals with claims that UCG is no longer in the church of God fold.
This is a book review by Michael Snyder: “The Fragmentation of a Sect: Schism in the Worldwide Church of God” which is an updated version of a previous publication covering the WCG Tkach breakup. Of course the words of the book reviewer are his own, which is what makes this book review by Snyder so interesting.
Snyder describes UCG as being different and NOT being faithful to the teachings of HWA. ”his legacy of writings, sermons and broadcasts (particularly as they changed and shifted over his 53-year ministry) are “ not viewed as divine scripture nor infallible” This should bring to remembrance the statement by Bill Eddington last May that great changes had already been made [this refers to the attitude of the brethren being changed to accept changes in teachings and diversity of belief for the sake of organizational unity.] and that all the doctrine of the Armstrong years would be reexamined to root out the errors of that era.
Of course HWA made many mistakes, for many reasons and very much understanding was sealed until the end Dan 12; yet Tkach in changing away from HWA, did not embrace more truth; instead they fell away from the truth that they had. In the very same way, UCG is being led away, not from HWA’s errors; but from whatever truth of God’s word which they once had.
Will they embrace zeal for the Sabbath? The New Moons? The Biblical Calendar? The true meanings of the Festivals? etc etc? NO! Instead they are embracing love in opposition to law; when the law IS love; they are using love to permit heresy and diversity of doctrine. Seeking to gain organizational unity with doctrinal disunity and separation from the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
This Snyder book review is part of the image remake of the UCG. I will highlite by bolding some key phrases.
Interestingly Michael Snyder first focuses on the failure of change management in WCG; of which he was a major part. Michael them mentions the Tkach changes of which he was a part as “a new understanding of Jesus Christ”
Michael speaks of the Tkach movement for change [again Michael was a key part] as “the wholesale betrayal of trust” of the Tkach organization. This trys to set up the idea that UCG is profoundly trustworthy even as it takes the same Tkach doctrinal road.
When we remember that it was most of the same men now in control of UCG, who betrayed trust in the past; the statement has the effect of warning of the untrustworthyness of the present leaders of UCG. If we did not remember our history we might be taken in by this deceit.
Continuing Michael falsely claims that one man rule is unbiblical and that UCG has the ideal church government system which prevents error by group rule. This is a non biblical perspective by Michael; BOTH group rule and one man rule are biblical, and either one can be WRONG if they involve setting up men between the brethren and God!
Faithfulness to God and fulfilling the leadership role, as pointing all persons to God and his law; are what is required of ANY kind of church government.
Church government structure is a fraudulent distraction from the real issue, which is that godly leaders are to be: Helps, focusing God’s people on God; Examples of faithfulness to God’s commandments; Teachers of the Truth of God; Warner’s against sin; Callers to repentance; Expounders of the truth of God’s word; and Exhorters to keep all of God’s commandments!
Michael then goes on to claim that UCG is the spiritual body of Christ; which is laughable, because the spiritual body is NOT limited to any organization.
As ee see the actions of this collective UCG leadership in launching law suits, and changing the attitude of the brethren to accept evangelical changes; and placing loyalty to that leadership on the same level as loyalty to God himself, just like Herbert did; it is preposterous to call the UCG group leadership and organization as the true Ekklesia! What absolute nonsense!
God’s true Ekklesia are all those who have responded positively to the Father’s call, and are diligently faithful to Jesus Christ and the Father in all things, including the enthusiastic intrnalizing of the nature of God, by the whole hearted keeping of all of God’s commandments!
The only difference between UCG and HWA or the other COG Groups, is that they demand personal loyalty; while UCG demands group loyalty; and neither teaches loyalty to Almighty God above loyalty to themselves!
Michael then proceeds to contradict himself by saying that UCG’s group leadership “ transcends any human corporate form of organization.“; when of course UCG is a human corporate form of organization. I suppose that he means that the UCG organization is not human but biblical; however the one man system is also biblical.
Hardcover, 302 pages
Author David V. Barrett
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date 2013-01-02
Recommendation Michael Snyder recommends this book.
Book Review – The Fragmentation of a Sect: Schism in the Worldwide Church of God
Michael Snyder notes that the book is a sweeping and generally balanced secular review of the history and behavioral record of the Worldwide Church of God and its related organizations, particularly the disastrous and ill-conceived WCG breakup. For many, reading the book will likely be a painful experience, as while
the book is not an “expose,” it does chronicle shortcomings of WCG and other offshoot leaders.
Centered on a secular analysis of what has to be one of world’s most spectacular failures in change management, sociologist and British journalist David Barrett chronicles in this new work how successors to Herbert W. Armstrong deliberately deployed a non-biblical logic of “the end justifies the means” to essentially reverse the theological course of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). As Barrett painfully drills deep, the reader sees that instead of bringing the majority of WCG members to a new understanding of Jesus Christ, the incomprehensible act shattered the lives of multiple thousands, leaving in its turbulent wake freshly minted angry skeptics and agnostics, now hostile to God.
Perhaps worst of all, as Barrett eloquently outlines, the wholesale betrayal of trust set in motion predictable human patterns where former leaders and ministers skip from church group to church group, finally claiming the “authoritative mantle” of Herbert Armstrong (HWA) for themselves and setting up a “new” one-man rule over an all-new religious group or splinter (page 209).
The 283-page book (American edition) represents a greatly expanded version of Barrett’s first look at the WCG breakup, which first appeared as a 40-page case study by the same name in Barrett’s 2001 book The New Believers . This current WCG work is drawn on Barrett’s successful dissertation for a PhD in sociology from the London School of Economics (England).
Reviewing events ranging from the Philadelphia, Global and Restored groups to COGWA, Barrett draws on experts in human dynamics, presenting the secular analysis that 21st century church groups claiming to be the sole heir of HWA “compete for the same public, and frequently appeal to the same sources and authorities in legitimation of their position, thus engendering a competitive struggle to prove the purity of their doctrine and social practice” (Page 147).
Of the larger WCG offshoots, only the United Church of God (UCG) eschews the non-biblical “one-man rule,” opting instead to adopt and deploy what Barrett calls a more “collegiate” form of senior government, relying on a collaborative “multitude of counselors” protective approach similar to what is found in the early chapters of the book of Acts.
Instead of claiming theological authority from HWA, the United Church of God focuses on confirming that it is a continuation of what the Septuagint renders in Greek Ekklesia tou Theou , literally the spiritual Church of God that transcends any human corporate form of organization.
In the United Church of God, Herbert Armstrong is remembered as a man highly respected and regarded as one whom God used in a powerful way, but his legacy of writings, sermons and broadcasts (particularly as they changed and shifted over his 53-year ministry) are not viewed as divine scripture nor infallible (page 127). Like all human servants of God, Herbert Armstrong was a man, and therefore subject to everything that being a human means.
Barrett notes that unlike former books written about WCG with a decidedly pejorative focus, he strives
for a balanced approach that includes numerous direct and indirect interviews with ministers and
members (former and current) of virtually the entire spectrum of COGs. The result, however, is
decidedly not pain-free for various COG groups.
This work focuses on behavioral patterns as opposed to an evaluation of theology, and especially those patterns of behavior associated with the grasping of political power for the formation of new church groups, or in the case of WCG, the reversal of doctrine and organizational belief through raw authoritarian power (which WCG executives wryly refer to as“an ironic dynamic,” given their public condemnation of same).
The book, which was more than three years in the researching and writing, includes more than 200 responses from a questionnaire openly circulated within the COG environment. In his analysis, which includes several direct responses from UCG members, Barrett demonstrates where one-man rule and a highly hierarchical form of Church government has resulted in numerous severe organizational issues in the old and new WCG and various offshoots, including outright abuse. The first half of this Oxford University-published book is largely dedicated to this analysis. It is decidedly not a pleasant read.
ADMIN: Notice that no mention is made of the problems inherent in group rule.
While striving to maintain a fair balance, Barnett often offers up his examination of the appearance of
serious instances of “cognitive dissonance” — simultaneous existence of conflicting beliefs or facts — in
many of the COGs and the old and new WCG. He is particularly harsh in his comparative analysis of
some old prophetic teachings of HWA, particularly as they are brought forward by HWA-reliant COGs
and mistakes made yet again.
The United Church of God is not spared in this, portrayed as slow and ponderous toward achieving its goals in its early years, and suffering its own schisms. But Barrett characterizes the measured UCG approach in realizing its organizational intentions [ADMIN: to change away from HWA towards evangelical doctrine] as deliberate, notingthat over the years “the Church was determined to get it right.
” Given the cutoff date of the research, Barrett does not include more recent dynamic events such as the globe-spanning outreach efforts with the Beyond Today television program, and its recent digital growth online to compete directly for attention with nearly all major Christian Internet ministries, leaving the online performance of most other COGs far behind.
ADMIN: Notice he covers himself by using the word “most”.
The book has already been reviewed by a number of prominent religious figures, including James
Tabor, a liberal American theologian who once served on the Ambassador College faculty. The fact that
Oxford University Press has published the book virtually guarantees that it will receive serious
attention as an authoritative work on WCG, UCG and other WCG-related organizations.
However, Barrett recognizes that many American evangelical figures regarded the shattering of the Worldwide Church of God as a politically positive event, noting: “It is a truism that history is written by the
victors, and in the case of books about the changes in Worldwide (Tkach 1997, Feazell 2003, etc.) this
is at least partially valid” (page 245). Perhaps the true “ironic dynamic” of this phenomenon appears as
the catastrophic failure of post-HWA WCG leaders to achieve the religious goals for the majority of
members, all of whom had contributed more than $1 billion in tithe contributions in the post-HWA
years, but for most now had little to show for it.
ADMIN: Now success is put on an income basis. Next comes an attack on the very internet Michael just bragged about UCG using.
What lessons can UCG ministers and members—indeed all those experienced in the COG phenomenon
—possibly learn from Barrett’s work, particularly given its largely unsavory recounting of many
unfortunate and sometimes tragic events of the last 75 years? Perhaps the chief takeaway is this:
speaking to His disciples Jesus said, “Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will
not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known” (Matthew 10:26). Certainly this is true of the 21st
century Internet, where virtually anything can be published, true or not. Perhaps echoing this instant
impact of the Internet thousands of years in advance, Moses wrote in the Torah, “be sure your sin will
find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
ADMIN: Michael then quotes scripture to say that we are accountable and must follow Christ; Which is absolutely true. However this scripture is being used in UCG and by Bob Thiel and the church of God groups, to say that we should NOT follow the true Christ of the Bible, but corporate leaders and a false Christ of human devising; and making the Grace of God a license to continue in and tolerate sin, [especially idolatry of men, traditions and organizations] as Jude warned us of, and as UCG has been moving towards.
Perhaps the real value of Barrett’s work can serve to remind all of us of the urgent need to be
individually and humbly transformed spiritually, that we “prove what is that good and acceptable and
perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2), each of us following the true Leader of the Ekklesia tou Theou,
Jesus Christ Himself (Colossians 1:15-20) as opposed to any single human leader. In doing so, we can
understand the critical role of the Church and its ministry in effectively demonstrating and truly bearing
witness of God’s way of life, as we are all individually accountable to God. As the apostle Peter wrote:
“sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…having a good conscience, that when they defame you as
evildoers, those who revile your good conduct may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God,
to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (I Peter 3:15, 16-17, emphasis added).
Admin: The false teaching of the evangelical mainstream is again pushed. Yes we are to love, and God is love; but what is love? It is the diligent keeping of all of God’s commandments!
To sum up, as translated by the 2011 version of the New International Version, the apostle Paul declares
to us that the divine gift of love ” does not dishonor others , it is not self-seeking, it is not easily
angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (I Corinthians 13:5, emphasis added). Instead, love , the godly
quality that Jesus Christ said would be the openly defining behavior of true Christians (John 13:35),
“always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (verse 7). Unlike prophecies or
knowledge, Paul declares that ” love never fails ” (verse 8).
ADMIN: Michael then gives good advice that all the groups especially UCG should begin to try and follow; for UCG is one of the worst examples in disregarding these words of Christ.
In the light of Barrett’s book, as the literal Ekklesia tou Theou [Admin: Michael has already claimed that this is UCG] moves forward — ignoring any physical organizational boundaries — perhaps each one of us, wherever we are and whatever we’ve done, can abandon the names and titles like “Abigail” or “pastor general,” and truly heed the words of our Savior and soon-coming King: “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you” and finally, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5: 44, 16).
May God speed that day.