Skip to comments.The True Church: One Organization, or Many? [Armstrong splinter group -- UCG -- sized up]
Posted on 01/11/2014 4:03:31 PM PST by Colofornian
The United Church of God (UCG) split in the winter of 2010-11...
Consider UCGs plight after its split: About 175 ministers and local elders (the number keeps growing), and thousands of brethren (this number also keeps growing), suddenly left, throwing the entire organization into disorderand in every regard. UCG began with about 20,000 in attendance, but had decreased to a reported approximately 15,000 at the time of the split. It has now lost well over half of its fulltime field pastors, including almost all of the most senior ones.
How long does one remain in such a tragically broken, declining organization waiting for fruits of growth to appear when they were never there in the first 15 years while its members and ministers were together?
...its leadership has now managed to eliminateby termination or resignationthe ever-so-slightly more conservative ministers who were holding it back...
How telling it is that more thousands by far left the WCG to join the United Church of God than did those who entered all the rest of the splinters and slivers combined! Staying too long in Worldwide took a terrible toll on these thousands who seemed not to know any toll was even exacted upon them...
The United Church of God, the Living Church of God, the Philadelphia Church of God and the Church of God, an International Community have had a combined income...something under $900 million!!!...
Where did so much money go?
...the Worldwide Church of God took in $199.5 million in its very biggest year, 1990considerably more than any year when Mr. Armstrong was alive...tragically, this vast and ever-growing sum of money has been diffused, misappropriatedsquandered!...
This could only take place because tens of thousands of brethren (and misled co-workers and donors joining them) were willing for many years to support what was happening...
(Excerpt) Read more at rcg.org ...
In this interview, Dr. Martin claimed that the then Herbert W. Armstrong Worldwide Church of God leaders could "dismiss anybody anytime" and was "unanswerable for the expenditure of funds" and would be shown upon close investigation to have a "slipshod usage of funds."
Well, low and behold...
Per the "rightful heirs" to the reformed Worldwide Church of God -- renamed as Grace Communion International:
"Many had counted the Worldwide Church of God faithful for one thing alone: To be found in Walter Martins tome on the cults. Now, they have boldly tried to set aside heresy and its legalistic outworking. In so doing, they have lost half of their denomination of 150,000all the while watching the birth of over 100 splinter groups."
Source: Global Lessons From the Worldwide Church of God: Gleanings for world missions from a wayward movement gone aright
Well, one of those "splintered" slivers is the David C. Pack-led "Restored Church of God"; another is the United Church of God which has been competing for WCG "outcasts" over the past 20 years or so:
In the excerpt above, Pack says:
Where did so much money go? ...the Worldwide Church of God took in $199.5 million in its very biggest year, 1990considerably more than any year when Mr. Armstrong was alive...tragically, this vast and ever-growing sum of money has been diffused, misappropriatedsquandered!...This could only take place because tens of thousands of brethren (and misled co-workers and donors joining them) were willing for many years to support what was happening...
Thus, Pack confirmed what Dr. Martin said 36 years ago this very week!
Now, about half or so of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) wound up going "orthodox Christian" as a body...which was written about in a Christian publisher Multnomah book...and in a thread just posted here:
Back to Pack's excerpt above, he says for those members who didn't stay with Grace Communion International -- the orthodox group growing out of the Worldwide Church of God, "How telling it is that more thousands by far left the WCG to join the United Church of God than did those who entered all the rest of the splinters and slivers combined! Staying too long in Worldwide took a terrible toll on these thousands who seemed not to know any toll was even exacted upon them..."
And such a toll it was!
Another thread -- the just posted here -- concedes the following as to what occurred back then:
"Tithing was practiced dutifully, with a firm 10 percent going to the church, 10 percent allocated for each familys annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles and, every third year, an additional 10 percent was set aside to care for those within the congregation who were widowed, orphaned or otherwise indigent. Their annual budget peaked at some $200 million prior to the backlash from major changes that led to internal upheavaland diminishing financial returns. Today, they estimate annual revenues at around $35 million. But Tkach is sure to point out that figures and membership dont nearly tell the whole tale, for they fail to include the kind of suffering where families were split, marriages ended in divorce and disillusioned members wound up entirely outside of fellowship: 'It is hard to quantify grief,' he says."...Herbert Armstrong himself, growing more comfortable with his Apostolic position, added the role of ambassador, arranging meetings with dignitaries and foreign heads of state and becoming a vocal advocate for the new-found Israeli state. (Armstrong would arrive conspicuously in the churchs private jet. for these political meetings.)
This thread's excerpt focuses more upon the biggest recipient of the Worldwide Church of God's "exiles" from the 1990s -- the United Church of God...which lasted about 15 years before undergoing a huge split itself:
From this excerpt:
The United Church of God (UCG) split in the winter of 2010-11...Consider UCGs plight after its split: About 175 ministers and local elders (the number keeps growing), and thousands of brethren (this number also keeps growing), suddenly left, throwing the entire organization into disorderand in every regard. UCG began with about 20,000 in attendance, but had decreased to a reported approximately 15,000 at the time of the split. It has now lost well over half of its fulltime field pastors, including almost all of the most senior ones. How long does one remain in such a tragically broken, declining organization waiting for fruits of growth to appear when they were never there in the first 15 years while its members and ministers were together?...its leadership has now managed to eliminateby termination or resignationthe ever-so-slightly more conservative ministers who were holding it back...
Already, a few months into the UCG crisis appears this early list of ministry "casualties" (dated March 4, 2011):
UCG Current Crisis: UCG members are looking for answers in the latest upheaval of the administration and the COE...Individuals who have resigned or been removed from their positions in the last year -- as of March 4, 2011: List of 174 UCG individuals followed by another 31 mentions who were removed, forced to resign, asked to resign, or resigned just between July 2010 and February 2011
What does this citation from Pack show?
That Walter Martin's message from 36 years ago this week -- was still widely practiced by the biggest Armstrong stronghold sectarian group, the United Church of God.
Dr. Martin said then: That leaders could "dismiss anybody anytime"...and click on this last link above for direct evidence of that!
From the RCG (competing Armstrong cult) cult website:
“It is important to understand that I am not saying that all of the brethren in the splinters now no longer have Gods Spirit. Many still do! The problem is that two different spiritsGods and Satansare at work there. Where Satans spirit is present (as leaven)beginning with the door being thrown open to SatanGods Spirit will tend to diminish and eventually disappear, with the spirit of Satan ultimately taking over completely. Another Jesus, another gospel and another spirit are taking the splinters directly BACK TO THE WORLD! That they have adopted the worlds definition of Christs Church is but one (albeit an enormous) part of this.”
So, which IS the true church of God on Earth? Is it the Armstrongian UCG? Its offshoot? The RCG? Or one of the other 100 Armstrongian splinter groups?
Better figure it out. Your salvation is on the line! LOL
What’s with all the recent posts about this Armstrong religion? Is some politician part of it?
Ping for later
I think the split is a shame. So many people bond through their church/faith groups. Splitting up because of a schism HAS to be heart breaking.
From both an outreach perspective as well as a "be wary" of certain doctrinal perspectives' angles...
...it actually makes more sense to post about Armstrong splinter groups than Islam or Scientology -- both of which I've posted about on FR.
Because whereas it's not likely we have FR Muslim and/or Scientology representation, we have had long-time FR UCG representation.
Therefore, 'tis good to have a proper "backgrounder" basis for conversing with others on FR -- to better know their roots & where they're comin' from.
Dude, these guys aren’t Catholics and Protestants. You’re talking about a religious cult that believes they will become God personages after death, and will become members of the Godhead with the fullness of God.
Not only is schism to be cheered for, but the absolute disintegration of all such heretical groups ought to be celebrated, and their members recovered and redeemed.
Then hooray for the schism.
So glad for the split! Now 2 true Christian organizations occupy the old Pasadena campus and it is open, vital and alive! A high school and a church (my kids all went to the high school). God reclaims!
So not only does this thread show that UCG members focus on Sabbath-keeping, but note comments #50 and beyond where the Holy Spirit is presented in the same way the Jehovah's Witnesses reduce the Holy Spirit...as an impersonal force (like the wind).
Numerous Scriptures point to "Personality" of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the UCG is also anti-trinitarian.
Praise God! Indeed He does reclaim! Praise Him as Redeemer!
Through the 1990s there were only about 3,000 such denominations.
And even tho there's been thousands of new independent churches crop up, just about ALL of them don't reference themselves as a "denomination."
So, no, there aren't that many...even if there's been an increase in the 2000s.
Beyond that, the overwhelming majority of Protestant denominations don't claim to be THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH body on the face of the earth.
And even the UCG, unlike its predecessor, the Worldwide Church of God -- and unlike the pastor who wrote this piece (Pack & his "Restored Church of God") -- believes the "church" is an "organism" and therefore can't be limited to one organization.
For this one positive aspect of the UCG, just do a search on the link of Pack's piece on the word "organism" and you'll see the UCG quotes on this.
A quick bit of fact checking, mostly unrelated to the topic at hand:
The 30k number comes from the World Christian Encyclopedia, written by David Barrett. Barrett counts 30k denominations in all of Christianity, broken down like so:
Independents (about 22000)
Protestants (about 9000)
“Marginals” (about 1600)
Roman Catholics (242)
He has a very odd definition of “denomination.” Rather than sort by doctrine or even church government, he sorts by jurisdiction. In other words, if there are four otherwise identical “independent” churches, he considers them as four denominations. By this standard, Barrett counts 242 denominations within Catholicism.
So, if we assume that he has overstated the number of denominations by a factor of 242 (resulting in 1 Roman Catholic ‘denomination’) then you get a far more accurate number of about 37 Protestant denominations. Even including what Barrett calls independents, most of which I’m sure would self-identify as Protestant, you still only have about 136 denominations total.
Add the doctrinal overlap within those denominations and you’re down to a handful of denominations.
Even a handful of denominations is still too many, but saying there’s 30-40k is simply not factually correct.
Thanks and have a great evening in Christ.
The splinter splintered.
Denomination simply means naming. It is a a euphemism for “sect” or “splinter.” It does not matter whether a group calls it self a denomination or not so long as it is a distinct group not part of another. It IS a denomination, or a sect, or a splinter, or a cult even.
If you're a parent you gave different first names to your kids, right? (Doesn't automatically make them each their own family unit TOTALLY separate from your family last name "denomination," does it?)
It is a a euphemism for sect or splinter.
No, it's not...-- at least not necessarily so...any more than your kids are automatic "splinters" of your family -- presupposing that they aren't your "family" anymore.
"It does not matter whether a group calls it self a denomination or not so long as it is a distinct group not part of another."
#1..."distinct group"...your daughter may marry and be part of a "distinct family"...but that doesn't mean she's been ostracized (or whatever division word you may want to put in there) from your family. She now operates in a 3-in-1 three-family world...(a) her husband and her; (b) your family; (c) her in-law's family...3-in-1...like God, Himself!
#2...Let's look at another context where the word "denomination" is used: $/currency: Even acknowledging some distinctions, like a $20 bill denomination is not a $2 bill denomination ... and that there's more twenties in circulation than 2s, doesn't mean that they all don't fit under the same umbrella of being American legal tender.
They have more in unity -- American $ -- than simply emphasizing their diversity (a "twenty" vs. a "two").
In fact, a $2 bill is going to have more in common with the largest bills within American legal tender, than sharing its $2 face value with say, a $2 bill of another foreign country.
It IS a denomination, or a sect, or a splinter, or a cult even.
Again, not necessarily so...at least in what's implied here...as if it's always -- or usually -- a "negative" construction attached:
In the overwhelming majority of those cases, there wasn't some negative "split"; rather, for that new "mission," 'twas going to reach more "locals" if it was more "incarnational" in its outreach..."inside out" vs. perception as "foreigns coming here to impose their message upon us."
Instead, they simply recognize that...
Americans tend to be quite independent -- and increasingly so...
...and thus tend to embrace independent types of churches to worship at...
...IoW, it's a marketing/PR/image decision...
...and that includes, btw, having a name for a church closer to God, Christ, Holy Spirit vs. Wesley (Wesleyan) or Luther (Lutheran) or fill-in-the-blank.
LOTS of these types of churches belong to informal associations and many of them develop multiple campus umbrella ministries...hence displaying the nature of God, Himself.
Such a new church might have 3 campuses, but it's all unified under the same umbrella: 3-in-1 -- like God, Himself!
I wonder if Martin Luther had an inkling of what he would cause if he would have changed things. I don't think he would have care for "Lutherans" as the name of his followers, perhaps he would have preferred "Lutheran Christians." Who knows.
I read his biography a while back. He was said to have suffered from really bad, consistent constipation. Not fun.