The below message is an insightful exchange between Rich Traver and an experienced member. Black is mine / blue the other person. RT
Hi again Patrick,
I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss these matters. It helps to know where others are coming from. A lot, I guess, depends on the exposure a person has had to various situations. I’m hoping, and would be pleased to know, that you have had a good experience in the Church over the years. I have been blessed to have seen both sides in spades, seeing a wide range of minister types, with a similar wide range of results. I’ve seen both sides and been caught in the middle, as well. When Global divided into Living and Restored, I showed up at the first service of Living to the greeting of a deacon’s wife. She met me in the parking lot with her husband/deacon in tow, to tell me that I had to leave because they didn’t want people like me in their new group. (SHE disfellowshiped me!) The following week I went to Restored/Dave Pack. I left there a few months later because DP is a tyrant. I guess that would be the worst example. At one time I was thinking of going with Warren Zehrung but he’s so deep into the war stories that I just would not be able to survive in that environment.
It looks like we are considering two fundamental approaches: 1) concern for the spiritual health and welfare of the called-of-God, and 2) regard for the prestige and authority interests of the organized ministry. Personally, I see the spiritual condition of God’s flock as the primary interest. What possible need is there for a shepherd if there is no flock? That’s who they are called to serve. If they’re all dead because he’s under-fed them, who needs that? You can’t have one, without the other. Sheep and shepherd are inter-connected and dependent on each other. Neither stands alone. Nor should one operate without the oversight of the other!
Over the years I have been exposed to several name recognition ministers. Some quite good, some who didn’t get what they were supposed to be doing. These include Joe Tkach’s son in law, then a former director of the ministry in the WCG and another in a similar position in the WCG, now a major player in CogWa. I presently work with, in our congregation, former employees of Pasadena who harbor no illusions about their former employer. The stuff that went on would make a person’s head spin. Some of those ministers and sub-ministers should have gone to jail. And, there comes a point to just let it go and trust God to be the avenger. This is the Laodicean Era and that Era probably began during the last years of HWA. (my opinion) Some hold position that church was vomited out (scattered) due to the Ezekiel 34 shepherds. (I agree) But, consider the magnitude of the “House for God”–Ambassador Auditorium. It was over budget, constructed on Sabbaths, design reflects influence of Masons and the world was invited inside for worldly events. A study of the Masonic Lodge indicates that the philosophy of “as above, so below” is in that building–off shoot of Baal worship from info I’ve come across. After Loma Armstrong died, HWA was highly influenced by Stan Radar, and his bunch. The world travels were a sham. Did God arrange meetings with dictators and gifts of crystal phallic symbols to those dictators or was the Masonic Brotherhood behind it? From what I can find, the ministers in the world who have huge memberships are also Freemasons. The basis of that is worship of satan.
So, in my opinion, the church was scattered due to it being taken captive by satan via the “Lodge”. The process began with hostile ministers who demanded total control — also a quality of the Masonic Lodge. In the scattered congregations one can find a wide range of beliefs and administrations. The three worst are led by Gerald Flurry, Rod Meredith and Dave Pack. That’s where the dictatorships are most active and the Masonic qualities most visible.
Since 1970, I have seen two seemingly healthy congregations, one in New England of some 250 attendees, and one here in Colorado with some 150 attendees, be demolished by ineptitude and sinister intent. They weren’t destroyed by member uprisings or malcontent, it was the ministry all the way that did all the damage. My concern and disappointment is for the catastrophic injury it has done to the average, and often, clueless attendee. Remember, there are wheat and there are tares. God will care for His wheat, regardless of what happens–see Ezk 34:16, etc
While a few have been made stronger, the average member was bewildered, turned-off and frankly, destroyed spiritually. Maybe they were really just tares? Are not the tares taken out prior to wheat being harvested per parable?
I know, these ‘ministers’ will answer to God for their poor shepherding (and in some cases collusion with the enemy) but that doesn’t diminish the sadness for those who may have lost out (their crown and their future in the Family) as a result. I might feel differently about some of this if Ezekiel 34 wasn’t such an exact description of our shephards. Some of the biggest names did literally as well as figuratively ‘eat and drink with the drunken’.
God knew, of course, but what is our responsibility? To work out our own salvation? Get the beam out of our own eye? (I think that sermon series, Ministry of Reconciliation, addresses that, as well.)
And now we saw ministers who supposedly were the cream find ways to come to despise each others persuasions and credentials, breaking-up what remained. (I speak of the UCG). (Another group is headed for a similar disaster.)
I had a unique view of the UCG split, and a most interesting experience before and after it. What remained of the WCG here, a UCG congregation of some 30 (with average attendance of 20+) split, with the remnant put in the hands of a novice (to use a kinder word) which resulted in its dissolution about a year and a half later. If it weren’t for the CCoG here, we would be isolated. The CogWa faction ‘disappeared’ and were soured by the (now) CogWa minister, who with his prominent dad was heavily involved in the split politics. But it is the congregation that bore the damage. This just doesn’t sound like the condition that Jesus Christ described or wanted for His Church. Of course, the story is similar in other splits. In addition to the situation here, we had for a while as a minister, the fellow largely responsible for Rod Meredith being booted from his own organization (Global). That was profound.
As to the ‘authority’ consideration, the Church has not been run by men who had the same regard for the health and welfare of the flock as Christ has. They proved themselves to be ‘hirelings’ in large part. I don’t mean to paint all with the same brush, and I hope there are exceptions. (I know a few who are.) Yes, there are exceptions.
It’s just that seeing so much damage overall, I don’t feel all that obligated to kiss anyones ring. They need to stand and answer for what they’ve done, or failed to do. They don’t deserve to be put on a pedestal and praised, especially praised only on the basis of their ‘rank’ in office. Even more so, to be obeyed, right or wrong. We are to ‘follow Christ’, and them only as we see them doing the same. Gerald waterhouse was famous for saying, “You could be 95% right and the apostle 95% wrong, but Christ will back the Apostle!!” That’s on tape and in transcript. Then when you find out what was really going on in that timeframe (early 1980’s)….!! If apostle is wrong, then he’s not on God’s track and that’s where sheep need to know the True Shepherd’s voice. But, all have sinned and are sentenced to death unless truly repentant. We can’t judge others spiritual state. (See Rev. 2:2)
Christ gave His ministers responsibilities of Service. YES Too many took it as a mandate to lord-it-over the flocks, coerce and abuse at will. Using their flocks to bolster their own prestige and authority. In so doing, they mis-represented their Lord, causing a contempt for the real Master and Leader, while posing as His direct representative. I would hate to be in their shoes when this experience wraps up. The source was/is pride. . .pride is satan’s way. . . satan is the god of this world and satan has his “rulers” in a variety of places.
But, perhaps all of that was for an important lesson: That we don’t worship men, that we don’t elevate our designated servants above ourselves, placing them in-between ourselves and God. In the WCG of early date, the term “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” was struck from our narrative and our consciousness. You see, that consideration put us in a more appropriate mindframe to understand our calling. HWA, I was told by someone who would know, despised the hymn “In the Garden”. Though perhaps unnecessarily syrupy, it focused on ones’ personal walk with our Lord. Direct, not ‘through’ someone else! Being that that was detremental to our elevated regard for the supreme leader of God’s Church, that orientation had to be minimized. It was that absence that left so many vulnerable to disillusionment. In fact, disillusionment was a heavily used word back in the 1974 timeframe and thereafter. People wouldn’t be so prone to disillusionnment if they didn’t harbor illusions in the first place. But we had many back then! We should’ve realized it, but we couldn’t, as it would have required coming to our senses in a way that would have undermined the definition of our calling and our responsiveness.
It is my position that we ought to praise and support those servants of all levels who are doing it God’s way and correctly assess those who are not! They shouldn’t be praised merely for their official positions without regard for competence or compliance with the stern mandate given them by Christ. (Never mind the restrictions placed on them by self-serving organizations). We are told to ‘know them BY their fruits’. That’s a given. That’s not optional. But under the restraints the Church was under (and remains under even now) we had no recourse to send a froward minister packing. More likely, the member either suppressed his observations and realizations or was run out. Thus the good membership was diluted and the passive remnant were made to think they were doing God’s express will by being non-reactive to anything, as though nothing was amiss. (Can we say Laodicean?) Under our approach, we were made to be non-reactive and non-responsive, even to the clear words of Scripture.
We were conditioned to be true Laodiceans, while deluding ourselves that WE were the ‘good and true’ worshippers of the Great God, and these mal-contents were the ‘bad’. Well, do the fruits of all that say anything? How long must we suffer the pabulum and passivity before we come to see our real condition? Eye salve seems a rare find these days. You’ve just proved that this is the Laodicean Era. . .one of the seven Churches of God. Problems, yes. But, there will be overcomers.
And now, UCG wants to de-emphacise ‘doctrine’. A decade ago I laballed the sermon quality as pabulum, delivered by lackluster men. And at all levels. We are facing the trials of our lives, and they lay out before us kindergarten quality material. No, not wrong necessarily, but not the stuff that we can overcome severe persecution with. (Oh, of course, we are all going to be protected in a place of safety, aren’t we. Oops, do we preach that anymore?) That’s why everyone is to study and pray. It’s not just a one day thing. But, what does Christ teach employees who work for harsh employers? To submit to their “rule”. It all boils down to attitude and an attitude of pride on all ends, which results in conflict. The peacemakers are to be the children of God.
And, what does not kill us makes us stronger?
The structure, and the resulting Culture of that structure was and IS a formula for disaster. It is what brought us to the disasterous condition we find ourselves in today. Time for the remnant to wake up! We should be outraged for the present condition of the Church right now. But, where is the outrage? We have suffered erosion of beliefs, massive defections in attendance, no attraction of new people, and a week to week malaise that defies explanation of why people would continue attending. But we continue to wrap our arms lovingly around a mirage of our past, thinking that it eventually will bring us good results, pleasing to God. We continue, in our various splits groups, attempting to replicate the condition that caused the malaise in the first place. When will we get it?
The First Resurrection only has 144,000. What if God only needed a couple hundred more from this period in time to reach that number. Would He not do like human “head-hunters” and advertise for a multitude and then sift the apps until He finds the right fit? Rather than getting all upset over the other applicants who obviously are not making the “first cut”, we need to shine our shoes and put best food forward. . . . work out your own salvation. . . (each in their own order.)