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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Your Group Isn't God's One and Only TRUE Church!

I was once a member of a group that claimed to be God's one TRUE church (Worldwide Church of God). The leader of the group (Herbert W Armstrong) claimed that certain understandings which the group possessed set it apart from all other groups and identified it as God's one TRUE church. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church (along with numerous other groups like the Church of Christ and Jehovah's Witnesses) makes the same claim. Are any of them correct? Do any of the numerous man-made organizations within Christianity deserve such a designation?

To answer those questions, I've identified ten understandings that one would expect God's one TRUE church to have. However, before I enumerate those understandings, it should be noted that individual Christians will exhibit a wide range of opinions and understandings. In other words, an individual human should not be expected to exhibit the same level of understanding as God's Church (as a spiritual entity supervised by Almighty God). I've said it before, we will not be judged by what we know - we will be judged by what we do with what we know.

That said, I am ready to enumerate those items of understanding that one would expect to find in God's TRUE church:

1. The nature of God - that God cannot be contained by our human notions or any statement(s) describing the Divine.
2. The nature of Christ - that Jesus was/is God's servant to bring salvation to us (humankind) - not whether Christ is God, a prophet or an archangel.
3. The nature of the Holy Spirit - that the Spirit does not control or dictate. It guides and prompts humans to follow God's precepts and will.
4.The nature of the Bible - that it is a book written by humans who were inspired by God - no more, no less. It is not the final authority (that would be God). It should not be regarded as infallible, inerrant or worthy of worship. It is useful in formulating beliefs, convicting us of sin, correcting us and instructing us in the ways of righteousness.
5. The nature of humankind - that we are not loathsome insects that God can't wait to punish or destroy. Human sexuality is a good thing, designed by God. Gender and race are not characteristics that God intended for us to use to exercise control or superiority over each other.
6. The nature of the church - that the TRUE church is a spiritual organism that belongs entirely to God. The Church is the assembly of called out ones - everyone that has God's Holy Spirit (nothing more).
7. The nature of the truth - that God and Jesus Christ define and personify truth - not some collection of doctrines that we hold dear. The truth is not a private possession of ours, or something that we will ever fully possess/comprehend in this lifetime.
8. The nature of the Law - that it was never intended to be a series of meaningless rituals or dos and don'ts. The ENTIRE purpose of the Law is to teach us how to LOVE - God and each other.
9. The nature of prophecy - that prophecy was intended to warn people away from bad/hurtful behaviors and
/or to give people hope for the future. It was never intended to be a commentary on current events, provide the means to identify modern nations with the ancient peoples of the Bible, or provide us with a chronology/timetable of world events.
10. The nature of worship - that God doesn't need our worship. Worship is something we need to do. It means fellowship with others, and TRUE worship involves helping those in need - that is what demonstrates our love for God and brings praise to the Divine.

Does your group understand these things? Or do they use God/religion to exercise control over each other and advance their own agenda?

2 comments:

  1. When I finally started questioning and researching my childhood faith of 40 years, one of the things that surprised me was how many "one true churches" there are. Wait a minute! MY church was "God's Kingdom," the only place where salvation could be found! And yet all these others were making the same claim. Armstrong's group was one of I came across.

    You might enjoy this essay of mine, about my visit to another "one true church" in Hawaii (Iglesia ni Cristo) and with reflections on the absurd claims my own childhood church makes for itself: http://blog.edsuom.com/2015/01/gods-kingdom.html

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  2. Great blog, Ed! Keep up the good work. In a sense, we've "let it go;" but I suspect that the distance between us and "it" will be something that continues to grow for the rest of our lives. What do you think?

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