What Happens if I Join Roderick Meredith's
Living Church of God?
Be sure and investigate further into the inner workings of Living Church of God because they won't tell you up front what you're getting into!
Update: Living Church of God Now Advertising on Christian Radio Stations (June 2016 letter to ESN)
NOTE: If you were formerly in Worldwide Church of God, we recommended that you read: An Open Letter to Our Acquaintances in Worldwide Church of God.
Living Church of God is an offshoot of Worldwide Church of God (WCG), founded in 1934 by Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA). WCG was known for decades as a destructive, authoritarian Bible-based cult, which claimed to be the "one and only true Church of God" with Herbert Armstrong considered "God's apostle" who was said to have received revelation from God. LCG continues the teachings of HWA.
(Note: Worldwide Church of God changed their name to Grace Communion International in 2009.)
Roderick C. Meredith (born June 21, 1930), founder of LCG, is a former member and evangelist in WCG. He graduated from Ambassador College (AC) in 1952. AC was founded by HWA in 1947 to train ministers and to carry out his publishing activities operation with his Plain Truth (PT) magazine.
Meredith was also associate editor for the PT and wrote a number of articles for WCG, especially on prophecy. These can be found online in Plain Truth archives online. (See especially the 1950s and 1960s to read many of his false prophecies.) Meredith was exposed as a false prophet in Pt. 2 of the Robert Gerringer Letter (search for the word "Meredith").
In 1992, Meredith founded Global Church of God (GCG) in San Diego, California. (One insider revealed that Meredith was paying himself $120,000 per year during the time he was with Global COG.) (For more info on Global's beginnings, read: Speaking of Global...(Re-inventing the wheel) and this part in ESN's Letter to author Janis Hutchinson.)
Rod Meredith gave a sermon on May 17, 1997 entitled "Where is the True Church Today?"1 In it he stated that the "true church" was none other than Global Church of God.
In November 1998, Meredith was fired from Global Church of God after an "authority conflict." Meredith had felt he should be the "unquestionable leader."2 In December of that year, he founded Living Church of God (LCG) in San Diego, California. In 2003, he left San Diego and moved his LCG headquarters to its present location in Charlotte, North Carolina.Meredith believes God chose him to "re-establish the true church" and that his members are the "spiritual heirs of the original Jerusalem Church of New Testament time" or "remnant" of the Philadelphia era.3 LCG believes they are the continuation of this Philadelphia era, which Herbert Armstrong began in 1934.4
Meredith says LCG is carrying on the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong "more than any other group on earth."5 Similar authoritarian groups say the same thing. Such boastings are common in totalistic, controlling Bible-based cults.
While LCG will say there are "branches" to the true church today (referring to WCG splinters that teach HWA's dogma and which call themselves "churches of God"), in Meredith's booklet, "Where is God's True Church Today?" he asks the reader, "How can you recognize God's true Church? This booklet will help you understand!" He continues on throughout, throwing out the word "true" over and over again. This kind of repetition of a word is common in Bible-based cults. He finally brings the reader to the point of thinking, "Yes! There must be a true church somewhere and Living Church of God is it!" This kind of black and white thinking can lead one to becoming deceived and exploited.
Living Church of God members have been known to refer to Rod Meredith as "God's anointed."6 Members of exclusive groups often give their leaders titles that glorify them.
LCG produces a weekly half-hour TV program called Tomorrow's World with Richard F. Ames as the speaker. [Update: Richard Ames had a stroke in March 2017] They also put out a magazine by the same name. Both avenues are used in recruiting potential members for LCG. The burdens that will be expected of the member is never shown upfront until they join the organization. By that time, they believe they are in the "true church of God" and to leave is to "turn your back on God" and lose out on eternal salvation. Headquarters (and what they say to do) is always correlated with God. Therefore, to disobey LCG is to disobey God.
Tomorrow's World Bible Study Course is what prospective members and visitors to the site are encouraged to enroll in. It is taken online or through the mail. This course is based on Herbert Armstrong's Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course where the reader would look up certain Scriptures which were furnished (usually taken out of context) so they would come to the conclusions the WCG wanted them to. (Read: How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit Others?)
In 2007 Meredith founded Living University (LCG's college) in Charlotte, N.C., which is designed to train ministers and lay members into the belief system of Herbert Armstrong. Since the college is not accredited by any agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education,7 getting a "theological degree" from LCG's Living University is not worth the paper it's printed on.
Living Youth Camp is LCG's camp for their youth and is patterned after HWA's Summer Educational Program camps (S. E. P.).
LCG teaches that there is only one true gospel which is "about the Kingdom of God," but this gospel is centered on "God's government," to be enforced upon the entire world when Christ returns, and which members will have a big part in. The word "government of God" is also associated in members' minds with LCG headquarters. (Read: Why do members emphasize the government of God?)The gospel or "truth" that LCG teaches is totally lacking in the knowledge of redeeming grace; instead it places the focus on striving to obey the Mosaic Law (which Meredith insists is still binding on Christians). Meredith says the true church is to first: preach this "gospel of the Kingdom" and second: to preach the "true name of Jesus Christ."8 Yet the "Jesus" he preaches is a false Jesus. Meredith affirmed this law-keeping teaching early on in his 1956 booklet, Is Obedience to God Required for Salvation?
According to the Word of God, Meredith's "faith plus works of the Law" belief system is clearly "another gospel" and "another Jesus." (II Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8) It does not point others to the Person of Christ and allow them to rest in what the Lord Jesus has already accomplished for them through His death and resurrection. LCG's teachings are in direct conflict with the gospel of grace as presented in the N.T., especially in the Epistles of Paul. (Read: The Law of Moses and the Grace of God)
"If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
In Acts 20:24 the Apostle Paul said he received of the Lord Jesus the gospel of the grace of God, and in Romans 1:9 he called it the gospel of God's son. The New Testament shows that the early Christians preached the Lord Jesus. (Acts 11:20) Paul affirmed that the gospel he preached was a "revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12) For more Scriptures, see our answer to: The gospel of the Kingdom is a gospel about government!"
While Meredith continues to tell members they are doing "a powerful work in preaching the true gospel" (which is the same thing many other WCG offshoots will say) and "millions are being witnessed to,"9 few people in the world have even heard of him. Just like HWA, he boasts that "thousands of lives are being changed!" But the only ones that are changing are the ones that are becoming more submissive to his government (LCG Headquarters). His "gospel" is a false gospel but it is effective in deceiving others into sending him lots of money.
Herbert Armstrong (whose teachings Meredith follows) copied and plagiarized from the Jehovah's Witnesses, 7th-day Adventism, Mormonism, and Church of God (7th Day), added his own spin to it, and then pawned it off as "God's restored truth." For evidence of HWA's copying from the Jehovah's Witnesses, read chapter three, Pt. 2 and chapter six of our critical review of Mystery of the Ages (search for the word "Watchtower") and chapter two of the same review (search for the phrase "Latter Day Saints). (Also read: Herbert W. Armstrong's Religious Roots.)
Members are taught that God commands them to keep the 7th day Sabbath (Saturday) holy from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. This means they are not to engage in any labor (including a job), nor do their own pleasure (only occasionally is it permissible for them to eat out in a restaurant on that day), and attendance at LCG services is mandatory. According to the Mosaic Law given to Israel, one was required to rest in their dwelling on the Sabbath; however, members do not stay at home. Therefore, they violate the very Law they claim to keep.
Saturday services, where members are expected to wear their best clothes "for God" (for men this means a suit and tie and for women a modest dress or skirt), are approximately two hours in length (a long sermon, plus a sermonette), and they fellowship with members before and after services. Classic or traditional Christian hymnbooks are not used. (See: WCG Took Jesus Away From Members and related writings for more on the subject of hymns used by HWA and which continue to be used by Armstrong splinters and offshoots).
Members are expected to pay a first tithe (considered a "financial law"10) to LCG headquarters. They also must save a second tithe, which is only to be spent on the O.T. feast days--predominantly the Feast of Tabernacles. Additionally, members (but not ministers) pay a third tithe every third and sixth year out of seven to HQ. They are taught, "God places great importance on this tithe because He sets it apart for sacred use."11 Herbert Armstrong said this third tithe was commanded by God in order to "help the widows and less fortunate" members, but instead, the majority of this tithe was being siphoned off to subsidize the luxurious lifestyle of the leaders.12 Many members have had to live in poverty, or do without, because of these financial burdens. To not pay tithes is considered by LCG to be "robbing God"--in spite of how the Mosaic Law states that one is to tithe on the increase of their livestock and produce, not wages. (Read: Tithing and Wolves in Sheep's Clothing)
Herbert Armstrong said the "master key" that was revealed to him was knowing we are "God's people, Israel." (Read: British-Israelism: True or False?) LCG believes they are "modern-day Israel" and are commanded to attend all the feast days listed in Leviticus 23. These "commanded assemblies" are as follows: Passover (only members can observe this service which is held once a year at night); Days of Unleavened Bread (all leaven, a symbol of sin, is to be removed from their house and property; first and last days are "annual Sabbaths"); Pentecost (annual Sabbath); Feast of Trumpets (annual Sabbath); Day of Atonement (annual Sabbath where they fast without food and water from sunset to sunset); Feast of Tabernacles (first day is an annual Sabbath) and the Last Great Day (annual Sabbath).
Generous offerings are to be given on all these annual Sabbaths when no work or "their own pleasure" is to be done from sunset to sunset. If one of these holy days (festivals) falls during the week, members must still take off work to attend. Children are also expected to be at services for all of these O.T. feast days where they sit with their parents (or lie down on a mat on the floor if small) during services which last two hours. To not show up is considered a grave sin.
The Feast of Tabernacles (FOT) is observed as a seven-day assembly at LCG sites around the world. The Mosaic Law required one to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, and to build a temporary dwelling with wood and branches; however, members feel they do not need to obey this command, but instead follow the teachings of men in regards to the Law. Top ministers (but rarely members) stay in high priced living quarters at the FOT. This is the time of year when members' 2nd tithe (after tithe of the tithe is taken out) is spent freely on restaurants, lodging, site-seeing, gifts, and hard liquor. The Feast of Tabernacles is blown up to be the highlight of the year, picturing when they will "rule and reign with Christ" in His Kingdom, but in reality it is the major time of year in which members are further programmed into the group's belief system. (Read: When We Attended the Feast (what did they do to our mind?))
Immediately following the FOT, they observe what they call the "Last Great Day" (the eighth day of the Feast), which HWA said pictures the 2nd resurrection "when ALL humanity will finally be given an opportunity to understand the Truth."13 (This "truth," of course, being what HWA said was revealed to him by God.) To read the explanation of how HWA came up with this "Last Great Day" scenario see footnote #3 at bottom of "The Wonderful World Tomorrow: What it WON'T Be Like."
LCG's teachings end up to be a system of bondage for members. For example, attending the Feast of Tabernacles easily becomes a burden when it causes the bread-winner of the family to lose a good job, less time is spent with loved ones outside the group, becoming overly tired (i. e., preparation for these days, daily services, a round of activities, service duties, etc.) But members block out all the negative aspects and focus on what they are told is the positive.
Meredith teaches there are only "two members in the God family"--God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that God the Father is the foremost member. Only faithful members will become God; e. g.:
"How can you not be filled with ALL of the 'fullness of God' and not be God? ... This is the final fulfillment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--the ultimate Good News--that man can be born into the God Kingdom, the God-level of existence."14 [bolding ours]
Herbert Armstrong stated in Mystery of the Ages (p. 171) that the Kingdom of God was the "born family of God." Along side this, he teaches that members are only "begotten" after conversion (termed a "process"), but they not fully "born again" until the resurrection.15 (In similar fashion, HWA taught that Jesus was not born again until His resurrection.) This implies that those who have trusted Christ can be "aborted" and lose the Holy Spirit and eternal life. Such teaching contradicts many Scriptures in the Word of God which show believers have the assurance of eternal life now; i. e., John 3:15-16; I John 5:13; John 10:28, and that they are sealed with the Holy Spirit. (II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30.)
LCG teaches that Jesus was not God while on earth, but became God at His resurrection. They claim that to say He was fully God and fully human is "logically not possible." This shows their lack of understanding of the Word of God. The Scriptures are clear that Jesus was fully God and fully man. (See: Jesus' Two Natures which includes many Scriptures. Also read the book, Jesus Christ IS God by Robert L. Sumner, which is one of most comprehensive works defending the Deity of Christ.)
LCG members believe it is wrong to observe birthdays. Meredith states: "I do not observe birthdays and I have never had a birthday party for myself or any of my six children nor my wife or anyone else for over 51 years."16 Likewise, members do not observe holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc., calling them "pagan." (HWA taught that only "traditional holidays" were okay; i. e., Fourth of July and Thanksgiving Day.) Members also observe the law of clean and unclean meats as described in Leviticus 11; as a result they are to abstain from eating eat pork, shrimp, crabmeat, catfish, etc.
Baptism for membership can only be administered by a LCG minister (just as baptism into HWA's WCG could only be by a WCG minister). If you were baptized prior to going into LCG (for instance, by a minister in a mainstream Sunday keeping church), it is considered "invalid." LCG teaches that the Holy Spirit (which they teach is a force, not God) can only be given to those who are obedient to the government of God; i. e., to LCG headquarters teachings and who are baptized in the LCG. More about LCG's doctrines can be discovered by reading our section: Articles on Grace and Law (and other teachings).
LCG believes God can, and will, restore miracles and gifts, which were given to the Apostles in the first century as signs. This includes the gift of healing.17 Rod even wrote a booklet called Does God Heal Today? The original booklet with this title was written by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1952. Thousands of WCG members suffered and died over the years as a result of this healing doctrine.18
Children and teens are strongly encouraged to attend LCG's Living Youth Camp. (These camps are based on Herbert Armstrong's S. E. P. camps. where authority was strict.)
Members must decline jury duty and are not to involve themselves in politics. They also refuse to participate in war, believing it goes against the sixth commandment not to "kill." Furthermore, they are not even to serve in the military. (Read 2014 letter to ESN about this)
Members are admonished to only date and marry within the confines of LCG.
LCG is considered a secret group and all information is not presented upfront. Potential members must read the free literature, even encouraged to sign up for the online Bible course; then a minister will visit them before they attend services--and especially before they become a member. (The exact address of their meeting places is not posted on their site.) This entire process usually takes awhile. For an example of this, read: September 28, 2009 letter: "Spared From Living Church of God After Finding ESN Site."
Meredith's sermons and newsletters are filled with end time prophecies and frightening scenarios, telling how "time is short" and the "end will soon be here."19 This is nothing new as he has been giving false prophecies for the last 50 years. For example:
"You might as well wake up and FACE FACTS! The world you live in won't be here 15 years from now!" (The Plain Truth, December 1963).
"We are not talking about decades in the future. We are talking about Bible prophecies that will intensify within the next five to 15 years of your life!" (Tomorrow's World, January-February 2005, "Are You Prepared?")
"Christ's coming will occur within this generation!" (Tomorrow's World, May-June 2006, "When Will the END Come?")
According to the May-June 2005 issue of The Biblical Evangelist (Robert L. Sumner, editor), Meredith sent a video to his members (approximately 6-7,000 at this writing), telling them they were in the "final push--surely in the next 5 or 6 years." As a result of this repetition and fear, members are manipulated into believing they must continue paying tithes, send in generous donations, obey "God's government" (i. e., LCG headquarters), have faith, etc., because God is soon going to punish the "modern descendants of the House of Israel," which Rod claims are America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.20
Meredith teaches that they, "as Philadelphians," will be protected during the Great Tribulation for 3 l/2 years--presumably in Petra, a wilderness and rocky place of caves in Jordan--and the "lukewarm Laodiceans" (who do not keep God's Ten Commandments) will not be protected.21 "And we should also deeply appreciate the fact that we can be divinely protected from the coming Great Tribulation...through our obedience to His Word."22 This was an early teaching in the WCG. In fact, Herman Hoeh (evangelist in the Worldwide Church of God) wrote an article in The Plain Truth, June 1963, entitled "If World War III Comes--There is a Way of Escape." The April 1962 and October 1963 Good News both carried articles on Petra, including photos of the area. The latter article told how Petra had "no water" and "no visible food supply," but "plenty of caves." It was only by "absolute faith in God" that the members would get there. (Read: Memories About Petra to learn more about what Herbert W. Armstrong taught about this "place of safety.")
Those in LCG believe that the other "churches of God" (WCG splinter groups) that keep only some of Herbert Armstrong's teachings are "Laodicean" and that those people will end up in the "Lake of Fire" (to be annihilated) if they don't repent. Ironically, there are a number of other WCG splinter groups, such as Philadelphia Church of God, Restored Church of God, The Church of God-PKG, etc., which believe the exact same thing about their "church." However, these groups are not churches in the true sense of the word, but are totalistic, apocalyptic groups which have used "church" as a front in order to deceive others and keep them enslaved as a constant source of cash.
Roderick Meredith goes so far as to claim that Herbert Armstrong was an apostle and the "greatest minister, perhaps, in the past 1800 years."23 On the contrary, our section Questioning Herbert W. Armstrong reveals how HWA has been exposed as a false prophet, a false teacher, a hypocrite, an immoral person, and an habitual liar, who deceived and exploited thousands of people (in spite of how he considered himself to be "God's Apostle," Christ's Apostle," etc. Read several statements by him claiming this). There have also been several factual books written about HWA and his exclusive organization.
Members study LCG's literature diligently, listen to long sermons (usually one hour in length), plus sermonettes, attend twice a month Bible studies, submit themselves unquestioningly to the authority (i. e., Meredith and their local minister that follows him), strive for perfection, give excessively (over and above what they can afford), pray daily (ideally one hour a day), fast (ideally once a month), and believe the end is near. As a result, their personality is altered (see our Booklist), critical thinking skills are suspended, and they remain influenced by thought reform. However, they will deny it and state they are only "living by what the Bible teaches."
Educate yourself on thought reform and the identifying marks of an exploitive, abusive group and examine all the evidence, so that you don't end up a casualty in Roderick C. Meredith's Living Church of God.
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
January 18, 2003
Last updated February 22, 2017
Update: In February 2017 it was revealed that Rod Meredith had terminal cancer and is refusing all treatment.
NOTICE: In December 2012, a new splinter group named "Continuing Church of God" was founded by Robert Thiel (former member of LCG). Bob Thiel said he no longer believes LCG is the Philadelphia remnant in Revelation 3 and that CCOG is now leading the "final phase of the work."
How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit People? (the step by step process)
Gerald Flurry and Roderick Meredith: Caught in an Absolute Lie? (regarding words attributed to HWA)Related Testimonies and Letters: (out of many on our site)
Letters regarding Living Church of God shooting spree that occurred during Sabbath services in Brookfield, Wisconsin on March 12, 2005 (includes: "Info on Rod Meredith")
NOTE: Living Church of God has been known to meet in Masonic temples or buildings (as did Worldwide Church of God). Roderick Meredith confessed to being initiated into the DeMolays, a Masonic club for boys, when he was a teenager. ("Trust Christ's Leadership," taped sermon by RCM, July 6, 1996.) Some believe that groups such as the DeMolays are "feeder groups" for the Masons ("...being groomed for potential membership in Masonry and the Eastern Star when they reach adulthood." Hidden Secrets of the Eastern Star by Cathy Burns) Could Dr. C. Paul Meredith (Roderick Meredith's uncle) perhaps have been a Mason himself? C. Paul Meredith was appointed director of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course in 1954 by Herbert W. Armstrong. The AC Bible Correspondence Course was used in recruiting others into HWA's organization.
It is alleged that many groups known as "cults" have a hidden agenda and work together to create a passive people. They have similar methods of deception and abuse, and are often fronts for intelligence activity. Read more about this and WCG / HWA activities from OIU #6, pt. 3.
1 Tape with ESN.
2 The Journal, August 1998)
3 "...we are the 'remnant' of the Philadelphian Church living over into the Laodicean era" (Living Church News; July-Aug 2003, "Wait on God," by Roderick C. Meredith, p. 3.) However, LCG believes that in order to be considered a Philadelphian, individual members must "do their part, and must not allow their lives to be cluttered by the cares of this world so that they themselves become lukewarm (Laodicean)" (Living Church News, Jul-Aug 2001, "What is a Philadelphian?" by Robert Thiel, p.15). Note: "do their part" is construed to mean, "obey the government of God." "It is clear that God's government throughout the Old Testament--AND in the soon coming World Ahead--was (and will be) a hierarchical government under God's direction, based on the Holy Scriptures..." (Global Church News, Sept-Oct 1995; pp. 5,7,8)
4 LCG Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, Church History, 11/14/02.
6 Read: "My Experience With Global and Living Church of God Was a Horrible One" (March 21, 2005 letter to ESN, posted on Letters regarding Living Church of God shooting spree)
7 General Catalog, Living University, 2013-2014
8 Do You Believe the True Gospel? by Roderick C. Meredith, 1995. "We must never forget that Christ's teaching was not primarily about Himself, but was a message about the coming world government which He will soon set up here on this earth." (January 16, 2005 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers letter by R. Meredith)
9 December 14, 2011 Dear Brethren and Co-Worker letter from Roderick Meredith.
10 "God's People Tithe!" by Roderick C. Meredith.
11 Living Church News, November/December 1999, "The Blessings of Third Tithe" by Gary F. Ehman, p. 10.
12 Third tithe was rarely ever used for its intended purpose. Instead, it was used to subsidize the luxurious lifestyles of the leaders. The articles Fleecing the Flock and Southern Exposure in Ambassador Report #2, 1977 showed this was true. (Note: Please be aware that the AR is now posted on an atheist website.) Also read ESN article: Third Tithe - Where Did it Really Go?
13 The Holy Days—God's Master Plan by Roderick Meredith, 1998.
14 Your Ultimate Destiny by Roderick C. Meredith, pp. 31, 33,1996. Meredith also teaches (as HWA did) that "God's purpose is that He is reproducing Himself..." (Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of the Living Church of God. March 2004).
15 LCG Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, The Meaning of "Born Again," 11/14/02; Your Ultimate Destiny by Roderick C. Meredith, 1996; p. 9.
16 AUE [Audio tape in English] 123, 3/31/01, "Faith for Healing" by Roderick C. Meredith. (Update: Roderick Meredith's wife Sheryl died 11-29-13. She had been suffering from stage 4 cancer since 2012. His first wife, Margie, also died of cancer, in 1976. Margie was the sister of Raymond, Burk, and Carl McNair.
17 June 24, 2002 Member Letter from Roderick Meredith.
19 Following is a sampling from Meredith's newsletters: "The very end of this first 6,000 years of human experience will soon be here." (December 8, 2004 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers letter from Roderick Meredith) "Alternating storms and droughts, firestorms and earthquakes, disease epidemics and increasing terrorism will afflict our peoples in a manner unprecedented in modern history!" (June 17, 2004 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers letter from Roderick Meredith) "Millions of people all around you will become increasingly alarmed and afraid as the wars, the acts of terrorism and the drought, famine and disease epidemics all become more and more serious." (July 21, 2004 Dear Brethren and Co-Worker letter from Roderick Meredith.)
20 Dear Tomorrow's World Subscriber by Roderick Meredith, November 1, 2004.
21 Living Church News, July-August 2001, "Is There a Real Place of Safety?" by John Ogwyn. "As you zealously respond to God's instruction in His word, you will become a faithful 'Philadelphian Christian' whom God will supernaturally protect from the soon-coming Great Tribulation prophesied to come on the world." (July 21, 2004 Dear Brethren and Co-Workers letter by R. Meredith)
22 December 14, 2011 Dear Brethren and Co-Worker letter from Roderick Meredith.
23 VTE [Video tape in English] 131, May 19, 2001, "The Elijah Question" by Roderick C Meredith.