Is the Philadelphia Church of God Now
the Laodicean Church?
Many have exited the PCG, labeling it the "Laodicean church." Can we know whether this is true?
Some reasons they believe it is the Laodicean church is because Gerald Flurry has said PCG has riches, wealth and "has it all" ("To Him Who Conquers," February 24, 2001 sermon by Gerald Flurry) yet they can see PCG is not rich spiritually.
On the other hand, Flurry accuses Worldwide Church of God, its offshoots, or anyone who has left PCG, or rejects the "government of God," as being "Laodicean."
Herbert Armstrong himself would disagree that PCG could be considered the Laodicean church since he stated that this church would only arise during the Tribulation not before:
"The Laodicean era of the Church shall rise OUT OF, through and in the latter part of the Great Tribulation." (January 20, 1980 co-worker letter by Herbert W. Armstrong; Pastor General's Report, January 23, 1981)
"In Revelation 7, God suddenly holds up the plagues of the Day of the Lord, UNTIL certain events happen--the sealing of the 144,000 and the emergence of the Laodicean Church." (July 24, 1983 co-worker letter by Herbert W. Armstrong)
Notice how HWA felt that the Laodicean church would only last "briefly":
"There's another era yet to come--I think it will only exist briefly, at the most 2 l/2 or 3 years." (September 16, 1985; Herbert Armstrong's last sermon)
In 1959, Leroy Neff, an evangelist ordained by HWA, in speaking about the Philadelphia Church (then known as the Radio Church of God; name later changed to Worldwide Church of God) said that a split from the true church is not the Laodicean church:
"The Church of Laodicea would NOT be such a split from the Philadelphia Church! Such a split WOULD NO LONGER BE A PART OF THE CHURCH OF GOD!" ("What Is the 'LAODICEAN CHURCH'?" by Leroy Neff, Good News, August 1959)
"God can shut it [the door], and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church goes to a place of safety." (Ibid)
This is not talking about the Philadelphia Church of God founded by Gerald Flurry. Neff is referring to the Philadelphia church of Revelation 3:7 which HWA taught was the Radio Church of God/Worldwide Church of God.
The article goes on to say,
"And yet, there is a remnant of the Church which remains and who will not be in that place of safety (Rev. 12:17). This remnant which remains IS a part of the Church of God, and keeps the commandments of God. It is the Church of Laodicea who had no vital part in the work of God today even though they live today and are a part of that generation which will see Christ return." ("What Is the 'LAODICEAN CHURCH'?" by Leroy Neff, Good News, August 1959)
He makes it clear that the ones in the true church (known as the Radio Church of God and later called Worldwide Church of God); i. e., the Philadelphians, will be taken to a place of safety and those who won't be there because they were "lacking in zeal and repentance," "thought they were rich," etc. will then be the Laodicean Church. This is according to the original teachings of HWA. We can see that Neff believes they (the Laodiceans that will arise) are alive in 1959 when the article was written and are part of the true church. But this article was written in 1959 when HWA taught we only had until 1972 when the church was to flee (which didn't happen).
HWA confirmed in 1981 that the Laodicean church would "have the commandments of God":
"Finally, what of the Laodicean era of God's Church? Remember, it too, is GOD'S Church--having the commandments of God and Testimony of [the] Word of Jesus." (Pastor General's Report, January 23, 1981)
So how could the Laodicean church be in existence today if WCG was at one time the true Philadelphia church? It can't. Especially considering how the WCG turned from "keeping the commandments of God," became "apostate," and hundreds of splits ensued, many claiming to be the "true Church of God" or the "churches of God." The Laodiceans were to arise after the Philadelphians went to the place of safety (even though HWA would often write about a Laodicean condition prevalent in the WCG). This makes no sense when one analyzes it.
Herbert Armstrong could be quite contradictory at times. For instance, in his March 2, 1967 co-worker letter (when talking about Loma's illness), he said:
""God has had to WAKE US UP! Either that, or reject us, spue us out of His mouth, and RAISE UP A CHURCH HE COULD USE!"
In this letter HWA makes reference to the likelihood of WCG being (or becoming) the Laodicean church if they didn't wake up. But notice how he adds the words: "raise up a church He could use" which these Scriptures do not say.
Others who have exited PCG, calling it "Laodicean," have said that one trait of the Laodicean church is "abuse of power" and that Gerald Flurry is guilty of such. However, there is nothing in Revelation 3 that mentions "abuse of power." It is leaders of controlling, apocalyptic Bible-based cults that are known to abuse their power.
Many more quotes could be given to show the massive confusion that has arisen out of Herbert Armstrong's Radio Church of God/Worldwide Church of God.
Members that exit PCG often go into another offshoot which likewise claims to be the "true church of God," "an extension of the true church," or even the "restored church of God" and which likewise throws around the Laodicean label (usually for the purpose of making the member feel guilty or fearful if they aren't sending in what the leader considers enough money). Other splits former PCG members venture into may not be considered as "controlling" as PCG, but will nevertheless end up exploiting them financially and continuing to deceive through scripture twisting and proclaiming a false gospel. This keeps them in bondage and from knowing the true freedom that is found in Christ.
No wonder many former members become so mixed up!
Finally, we shouldn't forget that the "Laodicean church" (church of the Laodiceans) in Revelation was never referred to as being "abusive, corrupt, deceitful, proud, or controlling"; however, these are traits which have been applied to PCG and its leaders.
But if we take time to ask ourselves how can a group or organization really be considered "God's true church" in the first place if it has/had the identifying marks of an exploitive, abusive group and has used methods of mind control in order to exploit others (especially financially), our minds begin to open as to what has led to all this confusion and misery. Deceitful organizations will use "church" as a front and then turn around and accuse other churches or groups outside of theirs as being "Satan's churches" or a "counterfeit." Anything negative that is said against them or their founder is simply brushed off as absolute "lies." This shuts down critical thinking.
Contrary to what we were told in these groups, there are others in the world that are in the true church, but this does not mean they searched for a church that was called "Church of God" or one that claimed to have received new revelation from God. Those who have been placed in the true church believe the Gospel that the Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead and that we can have confidence in His complete forgiveness for all our sins. (Hebrews 10:12; I John 2:2)
Many today who are calling PCG the "Laodicean church" have said that they believe Gerald Flurry is a false prophet (certainly not "That Prophet") and has abused countless members (along with his ministers) emotionally, spiritually and financially. But they can't see that Herbert Armstrong did the same thing. They blindly continue to hold on to the idea that HWA was somehow "used by God to restore the true gospel." If they dare to admit that it was all a big lie for the purpose of power and money, then everything they have believed in crumbles. But freedom from bondage and true peace is there for all those who will search into these things and who are willing to face the pain, loss and grief, instead of continuing to look to a man or organization who gives us "all the answers."
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
March 10, 2012
Updated February 11, 2016
Few who left WCG at the time of the new changes, and went into a splinter group such as PCG, understand what they were truly involved with--a destructive, exploitive religious group. Many of them today believe that PCG is the "Laodicean church." They may recognize the abuse of different leaders, but still hold to thinking HWA was a "tool in God's hands" and that his dogma--which he plagiarized and copied from Jehovah's Witnesses, 7th-day Adventism, Mormonism, and Church of God (7th Day)--is "God's restored truth" and they must hold fast. It is much harder for them to understand they are believing a false gospel and a false Jesus since the thought reform has been profoundly reinforced in their minds twice. Read: God Opened the Door and Said to Get Out!
Are You Being Recruited into a Totalistic Group? (Twenty-two Differences in Content, Emphasis, Methods, Church Life and Lifestyle)