The Error and Deception of Living Church of God
I wanted to thank you all for your helpful articles. I found Kelly Marshall's review of Mystery of the Ages very informative.
A little background on me: I am a 41-year-old doctor who grew up in a Methodist church and began seeking God eagerly around age 12. I was very enthusiastic and read the Bible three times by age 16, which was great because I could call up scriptures from memory to look at life's situations and to give me wisdom. Sometimes it was a bit painful as it caused me to ask questions of how the church was being run, etc. I put the Bible down by the age of 20 and by then became busy with my studies/work and visited church infrequently. I have only really come back to church attendance in the last 18 months. Initially it was at a Pentecostal type place, which was a bit over the top for me, and then I saw a Tomorrow's World program. The teaching seemed quite accurate. I read a few of their booklets and then went to a service in the Living Church of God in Adelaide, South Australia. They did mention a lot of the prophets, which the Protestant churches tend not to, so I found it quite interesting. Little did I realise at this stage what deception was going on.
What surprised me initially was that all the men were in suits and I thought to myself, doesn't God look at the heart and not the external as He said regarding King David?1 Also the hymns were all taken from the Psalms and most written by Dwight Armstrong. Doesn't God want to hear praises from all of His creation? Out of the mouths of babes. (Matthew 21:16) There was no sharing time for the congregation members to encourage each other with prayers that God might have answered. The congregation had no say in the sermon content and most of them were re-runs of what's in the LCG booklets. There was very little about how to live as a Christian as I was used to in Protestant churches. The other thing was the ministers were always flying off somewhere interstate. It made me think that either God must be a poor organiser or there is some serious control issues going on here where certain men want to stay in total control of their little empire.
I ended up keeping a diary of all the odd things that I saw while I was there.
The ministers were all called "Mr." Tyler or "Mr." Gill, etc., by the congregation. I just called them by their first names as I thought that's open and transparent especially since aren't they meant to be serving us as servant leaders so why falsely elevate people. It was particularly embarrassing one time when I saw an elderly congregation member in his early 70s come and speak to the younger minister, age 38 (the son of the senior minister), and the elderly congregation member said, Mr. Tyler, Mr. Tyler. The Word clearly says we should respect those that are chronologically older than ourselves, probably because they have lived more life than us and have probably learnt a few lessons we haven't.
I ended up reading all 30 of their booklets doing their online Bible study course and listening to 150 of their sermons twice in a three-month period as I wasn't working at the time. This was good as it was all fresh in my mind. I had about 20 significant questions that I wanted cleared up and when "both" the ministers came to my house they answered some of them reasonably and others rather loosely. I ended up deciding to get baptised as I wasn't fully immersed when I got baptised at age 19. I didn't see any harm in it.
Of note was one time when I was telling the junior minister how God had acted in a supernatural way to reach a believer who had stopped believing because his young son had died. My friend Steve who is a mobile mechanic has a van which has a silhouette of Jesus and a slogan saying, "A mechanic can fix most things but he can fix it all."
One time when Steve was out working, he had to pick up a car part from the distributor but he ended up taking a wrong turn and had to go to another car parts distributor to get the part so he could finish the job that day. Well, while in the place, a guy walked in and said, "Whose is the blue mobile mechanics van out there?" Steve answered, "That would be mine." The guy then asked, "Do you believe in dreams?" to which Steve replied, "Yes." The guy then proceeded to tell Steve how he had seen Steve's van in his dream the night prior. Steve went outside with the guy and talked with him and found out that he had lost a young son not long ago. Little did this man know that Steve had lost a baby (Bradley) who was born prematurely and that God in a supernatural way showed Steve and Tabatha, his wife, that God had hold of little Bradley. Isn't it funny how God knows how to put the right people in touch with the right people so that their faith isn't extinguished? Anyway the young minister [in LCG] didn't hear out the whole story as he said the guy must have seen his van before and then dreamed it. He then proceeded to ask if Steve kept the Sabbath or the Holy days. He finished with the question, "Why would God use him if he doesn't keep the Holy days?" I realised then that there was some serious problems with the Living Church of God.
On the same note. When the ministers came around to my place, I showed them the picture of Steve's van with the slogan to see what they would say. The only comment made was by the senior minister Mr. Bruce Tyler (father of the young minister who made the previous comment about Steve) and he said it should be capital "H" and not little "h" for He. The funny thing is I had previously spoken with Steve about it and Steve said they will probably criticize that very point which was only due to the sign writer not really understanding biblical reverence. Isn't it surprising that they didn't comment to say, "Well, your friend certainly has an admiration for the one spoken about in Isaiah 53. Good on him for being unashamed of Christ and the gospel."
I have found that in general none of the LCG ministry and most of the congregation ever gives credit to those outside their own organization who have tried to find or get to know God. They love to use the term are you "called" as per John 6:44 but fail to realise that God rewards all those that diligently seek after Him [Hebrews 11:6] and that God has left His calling card through nature so that all mankind is without excuse. Romans 1:19-20.
I did at a later stage talk to them about Cornelius being pleasing in God's eyes despite him being a Gentile and probably having nothing to do with Jewish practises. [Acts 10] Also, there is the centurion Christ commended who had greater faith than all the Israelites that Christ had encountered. [Luke 7:9] What's the likelihood the centurion kept the holy days or Sabbath?2
Interestingly, when speaking to Mr. Bruce Tyler, the senior minister, when informing him that I wasn't working as I had decided to take time off work, he was most insistent that work is important and in the weeks following he mentioned in his sermons that if a man doesn't work he shouldn't eat and that people weren't to be idle, busybodies, or eat other people's bread. The weeks following that every time he greeted me he would ask me how the work situation was going. He never asked, "How was your week? What did you do?" etc. Hmmm, hard not for me to think he was more interested in $ as it's impossible to give a tithe if your increase is zero. You can only give a New Testament offering from your heart.
Apart from the above, the only other thing I found putting off was that they tried to force me to do their Spokesman's Club. I explained that I had already done Toastmasters and that I had found it good just to improve my confidence with public speaking. They replied that Spokesman's Club was to help learn about God's way of government and becoming a better Christian. What a load of rubbish. I attended a few sessions just to get to know a few guys a bit more but apart from that it's just Toastmasters rebadged.
I spoke openly with many of the older congregation members and they were more sensible but still under the control where they didn't feel free to say what they really thought. Some comments made were: "I think we over do the prophecy thing a bit much"; "I think God is calling many people, it's just we don't know about them." In general I found that the congregation was full of lovely people whom are genuine and trying to do the right thing before God but they are constantly being herded by false shepherds who keep the indoctrination and control going. There is not an environment in which people are encouraged to ask questions that might contradict the doctrine, nor is there an openness or transparency.
Overall my summary is this:
The suit wearing is all about elevating people, encouraging cohesion and group morale. It's a form of control and manipulation.
The Spokesman's Club is again about control and following their organisation. If they produce a few good public speakers well, then those privileged can give the organization a sermon on the topic they are told to present while the ministers have a break. What a treat to serve in God's government.
The 30 church booklets have interesting information in them and all the Scriptures they provide support their arguments but they deliberately leave out all the Scriptures that show their arguments to be false. If you only read the Scriptures they provide you will get deceived and end up worshipping a false Christ. You need to check all the Scriptures in your Bible that come up in your concordance like they actually say to do. The sneaky thing is that the author knows that most people aren't Bereans in their Bible study so he can lead you down the garden path.
There are several theories that are put forward that have no supporting biblical or historical information which means you have to believe Herbert Armstrong or Roderick Meredith on their word?
I was actually surprised how much I sort of took on and accepted without actually checking it all. Thankfully, I had enough biblical knowledge and life experience to see the deception and remove myself from fellowship. I feel sorry for those genuine people who are stuck in there because of the deception and ongoing indoctrination.
I only quit the Living Church of God five days ago and no doubt I will have a few members emailing me so I hope God can speak to them through the Scriptures I have found that clearly show their error.
Thank you all for your excellent web site.
By William Moore
June 30, 2009
Footnotes by ESN:
1 "But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." I Samuel 16:7