A Rebuttal to Michael Morrison
Mike Morrison of WCG replied to On Apostasy--A Radical Proposal. This is the rebuttal to Morrison's letter from Edgardo Meneses.
This letter was begun on October 25, 2006 and mailed to ESN November 24, 2006. It was later sent to over 300 Worldwide Church of God ministers and members.
UPDATE: In April 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.)
October 25, 2006
Dr. MICHAEL MORRISON
Worldwide Church of God
Dear Dr. Morrison:
Thank you for replying to my letter dated September 11, 2006 which I titled "ON APOSTASY -- A Radical Proposal." I addressed the letter to Worldwide Church of God Philippines National Director Eugene M. Guzon and to seven Filipino pastors working with and under him. They have not replied; that's why I have decided to send the letter to other WCG ministers, and also because I believe WCG churches should be aware of the contents of the letter. So far, you are the only one who has made an answer to the issues I raised.
You said you were "set[ting] the record straight" for the people I sent my message to. And you said it would not be a profitable use of our time to debate these issues. If you still feel that way, it's your prerogative to ignore this second letter. I'm doing this for the sake of the same people to whom you forwarded your letter and for others who might benefit from this rebuttal.
For the sake of clarity I will enumerate your statements and comment on each of them.
1) "First, we do not teach replacement theology. See the attached document on that topic."
I read your attached document a number of times because I was looking for a proof that would show that the WCG does not teach replacement theology. But what I saw are statements that prove that the WCG does indeed teach replacement theology. How's that for a cognitive dissonance in a short document?
First, your document has the phrase, "The church as the 'Israel of God' (Galatians 6:16)." If the WCG believes that the Church is the Israel of God, then the WCG accepts replacement theology (RT) because that concept is exactly the essence of RT.
Galatians 6:16 does not mean that the Church is spiritual Israel or the Israel of God. Simply put, "the Israel of God" refers to believing ethnic Israelites in the Christian Church, i. e., the Jewish remnant according to God's gracious choice, as contrasted with "Israel after the flesh" (1 Cor. 10:18).
Galatians 6:16: "And as many as walk according to this rule [the rule of faith] peace on them [the Gentile Christians in the Church], and mercy, AND upon the Israel of God [the converted Jews who followed the same rule of salvation by faith]."
Second, your document says, "Is there a future role for Israel as a nation? . . . The Bible talks about Israel as a people, as an ethnic group, not specifically as a nation . . . it is clear that to focus on the Jewish nation state in terms of some role, rather than on Israel as a people, is too simplistic." This statement is simply not true. The Bible talks about Israel as a nation:
"Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation . . . " (Isaiah 51:4). "If those ordinances [the sun, the moon, the stars, and the waves of the sea, v.35] depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever" (Jer. 31:36). ETC., ETC.
And here is some role for Israel as a nation during our time now and in the near future: "Behold, I will make Jerusalem [capital of the Jewish nation] a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it" (Zech. 12:2,3).
Third, Your document says, "In a Christian context, various Old Testament prophecies concerning the blessings and restoration of Israel are understood in a spiritual sense, as the promises of God in Christ -- first to the Jew and then to the Gentile . . . In conclusion, Old Testament prophecies about Israel's salvation and great national glory are generally seen in Christian theology as having been spiritually fulfilled. . . . " If this is not replacement theology I have yet to hear another name for it.
2) "It is simply poor scholarship on your part to quote as proof a 10-year old article from In Transition. Since In Transition was a hostile newspaper1 you cannot expect it to quote Mike Feazell accurately."
I sent my letter to Dr. Mike Feazell the same day I sent it to you. Weeks have passed since then, but I am not aware of any denial from him. If indeed he was misquoted in the newspaper that I quoted, he should come out and straighten things out, as this pertains to an important doctrinal issue.
Dr. Feazell was quoted by Steve Sheppherd, WCG pastor of Elhart, Indiana from December 1990 to March 1995. The interview happened at the FOT 1992 in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Mr. Sheppherd took notes from his almost four hours of conversation with Dr. Feazell (two hours in a restaurant and another one and a half hours or more at the Feazells' lodging). Mr. Sheppherd said, "I know the value of taking notes as quickly after an event as possible, and I began these notes within a half hour of the end of the conversation" (same source).
3) "The article you quoted from our website was about Revelation 7, and was not saying that the church replaces Israel in all biblical passages."
You don't have to replace Israel with the Church in all biblical passages where Israel is mentioned in order to be said that you teach replacement theology. At any rate, you therefore imply that the WCG teaches that the Church replaces Israel in some biblical passages. What is this? Partial Replacement Theology? I once read a minister use "semi-millennialism." As there is no such thing as semi-millennialism, there cannot be a partial-replacement theology.
The quote from the article that I put in my letter reads, "It seems clear that the vision in Revelation 7 has the church in view, not the ancient nation of Israel . . . The church is the extension of national Israel, or better, its replacement, elevated to a spiritual plane." I will now copy from the article the greater part of what I omitted from between the two sentences: "The emphasis in the New Testament is on the spiritual people of God or HIS CHURCH. It is not interested in racial distinctions (Galatians 3:28) . . . The believer in Christ is the true Jew (Romans 2:29). Peter speaks of THE CHURCH as a holy nation and chosen people (1 Peter 2:9). Paul said of THE CHURCH: 'It is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 3:3). These are phrases and ideas taken from the Old Testament and APPLIED TO THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH" (emphases mine). Do the foregoing sentences talk about the Church as "Israel" in Revelation 7 only? Of course not. At the end of the article ("Who Are the 144,000?") it says, "Since Israel is a SYMBOL FOR THE CHURCH, we should not take the 144,000 as a literal number either" (emphasis mine). All these are the language of replacement theology no less.
4) "I wrote that one out of 260 chapters in the New Testament is about the millennium, showing the relative importance of the millennium. You then conclude that I meant it was not important. That is not what I said and not what I meant. Every word is important, but if we preach one chapter each week, we preach Revelation 20 once every 5 years."
Am I correct if I say now that you meant the Millennium was less important? If you believe every word is important, what do you mean by "relative importance"? Obviously, you downplay the Millennium. Would you also downplay John 3:1-21 because this part of one chapter -- the story of the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus -- is preached only once every 5 years if we preach one chapter of the New Testament each week? Would you downplay 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 for the same reason? (The WCG not only downplays, but rejects, the preTribulation Rapture doctrine.) The same could be asked of other chapters in the New Testament.
I believe that frequency of mention in the Bible of a certain doctrine is not the "gauge" by which to measure or evaluate its importance. And I believe your dialectic against the Millennium springs from your preferred theology which you don't want to admit openly for reasons I could only surmise.
By the way, Revelation 20 also contains the doom of Gog and Magog, the judgment of Satan, and the Great White Throne Judgment. Would you consider these future events relatively unimportant because if we preach the New Testament one chapter each week we get to preach these doctrines only once every 5 years? Why should I wonder? I remember your generous leader calls these doctrines "peripheral items."
5) "Your 'proofs' of the millennium are inadequate."
If Revelation 20:1-10 is not an adequate proof of the Millennium for you, nothing more can be adequate a proof for you. You have concluded that there will be no Millennium.
6) "I say that the New Testament does not talk about a temporary kingdom."
Who is talking about a temporary kingdom?
7) "You respond by 1) quoting Luke 1, which clearly says that the kingdom will last forever, not that it is temporary."
The fact that the Millennium is 1,000 years does not mean the Kingdom is temporary. The Millennium has its place in the plan of God, but His Kingdom goes on after the 1,000 years into eternity.2
In ancient history, a kingdom was ended when its government and/or its people were destroyed. In recent history and current events, a "coup d'etat" can overthrow a regime and we can say that that regime has ended if the coup is successful. An election can put an end to a "kingdom." But the future Kingdom of God is different. Daniel the prophet describes the Kingdom: "And in the days of these kings [the future ten kings, 7:24-27] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44).
8) "Second, you quote John the Baptist, who said that the kingdom 'is at hand.' That in no way proves that Jesus would establish a kingdom more than 2000 years later."
Well, John the Baptist was not given that revelation, but another John was.
9) "Third, you say the kingdom was postponed. You seem to be saying that Jesus' announcement was incorrect -- that he could not foresee the Jewish rejection of his message and therefore he talked as if they would accept."
The Messiah came to Israel in due time to fulfill the prophecies. In Nazareth, the Lord Jesus, in a synagogue, read from the book of Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18,19). The fact that the Lord did not finish Isaiah's sentence that includes "the day of vengeance of our God" [pointing to the Second Advent] shows that He could foresee the future. He knew Psalm 2, Isaiah 53, and other scriptures that foretold His sufferings and death. But the offer of the Kingdom was genuine. We cannot question the love of the Lord Jesus towards His own people (John 1:11; Matt. 23:37-39).
10) "Fourth, you mention the regeneration. This in no way says that the kingdom will be temporary."
There again is your "temporary." Of course, the Kingdom will not be temporary.
11) "Same with point 5,6, and 7. You are simply assuming the millennium where it is not stated."
In points 5,6, and 7 I quoted from Luke 22:28-30, Matt. 20:20-28, and Acts 1:6-8. These scriptures talk about a coming literal Kingdom on earth, which is the Millennium as revealed in Revelation 20. I prefer to take the Lord's words at their face value. I'm afraid too many Bible teachers -- particularly in big-name seminaries -- are teaching their students how to disbelieve the Scriptures. I'm reminded of 2 Timothy 3:7.
12) "Contrary to what you imply at the beginning, we do not teach amillennialism. But we do not teach premillennialism, either."
What do you teach, then? Postmillennialism? "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." The Bible is a dogmatic book. I don't see any reason why we should not be dogmatic about doctrines. Unless we want to remain ecumenical . . .
13) "You are worried about ecumenism for the strangest reasons."
One "strange" reason why I worry about ecumenism is that the doctrines of the Bible are being set aside for the sake of unity. God's Word enjoins the unity of believers, not the unity of believers and unbelievers.
14) "When we invite Richard Foster to speak, or when we quote him on our website, it does not mean that we endorse, believe, or teach everything he teaches. We are simply saying that he has something that we can benefit from."
You select the gems from the trash? How sure are you that what you take from Foster's teachings is really good? Here are some of his teachings. Pray tell, which of these are beneficial?
- Approval of New Age teachers and Catholic mystics
- Occultic use of imagination
- Open theism
- Promotion of visions, revelations and charismatic gifts
- Endorsement of rosary and prayer wheel
- Mystical journaling
- Embracing pop-psychology
- Promoting Roman Catholic practices such as the use of "spiritual directors," confessing, penance
- Spiritual disciplines as a means of grace
- Contemplative prayer
Granting that Richard Foster3 has something good to offer, would it be right to take his services? The Bible is very clear on this. We are to separate from false teachers (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Tim. 2: 20,21). Continuing to foster impostor teachers will cause shipwreck of faith in members (cf. 1 Tim. 1: 18-20).
15) "We are not joining his church, the Quakers, or the Catholics."
Why should you? On the contrary, you would do anything to preserve the firm, este, the church.
16) "I had to laugh when you said that two members gave you a copy of Rick Warren's book, and you concluded from that that now you know the church endorses it. That was poor logic."
You jumped to a conclusion, and that was bad logic. I concluded that the WCG endorses Warren's book not from the fact that my sister and I received gift copies. You didn't see the rambled syllogism. I merely put my stronger premise after my conclusion: "There are Purpose-Driven seminars [in WCG churches] based on Warren's spiritual growth strategy."
17) "We are aware, as you are, that the book contains errors. You also comment that 'there are purpose-driven seminars based on Warren's spiritual growth strategy.' So what does that have to do with us? What does it have to do with ecumenism?"
What does the WCG do with the errors in Warren's book? Probably they are included in the seminars without discrimination. Instead of warning against Warren's books, the WCG encourages the members to read and follow them. It's like serving food with cyanide in it. Only, in Warren's books the amount of cyanide is proportionately greater than a criminal would put in a deadly food serving. The WCG has a number of such "caterers" that "serve" the members. The poor members (victims) may not be able to detect these spiritual poisons being given to them.
"But whoso shall offend [cause to stumble] one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matt. 18:6).
Of course, Rick Warren4 has a lot to do with the WCG. Isn't Spiritual Formation the theme of the 2007 Ministerial Conference?5 Dr. Joe Tkach says so. And Rick Warren is a formidable promoter of SF. Why is he not invited to the Conference (maybe he has been invited) along with Richard Foster and Dallas Willard?6 Maybe because he is so busy -- travelling around the world promoting his PEACE Plan. And you're asking what Warren has to do with ecumenism?
18) "The WCG does not 'endorse' the Message Bible by Eugene Peterson. Every Bible translation . . . has errors in it. The fact that we give someone a Bible, or a paraphrased Bible, does not mean that we endorse every rendition in it. We are just saying that it is helpful."
Do you actually say to the recipient of The Message Bible7, "The fact that we are giving you this Bible does not mean that we endorse every rendition in it"? Do you put a tag on the front cover, "Caution: Reading this paraphrased Bible could be dangerous to your spiritual health"? But you should do these precautions if you are really concerned about a person's spiritual well-being. Better still, you ought to give him a trustworthy translation. Or, give him the money and let him buy a Bible for himself; at least, this way you would not be an accomplice. A copy of The Message is the same cyanide-laden food we talked about above.
"Helpful"? A distorted Bible's helpfulness, if any, is negated by its soul-damning renditions and theology.
19) "Wow. People attended Franklin Graham's crusade. You admit that you don't know much about him, but you say that his dad has been apostasizing. [sic] You say he is the number one promoter of ecumenism. Just because he doesn't condemn everyone who believes exactly like he does, does not mean he is promoting ecumenism."
Why would Billy Graham condemn everyone who believes exactly like he does? That would be poor logic on his part, to say the least. Worst, he would be thought insane should he do that. You mean he is not promoting ecumenism? I will let him speak for himself:
"I am very comfortable with the Vatican. I have been to see the Pope several times. In fact, the night -- the day that he was inaugurated, made Pope, I was preaching in his cathedral in Krakow. I was his guest . . . [and] when he was over here . . . in Columbus, South Carolina . . . he invited me on the platform to speak with him. I would give one talk, and he would give the other . . . I like him very much . . . He and I agree on almost anything." -- Interview with Larry King, January 1997
Billy Graham's Crusade policy: "If Catholics step forward there will be no attempt to convert them and their names will be given to the Catholic church nearest their homes" (Vancouver Sun, Oct. 5, 1984).
Do the above quotes sound like Billy Graham8 is not promoting ecumenism? I have yet to hear a denial of ecumenism from him.
Christianity Today evaluates Billy Graham's work thus: "It would be difficult to overestimate Billy Graham's importance in the last 50 years of evangelicalism. . . . Graham personally embodied most of the characteristics of resurgent evangelicalism. . . . de-emphasizing doctrinal and denominational differences that often divided Christians. . . . For evangelicalism, Billy Graham has meant the reconstitution of a Christian fellowship transcending confessional lines -- a grassroots ecumenism that regards denominational divisions as irrelevant rather than pernicious." -- Oct. 5, 1992, as quoted in Billy Graham and Rome by David W. Cloud, 1997
20) "Christians should be known for being gracious, not throwing stones and calling names and condemning for every difference in beliefs."
You mean fellowshipping with the Pope and not condemning his soul-damning teachings is "being gracious'? What saith the scripture? "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [rebuke] them" (Ephesians 5:11). Billy Graham has been disobeying God for decades. A question has been asked if he is a regenerate person after all.
In my letter I referred to a number of scriptures that command Christians to reprove, avoid, reject, and separate from false teachers (Acts 20: 29-31; Rom. 16: 17; Titus 3: 10,11; 2 John 10; 2 Cor. 6:14 - 7:1). You did not comment on them. It is plain that the Worldwide Church of God has discarded the biblical doctrine of Separation. It has embraced humanistic Ecumenism instead.
Note: I later found out that not only that WCG members attended Franklin Graham's Festival crusade in Manila last February, but also, the WCG ministry had an active role in preparations for it. Let me quote from the February 10, 2006 WCG Philippines update:
" 'WCG Participates in Franklin Graham's Festival of Hope.' ND Eugene Guzon and Andrew Teng were involved as members of the Ministers Committee chaired by Bishop Fred Magbanua . . . It was also exciting to see our WCG leaders and members getting involved . . . A number of our leaders and members volunteered as counsellors, co-laborers and some joined the 3,000 voices of the . . . Choir. It was also exciting to see some of our leaders and members who came from distant places like Pampanga, Bulacan, San Pedro, Sta. Rosa, & other areas got involved . . . The MMFGF fostered unity among Christians of different persuasions . . . All for the glory and honor of a loving God!" -- Andrew Teng
Was God really pleased? Was God pleased with Franklin Graham when he attended the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI? Billy said, "I don't have the physical strength to go, and I have been invited about six or seven months ago by the Vatican ahead of time. And they've asked that I come. So I'm asking my daughter, Anne Lotz to go. . . . And then my son, Franklin, will be going to the enthronement of the new Pope." -- Larry King Live, April 2, 2005
These are the people the WCG ministers are cooperating with, in direct disobedience to God.
21) "Wow. Mr. Tkach has talked to Hank Hanegraaf [sic]. You don't know whether Hank has influenced him or not, but you list this as a terrible point of ecumenism. We don't accept everything Hank says, either. In fact, we haven't had much contact with him for several years."
Hank Hanegraaff has "outgrown" his usefulness to WCG. He has his own problems to attend to. I included him in the list because of his big role in the mainstreaming of WCG. He is an example of a churchman whose services the church should not have sought in the first place. Once the leaders in California began to seek approval from ecumenical people there has been no stopping treading the road toward Rome/Babylon.9
22) "Wow. We reviewed a book by Brian McLaren, supposedly an intellectual voice for ecumenism. Last, you mention promise keepers, but fail to say how they are relevant to us. I don't think you know what ecumenism is."
Drop "supposedly." McLaren10 has admitted something in his letter to Chuck Colson: "Several years back, you tried to bring Evangelicals and Catholics together . . . an effort which I applaud and in which I am involved myself" (quoted by Lighthouse Trails Publishing).
When a church publication reviews a book positively, it is not superfluous to assume that that church approves of the book. Here are some of the teachings contained in McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy:
- Holistic, planetary salvation without apocalyptic intervention of God
- The concept of hell is disparaged.
- The Bible is about doing good works, not about objective truth.
- A religion of perpetual doubt -- Deconstruction
- Truth cannot be known. Writing systematic theologies is foolish.
Isn't Brian McLaren the author of the book titled, The Secret Message of Jesus? This fact alone should be enough to alert us as to where he is getting his teachings from. Surely not from the Bible.
As for the Promise Keepers, I know that WCG ministers attend PK conferences. PK is an ecumenical organization11, exactly the right place for ecumenical WCG.
If you thought I did not know what ecumenism is, you should have defined it for my sake, then.
23) "Yes, we need to be on the side of the truth. You believe that you have the truth, but we don't believe you."
I am not asking you to believe me. But thanks for being forthright here.
24) "Yes, we should obey God rather than men. . . . We have to believe what God says to us when we read his word."
That's true. Unfortunately, at the moment, I'm afraid you are not doing that. Here is some of God's Word that you refuse to believe:
- You refuse to believe that there is going to be a literal 1,000-year reign of the Messiah, called the Millennium -- Revelation 20: 1-10.
- You refuse to believe that the nation of Israel will have a role in the plan of God in the future -- Jer. 31: 35-37; Zech. 12 -14, etc., etc.
- You refuse to believe the very words of the Lord Jesus when He says He is going to rule in the Messianic Kingdom on earth -- Matt. 19: 27, 28; 20: 20-28; Luke 20: 28-30, etc.
- You refuse to believe in the preTribulation Rapture of the Church revealed by the Lord Jesus Himself and by the apostles -- John 14: 1-3; 1 Thess. 4: 13-18; 1 Cor. 15: 51,52; 2 Thess. 2: 1-12; Rev. 3: 10; 5: 9,10.
- You refuse to believe in God's command to separate from false teachers and false brethren -- 2 Tim. 4: 2-4; Rom.16:17; 2 John 10; 2 Cor. 6: 14-7:1; 2 Cor. 11:13-15, etc.
I hope and pray that you will really believe and obey God soon. It's sad to realize that for many it will take the wrath of God to be poured out before they will come to their senses (Revelation 6 - 18). Or you also don't believe that? From your writings I know that you don't take the book of Revelation literally.
At any rate, you cannot say that you have not been warned. . .
Sincerely, in Christ,
EDGARDO S. MENESES
Cc.: ND Eugene Guzon
Pastors Teng, Taniajura, Santibañez,
Dela Peña, Escara, & Melendez
Note by ESN: Replacement Theology teaches that God is finished with the nation of Israel and that the promises in the Bible concerning Israel have now been given to the Church. For further study, see the following: How is the Term Israel Used in the New Testament? (also explains Galatians 6:16: "The Israel of God.")
Spiritual Formation? Another Name for Contemplative Spirituality [offsite article]
The Issue of Other Religious Practices as Worship in the Church (shows the eastern mystical source of contemplative and centering prayer) [offsite article]
Footnotes by ESN:
2 Psalm 145:13, Daniel 2:44; 4:3; 7:27, Luke 1:33, 2 Peter 1:11, etc. state that the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is an everlasting kingdom which has no end.
3 See the exposé articles: Richard Foster - General Teachings and Activities and A Critique on the Ministry of Richard Foster. (The latter goes into detail about his New Age teachings and connections.)
4 Rick Warren was mentored by Robert Schuller who was tied in with New Age leaders and philosophies (Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose Driven Church by Warren Smith). Robert Schuller died April 2, 2015 of esophageal cancer. Also see the following: Change Agents in the Churches -- Rick Warren; An Analysis of Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven" Church Growth Strategy and Rick Warren Connections.
5 "Coming Events - activity calendar for the WCG"; "Worldwide Church of God Caribbean," July 26, 2006.
6 For more on Dallas Willard, including his connections and endorsements, see: Dallas Willard - Promoting Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism Through Spiritual Formation. WCG lists Willard's book, Hearing God, on the "Ministry Foundations" of their website. [Update: Dallas Willard died in 2013]
8 Refer to the online book: New Neutralism II: Exposing the Grey of Compromise.
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