David Pack of Restored Church of God has now unveiled to his members that he is a God-appointed, official “Apostle” of the 21st century. Is he telling the truth?
Background Info on David Pack:
David C. Pack, born in December 1948, was originally a minister of Worldwide Church of God. After leaving WCG in 1993, Pack went to Global Church of God (Roderick C. Meredith’s first group, later known as Living Church of God). He was disfellowshipped from Global Church of God in May 3, 1999. In May 1999 he founded Restored Church of God. In 2012 he began building a “world headquarters” in Wadsworth, Ohio. In 2017 he sold his luxurious home (see March 9, 2012 letters) and today lives in a larger and more lavish home on the campus in a wooded area.
As of 2018, Restored Church of God was said to have approximately 1,000 members. He has had substantial losses of members and ministers in the last few years.
He publishes and offers free The Real Truth, a magazine that looks like a clone of The Plain Truth, and Ambassador Youth, a magazine geared to the youth. He offers The Bible Introduction Course, 30 lessons patterned after Herbert Armstrong’s free Ambassador Bible Correspondence Course. His audio program on TV is The World to Come. The name of his college is Ambassador Center (AC) which was founded in 2008.
In 1985 WCG members distributed a 13-page open letter alleging that David Pack “constantly intimidated members, used threats and mind-control methods, was given to extreme emotional outbursts, believed in winning at all cost, disfellowshipped members for trivial faults, enjoyed putting down women” and other such horrific abuses. This letter quoted Pack as saying, “Everyone who has challenged me has either died, been seriously injured, or has been eliminated from the Work.” And “God backs me even if I am wrong.1
Pack is reported to still be very harsh and controlling, plus others have testified that he has been caught in lies.2
David Pack believes that Herbert W. Armstrong (who gave hundreds of false prophecies) was the “end-time Elijah.” He teaches the doctrines of Herbert Armstrong and believes RCG is “the only true extension of Mr. Armstrong’s ministry–the Church in which Christ is now working.” RCG claims to trace its roots “directly to the first century church.3 He has rewritten all of the major booklets of Herbert Armstrong, and his literature for children is patterned after the same; i. e., The Story of the Bible and Children’s Bible Lessons. These “lessons” have their focus in the Old Testament and emphasize the Ten Commandments (“God’s Law”). Stories about Jesus, especially as personal Savior, aren’t included. In fact, the New Testament isn’t even covered.
4 l/2 Hour Long Sermon
Pack’s sermon, dated February 26, 2005, “21st Century Apostle” can be listened to on Restored Church of God’s website. (See Note below) So important was this message, that Pack hoped the members wouldn’t mind the 4-1/2 hours that he was going to use to deliver this special sermon. He states that “extraordinary circumstances” justified its length. It’s in two parts, needless to say, and is filled with mind control tactics. He says what he’s doing, “Is not without Biblical precedence” and gives the example of the Apostle Paul (Acts 20) teaching all night until Eutychus fell from the balcony and died. Paul healed him and continued to preach and “nobody stopped listening.” Pack states that the people who listened to Paul preach all night were “willing to go that long.” One can’t imagine elderly members, members with children, or people with medical conditions, sitting through this. Pack said he spent over 60-70 hours and parts of three months composing this sermon. He claims that the message designed to benefit those “outside of the Restored Church of God” as well as those “inside.”
He sets up his members to accept his claims by asking them:
I wondered when I gave those sermons, now 8 weeks ago, would anybody leave? Would they say “this guy is copying the fellow in Oklahoma [referring to Gerald Flurry], he’s taking offices to himself,” no matter how thoroughly I taught it? They would just follow an impulse, a feeling–they would just “knee-jerk” themselves right out of the church? And say, they can’t discern difference between a man taken through “self-promotion” as an imposter, or Christ giving an office? I’ll just report to you that not a soul quit.
Belittles Those Who Consider Leaving
Pack belittles those who may have considered leaving RCG as “following feelings” and being reactive. He uses the absence of resignations (after giving a precursor sermon two months ago) from his organization as proof that he’s on the right track. He emphasizes that, “no man can claim the office of apostle” and he will spend an inordinate amount of time convincing his followers that this particular office must be given. In other words, it is a divine appointment by Christ. He claims the undeniable evidence is the “fruits” of his accomplishments. Naturally, when Dave Pack is finished, he will ensure that members believe that Christ gave him that office.
Pack tries to convince his followers that Herbert Armstrong was humble and never saw himself as an apostle:
Mr. Armstrong thought for 22 years that he was an evangelist until the end of 1952.
Pack will continue in this sermon to build a case for “hindsight.” Insisting that HWA never knew he was the Elijah until “others pointed it out to him”; he will justify his own apostleship in the same manner.
Promises Incredible Growth
He promises incredible future growth of “the Work“:
We are going to grow really–I wish I had a bigger adjective–really big!
This great growth will be used as evidence that God is “behind them, blessing them, proving that they are on the right track.” Of course, all the other splinters make this very same claim, but Pack will assert that he, only, is doing the “true end time Work.” But now he has to change his story and say that the door wasn’t closed after all, and that the greatest Work still lies ahead:
In 1998 I thought the door would be closing, or closed. I was wrong. The New Testament has more to say about a final office than we thought. I was wrong. It was not closed. Why did Mr. Armstrong say that the greatest Work lies ahead? Was somebody going to come along and later finish the Work?
Pack introduces the “short big Work” that must be completed right before the end comes. Previously, Pack stated that, “pastors are not to take the gospel to the world.” So where does that leave him? He continually outlines his qualifications throughout the sermon while stating that he “loathes flattery.” With the highest office remaining unfilled, he continues with the set up:
Do I ignore that and say “I’m not an apostle”? Binding and loosing is apostolic. What do I do? What happens if an evangelist comes with us? We’ll talk about what happens when the two witnesses appear because they’re going to appear in this church. Now get that straight–because I’m going to prove it to you later. [His later proof revolves around his position as an apostle, and that the two witnesses must be personally trained by him.]
Nobody Can Rise Above Him
Pack questions whether he has the authority to ordain anyone at all, and asks how would he ordain somebody “above his rank” [presently he holds the rank of a pastor while also claiming the position of “Watchman” and “Messenger.”] This question is designed to lead his followers to his premeditated conclusion–he must be granted the apostleship, or he cannot ordain members into higher ranks. He adamantly states that every single ordination in the splinters is invalid since they occurred “outside the body,” meaning the Restored Church of God. After this brash pronouncement, Pack understands the position that he has placed himself in. He knows that Roderick Meredith (Living Church of God) outranks him (Meredith’s was an evangelist4), and even Gerald Flurry (Philadelphia Church of God) has been a senior minister far longer than Pack, so Pack must ensure that he is elevated to the ultimate rank–nobody can rise above him, and everyone will stay below him.
Pack will continue his diatribe of the two witnesses, and how they “must be trained” before they can be revealed to the world. Pack emphasizes these two men will hold the second highest position in the church. This naturally leads to the clever arrangement that somebody needs to fill the number one position in the church. Since Pack will personally train these two witnesses (they’re coming from his church after all and none is more qualified), he will make the members believe that it is imperative that he ascend to this highest-ranking position:
Some day Christ will pick two prophets from this church. It will be obvious who they are. They have to be trained here. We knew they would be coming from the church. [Begins to shout] They certainly aren’t going to come from an era that’s wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked, lukewarm, lacks zeal on Tuesday, and they start their ministry on Thursday. On Tuesday, they’re attending some splinter, fouled up in doctrine, don’t even understand the body of Christ, and on Thursday, they’re breathing fire out of their mouth against their enemies, drying up the heavens, when necessary, bringing plagues–holding the second highest office in the New Testament or in the Old. And I would add, that’s the second highest office in the body. I Cor. 12:27-28. It’s in the body, not outside the body, that’s what Christ said. Performing the greatest Work any prophets ever performed. They’re going to come from the sickest church era in all history. Who’s kidding whom?? Think about that! They’re not going to come here at the last minute. They may be here or they may not be here–yet. I don’t know. But they’ll be here long before they begin their duties. And Christ isn’t going to tell them Wednesday night: “By the way, you’re the two witnesses, take off tomorrow morning at sunup for the 3-1/2 years.” What?!? They’re going to need to be trained!!
Prophets Have to Report to a Living Apostle
Then you have this great problem, brethren. The two prophets–all prophets–so said Mr. Armstrong in multiple places-–have to report to a living apostle. So how do we figure that?….They have to have absolute, miraculous power–power never given, ever in history. Are those going to be given to people who didn’t even understand who and what the church was? Didn’t understand the rank of the prophet because they’re out in the splinters where they’re confused about that and everything else? Didn’t understand they report to a living apostle? Didn’t understand any of the offices in the body or that Christ gives them? It absolutely makes no sense.
The set-up is complete. According to Pack, all prophets must report to a “living apostle” (which he will soon reveal is him). He invokes the “Korah threat” toward those who engage in online chat rooms and talk about their “knee-jerk feelings.” He continues with the two witnesses, stating that even they would have to yield to the 21st century apostle:
If two men, somehow, think they’re prophets, they would have to yield to whatever the apostle taught–not in the 1st century, but the 20th century. And if there’s one in the 21st century, to that man. …. Now HWA taught, “God has to choose and designate by fruit.” …. [Goes on to say that HWA used the words “look back” and “fruit” when he came to understand his office].
Magnifies His Past Achievements
Now Pack begins to magnify his past achievements as proof of his qualifications:
You look at the growth, you look at the fruit, you look at the miracles, you look at open doors.5 Are demons cast out? Are there healings? Extraordinary protection we could add in this age; even the fact that the church survived. Explosion of income? [Talks about HWA and Peter Waldo, and that nobody ordained Waldo to his office, and that nobody ordained HWA to his office of apostle. From these examples, Pack will conclude that he does not have to be “ordained” by anyone to ascend to this office].
Brethren I am teaching this as I understand the doctrine and looking at the fruits. I would ask, “Do I have the authority to take the gospel to the world?” Either I do, or I don’t. Do I not have authority? I look and the evidence is clear. The tools are in place. No one else is doing the Watchman or Messenger roles–they’re both “sent” positions. I have to ask, Why would I not qualify as “one sent with authority”?
Pack continues to declare that, “Christ gives that office” meaning the apostleship, and that it is impossible to declare that office upon oneself, as he insists that Joseph W. Tkach did. He says that he simply continued the Work. “I just did what the successor [JWT] was told to do but didn’t do.” To not acknowledge his position is to “be faithless and dismiss it”–and “to shrink back” is to “deny Christ’s name” and be “men pleasers.” [Pack is manipulating fear and guilt feelings of members, which is considered psychological abuse.] Pack must continually remind members that he is special and given special powers from above:
I was forced to write more than any man in any age. And brethren try to figure out at any age “who” was writing more or nearly as much. I was literally driven to do what others would not. For a long time I fought a bad attitude, I think I said this two months ago. I really wrestled. I mean I got angry. Why is no one coming to help me? Think how fast we could do this. I could rest once in awhile. And I thought, “Why is no one coming?” And the answer is, I had finally realized, “No one was sent.” I was driven because I was sent. I understand it was put in me–a tremendous, frankly brethren, supernatural, I’ll just say “miraculous energy” was placed in me to finish things I don’t know how I would have done if I was 30, when you consider the speed in having to write nearly twice as much as Mr. Armstrong had to write in vastly less time, and under ferocious attack, including people in the office–it couldn’t be “of a man.”
His Achievements and Special Powers are Signs
Later, on the second tape, he once again brings up his achievements and special powers that he insists are undeniable signs of his apostolic status:
Why did I pastor 19 churches? I don’t know if any man pastored 19 churches–I may have baptized more people in the last century than any man in the ministry of God–over 600. Was there anybody who baptized more than that? I’ve raised up literally scores of churches in the splinters.
Let’s look at the matter of miraculous power…remember, an apostle carries miraculous power. When I was as young as 27 years old, ministers used to call me when they dealt with demons because they knew I had experience in it. Casting out demons–apostles do that. There are healings here. They flow from the presence of apostolic authority. An apostle is inseparable from miraculous power. [Talks about these miracles not occurring in the splinters] We’ve had people healed of every conceivable thing–instant healings—dramatic! [lists all kinds of serious and terminal illnesses, hurricanes changing course, and God sending $10,000 to him after praying for it]
I’ve been used to write more literature for the church and the world, including to two eras of the church, than any man that’s ever done it before.
Then Pack pretends to be so humble6 by stating that it was “the members” who pointed these things out to him (and he just couldn’t ignore it anymore). We need to ask whether a “humble man” would spend 4-1/2 hours speaking about his qualifications, beating down the other offshoots, while promoting himself to the highest office?
Says He has Apostolic Authority
One must go to the second tape (over two hours long) to hear about all the “undeniable evidence” that points to his conclusion of being an “Apostle”:
Why would…listing apostles first not include me? Would Christ expect me to ignore that? …The responsibilities Christ expects me to do…While I have apostolic authority, … Mr. Armstrong was an Apostle. Yes brethren I hold that office. I do… If the highest office in Restored Church of God is not an apostle, then I was not sent by Christ.
Pack comes across as so smooth, so sincere. Then when he got to the part quoted above, he started stammering, so you knew he was trying to pawn off a lie. He wants his followers to believe that this position was given to him by God, and that he had no choice but to take it because of all the fruits were clear evidence that he was the “only one” doing the Work.
Pack has also prepared his members to be on guard since he’s made this public proclamation, and that attacks will come, and people on the Internet will quote him out of context. He tries to shame them by yelling, “How do God’s people listen to this stuff?!” He insists that he, next to Herbert Armstrong, is the “most accused man on the face of the earth.” He also claims to know who the 144,000 are and what the “1335 days” means, but it’s “not time” for him to reveal it. In other words, he’s stringing his followers along like HWA did. If members question Pack’s claims, then they’re going to “lose out” on knowing who the 144,000 really are, or “lose out” on being one of the two witnesses,7 and “lose out” on divine revelation to other such prophecies that only he knows, but can’t tell them at this time.
Ironically, a few years ago, Pack gave a sermon, “Where the Vultures are Gathered,” where he ” he would not pronounce himself the title of “Apostle.” This tape is still listed on the RCG site (click on “sermons”; then scroll down to the bottom. It’s the 6th one from the bottom of the second column). I listened to this sermon. It is one hour and 23 minutes long, but if you fast forward to one hour and 16 minutes into the tape, you will come to the spot where he says:
I’m not going to claim to behold some high office, or I am some kind of “secret apostle” in waiting. Baloney. I don’t think that way.
Blaming Pack is Questioning God
Those who reject this appointment to Pastor General/Apostle and who pointed out this discrepancy are told, “Those people have never met the living Jesus Christ–they do not know the true God.” He insists that people who won’t accept that he (or HWA) has made mistakes are “carnal” and that “men grow.” He insists he didn’t know what God was going to do. He also states that members “personally offend God” if they think everything that Pack has accomplished was only “mere human effort.” No human can do what they’ve done, he maintains. If one blames Pack for teaching this, he is “questioning God,” and of course, neither he nor Christ can “reach these people.” To reject this appointment is equal to rejecting Herbert Armstrong and is expecting Pack to reject Herbert Armstrong (which he won’t do). Pack is certainly banking on the loyalty that his followers hold toward HWA.
He directed the last of his sermon toward the disenchanted people and leaders in the splinters, inviting them to join his group.
Herbert W. Armstrong was a false prophet. David Pack takes pride in emulating HWA in every way, even surpassing his achievements. Continuing the teachings and methods of a known false apostle easily makes Pack a false apostle himself.
Would the Devil Direct Such a Project?
Finally, Pack asks his followers:
Could a man, or could any human being do this on his own? Then, of course, comes the most sinister question: Would the devil direct such a project in order to yield and field a false apostle? Does the devil hate the truth enough, that he would find one of his own and have him rewrite it all? You better come to grips with these questions! There are only two spirits out there–the spirit of error and the spirit of truth–the god of this world and the true God. You’ve got to figure out which one empowered the writing of all this truth. Do any of the devil’s agents work 20,000 hours just to do that and to get it right?
The answer to David Pack’s question (which he doesn’t answer) is “Yes, the devil would certainly do whatever it takes to direct such a project.”
By Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
“For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.” ~Jeremiah 29:9
UPDATE: In 2006 David Pack wrote that every country on earth had officially been reached by the RCG through the Internet and other means. He said this was “another undeniable proof” that Christ was heading and directing Restored Church of God. (“Major Milestone–All 193 Nations Reached!” – News and Updates, 6-23-06, David C. Pack) However, Herbert Armstrong said the same thing in 1985 at the Feast of Tabernacles when he distributed Mystery of the Ages.
UPDATE: In 2015 David Pack declared that he is now the Elijah, not HWA. (February 2, 2015 letter to ESN)
Profile on a Sociopath (A number of abusive, religious leaders may exhibit many of these behavioral characteristics)
Footnotes by ESN:
1 “David Pack’s Reign of Terror,” Ambassador Report #32, June 1985 [offsite material]
2 “Can Dave Pack be trusted to tell the truth about himself or anyone else?” by Thomas Munson and Thomas Munsen Resignation Letter (for the last one scroll down to “RCG’s Financial Corruption”) (covers covers misuse of tithes, outright lies, abuse, and un-Christlike behavior; written in September 2000). [offsite links]
5 There can be what is known as a “satanic blessing.” Therefore, one must also examine the fruit of the leader, not just miracles or power. The good fruit of the Spirit is far more difficult for Satan to counterfeit. False prophets and false teachers are full of evil works, lies and contradictions.
6 David Pack (along with certain leaders from the splinter groups) long for their members to think they are “humble.” But is it humble to brag about all “you” have done and then give yourself different titles, causing your members to look to you more than to the Lord Jesus Christ? No man–or church–should ever come between an individual and God, especially if it causes them to depend on that person to the extent that they fear to leave fellowship of that group, or to even question the authority, feeling they will forfeit their eternal life.
7 “This Church is the only place Christ’s government can be found. This means that the Two Witnesses will be given (Eph. 4:11) their office by Christ from within this church! … Let me repeat for emphasis: I state without apology and with God’s authority that both of the Two Witnesses will be members of The Restored Church of God. Of this there is no doubt! (The Government of God, David C. Pack, 2006, Chapter 17, “The Two Witnesses”)