Grace Community International has involved themselves with the ecumenical movement and endorsed several New Age authors. Their articles and studies often use New Age terms; i. e., “transformation,” “change agent,” “paradigm,” “paradigm shift,” “quantum shift,” “hearing the voice of God,” “networking,” “vision,” “visualization,” “catch the vision,” “cast a vision,” “purpose,” “facilitate,” etc.
(Also see: New Age Terms in the Church)
Other terms used by the church growth movement or purpose driven churches, are: “healthy Christians,” “healthy ministry,” “healthy churches” (i. e., made up of all members who set aside their differences and are willing to compromise the Word of God for the collective group mind), “process,” “teamwork,” “synergy,” “synergy of energy,” “leadership training,” “leadership team,” “leadership development,” “servant leader,” “small groups” (i. e., cell groups), “community with God,” etc.
(Note: Grace Communion International was formerly known as Worldwide Church of God founded by Herbert Armstrong. For more info see NOTE at bottom of page under “Related Material.”)
GCI church services include a potpourri of belief styles, including tongues speaking1 and other emotional gestures which are prevalent in Pentecostal, Four Square Gospel, and modern Charismatic churches.
Aligned Themselves With New Evangelicals
Grace Communion International has aligned themselves practically from the beginning of their changes with New Evangelicals and have promoted New Ager Richard J. Foster from Renovaré (tied in with contemplative spiritually) and Dallas Willard:2
“An excellent book I can recommend to you on the subject of the spiritual disciplines and their role in the Christian life is Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (Worldwide News, December 1999, “Personal from Joseph Tkach” and “The role of the law in Christian life,” 1999)
“I urge every pastor to read and study Dallas Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines and Richard Foster’s book The Celebration of Discipline.” (“Leading in Spiritual Formation, A Pastor’s Main Business,” Dan Rogers, May 1999.)
The April 22, 1997, The Worldwide News first quoted Foster regarding prophecy speculations. Richard Foster is also Professor of spiritual formation at Azusa Pacific University. Richard Foster promotes New Age philosophy to churches.3 GCI not only quotes from Richard Foster, but has recommended and used his book Celebration of Discipline as a resource (i. e., “Spiritual Discipline Series,” 1998, 1999, “Discovery Group Course,” “Recommended Reading, Books for Biblical Studies,” etc.) Mike Feazell encouraged their lay pastors to read Foster’s book at pastor’s conferences.4 GCI encouraged members and pastors to attend Foster’s Renovaré October 2000 conference in Laguna Hills, California.5 Feazell quoted Richard J. Foster’s letter written to those on his mailing list.6
Richard Foster was WCG’s guest speaker at the International Pastor’s and Elder’s Conference, July 26-29, 2007, at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and Spa, a resort in the Palm Springs area of Southern California.7 More than 800 attended the conference, including 19 Filipino WCG ministers with their wives. The conference focused on Spiritual Formation. More than 800 attended the conference, including 19 Filipino WCG ministers with their wives. The conference focused on Spiritual Formation.
GCI teaches spiritual formation says: “Spiritual formation should be a focus of pastoral ministry.”8
For more on Dallas Willard, including his connections and endorsements, see: Dallas Willard – Promoting Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism Through Spiritual Formation. [offsite article]
Update: On GCI’s website as of 2020 it can be seen that they offer: “Discipleship: Celebration – a small group study” (with Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines used as resources), and “Discipleship: Spiritual Formation” (quoting the same books and others as a Bibliography).
Involvement With Ecumenical Movement
Grace Communion International’s involvement with the ecumenical movement (which encompasses interfaith unity) includes the modern Charismatic movement9 and many compromising organizations, one of which is Promise Keepers. The modern Charismatic “Word-faith” movement (signs/ wonders, prophetic revelations) is gaining a foothold in many churches today. Their ministers are on a number of radio and TV stations and they bring in millions of dollars from their uninformed followers. GCI’s website says they are “a mosaic of churches knit together in grace” and in their article “Give Me One Good Reason to Go to Church” they they talk about “Variety in unity” and then go on to list all kinds of churches with many different belief systems.
Books by Henri Nouwen are still endorsed by GCI on their website. (For articles about Henri Nouwen and his belief in contemplative spirituality, see: What did Henri Nouwen really believe? Also read: The Issue of Other Religious Practices as Worship in the Church, which shows the eastern mystical source of contemplative and centering prayer. This last article also mentions authors which GCI has spoken favorably about; i. e., Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, Brian McLaren, and Thomas Merton. [offsite articles]
GCI has endorsed Rick Warren (senior pastor of Saddleback Community Church in California, situated on a 120 acre campus) and still references his material in their articles. As CGI’s membership continued to decline, they became involved in church planting (Rick warren style).10 Warren Smith critiqued in his book Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose Driven Church, showing that Rick Warren was mentored by Robert Schuller (tied in with New Age leaders and philosophies) and that Warren’s theology is likewise pantheistic (“God is in everything”). (Note: Robert Schuller died April 2, 2015.) Also see the following offsite articles: Changes Agents in the Church–Rick Warren; An Analysis of Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” Church Growth Strategy and Rick Warren Connections.
Grace Communion International is a member of Mission America. The Mission America Coalition grew out of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. For more info on Mission America read: The Global Prayer and Missions Movement Database (Strategic Partnerships for the Propagation of Another Gospel) and The Transformation of the Church (A Database of Historical and Current Data on the Strategic Partnerships & Interlocking Directorates of Organizations in the Global Ecumenical Movement).
GCI (formerly known as WCG) in the Caribbean stated they have had conferences sponsored by Willow Creek Community Church (Bill Hybels)11 They were using Willow Creek’s “Promiseland” curriculum for the children in their congregation.12 (Read: Willow Creek Hegelian Dialectic & the New World Order for more info on WCA. [offsite article]
Embraced Replacement Theology & Amillennialism
Grace Communion International has embraced Replacement Theology and Amillennialism. The following are only a few quotes which were taken from GCI’s website and are still up as of 2020 which show this:
“The church is the extension of national Israel, or better, its replacement, elevated to a spiritual plane.” (Revelation 7 – “Who Are the 144,000?”) “In the New Testament, the church is known as spiritual Israel, Zion and ‘the mother.’ ” (“Jesus and the Church in Revelation 12”)
“Peter gives to the church titles that God once gave Israel.” (A Special People – I Pet 2:2-10)
“Lessons From the OT. … The Church is the new spiritual Israel, the people of God.” (“One, HOLY Church” by Phil Hopwood, June 6, 1998, Hobart, Australia)
“In accepting the God of Israel, Ruth foreshadows the gentiles becoming a part of spiritual Israel, the church.” (“Exploring the Word of God, Unit 2: The Historical Books, Exploring Ruth,” 2002)
“As a result of his exaltation, Christ is at God’s right hand, as the messianic head of a new, spiritual Israel.” (“The Church Begins on Pentecost, ACTS 2:1-47,” by Paul Kroll, 2001)
“Jesus is the head of a new, spiritual Israel.” (“Pentecost: A Christian Festival for the 21st Century” by David Sheridan, Northern Light, May/June 2003)
WCG (GCI) joined the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions in 1998. EMNR is a Lausanne-covenanted organization and has, in fact, been instrumental in mainstreaming the Mormon religion as a Christian denomination. For more information, read the following offsite report: Evangelical Ministries to New Religions. GCI has given their approval to the Lausanne Movement, calling it a work of God.13
Member of NAE
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) accepted the Worldwide Church of God into full membership in 1997.14 Jack Hayford, a hyper-Charismatic who has involved himself in unity movements around the world with New Agers and Catholic leaders,15 was instrumental in helping the Worldwide Church of God become a member of the NAE.
The website for Grace Communion International in the UK states that they are a member of the Evangelical Alliance, which is the United Kingdom’s version of the stateside National Association of Evangelicals. The NAE is under the umbrella/authority of the global World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF). The WEF was originally named the Evangelical Alliance and was founded at a global gathering of missionaries in 1846. Very significantly, this meeting was held at the United Grand Lodge in London England and “dedicated to the purposes of Freemasonry.” It was renamed the World Evangelical Fellowship in the U.S. in 1951; other nations, such as the UK, still retain the name Evangelical Alliance. (For more info, read: The Evangelical Alliance/World Evangelical Fellowship )
Leading ministers from Grace Communion International originally obtained their doctorates from Fuller Theological Seminary (which no longer holds to the doctrine of inerrancy of the Bible and where most of the “church growth movement” can be traced back to) and Azusa Pacific University16 (which is considered a theologically liberal institution, Charismatic/Pentecostal, and a member of Willow Creek Association).
GCI appears to have immersed themselves in “whatever works” in religion. They mix regularly with new evangelicals and others. This has enabled them to get into countries they couldn’t penetrate before.
Many Cults Are Mainstreaming
Several groups categorized as religious “cults” are beginning to mainstream.17 In November 2003 the ICC [International Church of Christ] leader stepped down and “apologized to members for his sins of arrogance, anger and insensitivity” and said ICC will develop a “new governance.” The Mormon Church is even beginning to appear more and more Christian.
Mainstreaming Mormonism [offsite article]
GCI supports the ordaining of women as elders and pastors. (WCG News, “Doctrinal Team Completes Study of Scripture; Announces Policy on Women in Leadership,” Jan./Feb. 2007 Together.) (Women in Ministry: Women in Leadership.) (GCI Update, Ordinations, August 22, 2018)
In 2012, Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries in Utah (along with several Utah pastors) visited CGI headquarters to “learn about GCI’s views concerning how to better interact with alternative religions.”18 Joseph Tkach, Jr. first met Greg Johnson at an “Evening of Friendship” held in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle on November 14, 2004, along with several other evangelicals who were calling for “a better understanding and relationship with Mormons.”19 The main speaker was Ravi Zacharias. Much more on Greg Johnson and the ecumenical nature of Standing Together Ministries can be found in the offsite article: Can Two Walk Together Unless They Agree? (Can Christians and Mormons Stand Together?)
Propaganda works through repetition. When members are exposed to the same message over and over again (in this case the “new” changes), it shuts down their cognitive powers, eliminates questioning, and has a narcotic-like effect on the central nervous system, making them an easy subject for suggestion and manipulation. Since part of their new programming is “God intervened in the Worldwide Church of God,” the new changes now have meaning for them. It gives them a reason to remain in the organization. But they still have a group mentality and focus on “the church” and what “they” or “God” is accomplishing in the world. They are kept busy with conferences and traditions (milieu control), leadership training, strong discipleship methods, self-criticism, and a sense of belonging.
More than listening to the rhetoric about the new changes, it will benefit members and outsiders alike to understand how Neuro-Linguistic Programming20 has been used.
Whitewashing Their History
While Grace Communion International continues to whitewash their history, they have given only spurious apologies for the devastation they caused to thousands. Since members are kept in a positive mood (common in religious cults) and being fed a steady stream of propaganda about the changes, they will never believe anything could ever have been that wrong with their “church.” In their minds, they are still the “elect” that God is working with and it is still “God’s church.” They fluff off the misery and wrecked lives that the members and their relatives and friends suffered over the years, telling members to “take responsibility for your actions” and “that was the past; we have changed.”
Those that have exited have said that they saw no real changes in the members and no changes of any worth in the organization as a whole. All they saw was cognitive dissonance and the same programmed minds. Others have told us that they have learned more about grace and their freedom in Christ in the few years they have been out than they ever did when listening to the confusing explanations by WCG leaders.
The new doctrinal changes since 1995 have produced: (1) a massive exodus of confused members into offshoot groups; (2) many who still hold to most or all of the doctrinal teachings of Herbert Armstrong and believe he had “God’s restored truth”; (3) exiters who have embraced agnosticism or atheism; (4) exiters who have gone off into New Age teachings, the Word-Faith movement, or unusual belief systems; (5) multitudes of survivors (especially child survivors) who still suffer incomplete healing; (6) a lack of critical thinking skills; and (7) Grace Communion International becoming a part of the ecumenical movement and the Emerging Church.
How could this ever be considered good fruit?
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
Grace Communion International and Their Heretical Beliefs (letter to ESN in 2019)
OIU Newsletters which covers Worldwide Church of God (now known as CGI) and their New Age agenda.
Discernment & Research (covers apostasy and error; the church growth movement, etc.)
A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists) New Age, occult, eastern-style meditative practices and all manner of aberrant and heretical teachings have become commonplace among Christian bookstores. Lists many Christian authors whose books are rife with with New Age occult teachings and practices.
NOTE: Worldwide Church of God changed their name in April 2009 in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) Today they continue to embrace New Age Teachers and philosophies. Read: On Apostasy–A Radical Proposal (Letter to WCG, Philippines). This Oct. 2006 letter reached close to 350 WCG ministers, including those at Headquarters; includes a link to a rebuttal to Mike Morrison’s reply, plus a 2007 email reply from author Brian Flynn, concerning how we must be discerning of false teachings coming into the church.
1 “We do not forbid tongues speaking. We forbid it only during worship services. Members are welcome to speak in tongues as a private prayer language or in small groups composed of people who know that tongues-speaking is allowed in that particular small group.” (GCI’s Article Archive “Are GCI Members Allowed to Speak in Tongues?” Read more about this in OIU 6, Pt 4, “A member writes to ESN.”
8 “Leading in Spiritual Formation – A Pastor’s Main Business” by Dan Rogers. (The bibliography of this article references books by men such as Richard Foster, C. Peter Wagner and Dallas Willard.) Article still up as of 2020.
9 Read Letters to ESN dated May 14, 2004: WCG Sells Part of AC Campus to Radically Charismatic Church.
10 Together, July-August 2007, “New Church Leadership Training Conference.” In GCI’s Church Multiplication Ministries “General Resources” list, they have a link to Emerging Church’s Rick Warren under “Pastor’s Toolbox.” They are also listed on: Church Planting Leadership Fellowship, August 20, 2010.
12 WCG Today, November/December 2005. [NOTE: In Feb. 2005 The Worldwide News in the United States changed its name to WCG Today. In May 2006 it was changed to Together. A few years later Together was no longer available Their magazine is now Christian Odyssey.
14 Ted Haggard was former president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) which represents almost 50,000 churches in America. During this time, there were a number of serious concerns regarding him, including his spiritual manipulation, hypocrisy, and promoting the agenda of C. Peter Wagner. On Nov. 4, 2006 Haggard resigned as president of the NAE and was dismissed as senior pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO as a result of sexually immoral behavior. (Read: Letter to NAE and other concerned Christians.)
16 See OIU 6, Pt. 3 and scroll to where it says “1989-1990.”
20 Neuro-Linguistic Programming involves subliminal messages; i. e., the act of tapping into the unconscious mind apart from the person’s conscious knowledge. Read: Techniques to Gain Control (detailed April 24, 2006 letter to ESN)
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