There are strong reasons to be skeptical in accepting the Worldwide Church of God as now Orthodox.
Here are a few of them, as summarized by Dr. Robert L. Sumner (author of Armstrongism: The “Worldwide Church of God” Examined in the Searching Light of Scripture” and other books) in his booklet Is Armstrong’s Cult Now Orthodox? A New Look at the Worldwide Church of God!1
They still do not understand the deity of Christ Their changes appear to be more convenience than conviction In spite of doctrinal changes, they are still strongly cultic The Scriptures do not teach mass repentance or mass conversion “Neo-Orthodox and other liberal theologians have long been masters at using biblical and orthodox language, but giving it their own meaning. In short, it sounds good to Bible believers, but is actually saying something entirely contrary to their understanding of the same words…” (p. 9).
“While going through their alleged metamorphous from worm to butterfly, the leaders repeatedly changed and modified their statements to please their ‘guides.'” (p. 10)
“…we found it significant that President Tkach, in an editorial proudly proclaiming the ‘new faith’ of the WWCG–which appeared in the Winter 1996 issue of Christian Research Journal–quoted only one theologian in the entire article. Who was it? William Barclay, the British theologian who wrote so compellingly, using orthodox terms, then admitted his liberalism before he died, confessing in his autobiography he meant something different in his language from how conservatives understood him.” (p. 11)
“To illustrate some of this forked tongue mannerism, the current President/Pastor General claims that Herbert W. Armstrong just before he died (how convenient!) on January 16, 1986–instructed his father, who succeeded him, to make the very changes in doctrine the WWCG has been making.” (p. 12)
“Can a group of leaders meet in a back room, vote to change beliefs in one area, report to its constituency and say, in effect, ‘You now believe this’? Hardly.” (p. 18)
FOLLOWING COMMENTS BY ESN:
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)2 accepted the Worldwide Church of God into full membership3 in 1997. Jack Hayford was instrumental in helping the Worldwide Church of God become a member of the NAE. Jack Hayford is founding pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California (Foursquare Church, Pentecostal), where Paul and Jan Crouch (Trinity Broadcasting Network founders) are members. He is on the board of Promise Keepers and is one of the founders and first officers of Charismatic Bible Ministries, a leadership organization initiated by Oral Roberts in the mid-eighties. He is hyper Charismatic, speaks in tongues,4 and has involved himself in unity movements around the world with New Agers and Catholic leaders.5 He was instrumental in helping the Worldwide Church of God become a member of the NAE.
WCG 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 report: Evangelical Ministries to New Religions. WCG has given their approval to the Lausanne Movement, calling it a work of God.6
The WCG now endorses such ecumenical movements as Promise Keepers (which came out of the Vineyard Fellowship), and the Church Growth Movement (Rick Warren). (See our Discernment and Research links for more on the church growth movement, which is now being called “kingdom growth” or “Kingdom theology.”)
In spite of all that looks good on the surface, WCG never fully addressed the devastation they caused in countless thousands of lives, nor have they admitted that Herbert W. Armstrong used thought reform methods to con multitudes into his exclusive cult where they were exploited and spiritually abused.
While Greg Albrecht glibly agreed in 2004 that Herbert W. Armstrong was a “heretic,” WCG’s whitewashing of Herbert Armstrong has abounded since the new changes.
Today there are hundreds of breakaway groups that have spawned from the Worldwide Church of God–the majority still teaching the same Armstrong doctrines and believing HWA received the “restored gospel” and “revelation” from God. What Herbert W. Armstrong started has truly mutated out of control. Considering this and the deceitful, confusing way the new doctrinal WCG changes were instigated, how could the changes be called a “miracle of God”?
Dr. Sumner believes that it is possible that both Tkaches are hypocrites of the first magnitude and that there was, and is, lying going on. The Outsider’s Inside Update Newsletters and Exit & Support Network™ are briefly mentioned in his booklet, as is also David Covington (David W. Covington, former WCG minister), Hank Hanegraaff and Ruth Tucker.
Dr. Sumner’s 22 page paperback booklet was entitled: Is Armstrong’s Cult Now Orthodox? A New Look at the Worldwide Church of God!
One of Dr. Sumner’s earlier books was: Armstrongism: “The Worldwide Church of God” Examined In the Searching Light of Scripture. This is a 424 hardbound book with carefully documented evidence of the WCG’s original teachings and is available used at: Alibris,com or Thriftbooks.com.
Posted by D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
Update: Dr. Robert L. Sumner was born August 3, 1922 and passed away on December 5, 2016 at the age of 94.
NOTE: An email from Robert L. Sumner is on our 2001 Letters page (“Amazed So Many Welcomed WCG”).
Read letter to ESN from a pastor: Jesus Didn’t Condone Changing a Cult From Within.
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.)
Today WCG (Grace Communion International) has gone on to embrace New Age Teachers and philosophies. Read: Letter to Worldwide Church of God, Philippines (On Apostasy–A Radical Proposal) (this lengthy letter reached close to 350 WCG ministers, including those at Headquarters). Includes at end a 2007 email reply from author Brian Flynn, concerning how we must be discerning of false teachings coming into the church.
I Pray God Would Shake WCG to Their Foundations! (testimony)
1 Is Armstrong’s Cult Now Orthodox? A New Look at the Worldwide Church of God! – A Frank, Candid Appraisal by Dr. Robert L. Sumner, 2000. (Order from The Biblical Evangelist by phone (search for title when page opens)
2 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.)
3 Joseph Tkach is listed on the NAE Board of Director’s executive committee list. (See this page.)
4 Jack Hayford–“Though I Speak in Tongues.”
5 “Jack Hayford (General Teachings/Activities)” by Biblical Discernment Ministries, February 1999.
6 History of Mission Spokane – as of 2-13-00, “What is God Doing?” / “What on Earth is God Doing?” by Gary Roberto.