Former members of the Worldwide Church of God have long believed that, after Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s death, the WCG underwent the prophesied “falling away” described in II Thessalonians 2:3—“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.” The wholesale changes made under the false WCG leadership after Mr. Armstrong’s death caused many thousands to leave God, His government and His doctrines—the TRUTH!—either by staying put or joining Protestant churches. At the same time, many others joined a variety of doctrinally disagreeing groups, holding to differing amounts of truth, or simply went home. It was obvious and known to those with God’s Spirit that the discarding of true doctrines by the WCG was the apostasy to occur before Christ’s Return. You will see absolute proof this knowledge was once known to Roderick Meredith—and all the ministers following him.
Rod Meredith now claims the apostasy is a future event involving THE WORLD, not a past and present one involving GOD’S PEOPLE. He is rewriting history. What is the truth about the prophesied “falling away,” and why is understanding its timing so important? What have other LCG leaders said in support? What sources were used to ascertain this supposed “new truth”? Mr. Armstrong’s name is being used to propel this idea as something not new. What did he teach regarding “falling away”? Is God’s Word clear on this verse, and what can be learned from history?
This article brings answers! Prepare to be shocked at the even greater—and more dangerous—level of deception coming from the leadership of LCG. What will be presented are the plain facts about II Thessalonians 2:3—as well as the evident spirit so obviously guiding this change.
Setting the Stage
First comes a brief overview of LCG’s teaching. (We will later examine the explanation—and tactics—that Rod Meredith and others use to sell their new thinking.) Then we will examine what Mr. Armstrong taught. Finally, we will see what ALL of God’s people commonly understood about whether what occurred in the WCG fulfilled II Thessalonians 2:3. This includes what all members in the Global Church of God under Rod Meredith believed. It also includes quotes from Rod Meredith. I taught more about the falling away while in GCG than anyone else—by far. We will also see what I taught there (written and spoken)—and what Rod Meredith agreed with, and the entire ministry understood—for almost six years!
Here is a sample of what Rod Meredith now teaches. It is from the March-April 2012 edition of The Living Church News, and comes from an article titled “Is It Wrong to GROW in Knowledge?” (bold emphasis his):
“Even now, brethren, our Council of Elders is discussing a few ‘technical’ points that Mr. Armstrong could not have humanly anticipated, considering that he died in 1986, before certain prophecies had begun to be fulfilled…”
“Brethren, we do need to be careful about ‘new understandings.’ Consider some popular ideas among God’s people regarding the ‘Great Apostasy’ of 2 Thessalonians 2:1–10. Mr. Armstrong understood that this rebellion involved the whole world. Indeed, the Greek word apostasia is more accurately translated into English as ‘rebellion’ rather than ‘apostasy,’ and Mr. Armstrong rightly understood that it connotes an uprising far broader than the consequences of doctrinal heresy within God’s little flock, involving a man of sin whose very visible and physical demonstrations of power will affect the whole world…”
“Yes, what happened in Worldwide may certainly have been a ‘type’ of the final apostasy. But it was not the major one described in 2 Thessalonians 2–3.”
First, Rod Meredith is so obviously inconsistent right out of the gate. He describes what “Mr. Armstrong could not have humanly anticipated…before certain prophecies had begun to be fulfilled…”, but then later says, “Mr. Armstrong understood that this rebellion involved the whole world.” And no correct definition of apostasia includes the word “rebellion.” You will see this.
Referring to what Mr. Armstrong in fact DID teach (the apostasy involves the Church) through use of the authorless term “popular idea” is EXACTLY what Mr. Armstrong’s successors did when they wanted to discredit his teaching without invoking his name. They knew this tactic was crucial to reducing natural resistance they would automatically arouse against their deceit. Clever seducers never forget this. (We will later examine closely a whole series of tactics employed by Rod Meredith just as did Mr. Armstrong’s successors.) Again, Rod Meredith does then go on to use Mr. Armstrong’s name (and supposed belief and teaching) to falsely claim that he always understood the primary “falling away” involved the world, with the Church a mere “type” of the real event. The entire quote is patently FALSE, an utter LIE—a complete FICTION—that can be easily disproven! You will also see this. In the meantime, a small seed must be planted for the reader to think about as we proceed. The world cannot fall away from what it never had. Neither can any individual. One must know the truth to fall away from it. Not one member or minister has ever described anyone falling away from anything other than God’s Way and truth. This seed will grow into a giant sequoia before this article is over.
The following article was published in LCG’s Tomorrow’s World July-August 2012 edition, written by Doug Winnail (LCG’s Church Administration Director) and titled “The Great Rebellion Against God”:
“Bible prophecy lists numerous signs that will precede Jesus Christ’s second coming, but the Apostle Paul specifically notes two major events that will occur just before Christ returns. He writes, ‘that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition’ (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Paul tells us that the appearance of this ‘man of sin’ on the world stage will be accompanied by ‘signs, and lying wonders’ performed by a false religious leader using Satan’s power (2 Thessalonians 2:9). This display of supernatural demonic power will deceive millions into following this Satan-inspired individual and the system he is promoting…”
“…Together, the political leader and the miracle-working false prophet will lead the world into a Satan-inspired system that will be totally contrary to the laws of God. This will be the ultimate fulfillment of the ‘falling away’ or ‘great apostasy’ against God that the Apostle Paul described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Bible prophecies reveal this is coming in the years just ahead!”
This quote certainly does describe some events that will happen. Its error, and this is one of the big problems with this false teaching, is that it links the man of sin deceiving the world with the falling away that occurs among God’s people before this happens. The man of sin certainly does deceive the masses worldwide, but at least quickly notice at this point how the falling away (1) “comes first” and (2) is not called a “great” falling away. It is merely called a “falling away.” Within the Church it was certainly a big event, to say the least—and perhaps we could say a “great event.” But God through the apostle Paul does not use “great” to describe it. This word is simply added to make the scope of the supposed modern apostasy (falling away) appear larger on the world scene—as a “major event” and “great apostasy,” as Winnail calls it.
Open your Bible and read the way the verse begins. It should deeply sober you. It opens, “Let no man deceive you by any means…” Here is the reason: A falling away cannot come unless deceivers come to bring it. Hence, the overarching introductory warning about this. Here is the point: Paul is writing to BRETHREN, not the WORLD. It is brethren who could be fooled by deceivers—using “any means”—and thereby get sucked INTO the falling away when it would come. A paraphrase might be, “Look out for deceivers, brethren, because there is a falling away coming at the end of the age and you could get caught in it.”
We will also include a statement from Rod Meredith’s puppet used to attack others, Bob Thiel, to show how he initially quickly fell into line with the new error/thinking. But his words are better held for later.
What Mr. Armstrong Taught
So then, we should at least ask: Was the idea that “the-falling-away-is-an-all-nations-rebellion” understood and taught by Mr. Armstrong, as Meredith and LCG leaders claim? You will see that whenever Mr. Armstrong referenced II Thessalonians 2:3 he never—NEVER!—talked about a coming, future world apostasy/rebellion/revolt. I repeat: NEVER! Incidentally, Rod Meredith loves to repeat that he “talked with Mr. Armstrong for thousands of hours” through the years. While this is patently false—think it through—EVERYONE near Mr. Armstrong knows Rod Meredith was almost completely kept away from Mr. Armstrong for the last many years of his life. I was not kept away, and periodically spoke with and visited Mr. Armstrong until the summer before he died. And I talked with him about prophecy at length over the last 15 years of his life possibly more than anyone, and certainly more than Rod Meredith—and Mr. Armstrong never once suggested or even speculated that the “falling away” was in any way applicable to the world before the end came.
But let’s allow you to see this for yourself. Mr. Armstrong’s first quote (of six) shows how he defined “apostasy” and “falling away.” He is speaking about the first century departure “from God’s basic original TRUTH.” His position near the end of his life was clear, in fact, impossible to misunderstand. The second quote simply underscores the first—that “apostasy” and “turning away” (falling away) is something one does against the truth (italics mine, all other emphasis his):
“The apostasy and falling away from God’s basic original TRUTH started about A.D. 54, near the time Paul wrote of the Galatians turning to a counterfeit gospel (Gal. 1:6-7). That spirit of iniquity, contrary to God’s Law, was already working when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (II Thess. 2:7).
“The Church continued, often meeting secretly ‘underground,’ often fleeing, many being tortured and martyred. By 1926 when I first came among that fledgling Church, it was spiritually dead (Rev. 3:1). They still clung to the truth of the Sabbath, the Law of God and the true name. But much original truth had been lost, though it was all recorded in the Scriptures. But, even late in the first century, Jude pleaded for God’s people to ‘earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints’ (Jude 3).”
Co-Worker Letter, Herbert W. Armstrong, March 19, 1981
“God Almighty has called YOU, with me, to the most important mission on earth in these final perilous days! 1900 years ago Jesus Christ came to earth with a Message from GOD to man. He taught that Message to His Disciples, whom He ordained Apostles. For two 19-year time-cycles they were allowed to proclaim that vital Gospel Message to the world of that day. But apostacy set in. Men turned AWAY from the TRUTH and unto FABLES (II Tim 4:l-4). After 69 A.D., the true Gospel Jesus brought was never again proclaimed in any organized manner to the world.
“Instead, Gentiles came into the Church, bringing with them their PAGAN beliefs and customs. They began to call their PAGAN religion ‘Christianity.’ They continued to accept and go by the NAME of Christ. They continued to preach a gospel of their own ABOUT Christ. But HIS VITAL MESSAGE they snuffed out! All this, Jesus and the New Testament writers foretold!”
Co-Worker Letter, February 13, 1959
Next comes a powerful 1949 quote in which Mr. Armstrong is writing in some detail entirely about the first century apostasy. Later in the article you will see how Doug Winnail carefully excerpts the parts in bold and underlined to make Mr. Armstrong appear to be talking about a future event when you will see that he was talking entirely about the past—first century events of almost 2,000 years ago! (This was the same tactic—selective ellipsing from context to defeat true meaning—LCG used to “prove” Mr. Armstrong believed Christ’s role as Savior is part of the gospel of the kingdom of God.) What Winnail does is simply a DASTARDLY LIE. If you doubt this, or think my language too strong, keep reading. You will gain extraordinary insight into the minds of deceivers at work, and learn why it is so easy to deceive the unwitting and unsuspecting—those who let others easily guide their thinking without checking the facts.
Mr. Armstrong opens his letter speaking about World War II. Think of all that Doug Winnail could/should have quoted as you read. Perhaps he also did not want his readers to see how Mr. Armstrong defined the true gospel:
“Why did God let us win? Why did He give us this present armistice? For one purpose only, my dear co-workers—and it’s time we began to realize it—to allow time for the very work He has called YOU and ME to DO! To allow time for the last solemn WARNING MESSAGE to be thundered to our English-speaking peoples! To allow time to proclaim to all the world the TRUE GOSPEL which Christ Himself brought from God—the NEWS OF THE SOON COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO RULE THE WORLD TOMORROW!
“I know it’s difficult for your mind to really grasp the overwhelming meaning of that. Hasn’t the Gospel been preached in all the world, one will ask? EMPHATICALLY NO! Not the TRUE Gospel of Jesus Christ! Not since early apostolic days! Astonishing—yes, BUT TRUE! The only true Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel CHRIST PREACHED—the Message God sent to this world by Him—and that Message is the NEWS of WORLD RULE by GOD HIMSELF—the Message of the overthrow of all the governments of this world—all its nations and empires—and by the supernatural power of God ALL NATIONS to be ruled over by the soon-coming KINGDOM OF GOD!
“But Christ foretold a turning away from His Message. He said MANY FALSE TEACHERS would rise and mislead nearly all. Paul wrote that this ‘mystery of iniquity’—the old Chaldean ‘mysteries’ or pagan-idol-worship of Babylon—was already working in his day. He prophesied there would be a GREAT FALLING AWAY from Christ’s true Message. He was inspired to write that the popular churches would turn away from the TRUTH and believe FABLES. John, in Revelation, was inspired to foretell that ALL NATIONS would be deceived. And so today the churches preach their OWN ‘gospel’ about the PERSON of Christ—they continually talk ABOUT Him—but they deny, and fight against HIS MESSAGE of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD in our lives now, and over the whole WORLD TOMORROW! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a message ABOUT Christ—it is a Message OF Jesus Christ—the Message God sent by Him—the Message He brought from God and which He proclaimed 1900 years ago!
“AND THAT MESSAGE HAS NOT BEEN PREACHED TO ALL THE WORLD TODAY!
“But now, after 1800 years, THAT SAME MESSAGE once again is going out in great power to the United States—and already to portions of Canada and Mexico.”
Friend and Co-Worker Letter, Nov. 11, 1949
Mr. Armstrong occasionally cited II Thessalonians 2:3 to illustrate what happened to first century Christians turning away from Christ and the apostles’ original gospel message. Think. The first century apostasy in the Church would be an obvious type of the II Thessalonians 2:3 final apostasy in the Church—see the parallel—because it involved God’s true servants defecting from the truth and joining false churches. The end-time apostasy in the Church simply cannot fit as a type of a bigger one in the world! The parallel fails.
Now another quote from Mr. Armstrong that makes stronger his knowledge of what “falling away” always means in the Bible. He references II Thessalonians 2:3—but omits any connection to the man of sin because he knew there was none. You will see he did clearly understand the danger of “many deceivers” and their connection to a falling away before the end. Note this. Mr. Armstrong puts II Thessalonians 2:3 in the context of warning about these “MANY DECEIVERS” coming “today” and that “making your calling and election SURE!” is vital. And note it is all in a “true brethren” (last two words) context. Read carefully:
“But LOOK AT THE FRUITS! The work of the original apostles BORE THE TRUE FRUITS!
“The Worldwide Church of God has always produced the GOOD fruits—ABUNDANT fruits.
“It is the ONLY Work in 1850 years that has proclaimed the true Gospel of Christ—the Gospel OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD to the world—now GOING TO THE ENTIRE WORLD!
“Prophecy says the END will not come until, also, there is a ‘falling away’ first! [Author’s Note: An obvious reference to II Thessalonians 2:3.]
“Jesus’ parable (Luke 19:11-24) is for OUR TIME, now! It pertains to Christ going to heaven to receive the Kingdom officially and then returning.
“You are each admonished to ‘make your calling and election SURE!’
“Today, as in the time of the first apostles, MANY DECEIVERS are gone out into the world. They will ACCUSE God’s Church and His Work. It is Satan the devil who is the accuser of the true brethren (Rev. 12:10).”
Letter to all Ministers Worldwide, Herbert W. Armstrong, February 22, 1974
The next quote does mention both the falling away and the man of sin—but, even though this is from one of Mr. Armstrong’s earliest (1960) and most important booklets, he makes no mention of any connection between these two events. This is because he saw no connection, and neither did any other minister for over 50 years after, including Rod Meredith. Think of this quote as speaking most loudly for what it does NOT say:
“First, note Revelation 17. Here is pictured a woman. In II Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:22-27 and elsewhere, we learn that ‘woman’ is a symbol for church. This woman is a fallen woman—an apostate church—pictured as ruling over many nations (Rev. 17:1, 15).
“In verse 3, this false church is pictured sitting on a beast ‘having seven heads and ten horns.’ A woman riding a horse guides, controls, the horse. It does her bidding.
“Notice, verse 18, she is ‘that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.’ Notice, verse 2, the inhabitants of the earth have been deceived by this counterfeit Christianity. Also, Rev. 18:3, she has deceived all nations.
“Next, notice II Thessalonians 2:3-4. The day of Christ—and the coming of Christ—shall not come, until there be a falling away, and a ‘man of sin’ be revealed. He exalts himself above all that is called God. As God, he sits in a temple claimed to be the temple of God, showing himself to deceive people into accepting him as God. God is our Holy Father. This final man, in a religious office, will claim the same title. This wicked man is to be destroyed at, and by, Christ’s coming (verse 8).”
Who or What Is the PROPHETIC BEAST?, Herbert W. Armstrong, 1960
Mr. Armstrong’s description of the man of sin in his thorough booklet continues for many more paragraphs. He makes no mention whatsoever of any “worldwide rebellion/revolt” away from God connected to this coming figure. This would have been an impossibility in his thinking. You may wish to read at least this section of Mr. Armstrong’s booklet.
Of course Mr. Armstrong witnessed time and again during his life individuals “fall away.” He knew this meant they had departed “from the truth”:
“Rather astonishing, isn’t it, that people who have heard God’s TRUTH preached for many years – people who at first accepted it in the love of God, professed it, started out practicing it – should, through the years, fall away from the truth…[and] begin to embrace false doctrines and errors…
“What is God’s sentence upon them? Listen!
“‘It is IMPOSSIBLE for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted of the good Word of God…if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh’ (Heb. 6:4-6). ‘Let it be a warning to ALL, and let all FEAR, and TREMBLE before the all-powerful WORD OF GOD!’”
Herbert W. Armstrong, “Why Local Churches?”, GN, March 1957
For obvious reasons, Mr. Armstrong never envisioned a full-scale apostasy in the WCG—no one did. But this does not mean he would have accepted II Thessalonians 2:3 as anything other than Christians departing from God’s truth. And nothing in the above quotes indicates Mr. Armstrong saw the “falling away” as a planet-wide rebellion, or as something initiated by the man of sin.
What I and Others Taught in the Global Church of God
At the outset of my Global Church of God years, I produced an early stapled nine-page list of WCG heresies titled, “What Are the Changes?” I was the only pastor in the world who had been fired at that point, and I needed the list to keep up with the nonstop 18-hour days of talking to people that went on for three months until others came to help. Sending it could save much time. This early list came to have 154 false teachings by early May of 1993 (two months after I was fired). I made it available to any who asked, and it eventually circulated to thousands around the world. Note the only understood and accepted definition of falling away that I included. Rod Meredith fully authorized its distribution.
This excerpt is from the Introduction to the first list (Summer 1993):
“This is a comprehensive list of most all the doctrinal changes of the Worldwide Church of God. While some of these changes are smaller and less significant, others are huge and have a devastating impact on belief. Many changes involve numerous re-explanations of individual scriptures that could have been listed separately making this list, quite literally, almost unending. A more comprehensive approach was attempted at the risk of being called picky because it demonstrates that heresy is a cancer that eventually leavens everything it touches. If people were being killed instead of truth surely we would call this a holocaust.
“…It is probably inevitable that this list will fall into the hands of people who will set out to attack and discredit it. I claim it to be neither complete nor perfect. The list grows almost daily anyway. Clever word-gimmickry can probably successfully explain away some few of these changes. Will you let that obscure the massive scope of this great apostasy as you study this list? Or will you prove all things, hold fast that which is good and only follow teachers of truth?
“II Thes. 2:3 says a falling away (Greek – apostasia – ‘a defection from truth’) will precede Christ’s Return and verse 13 shows that receiving salvation is attached to ‘belief of the truth.’
“I Tim. 6:3-5 makes it clear what one must do in such historic and prophetic circumstances as these we now face. 2000 years of church history shows people of truth and courage have always been willing to take this biblical step.”
This list was the forerunner of my book Except There Come a Falling Away—the exact phrase used in II Thessalonians 2:3—released soon after as a long looseleaf book under this title. It is well known that this eventually circulated to many thousands throughout the splinters. Of course, Rod Meredith and Doug Winnail have the book.
As time progressed, the book grew progressively longer and eventually carried the more correct title—There Came a Falling Away. This is because we all knew the apostasy had largely become complete, and a title in the past tense better reflected what Paul had to put in the future tense. See this. Everybody understood this title change. (Of course, the splinters still continue adding wrong doctrines of every stripe and color.)
Realize the first 10 editions of the book were all produced while I was in GCG. It is currently 425 pages and The Restored Church of God has sent out many thousands of copies.
“30 Reasons” Sermon Series
The early list/book answered what the changes were, but did not tell people WHAT TO DO about them. I came to realize the need to prepare a series of three special sermons giving the answer. It would complement the book. Each sermon had a slightly different title—“30 Reasons to Follow the Truth,” “Another 30 Reasons to Follow the Truth” and “30 Final Reasons to Follow the Truth.” A total of 90 documented scriptural points and principles were presented.
Here is an excerpt from right out of the gate—Part 1, point 2 (May 15, 1993). It is explaining II Thessalonians 2:3, and represents further proof of what all of God’s people at that time believed about this passage. It also brings further proof of what Rod Meredith permitted be taught throughout the entire existence of GCG. Here are my spoken words (obviously italics are added):
“…Let’s understand what the falling away is all about here in II Thessalonians 2:3. ‘Let no man deceive you by any means (the context is right before the Return of Christ, that’s the context, and that’s important): for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…’ Now very simply, this has been explained before, but I’ll say it again, the Greek word is apostasia and it means ‘a defection from truth,’ not people leaving a corporate church [Author’s Note: The WCG at that time]. As a matter of fact, when you really understand it, it’s the ones who don’t leave who defect from truth, and the context shows us that.”
Recall the seed that would turn into a giant sequoia. The tree is now well out of the ground. The reader should begin by now to understand the world could not now, later or ever defect from truth it never had. The world has been cut off from God—and thus His truth—for 6,000 years. It can no more leave the truth than a person can leave a house he was never in.
It has been estimated that as many as 10,000 to 15,000 people heard those tapes and left the WCG to join a splinter. Some of the top officials in GCG acknowledged that perhaps 5,000 of these initially attended Global. Probably many more than this number hold various editions of There Came a Falling Away. Rod Meredith in fact thanked me several times for producing the book and tapes. GCG headquarters distributed the three “30 Reasons” tapes. However, even though Rod Meredith authorized the book, he preferred that I distribute it. He gave permission because he so obviously knew what had happened in the WCG fulfilled II Thessalonians 2:3. The book’s distribution in GCG continued for almost six years.
As a small aside, the word “apostates” was routinely used among the Global Church of God ministry to refer to the WCG leaders who had brought the apostasy. My brother-in-law, Carl McNair, always spoke of “the apostates” to describe them. This term is also found all throughout my book. Even the early stapled handout included it. Apostates of course means those leading an apostasy.
Again, Doug Winnail received, but also agreed with, my book. In fact, many of you reading this probably have an early version. Perhaps you will want to review it. Others can find it on our website.
These facts of history are indisputable, and they scream of what happened. The book’s final version contained 280 documented changes. I repeat, thousands of people, many in LCG, surely still have it.
Let’s ask: Has Rod Meredith FORGOTTEN the book and sermons—which he authorized? There are two possibilities: (1) He HAS completely forgotten what he once believed. But when presented with this article by his advisors he will realize the magnitude of his error and deeply APOLOGIZE to his entire church—or (2) he will LIE about facts you now possess. The same with Doug Winnail. But there are still many more facts that he/they must deny beyond what you have read.
It is not too early to state that Rod Meredith never understood the scope of the apostasy, and thus his ongoing role within it. He never understood all that was at stake in God’s great prophesied TRIAL for His people in the end-time.
What Rod Meredith Said in 1997
On June 14, 1997, the Associated Press produced an article covering the apostasy in the Worldwide Church of God. It was picked up by the Akron Beacon Journal. At that time, I was still a member of GCG, and Akron of course was my pastorate. The article was titled “Back in the Fold” and was slanted against Mr. Armstrong and the WCG. However, it reveals what Rod Meredith told the media at the time about what he saw as the falling away, and what was our common view during those years. Contrary to Meredith’s assertions, it also reveals that many in the world DID take note of how big was the event in “the Church founded by Armstrong.” Here is an excerpt (italics mine to show how the WCG apostasy was viewed):
“…Some 150,000 other church members expected that when Jesus returned to Earth—and that was any day now—they would be among the select few taken to ‘the place of safety,’ then transformed into godlike beings ushering in the Kingdom of Christ.
“If that is where the story ended, the Worldwide Church of God would qualify as a uniquely American religious success story, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who carved out an original theology and thrived by never deviating from it.
“Instead, after Armstrong’s death began one of the most remarkable transformations in American religious history: The church formally declared its founder had been fundamentally wrong all along and that the historic creeds of Christianity were the new gospel. [Author’s Note: You will soon see that the subject of the apostasy has a place in “the historic creeds of Christianity.”]
“This spring, the Worldwide Church of God—once reviled as a cult in conservative Christian circles—was welcomed into the National Association of Evangelicals, a staggering turnaround for a group that once viewed the Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon decried in Revelation and Protestant churches as the whore’s harlot daughters.
“How great a change is this? You can’t compare it to the Mormons’ decision to give up polygamy to assimilate with American culture. Instead, it would be more like the Mormons suddenly becoming Baptists.
“The fallout from admitting its members have no faster route to eternal life than other Christians has devastated the church. Annual income has dropped from $200 million to $50 million, and membership plunged almost in half.
“Three major breakaway denominations have formed, and the number of informal splinter groups could run into the thousands…”
“The people who reject the changes…consider themselves still the true church.
“‘I’m literally basing my life on that, my eternal life on it,’ says Rod Meredith, who left the Worldwide Church of God to lead the new Global Church of God…”
“…Joseph Tkach Sr. took over, and Armstrong’s teachings began to slowly unravel in the eyes of the church leaders, who were now free to read outside theological sources [Author’s Note: This will take on greater meaning later.] and to follow Armstrong’s own oft-repeated dictum: ‘Don’t believe me. Read the Bible.’
“There, they came to agree with traditional Christian interpretations of salvation by faith, and to view other Christians with newborn respect. One by one, they discarded Armstrong’s rules for Christian living, and his portraits began to disappear from church buildings…”
“In the eyes of Meredith, what Worldwide has done is consistent with biblical passages in 2 Thessalonians warning of a great falling away, a great apostasy as the end time nears—even in the church.”
What Rod Meredith Was Still NOT Saying as Late as 2005!
Like Mr. Armstrong’s earlier quotes, the following excerpt from Rod Meredith is telling more for what it did NOT include about the falling away being in the world and connected to the man of sin. Speaking of Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment, he writes,
“The inspired revelation from our Creator warned us very clearly about this some two thousand years ago. The Apostle Paul was inspired to write about the events immediately preceding Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. Paul stated, ‘Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God’ (II Thess. 2:3-4).
“Dear brethren, the time is coming very soon when this man will appear. He will allow himself to be exalted far above any normal human. People will actually begin to worship him as the above verses indicate…”
Brethren and Co-Worker Letter, August 22, 2005
So then, it is clear by now that Rod Meredith has plainly NOT always believed his new teaching, as he now claims. Thus, neither did Mr. Armstrong. If you still doubt the former, you soon won’t. You already saw Mr. Armstrong NEVER agreed with Meredith’s idea. You will learn soon, however, who it is that does agree with him.
But first, we examine how LCG’s designated attack/spinmaster has responded to the new teaching.
Bob Thiel Initially Reinforces New Belief
Bob Thiel, a widely read LCG “blogger” referenced earlier, has of course publicly weighed in on the new teaching, and seemed to initially support it, having reposted (adding his own article) LCG’s entire May 3, 2012 “News and Prophecy” report, under “Rise of Atheism”:
“Rise of Atheism: In the United States, atheism is growing faster than any religious group. Nearly 20% of Americans now avoid ‘organized religion in favor of a non-defined skepticism about faith.’ Many are leaving organized religion as American society becomes more secular. These church dropouts are turned off by the increasingly political nature of organized religion and by ‘Old Testament condemnations of homosexuals, premarital sex, contraception and abortion. The Catholic Church’s sex scandals also prompted millions to equate religion with moralistic hypocrisy.’ The once ‘Christian nation’ of America is not just turning away from mainstream Christianity, but from organized religion as a whole (Yahoo News, April 13, 2012). As society moves further away from the ‘laws of God,’ the love of many—for God’s moral way of life—is growing cold (Matthew 24:12). However, religion is the tool for positively influencing the morality of society. Noted historians Will and Ariel Durant have observed, ‘There is no significant example in history of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion’ (Lessons of History, p. 51). While many believe that this moving away from outdated moral instructions in the Bible is a sign of progress, ancient Bible prophecies reveal that prior to the return of Jesus Christ there will be a great ‘falling away’ from the standards of biblical Christianity (2 Thessalonians 2:3). As we approach the end of this age, this trend will continue to increase.”
Updated Section as of September 12, 2012
Upon reading this article, Bob Thiel carefully edited the LCG quote above on his blog. This was done shortly after it was posted, apparently within days. The portion he deleted—more than half the original LCG news item!—is now shown above in bold, underlined font. This part was ellipsed out because Thiel now declares that he did not agree with Rod Meredith. Think. He originally further emphasized and featured the segment we have shown by separately REPEATING it in another place on his blog! Understand! He actually repeated FOR SPECIAL EMPHASIS what he now pointedly disavows having ever believed! Of course, he altered his blog in both locations, to remove all trace of what, to any thinking reader, was agreement with LCG’s false doctrine.
After this very quiet alteration, Thiel went on to accuse us of misrepresenting him. Here is the irony. He falsely accuses us when we reported the truth. Why reject LCG deceit by employing your own deceit? When we learned Thiel disagrees with LCG’s leadership, we amended our article as quickly as possible with the Author’s Note you are reading. In the end, why did Thiel not just admit he first agreed with something that he now rejects? Why not just declare a change of position? All kinds of people have fallen into all kinds of false thinking at the end of the age and had to admit they were wrong.
Here is why Thiel disavowed his previous position and hid the facts. He saw the same thing we have seen since our posting—WIDESPREAD DISAGREEMENT IN LCG WITH ROD MEREDITH’S FALSE TEACHING ABOUT THE FALLING AWAY! He probably got the same avalanche of emails from LCG members that we did. He wanted to be in agreement with the large number in LCG who know this doctrine is WRONG! (Since this new subhead was included, Thiel has now also denied what he announced in several posts about receiving emails over this subject. Perhaps he will now seek to “scrub” this record as well. He wrote us with more denials of what he has publicly proven about emails our article elicited for him.)
How many wrote him? Enough to make him (1) flip-flop, (2) alter his posts to hide his first position, (3) attack us for reporting the truth—and (4) go public against LCG’s leadership.
Not surprisingly, Meredith weighed in on Bob Thiel, seeking to distance LCG from “their man,” but of course choosing something other than Thiel’s “falling away” position to do this. A recent weekly Bulletin stated that Thiel is not an official LCG spokesman, and that he “has written a number of things” (postings and books) with which LCG’s leaders do not agree. Let’s summarize: LCG allows a lay member to write ridiculous, divisive, heretical nonsense, but remain a member. Why? Because he can periodically be “useful.” Thiel’s books are speculative, heretical nonsense about prophecy by a man working presumptuously without God’s calling, completely out of his depth. We ask again: Why would LCG permit this? Why would they look away as a lay member takes to himself such AUTHORITY—and for years? The answer: Because its leaders produce so much ridiculous, divisive, heretical nonsense themselves—on prophecy and numerous other doctrines! On what basis would they stop such a man when they have lost track of so much prophetic truth themselves?
MAKE YOURSELF ADDRESS THESE QUESTIONS!
In addition to the “falling away” controversy, the reader has already seen the equally great disagreement that has now arisen in LCG over the idea of the WEDDING SUPPER supposedly being in heaven. We saw this is another BIG heresy suddenly newly taught by LCG.
Now back to the subject of Thiel’s post of LCG’s news item. LCG’s commentary is shot-full of false thinking. For one, the man of sin will almost certainly through his miracles lead many atheists to a belief that GOD EXISTS! The man of sin will REVERSE the very trend LCG endorses. They have it exactly backwards—but they ARE in agreement with worldly theologians. One more error: the “love growing cold” in Matthew 24:12 is agape in the Greek. This can ONLY reference those with God’s Spirit who have the fruit of His love. Galatians 5:22-23 and Romans 5:5, among many other verses, prove this. Read these two verses recognizing that “love” in each comes from agape (not philia or eros, which are brotherly love and romantic love, respectively). Certainly the world is growing colder. Who can doubt this? But it is not losing a love of God it never had. Think. LCG’s statement in fact supports the understanding that the apostasy affects the Church, NOT the world. It affects the place where people have the Holy Spirit—have love and can lose it. This theology is stunningly ignorant—clueless to what even Ambassador College freshmen were taught and knew.
Like me during my GCG years, Thiel could not have posted, and for so long, his next public statement unless it was LCG’s official position for 14 years (and Rod Meredith’s for this and much longer). Thiel also becomes an additional proof that Rod Meredith (and LCG) until recently believed the Church’s long-held position. Originally posted in 2006, but actually updated in 2012, Thiel wrote the following in his article “The Philadelphia Church era,” interestingly, under the subhead “The Command to Persevere” (italics mine). It shows what he says he still believes:
“Herbert W. Armstrong died in 1986.
“Since his death, there has been a major falling away from the truth. Although this took many by surprise, Herbert W. Armstrong once publicly proclaimed in a sermon to the WCG membership that, ‘I don’t think 50% of you get it...it may only be 10% of you’ (paraphrase). Hence, he understood this.
“Well among other reasons, the Bible prophesied it:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
“The Bible warned that there would be a falling away and Jesus stated that it was the Philadelphians who:
“... kept My command to persevere...(Revelation 3:10).
“Jesus told the Philadelphians to:
“Hold fast what you have...(Revelation 3:11).
“How were the Philadelphians to persevere and what were they to hold fast to?
“The obvious answer is that they were to persevere with the Philadelphia work—the work of fulfilling Matthew 24:14. They were also to persevere and hold fast to the doctrines that the Philadelphia portion of the church had.”
LCG has clearly changed—and you will soon see that what they fell into is a popular belief in the churches of a world that could not possibly understand the true meaning of II Thessalonians 2:3. Since you can understand, the question becomes: Will you see this deception for what it is? I can only wonder how many LCG ministers will stand up and actively reject Rod Meredith’s falsehood upon reading my article. (The same with the previous one on the “wedding supper is in heaven”—but also so many other false LCG ideas.) I know some will disagree—but how many will actively do so? That can’t yet be known. Incidentally, the reader should not doubt that LCG’s ministers have read this article. What it stirs will force some to investigate.
And too many have already been leaving LCG to join God’s Church for them to ignore all that is written here!
What Does the Bible Reveal?
We must now at least pose another question: Could LCG’s new teaching be correct, scripturally? Was Mr. Armstrong possibly wrong about what “falling away” always means? And, again, since you will soon learn Meredith agrees with the churches of the world, did—could—the world get right what Mr. Armstrong got wrong?
The Greek words in II Thessalonians 2:3 and other related passages bring instruction—and clarity. As you read, you will see that each scripture speaking about falling away involves God’s people departing from His truth and way—it is never about the world, in any regard. We start with the plainest verses.
First, recall the Greek word translated “falling away” in II Thessalonians 2:3 is apostasia. The correct definition of this word is “defection from truth (properly the state), (‘apostasy’), falling away, forsake” (Strong’s Concordance). This refers to (can only refer to) God’s people—true Christians, not those in the world—leaving HIS TRUTH. (Interestingly, Acts 21:21 is the only other place apostasia is found in the New Testament, and it speaks of those “forsaking Moses.”) In summary, one cannot lose money he never had. One cannot fall (away) from a ledge he was never on.
The second verse is Hebrews 6:4-6: “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
The Greek for “shall fall away” is similar to apostasia, but not precisely the same. It is parapiptō, and, not quite as strong as apostasia, it still means “to fall aside, that is, (figuratively) to apostatize: fall away” (Strong’s Concordance). Thayer’s defines it as “to fall beside a person or thing, to slip aside, to deviate from the right path, turn aside, wander, to error, to fall away (from the true faith): from worship of Jehovah.” Also, it is obvious in the context that Paul is writing (to the Hebrews) about those who once had the truth but “turned aside” from it—and fell away.
II Peter 2:15 describes those who “have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray.” The Greek word translated “forsaken” is yet another word—kataleipō. It means “to leave down, that is, behind; by implication to abandon, have remaining: forsake, leave, reserve” (Strong’s Concordance). The passage picks up with, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (vs. 20-22).
So then, falling away here is tied to “forsaking the right way”—after having “known the way of righteousness.”
All of the above passages are warnings to those in the true Church! Again, God’s Word is written to His people (you should know all the verses proving this)—and no one else, including the world at large. These verses have nothing whatsoever—WHATSOEVER!—to do with some kind of an “American apostasy”—or “whole world apostasy.” People cannot defect from what they never knew. Again, this is literally IMPOSSIBLE TO MISUNDERSTAND. I also repeat from earlier: You cannot leave a house you never entered. You cannot exit a car you were never in.
Let’s pause at this point to ask: In light of these plain verses, how could God expect His servants reading His Word to believe that the falling away of II Thessalonians 2:3 means the world and not the Church—particularly when He uses the strongest possible word there of the three we have reviewed?—the one involving truth (true doctrines) the world has never understood. On what basis could He possibly expect us to believe this—to reach and believe Meredith’s conclusion? The answer? There is none.
But more verses further prove this point.
Further Into the Greek
Apostasia is the feminine version of apostasion (G647 in Strong’s). This word means “something separative, that is, (specifically) divorce.” Strong’s says this word is “neuter of a (presumed) adjective from a derivative of G868.”
G868 is the Greek word aphistemi, and means “to remove…(actively) instigate to revolt…to desist, desert, etc.: depart, draw (fall) away, refrain, withdraw self.” Every instance of this word where it is used makes stronger all points throughout the last subhead:
I Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron…”
Hebrews 3:12: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
Luke 8:13: “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.”
If God intended to mean “rebellion” or “revolt” in II Thessalonians 2:3, He could have used aphistemi. But He also had other Greek words from which He might have chosen. Just one is anupotaktos. It means, “unsubdued…insubordinate (in fact or temper): disobedient, that is not put under, unruly.” But God did not choose this word, or any related word. He chose apostasia—meaning “defection from truth”!
Recall that II Thessalonians 2:3 begins, “Let no man deceive you by any means…” How tragic that people cannot even apply the very beginning of the verse to what the verse itself is talking about! “LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU—BY ANY MEANS”! Will you heed God’s warning through Paul? Or will you permit yourself to be deceived about enormously important events already fulfilled?—and smugly believe the danger of the end-time apostasy has nothing to do with YOU, but instead involves “just the world”?
Of course, we have long realized the Bible does reveal a coming, final now almost complete worldwide breakdown of character. Paul warned, “In the last days perilous [or dangerous] times shall come…” (II Tim. 3:1). Here is what he describes: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (vs. 2-4).
This time has certainly arrived!—and is worsening toward a pinnacle! Just look around. People’s conduct is changing. More authority figures are sounding the alarm that human nature is running wild—and conditions are exploding out of control! However, none of this has anything to do with a mass “rebellion/revolt” from God or His truth that started in Eden.
The notes from Ambassador College, the Epistles of Paul class, are still in my Bible today (rebound several times) in the margin of II Thessalonians 2:3. I wrote as we were taught, “Probably dual today of Jude and I, II and III John being the first time.” Thousands of Ambassador students would have learned much the same. The first century apostasy was a type of what happened 20 years ago—the apostasy of 20 years ago was NOT a type of an event in Satan’s world.
So then, if this new idea did NOT come from Mr. Armstrong, or the Bible, where DID it come from? What is—who is—the source?
Copying the Protestants
The following modern, Protestant Bible translations and commentaries closely mirror LCG’s new “understanding.” Recall LCG’s use of the words “rebellion” and “revolt.” Make yourself realize—come to grips with—how these sources become one more proof of how LCG is so obviously led by a DIFFERENT SPIRIT (all italics mine):
“II Thes. 2:3—That day cannot come before the final rebellion against God…”
The New English Bible
“II Thes. 2:3—Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for [that day will not come] until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”
New International Version
“II Thes. 2:3—For that cannot take place until the great revolt occurs…”
The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People
More modern and paraphrased translations (many more) refer to the apostasy as a “revolt” or “rebellion.” These three are a tiny snapshot. We could ask: If the great apostasy is a future event about a world moving into rebellion, what would they now be rebelling against? The world long ago—6,000 years ago—rebelled against God. Is Rod Meredith suggesting the masses are now—in some sense?—any sense?—“obeying God,” but will turn from Him and rebel? Ridiculous!
The Bible plainly teaches, “Satan…deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9) and “the whole world lies in wickedness” (I John 5:19), as well as “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). To summarize, the world is today cut off from God, completely deceived and wholly wicked. Rod Meredith’s logic collapses upon the simplest analysis.
Consider this obvious fact: A world that is going to FOLLOW the man of sin could never be a source of correct understanding ABOUT him. But LCG took in more indoctrination from the world…
Now notice how three Protestant commentaries link the apostasy to the man of sin. The first source reads as little more than a shot in the dark. This is because, again, the world without God’s Spirit cannot understand His Word. Read carefully (again, italics is mine):
“II Thes. 2:3—And that man of sin be revealed. He shall be revealed then in connection with the apostasy…The son of perdition. This expression occurs once elsewhere, and is there applied to Judas, an apostate (Joh 17:12). Here it evidently has a similar application. Some power, once Christian, falls away and becomes opposed to Christ.”
People’s New Testament Commentary
“II Thes. 2:3—The apostle foretells that before the coming of the Lord, there will be a throne set up completely contrary to Christ’s glory, in which that wicked man will sit, and transfer all things that appertain to God to himself: and many will fall away from God to him.”
Geneva Study Bible
“II Thes. 2:1-4…A reason why they should not expect the coming of Christ, as at hand, is given. There would be a general falling away first, such as would occasion the rise of antichrist, that man of sin.”
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
An inset is needed about the SOURCE of LCG’s new teaching—modern translations and worldly commentaries written by deceived theologians. Let’s learn—or for some remember!—what Mr. Armstrong taught and warned about the dangers of ever using Bible commentaries in establishing doctrine (italics mine):
“In this in-depth study of the Bible, I had the use of all the biblical helps—concordances, Greek-English and Hebrew-English lexicons, commentaries, Bible dictionaries and religious encyclopedias. The latter three of these, I found, were the works of scholarly but carnal minds. In historical facts and matters of a material and physical nature, they give help in research, but in God’s revelation of spiritual knowledge I found them of little help.”
Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages, p. 23
The entire WCG ministry under Mr. Armstrong knew this—that we should never go to worldly theologians for doctrinal understanding. They also knew that he thundered to all of us to avoid such Satan-influenced sources. He said this most in the late 1970s and early 1980s when liberals had begun changing doctrines in his absence, and when he had been away visiting world leaders 300 days a year. (In a stunning aside, LCG has now begun to send its ministers to worldly “Christian Universities” to pursue theology-related degrees. This is to further the group’s bid for academic accreditation—a pursuit that Mr. Armstrong strongly indicted and banned from God’s Church! Entering the world’s/devil’s theological seminaries is the very thing that led the Worldwide Church of God into apostasy. So obviously, the same spirit is leading both churches.)
While a deceived Rod Meredith now links the appearance of the man of sin (the False Prophet) to the apostasy, these events are simply not connected in any way. Think. Had he heeded Mr. Armstrong’s instruction, he could have saved himself and his church from being duped. The apostle Paul is stating that two major events will take place before Christ’s Return: the falling away comes first—and then the man of sin appears. Duration of time between them is not addressed! Since the apostasy is behind us, II Thessalonians 2:3 reveals one of the next events to watch for is the man of sin’s appearance. And since nearly 25 years have now passed since the apostasy, the arrival of the man of sin is much closer than most realize! Think just a little: If Paul explains the falling away comes “FIRST”—“except there come a falling away FIRST”—how can the man of sin arrive second and lead the world into what happens first?
Impossible! But so are all of the devil’s doctrines.
Recognize the hidden danger in Meredith’s teaching. He now has LCG waiting for a future event that does not involve God’s people instead of looking backwards toward an event they lived through—and that is STILL ALL AROUND THEM. He is setting up LCG members to be caught off guard when the man of sin appears because they will have been looking for the wrong event to happen first. The falling away has ALREADY HAPPENED. The last two paragraphs underscore the need for every Bible student to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
Consider. Like Evangelicals awaiting a fictional rapture, all who accept Meredith’s explanation of the future apostasy—all of LCG!—are being set up to enter the Tribulation. LCG members are literally being conditioned to patiently wait until the Tribulation falls on them like a “snare” (Luke 21:35). They have been set up to not look for signs of apostasy in their own lives NOW. And they have also been set up for what will be the indescribable SHOCK, ANGER and DISAPPOINTMENT springing from betrayal by trusted leaders.
Consider further. They are being told that the Tribulation will only begin after a great “falling away” occurs in the world. The result? The Tribulation will blindside thousands of people with the force of a 100-car runaway freight train! Roderick Meredith has made them oblivious to what is coming—and many can probably not be convinced otherwise.
This is exactly what the devil wants: God’s people looking AHEAD to something that won’t apply to them, rather than to something all around them NOW!
Understand. It is Satan who would seek to minimize the devastation that occurred in the WCG. A doctrine that makes light of the very real damage caused in the WCG apostasy would NOT be inspired by Christ, the Head of God’s Church.
Modern Protestant Movement
Finally, here is what one outspoken Protestant leader in the United States said about a large new movement/crusade recently announced that was started by world-famous Protestant evangelist Billy Graham. Named, “My Hope with Billy Graham,” it has been referred to as his “Final call” to America to turn to God. Anne Gimenez is describing Billy Graham’s effort:
“Anne Gimenez, the national chairperson of America for Jesus – The Awakening, says similar revivals have occurred in the past in America and Europe during other times of declining morality and spiritual darkness.
“‘I think Billy Graham’s idea is genius,’ says Gimenez, whose organization expects hundreds of thousands of people to gather at Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 28 and 29 to pray for another Great Awakening in the United States…‘We’ve been waiting for an idea that would spark America into revival and perhaps this is it.
“‘America and the world seem to be in a state of growing apostasy and unbelief. Atheism and agnosticism is growing by leaps and bounds. [Author’s Note: Remember LCG’s/Thiel’s posting similarly about growing atheism.] In history, when there is great darkness engulfing the world, there is also the opportunity for a great light to come—the gospel light. And so at this time when we seem to be spiraling downward into spiritual darkness, it is the ideal and opportune time for a great spiritual awakening.’”
“Billy Graham: ‘Final Call’ for America to Repent,” World Net Daily, August 7, 2012
Are you grasping the SOURCE of Rod Meredith’s teaching—the alien spirit (Eph. 2:2; II Cor. 11:4; I John 4:6) so obviously leading him and his subordinates? Recognize why the devil wants you to believe the apostasy does not involve YOU—why he wants your focus away from false doctrine that can affect YOU—why he wants you to think that there is no threat to YOU, that there is no danger the apostasy could take YOU out of the kingdom of God.
Make your mind think about—and truly comprehend!—all that is at stake for YOU!
How the Deception Is Sold
We are now ready to examine HOW Rod Meredith and other LCG leaders are spinning II Thessalonians 2:3—HOW they get away with what they are doing—HOW they disarm and lower the resistance of their followers—HOW they get people to BUY deceit. The tactics mirror many of the 43 points (I described them as “psychological tricks”) on a list of how Mr. Armstrong’s successors sold hundreds of false doctrines to scores of thousands of unwitting WCG members. This list, created in 1993, can be found in Section I, pages 39-41 of There Came a Falling Away. The reader would do well at this point to think about Romans 16:18 as we proceed: “For they…by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
“Author’s notes” appear at certain points, usually to reference tactics used (from my “psychological tricks” list) by number and underlining. As you read, you will see firsthand the “wiles” (Eph. 6:11) and “devices” (II Cor. 2:11) of the devil’s spirit at work. Now more from Meredith’s article quoted at the outset, which began with this (bold emphasis is his):
“Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong set all of us a fine example, as many of you older brethren remember. He always tried to move forward, to grow and to improve. Many, many times he told us, in meetings and in sermons, that we should ‘grow’—not only individually, but as a Church. [Author’s Note: Tactic #34—Mr. Armstrong would have agreed with and made these changes. Tactic #35—Mr. Armstrong changed doctrine often and we must follow his example. The apostates opened new doctrines in this fashion time and again.] God Himself indicates that true Christians should grow. For the very last words of Scripture that the Apostle Peter wrote were exhortations that we should ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen’ (2 Peter 3:18). [Author’s Note: Tactic #9—We must grow in grace and knowledge or, translated, ‘change is growth.’ Tactic #8—Mature Christians will see it. Who would say he does not want to grow? Who would say he does not want more knowledge? So seductive.]
“Sadly, some ‘Armstrong worshipers’ become upset if God’s Church shows even the slightest signs of ‘growth.’ [Author’s Note: Tactic #41—Anyone who resists these changes is only interested in glorifying the memory of a man.] There are a few misguided people who, when they see others growing, accuse them—or the entire Church—of departing from the guidance of God’s Apostle, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. [Author’s Note: Always be sure to denigrate those who hold fast.] Yet even these misguided critics, whether or not they even realize it, are ‘changing’ what Mr. Armstrong taught in order to hold on to their imaginary idea of what he would or would not have done had he been in our present circumstances.
“Frankly, brethren, as one who knew Mr. Armstrong extremely well for 36 years, I know that Mr. Armstrong would be absolutely horrified to find that people are using his name—26 years after his death—to stifle our opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior!
“I tell you, brethren, before God the Father and Jesus Christ, that Mr. Armstrong himself would want us to ‘grow’ as long as we are careful never to depart from any basic biblical Truth! And, as any honest observer can understand, we in the Living Church of God have never contemplated changing the Sabbath, the Holy Days, the Ten Commandments, the Holy Spirit as the impersonal power of God (not a person)—or anything else that is fundamental to the Truth of God! [Author’s Note: Tactic #5—This is not a big change or the trunk of the tree.]
“We do ‘honor’ Mr. Armstrong—as we should—but we do not ‘worship’ him in the sense of putting what we think were his ideas ahead of God’s word or God Himself! That would be idolatry! Mr. Armstrong himself would not want this. [Author’s Note: The point becomes that if one does not “honor” Mr. Armstrong as Meredith does, then he worships Mr. Armstrong and is an idolater. This is all an utter lie to build his point and intimidate the reader. Joe Tkach’s subordinates did it often.]
“Brethren, Mr. Armstrong—again, as many of you older brethren remember—did change regarding our practice of women wearing makeup (he let the Church go back and forth on this three times!) [Author’s Note: Another utter lie!], on the way to count Pentecost, on the administration of how we deal with divorce and remarriage, and on many other points. In fact, I remember going to him in a respectful yet firm way about an error he made in explaining 1 Corinthians 10:27–29. [Author’s Note: This merits a new tactic for the list, used often by Meredith regarding Mr. Armstrong. #44—We must guide poor Mr. Armstrong out of errors.] Some of you older brethren will recall that Mr. Armstrong carried over many ideas from the Sardis Church in his early ministry. That was natural. He was sincere in doing so. Yet, as he changed on some of these ideas, he told us older evangelists a number of times, ‘Fellows, I had to come to the Truth of some of these things one doctrine at a time. It took me a while to get it all sorted out…’”
“Mr. Armstrong himself never claimed to be infallible! Yet, since we understand that he was used as an apostle of Jesus Christ, some few seem to get the idea into their heads that he could never, ever, be wrong on anything. But, ask yourself, was the Apostle Peter—the obvious leading Apostle of his time—‘infallible’? If so, why did the Apostle Paul strongly correct him, as we read in Galatians 2:11–16? And why, dear brethren, did God inspire this correction to be included in Scripture so that all of us would come to understand that neither Peter, nor Paul nor Mr. Armstrong were infallible?” [Author’s Note: This paragraph is deceit at a SPECTACULAR level. Popes don’t even any longer claim to be infallible. What is the point of invoking such a term when all know it could never apply here—that no one ever thought Mr. Armstrong infallible? Paul correcting Peter about his CONDUCT has nothing to do with correcting Peter’s teaching on DOCTRINE. Read Galatians 2:11-16 for yourself, and recognize the red herring/deceit for what it is. The next two paragraphs, including the final one, are repeated from the beginning of the article.]
“Even now, brethren, our Council of Elders is discussing a few ‘technical’ points that Mr. Armstrong could not have humanly anticipated, considering that he died in 1986, before certain prophecies had begun to be fulfilled [Author’s Note: Tactic #33—A thorough investigation has been made. I commented earlier on the next paragraph]…”
“Brethren, we do need to be careful about ‘new understandings.’ Consider some popular ideas among God’s people regarding the ‘Great Apostasy’ of 2 Thessalonians 2:1–10. Mr. Armstrong understood that this rebellion involved the whole world. Indeed, the Greek word apostasia is more accurately translated into English as ‘rebellion’ rather than ‘apostasy,’ and Mr. Armstrong rightly understood that it connotes an uprising far broader than the consequences of doctrinal heresy within God’s little flock, involving a man of sin whose very visible and physical demonstrations of power will affect the whole world… [Author’s Note: Similar to #36—Mr. Armstrong once believed the doctrine this way. Of course, you saw Mr. Armstrong NEVER believed this way, secretly or publicly.]”
“However, with the total apostasy of the Worldwide Church of God, some few ministers have tried to say that this entire prophecy was fulfilled when the Tkaches came into leadership of the Worldwide Church of God and took it into ‘mainstream’ Protestantism. [Author’s Note: I am one of them, along with a few other faithful ministers. But only PCG ministers believe what he next ties this to…] They claim that Mr. Tkach was the ‘great man of sin’ sitting in the house of God, showing himself that he was God (vs. 4). Then—when Mr. Tkach died—they transferred this to Joseph Tkach, Jr. So, now, is ‘Junior’ the great man of sin?
“The entire ‘falling away’ of several thousand people in that apostasy—and it was an apostasy—was nevertheless not even noticed by about six billion human beings. When the biblically prophesied event occurs, it will deceive billions of people all over this earth…” [Author’s Note: Who cares if the world did not notice or comprehend the apostasy?—although we saw that it did notice to more than a little degree. Again, the Bible was written to God’s people, not the world. THIS is who God is working with. And, not knowing what God’s truth IS, how could the world grasp what happened in a Church they have long believed to be a cult filled with error? Ponder this.]
“Other scriptures tying directly in with this, such as Revelation 13:11–18, clearly indicate that, when the final ‘man of sin’ arises, he will deceive hundreds of millions—or even probably billions—of human beings! He will be granted power to literally bring fire down from heaven (vs. 13). ‘He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or in their foreheads’ (vs. 16). As all of you should know by now, nothing even remotely like this happened during the small, typical ‘apostasy’ caused by the Tkaches taking Worldwide into ‘mainstream Christianity.’
“Yes, what happened in Worldwide may certainly have been a ‘type’ of the final apostasy. But it was not the major one described in 2 Thessalonians 2–3. It is exciting and stirring to realize how massive the coming apostasy is going to be!”
“Is It Wrong to GROW in Knowledge?”, The Living Church News, March-April 2012
The last paragraph almost takes one’s breath. Does the reader feel “excited” and “stirred” by Meredith’s deceit—or shocked, repulsed and sobered? Think of the title question in the article. Who would disagree with it on its face? No one! All salesmen know the importance of getting your customer saying, “Yes”—“I want to grow in knowledge.”
Now the conclusion of Rod Meredith’s article:
“Brethren, we should not ‘shrink’ from growth in understanding. Mr. Armstrong would be glad to have us learn. He always was excited and enthusiastic when some new biblical Truth could be explained in a proper way. So I hope all of us can learn to have this same kind of positive attitude and approach to any new understandings we are able to come to within the Living Church of God. Remember, God’s Word indicates that He will not reveal some of these technical things about prophecy until the very end of the age (Daniel 12:4).
“Sadly, Mr. Armstrong was not allowed to continue until the very end. But, we are—so far. So, if I am able to explain to him in the resurrection how we continued ‘growing’ in grace and in knowledge, I know that he will chuckle and tell me, ‘Of course, Rod, that is exactly what I would have done if I were there at that time. [Author’s Note: Tactic #34 again—Mr. Armstrong would have agreed with and made these changes himself. A more effective deceiver would have known to just implement Tactic #13—Say nothing and just change it.] Good work! I am glad that we both made it here into the Kingdom of God.’ [Author’s Note: I so well remember Joe Tkach Jr. invoking Mr. Armstrong’s name—I was already gone from the WCG when it happened—saying, ‘Brethren, I know that Mr. Armstrong is rejoicing in heaven right now that the Church has come to so much new understanding!’ This is just a cheap but effective way to induce agreement.]
“Dear brethren, we certainly should ‘follow’ Mr. Armstrong as he followed Christ! That is what he told us to do! That is what the Apostle Paul was inspired to tell us to do regarding himself or any apostle: ‘Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ’ (1 Corinthians 11:1). [Author’s Note: But Rod Meredith is an evangelist, not an apostle.] Let us continue to grow in grace and in knowledge and know that we will be blessed if we do this—as long as we do not depart from fundamental truth [Author’s Note: Who decides what is fundamental? Try to find this term in the Bible. It is not there, but rather is an invented idea to get people to accept changes that Meredith (and others) deem less than fundamental. Fundamental doctrines become anything a deceiver needs them to be, and less than fundamental ones become anything a deceiver needs them to be.] and as long as we ‘prove all things’ from the Bible in an honest and sincere way. God will greatly bless us if we do this—and if we are positive and loyal to Christ as He leads His Church in these very things! [Author’s Note: The last two sentences of Meredith’s article make a point I can finally agree with. If you DO ‘prove all things,’ you will reject what he is teaching, along with the devilish wiles and devices used to bring it.]”
How cunning, smooth and deceptive! The list of tactics in There Came a Falling Away concluded with this warning: “These gimmicks, ploys and psychological tricks are all still used, and even more effectively, throughout the splinters.” Remember, Rod Meredith has had this book since 1993.
Make yourself take a serious look at whether you will buy into this man’s new understanding of II Thessalonians 2:3. And, to understand God’s real intent in II Peter 3:18, read my extensive article “The True Meaning of ‘Grow in Grace and Knowledge.’” Peter’s instruction has NOTHING to do with changing doctrine. Rod Meredith once knew this!
Finally, Rod Meredith further confirmed his new teaching in LCG’s May 10, 2012 LCG Weekly Update:
“Please follow through by doing all you can to build, to strengthen and inspire our brethren around the world…Please help them think through these ‘upgrades’ in our understanding of the Wedding Supper [Author’s Note: We already saw in Article Three that Meredith’s new teaching on this subject is also false.], of the timeline of final events and also the great apostasy. [Author’s Note: If Mr. Armstrong always believed that the great apostasy involves the world and the man of sin, how can it be an “upgrade” and a “change”? Can the reader possibly miss such inconsistency? Be thankful for it. Deceivers are rarely this open in revealing their identity.] This is a vital challenge for all of you, and I hope that you can be alert to anyone’s misunderstanding and help them—or help your local elder to work with them to come to understanding on these basic issues and help them realize that these changes are, in fact, simply ‘updates’ of our understanding… [Author’s Note: Tactic #12—Be patient with the weaker brethren who can’t see it yet (which appeals to people’s nobler motives to accept the change).] We have always indicated—at least Mr. Armstrong, and I [Author’s Note: Meredith has himself and Mr. Armstrong the only two who saw this, and thus sort of invokes Tactic #40—Mr. Armstrong always secretly believed this change.]—that the apostasy would be much broader than just the falling away of a few people in the Worldwide Church. [Author’s Note: Of course you now know Rod Meredith has not remotely ‘always indicated’ such a position.] As I indicated at the conference, over 99% of the world never even heard about the Worldwide Church and certainly nothing about that falling away. So the really huge apostasy is still ahead of us—as we have explained—and will affect billions of human beings before it is all over!”
Ask: Why must the world as a whole recognize the apostasy fulfilled in the Church? Does God need validation from Satan’s theologians—or large numbers of news journalists?!—that His prophecies have been fulfilled? We saw nothing indicates the falling away involves billions.
The very false doctrine that is the subject of this article takes its place as an additional tool for Meredith to get people to accept more new false doctrine. If apostasy does not involve or threaten His followers, but rather only the world, a great impediment against accepting more changes has been quietly stripped from people’s mental conditioning. A crucial barrier has been breached and torn down. Think how easy it now becomes for Meredith to get away with more false teaching. Watching the seductive smoothness of his tactics and deceit at work above also makes it easier to see how he has gotten away with so many wrong teachings already. Hopefully you will not fulfill Isaiah 30:10 and Jeremiah 5:30-31.
Doug Winnail Reinforces Rod Meredith
A great question arises from what you have read, but we are not quite ready for it. This next longer subhead completes the setup for this question. LCG’s ministers have begun reinforcing the new position. The following article, again, written by Doug Winnail, titled “The Great Rebellion Against God” was published in LCG’s Tomorrow’s World July-August 2012 edition. This is LCG’s flagship magazine—and it is largely written to the world. LCG and Winnail are in essence telling the world what its theologians are already saying. Why do this then? Also, the article shows this change is both a big statement in and by LCG, that it is not some minor “technical point,” as Rod Meredith portrayed it. Think yet again. If the teaching below represents what God’s Church has long believed, why the big ROLL OUT now? The Tkaches craved agreement and acceptance from the world. For LCG to trumpet to the world what it already believes could only spring from the same motive. Surely you see through the deceit.
A couple sections of Winnail’s article are repeated from earlier:
“Bible prophecy lists numerous signs that will precede Jesus Christ’s second coming, but the Apostle Paul specifically notes two major events that will occur just before Christ returns. He writes, ‘that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition’ (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Paul tells us that the appearance of this ‘man of sin’ on the world stage will be accompanied by ‘signs, and lying wonders’ performed by a false religious leader using Satan’s power (2 Thessalonians 2:9). This display of supernatural demonic power will deceive millions into following this Satan-inspired individual and the system he is promoting.
“Meanwhile, the Western nations are rapidly abandoning any former pretense of nominal Christianity. ‘Mainline’ churches that for centuries upheld ‘traditional biblical values’ now champion same-sex marriage, practicing homosexual clergymen (and clergywomen), and open denial of the inspiration of Scripture…”
“…The Bible also records that specific ‘signs’ will precede Jesus’ return: increasing violence and wars, frequent floods, droughts and famines, disease epidemics, earthquakes and other natural disasters (see Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). However, a major sign will be widespread religious deception promoted by false religious leaders who perform ‘great signs and wonders’ (Matthew 24:3–5, 11, 24). The Scriptures state that the return of Jesus Christ will surprise the world because people will not be watching for the warning signs that will indicate that His return is near (Matthew 24:36–41; 25:1–13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6)…” [Author’s Note: As a side point, Matthew 24:36-41 is instruction to God’s Church, not the world. This passage is a warning and description about events that will take place IN THE CHURCH. The interested reader will want to listen to my thorough sermon series titled “The 1,335 Days of the Son of Man.”]
“…The organization led by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong for more than 50 years underwent a terrible crisis in the early 1990s, as his successors abandoned long-held doctrines of God’s Church and tried to bring the organization into ‘mainstream Christianity.’ Scores of thousands left…”
“So, could that have been the ‘falling away’ prophesied by Scripture? No less an authority than Mr. Armstrong himself would disagree with that assertion. [Author’s Note: This is patently FALSE—an absolutely shocking LIE—as is each of the several short sentences that follow.] On many occasions, Mr. Armstrong plainly taught that the ‘falling away’ mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 would be an event affecting the vast mass of human beings around the world. He wrote in a co-worker letter, ‘Christ foretold a turning away from His message… [Paul] prophesied there would be a Great Falling Away from Christ’s true message…the popular churches would turn away from the Truth and believe fables’ (November 11, 1949). [Author’s Note: Recall Winnail’s dishonest excerpting of these last quotes that were explained earlier. The bold underlining is mine so the reader can recall the snippets Winnail took completely out of context. The bold further below is Winnail’s.] Later, in a 1982 radio broadcast, he asked, ‘Has that falling away happened? That doesn’t mean a few people, it doesn’t mean a few radicals or fanatics. The whole world was to be deceived!’ [Author’s Note: Remember, the whole world has already been deceived. Recall Revelation 12:9. Who knows the context of what Mr. Armstrong was speaking of? Winnail gives no source other than a year—1982. You have already learned Mr. Armstrong’s teaching—and have been shown how in this quote Doug Winnail deliberately misrepresented Mr. Armstrong—carefully lied—in order to use Mr. Armstrong’s authority to drive home his point. It actually makes perfect sense if Mr. Armstrong were again speaking of the first century.]
“Was the ‘whole world’ deceived when Mr. Armstrong’s successors split their church? Though this was a traumatic event, it affected only a relatively small number of people, and the church’s leaders displayed no powerful miracles to gain the loyalty of followers. There is no scriptural way to identify the prophesied ‘man of sin’ with either of the men who succeeded Mr. Armstrong as the head of that organization. [Author’s Note: True. We agree!]
“Notice that the phrase translated as ‘falling away’ in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 in the NKJV comes from the Greek word apostasia. Although English-speakers may be inclined to translate this word as ‘apostasy,’ and ‘falling away’ has become a commonly accepted phrasing, these are actually not the best translations. Consider how several other translations render this word: ‘the great revolt’ (Williams), ‘the rebellion’ (Moffatt), or ‘the final rebellion against God’ (NEB). [Author’s Note: You have seen that all of these translations are wrong!] No credible translation gives any indication that this massive global event could in fact involve just a few thousand members of one organization. [Author’s Note: He just quoted translations that are NOT entirely credible and denigrated many that ARE.] Rather, it involves an outright worldwide rebellion, of unprecedented proportion, against any semblance of belief in the God of the Bible. Here is how the Expositor’s Bible Commentary describes this momentous event: ‘Conditions will be ripe for people, especially those who call themselves Christian…to turn their backs on God…This worldwide anti-God movement will be so universal as to earn for itself a special designation: ‘the apostasy’…the presence of such an apostasy and counterfeit god will not escape international observation’ (volume 11, pp. 320–323). [Author’s Note: Recall Mr. Armstrong’s warning about using worldly commentaries.]…”
“This trend will continue. Within the lifetimes of most of you reading this article, two Satan-inspired individuals—a miracle-working religious figure and a charismatic European political leader—will appear on the world stage and lead the masses of humanity in rebellion against the true God. Finally, near the very end of this age, this blasphemous religious figure will declare himself to be God, commanding the allegiance of billions who will join him in a final rebellion against the returning Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
“You need to be alert and watch for these significant end-time events so you can avoid being deceived when the prophecies come alive! [Author’s Note: An astonishing conclusion. Readers were in fact just set up to BE deceived!]”
In late 2011, Doug Winnail also gave a sermon titled “Lessons From America’s Apostasy.” It was played in all LCG congregations in mid-July 2012 and discussed how America was built on Christian principles, but is now rejecting God. Although we have always understood America is disobeying God, this very subtle sermon prepares and conditions LCG members to look for a future apostasy in America and the world. (The nations of modern Israel are in big trouble for widespread and growing national sins. Read my full book America and Britain in Prophecy to understand the big picture—and the truth.)
A Greater Question
Now comes an inset about the great question referenced earlier: Can Rod Meredith—or anyone other than an apostle—bring “new doctrine” or “new understanding”? What did Mr. Armstrong teach about how truth enters the Church? Evangelists (and all lower offices) are never authorized to do this! Of course Rod Meredith will say that he is merely repeating what Mr. Armstrong said, but you now know better. In fact, he has said this came from Mr. Armstrong from one side of his mouth, and from the other that it is a “technical upgrade” and “change.”
Mr. Armstrong knew all of God’s people were to speak the truth—and in the same way. Here is what he wrote:
“Church teachings were being changed. The most resultful booklet of all, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, was attacked…the same with a number of other basic and important booklets written by Christ’s apostle.”
“How does God’s Church receive its doctrines, beliefs and teachings? Direct from God, through the channels of Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, and from Him through the apostles! Never by any others! Never by a group of ministers appointing themselves as a Doctrinal Committee! So it was in the first century.
“How did the Worldwide Church of God receive its doctrines, beliefs and teachings? Exclusively through Christ’s apostle! …But every doctrine, belief and teaching in the Worldwide Church of God has come from christ THROUGH his chosen apostle!”
“What Is a Liberal?”, WN, Feb. 19, 1979
“There was no such doctrinal committee in the first century Headquarters Church at Jerusalem. All teaching came from Christ through the apostles—and a few times Christ communicated to apostles via the prophets (of which there are none in God’s Church today since the Bible for our time is complete). God’s Church today, as in the first century, receives its teachings from the living Christ, through an apostle, just as in a.d. 31.”
Mystery of the Ages, p. 350
“But HOW? How does Jesus Christ put his doctrines into His Church? How did He in A.D. 31? How in A.D. 1933?”
“God says we in His Church must all believe and speak the same thing—we must be agreed on what is truth and right and good as opposed to what is evil and sin.”
“Only by His chosen apostles.”
“Our teaching and doctrines must come from god! Through christ! And through His apostle!”
“God has always, in dealing with humans, worked through one man at a time—one who believed God! Some in ancient Israel challenged this one-man leadership. Some, likewise, have challenged it today!
“First, Moses’ own brother and sister challenged his one-man leadership…‘And the anger of the Eternal was kindled against them’ [Num. 12:9].”
“Yet, though our members and ministers all know this, some are not afraid to speak contemptuously, in hostility, or defamingly against Christ’s apostle today! They need not fear ME! For I will not turn on them or strike them.
“Why, then, do they not fear God? It must be one of two things. Either they do not really comprehend this teaching…or they do not believe that God has chosen me as His apostle and human leader today.”
“The church is GOD’S Church. The head of the Church, under god, is Jesus Christ. Under Christ, on the human level, is His chosen apostle, through whom He has raised up and built this spiritual TEMPLE to which the reigning christ shall soon come in glory (Eph. 2:20-21).”
“All doctrines in the Church as it began, A.D. 31, were put in by the apostles. All doctrines in the present Philadelphia era were put into the Church by Jesus Christ through His chosen apostle.”
“And Now Christ Sets Church Back on Track Doctrinally!”, WN, Feb. 19, 1979
Many more quotes could have been added that say the same thing.
A once oft-quoted passage in II Corinthians 11:3-4 explains and connects the world’s false “Jesus” to “another gospel” about their “Jesus,” and all of this, in turn, is connected to “another spirit.” This passage has everything to do with why changes have come from LCG’s top leadership. The apostle John labels this alien spirit the “spirit of error” (I John 4:6). This is the same spirit guiding all the churches of the world! Understand the extreme gravity here, and how it connects to this article. This different, but real, “another spirit” introduces—and is importing into LCG—Protestant ideas and doctrines. Remember, the true Christ’s sheep know the true Christ’s voice, and can distinguish it from a stranger’s voice (John 10:3-5).
I repeat: The Protestant world is led by the “spirit of disobedience” that is identified in Ephesians 2:2—and sent from the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4)! The alien spirit that John and Paul spoke of is what quickly destroyed the WCG. This same spirit is slowly destroying the splinters.
This spirit of error will only grow stronger and more pervasive wherever it has been permitted to enter. Mr. Armstrong strongly warned against letting the devil in even “a little bit,” as he put it, because, as he also said, he would “push open the door since he is stronger than we.” This has happened and is happening in LCG, but also in all the other splinters.
The facts behind the source of LCG’s new understanding—Protestant translations and commentaries—become powerful evidence of the different spirit—“another spirit” or the “spirit of error”—that has entered and gripped the top LCG leadership. It also explains why so many in this group report that “Something is wrong here,” without being able to identify what it is. Without knowing why, and with the Spirit of God—the “Comforter”—receding, many find themselves increasingly uncomfortable in LCG. Grasp this fact: This discomfort is because a counterfeit “comforter” has entered LCG and is spreading, while the Spirit of God is diminishing!
“Obeying the Truth”
Even those who are newly converted understand that Christians obey God. They know that they must obey the Ten Commandments and others of His laws. Now understand a vital point that almost no one considers—and it has everything to do with obedience. Most of God’s ministers have been derelict in teaching this closely related Bible principle.
In numerous verses God specifically commands His true followers to also “obey the truth.” Most generally think of God’s many truths as things to be believed—or understood—not as things that must be obeyed. Has this not generally been your thinking? In fact, how often have you heard Bible doctrines described in this context?
Here is what the apostle Peter wrote, and it introduces how obedience to truth is tied to conversion. Read carefully: “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren…” (I Pet. 1:22). The Greek word for obey carries the additional meaning of “attentive hearkening [listening],” “compliance” and “submission.” This is strong.
Further, obedience to points of truth is seen in this passage to be inseparable from three things: (1) the purity of one’s conversion, (2) the role of God’s Spirit—the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26)—actively assisting in obedience to true doctrine and (3) how one genuinely loves the brethren. The last point becomes very difficult (in fact, impossible) when most of one’s brethren are scattered throughout competing, disagreeing organizations where he can never see or know them. This verse cannot be read any other way.
But the subject grows much more serious.
Next notice what the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth…?” (3:1). The Galatians had grown foolish, allowing themselves to be tricked—“bewitched”—into believing something other than the truth. (In their case, they had lost sight of the true gospel and fallen under a curse—chapter 1, verses 6-9.)
Two chapters later Paul summarized what happened: “You did run well; who did hinder you [Greek: “beat back”] that you should not obey the truth?” (5:7). This latter verse describes the problem with the splinters today. Now think. Scores of thousands of God’s people once understood exactly what was the truth that Jesus taught His Church. For decades they “ran well.” But today, having themselves grown foolish, they have also been “bewitched” and “beaten back”—now having become disobedient in BELIEF.
This sets up a final passage that puts the gravity of the matter into its fullest context—that of how GOD sees disobedience to truth!
Paul wrote the Romans about some who were “contentious,” who wanted to argue about established truth: “Unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [comes] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil” (2:8-9).
God views those who will not hold to the truth—will not obey it—as obeying unrighteousness! Even beginning Bible students know that, “ALL unrighteousness is sin” (I John 5:17).
How many of God’s people even remember this?
Disbelief of truth is now seen to be SIN! We could ask: How much worse is the sin of rejecting truths that stand among the greatest in all of God’s Word? The close of Romans 2:8-9 brings this subject into perspective. It speaks of God’s “indignation” and “wrath”—and of the “tribulation” and “anguish” He has prepared for those (“every soul”) who commit what He calls the “evil” of disobeying truth.
May this powerful spiritual reality guide your thinking! May you OBEY GOD on all points of truth (Acts 5:29, 32)!
What Will You Do?
It is time to summarize. Rod Meredith and LCG’s “future all-nations apostasy” belief is fundamentally wrong in two ways: (1) the apostasy is NOT a future event tied to the man of sin, and (2) it will not strike the world, but rather involves God’s Church. When understood, Rod Meredith and other LCG leaders are both “deceiving and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:13). If you are diligent and patient, eventually people expose themselves for what they really are. This includes false teachers.
This has happened.
Like those who deny the Holocaust, it is much easier to ignore history decades into people’s rearview mirror. Similarly, it is easier to claim the apostasy lies ahead when it is over 20 years behind us—and still occurring. I urge the reader to remember what it was like. Go back in your mind to that time period—the late 1980s and early 90s. Could someone have convinced you then that, “This is not the apostasy! It is still coming. Prepare for it!”?
Sadly, history has shown that most will not care about or act on the facts and truth contained in this article. They will allow themselves to accept giant lies as small “doctrinal updates”—“upgrades”—from those who seek to play down the changes. This will of course include the usual attacks on my character. In fact, Rod Meredith has been systematically lying about me for years, and our brochure Do You Know “David Pack”? – My Life and Ministry—Rumors and Lies vs. Facts and Truth explains the truth.
To learn more about what happened in the WCG, and the process of apostasy still underway throughout the various splinter and sliver groups, again, read “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People, The True Church – One Organization, or Many?, along with my books The Work of God – Its Final Chapter! and The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties. You should also listen to my sermon, “The ‘Synagogue of Satan’ Identified—and Marked!” The reader may also wish to read my two-volume biography describing my years in the Global Church of God, as well as the details of my many years’ association with Rod Meredith (and of course much more).
This article has brought proof—absolute proof—that the “falling away” has already occurred—is still underway—and will not strike the world later!
A powerful irony: Rod Meredith’s very teaching regarding the falling away is its own “defection from truth” in favor of the world’s position on a matter we saw the world could not possibly understand. Thus, the world has an excuse. Rod Meredith and those who copy and follow this false teaching have none. (This includes so many of his other wrong teachings.)
The Living Church of God is very much part of the long foretold falling away. And it is in fact experiencing its own slow-motion falling away and return to the world. Many heresies have entered it. The question now looms: What will you DO with this knowledge, and how long are you willing to stay in an organization that so deceitfully changes and twists the plain truths of the Bible? Think hard a final time. Can a man so confused and ignorant of such profoundly important understanding—having now seized a central teaching from a world guided by the devil—be God’s servant? And when there are so many other false doctrines that he teaches—and false narratives about the past that he promulgates?
The facts thunder—of COURSE NOT! But you must decide for yourself.