In 2001 J. Michael Feazell, a former high-ranking assistant to the Worldwide Church of God’s [WCG’s] late founder and pastor-general Herbert W. Armstrong [HWA] and his successor Joseph W. Tkach Sr., wrote and published the book titled The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God.
The author’s main point is that the WCG members as led by Mr. Armstrong had been in bondage or in some kind of prison because of the supposedly “deceptive”and untruthful teachings which he handed to them. [If you wish, you may search Google as to how you can obtain a copy of this controversial book.]
A related video titled “Called to Be Free” [see: https://www.youtube.com7/watch?v=kb76qyaC824] shows how Mike Feazell along with other former top leaders of the WCG [Joseph Tkach Jr., Dan Rogers, Greg Albrecht, Bernard Schnippert, Randal Dick. Ronald Kelly, and several others] one day came together and, without previous consultation with one another, they came to a unanimous conclusion that the teachings which HWA left behind were heretical, not true to the Holy Scriptures, and deserved rightly to be demolished and junked. Thereby, they advanced, the WCG and members would be “liberated” or “freed” from the bondage to former false teachings, as Mike Feazell confidently declares in his book.
By accepting the teachings of mainstream “Christianity” as “absolute truth,” the WCG and the brethren are pronounced by these leaders as now “liberated” and “free!”
The WCG members’ reaction to the book and the video has been, understandably, mixed. Those who feel they had been oppressed by the former church beliefs and practices expressed joyful thanks for the relief afforded by the new perspective. Those who have held HWA in high esteem felt mortified and incensed. The rest have tried to walk the tightrope between the two extremes — terribly confused!
I would like, in this present article, to make sense of this turn of events and train the lens of God’s Word on the issues raised by this actually revolutionary occurrence in the WCG.
My view is that the so-called liberation of the WCG has actually resulted in the “reformed” WCG becoming bogged down in a different kind of bondage or prison. I say, the WCG needs to be “de-liberated!”
The law of God — burdensome, or not?
Feazell and company maintain that WCG members had been needlessly burdened by their keeping of God’s “Old Testament” or “Old Covenant” laws and commandments. But these leaders contradict the plain testimony of 1 John 5:3 that God’s commandments are not burdensome! John here affirmed that we love God and the brethren by keeping His commandments.
These leaders also contradict Jesus’ plain testimony that “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21).
Jesus’ commandments are not simply all His instructions as recorded in the New Testament. If we understand that the LORD who gave the law to ancient Israel was the same God Being who later became the God-man Jesus Christ, we will know that He meant to include that law among His commandments. [See: The True Christ, The Law of Christ, and The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love.]
We can sing to Christ “I love You, Lord” all we can, and still not have a real personal relationship with Him unless we keep His commandments! Jesus called such worship according to the commandments of men to be but “vain” (Matthew 15:9). [See: True Worship.]
While these leaders consider the apostle Paul as their ally in teaching about liberation from the “Old Covenant” law, they blindly forget that Paul considered that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12), and that it is “spiritual” (Verse 14). Paul affirmed that we do not make void the law through faith, but rather that we thus establish the law” (Romans 3:31)!
Paul admitted that by his own strength and merits he could not keep God’s law, despite his good intentions (Romans 7:15-24). He thanked God that through Jesus Christ and His spirit, he – as all others who are in Christ – can be subject to [or obey] the law of God and thereby please God (Romans 7:25; 8:1-14).
Paul also taught that, as we are led by the Spirit of God and thus are able to obey His law, we do not receive the “spirit of bondage” but rather the “Spirit of adoption” or sonship (Verse 15), whereby we become the “children of God” (Verse 16), who when glorified together “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption [evil and death] into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Verse 21).
Paul agrees with James 2:12, which affirms that God’s law is ‘royal” and is a “law of liberty.” Psalm 119:44-45 assures: “So shall I keep your law continually forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.” Keeping God’s law is not bondage!
By keeping God’s law [what HWA called “spiritual” law as distinct from “ritual” or “ceremonial” law – such as various laws on animal and other offerings and sacrifices], we are freed from the condemnation which we rightly deserve for sinning or transgressing God’s law (1 John 4:3; Romans 6:23).
Will we “become God as God is God?”
Feazell and company painted as “bizarre” HWA’s teaching that, as children of God we will become “God” ourselves. What’s so bizarre about saying that the children (or offspring) of dogs are also dogs? Why can’t the same logic apply?
However, the statement that “We will become God as God is God” needs to be qualified! HWA always taught that God is eternal or ever-living – with no beginning or end. The same cannot be said of created mankind. But, once made immortal through the resurrection or change at Christ’s return to earth (1 Corinthians 15), true Christians will receive everlasting life such as God the Father and Christ enjoy. And for what purpose? So we can work with God in finishing the creating of “all things”– the whole vast universe – “new” (Revelation 21:5). [See: Are We All God’s Children? and “He Marveled”.]
“New Covenant” Christians, like most evangelicals, have insisted that the New Covenant that Jesus Christ entered into with Christians does not require them to keep the laws of the Old Covenant. However, Hebrews 8:10 affirms that, under the New Covenant, God will put His laws in the people’s mind and write the same laws on their hearts. Jesus has fulfilled and will continue to fulfill His promise in Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [a soft heart]. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Jeremiah 31:33 also has God promising the same. In Hebrews 10:16 we find this promise fulfilled. How can we justifiably throw away something that God has put or written in our heart and mind?
For more on this subject, let me refer you to my previous articles on this website: Freed From Bondage, Barking up the Wrong Tree, Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries? Law Added to Law Transgressed, The Law of Christ, No Such Thing as Sin? Just What Do You Mean — Legalism? and A Great Omission in Doing the “Great Commission.”
Feazell and company also singled out the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, the Old Testament Festivals, tithing and the food law as no longer necessary and required of Christians. [See: What if the Sabbath Is Still Holy? God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers – or to Be observed? The New Testament Teaching on Giving, Did Christ Cleanse all Meats? and True Worship.]
The same group of leaders has also taken the belief in the Trinity to be “absolute truth.” I challenge anyone to read my article “The Trinity Doctrine Reconsidered” and show me where I have been flawed in my reasoning as I prove this doctrine to be rank heresy!
Another claim of this same group is that we are saved by grace alone and are not required to do good works or keep God’s “Old Covenant” laws. [See: Saved for Good Works, Being and Doing, and The Law of Christ.]
This group also dressed down HWA for teaching the despised “theory” of “British-Israelitism” in his book The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy as one of the strong pillars of the WCG’s faith. [See: God’s Kingdom and Israel and https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the above-mentioned book.]
Since Jesus had commanded His 12 apostles to go and preach the gospel to the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6), an idea about where those apostles went can give us a strong clue as to where those tribes could have settled after their Assyrian captivity. Ambassador College history professor Dr. Herman L. Hoeh discussed this in his astounding article “Where Did the Twelve Apostles Go?” [see: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Plain Truth (1934-1986),” then 1960-1969, and scroll down to the May 1964 issue, pp.7-12, 23-26].
No doubt Dr. Hoeh’s research work helped HWA in crystallizing the teaching on who and where the chief tribe of Israel are today.
The “divine healing” issue
This issue was brought up in Feazell’s book and in the video. This is an issue that boils down to the person’s perception of his own faith and God’s supreme will. God plainly reveals that He is our Healer (Psalm 103:3; Exodus 15:26). But God’s Word also reveals that not all who believe in God are healed of every disease. We have the case of the apostle Paul, who had an affliction (a ‘thorn” in his flesh that he attributed to Satan) which God did not take away for Paul’s greater good, despite Paul’s repeated faithful intreaty to God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Feazell and company have also remarked about the authoritative and persuasive way HWA preached, and decided that people who believed his teachings were simply so blind and “theologically ignorant” that they couldn’t tell the difference between truth and falsehood. I find this remark personally insulting! If this group claims to have prayed for God’s Spirit to guide them in coming to their conclusions about all of HWA’s teachings, I too prayed for God’s Spirit and guidance as I took HWA’s dare to not believe him until I had proved from the Bible that what he taught was right. This group cannot claim exclusive right to or the corner on God’s inspiration and sound, logical thinking!
I have personally witnessed the humbler side of HWA, despite his seemingly “autocratic” manner, as some accuse. I recount this in my article Two Goats Together, particularly the box captioned “Reexamining the Roots of our Beliefs.” Here I challenge the reader to overhaul his or her understanding about the “azazel” goat in God’s plan of atonement as taught by HWA, in the same way I challenge those who blindly believe in the trinity doctrine.
As this website purposes, I hope that as you read my articles God will give you eyes to see His pure truth and that you will truly be set free (John 6:32). [See: About Pool of Siloam.]
On the Day of Judgment Feazell and his company of former WCG leaders will have to give an answer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for having done as warned and prophesied by Ezekiel 23:38 –
They have defiled My sanctuary and profaned My Sabbaths.
Also Ezekiel 22:26 –
Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
And 2 Peter 2:18-19 —
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness [KJV, “lasciviousness” or lawlessness], the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
Jesus warns us that, at His return, He will reject many who profess to believe in Him as their Lord while practicing lawlessness, and tell them to depart – go away – from Him, saying, “I Never Knew You!”
Let us hope and pray that this group will see the error of their way and repent before it’s too late and their day of reckoning comes, when God will pour out His indignation and consume them with the fire of His wrath, and recompense their deeds on their own heads (Ezekiel 22:31).
And don’t you be deceived by their crafty and high-minded teachings, and save yourself from the condemnation that awaits them, unless they return to the truth.
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.