Is the “Living Church of God” a Biblical Church?

lcg-1Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God from whence sprang the Living Church oflcg-governence God (LCG).  What follows is a synopsis of what LCG believes in her own words.

On LCG ‘s website their opening statement, the Official Fundamental Beliefs (OFB), proclaims:

“the Living Church of God bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible, the inspired Word of God.”

Three paragraphs later they affirm:

“the Bible is the inspired revelation from God to mankind. It is the true basis of all Church doctrine. We believe the Bible is inerrant in its original manuscripts and is the authoritative foundation for all true knowledge.

That is a solid statement–right? Hold on there is more.

Under the section Who and What is God, LCG posits:

The Father and the Son comprise the “Godhead.” There is one God. Scripture shows that God is a divine Family which began with two [italics mine], God the Father and the Word.

This is an egregious assertion against the true Godhead.  First the True God of the Bible had no beginning! Second the Bible clearly teaches that the Godhead is made up of three persons, not two.  It is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Indeed there are so many nuances where LCG distorts scripture it would take a book to catalogue them all.

LCG continues by further redefining God and the Son:

The Father is the Supreme Being in the Godhead.

Matthew 28:19 plainly portrays the Triune God of the Bible.  Also in Mark 1:9-11 the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all are present at Jesus’ “baptismal anointing.”

However the previously ignored Holy Spirit is then thrown back into the mix–sort of.

“God is Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the very essence, the mind, life and power of God. It is not a Being. The Spirit is inherent in the Father and the Son, and emanates from Them throughout the entire universe.”

While it is true God is spirit, the Holy Spirit is not the essence, the mind, life and power of God.  The Holy Spirit is an equal person of the trinity with the Father and the Son.

This graphic illustrates the biblically correct relationship of the Trinity:

the-trinity

The triangle is God; the Godhead.  Each Person of the Godhead is God, but not a part of any of the other Persons.  Yet all are one in unity as expressed by the Shema.

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Deut. 6:4; see also James 2:19).

The LCG concept of salvation is also very muddled:

 “Salvation is God’s gift by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Upon repentance and baptism, God justifies us from our past sins. We then begin an ongoing process of “being saved” as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Our salvation will be complete at the resurrection. In observing the biblical Festivals and Sabbaths, we come to understand more deeply God’s plan of salvation, and the steps toward salvation that we take as Christians [italics mine].

Clearly the LCG believes there are steps to salvation.

The first statement “Salvation is God’s gift by grace through faith in Jesus Christ” is scripturally sound.  It goes downhill quickly from there–stay tuned.

“A vital step toward salvation is repentance” so states LCG’s OFB.  Then after “God calls us and brings us to repentance and we accept Christ . . . the next vital step is . . . is water baptism” (OFB).

LCG multiplies on all this by then positing that “salvation is [also] the result of the application of both God’s “law” and His “grace.”  So now we must obey the Mosaic Law to be saved?  All of this is works salvation.

Baptism is not a requirement to be saved.  Remember the promise Jesus made that the thief on the the cross next to him would be with Jesus that day in paradise (Luke 23:42-43).  There is also no “ongoing process of being saved.”  Our salvation is complete when we truly put our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—period!

As we saw the LCG statement above declares “salvation will be complete at the resurrection.  They don’t mean Jesus’ resurrection; rather our resurrection.

Whew!  Finally you’re saved . . . maybe.

Or not.  Rats!

Reading deeper into LCG’s OFB we discover that “Ultimate salvation for mankind comes at glorification in His Kingdom.”

As we continue to explore the OFB, it tells us that “God’s basic spiritual law is summed up in the “Ten Commandments.”  Jesus “followers . . . must obey both the letter and the “spirit” [of the law].

What happened to grace?  Now we are back under the Law?  There is certainly nothing wrong with obeying the Ten Commandments, but Christians are now under the blood of Jesus Christ.  It is His death and resurrection that paid the price for our sins, not following the spirit and letter of the Ten Commandments.

So what happens to those who die and are not saved according to LCG dogma?

The first death is the death of the body.  However in opposition to conservative biblical doctrine which teaches there is a hell and a man’s or woman’s spirit consciously exist there (Luke 16:22-24)[i], LCG teaches “total annihilation.”  As is to emphasis this the next sentence states “The second death is, in fact, total extinction . . .”

As we observe the scriptures above plainly illustrate that man is conscious eternally after death and not annihilated.  This is reiterated in v. 28 as the rich man pleads for someone to warn his five brothers.

In conclusion we will look at the Living Church of God’s distorted idea of biblical church polity.

They believe their god duo is at the top of the hierarchy.  They govern over subjects in this order  “[1] apostles, [2] prophets, [3] evangelists, [4] pastors and [5] teachers.” Again this is a total misunderstanding of scripture.  There is no such hierarchy in Scripture.  The only apostles were those named disciples that witnessed Christ crucified and Paul (Matt. 10:2-4) and they are the foundation laid by Christ for His Church.  There are no apostles after them.

So what we discover in all this is an astoundingly total lack of comprehension of the Holy Scriptures and who God is and what His attributes are.

Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive study of LCG’s misguided doctrines; rather my purpose here is to demonstrate its massive failure to interpret Bible taught doctrine correctly.

A cult is any group, claiming to be Christian, who departs from any of the major doctrines; i.e. the Trinity, Jesus crucified, Jesus as God, etc.  The Living Church of God falls into that category.


[i] Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’

 

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