GIVING & SHARING NEWSLETTER August, 1993 No. 23
Edward Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, gives five reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire:
(1) rapid increase of divorce, with the undermining of the sanctity of the home, which is the basis of society, (2) higher and higher taxes—the spending of public moneys for bread and celebrations, (3) the mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming continually more exciting and brutal, (4) the building of gigantic armaments, when the real enemy was within—the decadence of the people, (5) the decline of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life and becoming impotent to guide it.
The Decline and Fall of the Church of God
The five reasons which led to the decline of the Roman Empire are likewise leading to the decline of America today, and some of these reasons are also evident in the decline of the Church of God.
The first reason, the destruction of the family with the rapid increase of divorce and ensuing remarriage, is not an issue in today’s Church of God. Yet, increased acceptance of divorce and remarriage is the major cause of the Church losing its spiritual power. Rome lost its moral power when the Roman family disintegrated. Likewise, the Church of God today has thrown away God’s laws of marriage. (We encourage you to write for our free articles on Divorce and Remarriage.)
The Worldwide Church of God (WWC) is, in the 1990s, on an accelerated doctrinal decline. Hundreds, if not thousands, are leaving in protest over recent doctrinal changes (born again, trinity, crosses, etc.), and are affiliating with one of the offshoot groups. These groups are not as liberal as the WWC, but not a single one of them, to our knowledge, has returned to the truth on divorce and remarriage, which the Church taught prior to the really massive doctrinal changes of 1974. So it is that many are “straining out a gnat” of doctrinal error (objecting to recent doctrinal changes), while blindly “swallowing a camel” (accepting without question past doctrinal changes, such as the 1974 divorce and Pentecost changes). See Matthew 23:24.
There is perhaps no better example of this blind sided thinking than those who have jumped from the Worldwide Church of God and other offshoot groups into the fold of Roderick C. Meredith’s Global Church of God. Let us examine the evidence. Roderick C. Meredith was one of the original WWC evangelists, and through the 1950s and 1960s was in charge of the ministers in the WWC. He left the WWC in early 1993, and was soon joined by former WWC evangelist Raymond F. McNair. Meredith at once launched an impressive cassette tape program, published well-written booklets, and promoted his “World Ahead” (with a similar name to the WWC’s “World Tomorrow” program) on radio. Many small Global Church groups sprang up in America and Europe, soon numbering thousands of members. This group has excellent prospects for future growth, as more and more ministers and members get tired of the continuing Worldwide Church of God doctrinal perversion. McNair wrote a 333-page, 1963 Ambassador College thesis, Key to Northwest European Origins, which shows the Israelitish identity of Northwestern European peoples. Now he is planning to write a lengthy Global Church article or booklet on the identity of Israel doctrine. This will counter the WWC’s current doctrinal stance of downplaying and/or discarding its former teaching on Israel identity since they canceled Herbert W. Armstrong’s most famous book, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.
Probably few who have joined Meredith’s Global Church of God have carefully examined the history and background of Roderick C. Meredith and Raymond F. McNair, or the doctrinal positions these men represent. While I appreciate much of what the Global Church of God is doing, and the fact that they are much more “conservative” than the liberal Worldwide Church of God, I have grave concerns over the character of Mr. Meredith and Mr. McNair.
This is the story, as given by the Ambassador Report (October, 1984; January, 1987; December, 1992; June 1993) and David Robinson’s book, Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web (John Hadden Publishers, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1980, pages 214, 218). Raymond F. McNair’s wife Leona was baptized by her future husband in 1954. They married in 1955. Leona was a faithful, obedient wife and devoted mother, but the McNairs later had marital problems. In 1973, when the McNairs were brought back to Pasadena from Britain, they found what I found when I was employed by the Church at the same time: doctrinal divisions, political infighting, and sex scandals. Ever loyal to Herbert Armstrong, Raymond ignored the corruption, while Leona stopped attending services in 1974 and attended lectures of Dr. Ernest Martin. The 1974 doctrinal change allowed divorce (and remarriage) for members deserted by nonmembers, based on a false teaching concerning I Corinthians 7:15. Since she had left the Church, all Raymond McNair had to do was get Leona to leave him. Raymond objected vociferously to her lack of loyalty to the WWC, and may have forced her out of the house. In June of 1975, McNair did what no WWC evangelist had ever done. McNair filed for divorce from Leona McNair, his wife of 21 years. Both Herbert W. and Garner Ted Armstrong, had urged McNair to divorce Leona. The divorce became final in September, 1976.
At the Feast of Tabernacles in 1976, Herbert Armstrong sought out McNair for the first time in years, to encourage him to remarry. Garner Ted Armstrong, Ronald Dart and others gave McNair encouragement to remarry. Not long afterward, Raymond remarried. Numerous other WWC ministers also got divorces and remarried. Herbert W. Armstrong himself married a divorcee in 1977, but later divorced her as well.
The McNair divorce case would probably have been forgotten had not Roderick C. Meredith spent five minutes attacking Leona before 1,000 WWC ministers at an early 1979 ministerial meeting in Tucson, stating Leona had cursed Raymond and deserted him. In the June 25, 1979, Pastor’s Report, Meredith described Leona as a deserter:
A classic example of this [marital desertion] would be Mr. Raymond McNair’s situation. His wife refused to be a wife to him for over two years — to sleep with him, cook for him, or even civilly communicate with him in a decent manner. Rather, she had left God’s Church and was actually FIGHTING God’s Church and Mr. McNair, turning his children against him and literally cursing him to his face. Finally, upon advice of Mr. Armstrong and Ted Armstrong, he was finally forced to make legal the already existing FACT that she had deserted him and was no longer his wife in any way whatsoever.
As a result of Meredith’s remarks, Leona McNair filed a libel and slander suit against the Worldwide Church of God and Roderick C. Meredith in 1979. She claimed that Raymond had cut off her financial support, moved into separate sleeping quarters, and on a number of occasions took her to the door and yelled at her to get out of the house. Leona’s daughter corroborated this in court testimony. In 1984, a jury unanimously awarded Leona McNair $1.26 million in compensative and punitive damages (civil trials require only a majority of nine out of twelve jurors). The presiding Judge told the jury they had renewed his faith in the jury system. The Church’s legal expense was enormous. The jury had decided that Meredith’s statements (which obviously were based on what Raymond McNair told him) were lies, and that his conduct was extreme, outrageous and intentional, causing Leona McNair severe emotional distress. The jury found that Leona McNair had not deserted her husband, it was the other way around, she had been forced out. Meredith and the Worldwide Church of God were convicted of libel and slander. Later court appeals overturned the verdict and approved a new trial. In December, 1992, the case was settled out of court for $750,000. Then, no longer needing protection under the WWC corporate legal umbrella, Meredith was free to leave and start his own church, the Global Church of God.
Do you see why I have grave concerns over the character of Mr. Meredith and Mr. McNair? Some may think that the statements and review of court proceedings in the anti-WWC Ambassador Report are not accurate. I am willing to review evidence to the contrary. I know that the practice of Church members forcing out their unbelieving or ex-member spouse, and remarrying, has happened more than once. The man who was baptized the same day as I was in Salem, Oregon, after 1974 got rid of his lovely nonmember wife and remarried “in the Church.” An in-law of mine was told by two WWC ministers that she should/could divorce her unbelieving, unfaithful (in marriage and in the faith) husband, and remarry “in the Church.”
Until then, I will be wary of the Global Church of God, because: (1) Roderick C. Meredith was found guilty by a jury of lying, libel and slander, (2) Meredith and McNair teach, falsely, that desertion is grounds for divorce and remarriage, and this is contrary to the Bible, and (3) Raymond F. McNair divorced his wife and “remarried” another, which is also contrary to the Bible. In addition, McNair was the ringleader in the 1974 Pentecost change, the one who went to Herbert W. Armstrong suggesting the Church change from a Monday Pentecost to a Sunday Pentecost.
Other ministers, likewise, have incorrect views, in my opinion, on the subjects of Divorce and Pentecost. Perhaps some of them have never really studied these major issues, and have just gone along with others. But Meredith and McNair are prominent advocates, by word and deed, of Divorce and Remarriage in the Church of God today.
Desertion as grounds for divorce with the right to remarry is simply not supported by I Corinthians 7:15. Let’s face the facts: we have all deserted the Almighty at one time or another after our initial conversion and baptism. When we have disappointed Him, God does not kick us out and join up with someone else. The Creator is longsuffering, warm and tender- hearted, and full of mercy. If we begin to stray, His love leads us back to Him. But some in the Church of God act just the opposite. They ditch their spouses, and divorce and remarry for the flimsiest of reasons, never realizing that remarriage prevents one from winning back an errant spouse, I Corinthians 7:16. How can Raymond F. McNair save his ex-wife Leona now, when he has remarried? She is currently writing a book against the doctrine of tithing. As an evangelist, Mr. McNair has a most challenging evangelistic responsibility: the saving of the wife of his youth.
The fall of the Roman Empire began with wide-open divorce. The fall of America began in the same way. And, the decline and fall of the Church of God in our day follows suit. It is a shame that some cannot see the forest for the trees. They have gotten upset over crosses, born again, and trinity teaching (which are false), but have totally ignored weightier matters such as marriage. Any Church which allows and encourages members to put away a spouse to whom they are bound, and “remarry” someone else, is heading the way of Rome.
The War of Words
A war is going on right now. It is a battle for the control of your mind. If you have been called by the Almighty, have repented and were baptized, and have His Holy Spirit, then you are the target of Satanic forces. Words are part of Satan’s arsenal.
In the secular world, “politically correct” terminology is being used to brainwash the public into accepting abortion, homosexuality, divorce, drugs, and sexual perversion (see The Wall Street Journal, page 1, May 3, 1993). The term “gay,” which now popularly refers to homosexual men, was publicly adopted by homosexual activists in the late 1960s to combat professional psychological pronouncements that homosexual men are typically sad and unhappy.
The word, “Lesbian,” has been proudly accepted by homosexual women, and comes from the Greek island of Lesbos, where the poetess Sappho wrote verses of love to other women.
Homosexuals have an agenda to make themselves more acceptable to other people. They are pushing for use of the term “sexual orientation,” rather than “sexual preference,” to convince others that homosexuality is inherited, rather than a deliberate, sinful, choice. And, on another issue, abortion advocates wish to be called “pro-choice,” rather than “pro-abortion.”
When I sneeze, others say “God bless you.” As a believer, I don’t want to profane the name of the Almighty, so I merely say “Thank you,” and I do not say “God bless you” when others sneeze. Store clerks say “Merry Christmas,” and I will ignore them, or say “Thank you,” to appreciate the kind thought, even though it is misguided. When others ask me if I like “seafood,” I reply that I enjoy fish such as salmon, halibut and sole. There is usually no need for me to tell them what I think of so-called “seafood” they wrongly eat, such as lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, etc. But when the time is right, I have no reservation in condemning the eating of unclean foods.
Churches use terms and names which have great significance. In 1978, Garner Ted Armstrong formed his Church of God, International, while in 1993, Roderick C. Meredith formed his Global Church of God, both attempts to copy their parent church’s name, Worldwide Church of God. In investment terminology, “International” means outside the United States, while “Global” means both in the United States and outside the United States. It is unlikely that Garner Ted Armstrong realized this when he named his church organization.
Be aware of the ongoing “war of words.” Let us be careful how we use words. Matthew 12:37 says, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” It is not “politically correct” to label sin for what it is. Smooth words can never justify what the Bible condemns. In the use of our words, we should strive for accuracy and precision.
God’s Mathematical Precision
Some years ago my late brother-in-law, Tom Tanner, learned to be a carpenter. He built himself a very fine home in Idaho. On a visit to Washington, he helped my father-in law build another barn for his cattle. While Tom conscientiously measured and cut the lumber to precision, my father-in-law told him just to “eyeball it.” Accustomed to doing quality work, this lack of attention to detail drove Tom crazy.
During my years in Accounting, I have frequently had to review accounting work of others. Before approving the work, I sometimes say to the Accountant, with a twinkle in my eye, “This is just barely right.” An Accounting Journal Entry must balance exactly, total debits must equal total credits. There is no excuse for anything less than 100% accuracy.
The Creator has mathematical precision. God’s Word does not “eyeball it.” Mormons are not too concerned with accuracy. Their Book of Mormon says that Jesus was born in Jerusalem, while the Bible says He was born in Bethlehem. When you confront a Mormon on this issue, he may explain this error away by stating that Bethlehem is near Jerusalem (about a dozen miles).
Many people “eyeball it” with the Bible. Jesus said He would be in the grave exactly three days and three nights (72 hours), but many think He meant less than this amount of time. Leviticus tells us to count fifty days from Wavesheaf day, then keep Pentecost. Yet many misguided people count only forty-nine days. The Law of Circumcision says to circumcise male babies when they are eight days old, but many do it soon after birth.
Bible prophecy is precise, but many false prophets devise their own prophetic timetables. Jesus began preaching exactly 69 weeks of years from the Decree of Artaxerxes (457 B.C., see Daniel 9:25, Ezra 7). His public preaching began in A.D. 27, and 69 x 7 = 483, and 483 years from 457 B.C. is A.D. 27 (remember, there is no year zero). The Two Witnesses will prophesy 1,260 days. The Millennium will last a thousand years. The Master Mathematician is precise and accurate. The Almighty never “eyeballs it,” and likewise we should be straight and true in all our dealings. Ω