Should We "Blindly" Obey Ministers?


Should we "OBEY THEM that have the rule over" us (Heb. 13:17), or "OBEY GOD rather than men" (Acts 5:29)? Do ministers have a right to "BIND and LOOSE" (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23) or don't they (Matt. 23:8)? We see many churches organized in a hierarchical, pyramid structure, telling their congregations to OBEY the minister. What kind of authority do ministers possess? Are they really our MASTERS? Our Lord said, "Neither be ye called MASTERS: for one is your MASTER, even Christ" (Matt. 23:10), "and all ye are brethren" (Matt. 23:8). "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24).


Korah's Gainsaying: "Thou Make Thyself Altogether A Prince Over Us"

Numbers 16:2-4 states, "And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves ABOVE the congregation of the Lord? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face." Then in verse 10 Moses reveals that these men sought the priesthood, an office which God hadn't given them. Then some of these men, in verses 13 and 14 said to Moses: "Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except THOU MAKE THYSELF ALTOGETHER A PRINCE OVER US? Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up." Then in verses 31 through 35, God destroys these men.

Jude 11 condemns the "gainsaying of Korah. What was that? They rebelled by intruding into the priestly office which no man should take to himself (Heb. 5:4). They were not son's of Aaron. Further, when Korah, Dathan and Abiram rebelled against Moses, they were rebelling against the ONLY SOURCE of REVELATION from God at that time. Moses was in place of a Bible. There were no Bibles. The Israelite "blind obedience" was justified because Moses' ministerial credentials were confirmed through continual MIRACLES. Moses taught the people God's ways and laws. Without him, they had no source of revealed knowledge. Moses was a TYPE of Christ: "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken" (Deut. 18:15).

Yes, today, Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 12:24; 1 Tim. 2:5). Today we must not rebel against Christ who reveals God's will to us through the pages of the Bible just as Moses revealed God's law to ancient Israel. Christ is the "Prince over us" just as Moses was "a prince" over them. Our "blind obedience" is directed toward Christ, "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7) and without sight, a person is truly walking blindly with only the Scriptures as a lamp for his feet and a light for his path. Even in the Old Testament, it was not uncommon for God to contrast doing "that which is right in your own eyes" with "that which is right in the sight of the Eternal." This also is "blind obedience" -- not to a man but to the Eternal, same as the New Testament. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and doesn't change (Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6).

Are We Disobeying God When We Disobey a Minister?

When the Israelites refused to hearken to God’s servant Samuel, God said, "they have not (only) rejected thee, but they have (also) rejected ME, that I should not reign over them” (I Sam. 8:7). Do we reject God himself when we reject a minister's teaching? Is disrespecting a minister tantamount to disrespecting God Himself? That is the argument some ministers use to justify their ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY. To fully understand this account, we need to read it thoroughly. The Israelites wanted a HUMAN KING (1 Sam. 8:19) rather than GOD speaking through his servant. This would be equivalent to wanting to follow a HUMAN RULER rather than allowing the BIBLE to be preached in churches today. Samuel was a faithful minister of God, teaching God's commandments. Therefore, it is really the BIBLE that the people rejected in favor of a HUMAN RULER in the "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). Jesus Christ is the living head of the true church (Col. 1:18) -- not any MAN. Christians are able to talk to him DIRECTLY in prayer and listen to him DIRECTLY through Scripture. Any interference in that relationship is IDOLATRY. But the people in Samuel's day rejected that DIRECT relationship and wanted to put a HUMAN KING in between God and them. Samuel warned them that the HUMAN KING would take their money, their land, and their sons and daughters -- just as many HUMAN church LEADERS today try to put themselves between us and our Bibles; and also take our money. This Scripture teaches us just the OPPOSITE of what an AUTOCRAT would have us believe.

God wouldn't have condemned them for simply asking for the removal of Samuel's evil sons. It was not a rejection of corrupt human leadership that was perceived as rebellion against God. It was REJECTION OF GOD himself. They said, "we will have a (human) KING over us" (1 Sam. 8:19) -- when God was already their king.

"We Ought to Obey God Rather Than Men" (Acts 5:29)

Both the Old and New Testaments teach the PYRAMIDAL form of government (Ex. 18:21-22; Eph. 2:19-22). But notice that God and Christ our Lord are at the TOP -- not men.  Instead of voting, God gave apostolic commissions (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; 1 Tim. 2:7). The apostles were not voted in. They were "not of men, nor by man" (Gal. 1:1). God chose the king (Deut.17:15) and lesser men were appointed (Deut. 1:13; Acts 1:23; 6:3-6). Leaders were APPOINTED by those over them (Acts 6:3; Titus 1:5), rather than VOTING. Once "they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:24–26). Deliberate selection and prayer played their parts in this APPOINTMENT as well as the lot. The lot was a sacred institution in ancient Israel and was a well established means for ascertaining the DIVINE WILL (cf. Pr. 16:33), being in fact the principle of decision by Urim and Thummim. This is the first and last occasion of the employment of the lot during the period between the ascension and Pentecost; Jesus had gone, and the Holy Spirit had not yet come.”

Paul said, "Let the elders that RULE well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine" (1 Tim. 5:17). Also "one that RULETH well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity, for if a man know not how to RULE his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?" (1 Tim. 3:4). And "he that RULETH, (should do so) with diligence" (Rom. 12:8). Paul advises "that ye SUBMIT yourselves unto such" (1 Cor. 16:15-16) and again "OBEY them that have the rule over you, and SUBMIT yourselves" (Heb. 13:17). A minister has authority. Notice, "shall I come unto you with a ROD, or in love"? (1 Cor. 4:21) And "put away (DISFELLOWSHIP) from among yourselves that wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13). "I write this ... that when I come I may not have to BE SEVERE in my use of the AUTHORITY which the Lord has given me" (2 Cor. 13:10; cp. 2 Cor. 8:10). An apostle is "one sent forth" with Christ's gospel message, including the supervision of proclaiming that message to the world by means and persons other than himself. Also an apostle was given supervision over all the local congregations or churches (1 Cor. 16:1). The apostle Paul had oversight over the churches of the Gentile world (2 Cor. 11:28). In Acts 15:7 there was first much "DISPUTING" (or discussion) and then Peter stood up and pointed to the will of God in the matter. Then James, pastor of the HQ church, made the decision official and BINDING on earth, as Peter had made plain it was in HEAVEN. God "hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers" (1 Cor. 12:28). Or, as stated in more detail in Ephesians 4:11 (RSV): "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers."

GOD’S FORM OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT: The Father is supreme in authority, and His Son Jesus Christ is under Him in rank and authority (John 14:28). The “head [leader] of Christ is God [the Father]” (1 Corinthians 11:3), and “Christ is the Head of the Church” (Ephesians 5:23). God governs with love, and continues this pattern throughout His Church. Under the Father and under His Son, Jesus Christ, are “[1] apostles, [2] prophets, [3] evangelists, [4] pastors and [5] teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). God’s way of governing has always been government from the top down (Exodus 18:21–26; Eph. 2:19-22). But none of the human levels should BLOCK lower levels from DIRECT AND CONTINUOUS OBEDIENCE to God at the top. None of the human levels should TAKE THE PLACE OF God, or it is IDOLATRY. Idols must be SMASHED and BROKEN. This is the MISTAKE that all the COG churches make. They force the Bible follower into a CHAIN-OF-COMMAND structure as though God's word had to be FILTERED through them. They TAKE THE PLACE OF THE BIBLE.

We should ”OBEY them that have the rule" (Heb. 13:17) over us ONLY to the extent that they are WITHIN Scriptural guidelines. When they step outside those boundaries, "We ought to OBEY God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) when the two disagree. God is the TOP of the PYRAMID. When Christians join a church group as laymen, they must receive "the word with all readiness of mind", and search "the scriptures daily, whether those things" are so (Acts 17:11) that come from the pulpit. "Prove all things" (1 Th. 5:21). “In (the) multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" (1 Cor. 12:28). Listen to them all -- and compare them with the Bible. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even AS I also am of Christ." No more, no less.

Herbert Armstrong wrote,"I have said through the years, over the air and in print and before audiences, 'Don't believe me because I say it -- look in your own Bible and believe what you find there!' But I DO NOT -- or at least, SHOULD NOT HAVE ever said that to our own brethren! ... To the unconverted Thessalonians, the Bereans were complimented for checking up on Paul's preaching (Acts 17:11). But none should be accepted IN THE CHURCH until that person either has come to KNOW and accept and believe Christ's true doctrine, OR has repented SO THOROUGHLY, CONQUERED BY GOD and with an attitude of a little child, so that the minister doing the baptising feels sure he or she will accept and believe fully Christ's true doctrines in His Church." (April, 1979, Good News, p. 24). This is BLIND OBEDIENCE IDOLATRY. This is mealy-mouthed, bait-and-switch, luring of students to Pasadena under false pretenses. After moving to Pasadena, paying tuition, and starting to take classes, about six months in, students are "rudely awakened" by the Dean of Students with a five-hour lecture telling them the "truth." In 1953, Herman Hoeh stated that "'PRIVATE INTERPRETATION' leads to division." But is division always a bad thing? He was condemning those members who had chosen to celebrate Pentecost on SUNDAY (Does God Have A Headquarters Church Today?, Good News, Oct. 1953, p.6). It was not until 1974 that the WCG as a whole began observing Pentecost on the correct day (SUNDAY). It had been kept on the wrong day for 40 years. But scattered individuals saw the truth long before and chose to obey the BIBLE rather than men (Acts 4:19). "Pentecost always falls on the day after the Sabbath" (Mishna, Chagigah 2,4). “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” -Upton Sinclair. "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). Furthermore, it was not till 1976 that the church as a whole understood the correct meaning of "Porneia" in the Divorce and Remarriage teaching. It had been misunderstood for over 40 years. But scattered individuals understood the truth long before and chose to obey the BIBLE rather than men (Acts 4:19; 5:29). The BIBLE is intended for laymen as much as for the minister. The BIBLE is the chief cornerstone -- the capstone -- of the pyramid hierarchy of "church government."

Obey "in the Lord"

"Children, obey your parents IN THE LORD: for this is right" (Eph. 6:1). "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit IN THE LORD" (Col. 3:18). "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you IN THE LORD, and admonish you" (1 Th. 5:12). What does "in the Lord" mean? It means as long as they teach what the Bible says. If they deviate from Scripture, we should "obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) when the two disagree. Notice yet another place: Paul urged two Christian men to "be of the same mind IN THE LORD" (Phil. 4:2).

What Is Moses' Seat?

Moses was a judge (Ex. 18:13-16). In Exodus 18:16 we find that Moses merely made "them know the statutes of God, and his laws." Bibles today serve the same purpose. After he died, Joshua and other judges successively took Moses' place. They sat in Moses' seat, so to speak. It was governmental authority. Turn to Deuteronomy 17:8-12 for a definition of Moses' seat.

Deuteronomy 17:8-12 states, "If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment ("if" implies its voluntary), between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire (not a minister searching out or spying on the congregation); and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel."

Obeying this Scripture would be equivalent to obeying the legal justice system with police and courts and judges. They carry not the sword in vain. It has nothing to do with churches and ministers.

Matthew 23:1-4 states, "Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that OBSERVE and DO; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." Does this Scripture advocate "blind obedience"? No. It doesn't even address the church. It is referring to the legal code of the nation. The scribes copied the Scriptures and the Pharisees read them in the synagogues. Otherwise Christ contradicted himself since he makes it clear five verses later that the scribes and Pharisees are not masters over Christians. Christ is our only master (23:8). The Scriptures (Old Testament), even at this late date, were not readily available to the common man. The only way to learn God's will was by attending the Synagogue for the Torah reading.

What Do Peter's KEYS Represent?

Christ stated, "I will give unto thee (Peter) the KEYS of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:19). What do these KEYS represent? In Luke 11:52, Christ interprets what the KEYS of the kingdom of heaven are. He says, "Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the KEY of KNOWLEDGE; ye entered not in (to the kingdom of heaven) yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." The KEYS given to Peter were KEYS of KNOWLEDGE. The KEYS which open the doors into the Kingdom of Heaven are nothing more than an UNDERSTANDING of what God requires of Christians. A knowledge of the true doctrines like the Sabbath, Holy Days, and Tithing. Christ gave Peter KNOWLEDGE, but also warned him not to bind (require) or loose (not require) what was not already bound or loosed in heaven. Otherwise Peter would be taking "away the KEY of KNOWLEDGE" like the lawyers and binding "heavy burdens" like the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:4).

We should not be afraid of any human leader of the church. Revelation 1:18 shows clearly that it is Christ who holds the KEYS of hades and death, not Peter. If a Christian, for conscience' sake, decides to disobey Peter, the penalty cannot be eternal death. Christ's words are life (John 6:63), not Peter's. False human dogmas are not bound in heaven. All should speak the same thing from the pulpit (1 Cor. 1:10), because God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). But at the same time there should be enough freedom in the church congregation to allow everyone to follow the dictates of his own conscience, using Scriptures as his guide (Rom. 14). God gave everyone a mind to think with and free moral agency to use. Freedom of speech is not a bad thing in the fellowship of a congregation. Disunity there and lively debate there is stimulating and often informative.

"Binding and Loosing"

The New American Standard Bible does a good job translating Matthew 16:19 and 18:18. “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN loosed in heaven" (NASB, Matt. 18:18). The Greek text in the phrase that most versions translate as, “will be bound in heaven” does not have a simple future tense, as “will be” implies, and the verb “bind” is passive in the Greek text, so “shall have been bound” or “must have been bound” are good translations of the Greek. [The “to be” verb in Matthew 18:18 is a future passive periphrastic perfect indicative. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1930), p. 149.].

The Amplified Bible says, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth MUST BE WHAT IS ALREADY BOUND in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth MUST BE WHAT IS ALREADY LOOSED in heaven" (Matt. 16:19).

An excellent translation of Matthew 18:18 was done by Charles Williams. "I solemnly say to you, whatever you forbid on earth must BE ALREADY FORBIDDEN in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth must BE ALREADY PERMITTED in heaven.” (Williams', Matt. 18:18). Julius R. Mantey, the Greek grammarian and scholar who co-authored A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, wrote that Williams’ translation did a better job of translating the Greek verb into English than any other New Testament he had studied, and he gave Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 as examples of verses that Williams translated very well.

Once Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 are properly translated, we have clear teaching on how to act before God. It is not that we bind or loose and then God backs up what we do. It is God who first binds or looses in heaven, and then WE FOLLOW HIS LEADING and do the same on earth. God’s ministers do not make commands that God must approve and follow. Rather, God’s ministers must become aware of what God wants done, and then follow His lead. These are the KEYS he shows us. Jesus himself worked that way, as Scripture makes clear: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19). "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me" (John 5:30). "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me" (John 8:28). Jesus’ disciples, like Jesus himself, are to follow God’s leading, as the correct translation of Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 makes clear. Then binding and loosing is repeated by Jesus to all the disciples (18:18). Later after the Resurrection Christ uses similar language to all the disciples (John 20:23), but what was he referring to? John 20:23 says, "Whose soever SINS ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [SINS] ye retain, they are retained." Does this teach a confessional? No. Does this teach a special priestly power? No. "With what judgment you judge, you shall be judged" (Matt. 7:2) -- by Heaven. Only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:7). The formula is "Repent, and be baptized ... in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).

Circular reasoning is used to convince listeners to follow the minister into error. Notice: "Since we have the TRUTH, we must be the TRUE CHURCH. Therefore, since we are the TRUE CHURCH, we have the right to bind and loose doctrinal truth any way we want -- even making it a LIE." But if the minister teaches a LIE, doesn't he DISQUALIFY the church from being the TRUE CHURCH? How then can such a church claim the right to bind and loose? "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24).

Is Peter A Title Of Rank?

Yet some people would have you believe that Peter was given absolute authority over the church in matters of doctrine.

The priest who explained the Babylonian Mystery religion to initiated followers was called, in primitive Chaldee, "Peter", which means "an interpreter or revealer of secrets". In Hebrew the name means "opener". In Greek, the priest was called a "Hierophant."

Did Jesus Christ, who may have been aware of these facts, then decide to imitate paganism by naming his apostle to the circumcision "Peter"? Is "Peter" a name or a religious title of rank? Was Peter given authority to interpret the Bible for the church?

In Job 32:21-22, Elihu knew the answer. He said, "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give FLATTERING TITLES unto man. For I know not how to give FLATTERING TITLES; in so doing my maker would soon take me away."

In Matthew 16:18, Christ stated, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Greek "STONE". Petros has a masculine ending.), and upon this ROCK (Greek "massive rock". Petra has a feminine ending.) I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Next, John 1:42 states, "And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, A STONE." (in Aramaic).

The Bible interprets itself. Peter's two nicknames, the one in Greek (Petros) and the other in Aramaic (Cephas), both mean "STONE". In fact, according to Peter's own writings, all Christians are living STONES (1 Pet. 2:5).

Peter is a name, not a title. God merely changed Simon's name to Peter, just as he had changed Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, and Saul to Paul. Names have meaning. But who is the massive ROCK or Petra? What does the Bible say? 1 Corinthians 10:4 states, "that ROCK (Petra) was Christ." Psalm 94:22 states, "the Eternal is my defense; and my God is the ROCK of my refuge." Deuteronomy 32:4 states, "He is the ROCK ... a God of truth." Clearly, Christ is the Petra. It is not Peter's church that Christ built, but Christ said, " I will build my church."

Who Were the Nikolaitans?

Revelation 2:6,15 says, "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.... thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam ... So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate." What were the deeds and doctrine of the Nikolaitans? The Greek actually means Niko (conquer) Laos or laity (the people). Nikolaitans were rulers over the laity, forcing everyone to submit to the arbitrary dominion of men, rather than each following his Bible. Nimrod (Heb. "marad" -- to rebel) "changed the government into tyranny -- seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power" (Ant. 1:4:2). He conquered the people. He took God's place as Melek (Heb. "king") by becoming Molech (1 Ki. 11:7). This "mighty hunter against the Lord" (Gen. 10:9) had a Mesopotamian successor known as Balaam -- meaning "Conqueror of the People" in Semitic tongues (whose residence was St. Peter's of Mesopotamia -- Nu. 22:5); or in Greek a Nicolas -- a Conqueror (nikos) of the People (laos). McClintock and Strong's Encyclopedia says: “The sect of the Nicolaitanes is described as following the doctrine or teaching of Balaam -- and it appears not improbable that this name is employed symbolically, as NICOLAUS is equivalent in meaning to BALAAM” (vol. 1, p. 621). Yes, the two names NICOLAUS and BALAAM are exactly the same in meaning --they both point to NIMROD, the originator of paganism. His followers, called Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:15), worshipped this Saint Nicolas or Santa Claus in place of God. They taught that it was "cowardice to submit to God" (Ant. 1:4:2) -- a doctrine God hates (Rev. 2:15). But Christians are warned against "being lords over God's heritage" (1 Pet. 5:3). Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18) -- not men.

"One of the most common forms of modern IDOLATRY is the making of an idol out of one’s church. If you BLINDLY OBEY the dictates of your family, your church or society instead of the direct commands of God, you are guilty of IDOLATRY. That group or institution becomes an IDOL to you in place of the true God!...You must study God’s Word -- willingly be corrected by it -- and TREMBLE before its authority over your very life!" (Meredith RC. Second Commandment. Plain Truth, March 1960, p. 27).

Church Government -- the "Image of the Beast" -- Originated in Babylon

The religion of ancient Babylon had a purpose. That purpose was "to bind all mankind into BLIND and absolute SUBMISSION to a HIERARCHY" (p.7, Hislop's Two Babylons). Long after ancient Babylon had been conquered, we read about another "Mystery Babylon" portrayed as a woman (Rev. 17:4-5). We know that a woman represents a CHURCH (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-27). But she is a HARLOT -- an immoral woman -- ruling over many nations (Rev.17:1,15). She sits on, or controls, the Roman Empire. (17:3). She is "that great city, which REIGNETH over the kings of the earth" (17:18) -- Rome. She makes the world "drunk" (17:2). How? By "OBEYING your confessor you obey God" (p.554, The Spouse of Christ). When a person enters the Catholic Church, "he has no further use for his REASON. He enters the Church, an edifice illuminated by the superior light of revelation and faith. He can LEAVE REASON like a lantern, at the door." (p.76, Explanation of Catholic Morals). "Finally, far from claiming, like Protestants, that everyone has the RIGHT to determine the meaning of Scripture, far from declaring every man the JUDGE and ARBITER of his belief, we say that it belongs to the Church, assisted by the Holy Spirit ... to determine the meaning of the sacred text" (pp. 354-355, Catholic Apologetics).

Ancient Babylon took the sacred vessels used in God's temple to worship Him, and poured wine in them to toast and worship FALSE GODS, which resulted in DRUNK IDOL-WORSHIPPERS (Dan. 5:1-5). In the same way, the "image of the beast" (Rev. 13:15) -- the Roman Catholic Church -- took the Holy Scriptures and used them to justify IDOLATRY which resulted in deceived "Christianity". Roman Emperor Constantine summoned the Nicene Council, which decided against Arius' anti-trinitarian doctrine, and enforced trinitarianism and Sunday-keeping. It was Constantine who introduced into the (false) church the idea of a committee or HIERARCHY to decide doctrine. Constantine made his decisions on doctrine, as decided by church rulers on a board, the basis of FELLOWSHIP and UNITY in the Church. The first real Popish ruler was Leo I (440-461 A.D.), for whom "the plan of GOVERNMENT of the Roman Empire was an obsession. He applied and adapted that form of GOVERNMENT to the church, forming the Papacy," (Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 7, p. 529). Myers' Ancient History says that the Church, under Leo I, set up "within the Roman Empire, an ecclesiastical state [government] which, in its constitution and its administrative system, was shaping itself upon the imperial model." The Pope was WORSHIPPED and BLINDLY OBEYED just like the Emperor of Rome had been.

The true church began at Mt. Sinai -- called "the church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). Christ was her GOVERNMENT HEAD and leader (1 Cor. 10; Heb. 13:8; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16; John 5:37). But Israel wanted a HUMAN KING -- "Give us a king to judge us" (1 Sam. 8:6). Although Christ had married Israel, she rejected Him as King, and was divorced (Jer. 3:8). Christ became "Persona non Grata." The punishment for disobedience was "they that HATE you shall REIGN OVER you" (Lev. 26:14-28). Christ had warned them, the "gentiles exercise LORDSHIP over them ... it shall not be so among you" (Mark 10:42). Christ did not establish this kind of church government. When asked, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6), Christ did not establish it. Therefore, instead of Christ as King, with an apostle UNDER AUTHORITY sent to HEAL and PREACH TRUTH, the church has suffered under FALSE APOSTLES and LIARS (2 Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2) who TAKE AUTHORITY NOT THEIRS and don't heal. From 1953, when articles on "Church Government" began to appear in the Good News, till HWA's death in 1986, we see OPPRESSIVE CHURCH GOVERNMENT being imposed on unsuspecting Christians.

Christians who are IN such an organized church government, SUBMITTING to doctrines as a fellowship test, are IN BABYLON, and actually worship THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST -- no matter how true their doctrines are. God is calling us OUT of BABYLON today. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4). The ekklesia (church) is "called out ones." Obey your Bible instead of men. The first HUMAN kingdom and government OVER MEN was set up by Nimrod in ancient BABYLON (Genesis 10). All HUMAN DICTATORSHIPS have been based on that original TYRANNY. The New Testament Church is a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM -- not any one organization. "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To HIS OWN MASTER he standeth or falleth" (Rom. 14:4). Paul mentioned that, "I greatly desired him (Apollos) to come unto you, with the brethren, but HIS WILL was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have a convenient time" (1 Cor. 16:12). Does that sound like HIERARCHICAL OBEDIENCE? Certainly not. In fact, "the CONTENTION was so sharp between them (Paul and Barnabas) that they departed asunder one from the other" (Acts 15:39). Yet neither disfellowshipped the other. When John tried to prevent someone from casting out demons, because he was not following the disciples, Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us." Separate individuals can coexist -- without taking orders from your group! The CHURCH of God will, in the future, become the KINGDOM of God. But Christ will be the King, and the MARRIAGE will not be made with any one organization! It is INDIVIDUAL SAINTS -- not some HUMAN organization -- which shall possess the government, and rule (Dan 7:18; Rev. 2:20-27; 3:21, etc.). We must stop speaking of some organization as "the Only True Church." Differences of opinion can and do always exist among brethren. Our heavenly Father never planted any HUMAN DICTATORSHIP, or established any church HIERARCHY GOVERNMENT, or set MAN IN AUTHORITY over either spiritual or financial affairs of Christians, in the New Testament Church. The saints, so far as they know one another, are not to forsake assembling together for their mutual edification. But the BIBLE is always the WATCHDOG against WOLVES in sheep's clothing. It is the only DICTATORSHIP in a Christian's life.

Church government is "the image of the beast" (Rev. 13:15). It appears as a LAMB (John 1:29; Rev. 17:14), but speaks as a DRAGON (Rev. 12:9; 20:2) -- for "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34). The "fruits" of this way of life are not good -- even in churches that have otherwise many true doctrines. Members are commanded, "DON'T DISCUSS THE BIBLE with any other member unless there is a minister present." Also "FEW of the brethren or ministers seriously STUDY THEIR BIBLES" any more. (Why We Left the Worldwide Church of God Organization, 1977, Church of God the Eternal, p.4). They lose interest. The Bible is not studied or talked about. It is cast aside -- REJECTED -- in favor of the worship of a man. God our Father is rejected for a human "papa" who exalts himself above all that is called God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). Freshman students are made to sign a contract forfeiting all their rights in exchange for being a student. Once that is done, ministers take it as a LICENSE to verbally abuse and defraud and deny classes to everyone. They provoke the students and taunt them that they "signed away their rights." "Students are warned about the dangers of using their own minds" (pp. 172-173, The Armstrong Empire, 1974). The human MIND is portrayed as CARNAL (Rom. 8:7) and THINKING as "a way which seemeth right ... but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH" (Pr. 14:12). That is why members are told to let the ministers interpret the Bible for them. "In my case, when I began to study the Bible for myself and ask some questions of my own, they told me, 'You act like you know more than the apostle, Mr. Armstrong.' I replied, 'No, but your own minister held up a Bible and said, 'Get back to the horse's mouth.' That's what I'm doing.' They said, 'True. But you are not to study doctrine. You read the pamphlets and we'll take care of the doctrine part of it ourselves'" (Armstrongism, Sumner, p.419). When a member obeys what the Bible says rather than what the minister says, ministers ask him, "Do you think you know more than the minister?" This mis-characterizes the situation. The proper question should be "Who should a Christian obey -- his minister or his Bible?" The answer is clearly "The Bible." Church Government has been portrayed as "a fly in the ointment" that has contaminated what might otherwise have been a wonderful foundation of knowledge. Arrogant ministers, congregations afraid to speak about the Bible, and verbal persecution of Christians are all evil fruits of this doctrine. Balak (HWA) said to Balaam (his ministry), "Criticize the members till they obey me." But Balaam replied, "How can I criticize what the Bible agrees with?" -- and he blessed the congregation for obeying the Bible.

Come out of "Blind-Obedience Idolatry" Babylon (Rev. 18:4) -- Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God

There are no human mediators between God and men. God gives his orders directly to each individual via the Bible. Ministers should try to assist that process -- as their very name suggests -- rather than "being lords over God's heritage" (1 Pet. 5:3). No minister has "dominion over your faith" (2 Cor. 1:24). That would be idolatry. You aren't "another man's servant" (Rom. 14:4) or it would be "blind obedience." "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man (any human), in whom there is no help" (Ps. 146:3) "Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard" (Jer. 12:10). "His ye are whom ye obey" (Rom. 6:16). "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom. 3:4). “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his ARM, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5) "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). "In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Mark 7:7). "Paul an apostle -- not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father" (Gal. 1:1). "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me" (Hos. 4:6). "He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the WORD that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day" (not what men have said) (John 12:48). It makes a ship-wreck of Christian lives when they forfeit their will and thinking ability to a hierarchy of idolaters. "Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins" (Rev. 18:4). "For you gladly bear with fools ... For you bear it if a man orders you around (TEV), puts on airs (NIV) (of superiority), spends your money (Phi), or makes slaves of you" (2 Cor. 11:19-20). When a minister in the WCG was asked by a student about this last Scripture, he tried to dodge the issue by saying it WASN'T TALKING ABOUT MINISTERS. But the student then asked, "What is your definition of a minister?" The minister replied, "Someone who obeys Church Government." The student then responded, "Church Government is the perfect description of what this verse IS TALKING ABOUT."

Who Is the "WATCHDOG" Responsible for Warning Both the Innocent and Guilty?

Members have been told: "In God's Kingdom and His Church, government is from the top down. It is not -- at any time -- a matter of the PEOPLE who are to be ruled DECIDING WHO IS QUALIFIED to rule over them and HOW their rulers shall rule over them! ... That is His (Christ's) job -- not the job of the lay-members. Their job is to find where God's true Church really is ... and to humbly and sincerely SUBMIT THEMSELVES to follow, learn from and be corrected by God's ministers ... We are not all eyes, or ears, or noses, or mouths! Neither are we all HEADS! ... (Are we blind, deaf and dumb then? -- comment mine) God's people must quickly and gladly YIELD THEMSELVES to the decisions Christ reveals through His Headquarters Work! ... Naturally, each individual member of the Church CANNOT BE FREE to come up with his or her INDIVIDUAL 'idea' on every phase and facet of Christian living (no free moral agency? -- comment mine) ... we could never have the 'UNITY of the spirit' or be of the 'ONE MIND' which Christ intends unless we allow Him to direct us ... through his Headquarters Church today! ... When an article in this magazine ... comes your way, realize that it is the Living Christ speaking to you through His Headquarters on earth ... in Pasadena.... Learn to be OBEDIENT and RESPONSIVE -- quickly and gladly -- to His Government in His Church so that you may be there in His Kingdom to come!" (How Church Government Really WORKS by Roderick Meredith, March 1964 Good News). This is unquestioning, blind obedience idolatry!

Members have been told that "God backs him up, even if he is wrong" and to "just TRUST God to lead His Church" or "It's NOT YOUR JOB to second-guess the ministry" or "If he is doing wrong, it is up to God who will remove him. Just pay and pray." Are Christians supposed to HELPLESSLY DO NOTHING in the face of continual ABUSE and blatant PERSECUTION, SLANDER and INIQUITY?

First of all, each member of the church is a "STEWARD" of his own tithes and offerings. He is RESPONSIBLE to make sure it is given to a legitimate Bible-teaching ministry. Don't strengthen the hands of evildoers (Jer. 23:14). If a man has repeatedly shown that he is a FALSE PROPHET by prophecies that have not come to pass (Deut. 18:20-21), don't support him. (1975 in Prophecy, "Mussolini Will Fight Christ", "NO American astronaut will return from the Moon ALIVE!", "Britain will be conquered by Nazis", Etc.) HWA's prophecies have FAILED. If a man has repeatedly taught FALSE DOCTRINE, don't support him (Monday Pentecost, Fraud-only Divorce & Remarriage, Church Government Idolatry, Calculated Calendar). One student mentioned that the WCG follows calculated rather than visual calendar when visual came first. Following the molad rather than the crescent can make the festivals fall one day too early. If we use the visual sunset to determine when a day begins, why not a visual crescent to determine when the month begins and a visual equinox to determine the new year? Postponement rules also cause the holy days to be inaccurate. Furthermore, if an organization is IMMORAL, don't support it (Garner Ted Armstrong's ADULTERY with over 200 female A.C. students, prostitutes, babysitters, etc. Herbert Armstrong himself committed INCEST with his daughter Dorothy for ten years. An elder must be "blameless" -- Titus 1:6). Isaiah 58:1 says, "show my people their transgression" and Ezekiel 33 says, "blow the trumpet" or their blood will be on your head and Proverbs 26:5 says, "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes." Leviticus 19:17 says, "Rebuke thy neighbor, lest you bear sin for him" and Matthew 18:15 says, "Tell him his fault." If none of that works, then "flee Babylon" (Rev. 18:4) and take your money with you. Each Christian member is a "WATCHDOG."

They are slaves who fear to speak,
Won't offend because they're weak
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing and abuse
Rather in silence they shrink
From the truth they know and think
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.
"Rough are the ways of justice as the sea,
Dragged to and fro by men's corrupt decree:
Bribe-pampered men! whose hands perverting draw
The right aside, and warp the wrested law."
-- Hesiod Oper. et dies 218

"With Force and With Cruelty Have Ye Ruled Them"

"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye KILL them that are fed: but ye FEED NOT the flock. The diseased have ye NOT STRENGTHENED, neither have ye HEALED that which was sick, neither have ye BOUND UP that which was broken, neither have ye BROUGHT AGAIN that which was driven away, neither have ye SOUGHT that which was lost; but with FORCE and with CRUELTY have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is NO SHEPHERD: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did SEARCH or SEEK after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds SEARCH for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am AGAINST the shepherds; and I will REQUIRE my flock at their hand, and cause them to CEASE from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will DELIVER my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will DESTROY the fat and the strong; I will feed them with JUDGMENT. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I JUDGE between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have EATEN UP the good pasture, but ye must TREAD DOWN with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have DRUNK of the deep waters, but ye must FOUL the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will JUDGE between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have THRUST with side and with shoulder, and PUSHED all the diseased with your horns, till ye have SCATTERED them abroad; Therefore will I SAVE my flock, and they shall no more be a PREY; and I will JUDGE between cattle and cattle" (Ez. 34:2-22). "And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none" (Ez. 22:30).

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