The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

Here are some questions I believe should be asked by conscientious believers, inside and outside the Worldwide Church of God, when they seriously consider the spiritual health and theological orientation of the new Worldwide Church of God and its leadership. If you think these would be helpful to others, you certainly have my permission to pass them on or post them.
William D. Meyer

So here are 40 basic questions about the Worldwide Church of God and its current leadership:

1. Does not Eph. 5: 21 demand mutual accountability of all believers, including church leaders -- thus condemning one-way hierarchical ecclesiastical relationships?

2. Does not Matt. 23: 8 demand a brotherhood form of church governance -- and thus condemn hierarchy?

3. Does not Luke 22: 26 condemn, in substance as well as style, one church leader lording it over all others -- and thus also condemn hierarchy?

4. How can a priesthood of all believers, which the Worldwide Church of God actually teaches, be reconciled with hierarchy?

5. How can universal gifting from the Holy Spirit -- fully divine and fully personal -- and his presence within each believer be reconciled with hierarchy?

6. How does the Worldwide Church of God scripturally and theologically support its continuation of hierarchy, and are these arguments valid?

7. Does the Worldwide Church of God leadership feel the Worldwide Church of God membership is too childish for non-hierarchical polity?

8. If so, does the Worldwide Church of God leadership feel the membership has the Holy Spirit? (Could a religious group without the actual presence of the Holy Spirit in its membership legitimately continue as a Christian church?)

9. If the leadership had to choose between governmental systems that potentially put the flock at risk for abuse or put the shepherds at risk, which would it choose? (How does this square with John 10?)

10. Why do Worldwide Church of God ministerial ethics documents, now being drafted and edited, which all pastors will have to sign, contain pledges of loyalty and obedience to the hierarchy?

11. How can Joseph Tkach claim to embrace an orthodox, Evangelical, Protestant theology and yet continue to play Protestant pope in Pasadena?

12. To whom is Joseph Tkach actually accountable? How does this work?

13. If he is actually accountable to the "board," to what extent are its members really structurally and financially independent of Tkach? Why does Tkach retain the right to legally ignore or disband the board, modify or vacate any of its decisions or remove any of its members?

14. Exactly how would the members of the church or the board -- or whomever Tkach claims he is accountable to -- actually go about removing Tkach if dissatisfied with his leadership?

15. How much money does Tkach make? What is his total compensation package, including bonuses, housing allowance, value of any use of church-owned dwellings, expense account, car allowance, value of personal use of any church-owned vehicles or aircraft, travel allowance, health care benefits, pensions etc? Does he receive any compensation from allied ministries, such as Plain Truth Ministries?

16. What is his lifetime Worldwide Church of God salary history?

17. What is his father's salary history?

18. What is Herbert W. Armstrong's salary history?

19. Why won't Tkach or Treasurer Bernie Schnippert reveal the compensation of top Worldwide Church of God leaders? (At both extremes of American Christianity, the pay of top leaders is regularly published. I refer to the United Church of Christ's President Paul Sherry and Cleveland Catholic Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, this year the head of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference and therefore the top American Catholic leader)

20. If Tkach won't tell the members how much money he pays himself, can the Worldwide Church of God really be said to be financially accountable? And if Tkach won't tell, doesn't he and the Worldwide Church of God leadership really morally forfeit the right to ask church members and the public for money?

21. What percentage of total Worldwide Church of God income goes to support local congregations and what percentage to headquarters operations? And what is the ratio of employees involved in headquarters operations to those actually pastoring local congregations? How does this compare with other denominations?

22. Why has the Worldwide Church of God insisted that locally incorporated congregations unincorporate and deed their property to the denomination -- while simultaneously talking about empowering the local churches?

23. How would the current leadership respond to those who, based upon what they see of its fruits, suspect that the current Worldwide Church of God leadership structure is fundamentally driven by money and power?

24. Why is Joseph Tkach absolutely in charge?

25. Where does Joseph Tkach's authority come from?

26. If it comes from Jesus Christ, why doesn't he follow Jesus' and Paul's mandates for accountable, brotherhood, non-hierarchical Christian leadership in Eph. 5: 21, Matt. 23: 8 and Luke 22: 26?

27. If his authority came from Joseph Tkach Sr., where did Tkach Sr.'s authority come from?

28. If Tkach Sr.'s authority came from Herbert W. Armstrong, where did Armstrong's authority come from?

29. Was Herbert W. Armstrong a cultist? A religious entrepreneur?

30. Did Herbert W. Armstrong sexually abuse his daughter during his early ministry, as alleged by the late David Robinson, the Ambassador Report newsletter and Worldwide Church of God lawyer Jack Kessler?

31. Does the form of church governance Armstrong established within the Worldwide Church of God closely resemble the authoritarian, patriarchial, isolationist form of family governance typical under incestuous fathers? Is the incestuous family the model for the Worldwide Church of God's pastor-general governance?

32. If so, is not the present pastor-general governance of the Worldwide Church of God -- essentially unchanged from the Armstrong era -- then fundamentally sick and spiritually dangerous?

33. Is Joseph Tkach's leadership as pastor general and successor of Herbert Armstrong, under these conditions, theologically legitimate?

34. Is the Worldwide Church of God, under the present absolutist governance, a legitimate Evangelical or Protestant or Christian church?

35. Is the Worldwide Church of God, under these conditions, a safe church to join or remain in?

36. What safeguards exist within the Worldwide Church of God to prevent spiritual abuse?

37. How can the same class of people, in general, who perpetrated spiritual abuse in the old Worldwide Church of God now claim to be the healers of their victims? Won't the Worldwide Church of God ministry be tempted to avoid embarrassment and threats to its economic interests by minimizing the depth of the abuse and urging hurting parishoners to forget it and "move on" triumphally? Isn't this a classic conflict of interest?

38. What safeguards exist to prevent this or a future pastor general from reversing course and once again embracing deviant parts of the old Worldwide Church of God theology?

39. Why does the Worldwide Church of God continue to celebrate its "heritage" under Herbert W. Armstrong -- including the celebration of Armstrong's Hebraic holy days, which continue to separate it from most other Christians?

40. Since there are many other long-established, stable, healthy, legitimate Christian denominations that do not carry the baggage of the old Worldwide Church of God -- corrupt leadership, massive spiritual abuse of members and aberrant doctrines -- why should the Worldwide Church of God continue to exist as an independent denomination?

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