Church of God Restored
hung on, then moved on
The writer has
been a member of God's church since 1975. She worked for the Worldwide
Church of God from 1976 to 1991 as a secretary. She lives in Milton
Keynes with her husband, Lewis, who distributes The Journal in the
United Kingdom and Europe. Mrs. McCann receives E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
England--We knew throughout the 20th century that God's church should
rightly be called the Church of God, but why do we today have such
an array of churches vying with each other each describing themselves
with unique adjectives?
The unique adjectives
came about because there were so many Churches of God, but perhaps
"restoration"--normally a noun but a word that can be
used as an adjective--is what God's people need more than anything
A small Church of God group in California has an interesting origin and professed purpose. In the early 1990s many members of the Pasadena, Calif., congregation of the Worldwide Church of God began to realize that that church was straying further and further from the truth that had been delivered to it by God through the teachings of Herbert Armstrong.
But, while some
left and started up new churches to perpetuate those teachings,
a few remained because they were convinced that the WCG was God's
only true church at this time.
This small band
of faithful people went to extraordinary lengths to maintain their
beliefs and practices when everything around them was changing beyond
recognition. They even agreed to continue acknowledging Joseph Tkach
Jr., the pastor general of the WCG, as the leader of the church
and give their tithes and offerings to him, if he would only allow
them to separately observe the Sabbath and holy days.
Finally in 1999
this small group, led by Mardy Cobb of Simi Valley, Calif., was
told that the Sabbath was "anathema," at which point it
became clear to the group's members that to leave the Worldwide
Church of God was their only option.
However, so great
was these members' zeal to preserve what they believed to be the
only true Church of God that they decided to call their group Worldwide
Church of God Restored.
But such a name was not to be allowed because it was too close to
the original. Hence the name Church of God Restored came about (see
www.Church of God Restored.org).
Because the Church
of God Restored advertises a monthly sermon tape in The Journal,
and I am one of 12 people in the United Kingdom who receive Mr.
Cobb's sermon tapes, I feel it would be helpful to Journal readers
if we took a brief look at the work Mr. Cobb does and the reason
I find his sermons restorative.
Mardy is deeply
concerned to serve the scattered brethren and bring back to God
the many people who have shipwrecked because of their relationships
with the big Churches of God.
Quoting from Mardy's
letter to coworkers of last Aug. 22: "Our work sends messages
to the scattered sheep around the world in more than twenty countries.
We produce and distribute audio tapes on a monthly basis ..."
In the above-mentioned letter, Mardy sheds light on how he sees the work of Mr. Armstrong. "Mr. Herbert Armstrong undoubtedly has had a great impact in recent times," Mardy wrote.
his work was clearly not the greater works that Jesus predicted.
If the faith once delivered could demonstrate God's will so powerfully
in the first century, why not now? Did Jesus intend His power to
be removed from the faithful? The Scripture argues to the contrary."
This theme of
"the greater work" is evident in Mardy's thinking too.
But he recognizes that a different mind-set is needed.
work must be done," he believes. "Jesus declared it. I
believe that it can only be done through a different mind-set than
we've known in times past, through a restoration of our hearts,
our souls, and our minds. Not by might, nor by power, but by His
Spirit. Let us no longer seek to only package the doctrine and information
of the gospel, but rather to unwrap the power and spirit of Christ
to the world."
Packing a punch
the Church of God Restored, it is helpful to turn to Mardy Cobb's
A major theme
that Mardy frequently repeats is that the Worldwide Church of God
became an organization, not a church, with all the corporate identity
and mentality that that entailed. Quoting from his recent Pentecost
sermon: "The idea and the process or the procedure of a church
work that is done in a corporate framework is an idea that I believe
is no more; it is no longer valid. The corporate mentality, the
corporate approach, I believe, is no longer a viable vehicle for
the work of God."
"The corporate Church of God cast away, abandoned and was part
of the process of scattering God's children. The corporate mentality
is one that led to this, and it is an error which I believe God
structure is a structure that tends toward losing the truth, even
one [in a church] that knows the truth very well. And there is a
reason, I believe, because the particular truth we're talking about
is a spiritual truth; it's not a truth that can be maintained in
a physical laboratory like a science experiment verified by quantifiable
Do you belong?
In his sermon
"Do You Belong?," Mr. Cobb brings out that God created
two critical entities that enable the world to survive: church and
family. Families must be restored, and church must become a family.
is different from "identifying," he said. He brought out
that we must have "faith, hope and love" and related them
to our relationship to God, His relationship to us and our interrelating
with each other.
element that Mardy speaks about is gnosticism. His sermon "A
Cathedral in Time" is in fact about the Sabbath and how we
must worship God in time now, no longer in a physical location.
to a human tendency to divorce doctrine from God Himself, making
something academic out of doctrine. Thereby true doctrine dies and
becomes a figment of human ideas and understanding.
to this error was to point out that you cannot take any ideas and
separate them from God and hope to reach salvation," Mardy
said. "Even God's teachings are not independent of His authority
In other words,
we have to understand what the Sabbath is and why we keep it, not
to invent our own ideas.
the faith once delivered" mean restoring the Worldwide Church
of God or even the Radio Church of God (the WCG's name before 1968)?
Perhaps not, after
all. The story of the New Testament epistles is one of the apostles
and teachers of the day fighting with their backs to the wall to
maintain what Christ had taught.
The Church of
God Restored is an interesting group of people for the fact that
they survived in the old church for several years after most had
left, but they had to leave it in the end.
true believers cannot restore any given church--it is impossible
to do that--but they can restore God's Word.
true believers always have to withdraw from conflict finally; they
cannot survive in a hostile terrain.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God