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Secessionist principles saved the church
By Mac Overton

The writer is a longtime Church of God member, a frequent Journal contributor and editor of The Gilmer Mirror.

GILMER, Texas--Secession. The very word conjures up images of rebellion. And don't forget that during the old days, when all God's children were united in the Worldwide Church of God, rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft.

When the WCG underwent its major doctrinal shift, which became obvious in the early to mid-1990s (although maybe it began with the ascension of Joseph Tkach Sr. to the general pastorship in 1986), "rebellion," as epitomized by members voting with their feet, helped save Our Tradition: the main basic doctrines we learned through the leadership of Herbert W. and Garner Ted Armstrong.

Those who remain in the WCG follow a church that has not a dime's worth of difference with the First United Methodist Church in both doctrine and governance.

They even meet on Sunday.

(I don't mean to denigrate the Methodists. Some of the finest examples of Christian living I know are Methodists. But if I wanted to follow Methodist doctrine I would become a Methodist rather than join some Johnny-come-lately group that imitates them.)

So-called Civil War

I am reminded of the so-called Civil War, more accurately known as the War Between the States.

(I prefer another title, introduced at a few Sons of Confederate Veterans meetings I attended: the Second War for American Independence or, alternately, the War for Southern Independence.)

We had drummed into us in the old WCG government, government, government.

WCG rule No. 1: Your leaders are always right. Rule No. 2: When your leaders are wrong, see rule No. 1.

The issues of the Second War for Independence were not the same as ours in the WCG mess, but the principles of our secession from the WCG were very similar.

Slavery would have disappeared

No, slavery was not the issue in Southern secession. The pernicious evil of slavery would have disappeared more or less peacefully within a generation or two--and 620,000 soldiers on the various sides of the conflict would not have lost their lives.

(The casualties of the Second War for Independence far surpassed America's combined casualties in all other wars, from the Revolution to Iraq.)

Slavery would have disappeared simply because, as mechanization developed, the institution of human beings owning other human beings was becoming less and less economically feasible. The actual issue was an overbearing central government forcing its will on others.

A scene in one of the great movies of our time, Gettysburg, depicts a Southern general, I forget which one, talking with the official observer from the court of Queen Victoria.

What happened

The Southern general explained the reasons for the war to the British general. Here's how it went as I remember it:

"It's like this. Say you join a gentlemen's club. [And they had real gentlemen's clubs in those days. Men would sit around in leather chairs and drink bourbon and smoke cigars and discuss books, etc.] Then after a while they change the rules and you decide to resign. But they tell you you can't resign."

That's basically what happened under the Tkach regime. The rules were changed so the church's beliefs underwent a 180-degree turn toward mainstream Protestantism.

So thousands of us, clinging to the Faith Once Delivered, seceded.

Thank God Joe Tkach did not have the armed might of a political government behind him. Because of our secession, God's Truth lives on.

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