The Journal: News of the Churches of God at

What does BP have to do
with the Churches of God?

Encouraging Communication among the Churches of God
STAY INFORMED.  Join our Email List!

What does BP have to do
with the Churches of God?

by Bernie Monsalvo
The writer, along with his wife, Paula, attends the Church of God Big Sandy, where he serves as a board member.

GLADEWATER, Texas--Once again I'd like to consider the lingering effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

As I mentioned in the last issue of The Journal (see "Dear UCG Latin Americans: Think on These Things," July 31, 2010 issue), the oil spill stands as an example of how an accident can turn into an incident that generates countless hours of pronouncements by state and federal governments, news media, labor and academia.

Even though the well was capped, now we have peripheral damage. A fund of $20 billion was set up, with money coming from BP, the company responsible for the accident.

The fund is in the hands of a special government paymaster to distribute based upon claims. People will come to the paymaster and claim something.

Incident in the midst

What's all this to do with the Churches of God?

We've had a similar incident in the midst of the larger Church of God community because of the recent problem with the erstwhile United Church of God leadership of the Latin American region.

What we have now is a classical issue of who's in charge. For years, actually centuries, the churches have grappled with the issue of "Who is allowed to criticize my decisions?"

Who is allowed to question the decisions of the anointed?

I see a case in which some members of the UCG's general conference of elders (GCE) have been summarily dismissed by the council of elders (COE).

Doesn't seem the type

I have met elder Arnold Mendez. I enjoyed his informative presentation about Noah's ark. He does not seem to me the type who would create a serious disturbance.

For the record, the GCE is a powerful body that gets to choose which elders will be promoted from within its ranks to the 12-member COE.

The COE in turn deliberates and chooses who will lead the organization; i.e., the president, the minister in charge of ministers, and other officers.

What if?

What happens if some of the officers perceive something is not running as it should run?

Who is a minister?

The circle of questions begins with: Who is a minister?

Answer: Someone credentialed by the minister in charge of ministers.

A credentialed elder can be a member of the GCE. A credentialed elder votes for COE members. COE members choose the minister in charge of ministers.

What if an elder is suspected of not voting as he should; that is, what if he bloc-votes?

That's easy. Relieve him of his ministerial duties and pull his credentials. This means that the supreme body, the GCE, recently lost an elder who does not know how to vote.

What if an elder's credentials are pulled and nobody understands why? What if the credentials are pulled and no reason is given?

Easy. Don't explain anything.

What if the elder whose credentials are pulled appeals?

Appeals to whom? What if his appeal is not accepted?

Easy. Reject the appeal.

What if an elder asks in a semipublic forum, "Why was my fellow elder suspended and his credentials pulled?"

Easy. Pull the credentials of the questioner so he cannot ask any more questions.

With the ministerial credentials canceled, the elder is no longer a GCE member. With no credentials, we can ignore whatever we want.

Law of the land

This reminds me of a situation when Bill Clinton was in the White House. In July 1998 presidential aide Paul Begala said: "Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool."

No need to bother Congress to legislate anything. The presidential aide can write whatever he wants and pass it to the president to sign.

The only problem with the above and in making quick decisions is that pesky document penned in 1789.

"All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives" (Article 1, U.S. Constitution, 1789).

Only Congress can make laws. The process was made cumbersome on purpose by the founding fathers so new laws would be enacted only after appropriate deliberation in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Making a list

Again, I have a few observations:

  • If bloc voting happens, is it a sin that merits removing credentials? If so, why?

  • If a decision is made to pull a minister's credentials, how can the decision be appealed? Who runs the appeal procedure?

  • Who would serve on an appeal panel if making the wrong decision could mean that the panelist who made the wrong comment, suggestion or decision could have his own credentials pulled? Once the credentials are removed, the person would be removed from the panel.

  • If a minister questions the decision of removing another minister's credentials, is his questioning a sin that merits suspension and disfellowshipping. If so, why?

Executively ordering

Joseph Farah, editor at, summarized the same kind of problem:

"Potentially, the worst abuse of all is the executive order. For 30 years, Americans have lived under the shadow of executive orders that could--as Mr. Begala inelegantly stated it--with 'the stroke of a pen' turn America into just another fascist dictatorship.

"Fortunately, America has been blessed with leaders--some good, some bad--who have restrained themselves from signing away our freedoms."

Exercise authority

In the Church of God so-called executive power brings to mind some passages from Scripture:

Jesus said: "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:42-45).

  • Does questioning why someone lost his credentials rise to the level of promoting division in the church? If so, are some bowing to a false idol that insists on "unity our way"?

Ezekiel explains the Lord's position:

"Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 14:6-8).

  • The problem with harboring idols in your heart is that the idol is invisible while the actions of the man embracing the idol are very visible.

  • Having gone through a similar situation a couple of times, I urge some of these ministers to think about the situation in the following terms:

Same old Bible

On July 13, 2010, you had a Bible, you had the Holy Spirit and you had a relationship with God.

On Aug. 13, 2010, you still had a Bible, you still had the Holy Spirit and you still had a relationship with God.

The brethren you serve still think of you as a minister. A piece of paper does not make you a minister. Your relationship with God and your service to God's people make you a minister.

What has changed? The trunk of the tree has not changed. Jesus Christ is still your Savior. He still sits at the right hand of God.

Don't let all that is going on affect you. Don't let divisions, clever speeches and harsh actions affect your relationship with God.

Relationships with men are important, but not as important as your looking up to God.

I point you to the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Listen to men as they follow Christ.

Analyze whether they speak according to the law and the testimony or not.

Examine whether they are helpers of your joy or not.

Be strong and of good courage.

Both sides?

Some may say to me: You know nothing about the other side. You need to know both sides.

You know what? I don't know and I don't want to know Satan's side in his dispute with God when he said, "I will be like the Most High."

I know God has rendered a correct judgment, and Satan and his fallen angels will be sent to the lake of fire.


Church Links  -  Addresses  -  Church Logos  -  Finances  -  Photos  -   Memorial

The Study Library  -  In Transition  -  Messages Online  -  Live Services

Back Issues  -  Subscribe  -  Email List  -  Ad Rates  -  Site Map

© The Journal: News of the Churches of God