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Church of God Restored hung on, then moved on
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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

By Kathleen McCann

MILTON KEYNES, 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 else.

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.

Extraordinary lengths

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

Restorative sermons

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.
Mr. Cobb is not the only speaker. He is ably assisted by Hal Finch Jr., also of Simi Valley, in giving sermonettes and occasional sermons on tapes.

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.

"However, 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.

"The greater 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

To understand the Church of God Restored, it is helpful to turn to Mardy Cobb's preaching.

First, I respect him for the fact that his sermons last for only 30-40 minutes. He can pack a punch in half the time that many others do. He simply cuts out the ad-libbing and sticks to the point.

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."

He continued: "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 corrected.

"The corporate 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 results."

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.

"Belonging" 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.

Another important 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.

Gnosticism resorts 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.

"The answer 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 and being."

In other words, we have to understand what the Sabbath is and why we keep it, not to invent our own ideas.

True believers

Does "restoring 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.
Men so easily slip from simple truth into their own ideas. The Church of God cannot teach the world until it has recognized what really went wrong in the last two millennia.

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.

To my mind their experience has proved two things.

• First, true believers cannot restore any given church--it is impossible to do that--but they can restore God's Word.

• Second, true believers always have to withdraw from conflict finally; they cannot survive in a hostile terrain.

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