Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bill Watson of the Church of God International, Keeping the Flame of Armstrongism Alive

Bill Watson of the CGI, Keeping the Flame of Armstrongism Alive
Lonnie C. Hendrix/Miller Jones

Although the Church of God International has enjoyed a reputation among the splinter groups descended from Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God as a relatively moderate and enlightened group, a closer look at the teachings of Pastor Bill Watson and those who support him suggest that such a reputation is unwarranted. The fact is that Mr. Watson is a vocal and enthusiastic proponent of some of the doctrines which are now considered by many former members of the WCOG to be among the most obnoxious legacies of that church. While the Church of God International can technically claim that it has not endorsed many of these teachings (they are not a part of their official statement of beliefs), they nevertheless continue to feature Mr. Watson’s sermons and writings prominently on their website.

In July of 2014, Mr. Watson produced an eight-part Bible study series entitled “Biblical Origins of the United States and British Commonwealth.” In the series, Mr. Watson discusses a number of themes that will be familiar to most of the folks from the former culture. He talks at some length about the European Union and the potential impact of the Euro on the world and the United States in particular. He also suggests that things like the legalization of abortions and same-sex marriage are responsible for many of the problems that the United States has experienced over the last few decades.

Likewise, although he vociferously denies that his teaching is based on race, Mr. Watson underscores elements of the doctrine of British Israelism that could easily be followed in Mr. Armstrong’s writings on the subject. Things like:  God’s promises to Abraham, the separation of the scepter and birthright promises, the division of the Israelites into two distinct kingdoms, the Assyrian conquest and removal of the Kingdom of Israel. Finally, he leads his students to the inescapable conclusion that the peoples of Britain and the United States must be the physical descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh based on the many blessings which they have received from God.

In that same series, Mr. Watson goes on to identify those who are really walking with Christ as having a right understanding of sexual preference, marriage, the proper day for worship and the observance of the correct holidays/holy days. In other words, Mr. Watson is a proponent of a very narrow and doctrinally based definition of what it means to be a Christian.

Much has been made about Presiding Evangelist Roderick Meredith’s (Living Church of God) obsession with the subject of homosexuality, but he has noting on Bill Watson! He states very emphatically that “Sodomites will not inherit the kingdom of God.” In his three-part Armor of God Web Chat series “Politics and the Bible,” Mr. Watson decries “the silence coming from the podium” about issues like same-sex marriage. He says repeatedly that “all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to sit down and do nothing.” Hence, Mr. Watson sees it as his personal mission to condemn homosexuals.

In the same series, he tells us that the concept of the separation of church and state is a fallacy that has been foisted on American society by atheists and secular humanists. Mr. Watson clearly delineates his belief that the Church should play the role of the guardian of our culture’s morality. He (along with my father, Pastor Wayne Hendrix) underscored the situation whereby the Mayor of Houston attempted to regulate what her city’s pastors preached on the subject of homosexuality (which this writer does not endorse or condone). It was stated in Part One of the series that it was obvious that she had an agenda “by virtue of the fact that she is a lesbian.” In other words, sexual orientation equals political agenda.

More recently, Mr. Watson has commented on the Presbyterian Church’s decision to begin performing same-sex marriages (featured on the CGI’s homepage).  He sees this as a “major event” in the history of corporate Christianity’s stance on the issue. For Mr. Watson, the genie has left the bottle! He decries the Presbyterian Church’s decision to base their ministerial qualifications on faith and character instead of sexual orientation. “When has homosexual behavior ever been a sign of character?” he asks. Mr. Watson longs for the good old days when homosexual behavior was considered abnormal and unacceptable. He informs us that the term “gay” used to indicate that one was happy. Mr. Watson concludes that homosexual behavior “is not the kind of behavior you want to have if you want to please God.” 

It is ironic to me that the principal scripture which Mr. Watson has used for justifying his disdain for homosexuals and their behavior is Luke 6:22. For those of us on the other side of this issue, this scripture provides comfort and hope:  “What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.” NLT On the other hand, if there are any Armstrongites out there who are still hankering for that old time religion, you may want to give Mr. Watson and the CGI a try!

Personally, I know that Mr. Watson has been a good friend to my father (Pastor Wayne Hendrix), and a devoted servant of the Church of God International. In offering this piece, it is not my intention to attack or disparage his character. Rather, my intention was to clearly delineate what he is teaching and underscore his agenda to such a degree that the CGI’s continued support for his preaching and writings will clearly demonstrate their endorsement of those ideas. In other words, those of you who are considering the CGI as a possible religious home should be aware that their actions have incorporated things into their statement of beliefs that do not appear in the pdf which they offer to the public.


Anonymous said...

well, I have no problem with any of their teachings you've listed here...they're pretty much spot on.

they do tend to be a very liberal minded organization though, mixing and mingling with other COGs, even those with beliefs 180 out from theirs, which ultimately leads to confusion.

it's as if they try so hard not to pass judgement on anyone that they'll accept any belief that comes down the pike...

some years ago Bill was working on a book on BI....wonder if he ever finished it?

and I've wondered in the past if there was a connection between you and Wayne, never knew you were his son...Wayne is a fine man.

Anonymous said...

So what is Mr. Hendrix trying to say here in his little rant attack, is he saying for one thing that Sodomites (practicing Sodomites) will be in the KOG, or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

You wrote, "Although the Church of God International has enjoyed a reputation among the splinter groups descended from Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God as a relatively moderate and enlightened group, a closer look at the teachings of Pastor Bill Watson and those who support him suggest that such a reputation is unwarranted." I believe you misunderstand the reasons CGI is known for being "relatively moderate." The CGI differs from some (but not all) of the other groups in that it emphasizes servant leadership rather than some hierarchical form of polity, does not believe it is "above" the other groups spiritually (it's members do not claim to be the "Philadelphia church" or the "spearhead" of the Work of God), does not have leaders claiming to be apostles or prophets, and doesn't use near-date-setting or claims about being in the "gun lap" of the "final phase of God's Work" to get people to send more money. But the CGI's theological positions are spelled out in no-uncertain terms in its Systematic Theology Project. Its official position on homosexual behavior is in agreement with the official position of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as well as a very large number of Evangelical churches and theologians: homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity and are intrinsically disordered. Such acts, even in so-called loving, monogamous partnerships, are sinful in the sight of God! THAT represents the CGI's position. To Lonnie, that probably sounds terribly unloving, but CGI and many others do not agree with him. It has been stated in the pulpits of the CGI that Christians have a mandate to love homosexual persons, but love does not mean approval of a sinful lifestyle. On the contrary, if you love someone, you want him or her to repent of things that will keep him or her out of God's Kingdom. And homosexual behavior IS one of those things. As for Anonymous's statement "it's as if they [the CGI] try so hard not to pass judgment on anyone that they'll accept any belief that comes down the pike," all I can say after nearly 30 years in CGI is, that's just plain silly! When someone from another organization is invited to speak in Tyler, if that person has views that differ in some way from the CGI's doctrinal positions or are considered controversial within CGI circles, he is asked not to bring them up. If he does bring them up, he will not be invited to come back to speak again. Further, the degree and nature of other CoG groups' differences with the CGI is an important factor in determining whether and how the CGI will participate in joint-activities with them. If you think CGI folks will "accept any belief that comes down the pike," just ask Lonnie about that. After he went public with his views on sexual issues, the CGI stopped using his material in its publications. When Lonnie's views were made known, some got upset with CGI, because they thought Lonnie's views represented CGI teaching. Obviously, since his views on human sexuality differ so radically from the unambiguous views of the CGI, the CGI would be doing its members and affiliates a terrible disservice by sending the message, through use of Lonnie's articles, that we are in agreement with him. That would indeed lead to confusion.

Miller Jones said...

I noticed that none of these Anonymous commentators (5/10, 11:27; 5/11, 2:21 and 5/11, 12:37) sought to dispute my characterizations of Mr. Watson's teachings. If they are correct, then why aren't they explicitly stated in the CGI's statement of their beliefs. Are they the beliefs of the organization or not?
And, just for the record, historical and DNA evidence have conclusively proven that the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the British Commonwealth and the United States are not Israelites. And, yes, I am saying without equivocation that I will be in God's Kingdom - not because of anything that I have done or will do, but because I believe that I have salvation through Jesus Christ.

Mr. Infinity said...

Here's the link to Bill Watson's book on the modern identities of USA and Britain.

Anonymous said...

Miller Jones:
"If they are correct, then why aren't they explicitly stated in the CGI's statement of their beliefs."

maybe it's because salvation is not dependent upon those particular things?

"And, yes, I am saying without equivocation that I will be in God's Kingdom "

wow...but, it's not your call, is it?

Miller Jones said...

"maybe it's because salvation is not dependent upon those particular things?"
Are you suggesting that salvation is dependent on ones acceptance of the other doctrines listed in their statement of beliefs?
"wow...but, it's not your call, is it?"
God decided long before I was born to put this plan together, and Jesus performed his part in that plan almost two thousand years ago now. Having made the decision to participate in that plan (my part), I would say that God has already made that call.

Byker Bob said...

This is another topic on which the members of the ACOGs will never get past their own internal cliches in their understanding. They single source their information, restricting it to only what is written by sources from within the general fold.

It has been said that what we know as the Bible consists of manuscripts compiled and approved by the Catholics, and that these manuscripts were later commissioned to be translated into the English language by a gay king. Armstrongite theology has little use for either group.


Anonymous said...

"I noticed that none of these Anonymous commentators (5/10, 11:27; 5/11, 2:21 and 5/11, 12:37) sought to dispute my characterizations of Mr. Watson's teachings. If they are correct, then why aren't they explicitly stated in the CGI's statement of their beliefs. Are they the beliefs of the organization or not?" Well, I guess I only *thought* I answered that. Did you notice what I said about the STP? But my main purpose was to show you WHY the CGI has the reputation it has and to show you HOW the CGI differs from the old WCG and some of its authoritarian splinters.

Mr. Watson's teachings are consistent with the Systematic Theology Project (STP), which is produced by CGI "to reflect its doctrines, beliefs, practices and traditions" ("Organization and Purpose," STP). The fact that the relatively brief overview provided by the Statement of Beliefs does not provide an explicit statement on certain items does not mean those items are not among the official doctrinal positions of the CGI.

Anonymous said...

Lonnie is a fine person, and usually very nice. I can't understand why he is attacking Bill Watson and the CGI. It's fine to disagree with Mr. Watson and the CGI on doctrine or anything else for that matter, but I don't understand the bitter tone that he used. It is my understanding that Mr. Watson and Lonnies dad are best friends. Doesn't sound like Lonnie read the part about Honor thy Mother and Father. His attack on every thing his fathers church and best friend stand for were shocking to me. I think this can only cause dissention in the Church, and you know what the bible says about that! I will pray for Lonnie, Wayne, and Bill. God Bless You All

Miller Jones said...

Anonymous 5/12 - 2:19 I never disparaged Mr. Watson's character in any way, and I made a point of mentioning what a good friend he has been to my father (and that he was a loyal servant of the CGI). Everything in this piece focused on doctrine and teachings and followed Mr. Watson's oral and written statements on the points raised. Moreover, I have always sought to honor my father and my mother in everything that I do, but I know that I have failed at this on a number of occasions throughout my life (and I'm also confident that God has forgiven me for those lapses - just as God generously forgives all of our lapses in honoring and respecting Him when we repent). My Dad and Mr. Watson are both fine people, but I believe their teachings on these subjects are wrong. I believe that Pope Francis is a good man, but I strongly disagree with some of the doctrinal positions he holds. And thanks for your prayers - We could all use more of those!

Kevin McMillen said...

What I see in this is that Lonnie C. Hendrix is mad at Bill because he teaches against same-sex marraige.

Kevin McMillen said...

So, Miller Jones aka Lonnie, seems to believe that salvation is solely based upon believing in Jesus.

Jas 2:19
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Belief is not enough no matter what anyone thinks. Obedience is expected by God, just do a word search in on the words obey, obedient, obedience, etc. in the N.T.

Using only the bible, who will be justified?

Rom 2:13
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Which law is Paul talking about here?

Rom 2:14
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

Anonymous said...

Weird article. The writer of this post is gay, obviously and is trying to self justify his actions. This person is trying to walk to Hawaii from the mainland....impossible. There are paths to the KOG, being gay hinders your chances...if you are not willing to repent and change. If you are, God will accept you. If not, that is the whole point of the Bible, a long story about people not wanting to do what He says.

I thought God calls being a practicing gay an abomination. Why is it so hard to understand?

Anonymous said...

And of course the blog author gets to approve the comments!!! Hahahaha! Truth can't hide, but it can be hidden. Enjoy!

NO2HWA said...

yes i do approve all comments 99% of all comments get approved. Those that attack commenters or are sexual in nature are deleted. If you want to whine about that, then too bad! i also approve all articles that people send me. Again, if you don't like ht articles then don't read them!