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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.