Bill Watson’s Corrupt Leadership
Apparently, the leadership of the Church of God International has thrown up their hands in defeat and surrendered in the battle that has been raging over that organization’s messaging. As regular readers here know, CGI headquarters has been trying to rein in the overt and highly partisan political messaging of rogue Pastor Bill Watson and his allies for some time. Indeed, the Executive Committee of that church even voted to remove some of Bill Watson’s and Adrian Davis’ controversial messaging on Covid-19 from their platforms! Last month, the church held a ministerial meeting to confront and address the problem, but Bill and his allies were having none of it. Watson insisted that his remarks were completely appropriate – that he was only talking about “policy.”
What makes this writer think that CGI leadership has surrendered to Bill and company? The appearance of Pastor Watson’s latest sermon on their website! In his latest political diatribe, The Leaven of Corrupt Leadership, Watson talks about how the Democrats have caused the soaring inflation currently being experienced by most Americans (no mention of the former Republican Administration’s handling of the pandemic and the current war in Ukraine in this connection). Did you notice that very ACOG theology sounding title for his sermon? I bet some of you are wondering what in the world that has to do with politics. You should never underestimate Bill’s capacity to weave politics into his message!
He begins by stating that Christ’s work isn’t just about salvation and that the first chapter of Acts proves that he was busily telling his disciples about the Kingdom of God before his ascension to heaven! And, yes, in case some of you were wondering, for Bill, the Kingdom of God suggests a political entity or “polity.” Indeed, Bill went on to mock the notion that Christ was dwelling on what he had done for his disciples – making salvation possible for them and the rest of the world. For Bill, the Christian message is inherently political – it’s all about overthrowing this world’s governments and resurrecting the defunct Kingdom of Israel under Christ and his disciples.
From there, Watson launched into another diatribe about how Christ handled the religious leaders of his day – the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lawyers. He talked about the contempt that Christ had for them, and how boldly he challenged their teachings and authority (there is no mention of the fact that he told the people that they occupied Moses’ seat and that they should follow their teachings, not their hypocritical behavior). For Bill, both secular and religious leadership in 2022 are full of corruption and incompetence, and it all tends toward authoritarianism.
Need examples? Bill has got plenty of them. He went on to talk about the Durham investigation of the Clinton campaign in 2016, and the indictment of one of her campaign’s lawyers. Next, he mentioned the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop. Watson went on to assert that the content of Hunter’s laptop is demonic. He talked about politicians and members of Hollywood’s elite taking advantage of Epstein’s pleasure island. Once again, no mention of the fact that Trump was an associate of Jeffrey Epstein or any of the current investigations surrounding Republican politicians. Are we beginning to discern a pattern in Bill’s remarks?
How on earth does all of this relate to the Days of Unleavened Bread? He says that it’s time for all of us to wake up and not tolerate “the leaven of corrupt leadership” in our society! Bill says that this is all “very appropriate” for him to be talking about because this is “some of the sin we’re swimming in” and “we’re being effected [sic] by it!” Never mind, that these are the very kinds of issues that Bill’s Kingdom of God is supposed to address! For Bill, we (Christians) need to be confronting and addressing this behavior NOW. And, according to Bill, those of us who think it’s inappropriate for Christians to engage in this world’s polity, we are busily burying our heads in the sand. He went on to say that pastors should be condemning abortion, gay marriage, and gender confusion – implying that this should be the focus of Christian pastors, not Christ’s message of salvation!
He said that ignoring all of these reprehensible behaviors is leading to the “reprobate of judgement” – that the ability to discern the difference between “right and wrong is lost in the confusion.” He claimed that ignoring this “leaven” is tantamount to discarding the Bible – the foundation of morality! Of course, Bill means HIS interpretation of what that book defines as right and wrong; and if your understanding differs from his, you’re just plain wrong!
Next, Bill turned his attention to religious leadership, and I must say that I found myself to be in complete agreement with his criticism of the wealth of folks like Kenneth Copeland, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and Creflo Dollar. In fairness, unless it has changed, we should also note that Bill Watson is one of the few ministers of CGI who is actually on that organization’s payroll (said to be a modest stipend). He also decried the homosexuality and pedophilia extant within the Catholic priesthood.
Even so, Pastor Watson does not seem to comprehend that God will ultimately address these flagrant departures from the teachings of Jesus Christ – not us. Sure, we should all be spiritually alert and astute enough to not be patronizing these folks, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with pointing out their abuse. However, as in all of the other examples which Bill mentions, God is their ultimate judge – NOT me, you, or Bill!
From there, Bill returned to his theme that pastors have a responsibility to root out all of this leaven and confront it. You see, for Bill, the Church has been commissioned to warn Israel (America) away from their sins. Like the leaders of many of the other ACOGs, he sees himself as the spiritual successor of Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong. He even concluded his message with a reference to that passage from Isaiah that is very familiar to all Armstrongites – you remember the vision of the “wonderful world tomorrow” with the wolf dwelling with the lamb, the leopard lying down with the kid, the calf and the lion together, and a little child leading them. In other words, the establishment of the physical Kingdom and restoration of Israel is the end game for Bill – not the salvation of humankind.
Finally, although Pastor Watson did reference Christ’s remarks about servant leadership found in the twentieth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, one can’t help but suspect that Tyler’s recent attempts to rein in his messaging were uppermost in his mind. In that passage, we read that Christ told his disciples: “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Verses 25-28) For Bill, the clear implication is that the leavened leadership of the CGI shouldn’t be trying to shape his message or use their leverage to prevent him from talking about political topics!
And by publishing his sermon on their platform, we have to conclude that CGI’s leadership has ceded this ground to Mr. Watson. Bill should be allowed to preach his political message and warn Israel, and everybody in CGI should get on his boat! Never mind that CGI’s has clearly stated on their website that “Our mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world (Matthew 28:19).” – [See their Mission Statement] Never mind that their “Statement of Beliefs” contains this bullet point: “The gospel is the message preached by Christ and by His church about God’s coming Kingdom, the restoration of His government on earth, and how mankind can enter that Kingdom and government. It includes the message of what Jesus has done, is doing, and shall do—and ultimately is the message of the entire Old and New Testaments. The primary purpose and commission of the church is to ‘Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’” I guess they’ve decided that since Bill is preaching part of the gospel (as they define it) that that is good enough!