SIDEBAR: Forgive Us Our Trespasses
In the March/April issue of "The Plain Truth" magazine, Joseph Tkach, Jr., pastor general for the Worldwide Church of God, published this apology on behalf of the entire church (reprinted with permission):
The Worldwide Church of God, sponsor of "The Plain Truth," has changed its position on numerous long-held beliefs and practices during the past few years. At the heart of those changes has been an acceptance that salvation is by grace through faith. While this was preached in the past, it was always coupled with the message that God owes us a reward for our works that build holy, righteous character.
For decades we regarded scrupulous adherence to the law as the basis of our righteousness. We attempted to relate to God through old covenant rules and regulations in our fervent desire to please him.
In his mercy, God has shown us that old covenant obligations do not apply to Christians who are under the new covenant. He has led us into the riches of his grace and a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ. He has opened our hearts and minds to the joy of his salvation. The Scriptures speak to us with fresh meaning, and we rejoice daily in the personal relationship we have with our Lord and Savior.
At the same time, we are acutely aware of the heavy legacy of our past.
Our flawed doctrinal understanding clouded the plain gospel of Jesus Christ and led to a variety of wrong conclusions and unscriptural practices. We have much to repent of and apologize for.
We were judgmental and self-righteous--condemning other Christians, calling them "so-called Christians" and labeling them "deceived" and "instruments of Satan."
We imposed on our members a works-oriented approach to Christian living. We required adherence to burdensome regulations ...