Armstrong followers divided over doctrinal shift.

Up to half of the 100,000 members of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG)—which has moved toward orthodoxy after 60 years of rejecting basic Christian beliefs—may bolt following the latest round of doctrinal changes, observers and former members say.

Two splinter groups, each claiming the mantle of WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong, are poised to gain members and dollars in the wake of the anticipated exodus.

In a series of meetings during “the next six months,” according to WCG spokesman David Hulme, the Pasadena, California-based church will reveal to ministers and members “certain doctrinal information,” which eventually will be made public.

A survey of articles written by WCG pastor-general Joseph W. Tkach reveals the most likely shift will involve a new view of the Godhead that embraces trinitarian doctrine heretofore rejected by the church (CT, Nov. 9, 1992, p. 57). “The Bible teaching is that there is one God, who is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit,” Tkach wrote. “It is not my idea, nor is it the idea of some fourth century theologians. It is the plain Bible teaching.”

Church observers also believe the group will drop a requirement that members adhere to Levitical dietary laws on “clean” and “unclean” foods.

In earlier moves, the WCG said it would stop setting dates for prophesied events and drop prohibitions against medical care, the celebration of birthdays, and interracial marriage. Also jettisoned were teachings that man was born to “become God as God is God” and that the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Britain and America were descended from two of the ten “lost” tribes of Israel.

Mass exodus?

The changes are expected to trigger a rush from the ranks of the church. John Trechak, ...

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