Evangelicals know this: A high commitment to following God's will is essential to Christian discipleship; so also is a strong commitment to all the truth we glean from Scripture.
But we also know this: Without an informed theology and experience of grace, these discipleship essentials can lead to legalism, spiritual pride, and isolationism.
That is exactly what happened in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Their founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, discerned certain "truths" in Scripture (including the need to keep all of God's law in order to be saved), and he placed a high demand for commitment on his followers (including, for example, a "triple tithe," comparable to what God's Old Covenant people paid). The result was not only a flawed theology, but, in many cases, legalism, spiritual pride, and isolation.
After Armstrong died, the church's new leadership emulated his commitment-and in their search for truth, left behind many of the individual "truths" he had taught.
One of the first doctrines to be questioned after Armstrong's death was his teaching that believers were not born again until the resurrection. Re-examining that teaching in the light of Scripture led the WCG leaders (who seem to function as a team) to reject their church's teaching that human beings were themselves destined to become gods, which, in turn, led them to revise their doctrine of the nature of God, which, in turn, led them to teach the biblical doctrine of the Holy Trinity. "It was a domino effect," they recently told CT.
In a recently published doctrinal statement, the WCG teaches in the clearest possible terms not only the Trinity, but also salvation by grace through faith. Most evangelicals should have no quarrel with this new statement, although differences ...1