Forgive us our transgressions
The Worldwide Church of God in short WKG, English Worldwide Church of God (since April 3, 2009 Grace Communion International), has changed her stance on a number of long-held beliefs and practices in recent years. These changes were based on the assumption that salvation comes from grace through faith. Although we have preached this in the past, it has always been linked to the message that God owes us a reward for our works that are sacred, just in character.
For decades, we considered uncompromising keeping of the law as the basis of our justice. In our eager desire to please Him, we sought to establish a relationship with God through Old Testament laws and rules. In His grace, God has shown us that all-Christian obligations to Christians under the New Covenant do not apply.
He has led us into the riches of his grace and a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ. He has opened our hearts and minds for the joy of his salvation. The Scriptures speak to us with new meaning and we rejoice daily in the personal relationship we have with our Lord and Savior.
At the same time, we are painfully aware of the heavy burden of the past. Our mistaken doctrinaire understanding has veiled the clear gospel of Jesus Christ, leading to a variety of false conclusions and unbiblical practices. We have much to regret, and we have to apologize for much.
We had a ghost and were self-righteous - we condemned other Christians by calling them "so-called Christians," "seduced," and "instruments of Satan." We gave our members a work-based approach to the Christian life. We demanded compliance with arduous rules of the Old Testament law. In terms of church leadership, we took a strongly legalistic approach.
Our earlier Old Testament way of thinking fueled attitudes of exclusivity and arrogance, rather than the New Testament doctrine of brotherhood and unity.
We have over-emphasized predictive prophecy and prophetic speculation, degrading the true gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. These teachings and practices are a source of the greatest regret. We are painfully aware of the grief and suffering that resulted.
We were wrong, wrong. There was never an intention to mislead anyone. We were so focused on what we believed we were doing for God, that we did not recognize the spiritual path we were on. Whether intended or not, this path was not the biblical one.
When we look back, we ask ourselves how we could have been so wrong. Our hearts go out to all who have been misled by our teachings in Scripture. We do not minimize their spiritual disorientation and confusion. Seriously, we seek their understanding and forgiveness.
We understand that the depth of alienation can make reconciliation difficult. At the human level, reconciliation is often a long and difficult process that takes time. But we pray for it daily and remind ourselves that the healing ministry of Christ can close even the deepest wounds.
We make no attempt to cover up the doctrinal and biblical errors of the past. It is not our intention to cover only the cracks. We look our story straight in the eye and face the mistakes and sins we find. They will always be part of our history, constantly reminding us of the dangers of legalism.
But we cannot live in the past. We have to rise above our past. We have to keep going. We say with the Apostle Paul: "I forget what is behind and reach out for what is up there and hunt for the pre-set goal, the victory price of God's heavenly calling in Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3: 13-14).
So today we stand at the foot of the cross - the ultimate symbol of all reconciliation. It is the common ground on which alienated parties can meet. As Christians, we all identify with the suffering that has taken place, and we hope that this identification will bring us together.
We long to meet with anyone we may have hurt. It is only the blood of the Lamb and the power of the Spirit that enable us to overcome the wounds of the past and move towards our common goal.
So I am expressing my sincerest and heartfelt apology to all members, former members, staff and other people - all who have been victims of our past sins and misinterpretations of Scripture. And I invite you to join us in proclaiming the true gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, as God blesses us with renewed growth and power in His ministry.
by Joseph Tkach