That is why it is so refreshing to see the transformation taking place within the former Worldwide Church of God. Over the past twenty years, leaders in the WCG have renounced the beliefs of their founder Herbert W. Armstrong, adopted a Trinitarian view of God, emphasized the grace of God in delivering sinners (instead of obedience to God's law), and changed their name to Grace Communion International. GCI's magazine Odyssey has had some interesting articles, written by authors who have "a fresh awareness of the importance of grace, a high respect for Scripture, a willingness to do what the Scriptures say, and a spirit of rejoicing in the implications of Trinitarian theology." Not bad.
What I find even more fascinating is the public apology by the leaders of the new GCI. After giving a short history of the Worldwide Church of God and the two decades long transformation on their web page, the leaders of GCI wrote:
"...(W)e are now in full agreement with the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals. Jesus Christ changes lives. He can change an organization, too. We have worked hard to inform our members about where we went wrong — and we say “we” honestly, for the current leaders of the church once believed and taught (Armstrong's) erroneous doctrines. We have criticized other Christians as false, deceived, children of the devil. We have much to apologize for. We are profoundly sorry that we verbally persecuted Christians and created dissention and disunity in the body of Christ. We seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
We do not have any delusions of grandeur. We do not imagine that we will turn the world upside down. We do not think we will transform the church like Paul did. But we do expect God to use us to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. There may be a niche that needs our particular experience. Perhaps God is preparing us for situations that do not yet exist. We do not know, but we remain ready to respond to God’s leading. We emphasize grace, and we accept Trinitarian theology."Without doubt, the authoritarian, legalistic, cultic Worldwide Church of God hurt a number of people in the 20th century. Yet, the organization seems to have changed during the last two decades. That's good news. GCI could be a model for other religious organizations in the 21st century who need to separate from authoritarian leaders who have used and abused people. It can be done.