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Letter to Mr. Tkach from Jules Dervaes

Copyright © Jules Dervaes

August 21, 1986

Dear Mr. Tkach,

Thank you for your sermon on the Sabbath, August 16. I am trying to follow your good advice.

“Don’t quit,” you said. So I won’t. “Be involved,” you exhorted. So I will. I will not quit writing these letters BECAUSE, in this manner, I will be involved. I feel as if letters are my means of communicating with the Church even though it is only a one-way involvement.

Marriage (good business, also) is based on two-way communication: Top –> Bottom AND Top <– Bottom.

As a husband I owe it to my wife to establish and maintain the frank and open communication which is vital to our relationship. My headship should never be the basis for my ISOLATION. In like manner my wife owes me her input, both the positive and negative, in order to insure that ONENESS that we both strive for. Her submission should never be the basis for her INDIFFERENCE.

This marital analogy should be pointedly applied to the Church. What the Church DOES advocate for the husband/wife union, it apparently does NOT for the leader/layman relationship. As husbands we are reminded that correction can be received from our wives. This serves to confirm the fact that, even though it is authority that comes from the top down, in no way is it always truth from the top down. In what manner does the Church accept this essential communication from “the lower level”? Is it truly encouraged and warmly welcomed? Or, is it coldly ignored and obviously discouraged?

In your sermon you correctly identified the number one malady that afflicts our generation. It is “the killer” of love; it is: indifference. We laymen should not, therefore, be indifferent to the Church, should not have the “let George do it” attitude. But, is this REALLY what the ministry wants? In my own experience, I have found most ministers would rather you be deaf, dumb, and blind. One may preach involvement; but what is TAUGHT by example is something else.

And, apathy cuts across all “official” lines. In the ministerial ranks there is “wholesale” apathy which can be easily documented. Can you imagine that ministers—SHEPHERDS!—are actually NOT speaking out against sin? What is so sickening is that THEY are the very ones who should be protecting their own flocks! There exists a PERVERSE attitude in the Church with regard to acting against wrongdoing. They say, “Let God do it.” “George” or “God,” it still makes no difference. That apathy is an abomination.

And so, could it be true that we are seeing a ministry that not only has itself practiced indifference, but has also encouraged it in the past? For, there exists some confusion here, that is, while involvement is preached from the pulpit, it is attacked when it is really practiced to the full extent. In other words, the involvement is fine as long as it is superficially “sweet” and stays within the “proper” bounds. It is taboo for a layman, for instance, to ever speak up (a REAL form of involvement) when a minister does not know what he is talking about. Loud and clear it comes through that one does not ever cross a minister (and I am not even referring to doctrinal matters). Consequently, involvement—the TRUE and DEEP kind—is curtailed; and what then results is a no-growth situation in which both parties are content just to sit there and look good “on stage.”

What is on the scene now is a stagnant Church of God which seems content with the wealth of its knowledge, not desiring to search out more truth or deeper understanding. It finds itself in a rut because of its “riches” and no longer is spearheading any dynamic, powerful movement. Militarily speaking, this Church has “dug in” to await the coming of Christ, all the while enjoying its high and secure position and becoming oblivious to fatal lethargy.

Something is amiss when ALL we can do is to LOOK to the vision of the Second Coming. Having been numbed with our success, we can easily OVERLOOK what we have to DO in order to make the final grade. Our perception has been distorted by the fact that we think that we already have it made, since Christ surely wouldn’t (we think: couldn’t) do without the MEMBERS (including MINISTERS!) of His Church. Being a member, or even a minister, of this covenant Church IS NOT synonymous with enjoying the benefit of the covenant.

Notice what John the Baptist says.

(Matthew 3:8-9) Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father”; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Yes, the Church is growing in numbers. One can readily point to an impressive wealth of statistics; but what does that actually prove about SPIRITUALITY? The peculiar tendency of this Western Society to rely on numerical figures and analysis to represent growth is deceptive especially when it is applied to a spiritual organization. It paints a very false picture of what really counts.

The idea is not to collect members, donations, and calls. The idea is to preach the Word of God with boldness and without compromise and to strengthen and sharpen God’s people while leaving the numbers of those called up to God (John 6:44). Why is it that we “look to the numbers” for that feeling that all is well? It is a false sense of security. Remember David counted his fighting men against the advice of Joab.

(2 Samuel 24:10) David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

Isn’t the Church the mother of us ALL? Aren’t we all to become sons of God? Yet, it seems as if there has been an abandonment of the “laymen” sons of God. The ministry has concentrated on protecting and fortifying its position at the expense of feeding those under them. As teachers they have retarded the growth of their students by keeping them in a dependent, fearful state. The stranglehold held by a domineering ministry has served to squelch the spiritual growth of the laymen.

Instead of being independent, healthy, fully mature Christians in their own right, laymen turn out to be apron strings-bound to a possessive ministry. At the Judgment, however, there is no one who will stand in my place before Christ. There will be no entrance to the kingdom via any ministerial coattails.

Therefore, the charade whereby some ministers “play God” must be stopped. If this is allowed to continue without correction, there will be a spiritual “holocaust” of the chosen people.

(Matthew 24:10) At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

Already there are more signs that a degeneration of the Church is now occurring amongst the brethren.

In The GOOD NEWS, August ’79, Mr. Armstrong warned:

But, the BAD NEWS, as it appears today, my dear brethren, is that we, undoubtedly of the Philadelphian era—my son’s ridicule notwithstanding—are in serious danger of BECOMING also the Laodicean era. I am personally much concerned about that. If you are NOT concerned, then indeed we are in mortal DANGER.

That was in 1979. How MUCH MORE should we be concerned today! May God guide and bless you as you lead this Church away from that danger.

Jules Dervaes

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