It Is Time to Call Out the False Teachers

Since the pandemic began, there has been a voice thundering the call for the Church to gather within Aylmer Ontario, and that is of Henry Hildebrandt. He has appeared on TV, on various YouTube and podcasts discussing the Government’s intrusion on the right to gather within a place of worship.

Now, I have prayed long and hard over this article. Why? Because in our battle to keep the Church open, one would think we would want to align with our “brothers in Christ” and not make a public act of division. But here is the thing, the division is needed to protect from dangerous doctrines. As a preamble, the question is frequently asked, “do I stand with Henry as a Canadian”? Yes, I do. I believe he has every right under the constitution as anyone else. But, do I endorse Henry as a brother in Christ or his doctrine? No, I do not. I understand this article may anger some, as in this day, we need to stand united against the common threat facing all places of worship: government overreach. However, when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is under attack when the authority of Scripture is attacked, and people are being adopted into a dangerous cult, I must speak up. Remember, doctrine does indeed divide. That’s what good teaching does – it separates the wheat from the tares, the goats from the sheep and exposes error. Christ alone sets the declaration of who is and who is not saved. But it is up to the Christian to inspect the fruit and doctrine through Scripture. This will be the focus of this write-up.

In July 2021, a YouTube channel by the name Church of God Restoration Cult made public their twenty-two-minute documentary titled Henry Hildebrandt, Ray Tinsman and S. Hargrave, false Apostles? Church of God Restoration a Cult?

In this video, there is an exposure of various dangerous teachings coming from their leaders. I will be relying on this video – as the words of such men speak for themselves. But, I understand, people can take a video out of context through edits – so I will tread lightly in certain areas.

First. The video opens with various statements from various (self-appointed) apostles. When one is giving themselves the title Apostle, they are essential declaring they are responsible for the transmission or delivery of the divine, authoritative teaching. An elementary understanding of Scripture would reveal that God spoke finally through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2) – The Original (real) Apostles were men, who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16-17, 2 Pet 1:20) recorded what took place in the life of Christ and through the transition of Apostolic leadership to Church elder placement (Titus 1:5-7). Therefore, the office of the Apostle is closed. We see this in the instruction Paul gives his young apprentice Timothy, when he tells him to hold fast to what has been delivered – not raise a new line of Apostles (2 Tim 3:14-17). 

So out of the gate, there are several concerns. First, the Church of God (Restoration) appoints apostles and even female apostles. Is this enough to break fellowship? Not necessarily – but one needs to go back to the understanding of the role of an apostle. “The transmission or delivery of divine, authoritative teaching.” When this type of authority is proclaimed; hearing the very words of Henry Hildebrandt, referring to himself, as John the Baptist (00:00-00:3), or Ray Tinsman declare, “If I were mean as a snake, you’d still have to follow me to go to heaven” (00:03-00:07) are alarming. Even more concerning is Stephen Hargrave’s (another man appointed apostle) declaration “leaving the church of God is being prostituted.” Again, can things be taken out of context? Sure, but in the mini-documentary, however Ernest Benion Jr out of Ohio declares, “this is the salvation message, if you want to be saved, all you got to do is agree with us” (00:24-00:30). Should this not ring loud enough for any Bible-literate individual to see something is wrong? The salvation message is not agreeing with a self-appointed apostle. Jesus Christ lived and willingly died for our sins. He was buried and raised the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:1-4). By Grace, through faith in Christ, one is saved. Case closed.

Again, here is a significant issue when those appoint themselves in this office of a modern-day apostle or the office of prophets. They hold that these positions make them unique and a higher class of believers. Specifically, in the Church of God’s understanding of living in the end days, the seventh Angel will sound the trumpet as declared by his servants [Source], in which they claim to be as called out from the rest of the body. 

The film’s narrator (Jeri) suggests the restoration movement feels they are the end-time Church and that the multitudes will be gathered to their movement. The evidence of COVID – Restrictions and a possible apocalyptic type of anticipation make more sense in Henry’s drive and the churches fueling their beliefs.

There is another concern every true under-shepherd should think about, and that is flock stealing. Suppose the charge Jeri makes that the Church of God members come into the local Church and attempt to take away members into destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). In that case, pastors must take this allegation seriously as the Government stepping into church matters. See video portion (01:16-01:26). Further, the words of Ray Tinsman speak of the need to weed out the unbelievers in the Church of God to make room for the many new members flowing in (01:42-01:53). So the words of such leaders lend evidence of the end times position and restoration of the proper church mindset in which this movement holds to.

The documentary addresses dress code, which is of little concern for me, as every Church celebrates a method or style over others. But seeing two problems already – the narrator moves into the meat and potatoes of the film and unpacks the dangers of the Church of God’s doctrine. There are several claims made quickly. The matter of shunning or isolation of members if they question or challenge the Church’s teachings. The demand of members obedience to the rules and instructions of the Church, and what sort of undergarments females may wear. Now I read and skimmed through various blog posts from different authors that may suggest these concerns. Many blogs lacked Scripture references and were more opinion pieces, so I cannot directly speak on the issues at this time. However, what is essential to the doctrine issue raised in the film is; what is and what is not a cult?

Ligonier Ministries released an article by Edmond Gruss, October 29, 2012, titled What is a cult? I recommend all visit the article; please read it in full. As a former Jehovah Witness, he shares some good insights to understand cult operations in a fast read. Edmond touches on the adds to, or extra-Biblical revelations, as possible evidence to a cult, which the Church of God does. Another area the article addresses; “does the Church add to the requirements of salvation”? It appears the Church of God holds to adding to requirements. Why? To be part of the Church, one needs to agree with what is taught and not against the teachings or rules. The articles also speak of division. Edmond writes, 

does the organization claim to be the only one that has the truth? Does it claim it is God’s sole channel or only true Church? As a result, are all other religious organizations to be rejected as false? If a person leaves the group, is salvation lost? [Source]

Again, the Church of God believes it is the true end times church. The self-appointed apostles make claims of truth and prophecy, all indicating mould in the flour. As the video goes on, there is concerning language within the “cult-like” terminology that I cannot cover here. There are heretical issues in this movement, so much so after a minister hearing them should immediately stop all engagements, cooperation, or affiliation with teachers of the Church of God. Ray Tinsman and other (self-appointed apostles) claim they are God in the Flesh. There is an apparent exchange of words in a conversation God and Henry Hildebrandt had (04:04-04): when Henry declares God appoints him to grant forgiveness for sins, “if you forgive their sins, they are forgiven…you will have to come by brother Henry Hildebrandt, and you will have to ask Henry Hildebrandt if you can be forgiven”. This a direct attack on the person and work of Jesus Christ, who alone takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, John 14:6); so much so, Henry applies the office of apostle as one who grants forgiveness, and if the apostle does not grant it – there is no forgiveness. Again, an assault on the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Heb 9:22, John 3:16-18, 1 John 4:10)

If this was not bad enough, a man asks a question in the film, “can the Church, meaning its leaders take away someone’s salvation”? The answer by Ray Tinsman was, “this is a doctrinal question…again, in short, yes.” (05:18-05:50). There is some back and forth, and someone could have edited the video. However, another major concern comes to the surface. When the question is asked, “Could an apostle write Scripture?” The answer given by Tinsman is “an apostle wrote most all Scripture.” The man asking the question pushed for further clarity and asked again, “Could one of you (meaning a church of God apostle) write Scripture?” to which Tinsman said, “yes sir” (06:16-06:32).

I have only covered up to around 10 minutes of this video. I have reviewed reports, doctrinal statements, and other media to prove or disprove what the video highlighted. There are some areas of fog, and clarity is needed for sure. On the other hand, there is also no point in highlighting disagreements one after another. But one thing is clear; there is much we DO NOT know about the Church of God Restoration movement. We can confirm that the video is correct on the issue of the apostle placement and their understanding of the office. Just as much as the office of the prophet, which one can find on their website. We clearly hear the words of Henry Hildebrandt and Ray Tinsman exalt themselves and their offices in the movement. We see many gathering to Henry’s Church here in Canada and even seeing some people from the congregation’s head over to become members of this dangerous movement. We can sift through the footage and gather concerns about cult-like practices and belief systems within the Church of God. We hear in the very words of Henry Hildebrandt – regardless of if there was an edit that he has been called to grant forgiveness by God and that the Church of God feels they can, to some degree, take away salvation. Lastly, the teaching the Church of God or their apostles can write Scripture. Since it was appointed to the Apostles of the New Testament to do such a thing, they feel they can as well. So our radars best be turned on and tuned in as the movement gains more popularity across Canada.

As a Protestant Pastor, the alarm bells sounded in the documentary are concerning. As we move forward to keep the Church open, to defy the Government’s attack on Christianity, is it worth us partnering or even standing on the same platform of such men? I would say no. We must continue forward, but never at the cost of causing someone to feel there is safe pasture in such a movement or belonging to such a movement is safe and proper. We would not partner with a Jehovah’s Witness, nor a Mormon; why would we partner with any leader with such heretical positions? We would never send someone to a Jehovah’s Witness congregation or a Mormon Temple – why would we do such a thing now with this movement? 

It is the position of myself and The Mill Christian Fellowship to denounce Ray Tinsman as he is a false teacher. As much, to call out all the false self-appointed apostles and prophets of The Church of God as false prophets and teachers, including Henry Hildebrandt. Further, since the documentary has exposed statements and attitudes, all movement leaders need to publicly repent or be thoroughly examined concerning their doctrine and practice. They are to be reviewed and answer for their positions openly, including that of Ray Tinsman and all self-appointed apostles, prophets and teachers. Because of the severity of heresy, and cult control this movement has been exposed to holding, we cannot and will not acknowledge this as a church.

Lastly, dear pastor, if you or your church is on the list of faithful churches staying open and defying the tyranny of the Government, please think twice before partnering or allowing yourself to be yoked to Henry Hildebrandt or any prophet of an apostle of the Church of God. Doing so is yoking yourself to Tinsman and false teachers who indeed are preaching a different Gospel.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Steve

 

Further Reading for Research:

(Caution: Not sound Teaching)

History of The Church of God: Daniel Layne

The Church of God Presbytery 

Doctrinal Statement (Not clearly defined)

The Blasphemous Messenger Listings

___________________

More concerns over the Church of God. From Pastor Steve Richardson (Sound Teaching – Please Read) – The Church of God and Ray Tinsman

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