Christian Churches of God
Formation of the Christian Churches of God
(Edition 4.0 19960308-20060630-20070730-20101104)
Due to increasing interest in the Church, the how and why of the formation of the Christian Churches of God is explained so that a more informed approach can be adopted by those people studying us. We also look at the names allocated to the Church and its common generic name, which is shown to be the Church of God in the singular and Churches of God in the plural.
Formation of the Christian Churches of God
The Christian Churches of God (CCG) was formed in 1994 and commenced services on 1 Nisan 1994. The question is often asked as to our reasons for forming. Attempts are made to trivialise the issues to personalities or, in some way, to avoid the real issues and reasons for our forming. We exist because, in all good conscience before God, we could not join the extant alternatives.
The Church was formed by a number of baptised members of the Church of God, many of whom had association with the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). As the years went by, the members came from many other churches as well. A large number in various countries have never had any association with or knowledge of the WCG, although many still join CCG from the offshoots of that organisation.
As many people are aware, the Worldwide Church of God (originally named the Radio Church of God) had been formed from the Church of God (Seventh Day) after the split in 1940. Both of those churches were Unitarian in their formation and early doctrines. The Church had been Unitarian for some nineteen hundred years, and had been persecuted for this doctrine to the point of extermination in many areas. The Church has always taught that there is only One True God and that Jesus Christ is His Son (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20). Christ is not the One True God and he derives eternal life from the One True God, who is the Father (Jn. 5:26). The One True God alone is immortal (1Tim. 6:16) and has been seen by no human (Jn. 1:18; 1Tim. 6:16) (see the paper The Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127)).
From as early as 1955, there had been movements within the WCG which questioned the Unitarian doctrinal basis to the Church, and which were attempting to take the Church in a Trinitarian direction. This appeared to be with the direct support of Herbert Armstrong, perhaps for reasons of a broader appeal. After 1955, some articles and papers, such as Is Jesus God?, began positing theological positions on behalf of and in the name of the Worldwide Church of God which were antithetical to the Unitarian theological foundation of the Radio Church of God. Such articles posited theological positions on behalf of the Radio and later Worldwide Church of God which could not be reconciled with the Unitarian basis of the Church, and which appeared to ignore the history of the Unitarian theological doctrines that underpinned the Church when it was originally formed. Those members of the Worldwide Church of God who remained true to its Unitarian belief structure were unhappy with the new theological direction that the WCG was moving in. This theological shift away from a Unitarian basis of belief continued unabated, however, and in 1994 the Worldwide Church of God became Trinitarian by formal proclamation.
The people forming the body of the Christian Churches of God at its inaugural conference had remained within the body of the Worldwide Church of God in spite of the heretical declarations of some of the Binitarian/Ditheist ministry that had influenced Herbert Armstrong. While the Church operated there was never a prayer to anyone other than the Father in the name of Christ, which is the correct procedure, and so no conflict of beliefs emerged. It was also obvious that many of the Church were simply worshippers of men. Two churches had formed from the Worldwide Church of God because of the changes taking place from 1987-1991. Our people could not join these churches because they were considered to be in serious error. Moreover, they had been formed as companies under the ownership and control of a few individuals.
Herbert Armstrong had initially formed a church association with good intentions and then transformed it into a private corporation owned by him alone, by an alleged referendum. The organisations formed from WCG were also solely owned and in error. The primary objection is that all were Binitarian or Ditheist. These errors are as serious in their way as is Trinitarianism.
The members who formed the Christian Churches of God were faced with a series of choices. It was obvious that they could not join the extant churches for all the reasons that had destroyed the Worldwide Church of God and because of their insipient error.
The Church saw no option but to re-form as the Christian Churches of God and continue the charter given to the Church by Jesus Christ in 30 CE.
The process of formation and determination
The members of CCG at the outset wanted to form an organisation that was owned by the members, each of whom had a vote in the determination of the affairs of the Church.
They vowed never again to allow a ministry to steal their Church from them by deceit and false doctrine. Accordingly, it was decided to set up the Church with a clear Statement of Beliefs and a very clearly delineated Constitution, as seen in the Statement of Beliefs of the Christian Faith (A1) and the Constitution (A2).
It was resolved that each person coming into the Church would be required to undertake to abide by both controlling documents of the Church. The procedures for altering the documents by amendment were provided for in the Constitution, but the absolute monotheism of God as taught by the first-century Church was doubly entrenched in the Constitution so that no person again could introduce Binitariansim, Ditheism or Trinitarianism to the Church of God, at least within CCG.
A number of referenda were undertaken by the Church over the first few years to tighten up the Constitution and make some minor adjustments to the Statement of Beliefs.
It soon became obvious that there had to be a trial period involved before people could be admitted to voting membership, and that amendment was passed in the formation of the World Conference in 1998. In 1996 and 1997, the formation of churches in the USA and Canada, and others in Europe, saw those groups attend the Reading of the Law in the Sabbatical Year of 1998. The Reading of the Law is compulsory in the Seventh year (Deut. 31:10–13). The Church officers are appointed by lot if numbers exceed positions nationally and at the international conference at the Feast of Tabernacles. The National Conferences all appoint and credential their officers at Passover and Unleavened Bread. These representatives then proceed to the World Conference at Tabernacles.
The current Coordinator General of the Church (Wade Cox), being an Australian-trained philosopher in the field of Religion and Ethics and in Public Law, was made editor in chief of CCG and effectively senior theologian from 1994. He retains this role under the World Conference. Editorial control is vested in the World Conference through the Coordinator General and the Coordinator General has the power of veto.
Officers are appointed by lot under the Constitution. All officers are controlled by the Constitution and the Statement of Beliefs and are required to insist on their compliance. The Coordinator General, assisted by the Deputy Coordinator General, has the power to appoint and form churches within the three-year period and credential new ministry to the Church.
The three General Secretaries are appointed by the Coordinators General. They are usually appointed from among the national secretaries or officers. They are appointed on their merits, and women as well as men may serve in those roles. They retire at 70 under the constitution.
The Board of Elders of the World Conference consists of those national chairmen appointed and the regional representatives appointed by the World Conference. It is these officers who control doctrine under chairmanship of the Coordinators General.
The members of national boards and the World Conference cannot be on the payroll of the Church. They are entitled to receive an allowance akin to a director’s fee, and be employed in any industry. Thus conflict of interest is minimised.
Churches have been formed and a significant number incorporated in many nations, in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia as well as Australasia, where the CCG was first formed.
Unfortunately, some people, and occasionally whole churches, have had to be removed because of failure to comply with the doctrines and Constitution of the Church or the lawful directives of the Church. The Church will not compromise its beliefs for numbers.
Each person is required to complete an undertaking to comply with the Statement of Beliefs and the Constitution. If they are no longer in agreement, they agree to leave peacefully. In this way the Church is comprised of people who agree with the doctrines and worship together in peace.
People can only be disfellowshipped under specific circumstances, and may elect a hearing before a council of the Church.
There are specific procedures for handling new doctrinal views, which may be advanced by anyone in the congregation. Their papers are sent to the national Secretaries and provided to the national bodies for review. If considered to be of merit, they are sent to the World Conference for consideration by the Executive Committee and then the Board of Elders. If rejected, the matter still has to be placed before the World Conference, which may disagree with the national board, suggest amendments, or put it to a vote. If considered correct and the proposals require an adoption by the Church to alter the foundational documents, a referendum of the voting members takes place. If it obtains the required majority under the Constitution, then the basic documents of the Church are amended.
The power of veto covers the subject of the monotheism of God, which is doubly entrenched in the Constitution. The worship of the One True God cannot be compromised in CCG.
There have been a number of churches formed since 1994, but each has the same government and doctrinal problems that caused the split in WCG in the first place.
Other Churches of God have been undermined and are doing the same things that caused the breakdown of WCG. People from these organisations are joining us regularly.
Some of the people from the European systems, that were part of the Churches of God at the Reformation in Europe, are also joining us, because we hold the original doctrines of the Church and have not corrupted the true Unitarian beliefs of the historical Churches of God.
The Christian Churches of God are not and never could be an offshoot of the WCG system. They are many times the size of WCG at its peak and are comprised of many branches of the Churches of God (Seventh Day) and Seventh Day Baptist Churches and Seventh Day Adventist Churches and also Churches of Christ of various branches and many other churches. Many of them are made up of ex-Muslims. The vast majority of the officers and the fellowship of the Christian Churches of God have never ever seen the inside of the WCG and Offshoot system.
Any claims attacking CCG as an Armstrongite system are fraudulent.
The Church of God has existed for two thousand years despite persecution from various sources, mostly from mainstream, so-called Christianity. The Church existed in individuals as the elect of God from the patriarchs. Christ brought salvation to the world and thus commenced the Church as a body. We in CCG trace ourselves back through this Church (see the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)).
The name of the Church is found in the Bible as the Church of God in the singular (Acts 20:28; 1Cor. 1:2; 1Cor. 11:22; 1Cor. 15:9; 2Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; 1Tim. 3:5). Groupings of the ecclesia in the plural are known as the Churches of God (1Thes. 2:14; 2Thes. 1:4). The general terms extend to the Household of God, which is identified as the Church of the Living God (1Tim. 3:15). The Church is referred to also as the Assembly or Church of the Firstborn (Heb. 12:23), the Household of Faith (Gal. 6:10) and the Churches of the Gentiles (Rom. 16:4).
Sometimes Paul refers to the Churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16; Gal. 1:22); however, nowhere is the Church referred to as the Church of Christ (singular). The plural Churches of Christ is a generic term used by Paul to the Romans and Galatians and means the Churches in Christ. They are also known as the Churches of the Saints (1Cor. 14:33).
There is no doubt, however, that Paul, Luke and the Apostles generally understood the title of the Church to be the Church of God when it is applied to the specific Church in individual locations, no matter where placed. This title is normally followed by the distinction of the name of the location. This is expressed as the Church of God in or at a particular location (e.g. The Church of God in Canberra). These generic titles have the same effect as the titles Churches of Galatia, etc. (e.g. Gal. 1:2).
All of these titles refer to the end result, which is the Kingdom of God (Jn. 3:5; Lk. 22:16; Acts 28:23,31). By delegation, this title is extended as the Kingdom of God’s dear son (Col. 1:13). We do not enter a Church on baptism – we enter the Kingdom of God. The elect become part of the Church.
The grouping of the Churches as an apostolic conference is termed the Churches of God. The Churches are the Body of Christ. The Faith is termed The Way, and the Churches in the New Covenant era are appropriately termed the Christian Churches of God.