MODERN  HISTORY  OF  THE  PEOPLES  OF  THE  7TH  DAY  OBSERVANCE   IN  THE  CHURCH  OF  GOD  #14




Sunday Church of God:  Its Ties with Seventh Day Church of God


In relation to the restoration of the nation of Israel prior to the Second Coming, and its pre-eminence in the Kingdom of God, another church has taught much the same as the Church of God  (Seventh Day). This is the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, also known as the Churches of God in Christ Jesus, or Church of God (Oregon, Illinois).


The 1908 Advocate stated that "these people hold the same faith and doctrines as we do with the exception of their rejection of the Sabbath."


INTERESTING  BUT  A  PRETTY  BIG  REJECTION  I  WOULD  SAY,  TO  KEEP  THEMSELVES  FROM  BEING  PART  OF  THE  TRUE  PEOPLE  OF  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


A 1907 issue even advertises the Twelfth Annual Conference of the Churches of God in Christ Jesus, held at Waterloo, Iowa, August 17-25. Again is mention that, though they do not observe the Sabbath, they were "believers of the other points of our faith."


The question naturally arises whether these people held to the observance of an annual Lord's Supper, certainly a primary Church of God (Seventh Day) doctrine.


Elder C. E. Groshans of Indiana used their church building in Grand Rapids for meetings, and noted that their "faith we heartily endorse."


The Restitution church appears to be an Adventist body whose origins may be traced back to Joseph Marsh. Scattered groups of Restitutionists, Age to Come Adventists and others organized in 1888 at Philadelphia as the Churches of God in Christ Jesus. The next year the "organization" ceased to function, and it wasn't until 1921 that a General Conference was organized at Waterloo, Iowa.   Headquarters was established at Oregon, Illinois. A loose group, based on the state conference system of government, the church had 2224 members in 1916, 3528 members in 1926 and about 5800 in 1965.


In 1917 the church had two periodicals, The Restitution (Cleveland, Ohio) and The Restitution Herald (Oregon, Illinois), which paper had apparently been going since about 1851. Churches in 1890 were at Cleveland; Philadelphia; Brooklyn; San Diego; Seattle; Plymouth, Indiana; Salem, Ohio; Falrview, Nebraska (with N.H. Hornaday the elder); Andover, South Dakota; Frontier County, Nebraska; and Happy Woods, Louisiana. Interestingly, the 1917 Yearbook of Churches confused the Church of God (Adventist) with the Churches of God in Christ Jesus  (Adventist).


One  man  did  observe  the  Sabbath 


The Restitution Church of God tended to consist of independents. One such "a man of strong individuality" who "followed no one's leading" was Bible scholar and debator Elder George M. Myers (1838-1908). His obituary in the 1908 Bible Advocate gives him as the author of "The Atonement," "The Covenants of Promise," and also a Church of God hymnal, "Glad Tidings." Myers was the publisher of secular and religious papers and periodicals in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, and helped to organize and re-organize conferences of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri-Kansas, and Kansas-Oklahoma. He was President of the Missouri-Kansas Restitutionist Church of God at his death. He was termed a firm believer in the Sabbath, Anglo-Israelism, the covenants of promise, the Second Coming of Christ and the Kingdom of God on the earth.


Further research may show more of the interesting ties between the Church of God  (Seventh Day) and the Churches of God in Christ Jesus.   


Pagan Holidays


Similarly to the Seventh Day Baptists, the Church of God has from time to time preached against Christmas, and Easter, but has not been adamantly against the Christmas holiday.


A 1907 Advocate stated that Easter was of pagan origins. In 1909, W. A. H. Gilstrap wrote that Christmas is a pagan holiday, comparing it to the "day of the sun," or Sunday. In 1925, there was a strong article stating that Christ was not born on December 25, and that Christmas is of Papal origins. Readers were encouraged to read an encyclopedia article on Christmas, renounce the holiday custom of gift-giving, and put their money directly in the work of the Lord.


The Ministry — Ordination and Recommendation Church of God ministers fell into two categories: licensed ministers and credentialed ministers. Young ministerial aspirants were first granted a license by their state organization, before being ordained and granted credentials by the General Conference. As a "precaution against wolves," the General Conference credentials went to ordained, fully recognized ministers who adhered to Church of God teachings.   


Ordination was done by anointing with oil and laying on of hands, as shown in the ordination of Harvey Briggs of Muskegon Heights, Michigan, by Elder C.E. Groshans.


Those reported as licensed and credentialed by the General Conference were not all the ministers of the church, for licensed ministers residing in a state that had a state conference were not listed by the General Conference.


About 1911, the Church of God required all ministers with credentials to report their work at the end of the year to headquarters, and they had to show some activity to be continued as church ministers.  Later, because many ministers were getting old and became unable to be active, they were placed on a retired list, and still recognized in good standing.


Issue of Church Government    Critical Problem


As in 1905, doctrinal questions were allowed to split the Church of God because the issue of Church Government had not been resolved.


Was the church to have authority to discipline its members? Or was each allowed to have his own private opinion on various doctrinal subjects?


As early as 1908, the General Conference stated that "no member of this Conference shall be allowed to teach any doctrine in public which is not believed by us as a Conference until it is first investigated by said Conference and accepted."


Violation of this principle could bring refusal to renew a minister's credentials for one year. 


It is interesting to note that at this Corfernce, the five member Executive Committee was elected by majority vote of ordained ministers.


Each state could send a delegate, even if it was not organized into a state conference. The General Conference allowed regular lay members to participate in deliberations, but not to vote in proceedings. And further, the Conference stated that it would withdraw fellowship from any of its members for a good cause.


In 1924, Elder J. T. Williamson reported that an unnamed "colaborer" had left the ranks, wanting to be independent, and feeling that the Church of God had "popes."


In 1928, the By-Laws of the Constitution were altered so that no member could teach any doctrine publicly which was not believed by the Conference, without clearly stating that such belief was not endorsed by the Church of God, but that it was his own individual opinion.


Clearly, such procedures were not to prove effective. Those who held divergent views refused to be kept silent. The result was division.

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THE  SUBJECT  OF  CHURCH  GOVERNMENT  IS  COVERED  IN-DEPTH  IN  MY  MANY  STUDIES  ON  THE  SUBJECT.  TO  PUT  IT  SUCCINCTLY,  EACH  LOCAL  CHURCH  SHOULD  BE  SUBJECT  TO  ITSELF  ONLY,  AND  WORK  WITH  OTHER  CHURCHES  OF  THE  SAME  OR  NEARLY  THE  SAME  BELIEFS;  SOME  TOLERANCE  GIVEN  TO  NONE  SALVATION  ISSUES,  LIKE  "BRITISH  ISRAELISM."  HENCE  A  LOOSE  CONFEDERATION  OF  CHURCHES.  IN  MY EXPERIENCE  ANYTHING  OTHER  LEADS  TO  NOT  GROWING  IN  GRACE  AND  KNOWLEDGE  OF  CHRIST  JESUS.  AND  A  RIGIDITY  IS  THE  NATURAL  RESULT.


Keith Hunt