MODERN HISTORY OF 7TH DAY SABBATH OBSERVING CHURCHES OF GOD #21
REMEMBER RICHARD NICKELS IS ONLY BRINGING US TO 1973 IN THIS BOOK - Keith Hunt
In July of 1970 the Bible Advocate was made free, the first time in in its 107-year history this had been done. The reasons given for this were to expand the paper to nonmembers and reach more people. Also in July, Floyd Turner of Owosso, Michigan replaced Noah Camero as editor of the Advocate. Camero had served since 1967.
In October of 1970 the Sabbath School Missionary for youngsters was discontinued and replaced by Footprints magazine. The teen magazine title is Aim, and its volume numbers indicate it was established in 1936, but may have had a different titles earlier. A home course in Bible Study, the "Searchlight Bible Course" of 30 lessons was being offered free.
The Church of God (Seventh Day) in Mexico has an estimated 20,000 plus members. On November 8-13, 1971 a ministers meeting was held at Acapulco, attending by over 150 Mexican ministers, and also Robert Coulter and Noah Camero from the United States.
From this meeting, Coulter and Camero went to Guatemala City, headquarters of the Central American work. There they attended the annual Church of God (Seventh Day) council of Central America, where 40-50 delegates from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua met from November 17-20, 1971.
Elder Antonio Vega of Guatemala is the overseer of the Central American work. He raised up other churches in South America in 1970 when he visited Panama, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.
At a meeting on his return it was agreed by the Central American headquarters to send Elder Manuel Soto Lopez on a return trip.
Vega reported that the Managua, Nicaragua Church of God was spared during the earthquake there, and the United States churches were sending relief supplies to their Latin brethren there.
The General Conference in the United States in 1971 agreed to sponsor Elder Andres Leiva, formerly the overseer in Honduras, to be missionary to Ecuador. He soon established the work in Ecuador, incorporating the Church of God (Seventh Day) there.
In Jamaica there are said to be 38 churches. Elder Thomas Madden is overseer there, replacing Elder Charles J. Ellis who died in 1972; Wilfred Saunders of Trinidad oversees four churches on that island,. Another group, in Nassau, Bahamas, is headed by Joseph S. Garvey.
In 1971, Elder E. A. Straub made a trip to Eastern Europe, where he contacted Sabbath keepers in Poland and elsewhere that are interested in working with the Church of God. They have only "minor differences' with the Church of God in the United States. Chorzow is the headquarters of the Polish work, led by Brothers Bujok and Wiecek. Straub reported seven to eight Polish churches (60 to 79 at Chorzow, 85 at Brenna, some in Gdansk, and 85-90 at Bielsko Beala) with 400 members. There are supposed to be 80 members in Czechoslovakia, and others in Romania and Hungary. Elder Helmut Strauss heads the German work.
There is a small work in Norway and in Belgium, where Elder F. C. Ardaen lives.
In England, there is reported to be rapid growth, currently some 500-600 members. Elder Erlo S. Hendricks of London appears to be the leader. He is black. Elder Reed of Manchester reports a church of 80 at Birmingham.
In Nigeria, overseer of the Church of God (Sabbatarian) was Bishop Benjamin I. Tikili of Port Hareourt, River State. Numerous other ministers are mentioned in Messenger reports.
In the Philippines, a Church of God radio program was going out in 1972 over DXMB Malaybalay and DXSYOzamis City. And in India, Elder P. Joseph resides in Bhinavaram, Godavari District.
The 1973 biennial conference was held at St. Marys, Ohio, August 10-18. It was probably the first one held east of the Mississippi River.
Why So Little Growth?
Seventh Day Adventists are quick to point out the steady growth and success of their movement as a strong indication that their work is that of God. Worldwide, they today number over 1, 000,000.
THIS WAS IN THE VERY EARLY 1970s; TODAY THE SDA CHURCH IS 12,000,000 PLUS. IT WAS REPORTED ABOUT 2005 ON THE TV NEWS, THAT THERE ARE ONLY TWO CHURCH GROUPS THAT ARE INCREASING IN THE WOLRD - THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST. NATURALLY THE TRUE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE NOT TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT SINCE THEY ARE SCATTERED AS SALT OVER A MEAL, AND THEY ARE STILL AS JESUS SAID, "THE VERY LITTLE FLOCK [ORIGINAL GREEK] - THOSE TRUE SAINTS ARE ALSO INCREASING AROUND THE WORLD - Keith Hunt
The Seventh Day Baptists have steadily declined since the early 1900's. The president of the Seventh Day Baptist Milton College, a former Seventh Day Baptist pastor, admits that Seventh Day Baptists are a dying church. This was even apparent in the early days of the Adventists, before 1860. O. P. Hull, a Seventh Day Baptist minister, attended an Adventist conference in Albion, Wisconsin and was greatly impressed by the fervor of the Adventists. He told Bates that Seventh Day Baptists could convince people of the legality of the Sabbath, but "they could not get them to move as the Sabbath Adventists did."
THE SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS ARE BUT DISAPPEARED FROM THE EARTH AS OF 2015 - Keith Hunt
The splits and schisms of the Church of God, Seventh Day in the United States has, as its ministers admit, hindered growth. The largest (and most organized) group, headquartered out of Denver, reported only 5,500 members in 1964.
THAT WAS FOR THE USA AND CANADA - WELL IN CANADA THEY ARE JUST ABOUT NONE EXISTANT as of 2015 - Keith Hunt
In 1971, a young ministerial student of Stanberry admitted that the member figure of the Merger Group was closer to 4,500. Other groups have far less. In November of 1969, the Bible Advocate went to only 2,225 paid subscribers.
Despite the free Advocate program instituted in 1970, the current figure is hardly up to 10, 000 copies. And this is monthly, when in the 1920's, the Advocate was a weekly. The 1000 new members added in 1923 has never been repeated.
Divisions have caused many to leave the church altogether. The town of Stanberry itself shows the decline. In 1914, it had 2, 200 inhabitants; in 1920, only 1, 864; and is currently about 1, 400.
Seventh Day Adventist historian Loughborough presented a challenge to the Church of God, that must be answered. He maintained that the opposition to Ellen G. White came mostly from "those who have been reproved for defects in character, for wrong habits, or for some wrong course in their manner of life." They left the ranks, protesting that they were not as bad as her testimony said. At his writing (1892), Loughborough stated that the breakaway groups had made no success in spreading Sabbath truth. "If those opposing this gift are led by the Lord, why should they lose their spirituality, and backslide from God?... a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. "
Later (1909), Loughborough stated that the organized opposition to Ellen G. White's testimonies had met "utter failure." And "after years of battling they have given no more evidence of spreading the Sabbath truth before the world than those of their kindred did 49 years period of religious enthusiasm had lasted from about 1800 and was centered in western New York (Rochester being the home of James White's paper, the Advent Review). But after 1844, there was a noticeable decline of conversions, and the period of revival's came to an abrupt end. One historian notes that "For years [after 1844] the spiritual condition of some parts of the State of New York was not unlike that of a prairie after it has been swept by fire. All was blackness and desolation and death." It was, as Whitney Cross' book is entitled, a "Burned Over District." Western New York, and Ohio and Michigan, first on the westward road of migration, were the centers of this "Burned Over District," and were the birthplaces of the Church of God (Seventh Day).
THIS KIND OF TALK FROM THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS IS ABOUT AS GOOD AS THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH TALK. THEY ALSO CLAIM TO BE THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD ON EARTH, AND THEY HAVE BEEN INCREASING ALL THE TIME; NOW OVER ONE BILLION ROMAN CATHOLICS ON EARTH. NUMBERS MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. JESUS SAID HIS TRUE PEOPLE WOULD BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH AND THE VERY LITTLE FLOCK, BUT THE GATES OF DEATH WOULD NEVER PREVAIL OVER THEM - Keith Hunt
Seventh Day Baptist Legacy
The Seventh Day Baptists, originally called the Church of God or the Church of Christ, were ancestors of the Church of God (Seventh Day). What were they like at the birth of The Messenger of Truth, and later, The Hope of Israel? As Dugger notes, "some among the oldest of these congregations... have, like Israel of old, departed, to some degree, from the old paths in which their forefathers trod. While they still hold to the true Sabbath and baptism these certain congregations have taken an unscriptural gospel, and several other important tenets of faith."
Further, they "were growing cold and indifferent toward the truth, drifting toward the world, and becoming like the Gentiles around them...." As a result, "some began gradually drifting away from the former piety and love for the Bible, and the Bible only, for their faith and practice, and took upon themselves another name besides the one divinely given of God."
Seventh Day Baptists forgot the annual Passover that the original London church had observed. They forgot the conditionalist beliefs of their forefathers, and came to believe in the immortal soul. And they neglected the Sabbath, the only sign demonstrating that they did keep the commandments of God. They began to compromise as to keeping the Sabbath. The President of the Seventh Day Baptist Conference, Dr. George W. Post, said in 1904: "For a man to starve his family in order to keep the Sabbath is unnatural under existing conditions. It is also unnecessary."
In matters such as smoking and drinking and the Old Testament dietary laws, the Seventh Day Baptist church in the later period failed to legislate, leaving the matter to "the judgment of the individual."
The trend of "watering down" of religion had already far advanced among Seventh Day Baptists by the 1840's. Yet Samuel Davison initiated an appeal for the church to stir itself up. He was instrumental in pushing through a Conference resolution setting aside November 1, 1843 as an day of fasting and prayer that God would "arise and plead for his holy Sabbath." Another day in January, 1845 was also set aside for fasting. Earnest editorials in the Sabbath Recorder, such as the one entitled, "O Lord, Revive Thy Works," in the August 7, 1845 issue, tried to stir up the church, but to no avail.
Davison, Cottrell, Sheffield and a few other Seventh Day Baptists were used to carry on the Church of God work, but there were few zealots during this time. The sleepy "small town syndrome," instead of big city evangelism, was a legacy the lethargic Seventh Day Baptists handed to the Church of God.
Seventh Day Adventist Legacy
Starting on the blackened soil of Millerism and the lethargy of Seventh Day Baptists, Sabbath Adventists were faced with a greater threat from within: the visions of Ellen G. White and the harsh dictatorship of her husband. Feigned or not in her power to control, the visions turned many against the Sabbath and religion altogether. As Canright laments, "The natural rebound from fanaticism and superstition is into infidelity and scepticism.... the ripe fruit of [Seventh Day] Adventism in the years to come will be a generation of infidels."
This was to hold true in too many cases. William Brinkerhoff, B.F. Snook, Moses Hull, H.S. Dille and other early leaders in the Church of God fell away. For many, even contact with the Whites often proved to be spiritual poison. The legacy of Seventh Day Adventists to the Church of God was to prove far more deadly than either Millerism or Seventh Day Baptists.
Joseph Marsh and the "Independent View"
Since the Seventh Day Adventists organized and changed their name from Church of God, those who would not go along with the White Party often were entirely against all forms of organization. Some Adventists could see that the name Church of God was scriptural, but could not come around to the Sabbath, probably because to do so would mean that there was only the vision-inspired White Party to ally with. Thus, the Age-to-Come group, calling themselves the Church of God, came into being as a very loose and unorganized church that did not formally get together until the 1920's.
Joseph Marsh, the predecessor of the Age-to-Come Church of God, wrote in his paper, The Voice of Truth and Glad Tidings in May 21, 1845, that the name Church of God is the only name that the true body can be called. He wrote strongly against organizing with a statement of beliefs, which he felt was the first step towards religious persecution.
Marsh's view was apparently picked up by many of the Hope of Israel party, as it wasn't until 1884 when the Church of God General Conference was organized, and 1900 when the church became incorporated. Still, "Independent" views were allowed and in 1929 when some attempt to enforce unanimity was instituted, it was to no avail, and actually precipitated the 1933 division.
The "I'll let no man or organization tell me what to preach" syndrome was to insure a disunited Church of God and precipitate the recurrent splits which exemplify Church of God history.
AND THAT IS FINE; JESUS AS HEAD OF HIS CHURCH, HAS ALWAYS SIFTED HIS PEOPLE AS WHEAT IS SIFTED FROM THE CHAFF. HIS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH - SPRINKLED HERE AND THERE, WITH NO CENTRAL ORGANIZATION. TODAY WITH THE WORLDWIDE INTERNET IT IS EVEN MORE SO. INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE AND FAMILIES CAN FIND THE TRUTH OF GOD; SOMETIMES A LOCAL CHURCH CONGREGATION IS FORMED, WITH TRUE MINISTERS OF GOD, WITH LOCAL AUTONOMY; SOMETIMES "HOUSE CHURCHES" ARE FORMED; AND OFTEN IT IS INDIVIDUALS AND INDIVIDUAL FAMILIES, TIED TOGETHER THROUGH THE MEDIA OF THE INTERNET, OR ATTENDING A CHURCH VIA "STREAM LINING" - SUCH IS THE MODERN AGE OF THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD, THE VERY LITTLE FLOCK - Keith Hunt
A Dying Church?
The decline of the Church of God (Seventh Day) is not as apparent as the Seventh Day Baptists because there are so many groups to keep track of and membership figures are inaccurate or unobtainable. But certainly the widespread home and foreign missionary activity extant in the 1920's is no longer taking place. Few, if any, outside the Church of God (Seventh Day) or its Sabbath-keeping cousins have ever heard of the group.
An interesting article in a Bible Advocate sometime in the early 1920's is entitled "A Dying Church." Written by O.R. Osman, then Secretary of the General Missionary Department, it states: "A Church that is doing nothing for the public is on its way to the cemetery. All its members who are doing nothing are acting as pall bearers. All who are so busy with their own affairs that they've no time to devote to the Lord's cause are making the mourning wreath. The brother who says nothing at all is driving the hearse. The ones who are constantly drawing back when moves are to be made are throwing flowers on the grave....Brother, which of these acts are you performing?"
Leadershlp can often offset serious problems. The dead soil— Millerism, Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists and Age-to-Come "independents" — upon which the Church of God (Seventh Day) grew might have been overcome had the church produced firm leaders who would lead the people in the right direction. But when A.C. Long, Jacob Brinkerhoff, A.F. Dugger and others died, they had no dedicated replacements. A. F. Dugger's son, Andrew N. Dugger, was a horse of a different color. He twice admitted (in 1912 and again in 1929) that a certain doctrine — Anglo Israelism — was true, but refused to preach it because he felt the church would not accept it. The question of whether this doctrine is true or not is irrevelent; the point is that Dugger was not an honest and sincere leader. Religious hypocrisy in the top leadership certainly led to the downfall and splintering of the church.
Individual hypocrisy had not been absent from the church either. Many continue to believe in Feast Days, Anglo-Israelism and other doctrines yet continue to be a part of a church which publishes articles against these beliefs. An article in the November-December, 1971 Messenger (Merger Group paper) states: "The Church of God (Seventh Day) has always been a church with 'an open creed.' By that we mean we are ready to accept new light on the Scriptures and that our doctrines are subject to change at any time when Biblical evidence proves the need for such change." It is ironic that some in the Seventh Day Church of God have admitted that such and such a doctrine is true, but do not live by it.
Call it personality conflict, call it doctrinal disputes, call it "independent spirit," the 1933 division marked a definite change, a downward thrust in the church, from which it has never recovered.
As Church of God historian Charles Monroe states, "The division [of 1933-1949] had hindered growth in the Church of God, and it was as if the Sardis church described in Revelation 3:1 could be describing the Church of God! It was alive, yet dead!"
AND SO IT WAS AND IS; THERE IS A SARDIS CHURCH OF GOD ON EARTH TODAY; SADLY IT WILL REMAIN ON EARTH TILL ITS LIGHT IS PUT OUT IN THE END TIME TRIBULATION. SADLY THERE IS A LAODICEAN CHURCH OF GOD ON EARTH TODAY, IT ALSO WILL REMAIN UNTIL IT'S LIGHT IS PUT OUT IN THE END TIME GREAT TRIBULATION.
BUT THERE IS ON EARTH THE LITTLE FLOCK OF THE PHILADELPHIA CHURCH OF GOD; THEY WILL REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE END; THEY HAVE AN OPEN DOOR BEFORE THEM THAT NO MAN CAN SHUT - THAT OPEN DOOR IS THE WORLDWIDE FREE INTERNET, YOUTUBE, AND SUCH THE LIKE.
NEXT IT IS TIME TO SEE THE WORK OF HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG AND HIS RADIO CHURCH OF GOD, WHICH LATER BECAME THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD.
WE SHALL FIRST JUST LOOK AT THE OVERALL FACTS OF WHAT HE DID, THE OUTSIDE COATING SHALL WE SAY; THEN WE SHALL LOOK IN-DEPTH AT THE INNER WRITINGS AND PRONOUNCEMENTS OF THIS MAN, AS WELL AS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PUBLIC MASH-UPS, SMASH-UPS, AND DEBACLES TO COME INTO THAT CHURCH ORGANIZATION, WHICH LED TO A SIFTING OF THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF ONCE MORE.