Christian Biblical Church of God and its Teachings

By COGwriter

Christian Biblical Church of God (CBCG) is led by Fred Coulter. Many of the quotes shown in this article come from its website, with many coming from CBCG's Statement of Beliefs, such as its opening statement,

The Christian Biblical Church of God believes and practices the true doctrines of Jesus Christ and His apostles as revealed in the Holy Bible.

(Fred Coulter reviewed the first edition of this article, and this current edition also includes some changes based on his comments.)

Many of CBGC's official beliefs are similar to those of other COGs. This article will focus primarily on those that differ from Worldwide Church of God (WCG) in January of 1986.

Background

Fred Coulter is probably best known for writing his Harmony of the Gospels. He left WCG in 1979, over 6 years before Herbert Armstrong died (it is my understanding that he was asked to change or leave):

When Mr. Coulter resigned from the Worldwide Church of God in the fall of 1979, he explained the reasons for his decision in a sermon to the congregation he was pastoring. In this sermon, entitled Call to Repentance and Resignation, he also warned of the dangerous consequences of the WCG's sinful practices. These warnings have come to pass in recent years (CBCG website).

He founded a group called the Biblical Church of God (BCG) in 1979 (where Keith Hunt associated with for a while) and then in 1981 he once worked in a group called the Scriptural Church of God, but then left and became completely independent in 1982.

Here is some of what he wrote about it,

When the constitution and by-laws for another Church of God in which I was involved was set up, we signed our own death warrant. A very rapid one, because we hadn't learned anything from our prior history. We hadn't learned the lesson we have just covered. We started out loving God, and doing what we should, but when we organized to the point that the corporation and the structure took us away from loving and serving God, it went down the tubes very rapidly. We failed even more than our former affiliation had, partially because we were smaller, but also because we had created committees. Instead of having a dictatorship of one man, we had dictatorship by committees, with men who believed they sat in the seat of God. They then made judgments, not only for things that they considered right or wrong, but on whether one's heart was right with God or not. Who knows whose heart is right with God? Only God knows...The greatest mistake in that other church of God {BCG}was this: we believed that the problems in our former corporate church were structure related. We believed that by changing the structure from a one-man rule to rule-by-committee the problems would be eliminated. But we failed to learn that the structure of an organization does not change human nature. (Coulter, Fred. Is the Ministry God's Government? Booklet. 2002).

"New Teachings"

Fred Coulter also wrote:

What Is Happening to the Churches of God? Today, Satan is skillfully and subtly using one of his most powerful spiritual weapons against the churches of God, regardless of the size of the organization! It is one of Satan's most ancient and effective weapons, which he has so masterfully used time and time again with astounding success!...In many local churches, ministers and members are accepting these 'new teachings.' Shocking though it may seem, many of these ministers and brethren have admitted that they know these teachings are false! Yet they are going along with these doctrinal changes...The foundation for this degenerate spiritual condition was inevitably laid when the churches of God began to follow two fundamental teachings which appear to agree with Scripture but which in reality are gross misapplications of Scripture. The first erroneous teaching has misled many churches of God into accepting and practicing a form of church government which is actually contrary to the express words of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. This false teaching is the assumption that God works through a hierarchical government...The assumption that God works through a hierarchical government has led to a second fundamental error in some churches of God. Their members have been taught that God works exclusively through a single hierarchy of ministers and therefore a single church organization constitutes the ONLY TRUE CHURCH OF GOD ON EARTH...When false doctrines begin to enter the church of God, it is the responsibility of every Christian who loves God and His Truth to reject those false teachings and refute them with the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ (Coulter, Fred R. Lord, What Should I Do? Booklet. 1994, emphasis Coulter's).

The Philadelphia remnant of the COG believes the Bible clearly teaches that the government of God is hierarchical (The Bible, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government; see also What is a True Philadelphian? and The Philadelphia Church Era).

Later in this article, I refer to some other articles that refute some of CBCG's other positions--however even though he says he would reject and refute false teachings, Fred Coulter wrote that my links should be removed instead of dealing with their content.

Conspiracy Theories

Perhaps where CBCG differs from most COGs is that it is into conspiracy theories.

The goal of this publication is to assist the reader to come to a greater understanding of the actuality of a worldwide conspiracy by bringing together some of the infrastructure and presenting an overview of the entire conspiratorial sphere...The first conspiracy began in the mind of Lucifer and eventually spread to involve one third of all the angels (Morgan, John. An Overview of the Worldwide Conspiracy, part one. Booklet. 1999).

Specific conspiracies that CBCG teaches about concern the Freemasons, Rothchilds, International Monetary Fund, the US Federal Reserve, the Kennedy assassinations, banking in general and international banking in particular, secret societies, Thule Society, Alien/UFO contacts, and eastern religions (Morgan, John. An Overview of the Worldwide Conspiracy, parts one and two. Booklet. 1999).

Most non-COG groups that believe in the same basic banking/Rothchild conspiracies appear to me to be anti-Semitic, but I have not detected that in any of CBCG's literature (it should be noted that no actual COG is anti-semitic).

One criticism that a CBCG leader mentioned to me about certains COG is that they were "not really into conspiracy theories."

That is true--the more faithful in the COG believe that Satan deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9), but that we should fear God and not be worried about 'conspiracy theories.'

Notice what scripture teaches,

Do not say, 'A conspiracy'. Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy. Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear. And let Him be your dread (Isaiah 8:12-13).

Low Income Tithing Exemption

CBCG teaches:

God does not want Christians to neglect the basic needs of their families in order to give tithes and offerings. Those Christians who have a limited income and are able only to meet their basic needs have no actual increase from which to tithe. God desires mercy and not sacrifice...Christians whose incomes are so limited that their entire net income is required to meet basic living expenses have no true increase in God's eyes on which to tithe. The giving of money is not required for salvation (Christian Financial Responsibility. Statement of Beliefs).

Having been so qualified at least twice since coming into the Church of God, I disagree. I tithed and God always provided.

Low Income, Book Charge Assistance

CBCG stated:

Fred Coulter's books may be purchased at York Publishing....Special Note: For those who are widows or widowers, in need, or have a limited income, the Christian Biblical Church of God will assist you in acquiring these books (CBCG home webpage, 10/14/02).

Voluntary Offerings As Opposed to Third Tithe

CBCG teaches:

Christians are commanded by Jesus Christ to support the poor and needy among them with compassion and understanding. A Christian attitude of true love and service should be the basis for all giving. God desires each one whom He has prospered to give cheerfully and willingly from the heart as he or she is able (Christian Financial Responsibility. Statement of Beliefs).

Here is an article titled Is Third Tithe Still Valid Today?

Voting

CBCG teaches:

If voting is unscriptural, then Rod's ordination and the ordination of every elder in the Worldwide Church of God is invalid (Franklin, Carl D. Rise of a Ministerial Hierarchy. Pt. 2. March 24, 1998/January 25, 1999).

For a different view, please read Should a Christian Vote?

Temple to Be Built

CBCG teaches:

It was clearly evident that Jesus’ prophecy of the “abomination of desolation” had not taken place before the temple was destroyed in ad 70. However, one of the visions Jesus gave to John—as recorded in Revelation 11—clearly reveals that a temple would exist in the end time. This is why John inserted this parenthetical statement: “ ‘Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (the one who reads, let him understand)” (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14). Obviously, when Jesus originally spoke these words, He did not say “the one who reads, let him understand.” However, Jesus inspired John to insert these words into the text to inform future readers that in order for “all these things” of Jesus’ prophecy to come to pass, a temple had to first be rebuilt in Jerusalem—because the “abomination of desolation” did not take place when the temple was destroyed in ad 70...

Paul wrote: “Do not let anyone deceive you by any means because that day will not come unless the apostasy shall come first, and the man of sin shall be revealed—the son of perdition, the one who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is an object of worship; so that he comes into the temple of God and sits down as God, proclaiming that he himself is God” (verses 3-4). John must have realized that Paul’s prophecy tied in directly with the prophecy of Revelation 13, which he had written. Therefore, they understood that in order for II Thessalonians 2 to be fulfilled, a future temple had to be built in Jerusalem before Jesus’ second coming.(Coulter, Fred. CBCG Monthly Letter. December 19, 2006).

This is a change from what HWA's WCG taught. The Philadelphia remnant of the COG teaches and the old WCG taught that while sacrifices will resume in Jerusalem, this does not require that a temple be rebuilt (though both allowed that a physical temple could be rebuilt).

HWA taught that since Paul taught that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, that many of the prophecies concerning a temple should be interpreted in that light. Perhaps that I should add that in order for 2 Thessalonians 2:4 to be fulfilled, this DOES NOT have to be referring to a Jewish temple in Israel--as the Jews could not in this age build the "Temple of God"-- but 2 Thessalonians 2:4 could simply mean a major place where true Christians meet (for more details, please see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? and/or the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill.

Great Tribulation Prerequisites

Fred Coulter wrote:

Jesus warns: “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation [this is an event, not a set date], which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (the one who reads, let him understand)…. For then shall there be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until this time, nor ever shall be again. And if those days were not limited [other prophecies show they are limited to 3½ years], there would no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be limited” (Matt. 24:15, 21).

Such passages are telling us that we are to watch for these specific events to occur; they are not intended to give us specific dates. We are to watch for three specific events:

It is only when these three prophecies occur in this order that we will know the Great Tribulation has begun. We are not to let the predictions and declarations of men to the contrary mislead us. We are to follow the Scriptures and watch for prophesied events. While there are other prophetic events to occur, our focus should be on these three major events. The Great Tribulation cannot begin until these three events have transpired. (Coulter F. CBCG Monthly Newsletter, December 15, 2011)

Now, Fred Coulter is correct that once sacrifices stop and the abomination of desolation is set up, that this is the apparent final major sign that the Great Tribulation will begin, as that is what Jesus said.

However none of the verses that he mentioned states that a temple needs to be rebuilt in Jerusalem nor is it biblically-required for the Jews to have a temple to sacrifice--only an altar is required (Ezra 3:6), though a tent-type of temple or actual temple could be put together. (Yes, I do believe that some type of physical temple will exist, based upon 2 Thessalonians, but I do not believe that verse requires one in Jerusalem--for more details see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?).

Although Fred Coulter referred to Daniel 9:27, that verse discusses a deal being put together.  Notice that when that deal is confirmed for seven-year by a prince who will later become the King of the North/Beast, then the countdown for stopping the sacrifices, hence to the start of the Great Tribulation, will have begun:

26...And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.  (Daniel 9:26-27)

The individual that confirms the covenant is still then a prince, not necessarily recognizable to many then as the Beast. Those who strictly rely on the order that CBCG's Fred Coulter is proposing will not see what is happening until it is too late.

Governance

CBCG teaches:

Hierarchical church government is NOT the Scriptural way and was never practiced by the true apostles of Jesus Christ in New Testament times. It was brought into the churches of God by false apostles, who set themselves up as dictatorial overlords, claiming to be the direct representatives of Jesus Christ (Franklin, Carl D. Rise of a Ministerial Hierarchy, Pt. 4. March 24, 1998/January 25, 1999).

We were told that the Church of God is a spiritual organization. True. It is likened to the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the Church. True. Next, we were told that the corporate church organization we were in was the only true church. This was a SLEIGHT OF HAND. Is Church Authority the Government of God? What happened after baptism? Then we assembled together with other baptized believers in various congregations, and then we were introduced to the government of God/Church authority, which was a SLEIGHT OF HAND. We were told that the ministers had rule over our lives. As time went on, that rule became more and more stifling...We were then ruled over by the church government, meaning the whole ministry, with authority from the top down. We were told that the ministry was the government of God. Why was this a SLEIGHT OF HAND?...What is the correct organizational structure for the Church? The only structure needed is one that meets the needs of the congregations such as: finding a place to meet, printing booklets and magazines, distribution and mailing, etc. (Coulter, Fred. Is the Ministry God's Government? Booklet. from website in 2002).

Similar to the United Church of God (Fred Coulter's comment, "Not similar--they are similar to WCG not us"), CBCG teaches practices a different form of governance than WCG did under Herbert Armstrong, (Fred Coulter asked me to remove the following comment: 'but understands God's future government will be more similar to what HWA used to teach'):

The kingdom of God currently rules the universe. Although the kingdom of God is not now ruling the earth, all those who have the Spirit of God are under the rule of God the Father through the lordship of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God will be reinstituted on the earth at the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords" (The Kingdom of God. Statement of Beliefs) and "It is the good news that when Jesus Christ returns to the earth, He will set up the kingdom of God and the government of God. He will rule all nations as King of kings and Lord of lords (Gospel. Statement of Beliefs).

In one of its booklets, CBCG quotes the following,

Mr. Herbert Armstrong felt that way also, though he always exhorted us that we should stay together 'in order to do a really BIG WORK' [through a centralized corporate church organization]--which he felt they were unable to do. Yet he always acknowledged that if this or any other church were somehow taken over by LEADERS UNWILLING TO PREACH THE TRUTH, we should ALL leave!" (Meredith, Church Government and Church Unity, pp. 3-4, emphasis added.) (emphasis added by CBCG; Franklin, Carl D. Rise of a Ministerial Hierarchy. Pt. 2. March 24, 1998/January 25, 1999).

Those interested in learning more about the proper approach to church governance should consider reading the article The Bible, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government)

Broadcast Media

In a CBCG sermon tape I heard (around Pentecost 2000), Fred Coulter announced that he believes that the open door of proclaiming the gospel (Revelation 3) through television and radio has been shut.

That is consistent with its statement,

What is the correct organizational structure for the Church? The only structure needed is one that meets the needs of the congregations such as: finding a place to meet, printing booklets and magazines, distribution and mailing, etc. (Coulter, Fred. Is the Ministry God's Government? Booklet. 2002).

I personally think that more needs to be done than that.

How can CBCG do the following without broadcast media?

Fred Coulter's comment:

"Through the brethren, books, and booklets".

CBCG teaches:

The gospel must be preached to all nations as a witness before Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom. Through the preaching of the gospel, God is preparing saints for His kingdom by calling those whom He chooses to repentance and conversion (Gospel. Statement of Beliefs).

Of course, it requires a more substantial organization to accomplish the broadcast media effectively, which may be why its governance is acceptable to them. CBCG does, however, produce books.

An article of interest may be Should the Church's Top Priority Be Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority?

Fred Coulter Version of the New Testament

Fred Coulter has his own translation of the New Testament. He originally called it the Fred Coulter Version (FCV), which he says is "a precise translation from the Greek New Testament" and is "from the Stephens Text of 1550, the same text from which the King James Version was translated" (Coulter, Fred. The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews. Not dated, introduction). I would have suggested consider the use of the some of the NA27 text, but of course it is he and not I who did that project.

He also, in November 2004, announced that he revised his NT translation and now has a 2nd edition (mainly a second printing that also correct typos), which I have read and sometimes cited in articles. And it is now named, a Faithful Version (FV).

CBCG's main thrust seems to be to promote books written by those in various COGs (and not just CBCG). Fred Coulter has worked with several authors that I am aware of (and know to a limited degree) to assist them with the publishing and/or promotion of their COG-related books.

While I told Fred Coulter some of the translation problems in his version of the New Testament in 2007, I do not believe he corrected them--though he might at some future date.

CBCG Translation of the Old Testament

Fred Coulter reported:

The Old Testament Project: We are making excellent progress with the Old Testament project. Michel Heiss—who knows Old Testament Hebrew—is thoroughly going over the final copy of major sections of the text to ensure that we are as accurate as possible. We also have many other brethren who are helping edit the complete text so that we can get it as perfect as possible before it goes to press. (It may be interesting to note that it took 11 editions before publishers were able to eliminate all the typos from the King James Version.)

In translating from Hebrew or Greek into English, it is vital to convey as accurately as possible the whole meaning of the original text. In many cases—particularly with Hebrew—it takes several words in English to convey what is meant by a single Hebrew word. This means there are add words in the English translation in order to fully bring out the inspired meaning. Please understand that this is not in any way “adding to” or “taking away from” the original text (Coulter, Fred. CBCG Monthly Letter. December 19, 2006).

IT IS DONE! We have completed all the final editing and compiling of the new Bible—The Holy Bible In Its Original Order. Thursday, November 15, John and Hiedi Vogele shipped, via UPS Air International Express, the complete hard copy of the Bible text, commentaries and appendices—1416 pages total, plus two CDs—off to the printer. Additional “backup” copies of the CDs—which contain all the formatted pages of the entire Bible—were sent in a separate air express package. The manufacturer, LithoPak, Inc. of Hong Kong, China, will immediately begin the process of printing and binding this beautiful new Bible. It will be approximately 60 days until we receive them through the port of Oakland, California, and begin mailing them to you (Coulter Fred. CBCG Monthly Letter, November 20, 2007).

Off on His Own

Perhaps the biggest criticism I have probably heard about Fred Coulter is that he has been off on his own and wants to be that way (although he does cooperate with others like Carl Franklin). The following comments were written about him by Norman Edwards:

Fred Coulter has served as an independent minister for many years. He has been a blessing to many people who left the WCG and other groups. He certainly works with original languages and history much more than the average CoG minister. A lot of his work is also useful to people who have not been in the Church of God Groups. He is against hierarchy and does not insist that members in his group attend only with him. However, he does discourage people who are members of other groups from attending his Feasts—he specifically asked me not to list his sites in Servants’ News. He does not often recommend the works of others that are not in his group. The biggest difficulty I perceive is that his isolation has allowed him to make mistakes and carry them on for a long time. He took a certain approach to the complex issue of the Passover, and every time he ran into a scriptural obstacle, he wove an elaborate web to get around it—hence the large size of his book, The Christian Passover. Readers frequently accept his arguments, not because they are simply and clearly true, but because proving or disproving his vast amount of writing is an exhausting task that few have the time to complete. In other places, Mr. Coulter deliberately avoids quoting parts of scriptures or other sources that disagree with his teaching. I sent him a copy of Mr. Beattie’s The Passover Controversy and received a letter back from him saying that he read it and all of the answers to our questions were in his book. He chose not to respond to any of the inconsistencies and misquotations that the paper pointed out in his book. I cannot judge if this is an oversight, or if he is actually being dishonest. Sometimes, as in the case of Deuteronomy 16, he simply claims that the scripture must be wrong because it does not fit his teaching. He cites no old manuscripts that have a different wording in the chapter—he just disagrees with what it says and claims that the Jews must have changed it. Fred Coulter needs to realize that God will still love him and that he can still serve the brethren if he admits these mistakes. Much of his other good work is quite valuable. It would be even more valuable if it did not promote his own group so heavily. He needs to realize that other teachers also make mistakes, but God still uses them. May God help all of us to work together more effectively (Edwards, Norman. Coulter’s The Christian Passover. Servants' News. May/June 2002).

Note: "Servants' News" is not affiliated in anyway with CBCG, nor me. It was a publication of Norman Edwards, a former GCG member who has embraced many non-Philadelphia era doctrines--and the comments above are Norman Edwards' opinions.

I do not know the details of the Passover issue that N. Edwards is raising, but will simply state that Fred Coulter does answer my questions (though we do not always agree on the answers) nor have I ever felt that he was personally dishonest in his dealings with me. I personally do not believe Fred Coulter discourages those in other groups from coming to CBCG Feast sites. I also would like to add that I do not believe that Fred Coutler is isolated as Norman Edwards states and that Fred Coulter has promoted writings from those not affiliated with him.

It is, however, from Norman Edwards' "Servants' News" where I first heard about the CBCG 'sea of glass' teaching (see section below).

Perhaps I should add that from the beginning of the early Christian church to present, there have always been problems with those who choose to become independent of the governance that the Bible shows should exist within the faithful church. Two articles of related interest may include Independent Members of the COG: Herbert W. Armstrong Comments, Plus Questions and Answers and Herbert W. Armstrong and Roderick C. Meredith on Church Government.

'Sea of Glass' Doctrine

Some comments about a somewhat unique CBCG doctrine:

I was with Fred for 2 or 3 yrs. I am also disturbed by his “Sea of Glass Doctrine”. Isn’t it just another form of “Secret Rapture”? I suppose he still teaches that they are going to the throne at the last trump on Pentecost, 3½ years into the Tribulation to marry Christ, to be taught for rest of the Tribulation and return with Christ at the seventh trump. First of all, it has to be an extra resurrection—one can’t look at or marry Christ if human. God’s people have always suffered through tribulations but He didn’t take them to heaven! They are supposed to have extensive training there. I maintain that we are in graduate college now and if we don’t get it in this world, we may not get a chance to get it in the next (Name withheld, Florida. Coulter’s Sea of Glass Doctrine. Servants' News. May/June 2002).

Some church groups unashamedly teach that only members of their organization will be protected. Others teach a doctrine that is so specific that no other group teaches it (the “sea of glass” doctrine might be such a thing) (Edwards, Norman. Coulter’s Sea of Glass Doctrine. Servants' News. May/June 2002).

Fred Coulter stated the following to me in response to the above:

We do not teach a secret rapture. We teach that the saints will be be resurrected, in the first resurrection, to meet Christ in the air on the sea of glass then other things like the marriage supper will take place, then all of God's people from Able on will witness the seven last plagues and return to the earth on Trumpets (telecom 12/17/07).

The term 'sea of glass' is used in a couple of places in the Bible in the Book of Revelation,

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back (4:6)

And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God" (15:2).

Apparently it was a subject of a two-part sermon by Fred Coulter in 1999, and then later ones. A book, by him released in 2007, has transcripts of those sermons. Here is some of what he is teaching (the first sermon barely mentions it and ends with the first statement below):

There's too many important things that I need to cover about the sea of glass (Coulter F. Pentecost and the Sea of Glass--Sermon I, April 17, 1999. Transcript in God's Plan for Mankind Revealed by His Sabbath and Holy Days. York Publishing, Hollister (CA), 2007, p. 386).

"...the colour was terrible crystal..." (Ezek. 1:21-22). So notice we're going to see that the sea of glass, and around God's throne, crystal is referred to as crystal...

When the 144,000 and the innumerable multitude are resurrected they come before the throne of God. What is underlying the throne of God? The sea of glass...

Now then, let me tell you why that Pentecost pictures the first resurrection and not Trumpets:...

5) 144,000 and great innumerable multitude equal the 50th day of the harvest of God.
6) We are raised at the seventh trumpet, the last trump. The trump, not trumpets.
7) We have the meeting with Christ in the air.
8) We are on the sea of glass. (Coulter F. Pentecost and the Sea of Glass--Sermon II, May 1, 1999. Transcript in God's Plan for Mankind Revealed by His Sabbath and Holy Days. York Publishing, Hollister (CA), 2007, pp. 389, 394,397).

Now let's look at some other things...which take place after Pentecost...

Now so far, who have we identified on the sea of glass: God, the Father, Jesus Christ, twenty-four elders, and the four living creatures. That's it. When John saw this, no one was resurrected...

So the only thing we can conclude is that the throne of God and the sea of glass are probably closer to the earth than we have imagined. and if it's out there a little further at the present time; it's going to come closer. We'll see that next time, and maybe we can answer the question of the mystery of the sea of glass (Coulter F. Events after Pentecost --Sermon I, June 21, 2003. Transcript in God's Plan for Mankind Revealed by His Sabbath and Holy Days. York Publishing, Hollister (CA), 2007, pp. 437,449).

So, let's see what's going to take place on the Sea of Glass...The first thing that's going to happen when we're resurrected and see the angels and they take us up to meet Christ on the Sea of Glass...That's one of the first things that are going to take place. We are going to see Christ!...Christ proclaims us to the Father. Number Two: We sing the victory song...Number Three: We are going to receive a new name...Number Four: We will receive our reward...Number Five: There is going to be a new covenant...Number Six: will be the pouring out of the seven last plagues (Coulter F. Events after Pentecost --Sermon II, July 5, 2003. Transcript in God's Plan for Mankind Revealed by His Sabbath and Holy Days. York Publishing, Hollister (CA), 2007, pp. 450,453,455,457,459,460).

Irrespective of other teachings CBCG has about the "sea of glass", the numbered events will occur (though not necessarily as CBCG suggests). I do not consider CBCG to be a reliable source of prophetic information.

More on Pentecost and Trumpets

Fred Coulter has a slightly different understanding of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets than others in the COGs do:

When the WCG observed a Monday Pentecost for forty years (from 1934 to 1974) they were observing it on the wrong day—a day late—because the day after the seventh Sabbath is a Sunday, not a Monday. Keeping Pentecost on the wrong day undoubtedly lead to a lack of understanding of its full meaning. While many understood the Old Testament harvest of the firstfruits of the grain harvest, they failed to understand that the true harvest of the spiritual firstfruits at the first resurrection also had to occur on a Pentecost. Instead, as so many still assume, they believed that the first resurrection would take place on the Feast of Trumpets. But the Feast of Trumpets is a memorial of the blowing of trumpets all day long. Trumpets is God’s call to war, not a day of the resurrection of the firstfruits (Coulter FR. Monthly Letter. Christian Biblical Church of God. June 8, 2007).

There are certain scriptural references that appear to be ignored by the proponents of this “Pentecost rapture” teaching. Chief among them is 1 Corinthians 15:52. It links the last trumpet to sound with the resurrection:

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

Paul used the word “last” eschatos, which Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance refers to as a superlative “(in the sense of contiguity); farthest, final (of place or time): - ends of, last, latter end, lowest, uttermost.” The fact that this is the "last trumpet" seems to eliminate Pentecost as the date of the resurrection.

A Prophetic Understanding

In December 2007 Fred Coulter announced that following:

A New Look at Daniel Two: If we re-examine the prophecies of Daniel two, which began with Nebuchadnezzar as the head of gold, it is possible to make more sense out of the final kingdom of ten toes. If we view the ten toes as ten “regional unions” of nations—partly weak and partly strong because of their alignments—it may give us greater understanding: “And whereas you saw the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it the strength of the iron, forasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken [or weak]. And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle [or join] themselves with the seed of men [other nations]: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:41-44).

As we witness the development of these ten “regional unions” of the nations of the world, rather than simply ten nations in Europe, as has been postulated in the past. Remember, the EU currently has 12 members nations and will be adding over 12 more in the near future. This makes it impossible to interpret the ten toes of Daniel as ten European nations—five from western Europe and five from eastern Europe. Rather, we are looking at a worldwide system. Indeed, end time prophecies show worldwide events, not just those taking place in Europe and the Middle East.

The Seven Heads that are With the Ten Horns: Revelation 13 speaks of seven heads in addition to the ten horns. Who are these seven heads? It is very possible that the nations of the G-7—meaning Group of Seven—are the seven heads. In 1975, the seven most powerful economic nations of the world began holding annual meetings. But it was not until 1985 that they were officially established as an independent power block in the world. In 1998, the G-7 added Russia as a guest observer. These seven nations continue to meet without Russia on certain worldwide economic issues. The G-7 nations are: the United States, the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Japan and Italy.

We must also consider that another possible fulfillment of the seven heads could involve the seven permanent members of the UN Security Council. At present there are only five permanent members: the U.S., the UK, France, Russia and China. However, there have been recent proposals to add two more members—Japan and Germany—which would make seven permanent Council members (Coulter Fred. CBCG Monthly Newsletter. December 13, 2007).

Actually, let us look at the Book of Revelation as it gives us more information on the ten kings which seem to be the same as the ten toes in Daniel:

The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast (Revelation 17:12-13).

What this states is that there are ten kings who will receive a kingdom and turn over their authority to the Beast (the final king of the North in Daniel 11). And while Revelation 17:12-13 this does not rule out the possibility of this being mainly non-European, I believe that the totality of Revelation 17 and 18 clearly are referring to a European power which has had various kings in the past.

It needs to be pointed out that Revelation 17:12-13 does allow for the development of ten European regions to form, hence it is not impossible as Fred Coulter indicated above for Daniel to be referring to European-based regions as the Church of God has tended to teach. However he wanted me, when I asked him about it (12/17/07), to mention that he only intended to use the term "impossible" for the way that the EU is currently configured and that a ten-region area within the EU could be possible. As mentioned before, I do not consider CBCG to be a reliable source of prophetic information.

Position on Church Eras

I am not certain what CBCG's position in on Church eras. What I do know is that they are not listed in its BELIEFS OF THE CHRISTIAN BIBLICAL CHURCH OF GOD booklet, nor are the terms Philadelphia or Laodicea mentioned in it.

Some articles of related interest may include:

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the Philadelphia remnant best represented by the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.

Dislike of HWA's Teachings

CBCG teaches:

Likewise, if we preach the truth, God will draw the people. Preaching the basic Gospel to new people does not mean that we are to water down the truth. In our past church experience, we saw what happened when the Gospel of Jesus Christ was watered down. In its place a false gospel of "give" and "get," costing $24 million dollars a year, was preached. In order not to offend the government leaders of the world, the all-powerful visible return of Jesus Christ was changed to "the unseen hand" that was coming to save the world. This watered down gospel left out the cross of Jesus Christ and repentance. Remember, when the words are changed, the meaning is changed. What was the result? There were few if any conversions or baptisms because they did not hear the true Gospel of Jesus Christ—especially overseas among the so-called "world leaders" (Coulter Fred. CBCG Newsletter, July 20, 2004).

Fred Coulter initially objected to the sentence in the background section of this article that states (correctly) that he left 6 years before HWA died. Yet the quote from his newsletter clearly shows that he had major problems with some of HWA's teachings and practices.

Fred Coulter is mistaken if he believes that HWA did not teach Jesus Christ and repentance (please see the article on RCG). I also believe that HWA did get the Chinese to understand his basic message (the 'unseen hand' comment was from a presentation in China) as they also had access to the literature at the time and basically knew what WCG stood for, even though he was not as direct in person as Fred Coulter thought that he should be.

Calendar

In an article dated 6/30/05 titled Ambassador College and Recent Digital Calculated Hebrew Calendar History, and distributed to the CBCG membership by Fred Coulter with his 7/14/05 newsletter, Carl Franklin states,

Ambassador College issued an automated Hebrew Calendar that could be run on new microcomputer technology. (The program was written in DOS, which was the prevalent language of the day.) This calendar was a giant leap forward in that it was possible to generate a six-month calendar for any year back to 3761 BC and forward to 2034 AD. The Molad of Tishri was also displayed for the day of the week, the month, the day of the month and by Hebrew Calendar hours and parts. Although this Ambassador College calendar had great advantages over previous calendars, it also had great disadvantages. The calendar utilized the wrong intercalary cycle from 142 AD back through the time of Christ and into the BC period, thereby resulting in many errors. For example, Passover in 31 AD was placed on Wednesday, April 25, when in reality it took place on Monday, March 26. This particular error gave false support to the teaching that Christ was crucified in 31 AD....Since the middle 1980’s, others in the Church of God fellowship have written and released versions of the Hebrew Calendar in various programming languages. However, none of these calendars utilize postponements or the correct intercalary cycle, nor do they set the holy days based on the Molad of Tishri. Consequently, many of our brethren are observing the holy days on dates that differ from the God-given dates. Some of the most vocal adversaries of the calendar insist that Passover cannot be observed before the spring equinox....On November 9, 2002, while attending an elder’s conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, I approached Fred with the possibility of producing our own automated holy day calendar. After explaining the great need for such a calendar and the blessing it would be to our brethren, Fred agreed. As suggested, I contacted Alan Ruth, asking if he would be interested in working with me in the design, coding and implementation of a new calendar for the brethren of CBCG and the church at large. Alan readily accepted the challenge. I had been utilizing a Hebrew Calendar program in my research for some years, but it had a number of problems....The CBCG Holy Day Calendar Program is unique among the Churches of God and indeed, the entire world. Alan Ruth reports that he has visited more than 200 Church of God websites, and not one has anything to compare with this new calendar.

While CBCG has always argued that Passover should be on the 14th, this as well as another recent article seems to represent a change in its approach to the calendar.

Internet and Reach

In its "About Us" webpage, CBCG states:

The CBCG has since grown to minister to thousands in various fellowship groups and small congregations—as well as to thousands of scattered believers around the world. Over 40,000 people actively use the CBCG’s Web sites each month to assist them in their Christian lives and studies. (viewed 2011-03-23)

The amount of people that CBCG once claimed that reaches on its website, while better than many small groups, is not that high considering its size and the fact that it has no other significant electronic media to reach the world.

CGCG.org's ranking on Alexa (an independant source that ranks website popularity) was as 1,155,347, of 3/23/2011. This means that there were 1,155,356 websites more popular than CBCG's.

To put this into perspective, the Alexa ranking for COGwriter.com was 147,185 on 3/23/2011. Essentially, this means that not only is COGwriter (a member site) eight times as popular, it means that compared to COGwriter, CBCG is simply not doing that well on the internet.

The "Over 40,000 people" each month accessing CBCG's web information was true years ago, but that was when CBCG had a much better popularity ranking. It would seem that either it does not have that many now, or they only visit for a very brief time. FWIW, I now have 70,000-118,000 unique visitors to the www.cogwriter.com website each month, but that does not mean that most of them accept most of the COG message.

Concluding Comments

Fred Coulter and another CBCG member have stated that CBCG has 3000 affiliated with it. About 1/3 or less of that number seem
to attend one the CBCG Feast of Tabernacles sites. CBCG's income seems to be disproportionately smaller than other COGs on a per member basis. CBCG has explained that this is because it has more elderly and poor members than other COGs. Though this may be, it strongly suggests to me that CBCG has 3000 who have interest in its literature as opposed to 3000 who truly are supporters.

Now although I have tended to get along with Fred Coulter and normally find him cooperative when I speak or meet with him (though he does have a temper and can be off track), I believe that CBCG is basically another non-Philadelphia COG which is doing its own work. Its booklets on refuting various 'sacred name' beliefs or pagan holidays may be helpful for some. And it is interesting that it is producing in essence, its own translation of the Bible.

Yet, certain of CBCG's prophetic stances are in error and those who rely on them simply will not understand end time events as they should.

There are probably a lot of relatively minor doctrinal points where CBCG differs from the old WCG. But since I do not listen to its sermons (though did hear 3-4) it is difficult to document many of those differences. Those that prefer the CBCG differences will most likely be supportive of CBCG. CBCG is no "place of safety."

Although it has been reported that "The doctrinal differences among the Churches of God are minuscule. You can't get a knifes edge between us on doctrines" (Dart, Ron. CEM Founder Talks About Bickering, Bridges, the Future. The Journal. July 31, 1999. p.6), this author does not believe that one can examine the teachings of groups, such as CBCG, and come to that conclusion (nor apparently would Herbert Armstrong, for proof please check out some quotes from HWA on holding fast to doctrine).

Laodicean Warning for God's People If you have read this far you are probably a current or former member of one of the Churches of God and may be interested in reading this warning article.

Back to home page

Thiel B. Ph.D. Christian Biblical Church of God www.cogwriter.com (c) 2002/2004/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014 0913