The Church of God, (Seventh Day): History and Teachings (COG 7th Day)

By COGwriter

Everyone who was once part of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) or who has read the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong is aware that he originally fellowshiped with the Church of God, (Seventh Day) (normally referred to as CG7 in this article) (though in the actual 1973 edition of the Autobiography, he tends to refer to CG7 as the Stanberry {due to a CG7 split that later healed} or the 'Sardis' church) (the Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D.)

This lengthy article will refresh readers memories of some Herbert W. Armstrong (though more on him is in the article Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today?) and CG7 history and discuss why a separation occurred as well as some current positions of CG7.

First Some Important COG History

The history of the Church of God (COG) is a long and turbulent one, with many players and many names. In my opinion, CG7 somewhat descended from a long line of Churches of God (COGs) that began at Pentecost in 31 A.D. A version of this also used to be CG7's official position (it does not teach it the same way anymore, though some within it still believe that).

In 1860 a group opposing Ellen White the name Seventh Day Adventist became known as the Church of God (Adventist) (CGA). Later, after it changed and better defined doctrine the name became the Church of God (Seventh Day). (Much more on the history can be found in the article The Sardis Church Era.)

CGA had a wide opinion on doctrine, and many early people and leaders part of it probably were not truly Church of God. But because it was an alternative to the SDA movement, had a somewhat open publishing policy, and because it had a wide range internationally, over time it seemed to lean more COG and more COG doctrines were embraced by its top leadership.

The name Church of God (Seventh Day) (CG7) was formally adopted in 1923. By that time, CGA had changed certain doctrines and gained support from those that were not Adventists, and basically had COG doctrines on items like the Godhead. And that last position was officially confirmed by the following statement:

The Church of God recognizes two Divine Beings called God, the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. (General Conference Report, Catalog of Minutes. Stanberry, Missouri, August 1924, pp. 1-2 as quoted by Robert Coulter to Bob Thiel via telephone on 11/14/12; also in Coulter R. The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Robert Coulter, 2014, p. 194)

Despite the above, some had differing views.

What the Church of God 7th Day Now Teaches About its History

Here is some of what CG7 states about its history:

The work in North America is correctly designated Zone 1 because this continent is the birthplace of the modern Sabbathkeeping Church of God movement. It began in the mid-1800s with a handful of brethren in Michigan and has since grown to a conference of about 215 congregations and missions. (General Conference-Church of God (Seventh Day). International Tour — North America. Bible Advocate. January 2007.)

It was in 1858 that Gilbert Cranmer began his independent work in Michigan, giving birth to what is now known as the Church of God (Seventh Day). Since that time, it has been a church on a journey through history, organizational change, and doctrinal and theological development (Rose, Whaid. Celebrate the Journey. http://cog7.org/celebrate_journey.htm 03/10/07).

Our beginning . . . The Church of God (Seventh Day) grew from the efforts of dedicated advent believers living in Michigan and Iowa in the late 1850's. In 1863, the Michigan church began to extend its influence into the eastern and central U.S. through a publication called The Hope of Israel. This magazine invited fellow Christians to assemble at conferences and campmeetings, and created interest in their distinctive doctrines: the second advent of Christ and the seventh-day Sabbath. Through these means, the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day) was organized in 1884 and incorporated in Missouri in 1899. Its offices were located in Stanberry, Missouri, until 1950, when they were transferred to Denver, Colorado. Over the years, The Hope of Israel also moved from Michigan to Iowa, then to Missouri. After several name changes, it is now known as the Bible Advocate. More than 100 years later, this flagship publication of the Church continues to be published and mailed ten times a year from the Denver offices (http://www.cog7.org/Intro.English.html, 02/14/06).

1858-2008 Celebrating 150 Years of God's Faithfulness http://cog7.org/anniversary.htm 08/14/08).

In addition to ignoring parts of its real beginning, what these accounts of history leave out is that CGA formed after Mr. and Mrs. White took control of a collection of churches, changed its name to 'Seventh Day Adventists', and required that members accept Ellen White as a prophetess and her teachings as inspired prophecy. It is those who would not go along with those changes that formed CGA.

These and other details are documented in the book History of the Seventh Day Church of God by Richard Nickels, Giving & Sharing, 1988 as well as the book The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day) by Robert Coulter, 2014. Perhaps I should add that because of his and several other CGA leaders on the Godhead that I am not convinced that the top CGA leaders prior to A.N. Dugger were necessarily true COG leaders (though some COG leaders seemed to have influence within CGA).

Below is how the current CG7 has said it differs from the Seventh Day Adventists (other COGs generally agree with CG7 on these particular points):

The basic cause of our differences is the role and writings of Ellen G. White. Mrs. White was one of the founders of the SDA Church and is regarded by them as a true prophetess. We recognize that she taught a lot of truth, but we believe it was also mixed with much error. We consider neither Mrs. White nor her writings to be an expression of the 'Spirit of Prophecy.' This is the fundamental difference between the two churches. Beyond this basic difference, here are some particular teachings of the Church of God (Seventh Day) not approved by Seventh-day Adventists: We reject any special significance in Bible prophecy to the year 1844. We believe the provision for salvation was completed when Jesus died, rose from the dead, and returned to heaven -- not in 1844. Therefore, SDA teachings about the cleansing of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment are invalid. We believe that the earth will be inhabited by the saints -- not desolate -- during the 1,000-year reign of Christ. We believe the entombment of Christ was 3 days and 3 nights, from Wednesday evening until Sabbath evening. We do not practice the common celebrations of Christmas and Easter. We do not emphasize the importance of any writings other than the Bible.

What Herbert Armstrong Said About CG7 and Why He Left

Herbert Armstrong wrote about what was going on with him in the early the late 1920s and early 1930s (all references are from the 1973 edition--the later editions were edited after his death and removed all references to 'Sardis' and 'Philadelphia'):

The only Church I had so far found which "kept the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ," and at the same time bore the NAME of the original true Church, was this almost unknown little Church of God with its small publishing house in Stanberry, Missouri" (Autobiography 1973 ed., page 312).

...So, as the first step in this test, I wrote up an exposition of some 16 typewritten pages proving clearly, plainly, and beyond contradiction that a certain minor point of doctrine proclaimed by this church, based on an erroneous interpretation of a certain verse of Scripture, was in error. This was mailed to the Stanberry, Missouri, headquarters to see whether their leaders would confess error and change. The answer came back from their head man, editor of their paper and president of their "General Conference." He was forced to admit, in plain words, that their teaching on this point was false and in error. But, he explained, he feared that if any attempt was made to correct this false doctrine and publicly confess the truth, many of their members, especially those of older standing and heavy tithe payers, would be unable to accept it. He feared they would lose confidence in the Church if they found it had been in error on any point. He said he feared many would withdraw their financial support, and it might divide the Church. And therefore he felt the Church could do nothing but continue to teach and preach this doctrine which he admitted in writing to be false. Naturally, this shook my confidence considerably. This church leader, if not the church itself, was looking to people as the SOURCE of belief, instead of to God! Yet, here was the only Church holding to the one greatest basic truth of the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, kept in the NAME of God, and in spite of this and a few other erroneous teachings, nevertheless being closer to the whole truth than any church I had found. If this was not the true Church of God, then where was it? (pages 315-316).

...This Umapine experience was one more in which no fruit could be borne as long as I teamed with one of the ministers of this church, connected with, or springing from the Stanberry, Missouri, political center. Years later, still in my search for the one true church, still questioning whether this could be that church, still not having found it elsewhere, I asked Mrs. Runcorn (whom Mrs. Armstrong and I looked upon as our "spiritual mother") if she could point out a single real bonafide convert, brought in from the outside, resulting from the ministry of any of the preachers affiliated with "Stanberry." She thought seriously for quite a while. Then she slowly shook her head. She knew of none. I asked several others who had been in the church for years. Their answers were the same" (page 385).

...This was the crossroads -- the final pivotal, crucial test before the living Christ began opening the doors of mass communication through which GOD'S WORK at last could come to life after centuries of sleeping, and go forth in mighty power to all the world, preparing the way before Christ's return to earth as Ruler over all nations. I did not fully realize, then, that this was a crucial turning point in the history of the Church of God. My wife and I did not leave the Church. This was God's Church. Of that I was not, then, completely sure. They came closer to Biblical truth than any other -- but I was seriously disturbed by their lack of power and accomplishment. What actually was happening, though we did not understand it then, was that a NEW ERA was dawning in the history of the Church of God. The words of Christ are quoted in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Book of Revelation, foretelling the history of God's Church in seven successive eras, or phases. Events since that time have revealed was the transition from the 'Sardis' (Rev. 3:1-5) into the beginning of the 'Philadelphia era'. Mrs. Armstrong and I continued to fellowship with these brethren. I continued to work with them, and with their ministers, as far as that was possible. The lay brethren continued to look to me for the leadership for getting the Work of God going to the world. But from that "all-day wrangle" I was independent of them and their ministers, financially. From that time I was dependent, solely, on God. We did not ask or solicit financial contributions from any except those who voluntarily became financial co-workers with us. And that has been the policy ever since" (page 385).

Now the living Christ began opening DOORS! Later research into church history identified where we stood, at the moment, in the prophecy concerning the seven stages, or eras of God's Church from the time of the original apostles, up to Christ's return to earth and establishment of the Kingdom of God. I had been fellowshipping with, working with, the latter part of the Sardis era, as described in Christ's own words in Revelation 3:1-5. The time had come for the Philadelphia era to begin. It did begin a week later, with the ending of the Firbutte meetings, and establishment of a new local Church of God starting out with 19 members! It is to the Philadelphia era that Christ said He would OPEN DOORS that His Gospel might be worldwide, into all nations, in power. This could not have started as long as I was being employed by MEN, ruled by MEN, not free to serve God FULLY, His way!" (page 450).

As shown in the preceding quotes, Herbert Armstrong left CG7 primarily because of doctrine as well as the fact that to him CG7 did not seem to feel that its top priority should be to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness.

Like Herbert W. Armstrong, Church of God related leaders such as G.G. Rupert, R.K. Walker, Frank Walker, J.W. Rich, and Merritt Dickson, had “Anglo-Israel” (also known as “British-Israelism”) beliefs and teachings in the early 20th century (Nickels R.C. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Giving & Sharing, Neck City (MO), 1988, pp.76,142). And while versions of this view are still held by many groups with origins in the old WCG, the main CG7 group, never would teach it.

In his autobiography, Herbert W. Armstrong included a letter one of CG7's top leaders wrote that CG7 would not teach British Commonwealth and United States peoples were descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, even though that leader believed what Herbert Armstrong had written on that subject was true. Notice what A.N. Dugger wrote:

Dear Brother Armstrong:

I...have just finished the manuscript on the Third Angels's Message and British Israel...You are surely right...I cannot use it...May the Lord bless you...

(A photo of the signed letter from A.N. Dugger, dated July 28, 1929 is in The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstong, 1973 edition, p.372--note that this letter was removed from the 1986 ed. that was produced after his death). A.N. Dugger also admitted the truth of the Anglo-Israelism doctrine to Merritt Dickinson in 1912, but A.N. Dugger would not teach it (Nickels, p. 143). Herbert Armstrong considered that CG7 was the group in Revelation 3:1-10, the representatives of the Sardis era of the Church of God.

I should add that when he was part of CG7, Herbert Armstrong chided the entire CG7 that it was not being successful in getting the warning message out to the world. This is clearly documented in a front page article in CG7's The Bible Advocate in 1928, by Herbert Armstrong, who wrote:

...the Adventists and the Church of God...Have either of these bodies been, so far, winning converts to the message by the thousands--by whole cities? Has this message, so far, gone forth with the POWER, the BOLDNESS, and the results in converts...?...It can't be because God is not doing His part...Folks, let's come to life! Let's awake from this state of coma. Let's tear away from the inertia that holds us...Perhaps we need MORE POWER! (Armstrong H.W. Have we tarried for the power to carry the third angel's message? The Bible Advocate, LXII, 41, October 16, 1928, pp. 431-434).

The reality is that A.N. Dugger, former CG7 leader, had problem in being unwilling to change incorrect doctrine, proclaim certain doctrines publicly that he agreed were right, boldly try to fulfill Matthew 24:14, etc. And although Herbert Armstrong did not directly mention it, according to another former CG7 President Robert Coulter, A.N. Dugger also had some serious personal integrity issues around this time that Herbert W. Armstrong would have likely known about (Robert Coulter not only told me this personally, it is documented in his book The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day) pp. 262, 271, 283-285, etc.). So, Herbert W. Armstrong left CG7 and formed a group he named the Radio Church of God.

Why CG7 Said He Left

The reasons Herbert Armstrong gave for leaving are consistent with what CG7 has officially stated.

For documentation, here is what CG7's Bible Advocate Press reported about Herbert Armstrong's departure:

In 1933 the Church of God (Seventh Day) suffered a severe schism, dividing right down the middle. The half that severed (both in members and ministers) established their headquarters in Salem, West Virginia. This new organization was headed by Andrew N. Dugger, who had served as president of the old conference from 1914 to 1928 and as editor of the Bible Advocate from 1914 to 1932. The two divisions reunited in 1949, eventually establishing new headquarters in Denver, Colorado. A small number of dissidents remained separate from the reorganized body, and kept a skeletal work in Salem. Mr. Armstrong gravitated toward the Salem movement. He had aligned himself with A. N. Dugger, thus following Elder Dugger in that association. By 1934, Mr. Armstrong had accepted appointment as one of "the seventy," a group of ministers and church leaders who were charged with "the message for the last days."... Mr. Armstrong was granted ministerial credentials at that time. It was also about this time that Mr. Armstrong began a radio broadcast ministry which he identified as "The Radio Church of God," and which he later contended to be independent of the Salem body’s support or endorsement. Interestingly enough, the Salem body was publishing his reports and articles at the time, so apparently they did not share his understanding. He was carrying the highest documentation that the Church bestows. During the ensuing months and years, Mr. Armstrong began to take an outspoken view on his understanding of British Israelism and the Hebrew feasts. The brethren encouraged him to present to the ministerial body as a whole his views on those subjects, rather than to continue preaching and promoting most forcefully his personal position. It was at Detroit, Michigan, that Mr. Armstrong’s material on the Hebrew festivals was presented. The ministerial body gave full treatment to the positions of Mr. Armstrong and a majority rejected the doctrine as unscriptural. But Mr. Armstrong was most insistent and continued to present his viewpoints in an antagonistic manner. So, in 1938 the Salem organization revoked Mr. Armstrong’s credentials. Official records show the doctrinal dispute to be the reason for the severance" (Quoted in Transformed by Truth, Chapter 12).

An individual who was part of CG7's publishing arm when Herbert W. Armstrong left wrote the following:

It was in the fall of 1937 when Elder Armstrong’s credentials were revoked by the Salem Church of God organization. The reason given by the Board of Twelve for this action was because he taught and kept the annual Feast days. (Kiesz J. The Worldwide Church Of God Vs. The Church Of God (7th Day). http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/rcogvscog7.html 6/24/06).

In addition here is a question and answer that was on CG7-Denver's official website on Herbert Armstrong,

What connections did the Church of God (Seventh Day) have with Herbert Armstrong? -- Herbert W. Armstrong was a licensed minister of the Church of God (Seventh Day) for several years in the 1930's. He was personally known by many of the Church's ministers at that time and worked in cooperation with them. In the late 1930's, Mr. Armstrong left the Church to begin his own work, which became known as the Radio Church of God and later the Worldwide Church of God.

A.N. Dugger also had some serious personal integrity issues around this time, so this was probably another reason that Herbert Armstrong decided that he had to leave CG7. But oddly, despite having the Holy Days difference, sometime after Herbert Armstrong left, A.N. Dugger adopted the keeping of the Holy Days himself (Coutler, The Journey, p. 405).

Herbert W. Armstrong Later Cited 18 Major Doctrinal Differences

Herbert Armstrong wrote:

I continued to work with and fellowship with West Coast members of the Sardis era until 1942, when the rapidly growing work of the fledgling Philadelphia era required my full time. The present era was officially begun in October, 1933. (Armstrong H. Worldwide News, Special edition, June 24, 1985)

1933 is the year that Herbert Armstrong felt that the Philadelphia era began.

Herbert Armstrong also wrote:

At least 18 basic and essential truths have been restored to the True Church since" the year 1933 (Mystery of the Ages, Dodd & Mead, 1985, p. 251)."

These are truths he felt that the main body of CG7 lost. They included, according to Herbert Armstrong, knowledge of the true Gospel ("I came among the true Church of God of the Sardis era. They did not know what the gospel was, they thought it was what they called the third angel's message"), purpose of God, God's plan through the Holy Days, governance ("The Sardis Church even didn't have the right form of government"), who and what God is, the what and why about humankind ("The Sardis Church didn't know"), the human spirit in man, first-fruits, knowledge of what the Millennium is ("Now the Sardis people knew Christ would rule a thousand years. They knew it would be a Millennium. They had no idea in the world what would happen in the Millennium. They had no idea of the purpose of the Millennium"), the truth about the Holy Spirit, that Christians are begotten now, Christians will be born-again at the resurrection, the identity of Israel, understanding that identity opens up Bible prophecy, second & third tithe, identity of Babylon and her daughters, Satan is the guilty party, and that those called of God are to be separate (Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, December 17, 1983--please see article The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?).

It should be made clear that CG7 admits that it changed some of its teachings. Notice what a former president (and current member) of CG7, Robert Coulter, admitted on two of the restored truths:

...there was a point in time when some ministers in the Church of God (Seventh Day) taught that we were begotten but not born again...

But that was a temporary thing [in the CG7]. It was like going through a phase. The church finally said, no, our conversion is a completed work. When Jesus said you must be born again, He facilitates the spiritual rebirth of the convert, and it’s a completed work. We continued then to strive for sanctification, a lifelong process.

Anyway, we abandoned that position years and years ago... (Cartwright D. Former CG7 president gives his understanding of history of Church of God and Mr. Armstrong. The Journal: News of the Churches of God. Sep-Dec 2008).

Thus, CG7 admits that it changed (or in Herbert W. Armstrong words, lost) at least two of the truths that it once had.

The Philadelphia Era--A Major Difference in Teachings

When Herbert W. Armstrong attended with CG7, it believed in the concept that the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2 & 3 represented seven consecutive eras of the Church of God. However, it taught a couple of eras at different times that Herbert W. Armstrong later did:

The Seven Church Periods--The church had at this time passed through five periods, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis, and but two remained ahead...The history of the early days of the church in America, from about 1620 to 1789 is covered by the latter part of the Sardis period. The word "Sardis" means that which is left, and the message as given, "Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy"(Rev. 3:4). This verse shows how the true church would be reduced by persecution into a small remnant" (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Johnson Graphics, Decauter (MI), reprinted 1995, pp. 250-251).

Now we enter in the Philadelphia period, or the sixth...This open door of religious liberty soon spread to other nations, and the Lord had said of this period, He would set before the church an open door which no man could shut...The Philadelphia period evidently had for its beginning about the year 1789, for it was then that the constitution was drafted and ratified by eleven states, which placed that open door before the church that no man, or set of men, have since been able to shut. It was the only official document in the world ratified by a national government, granting freedom of worship, freedom of speech and freedom of the press" (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Johnson Graphics, Decauter (MI), reprinted 1995, pp. 253-255).

Herbert W. Armstrong taught that the Philadelphia era did not start until the 1930s, and most precisely 1933.

Here is what an employee of Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about CG7 over 50 years ago:

The "Church at Sardis" had a name that it was alive BUT IT WAS DEAD (Rev. 3:1). Only a minute fraction of its people were really surrendered to God and holding to the faith once delivered. This is just the picture of the Church of God for 400 years after the outbreak of the Reformation...It was not until about 1650 that there were again enough Sabbath keepers to establish local congregations. They often called themselves the Church of God, but the world termed them "Sabbatarians" and Sabbatarian Baptists ...The remaining brethren retained the name "Church of God," with headquarters finally at Stanberry, Missouri. Among local congregations only a few individuals repented and strengthened the truth that was ready to perish in their midst. But most of the ministers resorted to organizing pitifully weak evangelistic work on the pattern of state conferences rather than yielding themselves to God's government and direction in the carrying of the gospel with power. In fact, instead of the true gospel, most ministers taught a "third angel's message," which they had accepted from the Adventist people. They also published a small paper called the "Bible Advocate."...John writes to the "Church at Philadelphia": "I know thy works: behold, I HAVE SET BEFORE THEE AN OPEN DOOR, and no man can shut it: FOR THOU HAST A LITTLE STRENGTH, AND HAST KEPT MY WORD AND HAST NOT DENIED MY NAME" (Rev. 3:8). Here is a Church with little strength, few in numbers, but which has kept the word of God; one which has not denied the truth. Here is a Church which is preaching the gospel with power because Jesus promises to set before it AN OPEN DOOR until the work of the Church is completed...The time had come for the gospel TO GO AROUND THE WORLD! Having tested and proven that Mr. Armstrong would remain faithful and subject to His government, God opened before him and a few faithful brethren the marvelous DOOR of radio and the printing press to carry forth the gospel. From a minute beginning in Oregon, in 1934, the work of God spread to cover much of North America in 19 years. In 1953 it leaped to Europe and the world! " (A TRUE HISTORY of the TRUE CHURCH by Herman L. Hoeh 1959 edition).

When I called CG7 sometime ago, I was told that it no longer teaches Church eras. This was also confirmed throughout Robert Coulter's book The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day).

CG7 Beliefs

So what does CG7 actually believe? There is such a statement of beliefs on the internet at http://www.cog7.org/Intro.English.html#anchor259790. Here is that statement (bolding shown is in original):

Our beliefs

The Church of God (Seventh Day) believes that…

Thus, with the exception the statement that humans are sinners by birth and some points related to being in the spiritual body, most of the preceding other belief statements are somewhat in-line with what WCG under Herbert Armstrong used to teach. Herbert Armstrong also acknowledged:

Well, the true Church HAS kept the commandments of God and the true name, and the Sardis Era didn't have that. Many of them had tithing, but they didn't all even believe in tithing, but I think you call say the Church did. And God's true Church believed those three things through most of the time (Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, December 17, 1983).

Although I am not completely sure about CG7 and the third angel's message (it appears to be related to Sabbath observance and warning against Sunday; and now they tend to teach it was already fulfilled; see The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Robert Coulter, 2014), one of its then members wrote, "What will happen, then, when the era of the third angel's message arrives and Sunday observance is required by law? Those that resist will lose their jobs and homes. Many of us will end up living under freeway overpasses in order to remain faithful to God" (Knight A. The 666 of Revelation 13 and 14: Consider a new interpretation. The Journal, September 30, 2004, p.8).

Herbert Armstrong was right about the '18 truths' and the fact that CG7 did not teach them. For example instead of believing that we are begotten now by the Holy Spirit and born again at the resurrection, CG7 teaches, "Christians must be born again now, in this life!" (The New Birth. Bible Advocate Press. 1996). (A related article of interest may be Born Again: A Question of Semantics?)

It is my understanding that CG7's President, Whaid Rose, is an elected official (Coulter, The Journey, p. 448). CG7 apparently condones voting in national elections by its membership (which was something Herbert W. Armstrong taught against) as the following recent quote demonstrates,

I'm curious about your take on the recent elections. I don't want to know who you voted for or whether you are Republican or Democrat. Rather, I would like to know your perspective on our country's political process. Was this election important to you? Did you take the time to go to the polls (those of you who are old enough to do so)? Do you think your vote counts? (Rose, Whaid. CG7 E-vision, November 7, 2002).

An article of related interest may be Should a Christian Vote?

Against the Biblical Holy Days, But...

The Church of God, Seventh Day (Denver) teaches against the observance of the biblical holy days, even though it has historically observed Passover on the 14th of Nisan. Notice what its website has stated:

Do you celebrate the feast days? If not, why not?
The Church of God (Seventh Day) teaches that Christians are not obligated to observe the feast days, the annual Hebrew holy days of Leviticus 23. Here are seven reasons for this position:

(Note for some reason its website does not have dot on the second listed "reason.") Let's address each of the above "reasons."

As far as the first CG7 reason, when confronted by the Sadducees, notice what Jesus did:

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God..." (Matthew 22:29, NIV).

Whoever wrote CG7's answer above does not understand Genesis chapter one:

Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years (Genesis 1:14, NKJV).

The Hebrew term translated as "seasons" in the above is mowed`. Notice the following:

OT:4150
mowed` (mo-ade'); or moed` (mo-ade'); or (feminine) mow` adah (2 Chron 8:13) (mo-aw-daw'); from OT:3259; properly, an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; specifically, a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand):

KJV - appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synogogue, (set) time (appointed). [Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.]

The Bible is clearly endorsing the concept of seasonal and biblical festivals from the creation! Furthermore, notice:

For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

Notice that Jesus was the Passover Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. God's Holy Day plan was thus not just for Israel, but intended for all humankind from the beginning of creation!

CG7's reason two is inconsistent and wrong: The New Testament Passover (sometimes called "the Lord's Supper") is also ceremonial, yet CG7 claims to keep that. Thus, this is a red-herring argument.

CG7's reason three is in historical error: The biblical holy days were clearly observed in places other than Jerusalem.

John, Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, and other early Christians all kept them in various cities in Asia Minor. Also, notice that the Bible specifically states:

And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide... (Deut 14:23).

You can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and it nowhere says that Jerusalem is the only place that God will place His name. The children of Israel did not even observe the holy days in Jerusalem until the time of David as it was still controlled by non-Israelites until then. Even Roman Catholics admit that the biblical holy days were kept outside of Jerusalem by those who professed Christ (even though John Chrysotum claimed made that false Jerusalem-only argument)--please see the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?.

CG7's reason four is irrelevant: Many aspects of the Old Testament had agricultural frameworks. Until 200 years ago, pretty much the entire world was agriculturally-based. This is a red-herring argument that CG7 has raised.

CG7's reason five is contradictory to itself: CG7 keeps the Passover based upon the same calendar that it is saying cannot be determined from scripture. Thus complaining about the accuracy of the calendar is another red-herring argument. Protestants and Catholics, even though they do not as a rule realize it, keep Easter based on a convoluted version of the same calendar.

CG7's reason six shows lack of understanding: The purpose of observing the Holy Days is to obey God and better understand His plan of salvation. It is because CG7 does not do this that it does not have a proper understanding of many areas of prophecy, including salvation.

CG7's reason seven again shows lack of understanding: The observance of the Holy Days does better explain the purpose of Christ's death. The observance does not cast a shadow--it points to what God is doing now and what God will do in the future. The non-obserance of them for invented days (and CG7 has its own version of those) clouds the meaning of the Bible. It is terrible for CG7 to write that the observance of God's commanded Holy Days makes it harder to understand God.

However, the The September 2007  Bible Advocate magazine contained the below editorial by the editor, Calvin Burrell:

Beyond Sabbath

Fifty-seven delegates representing twenty-three member nations of the International Ministerial Congress sit with me in a crowded hotel conference room as I begin this writing in early July...

An item of study for this congress in Kansas is titled “Other Days.”  It’s on our agenda because among seventh-day churches around the world are those who also observe one or more of the following:  birthdays, wedding anniversaries, national holidays, Mother’s and Father’s days, thanksgiving days, days of fasting, annual Hebrew festivals of Leviticus 23, and more...   

Based on the gospel of Christ and the liberty it brings, the congress seems to say we are free to observe or not observe days according to personal persuasion (vv. 3-13).  Lest this liberty be abused, however, they note these provisions for celebrating “other days”

  1. Celebrations may not violate clear Bible teaching (v.22b).
  2. They must be done in faith, not as a legal requirement (vv.18, 22a, 23).
  3. Observers and non-observers alike should take care not to offend others by their freedom, nor to impose their convictions upon others (vv.15-21).

This CoG7 congress continues its firm commitment to the weekly Sabbath of Scripture.  Beyond Sabbath, the tolerance of Romans 14 to regard other days - or not - is accepted:  “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore” (v. 13).  In my opinion, this demonstrates Christian maturity and increases our opportunities to work in concert with more of God’s people on the planet.  What do you think?

I think that it is good that CG7 is now becoming, nearly officially (Calvin Burrell was once its president, still is in CG7-Denver, and is in good standing in that group), accepting of the fact that COG members can keep biblical holy days. However, I feel that putting the biblical days on the same level as birthdays (which early Christians did not celebrate) and national holidays (which the Bible shows can be observed), is not properly differentiating between God's days and man's days. I would also state that the biblical support for keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths seems to be similar, hence the observance of the one seems to necessitate the observance of the other.

It should be noted that other CG7 groups (such as the one that was in Meridian Idaho) have long kept the biblical holy days. CG7 (Denver), however, is by far the largest CG7 group.

Offer of Salvation and the 'Unpardonable Sin'

Perhaps one of the more positive developments within CG7 is an increased tolerance of the view that God's plan of salvation includes offering salvation to all. Notice something it published in the Summer of 2012:

Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31). Blasphemy had a death penalty (Leviticus 24:16), and the wages of sin is still death. Jesus did not sin but died for our sins. No one will be forced to accept Him as Savior. You can pay for your own sin in the resurrection of damnation if you wish. Everyone has the choice of eternal death or eternal life. The unpardonable sin comes in two forms. The first is refusing to repent. This does not mean a one-time refusal by someone first told about Jesus or salvation. It is an attitude or lifestyle of unrepentance over a lifetime. I offered a Bible to a Muslim woman, who calmly said, “No, I just believe what my parents taught me.” Not having God’s Spirit, she did not commit the unpardonable sin. Her chance for salvation will be when God opens her mind. God wants all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). There are physical harvest seasons and spiritual harvest seasons. In the Old Testament, only a few were called to knowledge of the truth. Joseph in Egypt did not reveal himself to his brothers the first time, just as Jesus hasn’t revealed Himself to most Jews yet. Joseph revealed himself the second time (Acts 7:13), just as Jesus will be revealed to all Jews during the one thousand-year reign (Romans 11:25-32). As many as 50 billion people have lived and died. Most never heard of Jesus, the only name for eternal life (Acts 4:12). If these are the only days of salvation and most of those 50 billion are lost, then Christianity is a logical failure. God has several resurrections at the millennium of Revelation 20, while Satan is bound. All the dead will be resurrected but not all the same day. Verse 6 guarantees eternal life to all in the first resurrection. The resurrection of damnation at the end is for those who committed the unpardonable sin. Between the two are the resurrections of grace (1 Corinthians 15:23). The sin of blasphemy is as simple as refusing to repent after the Spirit of God reveals truth. The second way to commit the unforgivable sin is to fall from grace and turn back. We can enjoy sin so much that we refuse to quit, which is why we are warned to remember Lot’s wife. Hebrews 6:4-6 says it’s impossible to bring people back if they had the Holy Spirit but fall away. This would be like a dog returning to his vomit (2 Peter 2:22). If we sin willfully after having knowledge of the truth, there is no longer a sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:26). To struggle against sin while trusting in Christ is not unpardonable, but to abandon self to sin and unbelief may be irreversible. (Gieselman, Arlo. The Unpardonable Sin. Bible Advocate, July-August 2012, p. 21)

Despite the fact that perhaps a couple of things should have been slightly re-worded, I was very pleased that CG7 agreed to publish the above. In 2009 or 2010, I spoke to the editor of the Bible Advocate, Calvin Burrell, about the idea that God had a plan to offer salvation to all who ever lived.  And he told me then that although it was not the official teaching of CG7, that there were many in CG7 who believed it.  He and I also discussed biblical texts that supported that belief and he asked me to send him my article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis, which of course, I did.

Now, the not-so-good news is that CG7 still does not officially teach this doctrine as it decided to put the following disclaimer after that particular article:

Arlo Gieselman attends the Church of God Kansas City in Independence, MO, and conducts a ministry to truckers at nearby truck stops. Though Arlo is a good friend of the editor and of CoG7, not every idea in his Viewpoint necessarily represents positions adopted by the Church.

But despite the disclaimer, this is a positive doctrinal step for CG7.  And while in many respects, CG7-Denver has lost a lot of prophetic knowledge over the years, the fact that it went so far to publish Arlo Gieselman’s article is a real positive.

God’s plan for humanity is to show love through the forgiveness of sins, to ultimately reveal His loving plan of salvation to all, to give more to human beings than they can even imagine, and so that all will to be able to show love to others throughout eternity.  CG7 is starting to grasp more of that.

For more on the 'unpardonable sin,' please see the article What is the Unpardonable Sin?

Special Meetings, Conferences, Etc.

Instead, of biblical holy days, CG7 has 'special meetings'.

Yet, it also observes "the Lord's Supper',

Because the first Lord's Supper was at Passover, we have chosen to observe it on Nisan fourteen of the Hebrew calendar. We extend charity toward those who may observe communion at other times. At the supper, we follow Jesus' example and command by washing one another's feet in service and humility (Doctrinal Beliefs of the Church of God (Seventh Day), 1996).

It 2006 announcement regarding "the Lord's Supper" did not mention Passover. I suspect this is because CG7 sometimes is trying not to look too different to outsiders (though this is not a recent change).

Six days after Pentecost in 2002, there was a special meeting:

Come celebrate a day of Music, Inspiration and Blessings at GENESIS, to be held Saturday, May 25, 2002 beginning at 11:00 am. This event is hosted by the San Diego Church of God (Seventh Day), 2717 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104. The phone number there is (619) 298-0657. [GENESIS] is a day of music and celebration sponsored by SeventhEnt. We welcome you and your family to join us as we celebrate the gifts of our Lord through music and message. This event is FREE to everyone we wish to inspire and teach. Various performers and Special Guests will be there. This is a free event for all ages!!! You can't afford NOT to be there! Come early, and bring a friend! We will have LIVE bands and Vocalists" (Cog7 e-News 05.07.02).

Instead of the biblical Feast of Tabernacles, CG7 normally has 'family conferences' and camps in the summer (Cog7 e-News 05.07.02). It also tends to have biennial meetings:

At biennial conventions, members have the privilege of participating in Church business, including election of the board of directors — twelve men who serve as the Church’s governing body when the Conference is not in session. The board appoints a president, who is responsible for daily management of the work and for long-term leadership. Doctrine, ministerial documentation, and ethics are handled by the North American Ministerial Council, composed of licensed and credentialed ministers. (General Conference-Church of God (Seventh Day). International Tour — North America. Bible Advocate. January 2007.)

It is of interest to note that CG7 still teaches against Christmas:

The Church does not promote the tradition of Christmas celebration for these reasons: 1. We believe Jesus was born in early- or mid-autumn, certainly not on December 25. This date was celebrated by idolatrous religions many years before Christ. Many Christmas customs are borrowed from ancient pre-Christian traditions (see Jer. 10:2; 1 Cor. 10:18-22; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). 2. No official celebration of Christ's birth is prescribed in Scripture. Christmas wasn't observed as a Christian holiday until nearly 400 years after Christ. 3. The feasting, drinking, spending, partying, etc. of Christmas trivializes and insults the One whose birth is remembered. The entire season is so compromised that some Christians, at least, ought to decline as a form of protest against its materialism and hedonism (see 1 Peter 4:3, 4)" (Elder Calvin Burrell. Q&A Bible Advocate. May 2002).

End-Time Position

In the December 2006 edition of CG7's Bible Advocate, in an article titled What If It Really Is ‘The End’? Whether it is or not, here’s how to prepare the right way, Dianne E. Butts wrote:

At times world events can send me spinning into an intriguing game of “What if?” What if this is it? What if we’re nearing the end times? What if we’re in the end times?!

What if we did find ourselves thrust into that “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21)? Should we cash in our investments and pay off our houses so if the government runs amuck, it can’t take them away? Should we buy some land in the country so we could grow our own food? Should we run out and purchase a generator? Fuel? Radios, batteries, blankets? Seed to grow food? A water purification system?

What about weapons?

Should I take the advice given to the Christians of Judea in Matthew 24:16 and flee to the mountains? Or should I throw faith in the face of fear and book a flight to Israel for a front-row view of the action?

In case God’s Word might suddenly become limited or illegal, maybe I should bury a Bible in my backyard.

If I knew the world was in, or would soon be immersed in, the prophesied Great Tribulation, what would I do?...

While it is not wrong to prepare in practical ways for possible hard times, my game of “What if?” challenges me to tend to my spiritual health. There’s nothing like a crisis to help us get our priorities straight. Can I feel the pressure of the coming crisis? Do I truly believe Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:7 “Behold, I am coming soon!”? We may not know the actual date of Jesus’ return, but one thing is for certain: We are about two thousand years closer to it than we were when John penned those words.

Any way I look at it, time is short; there’s none to waste. So what should I be doing?

I should be using every moment wisely by diligently studying and preparing to wield my weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). I should be feeding on the Bread of Life so that I’m nourished and strong. I should be gulping down the Living Water and passing it on to others.

Whether Jesus comes back next week, next month, or the next millennium, aren’t these the things I should be doing anyway?

While Ms. Butts is correct that true Christians should study the word of God, she neglected to mention that in the Bible, Jesus specifically teaches:

And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath (Matthew 24:20-21 NKJV).

The understanding of biblical prophecy has never been a strong point of CG7, nor have I seen anything in the CG7 literature about a place of safety, like Petra. It does not appear that fleeing to a place in the wilderness (see Revelation 12:14) to be protected (see Revelation 3:10) are being taught in CG7.

Additionally, CG7 seems to have little understanding of the end time prophecies in the Book of Daniel. Notice the following:

Daniel in a sentence: While he and his brethren are captives in Babylon, Daniel remains faithful to God under test, gains official position there, interprets the kings' dreams, and receives four visions of wide historical/political scope to encourage God's people under oppression. (STUDYING THE BOOK of Daniel. Copyright © 2007, Church of God (Seventh Day))

Apocalyptic: Daniel's prophetic style named for its colorful imagery, numerics, and dramatic historical intervention seen in visions and dreams.  The Book of Revelation is called the Apocalypse...

1290 and 1335 days: enigmatic numbers that extend the 1260 BASE...Fulfillment uncertain...

Most predictions in the last great prophecy (chs. 10-12) were fulfilled in ancient Persia and Greece. We wait for the grand finale (ch. 12) at Christ's return. (GETTING TO KNOW THE BOOK, INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF Daniel. Bible Advocate, January-February 1998, pp. 2,3).

Yet, there certainly is a future fulfillment of about 1/2 (or even more) of Daniel 11. Not understanding this indicates that CG7 will not be among those that are wise (cf. Daniel 12:10). To learn more about Daniel 11 and the 1290 days of Daniel 12, please see the article Who is the King of the North?. Perhaps I should mention that the above cited CG7 article never uses the term King of the North. Hence, CG7 is not likely to understand what will happen--nor believe it when we of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God get more to hear the truth about it.

Futhermore, here is another writing that suggests that CG7 is somewhat timid in the area of prophecy:

The expression “Day of Lord,” which occurs about twenty-eight times in Scripture, is a general term used to describe God’s intervention in the affairs of people — for punishment or for blessing. Often this is accomplished through human instruments. “Day of the Lord” can certainly refer to a yet future intervention by God at Christ’s return, but it is usually used in the context of past events.

The expression “latter days” does not necessarily refer to the last days of planet Earth. It may mean simply the latter days of the kingdom of Israel, the distant future, or “days to come,” as it is sometimes translated. In addition, New Testament writers frequently referred to their time as the “last days” (Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2; James 5:3; 2 Peter 3:3)...

Has a prophecy already been fulfilled?

When we consider an Old Testament prophecy, we need to consider whether it is completely fulfilled in the Old Testament context, whether it was completely fulfilled in the first coming of the Messiah, or whether it was only partially fulfilled. For example, the apostle Peter proclaimed about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost: “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people’” (Acts 2:16-21, NIV, cited from Joel 2:28-32). Do we conclude that Joel’s prophecy was completely fulfilled in Peter’s day and that the “glorious day of the Lord” was the incarnation of Jesus? Do we conclude that the grandiose language of “wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below” was figurative so as to underscore the dramatic proportions of what was happening — that the very Son of God laid aside His glory to walk in human flesh and die so that all might be saved? Or do we conclude that while Peter thought he was seeing the fulfillment, he was in fact seeing only a partial fulfillment and that the grandiose language is literal and has yet to be fulfilled in a future outpouring of the Holy Spirit and “glorious day of the Lord”?

How we answer these questions will dramatically affect how we understand New Testament prophecies and the apocalyptic material of Revelation. (Wiedenheft, RA. Important Considerations in Understanding Prophecy. Bible Advocate Press. © 2006 The General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day)).

I agree with that last statement. But sadly, that is how the article ends and CG7 does not really say what it believes. I believe that this is part of why Jesus warned Sardis, "you will not know what hour I will come upon you" (Revelation 3:3).

Furthermore, CG7 seems to state that the Book of Revelation cannot really be understood. Notice the following two articles:

Revelation

The Bible's last book is both intriguing and puzzling. More than any other, it uses figurative and symbolic language. Every word is true, but not every word can be read in its usual sense.

Revelation's 404 verses contain as many as 278 quotes from, or allusions to, the Old Testament, especially Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.

Four ways to interpret:

1. Preterist: applies the book primarily to the first century church in the Roman Empire

2. Historical: finds its fulfillment from the first century until the return of Christ in pagan and papal Rome, the rise of Islam, medieval Europe, the U.S., Russia, etc.

3. Futurist: expects chapters 4-19 to be fulfilled in seven years around the rapture of the church to heaven

4. Idealist: instead of relating the language to specific events, this sees an allegory encouraging anyone in difficult times to trust the final triumph of Christ over Satan...

 Revelation in a sentence: In scenes of apocalyptic suffering and glory, Jesus Christ reveals to John the testing of saints, the judgment of sinners, and the final deliverance of the church that would shortly come to pass. (STUDYING THE BOOK: Introduction and Summary of Revelation, Church of God (Seventh Day))

The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ does not just signal the end of the Bible; it discloses the very end of time. If the apparent doom it forecasts does not discourage us from further examination, then the bizarre imagery clinches it. The book is formidable, to be sure.

It is peculiar that a volume this obscure should be called Revelation...

The prophecy

The Apocalypse speaks the lyrical language of dream; our old senses cannot comprehend it. As with the seers Ezekiel and Daniel before him, what John sees defies rational explanation. To be “in the Spirit” is to be transported out of the prosaic confines of the literal and logical into the startling world of metaphor and mystery (1:10; 4:1; 17:3; 21:10). Seven times in twenty-two chapters (1:3; 11:6; 19:10; 22:7, 10, 18, 19) Revelation describes itself as prophecy. God will “show His servants — things which must shortly take place” (1:1; Amos 3:7).

But the future that John experiences and conveys is not brute history but more poetry. The divine glimpse of reality has urgency and grandeur that conventional discourse cannot contain. Heaven opens, human expression fails, and only inscrutable awe remains. Beauty is indefinable and melody unexplainable; they must be experienced, not translated, to be known.

Revelation is such a melody. It calls us to be a prophetic people, not just farsighted but capable of mediating in the Spirit the melodious beauty of encounter with the divine (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:1-39; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7)...

The Word

The Apocalypse weaves the fabric of vision from the thread of memory. John states that his prophecy is the “word of God,” a phrase he uses seven times in the book (1:2, 9; 6:9; 17:17; 19:9, 13; 20:4). But this new song is taken from the old (5:9; Psalm 96:1) (Overman, Jason. Songs of the Apocalypse. Bible Advocate Online, December 2007).

While CG7 does accept that certain prophetic events, like the return of Jesus, will take place, it seems to discount biblical prophecy. And it is not sure how to understand many prophecies. The above articles are simply more proof of that. Preterism is dangerous (see also The Dangerous Rise of Preterists).

CG7 Considers Many Future Prophetic Events Already Fulfilled

The December 2009 issue of CG7’s Bible Advocate starts with an article from Calvin Burrell, CG7’s former president and current editor for the Bible Advocate:

I Think . . .

I’m in a confessing mood today, ready to admit my heresy. Here it is: I’m not sure that the whole world is becoming only worse and worse, as many Christians claim and a few Bible texts seem to say…we enjoy a higher quality of existence than did those in Bible times, those in the Middle Ages…

The recent spate of bad news about economy (not half as bad as the 1930’s), about government (mostly from one political perspective), and about church (Christianity is on the ebb in Europe and North America, where only 5-25 percent of people attend church) has convinced many folks that Armageddon is near…It may be slow or no growth for Bible-loving, Christ-sharing folks in America, but believers still have it good around here…

I think we should stop quoting a few prophetic clichés to support our negativism and let the Bible paint its own multi-hued version of our present and future. Jesus’ story of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) suggests this more realistic, balanced view. He planted good seed, and the Devil planted bad. Both grew together until the harvest…

…I think there’s enough good going on around the planet, thanks to Jesus’ seed, to keep us thanking God, sowing more good seed, and trusting that tomorrow will, in many respects, be better than today. What do you think?

What do I think? I think that this particular issue of CG7’s Bible Advocate contains heresy as Calvin Burrell essentially admits. Now it is true, even until the end, that the gospel should be preached to the world as a witness (Matthew 28:19-20). But that of itself is not proof that the end is not near (actually it should be a sign that the end is near per Matthew 24:14). And while it is true that not everything is getting worse, the Bible indicates that God is not pleased with humankind during the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:1-12). I also think that in the Great Depression the USA was not as vulnerable to collapse as it is now, that no nation in the history of the planet has been in as much total debt as the USA in the 21st century, and that Bible prophecy shows doom for the highly indebted at the time of the end (Habakkuk 2:1-8). The Bible is clear that a dismissive attitude towards prophecy is dangerous (Revelation 3:3,16-19; 2 Peter 3:1-12, Luke 21:34-36).

Here is what is in articles in the December 2009 and March-April 2010 issues of the Bible Advocate from another former CG7’s president, Robert Coulter:

The dragon (Revelation 12:3) gave this beast its power and authority. The fact that crowns, on the heads of the dragon, are now worn on the horns of the beast (13:1) indicates that the dragon’s authority has been transferred to the kingdoms that developed in western Europe upon the fall of the Roman Empire. One of the beast’s heads is fatally wounded, but to the astonishment of the world, the wound was healed (v. 3). This wound was to the head representative of Rome. It was initiated by Emperor Constantine, who divided the capital of Imperial Rome between the cities of Rome in the west and Constantinople in the east…

The wound was healed (v. 3) by the Frankish king, Charlemagne, a pretender of Christianity and supporter of the papacy…The second beast of John’s prophecy arose out of the earth (13:11), a succession from within the kingdoms described in Daniel 2 and 7. It had two lamb-like horns and spoke like a dragon, indicating the dual nature of a church (lamb-like) united with civil authority (a dragon). This beast represents the Holy Roman Empire, the union of the Romish church with the political kingdoms of Europe…

Erecting an image in honor of the first beast because of the power it was given (v. 14b). This addressed the fact that the Roman church’s hierarchy was organized and operated much like Imperial Rome, even to emperor worship in the worship of its popes as “Holy Father.”… Gave breath (life) to the image of the first beast so that it could spew its blasphemies and require the saints to adopt its heresies, or be killed (v. 15). It did this through the use of its clergy, puppet kings, and magistrates… This beast forced people to receive a mark in their right hands or their foreheads as a prerequisite to pursuing the ordinary activities of life (vv. 16, 17)…

John calls for wisdom and insight in calculating the number of the beast (13:18a)…Many attempts are made to identify this mysterious figure, but speculation about his identity is unimportant because enforcement of his mark is now history. Although the manifold blasphemies, heresies, and antichristian ideologies of the beast still exist in this apostate church, it no longer exercises the authority to enforce its edicts either through papal decree or through the agency of the state…

Many teach that the mark of the beast is yet to be enforced by a latter-day antichrist. That is impossible if John’s time allocations are taken literally. The time God allowed the saints to be persecuted and overcome was 1,260 days, or three-and-one-half years (12:6, 14; 13:5), equaling 1,260 years. This period indicated by John is identical with the time given to Daniel’s little horn to oppress the saints (Daniel 7:25)…That time is now past. For all practical purposes, the beasts of Revelation 13 have been rendered impotent, even if the dregs of their heresies and idolatries linger on in the world. (Coulter R. The Persecution of Christianity. Bible Advocate, December 2009)

The eighteenth chapter of Revelation describes the judgment of the beast-riding prostitute first introduced as a little horn (Daniel 7) and later described as a two-horned beast (Revelation 13:11-17). God purposed that the kingdoms she reigned over would ultimately rise up against her, hate and destroy her. An angel of great authority appeared, illuminated the whole earth, and shouted, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird” (18:1, 2). This cry of judgment was upon the harlot church that God had permitted to make war against the saints and exalt herself against Him for an extended time (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5). That time had ended; now God held her accountable for her wickedness. The 1,260 years reign and judgment of the prostitute did not occur in John’s day. He was privileged to anticipate it, while we are blessed to look back on it in history… Thank God! His judgment on the prostitute has occurred in history. It is not the judgment that will occur when the Lord Jesus returns to claim His kingdom, but it prevents the Roman church from enforcing her will upon God’s universal church in our time. (Coulter R. God’s Judgment. Bible Advocate, March-April 2010, pp. 19-20)

Q What do you understand to be the mark of the beast?
A...the mark of the beast on the forehead or hand symbolized belief and participation in the idolatrous, heretical mode of worship of the state church that prevailed in Europe for more than one thousand years.  — Elder Robert Coulter. (Questions & Answers. Bible Advocate, March-April 2010, p. 7)

Now while I personally like Robert Coulter, the teaching that Revelation 13 and 18 are completely past or impotent for the future is a major theological error. The whole world has not yet worshiped the beast (Revelation 13:3-4), his mark is not past, and people were able to buy and sell without the “mark of the beast” during the Middle Ages, the harlot church has not been destroyed, hence Revelation 13 and 18 has not yet been fulfilled. A careful read of Daniel 7:25-26 shows that God’s kingdom is established right at the end of that particular, and future, persecution. Persecution also clearly affects Christians just prior to and during the Great Tribulation according to what is recorded in Matthew 24:9-22, Mark 13:9-20, Luke 21:12-24, and Revelation 12:13-17. Daniel clearly teaches that this happens at the appointed time of the end (11:28-39, 7:25). The Beast of Revelation has not fully risen up. To teach otherwise is wrong, major heresy, and dangerous.

Additionally, the Bible is clear that the beast powers persuade the world through sorceries (Revelation 18:23; 13:12-15), and while some may have occurred during the Middle Ages, the reality is that it was a political-religious alliance that existed in the Middle Ages as opposed to a highly sorcery-based empire. The prophecies related to the sorceries have not come to pass as the merchants of the world did not mourn the fall of the "Holy Roman Empire" which they will for the coming one (Revelation 18:23).

Perhaps it may be a good idea to remind everyone that CG7 once taught that the Beast would rise up again in the last days. Notice what the late A.N. Dugger wrote, as well as what Robert Coulter wrote:

The Beast that he demands all people to worship has a number, which is the same number as "A MAN," and that number is 666 (verse 18)...Beware, dear reader of BEAST WORSHIP. This is a message for these last days (Dugger AN. Daniel and Revelation. Mount Zion Reporter Press, ca. 1960s. Reprint by Giving & Sharing, 2000, pp. 40, 44)

As a teenager in the 1940s, I attended a Salem branch of the Church of God (Seventh Day). At that time the Church was preaching the imminent return of Jesus and the third angel’s message as a warning of impending judgment upon worshippers of the beast (Revelation 14:9, 10).

Other elements of this teaching were that the Antichrist was preparing to enforce the “mark of the beast” upon the Christian world (13:11-16). (Coulter R. Joy of Our Advent Hope. Bible Advocate November-December 2014)

The position in The Hope of Israel (Sheffield ES. On Our Position. Volume 1, No. 13. 1864) of the Church of God was that the prophecies of the Beast and its image were still to be fulfilled. Gilbert Cranmer later wrote (1865-1866) that he too believed that the image and two-horned beast were still future. Between 1900-1902, Elder W.H. Littlejohn wrote an article about the future of the ten-horned beast and the papacy still to fulfill Revelation 17.

Thus, Robert Coulter has strayed from the teachings of several CGA/CG7 pioneers as well as what he admits he was once taught by CG7.

Another article stated the following in the December 2009 issue from a CGOM-UK member:

Much of the Olivet prophecy (Matthew 24) came to pass in Palestine by AD 70… (McBride J. Prepare to Meet Your Doom? Bible Advocate, December 2009)

Now although there was some ante-type events in 70 A.D., the Olivet prophecy was NOT fulfilled in 70 A.D., the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24:21 still has not come to pass, nor have many other steps in that chapter of the Bible. Pretty much all of the “Olivet prophecy” still has a future fulfillment.

Yet, CG7 itself is so unsure of prophecy, that it is no longer even sure if the Great Tribulation is a future event:

The BA asked Church of God (Seventh Day) ministers their views on the tribulation period prophesied in Matthew 24:21 (see also Mark 13:19 and Luke 21:20-26), whether its fulfillment is in the past, in the present, or in the future. This is an issue on which the Church has no firm position. (The Great Tribulation.  The Bible Advocate, November-December 2011, p. 5)

Yet, notice that it was events for, and leading up to, the end of the age (and the great tribulation) that disciples were asking about: 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying,

“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)

Thus, the focus of the Olivet message (when Jesus answered those questions) is the end, not mainly events that were to happen over 1900 years ago. Jesus listed many events that would occur and then stated, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened."(Matthew 24:21-22). This simply has not happened.

Yet, another article in the December 2009 issue of the Bible Advocate also stated:

The Second Coming has been explored with many viewpoints since Jesus spoke directly to it in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21)… Comparing Jesus’ words to events since He spoke tells us that most of those events have come to pass. (Kueur DM. Is Jesus Coming Soon? Bible Advocate, December 2009)

Luke 21 has not basically been fulfilled as that article indicates. If it were, there would have been no reason for Jesus to state the following in Luke 21:34:

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).

Those who get taken in by CG7’s message of future prophetic minimalization will likely not watch events as Jesus warned, will not be praying to escape all these things as Jesus advised, and will allow “that Day” to come upon them unexpectedly because they ignored what Jesus taught. Now CG7 admits in another article, “Very possibly we do live in the last days.” But the emphasis of this particular issue of its Bible Advocate is that these are probably not the last days, many things are improving, there are not two future beasts of Revelation 13, no great Christian persecution is coming, and be not concerned as Jesus will come some day. But by dismissing most of Matthew 24, Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13, and other future prophecies as past, those in CG7 simply do not understand how world events are aligning with biblical prophecies.

CG7-Denver has, in my opinion, clearly crossed the line on prophetic interpretations with its December 2009 issue of the Bible Advocate. Thus, unless its members individually repent, all associated with it will suffer the fate that Jesus warned of when He spoke about Sardis in Revelation and those who do not watch in Luke 21. The specific fate that awaits is shown in Daniel 7:25, Revelation 12:17, and apparently Revelation 14:12-13.

Instead of repenting of these views, instead it continues to attempt to minimize the importance of prophecy. The January-February 2010 issue of the Bible Advocate stated that its ministers want CG7 believe:

Jesus is coming soon, and we’d better be ready. Understanding prophecies is secondary. (What the Church Needs Now — CoG7 Survey. Bible Advocate, January-February 2010, pp. 15).

Yet, the return of Jesus, the resurrections, etc. are ALL prophetic events. Yet, the leadership of CG7 feels that prophecy is of relatively little importance. If not, it would correct the recent errors in its understanding of various prophetic events.

CG7 Misunderstands Israel in Prophecy

The 21 century CG7-Denver has major difficulties in the area of prophetic understanding.  Here is some of what is in an article in the December 2008 edition of its Bible Advocate magazine:

Israel in Bible Prophecy

W esley Walker of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, has served CoG7 as a pastor and in other capacities for more than forty years. He recently pub-lished his first book, Answers to Bible Questions. Elder Walker’s answers here reflect the Church’s historic views on Israel.

BA: What’s the big picture of land ownership in the Middle East, as you see it?

The present problems there began with Abraham. In Genesis 12 God speaks to Abraham and tells him to leave his father’s house and go into a land that He would show him. Abraham obeyed and left his homeland.  Then God gives Abraham the boundaries of his inheritance in Genesis 15:18. Check a Bible
map; you will notice the river of Egypt is to the south of Israel and the Euphrates River is to the north. The great sea would be the western border. We do not know exactly how far east it extended, but it may have been into modern Jordan and Syria, east of the river Jordan.

For more than sixty years now Israel has been in the news be-cause of land disputes between her and her Arab neighbors, especially the Palestinians. This conflict will continue until true ownership of the land is estab-lished…

BA: What prophecies were ful-filled for Israel in the past cen-tury?

The Zionist movement began in 1897, and a few Jews went home. In 1922, when the League of Nations approved a British mandate over Palestine, the British government appointed a Zionist board, and more went home. By the end of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust, six hundred thousand more Jews had returned to their homeland. Today, again, Israel is alive in her own land, with these prophecies fulfilled: Isaiah 11:11, 12; Jeremi-ah 31:7-12; 32:37-44; and Ezekiel 36:6, 7, 21-24; 37:21-28.

The most convincing proph-ecy of Israel’s ultimate return may be in Amos 9:14, 15. Through the prophet, God spoke a permanent presence of His people in the land of Israel. They would build, plant, eat, and no one would uproot them again! I believe this has happened in my lifetime...

Israel has not yet gotten all the land that was promised to Abra-ham, but she will. She did not get it all at once in the beginning, nor is she getting it all at once to-day. But little by little, Israel will, and there will be more violent events before she does.

CG7-Denver fails to understand that the prophecies to Israel in the Bible were NOT limited to the tribe of Judah.  Furthermore, I do not think that it is at all possible that the current nation of Israel will increase its size to end up with all the land that God promised the descendants of Abraham.

If that is one of the signs that CG7-Denver is looking for prior to the return of Jesus Christ, then it will sadly not know what is happening when the Great Tribulation begins. 

Anyway, what about Wesley Walker’s point about Amos 9:14-15 as the most convincing proof of his position (which according to the Bible Advocate reflects CG7-Denver’s historical view)?  Let us look at what the Bible actually says here:

14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them
,”
Says the LORD your God (Amos 9:14-15)

Notice that the above indicates that Israel will not be pulled up from the land.  Well, there are two significant problems with the nation of Israel and that prophecy applying now:

  1. The current nation of Israel still has not received all the promised land.  Hence, until it does so, the above truly is not being fulfilled.
  2. The current nation of Israel returned some of the land it did receive to Egypt some years ago as part of a peace deal.  Hence, it allowed itself to be “pulled up” from the land.

CG7-Denver may wish to re-think its position here, because the modern nation of Israel has not received all the land and in fact has given some back.

Additionally, Wesley Walker cited Jeremiah 32:37-41 (I left out verses 42-44 for space) which states:

37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. 38 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. 41 Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’ (Jeremiah 32:37-41)

Does anyone really think that the modern nation of Israel has one mind to fear God today?  Israel is essentially a secular state that is divided politically.  It simply does not fulfill Jeremiah 32.

Perhaps I should add that while Wesley Walker also cited Jeremiah 31:7-12, this is referring to Ephraim and hence is not limited to Judah.  But since CG7-Denver refuses to acknowledge the true identity of Israel in prophecy, it overlooked that critically important point.

FWIW, I also looked up Ezekiel 36:6, 7, 21-24; 37:21-28 and disagree that the current nation of Israel has necessarily fulfilled any of these.  One of the reason why is that Ezekiel 36:21-24 specifically leads into verses 25-28:

24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God (Ezekiel 36:24-28)

Of course, this simply has not happened.  And notice that until it does, the prophesied dwelling in the land promised to fathers (like Abraham) will not happen.  Also, we of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God believe that the prophecies in Ezekiel 37:21-28, do not happen until after the resurrection in mentioned in Ezekiel 37:12-14.

The fact is that CG7-Denver does not properly understand prophecy.  It is no place of safety.

Basically, CG7 considers itself preterist (Coulter, The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day), pp. 94, 204, 206-207, 210), which means it believes that most prophetic passages of the Bible have already been fulfilled (see The Dangerous Rise of Preterists).

Those who truly wish to understand about Israel in prophecy should read the article Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel.

Trend Towards A Few Non-COG Beliefs

There has been a trend in CG7 to soften/water-down certain of its teachings. Even the beliefs list provided about is shortened from what it still considers officially to be its doctrines (for example, CG7 does have a booklet titled Doctrinal Beliefs of the Church of God (Seventh Day), but many are not listed in its beliefs list currently).

Concerning the Holy Spirit, CG7's doctrinal booklet states,

The Holy Spirit is the promised Comforter sent from God after the ascension of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells in those Christians who ask of God and obey Him. All believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.

However, in CG7's 2nd Qtr (Apr,May,and June 2002) Adult Sabbath School quarterly, in Lesson 12 page 59, Whaid Rose stated,

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is crucial to the process of revival. All believers have the Holy Spirit, but not all are filled with the Spirit and yielded to him. To be filled with the Spirit is to be under his complete control and influence. A church filled with Spirit-filled believers is a Spirit-filled church.

Furthermore, CG7 published the following on the nature of God in a question and answer format in its Jan-Feb 2002 Bible Advocate: Question, "What is your position on the Trinity?" CG7 answer,

Historically, we are a non-Trinitarian church, preferring other views of this complex subject. Some of us are comfortable with Trinitarian statements. But more of us, I suspect, prefer biblical wording and deem it unnecessary to adopt the philosophical language of many creeds (e.g., "three co-equal, co-eternal, con-substantial persons"). Such wording stresses the symmetry within the Godhead, without acknowledging the more irregular landscape of the Bible regarding Father, Son, and Spirit. For example, Scripture regularly subordinates the Son to the Father (John 14:28; 1 Tim. 2:5; etc.), but it is easy to miss this in most creeds. And the New Testament omits reference to the Spirit in many places a Trinitarian would expect it to be mentioned (John 17, the doxologies, the greetings, and benedictions of most epistles, etc.). This suggests that the Holy Spirit may not be a "third person" in the same sense that the Father and Son are persons. Our statements on God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit indicate our belief that there is a kind of "three-ness" about the way God is revealed in Scripture, but the Church prefers to avoid the non-biblical term Trinity. No longer do we use much energy trying to show that the concept is borrowed from pagan religion. More of us now acknowledge that Trinity is one possible interpretation, or model, of the biblical material, but not the only one. Endorsement of Trinity is certainly not a requirement for salvation, as some would have you believe. - Elder Calvin Burrell

Additionally, CG7 published the following on the nature of the Holy Spirit God in a question and answer format in its Jan-Feb 2012 Bible Advocate:

Is the Holy Spirit, then, a third person of the Godhead, as the Father and Son are persons? There is no simple  answer nor complex formula by which the Christian Deity may be fully analyzed and finally summarized…

Since the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in most apostolic salutations, benedictions, or doxologies (as are the Father and Son); since the Spirit is not pictured as enthroned or reigning in heaven (as are Father and Son); since the Holy Spirit is not recorded as being worshiped or as being addressed in prayers (as are Father and Son); and since the Holy Spirit participates in no “I-Thou” communications with Father or Son as they do with each other; thus it is better to think of the Spirit as the personal presence of the Father and Son on earth and within believers, rather than as a third person of the Godhead.

Notice something from its May-June 2012 Bible Advocate::

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God — the divine entity, reality, and personal presence who completes the chain of Deity, doublelinking earth with heaven. Just as Christ the Son came to reveal God the Father, so did the Holy Spirit come to speak of Jesus and remind us of all Christ said and did. Just as the Son made the Father known in human terms — bodily and locally — so the Spirit makes the Son known in heavenly terms — spiritually and universally. And just as the Father was one with, and fully present in, the Son, so the Holy Spirit came to provide the presence of the Son, not to replace the absent Son (Colossians 2:9; John 15:26b; 16:13-15). The divine chain is now complete: from God the spiritual Father in heaven to Christ the fleshly Son on earth and back again through the Holy Spirit — eternally blessed God. (Burrell C. All About the Spirit. Bible Advocate.  May-June 2012, p. 6)

CG7 is still officially a group that does not claim it believes in the trinity, but the trend toward accepting the trinity by some of its membership is a disturbing trend (the Seventh-day Adventist church made the change from anti-trinitarian to trinitarian according to most of its scholars, please see SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666).

Calvin Burrell wrote the following about Jesus in the Jan-Feb 2002 Bible Advocate,

To some people, if Jesus is God, then there must be two Gods. No! The Bible says again and again that there is only one true Deity, not two or three. He is our Heavenly Father - Creator, King, Savior, and Judge of the universe. The same God who is our Father in heaven has revealed Himself on earth through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is both God (i.e., from the divine substance in heaven) and man, having taken on human form at His birth in Bethlehem. Not another God, Jesus is the perfect visible image of the only true God (read Hebrews 1 carefully). In His origin, nature, essence, and Spirit, Christ shares the deity and divinity of His Father in heaven. He is God become man. - Elder Calvin Burrell

CG7 declared at its North American Ministerial Council meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May, 2004,

...the statement: ‘He is of the same substance as the Father’ to mean that Jesus is an equal member of the Godhead (Deity) and shares the nature, attributes, and title of “God” with the Father. As the Son, Jesus is subordinate to the Father in rank.

One concern to those in the COGs, however, is that historically this 'same substance' comment is used as part of the trinitarian argument (the COGs teach that there is one God family which began with two beings).

Military

Here are some of CG7's the old and new military teachings,

When the United States entered the war in 1917, {A.N.} Dugger {Church of God, Seventh Day}, with a Missouri congressman, had a personal interview with President Woodrow Wilson, obtaining Church of God exemption. (Nickels RC. History of the Seventh Day Church of God, p. 92)

Wars among nations and violence between persons are not God's perfect will, but result from greed, lust for power, selfishness, and other sinful motives. Christians should renounce such carnality and the weapons of human strife, and should not participate in military combat through the armed forces" (Doctrinal Beliefs of the Church of God (Seventh Day), 1996).

And here is what Whaid Rose, current CG7 president wrote in the 21st century:

Christians should renounce such carnality and the weapons of human strife, and should not participate in military combat through the armed forces (Rose, Whaid. E-Vision, October 1, 2001).

Apparently however, CG7's president is considering changing his view as he concluded that same article with:

You should know that over the years I have defended the church's pacifist stance, but that the events of September 11th has me thinking much about this. Would you say that this "different kind of war against America" calls for an exception to the rule?

I have publicly disagreed with Whaid Rose on this point. Those interested may wish to read Military Service and the COGs (an earlier, shorter version was published in Oct 2001 issue of The Journal).

In 2002 CG7's Congress announced:

The congress reaffirmed the CG7's traditional opposition to "carnal warfare" and advised members who participate in branches of the military to seek noncombatant status." (Cartwright, Dixon. CG7 congress affirms Sabbath belief, writes guidelines for members on hot-button issues. The Journal. August 2002, p. 5).

In most COGs, participation in the military is prohibited, and this prohibition is stronger than to advise that members seek non-combatant status--this CG7 position seems similar to that held by the Seventh Day Adventists.

Women's Leadership Roles

There are many similarites, but possibly a few differences, between how CG7-Denver and other COGs view the biblical roles of women. In the September 2007 issue of CG7's Bible Advocate, Calvin Burrell wrote:

Elsewhere in the Bible, women are permitted a part in public teaching and prophesying, provided they do so with decorum and under proper order. Examples of this are the many inspired prophetesses in both testaments: Exodus 15:20ff; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Luke 2:36; Acts 2:17, 18; 18:26; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5. In giving full credence to these texts, it would place too great a strain on the harmony of all scriptures if we universalized Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:34 by claiming that they require all women in all churches to keep silent at all times.

This passage goes on to speak of the submission of women (v. 34b), as addressed in the law (Gen. 3:16, probably) and elsewhere by Paul (1 Tim. 2:8-15). The principle of submission, also required of men (Eph. 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5), captures the spirit of everything the apostle urges in this chapter. “Keep silent” is merely one way submission might be demonstrated in first century Corinth, as well as in any similar modern circumstance...

In today’s church, women find their places as teachers; as leaders of children, youth, and other women; as musicians; as worship leaders; as deaconesses; as board members; as counselors; as presenters in matters of their expertise; and so on. About the only roles that women do not typically fill in the Church of God (Seventh Day) are those of ordained elder and senior pastor.

The COGs essentially have women fulfill almost all roles expect preaching at services or being an ordained elder, pastor, or evangelist. As I really do not know what a "worship leader" in CG7 does, as COGs do not usually use that title for any one, so will not comment here on whether a "worship leader" role is or is not appropriate for women. For more information on women and their biblical roles, please see the article Women and the New Testament Church.

Working on the Sabbath Now Seems to Sometimes be Allowed

The Sep-Oct 2010 of CG7's Bible Advocate magazine has a piece apparently allowing people to work on the Sabbath:

Q Please reiterate our position on the Sabbath.  If, due to the economy, a member who is a deacon takes a job requiring him to work late on Friday, but he still attends Sabbath day services, does God’s mercy allow him to continue as deacon? How would you handle this?…

A We’re no longer under old covenant law but under the new covenant of God’s grace (Rom. 6:15; Heb. 8:13)…Every believer must strive, out of love, to dedicate the glorious Sabbath to the Lord. When forced to work, he does not violate the law of love. He continues to love his Lord and His day, regretting that he cannot keep it as he wished. That’s completely different from one who mocks the commandment by working on Sabbath, even though he could keep it, and smugly says we are under grace. One who cannot attend Sabbath services obviously cannot hold an important church office, since he’s not aware of what goes on there. The deacon who is required to work in the dark hours of Sabbath to provide for his household is not wrong. He may continue to serve because he attends worship during the day when church activities take place and he knows what’s happening.

This is an outrage.  No one is being forced to violate the Sabbath, simply pressured.  We are all pressured to sin in many ways, but that does not make sin right.  It is still sin.

To try to reduce dissent from this outrageous response, CG7 had the following weasel words attached to the article:

Editor’s note: Not official policy, here is a respected pastor’s answer to a not uncommon problem in CoG7.

This is still an outrage.

People either have the faith that God will provide or they do not.

Those who knowingly violate the Sabbath simply do not have the faith.

Perhaps I should convey a related personal story.  When I was doing poorly financially struggling to get our business profitable, an opportunity came up for me to have a booth at a seminar on the Sabbath which would have likely resulted in noticeable financial benefits to our struggling business.  At the same time (around November 1994), the late J. Tkach had some article come out that essentially said that if you need to support your family it was okay to work on the Sabbath.

Yet the Bible says:

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.  (Exodus 20:8-11)

So, instead of listening to Tkach-accepted logic, I decided that it was an act of faith to not work on the Sabbath, but of course to work the other days.  I agreed with the Apostle Peter and others in Acts who faced persecuting pressure:

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men…” (Acts 5:29)

Peter and the others were beaten then (Acts 5:40), but that and various threats did not stop them from obeying God (Acts 5:41).  They ignored being “forced” to disobey God.  And actual force was used against them.

Furthermore, the Book of Psalms clearly says:

25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. (Psalms 37:25)

My wife and I have faced various trials associated with keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days over the years (my wife was even fired for attending the Feast of Tabernacles from one company).  We have made it through, though it was not always easy.  We never had to beg for bread.  Jesus taught to pray to God for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).  He did not teach to rely on carnal reasoning.

We knew that Jesus warned:

33…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

So, the fact that it is not always easy to obey God does not justify disobedience.   Jesus taught that the way to life was difficult and few would find it (Matthew 7:14).

How does the Bible say that Christians are supposed to conduct their lives?  To compromise with the world?  Or to do something else?  Notice:

7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:6-8)

Giving in to societal pressures in order to fulfill the carnal requirements of the flesh is not biblically sanctioned (cf. Romans 13:14).  Some believe God is faithful, while others look to their own understandings.   The Bible says to trust in God and not your own understandings (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Real Christians accept that God is faithful and do not compromise:

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.  (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

There have been harder trials in the world than facing job loss in a Western society.  Almost no one actually starves in 21st century America/Europe, and if the “deacon” truly believed God, God would provide for him (and if not, likely the government) even if it does not seem so carnally (cf. Genesis 22:8).  Do he and others not realize that God is faithful?

Sadly, CG7 is encouraging people to look to their own carnal understandings and do what is right in their own eyes (cf. Proverbs 12:15; 21:2).

Babies

The October 2003 issue of CG7's Bible Advocate contains this in its Question and Answer column:

Does the Bible say anything about the "age of accountability"? Are infants and young children who die before this age in the first resurrection or the second resurrection? Human uncertainty abounds about how God will handle some circumstances of resurrection and judgment, but His children who are raised to eternal life will like whatever He does. No Bible text speaks specifically about "age of accountability." When a person understands what sin is and that Jesus died to free us from sin, he becomes responsible and is being drawn to Jesus for salvation. There is no definitive answer - only assumption - as to how God will deal with infants and young children. However, we can depend on Him to do the right thing (Gen. 18:25b; Psa. 119:137; 145:17). - Elder Melvin Sweet

The 'age of accountability' is a Protestant teaching and I am glad that CG7 correctly points out that it is not biblical. But not knowing what happens with infants who dies is another area where CG7 is closer to Protestant teachings than COG teachings--this is probably because CG7 does NOT keep the biblical holy days which show God's plan of salvation (it has long been true that some in CG7 keep them, but CG7 officially does not, thus this affects its doctrinal positions). The article Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestant religions shows what the COG's generally teach on this matter.

Presidents

The following is a list of CG7 presidents in from 1900 to present:

W. C. Long 1900-05
S. W. Mentzer 1905-1921
A. N. Dugger 1921-1927, 1929-1931 Burt Marrs 1927-1929, 1943-1949 William Alexander 1931-1933A.
S. Christenson   1933-1937
Roy Davison 1937-1941
Carl Carver 1941-1943A.
E. Lidell 1949-1953E.
A. Straub 1953-59
K. H. Freeman 1959-1963
Robert Coulter 1963-1987
Calvin Burrell 1987-1997
Whaid Rose 1997-
present (Twentieth Century General Conference Presidents. http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/100-years-cog7-history.html 6/24/06)

Note: The list on the A.N. Dugger line is due to a split that occurred in 1933.

Other Matters

One of CG7's annual conferences, according to Calvin Burrell, announced:

The congress approved participation of church members in political elections through voting and running for public office but charged pastors not to promote specific candidates from church pulpits and at church gatherings (Cartwright, Dixon. CG7 congress affirms Sabbath belief, writes guidelines for members on hot-button issues. The Journal. August 2002, p. 5).

Within CG7 there have been some signs that it has moved a bit closer to mainstream Protestantism (there is an article about this in the December 31, 2001 issue of The Journal). It has not gotten anywhere near WCG has (WCG actually also changed its name and took out the term "Church of God"), but enough so that this has become an issue in CG7 circles. The biggest battle appears to be between those who believe Christians need to keep the ten commandments and those who do not believe this. There are many articles at the COGwriter home page which scripturally challenge various anti-ten commandment arguments.

Protestantism

The following which is purportedly from the October 2003 edition of CG7's Bible Advocate and was written by its president, Whaid Rose, states:

When God wants to do something significant in the world, He calls a man or a woman and sets him-her to the task." {Speaking of the Protestant Reformation}, "That event is remembered each year during the month of October. What better time to celebrate the blessings of the Reformation and contemplate the impact of your own life...There were many other reformers besides Luther."

Norman Edwards reported that he attended the 2007 Summer convention of CG7-Denver and while he apparently liked the convention, here is some of what he reported:

President Whaid Rose stated, “We are Protestant.  We protested the Catholic Church and embraced ’sola scriptura’. We just protested more than the rest.” (Edwards N. 2007 G.C. Convention Church of God (Seventh Day).  Servant’s News, July-Aug 2007, p. 6).

CG7's President must realize that, years ago, even CG7 did NOT trace its history through the Protestant reformation. Thus, celebrating the 'blessings of the Reformation' seems odd. As does claiming to be Protestant.

The plain truth is that Martin Luther really respected his own opinion over the Bible (please see the article Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther: What Did Martin Luther Really Believe about the Bible?) and we in the Continuing Church of God do not consider ourselves truly affiliated with him or his movement.

Much of the Protestant Reformation on the European continent was really a politically expedient excuse for revolution, while England's part in it was for the purposes of accepting adultery of King Henry VIII! And while it is good that more distanced themselves from some traditions of the Catholic Church, the truth is that the Protestant reformers accepted many Catholic traditions then, and still do today!

Furthermore, it may be on interest to note what a CG7 member has written (bolding mine),

In fact, gnostic Christianity was only the first of two waves involved in the downfall of the apostolic church. Gnosticism arose inside the church in the first century, but soon most Gnostic Christians left the church to form their own independent churches. The second wave of apostasy was Roman Christianity...From the beginning we realized that gnostic Christianity was more similar to Protestantism than Catholicism...Scholars have known about the historical connection between gnosticism and Protestantism for decades. It’s one of those things that don’t get talked about outside of scholarly circles because no one wants to hear it. But there it was. There were historical events, well documented, through which gnostic theology was reworked and handed down from gnostic Christianity in the early centuries after Christ to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century...Did you know that salvation by grace alone, though it was one of the themes preached by Martin Luther, was not the theological foundation of the Protestant Reformation? The foundational doctrines were predestination and eternal security (once saved always saved). And those two doctrines were first preached by gnostic Christians more than 1,000 years before...There are indications that the Antichrist prophecies are fulfilled in part by a single individual, as seen in 2 Thessalonians 2. However, the apostle John in his first epistle says there is not just one Antichrist but “many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). Later he talks about the “spirit of antichrist” and says that in his time, in the first century, “it is already in the world” (1 John 4:3, NRSV). The problem is that John’s epistles are talking about gnostic Christianity...Apostate Roman Christianity had not even gotten started at this early time. If John says there are “many” Antichrists, and that the spirit of Antichrist entered apostate Christianity through gnosticism, then apparently Antichrist is not solely a Catholic phenomenon as most Protestants believe. If Protestantism is a latter-day manifestation of key gnostic doctrines, shouldn’t we find the spirit of Antichrist in Protestant theology as well? Indeed, our latest research demonstrates that evangelical Protestantism, the largest and most respected, conservative branch of American Protestantism today, is one of the primary manifestations of what the apostle John calls the spirit of Antichrist. Why is that important? The reason is that evangelical Protestantism is behind most of the crisis in primitive Christianity today...Many Sabbatarian churches praise and honor evangelicalism. The Church of God (Seventh Day) proudly advertises itself as an evangelical institution...Revelation 17 and its description of the great harlot is another example of the advancement in our understanding of prophecy and the end time. It is traditional to assume this refers exclusively to Catholicism and the papacy. There is now evidence that this is talking about something much larger than just Catholicism. Indeed, John’s description of the harlot, who commits fornication with the kings of the earth, is a direct reference to an unusual religious ritual in ancient Babylonia...we traced the doctrine of the immortal soul from modern Christianity all the way back to a great pagan religious reformation in ancient Greece seven centuries before Christ. But what about before that time? What is the ultimate origin of this ancient heresy?...Remember Genesis...In Hebrew religion there was no guaranteed salvation, no once saved always saved. In Hebrew religion one’s conduct was a vital component of salvation...the classic effect of this equally ancient and modern doctrine of eternal security, which always, then and now, leads to antinomian license to sin. The idea that salvation was open to all mankind first evolved in paganism in ancient Greece (and Egypt). Paganism now claimed that many more people than the ruling class possessed an immortal soul. Some began to believe that all men have a divine, immortal soul, and that opinion ultimately prevailed. Nevertheless, the idea that some persons are predestined to be saved and others lost, and that this is guaranteed regardless of conduct, persisted in Greek religion. It was adopted by many gnostic Christians, from whom ultimately Martin Luther and John Calvin formed their own doctrines of predestination and eternal security, which come down to us today as evangelical Protestantism" (Knight Alan. After all theses years, primitive Christianity is still in crisis. The Journal. February 29, 2004, pp. 12-13).

Although there are some significant differences between Gnosticism and Protestantism, COG supporters MUST realize that Protestantism is a danger. Protestantism is so much so that it enveloped WCG and is to a major degree taking over CG7. CG7 should have known that Protestants were the daughters of the harlot. While I am glad that Alan Knight is starting to understand that, he still appears to be supporting CG7.

In a departure from its normally tamer reporting of its version of its history, in a 2-page spread entitled “Division and Reunion: 1933-1963“, the July-August 2008 edition of the CG7’s Bible Advocate contains the following:

Around 1930 Herbert W. Armstrong, an advertiser by trade, began to preach for the Church and was granted a ministerial license… These were revoked in 1937 when he insisted on promoting Hebrew festival observance and Anglo-Israelism, teachings the Church never embraced. Mr. Armstrong later moved his work to Pasadena, California, where it became a prosperous and exclusive cult: the Worldwide Church of God.”

It is sad that CG7 wishes to pejoratively label the old WCG a cult, but as it has moved closer towards Protestantism, I suppose this is to be expected.

What the Bible Says About the Sardis Church

Here is what Jesus said in Revelation 3:1-6:

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." '

Jesus seems to be warning Sardis to know its history, stop changing doctrine, and pay attention to prophecy.

With its intentional lack of knowledge on church eras/history (see CG7 Admits Change, But Sardis A Joke?), its doctrinal changes, Sabbath compromising, and its lack of prophetic understanding, it really does seem to me that no other group throughout recent history fits Jesus' description of the Sardis church than CG7.

Additionally, fewer and fewer are likely to be true Christians. The Apostle Paul taught:

2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-7)

CG7 says so much prophecy is in the past that it will be overtaken like by a thief in darkness. CG7 does NOT advocating watching for many prophetic events as it teaches that they are past.

CG7 has claimed in the past that its size proves that it is not Sardis. And CG7 is quite large by COG standards. At the home page of its website, CG7-Denver’s Whaid Rose reported:

The General Conference, Church of God (Seventh Day), is a family of more than 200 local congregations scattered across the United States and Canada. Through its International Ministerial Congress, the Church of God (Seventh Day) is a global church, connecting 300,000 members around the world.. (http://www.cog7.org/ viewed 04/03/12)

CG7 seems to be connecting 300,000 brethren to error.

In the past several years, CG7 has been making it clearer and clearer that it does not understand end time prophecy.  And it is teaching this in such a manner as to likely mislead most of its claimed 300,000 brethren. They apparently will be overtaken as with a thief in the night. They seem determined to ignore the warnings to the Sardis Church.

What A CG7 Member Said About What Seems to be Happening There

The Nov-Dec 2005 issue of Giving & Sharing's Church of God News had this piece from a CG7 member:

There have been apostate groups and individuals within CG7 for the past 20 years that have lost their conviction about the Sabbath, but most have left the Church. One of the most recent was just a few years ago in which a California congregation split, with the Sunday leaning group finally dissolving and joining local Sunday Churches.What has changed on an official basis within CG7, is the teaching today that Sabbath is only a secondary issue or as they like to say, a “distinctive” that has no bearing on the core beliefs of Christianity. In that kind of environment, I expect we will see many more such apostate groups forming within the Church, and whether they continue to leave or finally organize within the Church is a serious question.

My own prediction is that in the end time, most Sabbatarian Churches will buckle under severe pressure from both inside and outside forces, and allow a mixture of Sunday and Sabbath observing congregations within their midst, to avoid persecution and censure by dictatorial governments that will soon return to the Western world in a time of great crisis. That is when Revelation 18:4 will come into play in a special way, to separate the goats from the sheep, and who will escape the final end time plagues and who will not.

It may be of interest to note, that the joint keeping of the Sabbath and Sunday apparently began in Rome and was documented to have occurred as late as the 4-5th century. But I suspect that the actual Sabbath will be legislated against by the Beast power to not allow for this joint observation.

Conclusion

Herbert W. Armstrong considered CG7's name suggested it was alive, but he felt CG7 was dead because it did not bear much fruit.

CG7 is the largest "COG" but has so few that are truly part of the COG that Jesus warns it that it is losing what makes it part of the true Church of God.

Recent discussions within CG7 have suggested that some (though not all) in its ranks wish to become more like the world's churches and less like the Church of God (assuming Herbert W. Armstrong was correct about CG7 being Sardis, the quote "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent" seems to more applicable now than when Herbert W. Armstrong was alive).

However, lest any forget, remember that Jesus did state,

"You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy"

Thus, there are still a few true CG7 members who our spiritual brothers. An article of related interest may be The Sardis Church Era.

Yet even though Jesus told Sardis that it had a few names who are worthy, CG7 is NO place of safety. Notice that Jesus told many in Sardis "you will not know what hour I will come upon you" (Revelation 3:3), while He told Philadelphia, "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (vs. 10).

And Jesus told both groups,

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (vss. 6,13)".

CG7's lack of prophetic understanding and watering down of certain doctrines is apparently going to ultimately have rough consequences on its followers.

End Note 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 CG7, and come to that conclusion. Here is a related article of possible interest: What is a True Philadelphian?

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Thiel B., Ph.D. The Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings. www .cogwriter.com (c) 2002, 2003, 2004/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014 1118