Church of God (Restoration)
The Church of God (Restoration) is a Christian denomination that was founded in the 1980s by Daniel (Danny) Layne (d. September 21, 2011). In a booklet written by Mr. Layne in the early 1980s, he claimed to be an ex-heroin addict who spent years dealing drugs and living a life of crime and sin on the streets of San Francisco. Layne was originally raised in the Church of God (Anderson), where his father was a minister. Layne began preaching in the Church of God (Guthrie, OK) after his conversion.
The group believes that they are ordained by both prophecy and Divine command to restore the church of God as it was in the Book of Acts, and believes that it alone is the only true church. Most of Daniel Layne's beliefs in Revelation originated from some ministers who had left the Church of God (Anderson) reformation movement thirty or so years earlier. This teaching is upheld by the official eschatology, which is a form of church historicism. This Church of God (Restoration) teaches that the 7th Trumpet in the book of the Revelation began to sound around the year 1980 when Daniel Layne was saved, alleging that there was a general discontent among many of its current adherents that were in various Churches of God at that time. A variation of this "7th Seal message" had been taught in other Churches of God for approximately 50 years prior to this point.
Daniel Layne was held to be an Apostle in the Church of God (Restoration). He died at his residence in Upland, California, United States, on September 21, 2011. There is also a sizable General Ministerial Body, consisting of male and female ministers, who call themselves "The Seventh Trumpet Angel Ministry". Everyone who is saved and sanctified and is not in a second marriage can be a Minister based upon biblical teaching, as long as they feel called of God and have the approval of the Ministerial Body. There are currently approximately 70 ministers within the USA, Canada, and Mexico, with numerous ministers in the Philippines, Africa, India, Myanmar, and Nepal.
The group considers itself to be "anti-denominational", with roots in the holiness movement and Evening Light Reformation of whom D.S. Warner was one of the leading ministers in the late 19th century. Daniel Sidney Warner had been associated with the Church of God (Winebrennarian), and was greatly influenced by the "anti-denominational" teaching of that denomination.
This group also claims to closely follow all the teachings of the Bible, and practices excommunication to some former members it considers to be errant from its very strict and real interpretation of the Bible and actively work against the group. They believe and teach that they are the ONE and ONLY BODY and that anyone outside of their group will not be saved unless they join them.
The Church of God Restoration remains the focus of controversy, with many accusations levelled by ex-members across the world. Most of the accusations stem from well-known doctrines of the Church of God (Restoration) such as divine healing, shunning, excommunication, and insistence of the Church that spouses are individually accountable to God for their souls.
This group has been thought of to be a cult as some feel that it meets all of the eight criteria discussed by Robert Jay Lifton, to qualify it as a thought reform/mind control cult. For a number of years, they did not believe in accessing any medical help, nor using medicine, but divine healing from God. There have been a number of deaths within the group, of newborns, children, and adults, which normal medical procedures may have prevented. However, due to political and judicial pressure in 2001, a resolution was approved by the General Ministerial Body that now recommends that all under-age children be provided with appropriate medical care. Adults are free to choose for themselves.
The Church of God (Restoration) has a growing number of congregations worldwide and promotes outreach and mission work in various countries. They heavily encourage all Christians to unite and bind into one visible body of believers. Congregations are located in several States and countries.
Although the group draws most of its members from various Anabaptist and Church of God churches, its adherents represent a broad diversity of backgrounds, both religious and cultural. One method of outreach has been to have a large group of adherents attend conventions or services of other churches (often churches from which members have been previously gleaned) with the apparent goal of gaining new members.
The Gospel Trumpet is a bi-monthly publication that is published in English, German, and Russian. Some of its clip-art and writings are copied from the original century-old Gospel Trumpet, with which it has no other continuity. The current publishers claim to follow in the steps of the original Gospel Trumpet by publishing strongly against denominationalism and sin. There is also a bi-monthly paper, The Shining Light, published for the spiritual benefit and growth of children.
Daniel Sidney Warner and the earlier ministers of the Church of God (Anderson) taught that the restoration of the church was prophesied by the Old Testament Prophets, in the New Testament, and in the book of Revelation. They taught that 270 to 1530 was the Papal age and 1530 to 1880 was the Protestant age with 1880 being the year the church of God was restored with the full message of salvation, sanctification, and unity of Gods people. Warner describes how he came up with these dates in Birth of a Reformation. From a number of scriptures in Daniel and Revelation he took "time, times, and half a time", "42 months" or "1260 days" (Dan 7:25; 12:7, Rev 11:3; 12:6; 12:14; 13:5;) to mean 1260 years of the Papal age holding that in symbolic language one day is one year. The 1260 years of the Papal age is added to the time that the church lost its unity and purity which gives the end of the Papal age as 1530 AD. Then using the symbol from Revelation of "three days and a half" (Rev 11:11) with each day equaling a century they held that the duration of the Protestant age was 350 years which brings them to 1880. This date was the beginning of the full restoration of the church of God and called the Evening Light age.
The Church of God (Restoration) builds their movement dating on the same dates the Church of God (Anderson) earlier ministers did. They also hold that in about 1930 the Church of God (Anderson) Movement as a whole became apostate and there was silence in the spiritual heavens for "the space of half an hour" (Rev 8:1). This one half hour taken to mean 50 years using one hour in symbolic language as one century. The time of the silence period ended in 1980, which was about the time of the beginning of Daniel Layne’s ministry.
Some reject the date of 1880 and claim the dates 270 and 1530 hold no historical significance and were only obtained by back dating from 1880. They also point out that while there is Biblical authority to use the symbol of one day for a year (Num 14:34; Eze 4:6) there is no Biblical authority to use one day as a century or one hour as a century which the Church of God (Restoration) uses to get the 350 years of the Protestant age and the 50 years of the silent time.
Main doctrines and practices
The doctrines of the Church of God (Restoration) are similar to the original doctrines of the Church of God (Anderson), although the "Anderson" churches have now almost fully modernized and liberalized a large proportion of themselves. The following is a list of some of the emphasized doctrines and practices:
- The Church of God (Restoration) claims to be the actual church that Jesus built and dates back to the early Apostles in the New Testament, although there is no actual historical proof to substantiate this claim, but what they believe by saying that all the truly saved are all part of the body of Jesus Christ.
- Salvation from sin. As with most Holiness Churches, they believe that one willful sin causes a person to lose his salvation.
- Entire Sanctification as a second work of grace after justification by faith
- Unification of the children of God in one body. They teach that God's will is to unite His people one more time in one visible Church, before He returns to take them home. Every person that is a true Christian will become a part of the movement, once they hear the sound of the 7th Trumpet, which is interpreted to be the preaching and teaching of God through the body of Christ [them].
- Divine, physical healing and anointing with oil by the Elders, taking the following as its scriptural mandate: Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
- Holy kiss when greeting each other with the same sex, in a non-sexual way.
- Separation from the world by dress and actions, including:
- Men wear primarily black dress clothes with white shirts to worship services, but casual dress is worn during the week, although jeans and similar casual clothes are considered worldly
- Neck-ties, wedding rings, and jewelry are forbidden, as are other superfluous and unneeded articles of dress
- Bright colors, such as red, orange, yellow, bright green and bright blue, are not worn, as the church believes that they portray a potentially worldly spirit and draw unnecessary attention to themselves.
- Women wear dark-colored panty hose and girls wear thick stockings, skirts with wide pleats to the ankles, and long vests to cover their waistline and hide their female shape. They are expected to wear at least three layers of clothing over their torsos.
- Sandals and bare feet are forbidden.
- Most male adherents wear beards.
- Women and girls do not cut their hair, and wear it tied back at all times in a plain bun (women) or braids (girls)
- Church worship is a capella. They follow the same policy on this matter with the Churches of Christ believing that musical instruments are not sanctioned by scripture.
- Ministers are allowed to exercise their calling to preach within the Church, unless the General Ministerial Body decides otherwise
- Outreach and missionary endeavors
- No discrimination based on race, language, culture, or social status
- Strong teaching against sexual immorality, including homosexuality
- Pacifism, precluding all military
- No remarriage following divorce, although reunification with a first spouse is permitted, if that relationship was not adulterous for both spouses, somewhat different than the viewpoint of Daniel Sidney Warner.
- Belief in corporal punishment of children. This practice has resulted in a court case in Ontario. They believe that the Bible instructs them to spank their children with an object such as a wooden stick or a leather belt. They believe that they are forbidden to spank their children by hand, because the hand is considered an instrument of love, guidance and comfort.
- Excommunication of those that leave the Church and actively attempt to help others leave the Church, or are a threat to the body
- The group is officially presbyterian-hierarchical in polity, with the General Ministerial Body having the greatest authority in doctrine and practice. However, many ex-members claim that it is actually episcopalian, with Daniel Layne acting as de facto arch-bishop until his death. While there is no official "headquarters", individual congregations are expected to be more than a loose association, and submit to the decisions of the Ministerial Body. There is no formal membership, but those who attend regularly are expected to strictly adhere to the standards taught by leaders in the movement. Membership is based upon the soul's status.
- "Elder Daniel Layne – Called to Glory". Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- "Zion's Voice". churchofgod.net. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
- "Transcript of Danny Layne message" (PDF). Retrieved July 14, 2015.
- "The Church of God, Official Website of The Church of God". churchofgod.net. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- "Worshipping Christ" (PDF). dswarnerlibary.com. Retrieved July 18, 2010.[dead link]
- "Church of God Congregations". churchofgod.com. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- "The Gospel Trumpet". churchofgod.net. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- "Chapter 13 A Prophetic Time from Birth of a Reformation by Andrew L. Byers-Timeless Truths". timelesstruths.org. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- "Transcript of Danny Layne message" (PDF). Retrieved July 14, 2015.
- Birth of a Reformation - Life and Labors of Daniel Sidney Warner, by A. L. Byers
- Shedding Light on the Church of God Restoration, by Heather Meade
- The Church of God (Restoration) Official Home Page
- An Inside Look at the Church of God Short historical overview of the Church of God movement
- More Christ Like Blog -- Church of God Restoration | Bob Mutch
- Church of God Restoration - Restored or Fallen? | Douglas Wall