Church of God General Conference
The Church of God General Conference (CoGGC) is an nontrinitarian, Adventist Christian body which is also known as the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and the Church of God General Conference (McDonough, Georgia). The Church of the Blessed Hope, some of whose congregations also use the name Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith (CGAF), are a separate denomination, although they share the same origins.
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|Background and history|
The Church of God General Conference has roots in several similar groups in North America that eventually united in 1921 in Waterloo, Iowa to form the current national organization. These small groups had reached similar doctrinal convictions through independent Bible study. In the mid-19th century, some of the individuals and groups, including Joseph Marsh of New York, Nathaniel Field of Indiana, and the Wilson family of Illinois (Benjamin Wilson's family), began to circulate religious writings which made the groups aware of one another. This led to fellowship, the development of state conferences, and an attempted national organization in 1888. Strong convictions on the autonomy and authority of individual congregations, though, led to the demise of the original attempt.
In 1921 the groups divided, with the larger becoming the Church of God General Conference, and the smaller the Church of the Blessed Hope. The Church of the Blessed Hope held to the beliefs shared by Benjamin Wilson, and the Church of God General Conference expanded their belief system to embrace doctrines (e.g. the existence of a personal devil) previously not held by the group Wilson helped co-found.
Doctrines of the Church of God General Conference include belief in the authority of the Bible as the rule of faith, one God, who is the Father, Jesus is God's Son, who came into existence beginning with his miraculous conception in Mary's womb, repentance is lifelong change, the literal premillennial second coming of Jesus Christ, those who have accepted the gospel will be resurrected at the return of Christ, and that the promises of God to Abraham will be literally fulfilled, referred to as the "Kingdom of God" being established on earth.
Statement of Faith
- the oneness of God (1 Cor. 8:6)
- that the Holy Spirit is God's power (Acts 1:8)
- Jesus Christ is God's only begotten Son (Matt. 16:16), and is our Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5)
- the Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16)
- the mortality of man (Job 4:17; Psa. 146:4)
- the near return of Christ (Acts 1:11), and life only through Him (Col. 3:3)
- the literal resurrection of the dead (John 5:28, 29)
- the immortalization of those in Christ (1 Cor. 15:53, 54)
- the destruction of the wicked (Rev. 21:8)
- the final restoration of Israel as the Kingdom of God under the kingship of Christ (Luke 1:32)
- the church to be joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), and Israel to be made head over Gentile nations (Isa. 60:13)
- the "restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21)
- it also firmly advocates repentance and immersion in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and a consecrated life as essential to salvation (Heb. 12:14)
A significant distinctive doctrine of the Church of God General Conference is denial of the personal pre-existence of Jesus Christ, but acceptance of the virgin birth; a position in Christology historically known as Socinianism, although adherents of this view today often prefer the term "Biblical Unitarianism".
The main distinguishing doctrinal difference between Church of God General Conference (CoGGC) and Christadelphians and Church of the Blessed Hope (CGAF) is that the majority of CoGGC members believe that Satan is a literal fallen angel, although a minority do not. Anthony Buzzard of Atlanta Bible College has debated Christadelphians and written defending the traditional view of the devil. However, there is no mention of the devil in the CoGGC Statement of Faith, and this doctrine is not considered a fundamental.
The Churches of God are congregational in government, yet cooperate in publications and missions ministries, and the Atlanta Bible College. International headquarters are located in McDonough in Henry County, Georgia in the metro-Atlanta area. The Restitution Herald is the official periodical of the church, and is published bi-monthly. A journal dealing with the doctrines of the movement, A Journal From the Radical Reformation, has been published quarterly since 1991. According to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the Church of God General Conference had 89 churches and 5018 members in 2002.
Korean Extension: The Korean Extension is a Korean ministry of the Atlanta Bible College. The Korean Extension was officially started in the fall semester of the 2003 school year by Pastor Steve An. The Korean Extension is led by Pastors Steve An & Sam An, and the campus is located in Duluth, Georgia. As of the year 2010 there are approximately 100 students in the Atlanta Bible College Korean Extension.
- Handbook of Denominations in the United States, by Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill
- Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches (2009), National Council of Churches
- Hemingray, Peter (2003). John Thomas: His Friends and His Faith. Canton, MI: Christadelphian Tidings. ISBN 81-7887-012-6.