Grace Communion International
This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Grace Communion International (GCI), formerly the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) (still registered as Worldwide Church of God in the UK and some other regions) and the Radio Church of God, is an evangelical Christian denomination based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the former organizations having had an often controversial influence on 20th century religious broadcasting and publishing in the United States and Europe. In the years after founder Herbert W. Armstrong's death in 1986, church leaders (though not all of the members) came to the conclusion that many of his doctrines were not biblical. These doctrines were subsequently rejected by the leadership, but still practiced by a number of church members and the church is now split on doctrine (as is true of many denominations). The leadership is in full agreement with the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals so that they could join, but not all members agree with the current teaching. In light of these doctrinal changes, in April 2009, the denomination changed its name to Grace Communion International in the USA to better reflect its new teaching.
Originally based in Eugene, Oregon and named The Radio Church of God, the parent organization was founded in 1934 by radio- and televangelist Herbert Armstrong as a radio ministry that promoted a strict, minimalist doctrine. Armstrong prophesied that the world would end in 1975, observed a Saturday Sabbath, forbade medical interventions, and often required three tithes. The radio ministry initially spread Armstrong's prophecies and interpretations of the Bible via its national radio broadcast, The World Tomorrow, which later became a television program as well. After a few years on the air, Armstrong had developed a small following, so the church started publishing a free magazine, The Plain Truth, to supplement Armstrong's message in print for its radio audience. In 1947, the church relocated its headquarters to Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, also founded by Armstrong, and in 1968, the movement was renamed the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Under its WCG incarnation, the church developed a reputation as a "doomsday cult".
Within a few years of Armstrong's death in 1986, the succeeding church administration conducted a thorough review of many of Armstrong's doctrines, in the light of their view on New Testament teaching; though many members and ministers left and formed other churches that conformed to many but not all of Armstrong's teachings. In 2009, the church changed its name from The Worldwide Church of God to its current name. The GCI is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and has 50,000 members in 900 congregations in about 100 countries.
- 1 History
- 2 Beliefs and practices
- 3 Structure
- 4 Finances
- 5 Related denominations
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Radio Church of God began with Herbert W. Armstrong, who in 1931 was ordained by the Oregon Conference of the Church of God (Seventh-Day), an Adventist group, and began serving a congregation in Eugene, Oregon. On January 7, 1934, Armstrong began hosting a broadcast on a local 100-watt radio station KORE in Eugene. It was essentially a condensed church service on the air, with hymn singing featured along with Armstrong's message, and it was the launching point for what would become the Radio Church of God. In 1933, the Church of God (Seventh-Day) split. Armstrong, who sided with the faction centered in Salem, West Virginia, fell out with the local congregation over various doctrinal issues, especially his espousal of British Israelism.
Although his views were rejected by the local congregation, he gained a growing following of his own, chiefly through his World Tomorrow broadcasts and the Plain Truth magazine. Armstrong moved to Pasadena, California. To facilitate the work of the growing church, he incorporated it on March 3, 1946, as the Radio Church of God. In 1947, Ambassador College was founded in Pasadena by the church, and the campus served as the church's headquarters.
The broadcast of The World Tomorrow went into Europe on Radio Luxembourg on January 7, 1953. In 1956, Armstrong published the booklet 1975 in Prophecy!, which predicted an upcoming nuclear war and subsequent enslavement of mankind, leading to the return of Jesus Christ. He explained that the book was written to contrast the spiritual condition of the world to the modern inventions that scientists were promising for the year 1975.
In 1971 Armstrong criticized teachings that Christ would return in 1975 and that the church should flee to a "place of safety" in 1972, as no man knew the time of Christ's return (Matthew 24:36 and 25:13). Armstrong wrote that 1975 would be the least possible year for Christ's return.
Because of his strong emphasis on these prophetic dates, the church grew quickly in the late 1960s and, on January 5, 1968, was renamed the Worldwide Church of God.
Armstrong's son, Garner Ted Armstrong, who had been given the responsibility to host the radio and later the television version of The World Tomorrow, was formally disfellowshipped by his father in 1972. While church members were told at the time that the reason was Ted Armstrong's opposition to some of his father's teachings, Ted Armstrong later admitted that the actual reason was his relationships with many women. Herbert Armstrong, who resumed the broadcasting duties of The World Tomorrow program, did not reconcile with Ted before his death.
Armstrong's church was both authoritarian and totalitarian in its treatment of the membership. To maintain the membership's loyalty, Armstrong's ministers indoctrinated them to believe that they had been "called" by God into the only true Christian church on Earth and that all other Christian churches were Satanic counterfeits. If a called member were to question church doctrines, the member would be in peril of losing salvation and of being cast into the lake of fire on Judgment Day. Furthermore, ministers could arbitrarily disfellowship members who were suspected of any type of disloyalty. Disfellowshipping was openly announced in Sabbath services on a weekly basis but the reasons for it were rarely given. Still the church grew on a worldwide scale.
Armstrong taught a strict doctrine of tithing to the members. Ten percent of a member's gross income was to be given to the church, and yet another ten percent was to be saved for traveling to one of the church's annual feast days, the Feast of Tabernacles. Every third year, members were commanded to give a third tithe, slated to care for the "widows and orphans" of the church. Finally, the church observed seven high holy days throughout the year, on which members were asked to give offerings while baskets were passed. Every month Herbert Armstrong would mail out a co-worker letter to millions of non-members, as well as to his members, in which he would claim that the church was on the verge of financial collapse. In reality, the church headquarters in Pasadena rested on prime real estate and had been modestly estimated to value $300,000,000. Armstrong's mansion was on Orange Grove Boulevard, on the route of the annual Rose Parade. The church possessed several mansions in that area, known as Millionaire's Row, and it had built other large facilities on the thirty-acre property, leading up to the building of a spectacular concert hall dubbed Ambassador Auditorium.
Armstrong spared no expense in the building of his Auditorium. Its external walls were made of emerald onyx. The walls in the outer lobby were made of a rare pink onyx, and they contained expensive chandeliers, including two that had been owned by the Shah of Iran, hung from the gilt ceilings. In the concert hall, the walls were decorated with rosewood, so delicate that visitors were forbidden to take flash photographs.
In 1970, the first of many groups to splinter from the Worldwide Church of God were founded. Carl O'Beirn of Cleveland, Ohio, led the group that may have been the first to leave, the Church of God (O'Beirn). Others followed that year, including John Kerley's Top of the Line Ministry in 1978; the Restoration Church of God; the Church of God (Boise City) in Boise City, Oklahoma; Marvin Faulhaber's Sabbatarian, a group also known as Church of God (Sabbatarian); and the Fountain of Life Fellowship of James and Virginia Porter. These factions survived well past Herbert Armstrong's death in 1986, most retaining the name Church of God because Armstrong had pointed out that this is the name God calls his true church in the Bible.
When the fall of 1972 came and the time to flee to a place of safety did not occur, there was yet another exodus of members. However, church leaders created a red herring in order to divert members from believing that the prophecy had failed. They blamed the members themselves for not being faithful enough; then they proclaimed a new gospel—that Armstrong was to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation and kingdom on Earth, as commissioned in the last chapter of Matthew, before Jesus would return. Armstrong set about to do this with the help of some public relations aides and King Leopold of Belgium. Armstrong did end up meeting with many world leaders to whom he would present expensive gifts, then preach to them that there were "two ways" – one the way of giving and the other the way of getting. He preached this message until his death.
Ambassador International Cultural Foundation
During the sixties "Armstrong had sought to put into stronger action what he later termed God’s way of give". To Armstrong and his students, this was generally said to include "the way of character, generosity, cultural enrichment, true education: of beautifying the environment and caring for fellow man." He began undertaking humanitarian projects in underprivileged locales around the world, which sparked the creation of the church-run Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF) in 1975. The Foundation’s efforts reached into several countries, providing staffing and funds to fight illiteracy, to create schools for the disabled, to set up mobile schools, and to conduct several archaeological digs at significant biblical sites. The church auditorium hosted, at highly subsidized ticket prices, hundreds of performances by noted artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Horowitz, Bing Crosby, Marcel Marceau, and Bob Hope. Nevertheless, ticket sales could still not pay for the appearances of world-renowned performers, so Armstrong used church tithe money to subsidize these performances without informing his congregation of how "God's holy tithe" was being spent.
Quest was a periodical that was published monthly by AICF from July 1977 to September 1981. Originally published under the title Human Potential, the project was directed by Stanley Rader as a secular outreach of the church-funded AICF. Quest publishers hired a professional staff unrelated to the church to create a high-quality, glossy publication devoted to the humanities, travel, and the arts. The original name and design of Human Potential were conceived in the aftermath of Armstrong's poorly received 1975 in Prophecy!, a publication which caused accusations of false prophecy to spread like wildfire. (The use of the year 1975 was defended by church ministers as a device to explain Biblical prophecy, by contrasting it with the scientific world's declaration of 1975 as the year of technological "Utopia".)
The AICF had become secular in its approach and thinking. Thus, the church began to cut back on its funding. Eventually, because the AICF was perceived to have strayed from its original goals, it was discontinued by Armstrong and its assets were sold to other interests.
Scandal and Conflict
Many members were disappointed that the events predicted in Biblical prophecy, expounded and preached about by Herbert Armstrong, have not come yet to pass. Most were unaware that Herbert Armstrong had been preaching about Revelation and Bible Prophecy on the radio as far back as World War II, when he had proclaimed Hitler and Mussolini could have filled the roles of the Beast and False Prophet of the Book of Revelation. After the war ended, Armstrong attended a meeting in San Francisco in which a proposal was made to create the United Nations. He had also read a quote from Winston Churchill proposing the creation of a United States of Europe. This was a springboard that the 10 Kings, 10 Horns, 10 Crowns of Revelation reveal a European Union would rise up to become the Beast Power. While the European Union was an idea in the making, the nations of Europe were far from united, as the union itself was still another 20 years in the future. Because church literature such as The Wonderful World Tomorrow, 1975 in Prophecy!, and many others had attempted to pinpoint the date of Christ's return, members continued to wait anxiously for the Second Coming. Armstrong never predicted a date in his sermons, nor did any of his evangelists. Some (such as Gerald Waterhouse) presented detailed, step-by-step accounts of the Second Coming in their sermons, which included Armstrong himself as one of two witnesses of the Book of Revelation.
Herbert Armstrong began to speak openly and critically of his son. Garner Ted spoke of greatly expanding the church's media ministry on the model of the Church of Christ, Scientist with its widely read Christian Science Monitor to which Herbert W. Armstrong disagreed.
In a report in the May 15, 1972, edition of Time magazine, Herbert Armstrong was reported to have said that Garner Ted was "in the bonds of Satan." The elder Armstrong did not elaborate, but it was speculated that Herbert was alluding to Garner Ted's alleged problems with gambling and adultery with Ambassador College co-eds, and to serious doctrinal differences. Garner Ted Armstrong was soon relieved of his star role within the church.
While Garner Ted Armstrong was removed, Stanley Rader was orchestrating the church's involvement in a number of corporations which Rader and Herbert W. Armstrong established. Critics saw Rader's moves as an attempt to seize control of the church. Rader characterized his involvement as that of an adviser and claimed that his advice was opening doors for Armstrong that a strict theological role would not have allowed for. Herbert Armstrong claimed that he did not approve of the establishment of the AICF, which Rader set up ostensibly to give the elder Armstrong a role as the "Ambassador for World Peace without portfolio".
Despite the scandals of 1972, the church continued to grow in the 1970s, with Herbert Armstrong still at the helm. In 1975, Armstrong baptized Stanley Rader, who until then had been a practitioner of Judaism despite his association with the church.
After being left a widower by the death of his wife, Loma, eleven years earlier, Armstrong married Ramona Martin, a woman nearly fifty years younger, in 1977 and moved to Tucson, Arizona while recovering from a heart attack. While Armstrong recuperated in his home in Arizona, he administered and guided church affairs through Stanley Rader and the church administration. The church continued to be headquartered in Pasadena.
Garner Ted Armstrong began his own church in 1978 in Tyler, Texas, after the rivalry between the younger Armstrong and Stanley Rader intensified. As the accusations of Garner Ted's past resurfaced, Herbert W. Armstrong started giving more responsibilities to Stanley Rader. This action was infuriating to the younger Armstrong, who thought it his birthright to take over as the leader of the Church. The adultery problems that reportedly had previously driven Garner Ted from the church allegedly continued unabated. In 1978, after a failed attempt to seize control of the Church from the Elder Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong was disfellowshipped a final time. Garner Ted moved to Tyler, Texas, and there founded a splinter group, the Church of God International.
About this time the gap between father and son was set when Garner Ted threatened to expose the secret of Herbert's molesting his sister in the later 1930s.
A coalition of six ex-ministers brought accusations of misappropriation of funds directed against Herbert W. Armstrong and Stanley Rader to the Attorney General of California. Contending that Herbert W. Armstrong and Stanley Rader were siphoning millions of dollars for their personal indulgences, the Attorney General's office seized the Pasadena Campus. This action by the State of California was later dismissed and determined by the presiding Judge to have been illegal.
Garner Ted Armstrong blamed Stanley Rader for his two-time ousting from his father's church. Several members in good standing with the Worldwide Church of God at the time prompted the State of California to investigate charges of malfeasance by Rader and Herbert W. Armstrong. In 1979, California Attorney General George Deukmejian placed the church campus in Pasadena into financial receivership for a half year. The State of California went through the church's records.
The matter gained the attention of Mike Wallace who investigated the church in a report for 60 Minutes. Wallace alleged that there had been lavish secret expenditures, conflict of interest insider deals, posh homes and lifestyles in the higher ranks, and the heavy involvement of Stanley Rader in financial manipulation. No legal charges were leveled against Herbert W. Armstrong, Stanley Rader, or the Worldwide Church of God. Wallace invited Rader to appear on 60 Minutes on April 15, 1979. Wallace showed Rader a secret tape recording in which Herbert Armstrong clearly stated to C. Wayne Cole, who was made temporary acting head of the church by Herbert Armstrong, that Rader was attempting to take over the church after Armstrong's death, reasoning that the donated tithe money was the incentive and quite a "magnet" to Stan Rader. Rader abruptly ended the interview. This tape was made during a conversation about Stanley Rader by Herbert W. Armstrong, and C. Wayne Cole. Wayne Cole gave the tape to 60 minutes for use on their expose of Rader.
In the meantime, Herbert W. Armstrong switched the Worldwide Church of God Inc. corporations to "Corporate Sole" status, making him the sole officer and responsible party for the affairs of the corporations. All income, tithes and checks were then made payable to the personal name of Herbert W. Armstrong and sent to his home in Tucson, Arizona.
In referring to the investigation of the California Attorney General, Rader wrote Against the Gates of Hell: The Threat to Religious Freedom in America in 1980, in which he contended that his fight with the Attorney General was solely about the government's circumventing religious freedoms rather than about abuse of public trust or fraudulent misappropriation of tithe funds.
The California Second Court of Appeals overturned the decision on procedural grounds and added as dicta, "We are of the opinion that the underlying action [i.e., the state-imposed receivership] and its attendant provisional remedy of receivership were from the inception constitutionally infirm and predestined to failure."
Stanley Rader left his positions within the church in 1981. While remaining a member, he left the public spotlight as an attorney, retired, but continued to receive payments from The Worldwide Church of God on his lifetime contract, Three Hundred Thousand Dollars per year, until his death from acute pancreatic cancer on July 2, 2002.
Armstrong's death and doctrinal changes
On January 16, 1986, Herbert Armstrong died in Pasadena, California. Shortly before his death, on January 7, Armstrong appointed Joseph W. Tkach Sr. to succeed him "... as pastor general, in the difficult times ahead".
As early as 1988, Joseph W. Tkach Sr. began to make doctrinal changes, at first quietly and slowly, but then openly and radically in January 1995. The doctrinal changes were presented as new understandings of Christmas and Easter, Babylon and the harlot, British Israelism, Saturday Sabbath, and other doctrines.
In general, Tkach Sr. directed the church theology towards mainstream evangelical Christian belief, mostly against the wishes of his congregations, but they were given no input because he had maintained the same structure as Herbert Armstrong. That caused much disillusionment among the membership and another rise of splinter groups. All the changes, the church admitted, had organizationally brought about "catastrophic results," though they believed that it was spiritually the best thing that ever happened to them. During the tenure of Joseph Tkach Sr., the church's membership declined by 80 percent. In 1995, Tkach Sr died of cancer shortly after introducing the changes, and his son, Joseph Tkach Jr., controversially succeeded him.
Eventually all of Herbert Armstrong's writings were withdrawn from print by the Worldwide Church of God though they are still made available by other denominations. In the 2004 video production Called To Be Free, Greg Albrecht, former dean of WCG's Ambassador College, declared Herbert Armstrong to be both a false prophet and a heretic. Though many of the current members, however still follow his basic beliefs and would consider the current administration as apostate despite still attending.
In 2007 the Worldwide Church of God decided to allow women to serve as pastors and elders. This decision was reached after several years of study. Debby Bailey became the first female elder in the Worldwide Church of God in 2007.
Beliefs and practices
After Armstrong's death, the church's new leadership began a process of theological revision in order to gain acceptance by the evangelical alliance. The church now claims that it is considered to be within the evangelical mainstream as shown by its acceptance into the National Association of Evangelicals. Its doctrinal summary highlights mainstream Protestant beliefs such as the Trinity, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that faith in him is the only way to receive salvation, and that the Bible is the divinely inspired and infallible word of God. Many members still follow earlier teachings and regard the current leadership as apostate.
Historical teachings under Armstrong
Until Armstrong's death, the Worldwide Church of God adhered to its founder's teachings. The most notable feature was Armstrong's version of British Israelism, which was based on reading the account of Jacob blessing his sons (Genesis 49) as end-time prophecy. Armstrong saw in it a description of national characteristics of contemporary descendants of Jacob, and he deduced that the United States, the British Commonwealth and several countries situated in Northwestern Europe were actually inhabited by the descendents of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Armstrong held the belief that these countries played a central role in the end times that were about to begin.
Armstrong rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, regarding it as a pagan concept that had been absorbed into mainstream Christianity. Armstrong contended that God was not a closed Trinity but was instead building a family through the Holy Spirit, which Armstrong considered to be God's powerful unifying essence guiding and bringing to remembrance those things which Christ taught. Armstrong contended that the Spirit is not a distinct personality like the Father and the Son. Armstrong also taught that members of the church would actually become members of the God family themselves after the resurrection. Armstrong rejected as unbiblical the traditional Christian views of heaven, hell, eternal punishment and salvation.
The church strictly observed the Saturday Sabbath, annual festivals described in the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus, and strongly advocated the clean meats listed in Leviticus 11. Members were encouraged to tithe and to follow a dress code during services. They were discouraged from marrying outside the church. In fact, these practices are still observed in several of the Church's remaining branches today. Herbert W. Armstrong summarized his teachings in his book Mystery of the Ages, published shortly before his death. This book was the centerpiece of a titanic struggle between the Philadelphia Church of God and the remnant of the Worldwide Church of God under Joseph Tkach Jr. The battle went as far as the United States Supreme Court. At that point, however, the leaders of the WCG decided to drop the case and give over not only Mystery of the Ages, but also several other works originally written by Armstrong.
Under Armstrong's leadership, the Worldwide Church of God was accused of being a cult with unorthodox and, to most Christians, heretical teachings. Critics also contended that the WCG did not proclaim salvation by grace through faith alone, but rather required works as part of salvation. The late Walter Martin, in his classic The Kingdom of the Cults, devoted 34 pages to the group, claiming that Armstrong borrowed freely from Seventh-Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon doctrines. Armstrong contended that all Church doctrine could be proven simply and effectively through the Bible, and that one did not need to "accept on faith" any of the Worldwide Church of God's doctrinal beliefs.
Grace Communion International has a hierarchical polity. Its ecclesiastical policies are determined by the Advisory Council of Elders. Members of the Advisory Council are appointed by the President. The President, who also holds the title of Pastor General, is chief executive and ecclesiastical officer of the denomination. A Doctrinal Advisory Team may report to the Advisory Council on the church's official doctrinal statements, epistemology, or apologetics. The President may pocket veto doctrinal positions he determines to be heretical. However, the President is also a member of the Doctrinal Advisory Team, and so he is aware of and involved in the activities of that committee. Historically, Presidents, as chairmen of the board of directors, have appointed their own successor. This and the President's power to appoint and remove members of the Advisory Council have remained areas of concern even among those who applaud the church's doctrinal changes.
The Church maintains national offices and satellite offices in multiple countries. Pastor General Joseph Tkach, Jr. periodically travels worldwide in personal appearance campaigns to congregations in diverse intercontinental areas, such as Great Britain, Africa, and the Philippines. However, membership and tithe income originate primarily from the eastern United States.
Regional and local
In the United States, denominational contact with local assemblies or local church home small group meetings, i.e., cell churches, is facilitated by district superintendents, each of which is responsible for a large number of churches in a geographical region (such as Florida or the Northeast) or in a specialized language group (such as Spanish-speaking congregations).
Local churches are led by a senior pastor, pastoral leadership team (with one person designated as a congregational pastoral leader), each of which is supervised by a district pastoral leader. Some senior pastors are responsible for a single local church, but many are responsible for working in two or more churches. Salary compensation for the paid local church pastor, if available, is determined by the local church.
Most local church groups retain the long-standing traditional policy of meeting in leased or rented facilities for meetings or services. The trend since 2000, however, has been to adopt a local church setting blending into the local milieu with headquarters retaining administrative oversight functions. As of 2005, the church established a new computer system of financial checks and balances for church budgets at the local level. Also, GCI now mandates a local Advisory Council, which includes a number of volunteer ministry leaders (some of whom are also called deacons), and often additional elders or assistant pastors.
The early Worldwide Church of God used a three-tithe system, under which members were expected to give a tithe or ten percent "of their increase", usually interpreted as a family's income.
- The first tithe, 10 percent of a member's total income, was sent to church headquarters to finance "the work", which was all operations of the church, as well as broadcasting and publishing the church's message.
- The second tithe was saved by the individual member to fund the member's (and his family's) observance of the annual holy days, especially the 8-day-long Feast of Tabernacles. Unlike the first tithe, these funds were not sent into the church but retained by the member.
- A third tithe was required in the third and sixth years of a personal seven-year tithing cycle, and it was also sent to headquarters. The third tithe was used to support the indigent, widows, and orphans - distribution was decided privately at the discretion of the ministry.
In contrast to many other churches' religious services, the practice of the WCG was not to pass around offering plates during weekly church services but only during holy day church services (seven days each year). These funds were considered "freewill offerings" and regarded as entirely separate from regular tithes. The church also gathered funds in the form of donations from "co-workers," those who read the church's free literature or watched the weekly TV show but did not actually attend services.
Under Joseph W. Tkach Sr., the mandatory nature of the church's three-tithe system was abolished, and it was suggested that tithes could be calculated on net, rather than gross, income. Today, the GCI headquarters has downsized for financial survival. The denomination sold much of its property, including sites used for festivals, campsites built for teenagers, its college campuses, and private aircraft. They discontinued publishing all the books, booklets and magazines published by Armstrong.
To further economize, the church sold its properties in Pasadena and purchased an office building in Glendora, California. That building was sold in 2018 and the home office was moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Formerly, the church's membership—meeting in rented halls on Saturdays such as public school buildings, dance halls, hotels and other venues—sent all tithe donations directly to the denomination. Under the new financial reporting regime, local churches are permitted to use 85% of funds locally for ministry, including buying or constructing local church buildings for use by the congregations. As of 2007, 85 percent or more of all congregational donations stay in the local area, with 15 percent going to the denominational office for ministerial training and support, legal services, and denominational administration.
From the 1970s through the 1990s, several of the Sabbatarian Churches of God that still adhered to some of Armstrong's teachings separated from the WCG. Due to the significant doctrinal changes which occurred within the WCG throughout the 1990s, the largest percentage of ministers and members left the WCG during this decade. This resulted in the formation of many denominations. There is significant overlap in their teachings with those of Herbert W. Armstrong. Most claim to teach "all" of the truths restored through Herbert W. Armstrong, most notably the Philadelphia Church of God (1989). The "PCG" purchased the copyright to several of the books and booklets of Herbert W. Armstrong and systematically changed both the wording, content and meaning of what Armstrong wrote. They maintain that Armstrong was right and that they are preaching and teaching the very same teachings and are in fact a continuation of the parent WCG.
Worldwide Church of God organizational splits resulted in the establishment of the Global Church of God, the Living Church of God (1993, 1998), the United Church of God (1995), and the Restored Church of God (1998). The United Church of God (UCG) is the largest of these denominations.
- Denominations resulting from various splits include
- Church of God International (org. 1978)
- Philadelphia Church of God (org. 1989)
- Church of the Great God (1992)
- Global Church of God (1992)
- United Church of God (1995)
- Living Church of God (1998)
- Restored Church of God (1998)
- Church of God, a Worldwide Association (2010)
Most teach that they are the continuation of the WCG and many have also rewritten Armstrong's books and booklets. Some have altered them in order to make them fit the splinter church's particular church doctrines.
- Albright, Mary Ann (2 July 2011), "Cartoonist drawn to sharp views", The Columbian, retrieved 30 June 2016
- Mcclain, Dylan Loeb (11 February 2011). "Book Review - Endgame - Bobby Fischer - By Frank Brady". Retrieved 15 April 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
- Prytz, Anna (22 May 2011), "Former Neighbours actor pens cult book", Manningham Leader
- "Doctrinal Aftershocks". Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- "A Short History of Grace Communion International - Grace Communion International". Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- Tucker, Ruth (1996), "From the Fringe to the Fold", Christianity Today
- "Worldwide Church of God Announces Name Change". Worldwide Church of God. Grace Communion International. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Our Story". Grace Communion International.
- "HWA Preached to Students in 1971 Why 1975 Could Not be the Year of Christ's Return". The Radio Church of God. COGTV. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- "1968 Certificate Of Amendment Of Articles Of Incorporation Of Radio Church Of God". The Radio Church of God. The Painful Truth. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- Flurry, Stephen (October 30, 2006). Raising the Ruins: The Fight to Revive the Legacy of Herbert W. Armstrong. Philadelphia Church of God. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-0-9745507-1-8.
- Flurry, pp. 25-26
- God, In dedication to Herbert W. Armstrong by Mark J. Mincy, former member of the Worldwide Church of. "Was Herbert W. Armstrong the Final Elijah?". Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- "Religion: Garner Ted Armstrong, Where Are You?". Time Magazine Monday, May 15, 1972. TIME. 15 May 1972. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Stanley Rader on "Sixty Minutes" with Mike Wallace". 60 Minutes. The Painful Truth. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- PEOPLE EX REL. DEUKMEJIAN v. WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD, 127 CA3d 547 (Court of Appeals of California, Second Appellate District, Division Two December 9, 1981).
- "A Call for Tolerance on Christmas and Easter". Grace Communion International. Worldwide Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Who Is "Babylon"?". Grace Communion International. Worldwide Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Anglo-Israelism and the United States & Britain in Prophecy". Grace Communion International. Worldwide Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Is Leviticus 23:3 a Command to Have Worship Services on the Weekly Sabbath?". Grace Communion International. Worldwide Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Armstrongism". Apologetics. Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- "Called To Be Free". (video, point 61:57) by Living Hope Video Ministries
- "When churches started to ordain women". Religioustolerance.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "News of The Churches of God". Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- "The GCI Statement of Beliefs". Grace Communion International. Worldwide Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- Kellner, Mark A. "Worldwide Church of God Joins NAE". Christianity Today Library. Christianity Today. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- Covington, David. What is the Worldwide Church of God? Quoted at http://www.apologeticsindex.org/w01.html, accessed 03-13-2007
- "Worldwide Church of God (WCG)". Apologetics Index. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- Tucker, Ruth. "From the Fringe to the Fold". 7/15/1996. Christianity Today. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "U.S. Church Administration Manuals". Grace Communion International. Worldwide Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Worldwide Church of God Organizational Splits". Grace Communion International. Worldwide Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- Christianity Today, July 15, 1996.
- Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood, Handbook of Denominations in the United States. Abingdon Press, 2001. ISBN 0-687-06983-1.
- J. Michael Feazell, The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God. Zondervan, 2003. ISBN 0-310-25011-0.
- Gerald Flurry, Malachi's Message to God's Church Today. "A thorough explanation of how and why the Worldwide Church of God rejected Herbert Armstrong's teachings, and how to hold fast to Herbert Armstrong's teachings."
- Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults. Revised and Updated Edition, Bethany House, 2003. ISBN 0-7642-2821-8. See Appendix A, pp. 471–494.
- Larry Nichols and George Mather, Discovering the Plain Truth: How the Worldwide Church of God Encountered the Gospel of Grace. InterVarsity Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8308-1969-X
- Joseph Tkach, Transformed by Truth. Multnomah Publishers, 1997. ISBN 1-57673-181-2
- Tarling, Lowell R. (1981). "The Armstrong Churches". The Edges of Seventh-day Adventism: A Study of Separatist Groups Emerging from the Seventh-day Adventist Church (1844–1980). Barragga Bay, Bermagui South, NSW: Galilee Publications. pp. 41–62. ISBN 0-9593457-0-1.
- Official website Grace Communion International
- Statement of beliefs
- Archive of the Ambassador Report publication published from 1975 through 1999
- Exit & Support Network – aiding those spiritually abused by Worldwide Church of God and offshoots
- God's Work NOW Holding fast to the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong
- Bad News Religion: The Virus That Attacks God's Grace by Greg Albrecht, World Publishing (2004),ISBN 0-529-11954-4
- The Journal: News of the Churches of God independent non-denominational monthly newspaper
- Word of His Grace Ministries Support and Biblical Backing for ex-'Armstrong' members
- "Called to be Free" Documenting how the doctrinal changes in WWCG occurred after Armstrong's death, from the point of view of current WWCG leadership