13 Quick Facts on the Worldwide Church of God

Normally, cults crop up and just got creepier. The Worldwide Church of God, on the other hand, took a shocking, dramatic turn.

For the most part, cults crop up and just get creepier.

Take Scientology or Theosophy for example.

The Worldwide Church of God, on the other hand, took a shocking, dramatic turn for the better. In just one decade.

You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

1. Oregon, late 1920s. , a newspaper advertising designer, accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

2. Armstrong launched the  radio program on January 7, 1934, broadcast in Eugene, Oregon. The 30 minute program amounted to a church service…complete with hymns and sermon from Armstrong.

3. Armstrong respected the Bible immensely and must be commended for his zeal to preach from it–no matter how difficult the topic.  Yet, he lacked the training or discipline to  with tradition and experience. Thus his dive into legalism.

4. Armstrong believed that Christians should celebrate Sabbath on Saturday–not Sunday–since the Bible gave no command to move the holy day.

5. Since traditional Christianity was wrong on such a major topic, Armstrong reasoned it was wrong on others, too. He jettisoned orthodoxy.

6. Armstrong claimed that Americans and Britains  and that God was a family–Father and Son–not a Trinity.

7. He taught that the Holy Spirit was an impersonal force, much like .

8. Armstrong taught salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, but also stressed obedience to keeping the Sabbath holy…a commandment he viewed as a  of a Christian’s salvation.

9.  Armstrong  from voting, serving in the military, marrying after divorce, visiting doctors, using cosmetics or observing Christmas, Easter and birthdays. This focus on rules eliminated grace from sermons. Members became legalistic and snubbed other Christians.

10. As God’s apostle leading the one true church, Armstrong demanded loyalty to his brand of doctrine and church governance. If anyone objected or rebelled,  they were .

11. Central to Armstrong’s teaching was prophetic speculation, namely when the  would occur. Each decade, from the 30s to the 80s, he warned of it’s imminent approach. The good news was that Jesus would appear shortly after the Tribulation.

12.  Shortly before Armstrong died in 1986, he appointed Joseph Tkach as successor. Tkach took to tweaking WCG doctrine, emphasizing faith in Christ and not laws, relaxing restrictions and realizing Armstrong’s prophecies couldn’t be back by Scripture. .

13. Tkach died in 1995. His son Joe became successor and finished the migration into mainstream evangelicalism. In April 2009, the Worldwide Church of God changed their name to Grace Communion International.

Question to ponder: If such a dramatic turnaround could occur with the WCG, could it also happen among the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses? Let me know what you think.

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.

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