It was started in 1881 by Daniel Sidney Warner and several others. Warner had been a member of the General Eldership of the Church of God. He differed with the Winebrennerians on the doctrine of sanctification, which he held to be a second definite work of grace, and on the nature of the church. The desire of Warner and the others was to forsake denominationalism and creeds. To this
end, they determined to trust in the Holy Spirit as their guide and the Bible as their creed. Warner's vision was that
the Church of God would "extend our hand in fellowship to every blood-washed one," rather than align themselves
with a movement.
In the beginnings of the Church of God there was a commitment to
pacifism. In the late 1800s the Church of God used their journal the Gospel Trumpet as a means to disseminate their
interest in pacifism. In April 1898 the Gospel Trumpet answered a question about the Church of God’s stance
on a Christian going to war. The answer printed was "We answer no. Emphatically no. There is no place in the New Testament
herein Christ gave instruction to his followers to take the life of a fellow-man"("Should We Go to War?" Gospel
Trumpet, April 14, 1898, p. 4.) As time went on the Church of God was able to maintain their stance on pacifism,
but as World War I was erupting across Europe the church’s stance began to soften. As German Church of God congregants
were drafted into the army the Gospel Trumpet began running letters submitted about the conditions of training camps
and on the battlefields. While encouraging their readers to pray for the German soldiers the Gospel Trumpet made
no reference to the apparent contrast between supporting the war effort and encouraging pacifism (see Merle D. Strege “The
Demise [?] of a Peace Church: The Church of God (Anderson), Pacifism and Civil Religion, The Mennonite Quarterly Review, Vol.
LXV April 1991, No. 2 pgs. 128-140).
As the United States entered World War I the Gospel Trumpet restated the
church’s official stance of pacifism, but also reminded their congregants that they supported the authority of the state
and should comply with local laws concerning the draft. There were articles run to help a pacifist request non-combat duty
if they were drafted. For those who decided to volunteer the church reported that the volunteer would not lose their salvation,
but would have to answer to God concerning their actions during the war. Strege writes as the war waged on, “there occurs
in print no condemnation of those who entered the army-whether German or American-and there is no questioning of their religious
commitment” (Strege p. 137).
By the time World War II came there was very little pacifistic sentiment left
in the church, even though the official stance never changed. There was always a conflict between the church’s stance
that they should submit to the leadership of the government, and their position of pacifism.
The Church of God (Anderson) espouses the teachings of the
Ministry that began the Movement in 1880. Warner believed that every group of organized churches who had an earthly Headquarters
and an earthly creed other than the Holy Bible, was a part of Babylon. They taught that God had restored the light of Unity
in 1880. The Evening Light ministry became known as "come outers" because they traveled from town to town preaching that all of the saved need to worship together in one place rather
than being separated by creeds, dogmas and doctrines of men. The Reformation Ministry believed that Babylon or false Christianity
was the Harlot Woman in the book of Revelation. The ministry believed that the Harlot woman was a symbol of Roman Catholism
and that her daughters were a symbol of Protestantism. The slogan of the paper, "One Voice", almost became "On
Becoming the Church". The Evening Light Ministry of 1880-1915 believed that they taught all of the truth and that they
were the Church. Some changes began in 1912, with the change of wearing of the neck tie; to by 1950 the movement no longer
taught against the immodesty of mixed bathing(swimming) between the sexes or the addition of the television into the home.
is a list of things that the Church of God (Anderson) no longer believe:
- Against outward adornment: wedding rings,
ear rings, lipstick on women, following "worldly fashions." However, as a Holiness movement there is still an emphasis
on "modesty," i.e. non-ostentatiousness in such things
- that women should not wear clothing that pertains
to men,i.e pants
- that ministers should not receive a set salary
- that musical instruments (such as a piano
or organ) should not be used in the worship service
- No divorce, no exception
The church observes baptism by total immersion, the Lord's Supper (commonly known as communion), and feet washing as symbolic acts, recognizing them as the ordinances (commandments) of God. According to the church's official web site,
"None of these practices, termed ordinances, are considered mandatory conditions of Christian experience or fellowship."
Church polity is autonomous and congregational,
with various state and regional assemblies offering some basic support for pastors and congregations. In North America cooperative
work is coordinated through Church of God Ministries with offices in Anderson, Indiana. Currently the General Director is Ronald V. Duncan.
There are 2,214 congregations in the United States and Canada which are affiliated with the Church of God (Anderson), with an average attendance of 251,429. Worldwide adherents number more than 1,170,143 in 7,446 congregations spread over nearly ninety countries. Personal
conversion and Christian conduct, coupled with attendance, are sufficient for participation in a local Church of God congregation.
The church's seminary is Anderson School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana. It is also affiliated with several colleges across North America, including Anderson University, Azusa Pacific University, Gardner College, Mid-America Christian University, Warner Pacific College and Warner University.