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Saturday, February 2, 2019
Former Church of God (Seventh Day) president discusses Church of God history and Herbert Armstrong
"...Mr. Armstrong and the CG7
Mr. Coulter talked extensively about Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong and Mr. Armstrong's relationship with the CG7.
He referred to Mr. Armstrong's statements that, although he was ordained in the CG7, he was not a member of the CG7.
"It is kind of unusual to claim to be a minister of the church in which you are not a member," Mr. Coulter said.
Mr. Coulter proceeded to mention points of what he considered evidence that Mr. Armstrong was indeed a member of the CG7.
In Mr. Armstrong's autobiography, he noted, Mr. Armstrong wrote that he was ordained to the ministry in the CG7 by the authority of the Oregon State Conference.
In that same book, Mr. Armstrong reproduces a picture of the second certificate of his ministerial license.
Nothing but the truth
"Now he makes this statement," Mr. Coulter said of Mr. Armstrong: "I was ordained by, and under the authority of, the Oregon Conference of the Church of God, separately incorporated; not by the Stanberry, Mo., headquarters.'
"As far as that goes," continued Mr. Coulter, "that's true, but it doesn't tell the whole truth."
In his autobiography, Mr. Armstrong wrote: "I had never joined the church whose headquarters were at Stanberry, Mo."
Mr. Coulter sees two possibilities to explain puzzling statements by Mr. Armstrong about his CG7 membership or lack of it.
"Mr. Armstrong showed a pretty serious lack of understanding of our polity, of our organizational policies of the Church of God (Seventh Day). He did not seem to understand. It might be that he didn't realize that the Oregon State Conference operated under the auspices of the Stanberry."
"The other possibility is that he didn't want to admit being a member of a church that he came to hold in contempt."
Mr. Coulter emphasized that he believes Mr. Armstrong held the CG7 "in a certain derision or contempt ... He certainly was not willing to admit to having had much of a relationship to it."
Sometime between Mr. Armstrong's conversion in 1927 and his baptism, "he would have had to accept membership in a congregation of the Church of God (Seventh Day) because when you become a member of our church you become a member of the conference. You do not join [only] a state conference. You do not join the general conference directly."
Even a person who was considered to be an "isolated member" would still technically have to be an official member of some local congregation, Mr. Coulter said.
"When Mr. Armstrong received a ministerial license from the Oregon State Conference, he was receiving it by the authority of the general conference, because the Oregon State Conference, even though it was incorporated locally, was actually authorized and operated under the auspices of the conference whose headquarters at the time was Stanberry, Mo.
"So either he was ignorant of that or did not want to admit it. That's the only explanation I have for that."
Severed all ties?
Although Mr. Armstrong "gives the impression" in his autobiography that by 1933 he had severed all ties with the CG7, "here is something that I don't think is revealed," Mr. Coulter began.
He said Mr. Armstrong was a close associate of Andrew N. Dugger and that Mr. Armstrong looked upon Mr. Dugger as a mentor.
In 1933 Mr. Dugger "led a rebellion in the Church of God (Seventh Day)" after failing to gain office during a conference of August 1933. "On Nov. 4, 1933, Andrew Dugger and several colleagues organized a separate conference at Salem, W.Va., to compete with the conference at Stanberry, Mo., which was the original one organized in 1884."
Mr. Dugger and friends tried to create the illusion that the new Salem headquarters was the legitimate successor to the original organizers of the CG7, Mr. Coulter said.
"As evidence, [Mr. Dugger] used the name General Conference of the Church of God, and he issued a volume of the magazine that carried the same volume and number as the magazine that was published in Stanberry, Mo."
The new Salem conference could boast of several "unique features" that set it apart from the Stanberry conference, Mr. Coulter said, "and this is where Herbert Armstrong comes into play here."
Salem organized around a structure that Mr. Dugger called "Bible or scriptural organization." This terminology referred to a board of 12 men whose objective was to oversee the spiritual life of the church.
The Salem-based folks elected a board of seven men to conduct the business of the church.
They identified 70 elders, ministers or evangelists "who would go out to carry out the gospel endeavors of the Church of God (Seventh Day)."
They stated that the church's world headquarters was to be in Jerusalem.
They decided to "appropriate apostolic succession for its authority to govern in this manner and to function as it was supposed to function...."
"...Clean and unclean
Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Coulter continued, did not receive his credential immediately because "there were some ministers in the Salem organization who needed to have him clarify his position on the clean and unclean foods."
When Mr. Armstrong replied that he believed in abstaining from unclean meats for health reasons but not because he believed eating unclean meats was a sin, the conference issued his credential.'''"