Christian Cyclopedia

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Church of God.

1. Ca. 200 religious groups in the US use this name in some form, including Pent., Adv., Dunker, Holiness, Winebrennerian, and Mennonite groups. Many are not listed because they object to pub. statistics and other information.

2. Many Pent. reject the use of any name except Ch. of God. Many of these trace their origin to the Latter* Rain Movement started 1886 by R. G. Spurling* Sr. and R. G. Spurling, Jr. The father organized a fellowship first called Christian Union in Monroe Co., Tennessee (See Church of God [Cleveland, Tennessee]). In 1892 R. G. Spurling, Jr., led a revival near Turtletown, Tennessee; another meeting was held by this group at the home of W. F. Bryant, a Meth. preacher, at Camp Creek, on Burger Mountain, Cherokee County, North Carolina. The Christian Union was reorganized as the Holiness Ch. 1902. A. J. Tomlinson* joined the group 1903; overseer 1909; impeached 1923; organized Tomlinson Ch. of God (name changed 1953 to The Church* of God of Prophecy). When A. J. Tomlinson died 1943, his son Milton A. Tomlinson continued this group; another son, H. A. Tomlinson,* organized followers as The Church* of God.

3. These chs. are agreed in insistence on reestablishing the so-called apostolic ch. order, holding that the Holy Spirit must govern the ch. as He did in apostolic times. They are inclined toward theocratic ch. govt.

4. These chs. stress such fundamental doctrines as inspiration of the Bible, deity of Christ, His atonement, resurrection of the body. They also teach entire sanctification as an instantaneous experience (different from and subsequent to conversion), charismatic gifts in preternatural form (e.g., speaking in tongues), faith healing, imminent return of Christ, and His premillennial reign. In gen. they reject denominational creeds, though some (e.g., at Cleveland, Tennessee) pub. declarations of faith. They gen. adhere to literalistic interpretation of the Bible.

See also the Church of God entries that follow.

E. T. Clark, The Small Sects in America, rev. ed. (Nashville, 1949); C. W. Conn, Like a Mighty Army Moves the Church of God, 1886–1955 (Cleveland, Tennessee, 1955); see also works listed under Religious Bodies (US), Bibliography of.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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