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What does the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) believe?

Church of God, Anderson Indiana
Question: "What is the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), and what do they believe?"

The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) was founded in 1881 by Daniel Warner and others who “sought to forsake denominational hierarchies and formal creeds, trusting solely in the Holy Spirit as their overseer, and in the Bible as their statement of belief” (“Our History,” www.jesusisthesubject.org/our-history, accessed 2/3/21). Warner’s goal was to promote unity and holiness among God’s people. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) bears no direct historical connection to the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) or other COG groups, although they are all part of the Holiness movement.

The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) does not publish an official creed or doctrinal statement, but it teaches the basics of Christian doctrine: the triune nature of God, that Jesus is the perfect Son of God in human flesh who bore our sins on the cross and rose from the dead to provide salvation to all who will accept Him, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) claims to have almost 8,000 churches in 89 countries (ibid.). The group operates a seminary, the Anderson School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana. It is also affiliated with several colleges, including Anderson University, Mid-America Christian University, Warner Pacific University, and Warner University. Its publishing arm is Warner Press.

The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) holds to some practices and points of doctrine that we at Got Questions find problematic:

The ordination of women. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) believes that the Bible encourages women to be ordained as elders in local congregations.

Three ordinances. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) believes that God has given the church three ordinances—added to the Lord’s Supper and baptism is foot washing, which they believe is a necessary, ongoing practice of the church.

No creed but the Bible. In their desire for unity, the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) sees all creeds and doctrinal statements as divisive and unnecessarily excluding people from the fellowship of faith. Therefore, they claim to rally around the Bible alone. The irony is that, even without a formal creed to define their beliefs, the COG Anderson must still print large amounts of documentation explaining what they believe and how to live—documents that essentially become a creed. The fact that denominational lines have caused division and suspicion among Christians is unfortunate, but the lines are nonetheless necessary for any believer who holds a conviction on biblical teaching. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), which sees itself as a reformation movement, denounces denominations yet in many ways is one.

Loss of salvation. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) is within the Wesleyan tradition, which teaches that one can lose his or her salvation by falling into sin and away from the Lord. The Bible teaches the opposite. Every genuine believer will persevere in his or her faith to the very end.

A second work of grace. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) teaches that a post-conversion experience enables the believer to live a sinless life. Sanctification begins sometime after salvation, when the Spirit’s filling is “secured by complete surrender into the will and way of God, in Christ” (Jim Lyon, General Director, “Hear Life,” www.jesusisthesubject.org/hear-life, accessed 2/3/21). Thus, not all Christians have been or are being sanctified. While the COG Anderson doesn’t claim sinless perfection is possible, it does hold to the classic Arminian belief that a Christian can reach the point of no longer consciously choosing to sin, even though he still has room for growth.

Physical healing. The Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) does not teach that it is always God’s will to heal people in this life, but it does hold to the idea that physical healing is related to holy living and was provided for in Christ’s atonement.

In summary, the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) has an orthodox dependence on Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation by grace through faith. However, it’s difficult to call them entirely “orthodox,” since they denounce all creeds, and it’s the ancient creeds that are typically the measure of orthodoxy.

Recommended Resource: Complete Guide to Christian Denominations: Understanding the History, Beliefs, and Differences by Ron Rhodes

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