Tag Archives: doctrine

Drunkenness: A Sobering Reality in Church and Society

By Carl Stagner

A November 16, 2018, article published in USA Today spells out the latest statistics on the rise of alcohol-triggered deaths in the United States, especially over the last decade. While the media has shone the spotlight on the horrific and very real epidemic of opioid abuse, the article suggests the alarming truth that alcohol kills far more people each year through liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis, and suicide—not to mention traffic accidents. Meanwhile, the conversation about alcohol has started again in the Church of God, as the general director of Church of God Ministries issued a column on the subject in the October issue of Move! in the wake of the hotly debated Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings. David Sebastian, dean emeritus of Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry, has talked about the subject for years in the classroom, at conferences, and at camp meetings. As he’s observed, drunkenness is a sobering reality in church and society. That’s also the title of his new book, which challenges Christians to re-examine the issue of alcohol use and abuse. Continue reading

New “Jesus is the Subject” Resources for the Local Church

By Carl Stagner

In the years since Jim Lyon’s 2013 speech before the General Assembly, the phrase “Jesus is the subject” has proven to be far more than a tagline; it’s now part of the language that unites the Church of God as a movement. It’s a statement that encapsulates and energizes the Christ-centered focus that’s helping churches from coast to coast take giant steps to advance the kingdom. At the same time, the church visitor brochures Meet Us at the Cross and Who is the Church of God? are in high demand, though their content is becoming more and more outdated. Especially as congregations are sensing new wind in the sails of the Movement, a desire to inform the first-time guests and person-in-the-pew about the Church of God has only increased. On the heels of the popular “Jesus is the subject” word search puzzle books, Warner Press has responded to the need by producing a booklet that churches can buy in bulk for informational displays, guest gift bags, and discipleship classes. Continue reading

Trusting the Healer: A South Dakota Woman’s Testimony

By Michael Smith

Editor’s note—The belief in divine healing has been a long-emphasized doctrine in our movement, from before the days of the “crutches on the wall” in E. E. Byrum’s Gospel Trumpet prayer room, to modern-day testimonies of healing around the world shared in person, in books, through videos, and in CHOGnews articles. Though perhaps not understood the same way it always has been, healing certainly continues to come from a merciful, all-powerful God. The following is a story of healing from Rustic Hills Community Church of God in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our prayer is that it will encourage you and serve as a reminder that God still works miracles today. Continue reading

Detroit-Area Churches Practice Unity, Partner for Community

Detroit-area Church of God leaders gathered together.

By Carl Stagner

Unity, one of the Movement’s foundational doctrines, has, for too long, been preached but not practiced. The move from theory to practice, from conceptual to functional, is desperately needed, and is possible when Jesus is the subject. Church of God congregations in the Michigan cities of Detroit and Flint, for example, understand this. That’s why they’ve come together to worship the Lord and to partner for the betterment of the cities. When the people of God are united, not only is the community better off, but so is the church. In southeastern Michigan, a historic fall gathering demonstrated this blessed reality. Continue reading

From the Archives: Christmas—A Divine Mission Statement

By Arlo Newell

Christians too often view the Christmas celebration as excessive commercialism. Deluged by advertising and pressured by promotion, we find it extremely difficult to discover the true meaning of the season.

It was while crying over this commercialization of the Christmas season that I was convicted to look for the good and the positive rather than to criticize. I began by giving thanks for the beauty of the season. I began by giving thanks for the beauty of the season. Lights become more meaningful in the dark, depressive days of December. The contrast makes them more distinct and the cold, crisp winter air allows the sound of silver bells to be heard more clearly. And who can fail to experience the joy of children as they anticipate this most magical of all holidays; laughter fills the air as they live in a world of expectancy. Even in the ringing of the Salvation Army bell and the iron kettle help to accentuate the carols sung by choral groups along the street. Continue reading

Truth, Love Preached and Practiced at Pastors’ Fellowship 2017

Photo: Pastors’ Fellowship 2017

By Carl Stagner

Another Pastors’ Fellowship has come and gone, yet its impact on those who attended, the movement, and the culture remains. As it always does, this year’s gathering of pastors and laypeople at First Church of God in Winchester, Kentucky, featured dynamic doctrinal preaching and wholehearted singing of heritage hymns. The fellowship was as sweet as the iced tea, and the moments of prayer were powerful and potent. What really left a lasting impression, however, was the way these men and women of God responded to the Spirit. When word got out about the devastating floods wreaking havoc across Missouri, directly affecting Church of God brothers and sisters, God’s love turned into action. Continue reading

Kentucky Pastor Embraces Movement, Celebrates Church Turnaround

Photo: Pastor Jason smiles during a baptism.

By Carl Stagner

Jason Johnson was not the only one. Whether an e-mail from Church of God Ministries about the latest movement-wide emphasis, a letter from “Anderson,” asking the local church to take up a special offering, or a phone call from the “national offices” asking for a donation, if it originated from central Indiana, it was met with skepticism. After all, the landscape of the Church of God resembled less and less the reformation movement of its earliest days, and it seemed that “Anderson” was largely responsible. This was once the sentiment of Jason Johnson of Prestonsburg, Kentucky. Fast forward a few years. Pastor Jason and Prestonsburg Church of God are some of the loudest champions of the movement today. What happened? Continue reading

The Truth When Jesus is the Subject

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By Dave DeVoll

There are any number of places in Scripture one may cite to support the current theme of our Movement—Jesus is the subject! Here are a few:

In John 5:39, Jesus said to the Jewish leaders who wanted to kill him, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

Paul explicitly emphasized the centrality of Jesus in his letters. 1 Corinthians 1:23, “…but we preach Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.” Galatians 1:16, “I…preach Him [Jesus] among the Gentiles.” Philippians 1:18, “…Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Continue reading

From the Archives: Doctrine Builds Strong Churches

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By Lillie McCutcheon

Jesus was a strong “doctrinal preacher.” From his inaugural text, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17), to the consummation of his ministry in Pilate’s judgment hall when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), our Lord proclaimed doctrine. The kingdom was a choice theme, and numerous parables depict its spiritual nature in contrast to a materialistic or political dominion. Repeatedly, the Gospels record, “The people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt 7:28–29*). Continue reading

Our Sad Secret in the Church of God

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Photo: Lillie McCutcheon

By Bob Moss

Long before I ever heard the word egalitarianism, I saw it being lived out in the church of my childhood. For me it was completely normal and natural to see men and women serving and working together in the church. There was no subjugation of women in the Church of God—or so I thought.

Normal, in my childhood, meant a woman stood in the pulpit. Our pastor, Lillie McCutcheon, a.k.a. “Sister Lillie,” was an iconic figure. My grandparents accepted Christ under her preaching. She presided at my parents’ wedding. She launched my grandfather as a church planter and, as a result of her preaching ministry, I heard God’s call to ministry. Continue reading

New Books Bring Color, Clarity to Holiness and Theology

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By Carl Stagner

Does holiness still matter? Does your church still preach and teach holiness? What does the Bible really say about the subject? In 2006, the “Holiness Manifesto”—a result of the Wesleyan Holiness Study Project— made it clear that “there has never been a time in greater need of a compelling articulation of the message of holiness.” One of the chief architects of that written work is Barry Callen, highly-regarded in the Church of God for his communication of the truths of the Bible and the Church of God movement. Seven years after the project, Callen believes the opening statement of the “Holiness Manifesto” has never been truer. He has just released a book titled Color Me Holy, which offers a fresh perspective on holiness for today’s reader. Also for today’s reader, he’s penned the practical, easy-to-digest Approaching Theology—a book that proves anyone can grasp the study of God. Continue reading

Pastors’ Fellowship 2015: Jesus is the Subject

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By Carl Stagner

Even pastors need to be ministered to. Every week, they pour their hearts and souls into the proclamation of the truth of Jesus. But in order to keep pressing on, all this emptying of themselves necessitates a stop at the fuel pump every once in a while. As usual, Pastors’ Fellowship convened at First Church of God in Winchester, Kentucky, but this year’s event was especially inspirational. Emblematic of the new wind blowing across the Church of God, their 2015 theme—“Jesus is the Subject”—was met by attendees of Pastors’ Fellowship (May 4–5) with enthusiastic support and renewed hope for the future of the Church of God. Continue reading

Movements of the Holy Spirit

By Bill Barkman

We can only say we are a movement of the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is moving through us. Chapters one and two of Acts reveal markers that are deeper and broader than the people, issues, and fears to which we react. As we read about the working of Jesus’ Holy Spirit in the early disciples, there is both a visible preparation for, as well as filling of, the Holy Spirit. The filling will always follow the heart’s preparation. Continue reading

Doctrine and Theology in the Church of God: An Interview with Jim Lyon

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Q: You travel widely within the Church of God. Based on your observation, what is the role of doctrine in the life of the movement today compared to what it was fifty years ago?

A: How we define the word doctrine is helpful to the question. There are certain core theological values that the Church of God has held dear over time. That core set of values can be extrapolated into many other concentric circles, and how far out you get on those circles with your definition of doctrine is a part of the dialogue. For some people, many circles outside the core constitute doctrines of a substantive nature; for others, there are fewer circles. But I think the doctrinal core of the Church of God is still very much in place. Continue reading

Holiness Defined for the 21st Century

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By Ronald V. Duncan

One of the most quoted Scriptures on the necessity of holiness in the life of the believer is 1 Peter 1:16: “You must be holy for I am holy.” Holiness is clearly a requirement. It is a scriptural mandate. The difficulty arises in the definition of what holiness means when discussed in cultural context. The Bible is replete with examples and characteristics of a holy life. When the concept or belief of holiness has to take on real world attributes, the believer is drawn to a deeper level of understanding about holiness. Continue reading