Church of God (Charleston, Tennessee)

From Academic Kids

The Church of God (Charleston, Tennessee) is a pentecostal holiness body of Christians with roots in the holiness movement among Baptists in the late 19th century. Though the offices of the church are located in Cleveland, Tennessee, they are often designated the Church of God (Charleston, Tennessee) to distinguish them from a similar body usually called the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). Their postal address is in Charleston, Tennessee. The official title of the body is The Church of God.

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History

In August of 1886, Elder Richard Spurling (1810-1891), an ordained Baptist minister, rejected views he believed were too creedal and exclusive for New Testament Christianity. With seven members from Holly Springs and Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Churches in Monroe County, Tennessee and Cherokee County, North Carolina, he organized the "Christian Union". They attempted to free themselves from man-made creeds and unite on the principles of the New Testament. The Church of God (Charleston) descends from this movement, which experienced remarkable growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Around 1895, these believers, under the leadership of Spurling's son, were drawn into the holiness movement. In 1902, Richard Green Spurling and W. F. Bryant founded the Holiness Church at Camp Creek (North Carolina). A. J. Tomlinson, a former Quaker, united with the church at Camp Creek on June 13, 1903, and soon became the acknowledged leader. Other churches were organized and the name Church of God adopted in 1907. Tomlinson professed a baptism of the Holy Ghost experience in 1908, which established the church as part of the pentecostal movement. In 1909 Tomlinson was elected General Overseer, a position he held until his death in 1943.

In 1923 this body was disrupted by division, creating the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) and the Church of God of Prophecy. When the Church of God of Prophecy elected a new General Overseer in 1990 after the retirement of long-time leader M. A. Tomlinson (son of A. J.), the stage was set for another division. One group declared that the church had "departed from theocratic government" and in 1993 called for an assembly. They believed God had called them to "separate from apostasy" and that the Holy Ghost designated Robert J. Pruitt to be the new overseer. This body under the General Overseership of Pruitt is what is now referred to as The Church of God (Charleston, TN). They presently claim membership in over 45 countries.

Recent division

A split occurred on September 1, 1997 with the official acceptance of a "Declaration of Independence" after many attempts at reconciliation failed. It is believed by this new group that both The Church of God/Pruitt Division and the Church of God of Prophecy have left "Theocratic Government" upon which the original group led by the late Bishop A. J. Tomlinson stood as the Bible Church. The name of this group is The Church of God of North Carolina. This group believes and practices the teachings as they were taught by the Church of God of Prophecy up through 1989.

Beliefs

Beliefs of this body include:

  • The Church of God (Charleston) is the true church
    • The church was established before Pentecost around A.D. 28
    • The church plunged in apostasy in A.D. 325
    • The church was restored in North Carolina on June 13, 1903
      • This is considered a fulfillment of the Isaiah 60:1-5 prophecy
    • The church experienced disruptions in 1923 and 1990, but the Charleston body is the continuance of the true church of God
  • The new birth as a result of repentance, justification and regeneration
  • Sancification as a second work of grace, making holiness possible
    • abstinence from use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs
    • opposition to membership in secret societies
    • opposition to wearing jewelry and other ornamentation
    • no divorce and remarriage allowed
    • no swearing of oaths
  • Baptism of the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in tongues
  • All gifts of the Spirit are in operation in the church (e.g., divine healing)
  • Water baptism by immersion
  • The Lord's Supper is a sacred ordinance reserved for sinless and consecrated Christians
  • Feet washing is a New Testament ordinance
  • Tithing
  • The premillennial second coming of Jesus

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