Monday 1 July 2013

150 Years of The Bible Advocate

2013 is an important date in the history of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God sects. It was 150 years ago that a publication now known as The Bible Advocate was launched. Many imitators have arisen, each a flagship for the particular offshoot body it represents; Tomorrow's World, The Good News, The Philadelphia Trumpet and, most famously, The Plain Truth. Some are slicker, and many have surpassed the BA in circulation numbers. But one thing can't be denied: the BA has endured. It's still going strong, and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon.

The latest issue marks the journey. Yes, it's basically a fundamentalist publication. But the BA still has a charm of its own. Published by the mother body, the Church of God (Seventh Day), it represents a more balanced, relaxed version of the Adventist gospel than either the Seventh-day Adventist Church - to which it is closely related - or it's own prolific and contentious (some might say demented) offspring.

Among the features in this issue is an article by former editor Jerry Griffin. That's pretty remarkable in itself as Griffin, who also once headed up the church's ministerial training school, left COG7 in the early 1990s over that thorny issue of legalism. Imagine the bunch of ratbags who currently churn out what's left of The Plain Truth - or perhaps Christian Odyssey - inviting former PT editor Brian Knowles to write a guest column. Not exactly likely is it. And yes, Griffin's article is well worth reading.

But COG7 culture is a bit different, and that's refreshing. This anniversary issue of the BA can be downloaded in full as a PDF. I hope the lads out in Glendora do just that. They might learn something in the process.


  1. Well, there's Adventist and then there's Adventist.

    Yes, the Church of God, Seventh Day does preach that Jesus will return, that's true, but the CoG7 abandoned the pursuit of prophecy, looking at every headline, trying to read into it some indication that Jesus' return is imminent, decades ago.

    The congregations (for the most part -- the ones not invaded by former WCG ministers) are laid back and leave responsibility for members' lives right where it should be: On the members. The ministers aren't the Sabbath Police.

    A year or two ago, the Church of God Seventh Day had an article about British Israelism. They are against it.

    All in all, the CoG7 has avoided the hubris of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong.

    The main difference between the CoG7 and what we nominally call "Protestants" is that they hold services on Saturday. Beyond that, and absent any other indications, most of the time, you could not much tell whether or not you were attending a traditional Protestant church (or the traditional community church).

    Unlike the Armstrongists, the CoG7 actually have church buildings in most areas, because they are there for the long term -- not a flash in the pan, get all the money you can based on nonsensical prophecy (and that includes United) and run.

    Compared with other Adventist groups (not counting the Sabbath keeping Mormons), they are much more human and family oriented -- including the SDA, which has attempted to stamp out the CoG7 for the last 150 years (the latest incursion was threatening suit because the logo had some of the same things in in, even though it looked nothing like the SDA -- another threatened lawsuit not unlike the WCG threatening to sue over "Has Time Been Lost" and we all know how that turned out).

    The CoG7 has the distinction of being persecuted by the other major Sabbath keeping groups, even as it quietly continues to do what it has done for decades (including sending missionaries to do such things as providing free dental services to third world countries).

  2. But mostly, the Church of God Seventh Day isn't out demanding money at every turn for some mythical "End Time Work".

  3. The Millerite Movement seemed to be the point of departure for some really wild cults - like the WCG and the Branch Davidians. You don't find the Lutheran Church giving rise to a great melange of odd, small, cultic denominations. I think maybe it has to do with the Millerite preoccupation with predictive prophecy. That is always a clarion call to the fringers. Otherwise, I don't have a clue. It is interesting that Armstrong and Hoeh labelled the CoG7 the Sardis era and spread the calumny that they were spiritually dead. No doubt they had odd defintions of "dead" and "alive".

    -- Neo

  4. Actually, William Miller was a Baptist minister and Baptists (although often extreme in one sect of them or another) are rather conservative. The big mistake is that the Armstrongists and those opposed to the Cult of Herbert Armstrong (CoHA) mistakenly think that William Miller was a proponent of the Sabbath after the Great Disappointment (repeated in 1975). All he was, was a Baptist preacher who strongly believed in the return of Christ and sort of, but not mostly, set a date or two for Jesus' return -- thus earning him the reputation of one of the first "Adventists".

    Truly though (as one who has a private history of the Church of God Seventh Day from a CoG7 minister who used it as his Master's Thesis and had access to materials the Armstrongists never had, not yet published on the Internet because I haven't gotten around to reformatting it and putting it on, it is Ellen G. White and those darned (or perhaps damned) Seventh Day Adventists that got the whole Sabbath Adventism movement going. Gilbert Cramner was a part of the SDA early on, but parted company when he saw Ellen G. White for the nut job she was, thus incurring the wrath of the Seventh Day Adventists for nigh on to 150 years (some "Christian" people they are -- put your "competitors" out of business to support your own dead false prophet).

    The lads in Glendora have an agenda so it's fairly clear that they are not going to download The Bible Advocate (even though they have bunches of money from exploiting the remains left by a CoG7 heretic pushing nonsensical things like British Israelism -- they don't care where the money came from and don't seem to care much about religion either -- not really). Not sure they aren't atheists, but you never know, since narcissists are never atheists because they believe they are God (or like as not, God as God is God).

  5. I finally did get around to posting History of the Church of God Seventh Day, not that anyone will notice... but the good news is that it can also be viewed on mobile devices, not that anyone will notice....

    Ah, the power of Flipping Books on the Internet... it sort of makes you wonder what could be in store....

  6. You just never know... maybe I have a book in the offing.

    If I did, it would likely have high production standards.

    But you just never know.

    And no, you can't know the title yet.