Is COGWA a normal church? Or does something more misleading and deceitful lie behind their seemingly innocent booklets, study papers and Bible Reading Plan?
Note: If you have a mate who has recently gone into this group, be sure and read: If You Have a Loved One in a Deceptive, Exploitive Group.
COGWA was formed December 23, 2010, due to “fundamental disagreements” with UCG-AIA (an offshoot of Worldwide Church of God). Several thousand members resigned at this time and dozens of pastors and elders were fired or forced to resign. UCG also lost a lot of young people to COGWA. According to a report in 2018 by their president they were said to have a membership of approximately 11,000 worldwide (5,500 in the United States). They are said to be the largest group to come out of UCG-AIA.
They are headquarted in McKinney, TX. Jim Franks is the president and is also tied in with (president of) “Foundation Outreach International” (FOI) in Allen, Texas. One well-known board member of FOI is Doug Horchak, former WCG minister and son-in-law of Joseph Tkach, Sr. [Read about Doug Horchak in the testimony: Still Working Through the Anger] While FOI’s Board of Director’s page tells how Jim Franks and Doug Horchak are part of Church of God, a Worldwide Association, nothing is revealed about their doctrines being based on the gospel according to Herbert Armstrong which teaches salvation by works.
COGWA follows follow the doctrines of Herbert Armstrong, a false prophet.
Their doctrines are thoroughly covered and refuted in our chapter to chapter critiques of Mystery of the Ages. (PDF)
COGWA has a magazine which is ironically called Discern (“A Magazine of Life, Hope & Truth”), published every two months and available on their website by the same name: Life, Hope & Truth. The website leads visitors from one deceptive article to the next, and contains the same Herbert Armstrong rhetoric and propaganda. (This site is in addition to their COGWA Members site.) Their member news publications are called In Accord, and One Accord.
Deception of COGWA
In similar manner of many WCG offshoots, they claim to be a “continuation of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and His apostles.”
Church of God, a Worldwide Association’s website has the potential to draw in the unwary and undiscerning. They are involved in an outreach program called Foundation Outreach International (FOI), spouted as being “dedicated to a world of good,” and which reaches into Ghana, Kenya, Jordan, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Their website asks people to “get involved” in this project by sending donations and submitting an online volunteer application.
Instead of having a Bible Correspondence Course like HWA mailed out [Refer to: How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit People?], their Foundation Institute Center for Biblical Education is a nine-month program that offers “in-depth study of the Holy Bible” and whose mission is to “teach the doctrines of the Holy Bible, impart an understanding of God’s plan for mankind.” This Institute also has “The Continuing Education program” to “share more of the biblical instruction with those who are interested.” This “biblical instruction” turns out to be the false gospel of Herbert Armstrong.
No one would suspect that a deceptive, exploitive organization is behind FOI unless they dug deeper.
The link from COGWA’s site to “Life, Hope & Truth” says it is for those who are “looking for understanding about the purpose of life … for reliable truth about God, the Bible” (similar words that HWA would use). Along with posting articles, a “Daily Bible Verse Blog” (with explanatory commentary where one is then led to an article), newsletters, etc., they offer a link on every page to a “FREE subscription” to Discern (“a magazine of life hope and truth”), the email magazine for COGWA, available as download, or which can be listened to.
They list the location of their congregations on their website with the minister’s name and phone number. The articles on COGWA’s websites have a link inside them to booklets which end up being all based on Herbert Armstrong philosophy and doctrines. Many may not know who Herbert Armstrong was and that he was considered a false prophet. [Read: Did Herbert Armstrong Set Dates?] Many of their articles and booklets soon reveal their distaste for mainstream Christians that don’t hold to their (HWA) views.
Following are some of the “Fundamental Beliefs” of COGWA from their website (and which are the same doctrines that Herbert Armstrong plagiarized / copied from other religious groups:
Belief in a “God family” currently consisting of only the Father and the Son. They say, “God is an eternal family currently consisting of the Father and the Son. Both the Father and Son are involved in the creative work of expanding this family by bringing many children (sons and daughters) to glory.” (i. e., bringing them into this “God family.”) [emp. mine]
They say: “God’s purpose for human beings is to add them as children to His eternal family.” They use the words “family” over and over.
Yet, we never find any “God family” mentioned in the Scriptures, only what COGWA tries to come up with.
In Mystery of the Ages (a 2nd critical review) William Hohman says: “God cannot change. Christians will not, and cannot, be born into a ‘God family.'” (emp. mine)
For one of their “proofs” of this Godhead, they use Ephesians 3:15: “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,”
However, Compelling Truth states: “In theological studies, the term Godhead is used to refer to the concept of the Triune God, or one God in three Persons that include God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.” (Taken from The Godhead – What is it?) [emp. mine]
While they say Jesus “has eternally existed” they do not say that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. They say the Word “became” Jesus Christ; therefore, they deny the eternal sonship of Jesus. [For a thorough study on this read: The Eternal Sonship of Christ by George W. Zeller and Renald E. Showers.]
They say, “The Holy Spirit is the power of God and the Spirit of life eternal, not a separate entity or being.” This is clearly heretical. [Read: Is the Holy Spirit Only the Power of God?]
Can COGWA say that Jesus was fully God and fully man? [See above article on the Holy Spirit which covers the two natures of Jesus.]
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
Humans do not have an immortal soul; belief in a spiritual resurrection instead of a bodily resurrection; if we are seeking eternal life, we must “strive to obey the Ten Commandments“; baptism by immersion and laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit (for “repentant believers”) makes us part of the spiritual body of Christ, the true Church of God; we must keep the 7th day Sabbath (the “identifying sign” and “perpetual covenant between God and His people”); “true Christians” will observe the seventh day Sabbath; we must keep the annual O.T. festivals or holy days (which “reveal God’s plan of salvation for mankind“); observance of clean and unclean meats; tithing (includes the festival tithe); not to serve in the military (it would “create problems keeping the Sabbath and holy days”); the biblical name of the church is the Church of God; belief in three resurrections; the first resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ, a second resurrection to physical life after the thousand years, and a third resurrection to the Lake of Fire (annihilation).
Church of God, a Worldwide Association is undeniably a group to avoid like the plague.
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
Updated August 1, 2020; August 20, 2020
Letters we have received:
Why the Church of God, a Worldwide Association Will Splinter and Come to Nothing (February 2, 2011 letter)
I See a Bleak Outlook for Church of God, a Worldwide Association (January 18, 2014 letter)
Church of God, a Worldwide Association Uses Cover to Look Like a Normal Church (September 17, 2014 letter).
HWA Offshoots Don’t Represent True Christianity (April 21, 2016 letter) (covers Church of God, a Worldwide Association).
Confession and Freedom From Specific Cult/Occult Strongholds (includes WCG, PCG & all offshoots)