Last week, I posted concerning the Church of God General Conference and briefly touched on their denial of the deity of Christ, thus refuting the Incarnation and the sinless sacrifice that Christ was for our sins. The Church of God General Conference is a subset of a much larger heretical belief system that was supposed to have been squashed by Nicaea. For several centuries the Church battled Arianism, and it was in this opposition to Arianism that the First and Second Ecumenical Councils were called and the subsequent Creeds developed.
The Church of God General Conference joins those denominations that traces their modern roots to the 1840’s and which are generally considered Adventist or Sabbatarian. In reality, the roots are buried deep in history, back to the 3rd century, if not soon, when Paul of Samosata and his followers who grew to include Arius, challenged the deity of Christ. While not all Adventist denominations are Arians, there are several that are.
The Christadelphians (Brothers of Christ) are strictly unitarian, teaching that Christ was not preexistent, but born of Mary by the power of God. Humanity is mortal, but eternal life will come only to the righteous. The unrighteous will either never rise, or as the Amended believe, rise and then be annihilated. They believe that God is the creator of all things and the father of true believers, that he is a separate being from his son, Jesus Christ, and that the Holy Spirit is the power of God used in creation and for salvation. They believe Christ is the Son of Man, in that he inherited sin-prone human nature from his mother, and the Son of God by virtue of his miraculous conception by the power of God. Although he was tempted, Jesus committed no sin, and was therefore a perfect representative sacrifice to bring salvation to sinful humankind. They believe that God raised Jesus from death and gave him immortality, and he ascended to Heaven. They also believe that the phrase Holy Spirit sometimes refers to God’s character/mind, depending on the context in which the phrase appears.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, founded c. 1870, have over one million members celebrating a heresy centuries old. Early names include the Millennial Dawn People, Russellites (after their founder Charles Taze Russell), and International Bible Students (which is actually still an independent organization of sorts). They believe that Christ is not God, only Jehovah (which is actually a mistranslation of the Tetragrammaton). Christ is the first creation of this Jehovah, coming to earth as a man. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the only-begotten Son of Jehovah, Jehovah and Jesus are separate beings, and that the Holy Spirit is Jehovah’s impersonal, active force. By dying on a torture stake instead of a cross, Jesus served as a ransom sacrifice to pay for each person’s sins. For this, Jesus is regarded as the only means by which to approach Jehovah in prayer, and the means of salvation. Also, Jesus is regarded as head of the Christian Congregation. They also believe that Jesus was the archangel Michael before being born into the flesh, and as such, is a created being similar to the other angels.
The Witnesses have developed their own bible translation, but it is unknown what principles that they used or who actually translated the work. In John 1.1, the New World Translation read, In the beginning the Word was, and the word was with God, and the Word was a god.
Most Adventists groups, included the above two, deny the immortality of the soul, the force of the adversary, and the existence of hell. It is not these doctrines that are the most controversial, but the denial of the deity of Christ. The Trinitarians and Modalists will disagree as to the nature of the Deity, but in the end, we both agree that Christ was Deity. The issue with these people is that they deny the that since the time of the Apostles, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, has been worshiped as God, and His preexistence has been accepted.
Old heresies don’t die, they just fester for a while.