25 September 2003

An anti-creedal church

Last month I spoke at a conference in rural Alberta. It took place at a campground operated by the Church of God in Western Canada. While there I found a copy of the Hymnal of the Church of God, which I found time to look through. Perusing a church's hymn book reveals much about its confessional basis. Indeed I found two interesting hymns, one of which was entirely unfamiliar and the other of which was a reworking of a more widely known hymn.

The first was called, "Back to the Blessed Old Bible," written by D. Otis Teasley (1876-1942). One verse runs as follows:

Back from the land of confusion,
Free from the bondage of creeds;
Back to the light of the morning,
Jesus our Captain leads.

The second hymn was apparently a denominational revision of Samuel J. Stone's "The Church's One Foundation," retitled, "The Church Has One Foundation." In one of the additional verses, written by Charles W. Naylor (1874-1950), we find the following lines:

The voice of God is calling
To unity again;
Division walls are falling,
With all the creeds of men.

From these songs it seems evident that the Church of God does not like written creedal statements. One might gather from this that it is a fairly liberal denomination, leaving rather a lot to private conscience. However, that judgement would be inaccurate. Instead the denomination embraces the "blessed old Bible" alone, regarding human creeds as mere inventions.

As there are a number of denominations with the "Church of God" label, my assumption is that the parent body must be the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), which looks to be one of a very few without a website. I cannot help wondering whether they have a statement of faith prohibiting their members from accepting mere human creeds.

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