Church of God (Restoration)

A controversial Christian sect with a focus on eschatology, plain dress, and a history of divisive beliefs and practices.

The Church of God (Restoration) is a Christian denomination that emerged in the 1980s, founded by Daniel (Danny) Wilburn Layne. This group claims a divine mandate to restore the Church of God as described in the Book of Acts, positioning itself as the sole true church. Its founding was rooted in Layne’s departure from the Faith & Victory branch of the Church of God, aiming to establish a more “pure” and “radical” group. The church draws significant influence from the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), with its eschatology and foundational beliefs tracing back to the teachings of Daniel Sidney Warner and other early ministers from the Anderson tradition. Warner’s teachings outlined a prophetic timeline, leading to what he termed the “Evening Light age,” marking a full restoration of the church of God. The Church of God (Restoration) adopts this timeline, asserting that a significant apostasy occurred around 1930, leading to a “silent period” that ended in 1980 with Layne’s ministry inception.

The sect has garnered attention and controversy for several reasons. It has approximately 20 congregations globally, with a notable presence in the United States and Canada. The church’s official doctrines include a unique interpretation of eschatology based on historicism, asserting that the sounding of the 7th Trumpet in the Book of Revelation coincided with the year Layne was “saved” and began his ministry. This belief system suggests a profound discontent among its adherents with existing Churches of God at that time, rooted in a variation of the “7th Seal message” taught across such churches for about 50 years prior to Layne’s ministry.

Controversies surrounding the Church of God (Restoration) include accusations from former members of implicit teachings not officially recognized by the church, such as praying in the names of apostles, belief in Ray Tinsman as the messiah, and doctrines of reincarnation. Additionally, the church has faced criticism for its handling of medical issues, with reports of members refusing medical treatment due to beliefs in divine healing, leading to deaths that have raised public and media scrutiny. The church’s practices around family dynamics and information control have also been a point of contention, with allegations of encouraging separation from non-members, including family, and restricting access to external sources of information.

Critics and former members describe the group’s social dynamics as insular and controlling, with a heavy emphasis on obedience to church doctrines and leadership, often at the expense of personal autonomy and external relationships. This has led to various allegations of abusive practices, including spiritual and emotional manipulation, particularly around the church’s stance on medical care and familial relationships.

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