A church advocating a return to the original Christian doctrines and observing the Hebrew Holy Days.
Founder: Garner Ted Armstrong
Current Leader: Mark Armstrong
Location: Tyler, Texas, United States
The Intercontinental Church of God (ICG) is an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), following a split that occurred after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of WCG, in 1986. Garner Ted Armstrong, the son of the WCG founder, established the ICG with its headquarters in Tyler, Texas.
The Intercontinental Church of God, like the Worldwide Church of God from which it was originally derived, belongs to the tradition of a Christian institution. However, it is different from mainstream Christian churches in several distinctive ways. These differences primarily lie in its teachings and doctrines, which can be traced back to the unique teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong.
Armstrongism, the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong, form the foundation of the Intercontinental Church of God’s theology. Armstrongism emphasized the understanding of the Bible as a revealed law, a view significantly deriving from the British-Israelism belief system and that of the Sabbatarian Church of God tradition. British-Israelism claims that people of Western European descent, particularly those in Great Britain, are the direct descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
The doctrines of the Intercontinental Church of God, following Armstrong’s teachings, uphold the observance of Sabbath on Saturdays, the seven annual Holy Days mentioned in the Bible, and kosher dietary laws. ICG denies the concept of the trinitarian nature of God, asserting instead that God includes only two beings – God the Father and Jesus Christ. It also rejects the immortality of the soul or belief in an eternal hell, instead embracing the doctrine of annihilation, the belief that the wicked will be completely destroyed rather than eternally tormented.
The ICG emphasizes prophecy and believes in the immanent second coming of Jesus Christ, following a period of catastrophic earthly events as described in the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation. It also teaches tithing as a religious duty and principle of faith.
The ICG conducts a myriad of evangelistic and educational activities, with its outreach being through television, radio and the internet. Garner Ted Armstrong had a significant presence on television and radio, and his recorded sermons continue to be aired through Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association (GTAEA). Additionally, the church operates ‘The Church of God International’, a weekly telecast that broadcasts messages, sermons, and Bible studies. The church also conducts The Intercontinental Church of God Correspondence Course, a free Bible course that can be received through regular mail or accessed online.
Over the years, various local congregations have been formed of the Intercontinental Church of God throughout the United States and around the world. These congregations are often led by elders, who also perform baptisms and coordinate festivals, and relationships between individual congregations are maintained through regional and national conferences.
The Intercontinental Church of God has faced its share of challenges and controversies. There has been criticism regarding what are considered to be extra-biblical beliefs.
Despite these challenges, the Intercontinental Church of God continues to uphold its mission, “to proclaim the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God as preached by Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul; to teach the Law of God which was expanded, magnified and exemplified by Christ; to prepare a people to receive the soon-coming King, Jesus Christ…”