This course traces the history of the Church of God from apostolic times to the present day. Topics include significant events in the life of the Church and its theology through each of its seven distinct eras. Upon completion, students should be able to identify and analyze significant developments in the history and theology of the Church.


Important details of the early church in the late first and early second century are found in Revelation 2-3. These two chapters tell of the spiritual conditions present in seven of the congregations of the Church of God in Asia Minor, along a Roman mail route, while under the oversight of Apostle John—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. They also provide a prophetic outline, which lies imbedded within the text, of the historical development of the church in seven eras or historical epics.

The literal prophecies in Revelation 2-3 were fulfilled in their own time as churches in Asia Minor, but they have important prophetic meaning, fulfilled over the course of nearly 2,000 years as successive eras in church history, as well. Revelation is a prophetic book. The seven churches have prophetic significance, or it makes no sense to embed otherwise disconnected historical accounts in a major prophetic book. Overlooked by historians far too long, these two chapters provide a general outline of church history from the birth of the church in 31 CE to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the Age. In this sense Revelation 2-3 constitute a prophetic history of the Church of God with an important message for the people of God in every century.

The period extending from the founding of the Church of God until the Resurrection and Christ’s return is distinctly the Age of the Church in seven successive stages. These should be viewed as telescoping from one stage into another, rather than a series of fixed dates, as one stage would come to an end while another arose. In other words, there were overlapping decades at the times of beginning and ending.

Our task in this course is the examination of the history of the Church of God to arrive at a fuller understanding of our spiritual roots and “for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). To trace the Church through the centuries as led by its head Christ Jesus, we have to place ourselves in a first-century Christian mindset, or as some have put it, we have to look at the New Testament through the Judeo-Christian lenses of the early followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

When we undertake a critical study of the history of the Church we confront a totally different body than the mass Christianity of today’s world. For those who seek the faith once delivered, it is important to understand what the Church is, how it came to be what it is today, what constitutes its central doctrines, and who has comprised its leadership.

There are no Prerequisites or Corequisites for this course.

Germano, Michael P.

President of the University
Full Time
B.S. (1959), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; B.A. (1961), Ambassador University; M.A. (2000), Texas A&M University-College Station; M.S. (1966), Ed.D. (1968), University of Southern California; J.D. (1980), University of La Verne.
Subject Matter: 
Anthropology/Archaeology, Professional Education, Theology

Dr. Germano brings over forty years of professional experience in educational leadership, teaching, corporate and business law, entrepreneurship, and institutional advancement initiatives to the LU presidency. He is a member of the California State Bar and was admitted to practice in the federal district courts of Southern California and East Texas. He taught business law at West Coast University (Los Angeles) and at Ambassador University (Big Sandy, Texas). Affiliated with Ambassador University (formerly Ambassador College) since 1959, he served as chief academic officer at two of its campuses. He left Ambassador as a professor emeritus in 1997 and completed a master's degree in archaeology/anthropology at Texas A&M in 2000. He then left retirement to serve several years as the chief academic officer at Haywood Community College at Clyde, North Carolina. He held responsibilities in AU's involvement in archaeological excavations at Jerusalem's south Temple Mount directed by Benjamin Mazar, the Jordan Umm el-Jimal Project directed by Bert de Vries, the Syria Mozan Expedition directed by Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, and the northern Israel Hazor Excavations in memory of Yigael Yadin directed by Amnon Ben-Tor. Ordained in 1983, Dr. Germano is an elder in the Living Church of God.

Course Credit: 
3 semester hours
Instructional Objectives: 

On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  1. Describe the cultural milieu in which the ancient church evolved;
  2. State and detail the defining characteristics of the Church of God in each of its successive stages and identify its leaders;
  3. Describe the development of traditional Christianity through the Greek (Orthodox) and Latin (Roman Catholic) churches and identify significant doctrinal differences with Judeo-Christianity;
  4. Describe and explain the Protestant Reformation and show the differences in approach and doctrine with the the Church of God in its progressive stages;
  5. Demonstrate the history of the Church of God as it relates to the development of traditional orthodox Christianity; 
  6. Relate the history of the Living Church of God and its predecessors; and
  7. Define basic terms and develop basic research skills in the field of church history.
Required Texts: 
  • Germano, Michael P. The History of the Church Jesus Built: An Introduction to Church History. [Unpublished: chapters are downloadable in the lessons in this course.]
  • Fletcher, Ivor C. The Incredible History of God’s True Church. Charlotte: Living Church of God, 2014. [LCG members were issued copies of this text.]
Additional Readings: 

There are a number of online documents for this course which are embeded in the lessons. Helpful supplementary books are:

  • Ball, Bryan W. The Seventh-day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800.  Cambridge, UK:James Clarke and Co., 2009. ISBN 9780227173114.
  • Conybeare, Frederick Cornwallis. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia.  Elibron Classics. Chestnut Hill MA: Adamant Media Corporation, 2005. ISBN 9781402155925.
  • Liechty. Daniel. Sabbatarianism and the Sixteenth Century: A Page in the History of the Radical Reformation. Berrien Springs, MI:Andrews University Press, 1993. ISBN 9780943872995
  • McGoldrick, James Edward. Baptist Successionism. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press Inc., 1994. ISBN 9780810836815.
  • Stark, Rodney. The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996. ISBN 9780060677015

This course includes a series of lectures by Dr. Germano. Links to lectures are in the lessons. In addition to the lecture topics listed below, a number of additional lectures will be included in this course.

  • Welcome and Overview
  • Lecture 1.1 The First 100 Years
  • Lecture 2.1 The Rise of Many Christianities
  • Lecture 2.2 Salient Points
  • Lecture 3.1 Outside the Empire
  • Lecture 4.2 The Men of the Valleys
  • Lecture 5.1 The Period of Terrible Turmoil
  • Lecture 6.2 God's Work in the 20th Century
  • Lecture 7.1 The Final Phase
Course Calendar: 
Lesson Readings and viewing assignments are integrated in the lessons
Lesson 1  The Early  Church–The Ephesian Era Topic 1 The World of the First Christians
Topic 2 Jesus of Nazareth
Topic 3 The Judeo-Christians
Topic 4 Independence and Apostasy
 Lesson 2 The Great Separation–The Smyrnam Era Topic 1 The Triumph of Greco-Roman Orthodox Christianity
Topic 2 Christianity's Pseudo-Calvary
Topic 3 Orthodoxy, Early Church Fathers and Quartodecimans
Topic 4 The Orthodox Siezure of the Church of the Apostles
Lesson 3 The Church in the Wilderness I–The Pergamum Era Topic 1 Fleeing the Roman World
Topic 2 Vaudois and Waldenses
Topic 3 The Lollards
Lesson 4 The Church in 16th and 17th Century Britain–The Thyatiran Era Topic 1 The Church of God in 16th and 17th Century England
Lesson 5 The Period of Terrible Turmoil–The Sardis Era Topic 1 The Church of God in 17th & 18th Century England
Topic 2 Colonial and Early American Sabbatarians
Topic 3 Millerism and the Rise of Sabbatarian Adventism
Topic 4 The Church of God (Adventist)
Lesson 6 The Revitalized Church–The Philadelphian Era Topic 1 Herbert Armstrong and the Radio Church of God
Topic 2 Ambassador College
Topic 3 The Worldwide Church of God
Topic 4 The Church of God Today
Lesson 7 The Church Today–The Laodicean Era Topic 1 The Living Church of God
Topic 2 The United Church of God
Topic 3 The Church of God (A Worldwide Association)
Topic 4 The Lukewarm and Apostatizing Churches
Course Requirements: 

Due dates and extensions
Submit assignments on or before the due date. Students must complete the course by the last official day of instruction as set forth in the academic calendar.

Reading assignments
Reading assignments are integrated into the seven (7) lesson webpages on the course website.

Viewing assignments
This course includes a series of lectures by Dr. Germano. Links to lectures are in the lessons.

Icebreaker assignment
To officially begin this course you must complete an icebreaker assignment by which you introduce yourself to your classmates through posting a short autobiography on the course Discussion Forum. This assignment is to be submitted by the eighth day of class. You must read and comment on at least two other student icebreakers by the due date in order to get full credit for this assignment.

Discussion forums
There is one discussion forum topic for each of the seven (7) lessons in this course. To earn points on each discussion assignment, enter your own contribution to the topic and then be sure to respond meaningfully to the postings of two other people. There is no partial credit. For full credit, you have to post your comment and two responses by the due date.

Writing assignments
Any writing assignments in this course should follow the MLA style as set forth in Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide by Lester & Lester. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. The Files feature on an Assignment Submission page lets you submit your work so your instructor can have it handy for download, review, and grading.

  • Biography - Write a biography on Herbert W. Armstrong consisting of paper of 5-6 pages (not counting the Works Cited page). Include internal citations and a Works Cited page. (95 points)
  • Research Paper - Develop a short paper of 5-6 pages (not counting the Works Cited page) on just one of the second through fifth eras of the Church of God. Assume you are writing a historical article for a biblical dictionary or biblical encyclopedia and that the audience are Bible students, i.e prepare the paper for publication. Include internal citations and a Works Cited page. (95 points)
  • What I Learned Essay - Reflect on what you have learned in this course and then list the five major things (by number) you have learned and explain why they are important to you. Then provide three suggestions for improvement of this course. (30 points)

Quizzes and examinations
Each of the seven (7) lessons has an associated online quiz of not more than 25 questions. They are closed book quizzes. Under no circumstances are students to print a quiz. Students have 60 minutes to complete each quiz. Quizzes are objective tests which may include true/false, matching, and multiple-choice quesition covering lectures, readings, vocabulary words and any discussion topics.

There are three (3) online closed book exams of 50 objective questions each. Exam 3 is a proctored examination to be taken online. A proctored exam is one that is overseen by an impartial individual (called a proctor) who monitors or supervises a student while he or she is taking an exam. The proctor ensures the security and integrity of the exam process for all involved.

A course grade will be determined based on the number of points a student has earned over the semester as follows:

Icebreaker Assignment (30 points)
Biography (95 points)
Research Paper (95 points)
Discussion Forums (seven, each worth 10 points, for a total of 70 points)
Quizzes (seven, each worth 50 points, for a total of 350 points)
Exams (three, each worth 100 points, for a total of 300 points; all three exams are online; Exams 1 and 2 are closed book and closed-notes. Only Exams 3 is a proctored exam.)
“What I Learned” Essay (30 points)
Course Evaluation (30 points)

TOTAL 1000 points

Grades are in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning, we believe that the measure of mastery of course subject matter is completion of 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want students to earn at least 800 points in this course. If they do not do so then they have not achieved the level of the mastery we would like them to have.

Grades, assigned by points, are as follows:

A - 900-1000 points
B - 800-899 points
C - 700-799 points
D - 600-699 points
F - Below 600 points

Students With Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

Technology Access
This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

Course Evaluation
Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.