Editor’s note: The group we are looking at in this two-part essay from Tony Brown, the WMSCOG, has a reputation for being litigious. There are not, therefore, any images from or of the group, but there are helpful links to let you see for yourself what the WMSCOG teaches. The featured image at the head of the piece is meant to convey the fact their logo looks like three orange segments. Picture Sydney Opera House and you pretty much get the idea.
Though it reads like a bunch of random letters thrown together, WMSCOG stands for World Mission Society Church of God. This group, according to its own website, is a ‘Christian non-denominational church with more than 8,000 locations and 2.7 million registered members in 175 countries’. i
If these statistics are correct, then WMSCOG represents a sizable new religious movement.
Though I had heard of this group, I only recently had cause to investigate WMSCOG a little more closely, as a family member contacted me about an encounter, she had with them. She told me that two lovely ladies knocked on her door to ask if she had heard about ‘God the Mother’.
After showing her a few Bible verses to show that God can be both masculine and feminine, they asked her if she wanted to be baptised. Fortunately, this doorstep encounter did not lead to my family member’s baptism, but it did leave her puzzled.
Though not a religious person, she admitted that she had been praying recently asking God to help her, then these two ladies showed up – coincidence? I think not!
I have spoken to several people with similar stories. There are many who, for a variety of reasons, have found themselves crying out to an unknown god, only to have someone knock on their door. They can be quick to join the dots, believing that the god to whom they cried heard, and answered their prayers by sending someone to them. Sadly, for many, this has led to them joining a cult.
The couple that knocked on my family member’s door did not say which church they represented, nor did they leave any literature. They just promised to call again soon. I worked out who they we through what they had said to her and was able, praise God, to persuade her that they were not the answer to her prayers.
This encounter teaches us three important things:
- Firstly, there are countless desperate people all around us, many who may be seeking and crying out for help.
- Secondly, that this is where many cults ‘cash in’. They zealously seek new converts, through door to door, street work and online activity.
- Thirdly, that Christians need to wake up and realise that cults are growing, often because of our apathy and failure to share the gospel as we should. What are we doing to reach those whom Jesus aptly described as ‘sheep without a shepherd’?
That said, let us take a closer look at my niece’s mysterious doorstep visitors.
History of WMSCOG
WMSCOG finds its origin in South Korea in 1964. Its founder was Ahn Sahng-hong. Born in 1918 into a Buddhist family, Ahn became a Christian after attending a Seventh Day Adventist Church and, according to WMSCOG, he was baptised in 1948, though official SDA records show it was 1954. This is important because The World Mission Society Church of God’s alleged prophecies are predicated on Ahn Sahng Hong’s baptism taking place in 1948. ii
Ahn claimed he began to receive ‘revelations from God’. These revelations made known to him that he was the one who would restore the truth of the early church and that Christ would soon return.
These revelations led to Ahn being expelled from the SDA Church and so, in 1962, he founded his own church which at that time was named: Witnesses of Jesus Church of God later to be known as the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG).
In part one of this insight into the beliefs of the WMSCOG, we will consider what their website calls Christian Essentials. iii
The basis for Christianity, regardless of denomination, is the Bible. God warns its readers, and those who study it, not to add their own opinions or thoughts. It’s the perfect word of God. In other words, anyone who professes a Christian faith and believes in God should not add even a single word to the Bible or interpret its meaning. As it pertains to the day of worship, the Bible specifies the correct day, despite centuries of traditions, human-made religions and denominations. iv
It is probably their founder’s previous association with the Seventh Day Adventists that causes the issue of the Sabbath to be at the forefront of what they call ‘Christian Essentials’. The quote above shows that they believe to worship God on any day other than the Sabbath, finds its basis not in the Word of God but rather in tradition and human-made religion.
The usual reasoning follows that it was the rotten Romans or more specifically, the conniving Constantine that changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday but this, like many things attributed to him by pseudo-Christian groups, is not historically accurate. What is true is that Constantine did favour the Christian idea of the seven-day week:
He had always been impressed with the Christian ideas about the calendar. He liked their observance of a seven-day week, with the first day set aside as a day of rest and worship.v
Note that Constantine did not change the Sabbath to Sunday, rather he simply adopted what the Christians already adhered to; a seven-day week with rest and worship on the first day of the week (Sunday – the Lord’s Day).
This had been the practice from the earliest days of the Church. Scripture never mentions that the believers met on the Sabbath for worship, rather they went into the synagogues on the Sabbath to share the gospel. What we find in the Bible are clear passages speaking of the believers gathering on the first day of the week.
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread… Acts 20:7
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:2
Historically, Christians have met for worship on the first day of the week in remembrance, and celebration of, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It’s common Christian knowledge that we are born sinners. We are born sinners not because our bodies committed sin, but because our spirit sinned in the kingdom of heaven prior to our lives on earth. Since we committed sin in heaven, we were expelled to the earth (Ezekiel 28:12-17) and are now lost without knowing how to return to heaven.vi
Now notice from this quote a form of dualism which finds its basis, not in Biblical Christianity, but rather in Gnostic thought. The WMSCOG teaches that the body is of no real importance, it is merely a home for the ‘real’ you, which is spirit. We lived as spirits in heaven before we were born and, because we sinned in heaven, we were given a body and consequently banished to earth.
The verses used here to support their belief (Ezekiel 28:12-17); have historically and contextually been understood to be speaking specifically about Satan and not pre-existent sinful spirits.
The Bible nowhere teaches that we are pre-existent spirits, waiting to be given a body. Rather each of us are unique with life beginning at conception (Psalm 139:13–16; Isaiah 44:24) and will continue forever because we are created as eternal beings (Genesis 9:6; Isaiah 40:28; Matthew 25:46). vii
According to the Bible, the goal of having faith in God, attending Church and studying the Bible is for our soul to receive eternal life. And God promises this through baptism.viii
For this group, Baptism is essential to salvation, and so it must be done as a matter of urgency. It is so pressing that they will ask, upon first meeting, unsuspecting householders if they want to be baptised. The WMSCOG is not the only pseudo-Christian group that teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation but this idea finds no basis in Scripture.
There are certain Bible verses that appear to link baptism to salvation, but they must be understood in the context of the rest of scripture (scripture interprets scripture). The Bible is clear that we are saved by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5), and to add anything as a requirement would negate the truth of those, and many other, verses.
Therefore, baptism is to be understood as an obedience for those who have been saved by faith. The waters of baptism signifying a dying to the old life and a rising to new life. That is why Jesus could say to the thief on the cross, who had no opportunity to be baptised: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). That is why Paul could say: ‘For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel….’ (1 Corinthians 7:1)
This links appropriately to their next Christian Essential…
You may like this article about baptism
The Holy Trinity
Regarding Matthew 28:19, the WMSCOG believe that a person should be baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but they have their own odd take on it.
In the age of the Son, believers had to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Now, in the age of the Holy Spirit, baptism that is in accordance with the teachings of the Bible must be conducted in the name of the Father, Jehovah, and in the name of the Son, Jesus, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, Christ Ahnsahnghong. This is the baptism that saves.
Yes, you read that correctly. Ahn Sahng Hong has been given a place within the Holy Trinity. They teach that their founder was Christ returned, but he returned as the Holy Spirit. Now adherents are to be baptised in the name of Jehovah, Jesus and Ahnsahnghong and this is the only baptism that saves.
While this group uses the term Trinity, it is something vastly different from orthodox Christianity teaching. They teach a heresy called Modalism.
Modalism is the belief that God has appeared in three different modes in three different dispensations. The WMSCOG teaches that he was the Father in the Old Testament, the Son in the New Testament and is now he exists as the Holy Spirit (Christ Ahnsahnghong).
This is not the God of Biblical Christianity. The bible clearly shows that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8; James 2:19) in three persons (Matthew 28:19; 2 Cor.13:14) ix
You may like this article on the Trinity
The Women’s Veil
The final ‘Christian Essential’ mentioned by the group is the Women’s Veil. This is what they say:
Where is a woman’s veil worn aside from wedding ceremonies? There is a correlation between the veil worn in a wedding and the regulations for worship. In the Bible, God specifies the day of worship through the Ten Commandments. Similarly, God also specifies the regulations for worship. We can see this through the parable of the wedding banquet. Matthew 22:2-14 (NLT
Matthew 22:2-14 (NLT)In this parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding banquet. Just as there are proper “wedding clothes” for a wedding, there are also proper clothes to enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words, there are certain regulations we must follow when we worship God so that our worship may be acceptable to God. x
From this they infer that women must wear veils during worship. This is necessary for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven and women can only worship God by following these directives.
In part 2, I will consider some of the more unique teachings of the WMSCOG like God the Mother, Restoring of the Passover and the Second Coming of Christ.