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I met a man in Philadelphia who was keen to tell me about his group, the "Church of God". They seem to have some unusual beliefs. From our brief conversation, these included:

  1. In addition to God the Father, there is God the Mother. He identified her with the Bride and the heavenly Jerusalem from Revelation, and also cited Galatians 4:26. She apparently is responsible for birthing all life. It was not clear to me whether she was envisaged as a separate god, or as another aspect or person of a single God.
  2. The church has been in apostasy for most of its existence, certainly since Constantine. This explicitly includes the Reformation, wherein various non-Biblical doctrines were invented. He mentioned Martin Luther specifically as being wrong.
  3. The marks of this apostasy include:

    1. Use of the cross symbol.
    2. Keeping the Sabbath on the wrong day (should be Saturday).
    3. Communion - which he regarded as a pagan-inspired ceremony, not a sacrament or even a memorial, saying that the Last Supper was a one-off event. "Do this in remembrance of me," in his view, was a command to continue celebrating Passover.
    4. Not recognizing God the Mother.
  4. The Bible should be interpreted literally, and studied at all times. He showed me his Bible, which had the name of his church printed in the front.

  5. (Not sure if I understood this one properly.) The second coming of Jesus has already occurred, without most people noticing, but we are still waiting for his final appearance, per Revelation.

I thought he might be a Seventh-day Adventist, but points 5 and especially 1 don't seem to fit what I know about them. Of course, there are enormously many churches called "Church of God", but I'm curious about who these particular people are, where they come from denominationally, and what led them to have these (in my opinion, very peculiar) beliefs. If it helps, the man was Korean.

I hope that this question is not "too localized"; I certainly got the impression that there is a group involved, and not just this one man. Also, it seemed that the Mother thing was a central and important belief, as he kept coming back to it.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I think you're talking about the World Mission Society Church of God. Or Church of God for short. It was founded in Korea in 1985 by Ahn Sahng-Hong, and according to them has almost two million members.

After browsing their website for a short time it definitely falls in line with the following.

  1. They do specifically cite Galatians 4:26 and 4:28 for this belief as well as others.
  2. This one is a bit harder to find but this alludes heavily to it, if not out right says it.
  3. These were a bit harder to find.

    1. I could not find this

    2. This is spelled out here

    3. This is covered here

    4. This is their page about Heavenly mother but it doesn't mention the apostasy.

  4. Here it states "We should not understand this word just literally but put it into practice." but that is the closest I could find.

  5. This one is pretty much everywhere. This page says

"Just as salvation was withheld from those who were stuck on the name of Jehovah and failed to receive Jesus as their Savior in the age of the Son (Rom. 15:4), salvation will never be given to those who are stuck on the name of Jesus in this age."

and then goes on to say

"Please believe in Christ Ahnsahnghong, our Savior in the age of the Holy Spirit, so that you may receive eternal life!"

Note Ahnsahnghong is the name of the founder of the church.

Your confusion on the first point makes sense because of the following found under the link in #1 above.

The Bible clearly testifies that our heavenly Mother exists, and that only our heavenly Mother can give us eternal life.

and the below is after quoting Gen. 1:26-27

The above verse states that God has two images—a male image and a female image.

The wikipedia page about them paraphrases much of this.

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Good find, and good answer! –  David Stratton Nov 8 '12 at 1:29
    
I think this is exactly right. Thank you for finding this. The group is pinging my cult-radar very strongly! I hope their claims of numbers are exaggerated. –  James T Nov 8 '12 at 2:55
    
@JamesT Also says over 1400 church buildings worldwide. –  MaskedPlant Nov 8 '12 at 15:15

I've encountered these people in Korea a number of times. You noted that you thought there was some similarity with the Seventh-day Adventist church. I've heard, but not confirmed, that the founder was a former member of the Adventist church.

However, their beliefs that you cited are mostly divergent from those of Adventism. In fact, the only similarities are the Saturday Sabbath and a literal interpretation of the Bible (though that term itself is so broad it's hard to know whether there is any similarity; in my discussions of them, I've found their hermeneutics to be sorely lacking). Everything else on your list is different from what Adventists believe, though we partially agree with point 2.

By the way, I'm writing from a Seventh-day Adventist perspective.

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Thank you for this information, and I'm sorry for associating the Adventists with this significantly more divergent group. I don't know much about Adventists apart from the distinctive belief about the Sabbath, so when he mentioned it, that's the connection I made. –  James T Nov 12 '12 at 18:38
    
I understand, and no offence was taken. –  Scott Severance Nov 13 '12 at 3:10
    
Adventists also believe in the Apostasy point. –  fredsbend Sep 20 at 15:53
    
Fredsbend: Actually, we don't believe most of the items listed, except the Sabbath and the general idea that there had been apostasy. But we don't believe that it is apostasy to use a cross symbol, celebrate communion, believe in the orthodox Trinity, etc. Of course, you may find individual members who hold some of these positions, but they are not in the official teachings of the church. We don't hold to the apostasy doctrine as described in the question. –  Scott Severance Sep 20 at 19:46

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