Biblical Answers to the World Mission Society Church of God

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.--1 John 4:1

Are you or a loved one struggling with this group? Do you need Biblical answers about the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCoG or CoGWMS), their founder Ahnsahnghong (Ahn Sahng/Sang-Hong) or their current leader "Mother Jerusalem" (a.k.a. "Heavenly Mother God," Zang/Zahng Gil-Jah, or Chung Gil Cha)? Thank you for coming here. I hope my blog helps you. Questions and comments are always welcome.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is the Cross an Idol? - Part 2 - Claims vs. Truth

Continuing with a look at why the cross is not an idol...
In "Is the Cross an Idol? - Part 1", I examined how the World Mission Society Church of God misuses and misquotes their sources in an attempt to prove that the Christian cross is an idol.  But they are not the only ones that object to the use of the cross as a Christian symbol.  Beyond the WMSCOG's highly questionable practices, is there any substance to their argument?  Let's take their points in turn...

The WMSCOG says the cross was not introduced into Christianity until the 5th century.
Truth: The cross was a symbol of Christianity as early as the 2nd century.
Yes, the cross became the prominent symbol in the 5th century, but that's not when it was introduced.  The cross was already associated with Christians hundreds of years earlier.  Also, during the time when Christians were severely persecuted they used other symbols, such as anchors, which are considered as disguised crosses.  The anchor is found as early as the 1st century (in the cemetery of St. Domitilla).
Wikipedia - Christian cross
Cross as an Early Christian Symbol
Anchor as an Early Christian Symbol
Harper's Book of Facts

The WMSCOG says the cross was a pagan symbol adopted by the Christian church because the new Christians couldn't let go of their pagan ties.  It really honors pagan gods like the Egyptian god Tammuz.
Truth:  Jesus died on an actual cross, which has no relation to the Egyptian god Tammuz.
A cross is a very basic shape that has been used since ancient times in many areas and religions.  That does NOT mean that Christians copied it from paganism.  The cross is an extremely meaningful symbol for Christians because it was the instrument of Jesus' sacrifice and because it has a history of Biblical significance.  If you wish to say that the Christian cross is pagan because other pagan religions also use a cross, you can use the same argument to say that kneeling in prayer is a pagan act because pagans knelt in prayer to their gods.  (Thanks to Ralph Woodrow for this example.)
Ralph Woodrow on Babylon Mystery Religion and The Cross
Wikipedia - Cross and Crucifixion
Spotlight Ministries

The WMSCOG says that people worship the cross, thinking that the cross itself is something sacred that has the power of God, treating it like a charm, bowing down to it and kissing it in worship.
Truth: Christians respect the symbol of the cross, but we do not worship the cross itself; we worship Jesus who died on it.
It's not surprising that some may think all Christians will hold up their little cross to ward off evil as a magic charm since that's what they see in Hollywood movies--but those are movies, not reality.  Of course we know that the little piece of shaped wood or metal is not powerful in itself.  And some may view a Christian's actions on the outside (such as kneeling before a cross) and draw the conclusion of cross worship by mere appearances--but God sees what is in the heart.  Let God be the Judge of whether that person is worshiping the cross or worshiping the God who hung on the cross.

Any symbol can turn into an idol for someone when they care more for the symbol itself than the meaning behind it.  But that doesn't mean the symbol itself is evil, only the attitude toward it.  Unfortunately the symbol of the cross is not immune to such abuse, and there are people who have crossed the line from respect to worship.  But that should not diminish the true symbolism of the cross.
"Yet both the superstitious abuse and the puritanic protest bear a like testimony to the significance of the great fact of which it reminds us." (from History of the Christian Church)
History of the Christian Church
Should a Christian wear religious jewelry?
Is the Cross a Pagan Symbol? 

There's still more to examine.  Coming soon: symbolism and Biblical references to the cross...

Click here to go on to Part 3.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is the Cross an Idol? - Part 1 - WMSCOG's Distortions

The World Mission Society Church of God teaches that the cross is an idol.  They say churches that display the cross, or people who wear a cross on a necklace, practice idolatry.

When I first heard this, it bothered me.  I seek to live a life that pleases God.  Idolatry definitely does NOT please God.  Have I been practicing and condoning idolatry without even realizing it?  It was important for me to find out.

I've examined the claims of the WMSCOG, studied my Bible, and done some historical research.  I'm sure this will take a few posts to get through, but here we go...

"Cross is an idol" is one of the World Mission Society Church of God's official videos.  It tells the story of a woman whose husband died in a helicopter accident.  Her daughter hates everything that reminds her of her father's death, even toy helicopters.  She goes on to compare this with how Christian churches use the cross as a reminder of Jesus' death.  The video makes many statements connecting the cross to paganism, with sources given for these "shocking" claims.  By the time the 4 minute video is done, the viewer is left wondering if they've been deceived all their lives into pagan worship.  Is the feeling of guilt that arises from videos like this the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or is it an orchestrated part of a cult's mind control tactics?

The first thing we should know is that the WMSCOG makes many misleading historical statements about the cross!

Let's see what happens when we try to verify their statements using the same sources they cite.  These are direct quotes from the video...

"The cross originated from ancient Chaldea.  It was used as a symbol of the god Tammuz in Egypt. (Babylon Mystery Religion)" (minute 2:30)
Here's what Ralph Woodrow, the author of Babylon Mystery Religion, says about his own book. "So is it with the claims about pagan origins. What may seem to have a connection, upon further investigation, has no connection at all!"  Even the author of Babylon Mystery Religion says that there is no connection here.  This quote was misused by the WMSCOG.  They have neglected to share that the author pulled the book out of print after finding that the book he used for research (The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop) was full of faulty research.

"Cross...was despised...the disgraceful punishment of slaves and the worst criminals... (History of the Christian Church)" (minute 2:51)
Does this make you think the early Christian church despised the cross?  The quote comes from History of the Christian Church which was published in 1910.  You can find the quote here in Volume 2, Chapter 6.  Now read the full context:
"The oldest and dearest, but also the, most abused, of the primitive Christian symbols is the cross, the sign of redemption.... Upon this arose, as early as the second century, the custom of making the sign of the cross on rising, bathing, going out, eating, in short, on engaging in any affairs of every-day life; a custom probably attended in many cases even in that age, with superstitious confidence in the magical virtue of this sign; hence Tertullian found it necessary to defend the Christians against the heathen charge of worshipping the cross....  The cross was despised by the heathen Romans on account of the crucifixion, the disgraceful punishment of slaves and the worst criminals; but the Apologists reminded them of the unconscious recognition of the salutary sign in the form of their standards and triumphal symbols"
Do you still think that History of the Christian Church supports the idea that the early Christian church despised the cross?  How about this next quote...

"When Christianity began to be paganized, the cross was considered as a symbol of Christ. (Harper's Book of Facts)" (minute 3:15)
Here's where you can read Harper's Book of Facts online.  It is a digitized 1895 edition with a handy search feature.  I've searched it and can't find this quote anywhere.  Maybe the WMSCOG needs to recheck their source or be more specific with an edition or page number?  As it is, it doesn't look good for the WMSCOG.  If anyone wants to help me track down this quote, go right ahead.  I'll update this post if it's found.  Here's another reference to the same book:

"The cross was introduced to the church in AD 431. The cross was erected on top of the church in AD 586. (Harper's Book of Facts)" (minute 3:18)
This is meant to make us think that the cross was not used as a symbol until Christianity had been around a long time, far removed from the early church.  This is not a direct quote from the book but the information comes from the entry for "cross" on page 212Harper's Book of Facts says, "Crosses in churches and chambers were introduced about 431; and set up on steeples about 586."

The WMSCOG neglects to mention that Harper's Book of Facts also says that symbolism of the cross actually began long before that with the signing of the cross first being recorded about about AD 110.

We should also note that with the persecution of Christians in the early church, they often disguised the written symbol of the cross, for example as an anchor.  Also, crosses can be found in the catacombs much earlier than the 5th century.  Check here for more information on the Cross as an early Christian symbol.  And here's more about Christian symbols.

Do you see how the World Mission Society Church of God misuses their quotes and sources?  Do you find that acceptable?  I surely don't.  And that's one more reason the WMSCOG does not earn my unconditional trust and devotion.  More next time on why the cross is not an idol....

Click here to go on to Part 2.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Complete Trust and Devotion

Whenever my friends or I try to share our concerns with WMSCOG members (such as these contradictions or behaviors) we are met with the following responses.  Are any of them familiar to you?
  • "The problem is that you're putting your own mind to it." (In other words, "We must be told what to think and not think for ourselves.")
  • "God's words can't be judged by man's common sense." (In other words, "Even though God gave you the Bible and a sound mind, you are not capable of using them by yourself.")
  • "You can't understand the Bible by reading it by yourself."  (In other words, "Only our leader can interpret the Bible for us.")
  • "Do you believe the Bible?"  (In other words, "If you believed the Bible, you would believe our interpretation.  Never mind that many (ok, most) reputable Bible scholars disagree.")
  • "God's sheep hear His voice."  (From John chapter 10.  In other words, "If you don't believe this it's not because it's wrong, it's because you are not one of God's people.  And if you are not one of God's chosen people, then I'm not going to waste my time with you.")
  • "The secrets of the kingdom have not been given to everyone."  (From Matthew 13:11.  In other words, "God has not entrusted you with these secrets, and that's why you don't understand.")
  • "The problem is that you don't understand God's administration."  (In other words, "It doesn't make sense because you don't understand it...and I'm not going to explain it.")
  • "You refuse to accept the truth of God."  (In other words, "I won't consider problems with the teaching, the problem is with you.")
  • "You haven't studied enough.  If you completed more of the WMSCOG's studies then it would make sense."  (In other words, "Again, the problem is not with the doctrine, it's with you, and I can use this line no matter how much you have studied with us.")
  • "Satan is using you to attack me and try to take me away from the truth."  (In other words, "What you say makes some sense, and now I'm confused.  But I must not doubt!  I will trust in this 'truth' even if it doesn't make sense.")

All of these responses mean one thing--a refusal to consider any thoughts that don't line up with the "truth" as taught by the WMSCOG.  The following is a direct quote from a conversation between "Carly" and "Lizet" (two WMSCOG members) on Jamie's Blog illustrating this.  (The bold emphasis is mine.  The typos are from the original posters.)

Lizet: "...If you really believe in Father and Mother, these things [that 'Father' and 'Mother' had been married to other people and had children] should not change your faith...."
Carly: "...I had no idea about this matter [Carly had previously said that it's a false rumor that 'Mother' has physical children that came from her own body.]...are you 100% sure??  Of course they are Elohim no matter what but that doesn't make any sense, I don't understand...."
Lizet: "Yes, I am 100% sure, unless I was lied to when I first came to the truth, but I refuse to believe that was the case....  Pls let me know if i am the one who is wrong, althoug that would mean i was lied to.  In any case let's not allow these things to shake our faith."

Here's the main problem... and I'm speaking now to our WMSCOG friends:

Has the WMSCOG earned your unconditional trust and devotion?  How will you know if they are worthy of your complete trust unless you thoroughly test them?

Please watch these videos of other people who give their complete and unconditional trust and devotion to their leaders.  Would you agree that these other churches are not worthy of that trust?  And yet, they have convinced these followers of just that, so much so that they will use any and all of the above responses to avoid testing their leaders and finding them false.

How can you know that you are not deceived just as much as they are?  Don't just say, "Well, I know I'm not!"  A deceived person doesn't know they are deceived--that's the definition of deception.

The only way is to put the WMSCOG to the test, with an open mind, being willing to accept the results even if it proves the World Mission Society Church of God as false.  The people in the following videos have obviously not done that with their "churches."  I pray that you will.

(Please notice that the members of these groups are all very happy and sincere in their faith.  Happiness and sincerity are not the primary indicators of truth.)

Wayne Bent
A Russian Messiah
Brian Leonard Golightly Marshall
Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda
Harold Camping (yes, he still has followers)
Westboro Baptist Church

Now for something inspiring...
You may have heard of the Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong.  After Armstrong's death, the church's new leadership realized the doctrines they had held dearly were actually false.  They were brave enough to stand up for the truth, despite resistance and splintering within their church.  And what emerged was Grace Communion International church.
Here's their uplifting story.  It's a long video, but well worth the watch:
"Called to Be Free"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Staying in the World Mission Society Church of God

Last time, I shared 5 main reasons why ex-members have left the World Mission Society Church of God.  Now the question is, when these problems are so clear to ex-members (or non-members), why do so many continue to stay in the WMSCOG?  Why don't they see these problems?  And if they see the problems, why do they stay anyway?

To answer that, it helps to see an ex-members perspective.  Here's an article that explains it well: Why is it difficult for some WMSCOG members to leave?

I recall talking to several different members and hearing the same thing...
"I know this church is not right, but they seem right about some things, so how can I leave?  Where else would I go?  What if they're right, and I don't make it to heaven?  But I know they are not! I'm so torn.  I don't know what to do."

If that sounds at all familiar, if that's you, maybe you wonder how you could ever survive and live a fulfilling life without the World Mission Society Church of God.  Please, read the stories of others who have left, and see that you are not alone!  You can find some stories here and also scattered throughout the comments of my blog and this website.

Then read that article again about why it's so difficult to leave.  If you can realize what it is that's holding you there, it might help you to be strong enough to leave.  And if you still don't feel confident enough to leave, pray.  God, the real God, can help you to sort out the truth and lead you to freedom.

Galatians 5:1
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

In fact, I recommend you read the whole book of Galatians.  It's just 6 short chapters.  It won't take long, and it will help you to know the freedom you ought to feel with Christ.  Here's a good place to start: Galatians 1.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Leaving the World Mission Society Church of God

Since I started this blog (and even before) many people have written to me, and I always ask if they will share their story.  How did you (or your loved one) get involved in the World Mission Society Church of God, and what finally prompted you to leave?

Even though personal details vary, ex-members of the World Mission Society Church of God have many similarities in their stories.  I've found 5 main reasons former members have shared with me in their stories.  Here they are, in no particular order:
  • The teachings of the WMSCOG contradict the teachings of the Bible.  For example, they take verses out of context and distort their meaning, and misinterpret other verses whose meaning is clear.  Here are a few specific examples.
  • The behavior of the people (especially leaders) in the WMSCOG contradicts the teachings of the Bible.  For example, even though the church claims do what the Bible says, they find their leaders promoting lying, divorce, gossip, and such.
  • The teachings and practices of the WMSCOG contradict themselves.  (I call this "internal evidence.")  For example, they keep the feasts of God incorrectly according to their own requirements, and they deny some teachings of Ahnsahnghong himself.
  • They realize the church's behavior lines up with destructive mind control tacticsFor example, they weren't told about Ahnsahnghong or Zang Gil-Jah until after joining, and there was a heavy demand on their time and money, to the exclusion of their other God-given responsibilities.  Check out more stories of personal experiences in the WMSCOG.
  • Lastly, some were pushed out (or kicked out).  For example, they couldn't live up to the expectations of the WMSCOG, either in behavior or giving (tithing).  These seem to have had the hardest time, feeling condemned for failing, until they realize one or more of the other, above reasons.  Then they feel blessed to have been "rescued" despite themselves.

Here is another list that shows more specific reasons, Top 10 Reasons People Cease to Believe in the WMSCOG, which you can find on the website Examining the WMSCOG.  It's well worth your time to explore that website, especially since it has the perspective of an ex-member (who writes many of the articles).

No matter which was the main reason for leaving, members who leave continue to share similarities in what happens next in their stories.  They must go through a healing and recovery process.  And the longer they've been in the cult, the more difficult the process is.

If you are going through that currently, please know that there is help out there.  There are cult counselors who can help you in person.  There are also pastors at your local churches who can connect you with the help you need.  There are books that can help you in your healing (such as "Releasing the Bonds" by Steven Hassan).  And there are places like our facebook group, where you can talk to other former members and help each other.  You don't have to do it alone.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

News and a Challenge

Ahnsahnghong was the founder and pastor of a church while he was alive.  I've often wondered what happened to his church after he died in 1985, especially since the World Mission Society Church of God's doctrine does not quite match the teachings in Ahnsahnghong's books.  Thanks to a recent commenter, now I know, and I've got to share it with you all.

There is another church in Korea, called the New Covenant Passover Church of God, which also claims to be founded by Ahnsahnghong.  Except, the New Covenant Passover Church of God (NCPCOG) prays in the name of Jesus (not Ahnsahnghong) and does not believe in a "Heavenly Mother Jerusalem."  Neither do they accept Zahng Gil Jah as "Mother God."

It turns out that there was some turmoil in Ahnsahnghong's church after he died, and it split.  The NCPCOG kept to the teachings of their founder, while the WMSCOG developed the ideas of a "Jerusalem Mother," male and female gods, and the deity Zahng Gil Jah.

The website for the NCPCOG has lots of information, but it's all in Korean.  Some friends and I are working on translating it, and I'll keep you all posted on new developments.  For one thing, it would greatly improve my opinion of Ahnsahnghong if he were merely a misguided Bible scholar instead of a self-proclaimed Christ.

This brings me to another point...

In all my reading of Ahnsahnghong's writings, there are two things I've never come across: 1) Ahnsahnghong claiming to be God, the second coming of Christ, and 2) Ahnsahnghong mentioning a "Mother God."

I challenge WMSCOG members to show me where Ahnsahnghong said either of those things.  I'm not asking for the verses and prophecies and explanations that your church uses.  Show me where Ahnsahnghong himself teaches these two things.  Which book?  Which chapter or page number?

There haven't been any WMSCOG members commenting here in a while (since February, I think).  I really do want to hear what you have to say.  I know WMSCOG members support their church by commenting on other sites.  Why not this one lately?
--Is it because you've been told to avoid my website?  Why?  Are your leaders worried about what you'll find?
--Is it because you don't have any good response for the issues I've raised here?  Doesn't that make you concerned that something is wrong with the WMSCOG?
--Is it because you don't think I'll listen to you?  I can't post every comment because I can't edit personal information or rude words in them very well.  But I do read and consider them all, and you can always send me a message by email.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The WMSCOG said what? On an official form?

Did you know that when an organization applies for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), those forms become available to the public?  All you have to do is request them from the IRS (and wait for them to come in the mail).

That's what "Hailey" has done and recently posted about on the Rick Ross Cult Education Forum, and I've been able to examine the forms as well.  What I find shocking is that the statements made by the World Mission Society Church of God on these official forms do not line up with the doctrine they preach!
In the forum, Hailey points this out.  I'm going to write about some inconsistencies here, but you should definitely read her posts too.  I'll include pictures for your convenience, but remember--copies of these documents are freely available for the asking from the IRS.

This set of forms was filed with a California address in 1999.
I won't change any spelling, punctuation or capitalization, but I will bold the words that stand out to me.

Here's an excerpt of what the WMSCOG said on page 2 about their church activities:
"1. (a) Prayer services to strengthen the faith of the members in the works of the saviour Jesus Christ."
"2. (a) Baptismal Services, to set the devoted members into holy communion with their LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ."
"3. (a) Funeral Services, to escort those members of the church who have been called upon by the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to join him on high."
"4. (a) Bible readings, to enhance commitment of the spirit to ways of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

On Schedule A, page 11, in regards to other religious services, besides worship services, the WMSCOG stated:
"The church will perform BAPTISM in the name of Jesus christ, baptism, and a host holy feasts for the lord."

And concerning requirements and qualifications needed to be a minister, they said on page 12:
"Must be baptized in the name of JESUS CHRIST.  Must study the bible for 6 months intensely.  Must experience Gospel Ministry for 3 years and attended worship for at least 1 year."

I've searched the entire form and there is NO mention of Ahn Sahng-Hong or Zahng Gil-Jah ("Mother Jerusalem")--not even in their statement of the history of their organization!
Here's their brief history from page 11:
"The World Mission Society Church of God, was founded by the founding father, Pastor Joo Cheol Kim in or about 1998 as a result of divine revealation from God.."

Knowing how very important the new name of Ahnsahnghong is to the WMSCOG, and how they believe Ahnsahnghong is the savior of this new age and the age of Jesus Christ has passed away, and how they insist that those who cling to the name of Jesus will not be able to be saved...

Why do they continually use only the name of Jesus in this document?!  Why NO mention of the "saviors" they preach about--"The Spirit and the Bride," "Father Ahnsahnghong and Mother Jerusalem"?  Why not write the true story about their founding?
Why?!  That's my question.
Here's a possible answer... Secrecy is one characteristic of a cult.

(A big thank you goes to Hailey for all her work in tracking down these forms!) 

Another website has written about these forms with more details.  Check it out:
World Mission Society Church of God IRS Tax Exempt Application Los Angeles, CA