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.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Pope is NOT the Antichrist - Summary of 'Is 666 the Pope?'

I'm writing this as a summary of my series, "Is 666 the Pope?"  But if you haven't read the series yet, this article would make a great preview for you.

Part 1 of this series examined the sources the World Mission Society Church of God uses to support their claim against the Papacy.   I saw that they continue to have problems (like they did with their claims about the cross):
  • misrepresenting information by taking it out of context
  • presenting (or inventing?) 'facts' that are not in the referenced resource
  • not being specific enough with their source so it can be verified
  • selecting some information but neglecting to mention other important information from the same source
Part 2 established my focus, since the WMSCOG claims the Pope is the Antichrist whose number is 666.  Rather than looking at the general definition of an antichrist, I narrowed in on the Antichrist from Revelation 13, the beast from the sea whose number is 666.  In other words, the question became, "Is the Pope (Papacy) this Antichrist?" rather than "Is the Pope an antichrist?"

Then I examined the Scriptures and history to see how they matched up with the claims of the Pope-is-Antichrist teaching.  Scripture and the historical record give plenty of evidence to show that the Pope-is-Antichrist teaching is false, especially when combined with the particular doctrine of the World Mission Society Church of God.

Here is a summary of those claims compared to reality, and in relation to Revelation 13:

Rev. 13:1-2  The beast has 7 heads with 10 horns and 10 crowns.
similar to Dan. 7:7-8, 20, 24  The beast had 10 horns, and another little horn came up among them and plucked out 3 of the first horns.
Claim: When the Roman Kingdom fell, it split into 10 kingdoms.  Three of those kingdoms did not follow the doctrine of the Catholic Church and were subdued (or destroyed) because of that.  The last of them (Ostrogoths) was destroyed in A.D. 538.
Reality: When the Roman Kingdom fell, many kingdoms arose from it, but not the same kingdoms (or the same number) as claimed.  The Ostrogoths were still strongly defending themselves after 538 and were not defeated until 553.  By then, of the claimed 10 kingdoms, 5 kingdoms (not 3) had been subdued, and 1 of the kingdoms still had not entered Roman territory.  Also, adherence to Catholic doctrine was not a factor in whether or not a kingdom was conquered.
Read Part 3 for detailed information.

Rev. 13:3-4  The beast suffered a fatal wound that was healed.
Claim:  The papacy suffered a "deadly wound" in 1798 when the Pope was captured by Napoleon's general.  The wound has been healing since then.
Reality:  There are many occasions in the history of the Catholic Church that could be considered "deadly wounds" that have healed.  The verse implies only one fatal wound, not a series of struggles.  There is no reason to pick the particular wound of 1798 over any other.
Read Part 4 for detailed information.

Rev. 13:5  The beast was given authority to rule for 42 months
Claim:  This 42 months is 1260 days, which prophetically mean 1260 years.  The rule of the Catholic Church (papacy) began in 538 and continued until the "deadly wound" in 1798--exactly 1260 years as prophesied.
Reality:  There are several years that could be considered the beginning of the rule of the Catholic Church, but 538 is not one of them.  Significant historical markers of the Catholic Church do not fit into a prophecy of 1260 years.  Also, events that were supposed to be happening during these 1260 years would contradict other World Mission Society Church of God doctrine.
Read Part 5 and Part 6 for detailed information.

Rev. 13:6 / Dan. 7:25  The beast speaks blasphemy and tries to change the times and law.
Claim:  The Pope is made equal with God, and Catholic priests are said to forgive sin.  Both of those are examples of blasphemy.  The Catholic Church has changed the sacred calendar (substituting Sunday for Saturday Sabbath, Easter for Passover, instituting Christmas) and has tried to change God's law (omitting and changing some of the 10 Commandments).
Reality:  Official Catholic doctrine does not support the charge of blasphemy.  Calendar issues are dealt with in other posts on this blog.  The 10 Commandments are actually composed of 14 command statements.  The Catholic Church still holds to all 10 Commandments, but they have combined them differently.
Read Part 7 for detailed information.

Rev. 13:18  The number of the beast is 666.
Claim:  The Pope's mitre is inscribed with the title "Vicarius Filii Dei."  When you add up the values of the Roman numerals in this title, the total equals 666.
Reality:  There are many people whose names can add up to 666, depending on the method of computation.  Since the Catholic Church doesn't match the description of the beast as claimed, it doesn't matter whether or not Vicarius Filii Dei is an official title of the Pope or what number it forms.
Read Part 8 for detailed information.

Conclusion: The 1260 years in the prophecy more likely refers to a future, literal 3 1/2 year time period.  Could a Pope of the Catholic Church fulfill the prophecies of the beast in the future?  Possibly, but so could many other world leaders.  We can only speculate when thinking about the future.  The theory of the Catholic Church already fulfilling the prophecies of the Antichrist fails.

A Personal Note

To tell you the truth, when I started researching for this series I didn't know what I would find.  I am not Catholic.  I wasn't very motivated to clear the Pope (and Roman Catholic Church) from these accusations of being the Antichrist, the beast whose number is 666.  I had heard the claim before, had even read the specific reasons, and thought it was a bit intriguing, but that's as far as I got.  I didn't think it really mattered to me.

The main reason I decided to research the claims was because some of you readers wrote and asked me (thank you for that!).  Now that I've done the research, I'm glad I did--not just because of the facts I've found, but also because I've learned something very important:

When you are confronted with a sensational claim such as this, don't just accept someone else's "research" about it--do your own!

I can't believe this accusation has persisted despite history proving it false!  It's kind of like the claims that Elvis is still alive or that the moon landings were all a hoax or that the Holocaust was a myth.  They are false, yet the rumors won't quit!  It's infuriating!  If you can help spread the truth about the Pope not being the Antichrist, please do.  Whatever your personal opinions are of the Catholic Church, they should not be falsely accused in this way.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is 666 the Pope? - Part 8 - The Number of the Beast

Again, here is a reference for you of the Pope-is-Antichrist teaching.

One more thing to examine...
Today, the number of the beast:
Revelation 13:18
and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom.  Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

We should note that some scholars think this number was originally 616, not 666.  You can see this in the footnotes of these Bibles: New American Standard Bible, New Living Translation, New Century Version, Lexham English Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version.  For more information about 616, visit Wikipedia Number of the Beast or read this news article.

That's very interesting.  However, in deciphering whether or not the Pope is the beast, it does not matter if the number is 616 or 666, and I'll show you why in a moment.  First let's see how the Pope-is-Antichrist teaching comes up with 666 for the Pope.

They say that there is a title inscribed in the Pope's mitre, Vicarius Filii Dei, which is Latin for "Vicar of the Son of God."  (I've heard people debating whether this is actually one of the Pope's titles, and whether it is actually inscribed in the mitre, but that also does not matter.)

They look at the letters of Vicarius Filii Dei, pull out those that are also Roman numerals, and add them up, like this:

V I C A R I U(V) S F I L I I D E I
5 1 100

1 5

1 50 1 1 500

The total is 666.  Look at who else adds up to 666:

Ellen Gould White, co-founder of the Seventh Day Adventist church (add the "W" as "V V")

E L L E N G O U(V) L D W(V V) H I T E

50 50

5 50 500 10

I was told that Ahnsahnghong was baptized by the Seventh Day Adventists, and the World Mission Society Church of God shares many similarities with Seven Day Adventist doctrine.  Interesting.

But who is to say what pattern, code, or formula is to be used in adding the number?  Depending on how you figure it, these people (and more) all have names that add to 666:
The Roman Emperor Nero
Napoleon Bonaparte
Adolf Hitler
Ronald Reagan
Bill Gates
and Prince Charles of Wales (source)

Do you think any of these people are (were) the beast, the Antichrist?  It takes more than the number of a name to identify the Antichrist, doesn't it?

Imagine your boss tells you a client has just landed at the airport and you must go pick her up.  He just talked to her on the phone, and he'll give you a description, so you don't have to waste any time in finding her.  Here's the description:
long, brown hair
wearing glasses
dressed in a black skirt suit
carrying a red suitcase
and her name is Maria.

If you spot a woman with glasses and a red suitcase, but she has short, blonde hair and is wearing blue jeans--do you have to ask for her name before knowing if she's the one you're looking for?  No, she already doesn't match the description.

That's why it doesn't matter whether or not the beast's number is 616 or 666, or whether or not Vicarius Filii Dei is an actual title of the Pope.  The Catholic Church already doesn't match the description of the beast, even by the Pope-is-Antichrist teaching's own description.

Likewise, with all those people whose names can add to the right number, the number of someone's name doesn't matter if they don't otherwise match the description of the beast.

Almost done, see you next time...

Click here for Part 9, the summary.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Is 666 the Pope? - Part 7 - Words and Laws

Once again, here is a reference for you of the Pope-is-Antichrist teaching.

Already my study has convinced me that the Pope is NOT the Antichrist, but there are a few more descriptions of the beast that we should look at, just for the sake of completeness.

The words of the beast:
Revelation 13:5-6
And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.

The beast speaks blasphemy.  John 10:33 says that claiming to be God is blasphemy.  Luke 5:21 says that claiming to forgive sins is blasphemy.  (You can always say, "I forgive you" to someone who offends you, but Luke 5:21 is talking about sin in a broader sense.)

The Pope-is-Antichrist teachers show quotes from Catholic sources that apparently show that they believe and teach the Pope is equal to God, and that the priests actually forgive sins.  Here is a short list of quotes that they commonly use.

The problem here is that these original resources are very difficult to track down and check.  I cannot tell for certain one way or the other regarding the claimed quotes, but I can look at the Catholic Church's official doctrine.

About whether the Pope is equal with God, the Catholic Encyclopedia says,
"Whatsoever thou shalt bind . . . Whatsoever thou shalt loose" [Matt. 16:19]; nothing is withheld. Further, Peter's authority is subordinated to no earthly superior. The sentences which he gives are to be forthwith ratified in heaven. They do not need the antecedent approval of any other tribunal. He is independent of all save the Master [Jesus] who appointed him. The words as to the power of binding and loosing are, therefore, elucidatory of the promise of the keys which immediately precedes. They explain in what sense Peter is governor and head of Christ's kingdom, the Church, by promising him legislative and judicial authority in the fullest sense.
About forgiveness of sins, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
1441 Only God forgives sins. [Mk 2:7] Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, "The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" and exercises this divine power: "Your sins are forgiven." [Mk 2:5,10; Lk 7:48] Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name. [Jn 20:21-23]
1442 Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the "ministry of reconciliation." [2 Cor 5:18] The apostle is sent out "on behalf of Christ" with "God making his appeal" through him and pleading: "Be reconciled to God." [2 Cor 5:20]
The official church position is that the Pope is God's appointed head of the church on earth, not that the Pope is God Himself.  Also, the official church position is that while only God forgives sins, He gives authority to priests to forgive sins in His name--not that the priests themselves forgive sins by their own authority.

I've seen already how unreliable the WMSCOG and other Pope-is-Antichrist teachers have been in their handling of other resources.  IF they had shown integrity with their other research, I would be more inclined to give them the benefit of doubt on this one.  But it's highly likely that the quotes they use have also been taken out of context and aren't what they appear.

The claims that the Pope and the Catholic Church speak blasphemy are, at best, inconclusive.

Changing the laws and times:
This is in Daniel, not Revelation
Daniel 7:25
...[He] shall intend to change times and law....

To the WMSCOG, this includes the 10 Commandments, the Sabbath, Passover/Easter, Christmas, etc., which they say were laws and times changed by the Catholic Church.

I address the Sabbath, Passover/Easter, and Christmas elsewhere on my blog.  In short, these are not "laws" that the church says you must keep to be saved.  The Catholic Church does not condemn anyone to hell for not observing Christmas, for example.  Neither do any other Protestant churches I know.

Regarding the 10 Commandments, the Roman Catholic Church is accused of omitting the second commandment, severely shortening the fourth commandment, and splitting the tenth commandment into two.

The 10 Commandments first appear in Exodus 20.  It's interesting that although the phrase "10 Commandments" is used a few times in the Bible, it's not in Exodus 20 (except by the translator's notes).  Did you realize in Exodus 20:1-17, God says:
"You shall (or shall not)..." 12 times,
"Remember..." once, and
"Honor..." once
That's a total of 14 commands in what we call the 10 Commandments.  We combine some to make a total of 10.  Interesting, isn't it?

Yes, the Catholic Church does number the commandments differently from most other churches.  You can see that in a chart here.  BUT they did not change the commandments, they just combined them differently.

The Catholic Church did not "omit" the second commandment.  They combined it with the first commandment.  The words are still there, just grouped differently.  Read it here in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  If you read Ex. 20:3 and Ex. 20:4-5, you can see that those commands are very similar--do not worship anything or anyone but God.  It is easy to combine them.

The Catholic Church's purpose for showing the division between their 9th and 10th commandments (about coveting) is stated here in the Catechism.  They wanted the people to know that both carnal (lustful) desires and material coveting are sins.  Most other churches combine the statements about coveting into a single 10th commandment, but it's easy to see why they may also be split.

As for the commandment about the Sabbath.  The Pope-is-Antichrist teaching claims that the Catholic Church shortened it from "94 words to eight." (source)  A reading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church shows that to be inaccurate.  It is much longer than 8 words, but I'll let you do the counting if it's that important to you.  You can read it here, and here are more details.

I disagree with the WMSCOG.  I do not believe the Catholic Church fulfills this prophecy.

I'm almost done with my study of the beast of Revelation.  Next time, the number of the beast.

Click here to go on to Part 8.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is 666 the Pope? - Part 6 - The 1260 Days Continued

Just as a reminder, here is a resource for you to refer to about the Pope-is-Antichrist teaching.

Last time in Part 5, we saw how the World Mission Society Church of God set the beginning year for the prophecy of the 1260 days (years) at A.D. 538, it being the year the Ostrogoths were "destroyed by the Papacy."  And we saw that statement was not based on historical fact.

There is another claim about the year 538 that should be addressed.  The Pope-is-Antichrist teaching says this is also the year Emperor Justinian decreed the Bishop of Rome to be head over all the churches (government merging with the church) and "Vigilius ascended the papal chair in 538 AD under the military protection of Brasilius [Belisarius]." (source)

Is this a true fact?  Did Justinian install Viligius as Pope in 538, thereby changing "Pagan Rome" into "Papal Rome"? 

No. While Vigilius may have been appointed by Justinian, he became Pope in 537, not 538.  Also, the Pragmatic Sanction of Justinian giving the Pope official sanction to run civil affairs in Rome on behalf of the Byzantine Empire was not issued until August 554.  So you see, there is still no historical basis to use the year 538.

That was enough to convince me that the prophecy of 1260 days was NOT fulfilled by the Catholic Church from the years 538-1798.

But just in case you are still not sure, look at what else is to happen during these 1260 days:

Daniel 7:21
I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them  

Daniel 7:25
... the saints shall be given into his hand
    For a time and times and half a time.

Revelation 13:5,7
5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue [make war] for forty-two months.... 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

The beast makes war against the saints (the people of God) during this time.
This is a big problem for the World Mission Society Church of God in particular, because according to their other doctrine there were NO saints during the time period of 538-1798!

The WMSCOG teaches that salvation was unattainable from approximately 325 to 1948.  Why?  Because according to the WMSCOG, the Passover (the key to salvation...or at least one of the requirements) "was abolished at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 ... [and] completely disappeared from the world," and was not restored until Ahnsahnghong came in 1948. (source)  I checked this with a WMSCOG deaconess, and she confirmed that, according to their doctrine, NO ONE was saved during this approximate time frame.

How is it possible for the beast to make war on the saints, when there are no saints?

Here's something else that is to happen during these days:

Revelation 11:2
But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

 The Holy City is Jerusalem.  For the WMSCOG, Jerusalem may refer to "Heavenly Mother Jerusalem" or "Mother God" (Zahng Gil-Jah).  They might also consider the Holy City to refer to Zion, which to them means the place where the feasts of God are kept, which to them means the World Mission Society Church of God.

In other words, to the WMSCOG, this prophecy could be fulfilled by the "trampling underfoot" of the literal Jerusalem, "Mother God," or themselves.

Were any of those trampled underfoot for the years 538 to 1798?  No.  Jerusalem has had its share of problems, but they are not limited to 538-1798, and the WMSCOG Zions and Zahng Gil-Jah did not exist yet.

In that case, could it be a literal 3 1/2 years?  Only if it is in the future.

One more thing we should see about the 1260 days (years):

Revelation 11:3
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.
(for the full context of the two witnesses, read Rev. 11:3-13)

If these 1260 days were the years 538 to 1798, who were the two witnesses of God?  Recall that according to the WMSCOG there were NO people of God on the earth during that time period.

In summary:
The Catholic Church does NOT fit the prophecy of ruling for 1260 days (years).  The historical record shows no reason to select the years 538 to 1798, and neither does it support the characteristics of the rule of the beast, considering WMSCOG doctrine.

Click here to go on to Part 7.