Christian prayer and care needed
The World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) is an aggressive and controversial religious movement previously examined in this column in September 2017, but its continuing growth and preaching efforts merit another look. As a relatively new religious group which came into its current form in 1985, this South Korean church has in a very short time become a global movement active on numerous college campuses (under the names ASEZ, Seven Thunders and Elohim Academy). Much of its growth is from proselytizing door to door.
As the door knocking indicates, this is a high demand group that expects unusually intense, radical commitment. Former members consistently report they were required to spend extremely long hours at their Zions (local churches) and doing preaching work. Most ended up donating significantly high portions of their incomes to this church, while their lives were manipulated by guilt, shame and fear. Other churches are seen as "Babylon," and are a target for their well-trained members who know their church teachings very well, and are ready to share practised and rehearsed study lessons.
What are some of the main beliefs of the WMSCOG? "Second Coming Christ" has returned in the person of the Korean minister Ahnsahnghong (1918–1985), who is now God the Holy Spirit, and in this age salvation can only be found in him, and a second female deity currently living in South Korea, who is our Heavenly Mother (Zahng Gil-jah, born in 1943). The WMSCOG is the only true church because Christ Ahnsahnghong has restored the Passover feast by which we can gain salvation. Not only do we need to observe the Passover and the other six Old Testament feasts, but going to church (for almost the entire day) on Saturday is considered so important that missing services on a Sabbath can eternally doom someone’s soul. Scriptures are twisted with great theological leaps to teach these doctrines, but the well-studied Christian can respond to these unusual doctrines and confidently present the true gospel to their members.
One thing that sets this group apart from others on the religious landscape is the level of their intense, radical commitment.
Christians can best respond to members of the WMSCOG by staying on the main issues and not getting distracted by WMSCOG claims that Christmas, Easter, revering the cross and going to church on Sunday are pagan ideas. Instead, focus on their teaching that there are two gods (their Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother), and point out how that contrasts with clear biblical teaching – there is only one true God revealed in the Scriptures (Isaiah 44:6–8; 45:4, 14, 18, 21–22; 46:9; 2 Samuel 7:22; Psalm 89:6, 10). The WMSCOG teaches that when God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26), there had to be a male and female God behind the two genders, but once again this is contradicted throughout God’s revelation (Malachi 2:10; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 44:24 and 45:12).
The growth of this zealous and misguided movement is concerning, but there is good news in the form of increasing resources that expose the WMSCOG, produced by both Christian apologists and former members. J. Quinton Friberg has written the highly recommended full-length book Our Mother Who Art Not in Heaven (BookBaby, 2016) in which he gives biblical answers to WMSCOG doctrines and proof texts. Websites such as www.ExaminingTheWMSCOG.com and www.Encountering-Ahnsahnghong.Blogspot.com do an excellent job of critiquing and responding from the Bible as well as a number of other angles. And YouTube channels such as Great Light Studios have created sizeable video libraries of interviews with both experts and ex-members.
The rapid growth of this new church is alarming and concerning, and it will not be long before their membership will balloon into much higher numbers. Groups like these usually don’t just go away on their own, and the abundance of reports from former members who claim both spiritual and psychological abuse and exploitation make ministering to members of this church an important priority. Once again, the true Church is called to rise up and "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people" (Jude 1:3).
Steve Matthews is a Canadian apologist who specializes in cults and new religious movements. He lives in California. He has published a concise overview of the WMSCOG at www.Watchman.org/WMSCOG.pdf. Read more of these columns at www.FaithToday.ca/ReligionWatch.