Another Response to WMSCOG: A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing

by Gjergji Evangjeli

 

The Torch was recently contacted by a former member the World Mission Society Church of God, who gave us some more information on their beliefs and teachings. Having already written on the topic of the WMSCOG, I found this material particularly interesting and I will attempt to respond to it below. It should be noted that since my last column on the WMSCOG was over a year ago, I am still open to having an in-person discussion with members of this group. I would prefer to record it and publish it online, so that everyone could hear their views within the context of examination.

The WMSCOG focuses on the idea that one of the words used for God in the Old Testament (Elohim) is in the plural. They argue that because the word is in the plural, what is often translated as “God” in the Old Testament should rather be translated “Gods,” these being God the Father and God the Mother. This, however, is a good example of why a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Elohim is indeed in the plural, but the verbs attached to it when speaking about God are in the singular. The first line of the Bible reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In that instance, “God” (Elohim) is in the plural, but “created” (bara) is in the singular. For this reason, it would be incoherent to understand and translate Elohim as “Gods.” Every good translation of the Hebrew translates the term in the singular, including the Septuagint, which is an old translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek dating from before Christ.

 

That said, the Hebrew Bible does also use Elohim to mean “gods.” In Psalm 96:5, we read, “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” In this verse, Elohim is coupled with a plural verb and is therefore translated as a plural noun. On the other hand, this verse uses “Yahweh” to refer to God, which is commonly translated as “Lord” in English translations. Now, Yahweh is in the singular, and it is clear that it refers to one single being, namely God. It is important, therefore, to realize that Elohim and Yahweh are paralleled with each other numerous times in the Old Testament, such as in Exodus 6:7, which reads, “You shall know that I am the Lord [i.e. Yahweh] your God [i.e. Elohim].” These two words, therefore, refer to the same being, so the idea of a plurality of gods introduced by the word Elohim is incorrect.

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In addition, the WMSCOG teaches that the New Covenant and the feasts were abolished in AD 325. This is likely a reference to the Council of Nicaea, which has long been a target of outlandish conspiracy theories about how the Christian faith “went wrong,” all lacking any shred of proof. The Feasts of the Jewish faith were not even mentioned in any of the accounts that we have of the Council, the closest thing to it which was discussed in Nicaea was the Quartodeciman controversy, which had to do with the dating of Easter.

 

No one discussed the question of the Jewish festivals in Nicaea, because that issue had been settled long before, in the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). There, the Apostles decided that Gentile converts to Christianity did not need to abide by the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and thus they were not obliged to be circumcised, keep kosher, or celebrate the Old Testament feasts. In Colossians, Paul warns, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:16-17). It seems that WMSCOG teaches its followers that they need to worship on the Sabbath and keep the Jewish feasts, which reignites the Judaizing heresy which Paul so explicitly refutes in the pages of the New Testament.

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In addition, the very idea that the New Covenant could be abolished is incoherent. The term “covenant” means exactly that—a commitment which cannot be abolished. It is possible that the WMSCOG means that specifically the Eucharist was abolished from the practice of the Church, but this is plainly false, as the Eucharist has always been (and continues to be) celebrated by the Church to this very day.

 

Because they erroneously claim that the New Covenant was abolished, the WMSCOG teaches that God needed to come again to restore it. This new Christ is “an Asian man by the name of Ahnsahnghong” who has “come with the title of the Holy Spirit,” according to the person who contacted us. The WMSCOG teaches that it is no longer acceptable to use the name Jesus, because God has acquired a new identity. It is difficult in this context not to think back to the words of Our Lord, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many” (Mt. 24: 4-5). As relating to the name of Jesus in the New Testament, however, there cannot be a clearer statement than when Paul teaches that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11). Where in the New Testament do we see any hint that the glorified name of Jesus would not always be so?

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But one should ask: What has happened to the body of Our Lord, since he needed to be incarnated again? More importantly, Matthew is very concerned with showing that the Incarnation was prophesied in the Old Testament (cf. Mt. 1-2) and Jesus Himself taught that all the prophets spoke of Him (Lk. 24:25). Where was this new incarnation prophesied? What new thing will it reveal to us which “the exact representation of [the Father’s] nature” (Heb. 1:3) didn’t? A number of the New Testament books refer to our time as “the last days” (cf. Heb. 1:2). This is because God’s revelation has come to completion with the advent of the Son. We wait for nothing more than His return, and when He does return, “the Lord Himself with descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). Needless to say, that has yet to happen.

 

These examples show the danger of a little knowledge: knowing that Elohim is in the plural, but not understanding why every single translation of the Hebrew renders it in the singular; knowing that the year AD 325 is significant, but not why; most crucially, knowing enough of the Bible to mislead others of lesser knowledge, but not enough to know the truth. May the true doctrine of Christ always triumph over such confusions    


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