Last week I described my encounter with evangelists from the World Mission Society: Church of God. I will often abbreviate that to WMS. You may know them better as those people going around malls and college campuses asking people about “God the Mother.” Should you have a similar encounter, what do you need to know? Let’s start with the basics. What is the history of the “God the Mother” cult?
To give credit where it’s due, the best place to go for more information on this is Mike Winger. He’s done the heavy lifting on this topic. He tracked down the rare source documents and provided several hours of material. My goal here is to give some highlights.
Ahn Sahn Hong’s History
Let’s start at the beginning. A man named Ahn Sahn Hong was born in South Korea in the 1918. He was initially a part of the 7th Day Adventist Church but was excommunicated in 1962. He instead formed his own church, the Witnesses of Jesus: Church of God. He got married, and his three children are still alive today. However, he did at some point take up a mistress named Zhang Gil Ja, who be important later. In 1985 he died, leaving the church divided. Keep all that in mind as we examine some of the claims made about this man. The church his wife and children formed was the New Covenant Passover: Church of God. The other, led by Joo-Cheol Kim, is the equally long named World Mission Society: Church of God. The WMS took some of the ideas that Hong had introduced, ran with them, and introduced a string of new ideas that Hong never taught.
Was Ahn Sahn Hong the 2nd Coming of Christ?
After his death, the WMS began claiming that Hong was the 2nd coming of Jesus. A bold move on their part for a number of reasons. For one, Hong was born of human parents, despite there being no indication anywhere in the Bible that Jesus would go through the human incarnation a second time. The Old Testament gave clear prophecies about what to expect from Jesus. Hong not only did not fulfill any expected prophecies, but his actions contradict what we do know about from passages like Matthew 24 and Acts 1.
Despite being married, Hong apparently also had a mistress, meaning that that God incarnate committed adultery. To make matters more worse, Hong died. This is especially awkward in light of passages like Romans 6, which describe how Jesus will never die again, because it has no dominion over him. Lastly, Hong himself never claimed to be Jesus. He did seem to believe he was Elijah though, given that his tombstone reads “The grave of the prophet Elijah Ahn Sahng-hong.” There is simply no reason to believe that this man was Jesus.
Joo-Cheol Kim’s Church
Hong made no sign or claim of being Christ. His own family denied the claim that he was Christ. Now we have people going around preaching and even baptizing in his name. How did this happen? Seemingly it began with the current leader of the WMS, Joo-Cheol Kim. He wrote his own teachings, and introduced the deification of Hong. Hong’s mistress, Zhang Gil Ja also joined the WMS, and Kim deified her as the incarnate “God the Mother,” beginning their polytheistic teaching. Allegedly, Gil Ja was also previously married, and her ex-husband had some choice words for her.
Kim chose to rewrite history and hide the truth from his followers. This seems to be his standard practice, not even wanting his own book, “My Sheep Listen to My Voice” get distributed outside of the church. If your church is actively hiding information and ruling by fear and secrecy, it may be time to start questioning if you joined a cult.
What did Hong Say About God the Mother?
Hong is not the first man in history who claimed to be Jesus. But where did this “God the Mother” business come from? It began back when Hong was still in charge. A woman named Um Sooin began teaching that she was this Mother God. Hong responded by writing an entire book, which you can read online, refuting both Sooin and the entire concept of “God the Mother.” When Kim took over, he seemingly latched onto this idea and decided to incorporate it into the WMS, using Hong’s mistress, Zhang Gil Ja. They try to make a case for this from scripture, but as we’ll get into their theology next week, you’ll see that it’s an extremely flimsy case.
By only looking at the history, this church falls apart. Their central claims about their leader don’t hold up to scripture. Most importantly, their own leader actively spoke against their own teachings. This would be like if we found out that Jesus wrote a book actively saying that he is not the son of God and all of you Christians are living a lie. You can’t sustain a religion like that. They’ve basically turned into Monty Python’s Life of Brian, with their leader repeatedly telling the mob, “I’m not the messiah!” only to be ignored.
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