Should you be wary of United Church of God? Are they a high demand, deceitful group that uses methods of mind control in order to recruit and retain others? Where does their belief system really originate from?
Skip to Prophecy Teachings (includes mark of the beast and Covid-19)
United Church of God, An International Association, is one of the major breakoffs from the Worldwide Church of God. It was founded in 1995, within six weeks of the WCG changes, by Bob Dick and David Hulme in Arcadia, CA. (More info concerning this is found in OIU 3, Pt 3 under “The United Church of God is Born” [available as PDF download]).
In December 2007 UCG-AIA announced that their headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio would be moved to property near the town of Denton, Texas that they purchased for $1.6 million dollars. Clyde Kilough (former Ambassador College graduate) was the new president of UCG in 2009; however, in April 2010 he was asked by the UCG Council to resign and Roy Holladay became the acting president. Then in June 2010 Dennis Luker (former minister in WCG) became the new president. (Update: Dennis Luker died March 14, 2013 of cancer and Victor Kubik is now the new president. Also read August 23, 2015 letter: “Victor Kubik Using Lifenets as Front.”)
United Church of God has said that they are the “continuation of the one and only true church of God” (tracing their origins to “the church that Jesus founded in the early first century” and following “the same teachings, doctrines and practices established then.”). What UCG actually follows are the teachings, doctrines and practices of Herbert W. Armstrong who founded the Worldwide Church of God in 1934 (it was originally called “Radio Church of God”), proclaiming it was the “one and only true church of God.” UCG believes they are “God’s true church” evidenced by their “obedience to God’s Laws” and being a “small flock.” Members are admonished to “find out where God is working” and to “finish the Work of God” (which members are to support through their tithes and offerings).
While they say they are “a continuation of that body Jesus Christ founded,” have a “distinct identity” but “do not claim that all Christians are among our fellowship,” they believe those in “counterfeit” Christianity (whom UCG says are teaching a “false gospel”) “remain blinded to the real meaning of sin, repentance and conversion” but “God’s special people” “understand the Scriptures” and “strive” to obey God’s Law.
They affirm they are “committed to understanding and practicing New Testament Christianity” when, in fact, it is nothing but old covenant theology given to the nation Israel (along with scriptures redefined by Herbert Armstrong). By not understanding the New Covenant (including the book of Galatians), they are in essence denying Christ’s finished work for them on the cross. (Read: The Law of Moses and the Grace of God)
They teach what is known as “God’s Plan for mankind” (the O. T. Feast days; also known as “Annual Sabbaths”) and believe God is a “family” consisting of the Father and the Son but to include many more later.
UCG has an array of glossy and slick “free” literature; e. g., World News and Prophecy (published from 1998 to 2011); The Good News (published from 1995 to 2015); Beyond Today Magazine; and Compass Check (formerly “Vertical Thought” published from 2003 to 2013) for young people in UCG. The United News is the church-wide newsletter for members and their radio program Good News Radio ran from 2000-2009. Their TV program is called “Beyond Today.” They even have a “Ambassador Bible Center” (ABC) which teaches the same “theology” classes that were formerly taught at Ambassador College (founded by HWA in 1947).
UCG is eager to introduce people to their “free Bible Study Course” (which is also online), including “Sabbath School Lessons” and a “Teen Bible Study Guide” for the youth. This 12-lesson Bible Study Course (which emphasizes that “obedience brings understanding” and presents several other “keys” to Bible understanding that Herbert Armstrong taught) is one of the first steps to getting people to believe their teachings are truly Bible-based and, as a result, end up joining. (HWA also made use of these same tactics. See: How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit People?)
If one carefully examines their “free” literature (including their free 12-lesson Bible Study Course), they can clearly discern that it is filled with mind control methods of guilt, striving for perfection, preoccupation with sin and repentance, fear, and “true church” dogma. Members are expected to tithe and keep the 7th day Sabbath.
Their belief system is taught to be the “only road” to eternal life. (The Road to Eternal Life by United Church of God)
They have several prophecy articles on their site which are rooted in Herbert Armstrong’s dogma.
Teachings on the Mark of the Beast:
Included on their site are several fearful articles on the Mark of the Beast. For instance:
In Beyond Today, Bible Questions and Answers, “What is the Mark of the Beast Talked About in the Book of Revelation?” they say the mark is evidently a “mark of disobedience to God” and go on to say, “Many Bible students have pointed to God’s seventh-day Sabbath” as an identifying sign of God’s people, yet they don’t reveal who these “many Bible students” are. (Seventh-day Adventists? COG 7th Day?)
The heading for the article says: “God’s people won’t accept the mark of the Beast [which is referred to as forced observance of Sunday] and will not be permitted to engage in commerce.” But nothing is said about how or if they will be able to survive. HWA taught that those who took the mark would suffer the seven last plagues and those that didn’t may be tortured to death in the Great Tribulation. So that doesn’t leave them much of a choice.
In the Beyond Today article, “Will you Be Ready to Reject the Mark of the Beast?” it says the “very important thing we should ask ourselves: Will I be ready to reject the mark of the Beast when that time comes?” Members are to “prepare their heart to choose God” and “be ready to reject the mark of the Beast.” The fear in this article is very similar to how HWA would write except he talked of a place of safety in Petra.
In their extremely fear-filled booklet “The book of Revelation Unveiled” they state that God promises protection for His people at the end of the age, but no mention of where this protection, or place of safety, is. Instead, they say, “Though some are prophesied to survive the Satan-inspired onslaught, the Scriptures reveal that many others will be martyred.” It is found in their booklets on the Place of Safety where they talk about “flying into the wilderness” as HWA taught, while part of the church suffers persecution. But they don’t know how, when or where they will be protected. They will know it at the “essential time.”
Read: What is the Mark of the beast and how do we keep from being afraid? (Q&A on ESN).
Fearful Articles About the Coronavirus (Covid-19):
In Beyond Today, “Coronavirus and Rampant Fear” (March 17, 2020), the article tries to tie in the coronavirus to the Great Tribulation. as it talks about “coming dire events prophesied in the Bible,” and “terrifying expectation of worsening events and resultant widespread fear.”
But yet readers are told not to react with” paralyzing fear” or to “buy into fear.”
As they go on to say, “Christ’s faithful followers need not fear,” their answer appears to be to pray that they “will be accounted worthy to escape all these things.” [emp. mine]
So does UCG know exactly where they are going to escape to? They admit they don’t. As mentioned above under the Mark of the Beast, they (the ministers?) will know when and where to go at the “essential time.”
This article says that Covid-19 is the “harbinger of greater and more deadly storms to come” and members need to examine if their foundation is on the rock and to “watch and obey” (i. e., obey the Law).
They end the article by telling members not to give in to fear or panic and despair (in spite of all the fear in the article), and say, “This is a time to lift up your head and heart to God and seek Him while He may still be found.” [emp. mine] This is no doubt a reference to Isaiah 55:6, but it comes across as another subtle fear statement that things could come to the point where it would be too late for them to seek God.
Yet the Scriptures say, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17 and many other “whosoever” verses.) This is an invitation to receive God’s free gift of eternal life and carries no fear with it.
In a March 17, 2020 article from Beyond Today, “Coronavirus and Rampant Fear,” it talks about “Many are worried and scared–very scared” and use many other such fearful statements, some posed as questions.
UCG in their literature picks and chooses selected scriptures in order to establish their closely held belief that they are “spiritual Israel” and will go through the time of “Jacob’s trouble” believing they are “Jacob.” This is a mixture of covenant theology and British-Israelism.
Church of God, a Worldwide Association is a splinter of UCG that formed in 2010. UCG stated the next year that it had lost 53% of its paid ministers in the United States.
In 2018 UCG was said to have about 12,000 members; as of 2020 they had a little over 7,000 members.
For more info on the beginnings of United Church of God-AIA see OIU 3, Pt. 2, OIU 3, pt. 3 and OIU 4, pt. 4. (OIUs available as PDF download)
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
Updated March 26, 2020
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