A Brief Evaluation of “Heavenly Mother” of World Mission Society Church of God in Galatians 4:26


A Brief Evaluation of “Heavenly Mother” of World Mission Society Church of God in Galatians 4:26

by Jaymark Molo

World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG), also known as the Church of God, is a religious movement that originated in South Korea in 1964. This church does not only believe in God the Father, but also endorses God the Mother in their theology.

In our previous study, we have seen that Revelation 22:17 cannot be used to substantiate the claim of WMSCOG to their doctrine of the bride as divine.[1] However, one might still object that Galatians 4:26 still remains to attest that there is a “Heavenly Mother”. So this leads us to ask: “Does Galatians 4:26 teaches the existence of the Heavenly Mother as WMSCOG believes?” This question deserves a careful examination from the Scriptures.

WMSCOG “Heavenly Mother” Theology in Galatians 4:26

The Bride, Jerusalem and Mother. WMSCOG would argue that Heavenly Mother “is not something new…it is just that we did not know.”[2] God the Mother is believed to be the “Heavenly Jerusalem” and the “Bride of Christ.” They claim that the belief in her is necessary for salvation, stating “God grants us the promised eternal life only after we know and believe in God the mother.”[3]

To know the mother—one must see Jerusalem—to identify Jerusalem—one must be acquainted with the bride—to be familiar with the bride—one must recognize that she is God. Thus, the WMSCOG logic goes this way:

  • The Bride is God (cf. Rev. 22:17).
  • The Bride, which is God, is no other than Jerusalem (cf. Rev. 21:9-10, see also: vv. 1-2).
  • Therefore, Jerusalem is God.
  • If Jerusalem is our Mother, the Mother is God.
  • Jerusalem “is our Mother” (cf. Gal. 4:26).
  • Therefore, the Mother is God or God the Mother undeniably exists!

The conclusions (3 and 6) are indeed undeniably valid if the premises are proven to be true (1, 2, 4, and 5). So, it is a must for us to discuss the truthfulness of the following premises before one can deny the conclusions.

 

A Brief Reply to the Arguments of WMSCOG in Galatians 4:26 and Some Related Arguments to it

 

Bride and God. There is no need to examine the divinity of the bride again here (premise 1) for this has been discussed elsewhere.[4] But for the sake of brevity: The bride is not God. The bride refers to the church (cf. Eph. 5:22-24 and 2 Corinthians 11:2). And if this is the case, the major premise (1) of the syllogism presented above crumbles and consequentially the minor premises associated with it shares the same fate.

Bride and Jerusalem. Looking at Revelation 21:1-2, the angel told the Apostle John that he was going to show him the bride of the Lamb, and he showed the Holy City Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. Now does this mean that an actual city is the bride? If this is so, how can the bride be the church if John construes the bride as New Jerusalem as well?

The dilemma can be solved by recognizing that the text has dual applications. The bride both refers to the church and to the Holy City Jerusalem.

In Revelation 19:7 we are admonished by Apostle John to be glad for “the wedding banquet of the Lamb and bride” has come. In verse 8, the bride is clearly identified with the “people of God”. The wedding banquet here refers to the Second Coming of Christ.[5] At the second advent of Christ, the people of God or the church will be united with the Lamb or the Bridegroom and the “wedding banquet” will take place. Thus, the everlasting union of Christ and the Church will be finally realized (cf. Rev. 19:7-9; 21:1-2).

On the other hand, the bride is also represented with Holy City Jerusalem because it incorporates all who are the bride, just as all the students of a school are sometimes called “the school.” Moreover, the actuality of the city is corroborated with the hope of Old Testament (Isa. 65:17-1; 21:10; 52:1; Dan. 9:24) and the hope of New Testament as well (John 14:1-3; Heb. 11:10; 12:22; 2 Pet. 3:13). The detailed description of John (Rev. 21) to the New Jerusalem suggests that it is literally in heaven coming down on earth (v. 2).

Thus the “the saints and the city together are the bride of Christ. Both are arrayed as the bride beautifully dressed. The church is dressed in fine linen (Rev. 19:8), and the New Jerusalem is said to be adorned with the glory radiating as gold, pearls, and precious stones (Rev. 21:18-21).”[6]

Jerusalem and Mother. The larger context of Galatians is teaching about salvation by faith. In Galatians 4, Paul uses an allegory (verse 22) to make a comparison between two Old Testament characters Hagar and Sarah. Hagar represents the covenant of works.[7] While Sarah represents the covenant of faith.[8]

Those who seek to be justified by the law who are called children of the slave woman (Hagar in 4:24-26) and those who seek to be justified by faith who are children of the free woman (4:22 and 30) or children of promise, (Sarah in 4:28).

Examining the larger and immediate context of Galatians 4:26, one can see that a text taken out of context can lead to plethora of interpretations and here are the several reasons to re-consider the interpretation suggested by WMSCOG:

Firstly, the comparison of Jerusalem being our mother is not to be taken in a literal sense. Paul emphatically said in the immediate context that “these things are being taken figuratively” (v. 24). Unfortunately, the interpretation of WMSCOG is guilty of taking this in a literal sense by inferring that the woman is literally no other than God the Mother.

Second, even if the text is taken literally, the passage would say that the mother would be both Jerusalem and Sarah (v. 22), not God the Mother nor Zhang Gil Jah. Interestingly, we cannot find a single passage that supports Sarah and Jerusalem as God nor does Scripture calls the mother as God.

Thirdly, the phrase “Jerusalem which is above” (v. 26) can only be understood in relation to “Jerusalem which now is” (v. 25).[9] The “Jerusalem which now is” (v. 25) refers to the literal Israel as a nation. But the “Jerusalem which is above” (v. 26) refers to the Christians as a church. For this is the central point of this whole figurative illustration: “that Judaism is slavery and the Christian state [is] liberty.”[10]

Lastly, Paul consistently believes that there was only one God.[11] He even explicitly made this clear by declaring in Galatians 3:20 that “God is one.” The concept of having two gods, a God the Father and God the Mother, is absolutely foreign in the book of Galatians.

Conclusion

Here are several conclusions we have reached in this study: (1) The bride is not God; (2) The bride both refers to the church and actual heavenly city of Jerusalem; (3) Jerusalem is our mother, but she is not God.

In conclusion, although WMSCOG’s gospel is quite contrary to the gospel preached by Paul (cf. Galatians 1:7-9), love for them should come first as we try to present to them the eternal gospel of God (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3).

______________________

[1] Jaymark Molo, “A Brief Evaluation of ‘the Bride’ of World Mission Society Church of God in Revelation 22:17”, posted on August 10, 2016 (http://www.backtothescriptures.org/#!A-Brief-Evaluation-of-%E2%80%9Cthe-Bride%E2%80%9D-of-World-Mission-Society-Church-of-God-in-Revelation-2217/capg7/57aaa2560cf25744c580817d). Accessed on August 16, 2016.

[2] “God the Mother…Is It Really in the Bible?” (https://www.thetruewmscog.com/god-the-mother-is-it-really-in-the-bible/). Accessed on August 16, 2016.

[3] https://www.wmschurchofgod.org/heavenly-mother/god-the-mother/.  Accessed on August 10, 2016.

[4] See, Jaymark Molo, “A Brief Evaluation of ‘the Bride’ of World Mission Society Church of God in Revelation 22:17”, Ibid.

[5] WMSCOG believes in similar vein: “The book of Revelation was written after Jesus had ascended, and it prophesied about the things that were to happen in the last days. Thus, ‘the Lamb’ mentioned in the above verse indicates the Second Coming Jesus,” unfortunately, they believe that the Lamb is “Ahnsahnghong”. Heavenly Mother (http://english.watv.org/truth/truth_life/content_mother.asp). Accessed on August 22, 2016.

[6] Ranko Stefanovic, Revelation of Jesus Christ: Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Berrien SpringsMI: Andrews University Press, 2009), 588, 589.

[7] Francis D. Nichol, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978), 971.

[8] H.L. Willmington further explains: “Paul presented Hagar and Sarah, with their sons Ishmael and Isaac, as types of the contrast between the bondage of legalism and the liberty of grace. Hagar, like those who depend on the law, was a slave; and her son, who was naturally born, was also a slave. Sarah, like those who depend on grace, was free; and her son, whose birth was miraculous, was Abraham’s heir (4:21–27; see Gen. 16:1–18:15; 21:1–21).” Willmington’s Bible Handbook (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1997), 701.

[9] Others believe that this phrase is a “reference to God’s abode in the heavenly city that will one day appear on earth (Rev. 21:2).” Robert B. Hughes and Carl J. Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 584.

[10] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, The Pulpit Commentary: Galatians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004), 203.

[11] 1 Cor. 8:4-6, Rom. 3:29-30, etc.

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