This web page is intended to give a quick orientation of the theology of the Church of God – PKG, or Weinlandism. It’s divided into two parts. Since Weinlandism has its roots in the teachings of Herbert W Armstrong (Armstrongism) that will be summarized first. After that, the Weinland add-ons and modifications to Armstrongism will be summarized.
Herbert Armstrong started out in the Church of God – Seventh Day (CG7), being ordained by them in the 1930’s. But later on he split and invented his own religion, borrowing doctrines from various others and in some cases plagiarizing the works of others. The following are doctrines of Armstrongism which have many differences from traditional Christianity:
- A belief in God as the father and Jesus Christ as the son. Armstrongism is binitarian, that is a disbelief in the Trinity.
- A belief that Jesus died for our sins, but at the same time a belief in a selected subset of the Old Testament laws. This does not include animal sacrifices but does include certain critical aspects such as tithing.
- Instead of Sunday, the weekly sabbath is on Saturday beginning at sunset on Friday, just as the Jews.
- Baptism is by total immersion in water, no “sprinkling”.
- A belief that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, as told in various books of the Bible such as Revelation and Daniel.
- When a person dies, his spirit/soul does not go immediately to heaven or hell. Instead a person is in soul sleep, until being resurrected later. There are three resurrections: The first is of the 144,000 when Christ returns. The second is at the end of the Millenium following Christ’s return, when most others are resurrected to live for 100 years. At the end of the hundred years, Satan is released for a short time and then the third and final resurrection takes place of those who have committed unpardonable sins who are immediately cast into the lake of fire.
- Christmas and Easter are not observed, believed to have pagan roots brought in when Constantine hijacked Christianity. Instead, the holy days of the Old Testament: Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles are observed. The days are set according to the Jewish calendar, though not all days are observed on the same days as do the Jews.
- Tithing is mandatory. A tithe is a tenth of one’s income. The first tithe is to be paid to God’s church. The second tithe is to be used to attend the various holy days (or festivals), and this tithe is kept by the member except that a tithe of the second tithe is to be sent to “headquarters” to be used to pay for festival locations. A third tithe was to be set aside every third year for widows and orphans (although Armstrong put that money into his church’s general fund and used it to buy gas for his Gulfstream jet).
- A belief in British Israelism, which is that the lost 10 tribes of Israel are manifested today in modern nations mostly in western Europe. The USA is thought to be the tribe of Manasseh, and the British Commonwealth the tribe of Ephraim.
- The local church areas of first century Christianity mentioned in the first 3 books of Revelation are analogous to church eras. Armstrong taught that his church was “Philadelphia” and the one he split from was “Sardis”. One more church era was to follow, the Laodicean era.
After splitting from CG7, Armstrong founded the Radio Church of God. In 1968 he changed its name to the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). It should be noted that Armstrong’s successors reversed all of these doctrinal differences with traditional Christianity and the denomination is now called Grace Communion International. However Armstrongism continues in different variations among hundreds of splinters that broke away from the WCG after Armstrong’s death.
Armstrong had a history of False Prophecies. He prophesied that Hitler was the “beast” and would win World War II. Through his surrogates backed up by other statements from him, he prophesied that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972 and that Christ would return on the Feast of Trumpets in 1975. After that failure he learned to be less specific, but still put out the idea that the Great Tribulation was imminent with German soldiers treading the streets of the US.
WCG Member Lifestyle During Armstrong’s Era
WCG members generally live in their community and dress average to conservatively generally according to the current style with limits. While Amish-style dress and unusual head gear is not used, there are limits as miniskirts were not allowed. And otherwise fashion trends are not followed until adopted by the majority of the population. Long hair on men and short hair on women is frowned on. Smoking is heavily frowned upon, practically a biblical sin. Drinking alcohol in moderation is OK. Participation in civil government was frowned upon, no voting or serving or juries. The members’ diet was similar to the community, except that certain meats such as pork or shellfish are considered to be “unclean”. Some extended this to avoiding products with ingredients that are byproducts, such as vitamins in gel-cap form (gelatin being a byproduct of pigs).
Besides not participating in Christmas or Easter, birthdays were also generally not observed. Instead Jewish-like holy days were observed, with the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall being the main event. Members would travel great distances to different locations to assemble for 8 days. Initially during the feast, there would be two sermons everyday with the schedule rearranged so that there would be 3 sermons on the higher days within the feast. Later on this schedule was relaxed to one sermon per day and two sermons on the high days. For kids, the feast was the closest thing to Christmas. That is except for children like me whose father wanted to economize so that he could turn over excess second tithe to “The Work”.
Initially, divorce was a big no-no. In some cases marriages were broken up by the church when it was discovered that one of the partners had previously been married. This doctrine was relaxed later on, conveniently prior to Armstrong’s marriage to a divorcee. Members were taught to avoid using the medical profession and some died following this belief including Armstrong’s first wife Loma. Instead, members were to seek anointing by a minister. Armstrong himself used medical services. There were teachings against the use of makeup, which was relaxed before Armstrong married his second wife and then reinstated during Armstrong’s divorce from wife #2.
Church services were low key, no snake handling or speaking in tongues or other such exotic practices. The format was generally a sermonette of perhaps 15 minutes and a longer sermon. There was singing before after and in between sermons. A lay member generally gave an opening prayer and another a closing prayer. (Weinland has changed the format, eliminating the sermonette and the singing.) Women were not allowed to speak during services, and could only be ordained to the lowest rank of Deaconess. There was no weekly communion, the closest equivalent happens once a year during the Passover season, and includes a foot-washing ceremony restricted to baptized members only.
Ronald Weinland summarizes Armstrongism as the core 18 of his “Fifty Truths” plus 3 “truths” remaining intact at the end of the “Sardis” era. He interprets the prophecies of the Bible into modern events some of which have already happened.
He emphasizes two main doctrines in order to join his church: (1) the seventh day sabbath and (2) paying tithes to his church. The most important doctrine though not stated as such is that Ronald Weinland speaks for God and is the only person eligible to interpret the Bible, particularly the book of Revelation.
In a major departure from Armstrongism, Weinland teaches that Jesus Christ did not exist prior to being born to Mary. This doctrinal change was imposed on his church during the 2005 Feast of Tabernacles a few weeks before he proclaimed himself to be one of the two witnesses.
Some of the liberalized version of Amstrongism has been retained. Instead of tithing on the gross (before tax) income, one may tithe on the net after taxes. The third tithe is not required any longer since governments have already covered this via Social Security taxes and similar programs. Divorce and remarriage requirements have been softened, and even some of his elders are in marriages in which one of the partners was divorced.
Some other prophetic doctrine:
- Originally he taught that Herbert Armstrong was the End-Time Elijah, but now claims the title for himself.
- The Worldwide Church of God was the temple prophesied to be rebuilt and destroyed before the end time.
- Joseph Tkach Sr., HWA’s successor who changed the church doctrine during his sermon in Atlanta on Dec 17, 1994 (the “abomination of desolation”) is the “Man of Sin” and the “son of perdition” of 2 Thes 2.
- The Philadelphian church era has ended and we are now in the Laodicean era. The Church of God – PKG is the only one of the splinters of Armstrongism which is God’s true church.
- In a departure from Armstrongism, Weinland is unitarian in teaching that God is the only being to have eternally existed and Jesus did not exist before being born to Mary.
- “The 144,000” are those currently living and those who lived through the last 6000 years who are to be resurrected and/or converted to spirit being at Christ’s return. To be part of the 144,000 you have to be “sealed” 1335 days before Christ’s return. The only people eligible to be “sealed” were those who were members of WCG on Dec 17, 1994 and were also members of COG-PKG on Sep 30, 2008.
- Eventually a tithe of a third (or about 3000) people who were in WCG in 1994 will join his church.
- There is no reward in heaven. When resurrected, you become a full member of God’s family (Elohim) with God as the Father and Jesus as elder brother. You remain on the earth, playing a role in God’s government and occasionally fighting Satan, whenever God decides to release him for a bit of exercise.
- The Seven Thunders mentioned in Revelation 10 but not revealed by John have been defined by Weinland. These thunders were to occur leading up to and intensifying at the Sealing of the 144,000 which precedes Christ’s return. (The sealing allegedly took place Feb 2, 2008 but was rescheduled for Sept 30, 2008.)
- The End-Time Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 have been revealed: Ron & Laura Weinland. And it doesn’t matter that Laura is a woman despite a general prohibition against women speaking in church.
- The “Fiftieth Truth” announced in June 2008 was that the 144,000 are to be sealed on the Feast of Trumpets, Sept. 30, 2008 and that Christ returns on Pentecost, May 27 2012.
- In December of 2009 he announced the ordination of women to the rank of elder. Women will not be able to deliver sermons but will be able to baptize.
The “Fiftieth Truth” is a revision of Weinland’s first prophesied timeline which had the 144,000 sealed on Feb 2, 2008 and the return of Christ to occur in September of 2011. This change came about after the failure of other prophesies of the first timeline which included that there was to be clear evidence by June 8, 2008 (the date CoG-PKG had set for Pentecost), that 1/3 of all plant life in the US would die, and that there would be the deaths of tens of thousands of animals and humans as well.
The “truths” are given on the church website, http://www.cog-pkg.org, then click the Publication tab and then find the link for the 50 “truths”.
The most important doctrine, not stated as such, is that Ronald Weinland receives revelations from God. This is accomplished, not via a burning bush or similar mechanism, but rather directly into Ron’s mind. Ron often brags how he was converted to Armstrongism by his father explaining what they were, no proof biblical or otherwise was needed.
During November of 2009 Weinland claimed that in addition to being a prophet that he is also an apostle, and in December pushing Herbert Armstrong to the side claimed to be the final Elijah-to-come. He also began ordaining women as elders in his church, however they are still not allowed to speak during church services.
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