The World Mission Society Church of God (or simply, the Church of God) believes “Mother God” not only exists in the Bible, but exists in the flesh today in South Korea.
This continues my analysis of the Church of God’s use of the Bible to justify their belief in Mother God. (See list of earlier articles below.)
(God From the Machine has published a book titled Searching the Bible for Mother God: Examining the Teachings of the World Mission Society Church of God, available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon. Click here to learn more.)
Revelation is a favorite book of the Bible for unorthodox sects, full-blown cults, and a general assortment of nuts because it’s highly symbolic and notoriously difficult to understand. Because of this, people can read all sorts of crazy things into the text that simply aren’t there.
The Church of God (COG) uses primarily two passages from Revelation, in chapters 19 and 21, to “prove” Mother God is in the Bible. As always, before looking at these passages, we must first understand the context in which they appear. Understanding cannot come without context, yet often verses are quoted alone by the COG and other groups that misuse and/or misinterpret the Bible.
CONTEXT: THE GRAND CLIMAX
The book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible, and Chapters 19 through 22 of Revelation are the last chapters of the Bible. Thus, Chapters 19-22 are the grand climax of the story of salvation told in the Bible and the culmination of all history. (For a quick overview of the story of the Bible, read my article “2-Minute Lesson on Biblical Theology – the Progressive Revelation of God in Human History” here.)
Chapters 19-22 foretell the final, ultimate victory of Jesus Christ, God the Son. The “multitude” in heaven rejoice as Christ returns to live in peace with his creation, but first he must carry out the Final Judgment and the defeat of his enemies — evil, sin, Satan, and death — in easily the most gory, violent imagery of the whole Bible. Afterwards, the old creation, which was corrupted by sin, passes away, and the New Heaven and New Earth come, where God the Son will live with his people eternally in peace.
Here’s the first verse the COG uses from Revelation:
“Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;”
Based on symbolic language used throughout the New Testament, including Revelation, the Lamb is clearly Jesus Christ. Since the COG appears to agree here with orthodox Christianity and this interpretation is uncontroversial, there’s no need to discuss the Lamb imagery here. But “his Bride” is not Mother God, as the COG believes, but the church.
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is often referred to as a bridegroom (or “groom,” in modern terms) and the church – the united community of Jesus’ followers – is often referred to as his “bride.” Though Revelation contains a lot of baffling symbolism, this symbolism is extremely clear due to its wide use.
For example, in Mark 2:19, Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom:
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.’”
In John 3:29, John the Baptist also describes Jesus as the bridegroom:
“The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.”
In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul uses marriage imagery. The Corinthian church is being led astray from the truth of Christ, but Paul says he has married them to Christ, the church’s “husband,” as if they were pure virgins.
“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”
Further, in Ephesians 5:22-33, the love of a husband and wife is compared to the love of Christ for his church. Just as a husband and wife join lives and become “one flesh,” Christ and the church become one flesh. In fact, God created marriage to symbolize Christ’s relationship to the church.
For instance, Ephesians 5:25-27 reads:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
And if that evidence doesn’t convince you, in Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus tells parables about a wedding feast to describe his coming kingdom. Appropriately, when Revelation 19-21 tells us of the ultimate culmination of God’s kingdom, what sort of imagery does the writer use? Wedding imagery!
Further, this imagery is not unique to the New Testament. Like much of the imagery used in the New Testament — and especially Revelation — it goes back to the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah 25:6-8 uses imagery of a celebration feast to describe the age-to-come under God’s victory and complete, perfect rule:
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”
In fact, notice the similar language in Isaiah 25:8 and Revelation 21:4, proving a further connection between these passages…
“He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces…” (Isaiah 25:8)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
(*Since it is so common for groups like the COG to take verses out of context to “prove” their misguided interpretations, I recommend reading all of the above passages in context so you can see clearly that I am representing the Bible accurately.)
In fact, marriage language is used throughout the Old Testament to describe God’s relationship to Israel, his chosen people. Israel is often portrayed as the bride of God, and likewise, often accused of adultery for being unfaithful to God.
All of these marriage images are important to what’s going on in Chapters 19-22 of Revelation, which describes Jesus’ Second Coming — bringing with him the New Heaven and New Earth, which is the culmination of God’s kingdom and the final, perfect union of Christ and his people, the church.
Earlier in Revelation, we already see this imagery in Revelation 14:4, where the church (Christ’s people) are depicted as pure virgins, who have remained faithful to Christ, and are, thus, ready to be wed:
“It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb”
Thus, when Jesus returns, it’s announced in Revelation 19:7 that the church, the Bride, is ready for her “marriage” to the Lamb of God, Jesus:
“for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;”
Therefore, it’s quite obvious, the Bride is not any sort of divine goddess, but the church. Revelation tells of the final climatic union of Christ with his church, and the writers of God’s Word chose to use the earthly language of marriage to illustrate this joyous day.
NEW JERUSALEM: CITY or WOMAN?
The other passage from Revelation used by the COG is found after Christ’s victory over evil and death at the coming of the New Heaven and New Earth, where Christ comes to live in eternal peace with his people and his renewed creation…
“Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,”
The COG calls Mother God, “Jerusalem Mother,” because in order for what’s written in Revelation to work in favor of the COG’s mistaken theology, Jerusalem must be understood to be not a city, but a divine woman, Mother God.
The COG uses similar thinking in interpreting Galatians 4:26 (“But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother”), but we refuted this in our last article about Mother God.
This is an odd interpretation to say the least. As with the other verses we analyzed in earlier articles, there’s nothing in Revelation that leads us to conclude that Mother God is a biblical figure or that Jerusalem symbolizes a divine goddess. The only way these interpretations work is if we start with an assumption — an already established idea — of Mother God and insert her into the text.
The “Bride” of Revelation 21:9-10 is not a divine female person to be literally wed to God. The “Bride” is the New Jerusalem, the holy city of the New Earth, where Jesus will spend eternity with his church, his people.
Just before 21:9-10, in Revelation 21:3-4, we are given a description of the culmination of God’s redemption of creation — the climax of all of salvation-history and the climax of the whole Bible: the coming of the New Heaven and New Earth. All of creation is made new; sin, evil, and death have been destroyed; and God can finally live in perfect shalom with his people. It reads:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
Revelation is highly symbolic, so how literally we should take the description of the New Jerusalem that follows is debatable, but it’s clear we are dealing with a place here — not a person — a place where God will dwell with humankind. New Jerusalem is certainly not a female deity marrying Jesus. In fact, just before 21:9-10, John, the author of Revelation, writes:
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (21:2)
Here, New Jerusalem is plainly explained to be a “holy city.” Further, it’s described as being “prepared as a bride.” The city is not called a literal bride. The use of “like” or “as” in a comparison shows it’s a simile – figurative language, not literal language. New Jerusalem is to be the dwelling place of God with his people. Were it to be the other way around, where the bride was to be understood literally and the city was figurative, would it not read…
“And I saw the bride, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a holy city adorned for her husband”… ?
But that doesn’t quite work, does it? In fact, why confuse everyone by naming the bride after a city in the first place? Why not just call her Mother God if that is who the bride is?
As Craig Blomberg in From Pentecost to Patmos writes, “…a holy city will descend from the new heaven to adorn the new earth. Whereas we began in a garden, we will end in a city — God’s people in perfect community. That the city is called the new Jerusalem suggests the fulfillment of all the promises to Israel as well as to humanity in this revelation. But the city is also a bride (just as Yahwah [God] and Christ are portrayed as bridegrooms to their followers throughout the Old and New Testaments, respectively.)”
When we come to Revelation 21:9-10, the verses the COG uses, the “Bride, the wife of the Lamb” is still referring to the city:
“‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,”
We are told right in the text that he is shown a city as “the Bride,” and what follows after 21:10 is a long description of that city. If Jerusalem is, in fact, Mother God, aka “Jerusalem Mother,” then she’s a divine woman with a high wall, twelve gates, and the length, width, and height of 1,380 miles; in fact, she is a perfect (and quite humongous) cube!
Now, someone may challenge me and say I admitted above that Revelation is highly symbolic so it’s difficult to know what should be taken literally and what should be taken figuratively. Could the description of the New Jerusalem be poetically describing the splendor of Mother God?
As I showed above, from the context we can be confident that we’re dealing with a place here, not a person. Further, as I’ve stated many times before, nothing in the Bible gives any indication of a divine mate for God, whether it’s referring to Jerusalem or anything else. There simply isn’t any evidence. If we accept that the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation is Mother God, then what prevents us from also concluding – despite the obvious lack of evidence – that New Jerusalem symbolizes Darth Vader, George W. Bush, or the NY Jets?
“QUEEN OF HEAVEN”
Though I didn’t encounter this on the COG’s website, a friend of mine who had an interaction with a young woman involved in the COG said to him that the Bible speaks about the “Queen of Heaven.” I’m familiar with the verses she referred to, and they’re about a pagan goddess named Astarte (or Ishtar).
As one video on the Church of God’s website proclaims, the “mystery of the Bible hidden for 6,000 years” has been revealed at last!
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If anyone claims to have a new understanding of the Bible that has never appeared before in the over 2,000 years of history since Jesus walked the earth, be suspicious – be very suspicious.
If any church hopes to convince us of another way of understanding the Bible, there better be a dump-truck load of evidence from the Scripture. Thing is, if there was that much evidence in the Scripture, someone would’ve seen it a long time ago.
The biblical verses the COG quotes to support their beliefs are scant and inadequate, and they crumble when looked at in context. If the COG is going to accept these verses as evidence of Mother God, then they also have to accept Hosea 4:5, which reads:
“I [God] will destroy your mother.”
Was God a domestic abuser?
Of course, the COG would not accept Hosea 4:5 to be anything about Mother God. Most likely, they’d say I took the verse out of context.
A STATEMENT OF CONCERN
If I come across blunt or even a bit harsh, it’s because I believe the Bible is the Word of God so I take it seriously when someone distorts it. That being said, I have the utmost concern for the members of the Church of God. I believe the members of the COG are hungry to know the true God, but false prophets and teachers have led them astray and their eternal souls are at risk. I pray these blog articles will lead them to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
***God From the Machine has published a book for evangelizing, educating, and refuting the World Mission Society Church of God titled Searching the Bible for Mother God: Examining the Teachings of the World Mission Society Church of God, available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon. Click here to learn more.***
My earlier articles on the Church of God & Mother God:
Also, I do not intend to debate here whether the World Mission Society Church of God is a “cult” or not, and I prefer my readers to decide. (Please feel free to comment, discuss, & debate below!) Earlier articles I wrote will hopefully be helpful: