UCG on Prophecy

European Union Tower of Babel Poster
There is a Lot of Prophetic Confusion Today


In the March-April 2008 edition of the United Church of God’s (UCG) World News & Prophecy magazine, its managing editor, Darris McNeely wrote:

God alone knows when events like Christ’s return will occur. Even Jesus said He did not know the day and hour (Mark 13:32). So who are we to try and surpass that knowledge?

With God in charge of the timing of the big events, our goal should be vigilance and understanding of the times and events of the world. With faith in God that a day of judgment is coming when God’s Kingdom will be restored, we have other things to do. Prophecy, world events and the signs of the end of the age will be a motivation to endure to the end…

A key to understanding Bible prophecy is to let the Bible interpret itself. Don’t try to read into passages meaning that is not there. Prophecy is not to be approached like a riddle that needs great mental gymnastics to solve. God’s Spirit moved men to speak certain prophetic words and God alone can interpret their meaning for us.

Vanity and self-importance can lead us to assign meanings to passages before God is ready to reveal to His servants the true understanding. “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7)…

Here is the ultimate reason we study Bible prophecy—so that it might shape our thinking and eventually our character to become like God. Because we know this world is passing away and a new one is coming, we prepare today for a role in that coming Kingdom. It is real to us and drives each day of our lives with passion and zeal. It is the only goal worth sacrificing for. For those who grasp that vision today and who pursue it diligently, there awaits a crown of righteousness that will not fade away.

Ever since its beginnings with David Hulme as it first president, UCG has been a bit soft on prophecy (please see the article In Their Own Words: Doctrinal Differences Between the old United Church of God and the old Global Church of God). [After losing its presidency, David Hulme left UCG and formed, Church of God, an International Community (COGaIC).] 

For one example, neither UCG nor David Hulme’s COGaIC teach the idea of “Church Eras” as the old WCG did and the current Living Church of God (LCG) does.

And both UCG and COGaIC essentially act like understanding many prophetic events is beyond comprehension (for COGaIC, please see my recent post COGaIC’s David Hulme and the Apocalypse, for just one example).

It is NOT that UCG and COGaIC do not believe in Bible prophecy.  They do believe that a European empire will form, that Bible prophecy involves the Middle East as well as the British descended peoples, and they do believe that Jesus will return.

It’s just that I do not believe that they feel that :
1) They can know much more about prophecy than they think they already know and
2) They do not want their followers to consider prophecy to be so possibly imminent that they should think that it is important.

And because of this, I do not believe that many in UCG or COGaIC will understand the fulfillment of certain end-time prophecies.

Before going into why some of Darris McNeely’s points were misleading, let us first compare one statement that he wrote with the statement on the webpage for UCG‘s World News & Prophecy magazine for its purpose.  Notice the stated purpose of World News & Prophecy:

The purpose of World News & Prophecy is to help readers discern the times and increase their awareness and understanding of current events in the light of Bible prophecy.  

Yet its editor, in its current issue, wrote:

Do we know more than Jesus?

Prophecy has always held a fascination for people. We want to understand what lies in the future. Whenever a major world event occurs, people scurry to those who profess knowledge of its prophetic significance to try and understand what it all means. Every time a crisis erupts in the Middle East, we see an increase in traffic to our Web sites. People are reading and downloading our prophecy material.

And that is fine. But to what end? Is it to be wiser and smarter in prophecy than someone else? Is there the hope of saving oneself through access to special “secret knowledge” of these ancient prophecies? Whatever our motivation might be, we should be sure it aligns with the purpose and plan of God.

In other words, he seems to be saying that UCG would prefer that many people who believe the purpose of its World News & Prophecy are perhaps misguided or unbalanced.

Darris McNeely implies that we cannot know more about prophecy, yet seemingly fails to understand what the Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught.

First from Jesus:

34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-37). 

Then from Paul:

2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6).

Thus, both Jesus and the Apostle Paul are telling Christians that we need to watch at the end AND we are NOT the of the darkness, so this means that there certainly are things that we can know.

Furthermore, while Darris McNeely implies that we cannot know things unless God reveals them through a prophet, the truth is that God HAS revealed much through “His servants the prophets”.

Additionally, notice what the prophet Daniel wrote:

9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand (Daniel 12:9-10).

Notice that at “the time of the end”, “the wise shall understand”.  And while God probably will raise up prophets at the end (and for sure the two witnesses), there does not need to be a prophet for the wise to understand many things already recorded in the Bible by God’s prophets.

Furthermore, there is a difference in Jesus not knowing the Date and Hour almost 2,000 years ago and His servants understanding the times, events, and the seasons later (see Luke 21:31).

Lest some feel that I have mischaracterized UCG’s position, let’s look at something that it published last summer:

When you look at the flow of events in the Bible, from creation forward to today, you see a lot of high points such as the time of Abraham, the Exodus, David and Solomon, and Christ and the apostles. But these events are separated by at times hundreds of years when not much seems to be happening.

But something is happening in those in-between years. Everyday life is taking place. People are “marrying and giving in marriage.” Babies are born and families grow. People rejoice and mourn within the normal cycles of life and death. Life goes on, and sometimes it is no more exciting than sitting on a front porch and watching the hours slip by.

But that’s okay. God did not determine that we would always be hyped up in alert mode. Prophecy is not to be used that way. Prophecy is a compass that helps us see our world for what it is, from God’s point of view. We can understand the high points of history and know that God is guiding the world to a point where He will completely take over with the appearance of His Kingdom.

…Enjoy the life you have and make the most of it within the framework of God’s way of life. Understand that at times life is experienced while sitting on a “front porch.” (McNeely D. Restoration: View From the Front Porch. World News & Prophecy. August 2007).

Thus, as far as I can tell, UCG’s World News & Prophecy editor seems to want to keep telling his readers that prophecy is not that important.  Thus, I feel that most UCG followers are likely not to understand certain prophetic events being fulfilled when they do get fulfilled.

I do not feel that the leadership of UCG (or COGaIC for that matter) is studying into biblical prophecy enough to attempt to actually and significantly improve upon what it thinks it already knows.  That is a mistake that I believe will result in it later distancing itself from LCG as it explains prophecy in more and more detail as we get closer to the end.

Of course, the other ditch is Ronald Weinland, a former UCG minister, who claims to know more than he does.  Ronald Weinland teaches that the 1335 days of Daniel 12 began on February 2, 2008, the 1290 days began on March 18, 2008, that the 1260 days begins on April 17, 2008, that a major nuclear attack may occur next month (see news item Ronald Weinland: Nuclear Attack May be Mid-April 2008) and that Jesus will return on September 29, 2011 (for more information, please see the article Concerns About Ronald Weinland’s Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God). 

So we see prophetic confusion in both ditches.  Other COGs have their own prophetic problems (for more information please see articles on the various COGs which are located at the COGwriter Home Page).

And although there is a lot of prophetic confusion in many of the COGs today, based upon many of its published positions, I continue to believe that UCG is soft on prophecy, and thus will distance itself from realizing what is happening while it is happening.

Articles of possibly related interest may include:

The Laodicean Church Era was predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. Non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God?This is an article for those who wish to easily sort out the different COGs. It really should be a MUST READ for current and former WCG members or any interested in supporting the faithful church. It also explains a lot of what the COGs are all about.

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