by Luke Wayne
Unlike most cultic offshoots of Christianity which overtly deny the Trinity, the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) claims to believe in the Trinity. Whether by ignorance or intentional deception, however, they use the word “Trinity” while actually teaching a doctrine of God that is completely contrary to that term. Because of this, one can produce quotes from the WMSCOG which sound quite orthodox, such as:
“The Bible explains that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all one and the same Almighty God. This is called the Holy Trinity”1
Historic Christians would agree with such a statement, as far as it goes. But when one continues to read what the WMSCOG has to say about this, it becomes clear that they mean something quite different than biblical Christians do. To understand their error, we first have to be clear what the true Christian teaching actually is.
What is the Trinity?
(For a more detailed description, see the article “What is the Trinity?”)
The historic, biblical doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is one and only one God, and that this one God exists in three distinct and interactive yet coequal and co-eternal persons. God has always been Father, Son, and Spirit. All three are eternal and uncreated. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father; they are distinct persons. Yet they are not three Gods, but one God. This is marvelous to us because we do not exist this way and cannot fathom doing so, but this is how the one true and living God has revealed Himself to us, and so we accept it as true. The Father is the one true God, the Son is also the one true God, and the Spirit is the one true God, but they are distinct persons. When the Father sent the Son, He was not sending Himself. When the Son prayed to the Father, He was not talking to Himself. When the Spirit reveals the Son or intercedes to the Father on our behalf, He is not revealing Himself or interceding to Himself. They are distinct and interactive persons, through they are one living Being. One and only one God, three equal and eternal persons. This is the grand biblical claim of the Trinity. This is not, however, the claim of the WMSCOG.
What does the WMSCOG teach?
The WMSCOG makes the far more simplistic claim that the Father, Son, and Spirit are three roles played by the same singular person. They agree that there is one God but claim that God is sometimes acting as the Father, sometimes as the Son, and sometimes as the Spirit, but not all at once. To the WMCGOG, the Father actually is the Son, and the Son actually is the Spirit. Though they call this “the Trinity,” that is not actually what the word “Trinity” means. The WMSCOG position is actually a form of a common heresy known as modalism, which teaches that God is simply one person who plays different roles or appears in different “modes.” For example, the WMSCOG teaches:
“Through the concept of the Trinity, we understand God plays three different roles with three different names. In the age of the Father, God plays the role of the Father. In the age of the Son, God plays the role of the Son. In the age of the Holy Spirit, God plays the role of the Holy Spirit.”2
They further explain:
“As soon as God was born in the human form, He stopped playing the role of the Father and began to play the role of the Son. At that moment, the age of the Father ended and the age of the Son began. With the change in age also came a change in the Savior’s name. The Savior was no longer named Jehovah but Jesus.”3
Of course, if God ceased to be the Father at the moment Jesus was born and was from that point forward only the Son and no longer the Father, much in the gospel narrative makes no sense. Who was speaking from the cloud on the mount of transfiguration calling Jesus His beloved Son (Luke 9:35)? Who is Jesus praying to that He Himself calls on as Father (John 11:41)? How, at Jesus Baptism, do we simultaneously have the voice of the Father from heaven, the Spirit visible and descending as a dove over the Son who is standing in the water (Matthew 3:16-17)? All three persons are present and interacting in the same place at the same time. This could not be the case if God was no longer the Father and was not yet the Spirit, but was at that moment only the Son.
John 1:1 says that in the beginning the Word (Jesus) was both with God and was God. In John 17:5, Jesus prays to the Father to “glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world began.” The Father and the Son were together as distinct persons in the Godhead before there was even a creation. God did not start out the Father and later turn into the Son, rather He was eternally both the Father and the Son. The Father did not become the Son; He sent the Son. The WMSCOG misses this, claiming:
“By saying, ‘I and the Father are one,’ Jesus was letting the Pharisees know that He Himself was God the Father.”4
“Apostle Paul, the writer of Philippians and Romans, testified that God the Son Jesus is in very nature God, indicating that He is God the Father Jehovah, who was born in the flesh.”5
While Paul certainly taught the Jesus is in very nature God (Philippians 2:6), this very passage, and all of Paul’s other writings, also clearly distinguish between Jesus and the Father. The true biblical doctrine of the Trinity makes perfect sense of all of this, but the simplistic modalism of the WMSCOG renders the New Testament utterly incoherent! The WMSCOG does not understand God and does not understand the scriptures. While they profess to believe in the Trinity, the doctrine they teach is far from it and is biblically indefensible.
1. https://www.wmschurchofgod.org/holy-trinity/ (Accessed 9/20/16)
3. ibid, (Accessed 9/20/16)
4. https://www.wmschurchofgod.org/holy-trinity/ (Accessed 9/20/16)
5. ibid (Accessed 9/20/16)