Question: "What is the United Church of God?"
Answer: The United Church of God (UCG), based in Ohio, United States, holds to doctrines that conflict with biblical Christianity. The United Church of God is faithful to the doctrines of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, the charismatic and controlling leader of the Worldwide Church of God.
Armstrong believed that he was an end times apostle proclaiming the soon-coming “Kingdom of God.” The Worldwide Church of God modified its teaching after Armstrong’s death, prompting members faithful to Armstrongism to split off and form their own organizations. The United Church of God, founded in 1995, is one of those offshoots. The UCG is more moderate than original Armstrongism, having jettisoned some of the more eccentric teachings such as the bans on celebrating birthdays and wearing makeup.
The United Church of God teaches that only groups similar to their own comprise the true church and that all other “churches” are satanic counterfeits. Members of the UCG are seen as a select group specially chosen by God to become “first-fruits”—a future group of “god-beings” and “kings and priests” in the earthly “Kingdom of God.” The sign of being part of God’s chosen people is Sabbath-keeping and obedience to parts of the Mosaic Law. Members must pay tithes and keep the seven annual festivals given to ancient Israel. They also observe Old Testament laws governing “unclean” food and refuse to participate in the military. The United Church of God and other groups with roots in Armstrongism will not celebrate Christmas because they believe the holiday is pagan in origin.
Other United Church of God beliefs that counter the Bible include a rejection of the Trinity (the Holy Spirit is the impersonal expression of God’s power), a false view of Christ (Jesus and God are two different “divine beings”), and a works-based salvation (water baptism and Law-keeping are required to be saved).
The false doctrine of the United Church of God and its ties to the cult of Armstrongism make the UCG—and its splinter group, the Church of God, a Worldwide Association (COGWA)—organizations to be avoided.