United Church of God (Armstrongism Organization)

A Christian denomination emphasizing the restoration of original Christian teachings and the observance of Old Testament laws.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Armstrongism
Founded: 1995
Location: United States
Other Names: UCG, United Church of God

The United Church of God (UCG), an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), was founded in 1995 in the wake of doctrinal disagreements following the death of WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong. Armstrong’s teachings, known collectively as Armstrongism, emphasize a unique interpretation of Christian doctrine and prophecy, which he claimed were divinely revealed to him. This interpretation includes the belief that God’s law, as outlined in the Old Testament, is eternal and binding, and that humanity is destined for salvation through a series of resurrections​​​​​​. After Armstrong’s death in 1986 and subsequent doctrinal changes within the WCG, several splinter groups formed, including the United Church of God in 1995.

The UCG holds to many of Herbert W. Armstrong’s original teachings, including the belief in the authority of the entire Bible, the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), the celebration of biblical festivals instead of traditional Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, and the expectation of a coming Kingdom of God on Earth. The UCG, like other Armstrongite groups, does not believe in the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Armstrongism holds that upon death, individuals enter a sleep-like state until Christ’s return, at which point there will be multiple resurrections. The first resurrection is for the faithful followers who will reign with Christ. A second resurrection offers a chance for the majority of humanity to learn God’s laws and choose salvation. Those who ultimately reject God’s ways after these periods will face a third resurrection and annihilation rather than eternal torment​​​​​​.

One of the distinctive features of the UCG’s belief system is its emphasis on understanding the Bible through what they consider to be a first-century Christian perspective. This includes adherence to some Old Testament laws and customs, which they believe were upheld by the early Christian church.

The UCG continues to promote many of Armstrong’s core teachings, including the observance of the Sabbath on Saturday, the biblical festivals, and dietary laws regarding unclean meats. They also maintain a structured tithing system, which includes multiple types of tithes and offerings to support church activities and charity​​​​.

Additionally, UCG holds a critical view of mainstream Christianity, which they believe has incorporated pagan practices and strayed from the teachings of the Bible. They teach that true Christians should avoid holidays like Christmas and Easter, which they argue have pagan origins. The church uses various media, including magazines and television programs, to spread its message about the coming Kingdom of God and the need for adherence to God’s laws as a preparation for this future kingdom​​​​.

The UCG is active in media and public outreach. It publishes literature, including a free magazine titled “The Good News,” which covers biblical topics, Christian living, and prophecy. The church also produces television and radio programs, and it maintains an extensive online presence, offering resources for Bible study and spiritual growth.

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