Ahn Sahng-hong

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Ahn.
Ahn Sahng-hong
Born Ahn Sahng-hong
(1918-01-13)13 January 1918
Myeongdeok-ri (명덕리), Gyenam-myeon, Jangsu County, North Jeolla Province, Japanese Korea
Died 25 February 1985(1985-02-25) (aged 67)
Maryknoll Hospital, Busan, South Korea
Cause of death
Resting place
Seokgye Cemetery, Oeseok-ri (신전리), Sangbuk-myeon, Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
35°27′26″N 129°2′55″E / 35.45722°N 129.04861°E / 35.45722; 129.04861
Occupation Religious leader, author
Years active 1948/1954–1985
Known for World Mission Society Church of God
Notable work(s) The Mystery of God and The Spring of The Water of Life
Religion Christianity
Denomination Seventh-day Sabbatarianism
Spouse(s) Hwang Won-sun (b. 1923) (1958–1985, his death)
Children Ahn Kwang-sup (b. 1954)
Ahn Myeong-seon (b. 1957)
Ahn Chang-jun (b. 1959)
Parents Ahn Gyujung and Lee Weoljeon
Korean name
Revised Romanization An Sanghong[1]
McCune–Reischauer An Sangong[2]

Ahn Sahng-hong[a] (Hangul: ; hanja: ; RR: An Sanghong; 13 January 1918 – 25 February 1985) was a Korean Christian minister and founder of Witnesses of Jesus Church of God.[b]

Shortly after his death in 1985 a schism took place dividing Witnesses of Jesus Church of God into two sects, New Covenant Passover Church of God[c] and the World Mission Society Church of God.[d] Translation in a more direct word order would be "Church of God World Mission Society". This word order has previously been used by the organization.[3] 복음 can also translate to "gospel",[4] and the full name can e.g. be seen translated to "Church of God World Gospel Association." Both organizations claim him as their founder; New Covenant Passover Church of God regard Ahn as a teacher,[5] World Mission Society Church of God regard Ahn as God.[6]


Early life[edit]

Ahn was born to Buddhist parents[e] on 13 January 1918 in the small, rural village of Myeongdeok-ri in the North Jeolla Province at a time when Korea was under Japanese rule. The family migrated to Busan, where Ahn grew up in the Haeundae District, the city in which he would later found his church.[8]:127[9]:339

Conversion to Christianity[edit]

Sources from the World Mission Society Church of God claim that it is during this time period that Ahn was baptized in 1948.[10] Ahn reported getting revelations in 1953,[11] The argument that Ahn fulfilled prophecy as the second coming of Jesus is mainly taught by the World Mission Society Church of God who claim him as their founder.[12] Published references writes that with restoring the New Covenant and a 1948 baptism the ministry of Ahn was c. 37 years (1948-1985), which has been used in argument for him fulfilling a Davidic prophecy being the Second Coming of Jesus, the use of the honorific Christ Ahnsahnghong, and the assertion that his spirit ascended when his physical body died by the World Mission Society Church of God.[13] On 5 April 1958 he married Hwang Wonsun (1923–2008),[f] with the marriage producing three children.[15][16]

Own church[edit]

Twenty-three people followed Ahn and left the church, and two years later on 28 April 1964, Ahn established his church Witnesses of Jesus Church of God [g] in Busan. The name "Church of God", mentioned several times in e.g. Paul the Apostle's First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians, and in his Epistle to the Galatians,[17] is a name used by numerous, mostly unrelated Christian denominational bodies.[18] Ahn in Doctrine Manual of the Witnesses of Jesus Church of God (1972) cites First Epistle to the Corinthians and First Epistle to Timothy[19] as the source for "Church of God". Witnesses of Jesus Church of God expanded to 13 congregations in South Korea before Ahn's death in 1985.[20][21][22]


Major dogmata are detailed in the more than two dozen books Ahn wrote. His original publications as well as scans of his notes, extant sermons, and other media can be obtained through copyright holder Melchizedek Publishing Co., Ltd.[23] Ahn argued that the practice of the apostolic early church had been distorted and his restorational doctrines and practices included:[24]

  1. Women should wear headcovering while praying.
  2. Baptism is the first step towards salvation.
  3. The Sabbath should be kept on Saturdays, not Sundays.
  4. Christmas should not be celebrated as Jesus' birthday because it is the anniversary of the sun god and it is not Jesus birthday..
  5. The cross is considered a form of idolatry.
  6. The Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread should be kept ...
  7. as should the other feasts in Book of Leviticus chapter 23: First Fruits, Festival of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement; and Feast of Tabernacles.


By 1978 a group of people centered around a female member, one Um Sooin[h] (born 1941), who had read many of Ahn's private and as of then unpublished works. She took the prophecy he wrote concerning the revelation of Heavenly God the Mother and asserted this being was herself.[26] Um and the group around her claiming she was the spiritual mother were expelled from the church, and Ahn dedicated a book entitled Problems with the New Jerusalem, the Bride and Women's Veils] (1980, reprinted 1983) to the controversy, in which he writes:

This booklet was published to prevent troublemakers who misinterpret and behave fanatically, [and] explain the errors in the books that Um Sooin published ... "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

Ahn Sahng-hong, Problems with the New Jerusalem, the Bride and Women's Veils, 1980 & 1983[26][27]

After this, just before the revelation of the actual "Heavenly Mother", this book was recalled by Ahn and is the only one of his works never to be published again as evident since 1984. Zang Gil Jah was then revealed by Ahn and she began to lead service in Ahn's church contrary to his previous writing. She is today still regarded as Heavenly Mother by the World Mission Society Church of God.


Ahn was buried in a public grave located in Seokgye Cemetery[i] 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of Busan. From the time of his burial in 1985, a single tombstone stood beside the grave, the epitaph reading: "The grave of the prophet Elijah Ahn Sahng-hong."[j] After the death of his wife Hwang Won-sun 23 years later on 4 September 2008, she was buried in the plot beside Ahn, and a new tombstone carrying both their names (as well as their children's on the back) replaced the 1985 stone, repeating the epitaph.


The death of Ahn gave rise to a power struggle within Witnesses of Jesus Church of God. Some people in the church wanted to continue following the dogma presented by Ahn prior to the revelation of Zahng Gil-Jah as "Heavenly Mother", believing that this new revelation was heresy and not truth; they became the New Covenant Passover Church of God and remained in South Korea. The other group was given ownership of many of Ahn's possessions, including his handwritten notes, and were chosen to receive propriety of his copyright which was established through the Melchizedek Publishing Co., Ltd. c. (1990) this group was chosen to be trusted by Ahn to continue the church work; they became the World Mission Society Church of God which also began in South Korea but has now grown worldwide. After an extraordinary general meeting in Witnesses of Jesus Church of God in January 1985 while Ahn was still alive[29] the factions failed to reconcile and a schism divided the church into two sects

  • New Covenant Passover Church of God,[k] and
  • Witnesses of Ahn Sahng-hong Church of God, whom formed the World Mission Society Church of God.[l]

New Covenant Passover Church of God[edit]

One group of people in Witnesses of Jesus Church of God stayed on the premisses in Busan. Among them were Ahn's wife and their three children. This sect is today known as New Covenant Passover Church of God. Ahn's son Ahn Kwang-sup[m] (born 1954) is an elder in the church and claims he is continuing his father's work.[31] An outside observer visited the church and had this comment:

The service performed at the New Covenant Church is not much different from that of the mainstream churches. The parishioners pray in the name of 'Jesus Christ' and recite the Lord's Prayer. They sing unmodified mainstream hymns. Like the Seventh-day Adventists, they observe Saturday as the Sabbath day.

Lee Seung-yeon, in Modern Religion, February 2012[15]

Witnesses of Ahn Sahng-hong Church of God[edit]

Another group of people in Witnesses of Jesus Church of God including Kim Joo-cheol[n] and Zahng Gil-jah wanted to continue spreading the message of the "spiritual mother", and moved from Busan to Seoul in 1985 according to Ahn's direction from January. On a meeting in Seoul on 2 June 1985, four months after Ahn's death, they established a church called Witnesses of Ahn Sahng-hong Church of God. Two major doctrines were then revealed through the notes and authority passed down to them from Ahn currently copyright of Melchizedek Publishing Co., Ltd.:

  • Ahn Sahng-hong who restored the truth and revealed God the Mother should be regarded as the second coming of Jesus Christ, titled Christ Ahn Sahng-hong, and pursuant to a traditional trinitarian view of Christian hypostasis Ahn was consequently also The Holy Spirit, God the Father, and thus God.[33]
  • Zahng Gil-jah should be regarded as God the Mother, a female image of God,[34] be titled Heavenly Mother, or simply Mother, and together with Ahn Sahng-hong be regarded as God.[34]

Believing that the new name of Christ indicated in the book of Revelations had been revealed, prayers were no longer conducted in the name of Jesus Christ but in the name of Christ Ahn Sahng-hong.[35]

Criticism from other Religious Organizations[edit]

The deification of Ahn Sahng-hong and Zahng Gil-jah has been "harshly criticized,"[36] and has led to the church being officially condemned by The National Council of Churches in Korea as an interdenominationally combatted, blasphemic, heretic cult.[37][38]

As a central argument to the claim that Ahn Sahng-hong should be the Second Coming of Jesus, and in turn an argument for his suggested promotion of Zahng Gil-jah to the Bride of the Lamb, is the proposision that he fulfilled a Davidic prophecy by preaching 37 years from his baptism 16 December 1948 to his death on 25 February 1985,[13][39] a period which can be precisely calculated as 36 years, 2 months, and 9 days.[40] This reflects a counting of whole units to arrive at 37 in the same way that Jesus in the Bible counts three whole days for his resurrection but was only dead for around 39 hours; if calculating from a 3pm Friday death time to a 6am Sunday resurrection time.

The source for the baptismal date of 16 December 1948 performed by a Pastor Lee Myeong-deok in Incheon is however obscure, written records are limited to Ahn's own written note with other records remaining to be found. In 2011 the Seventh-day Adventist Church claimed a protocol was discovered, and produced a document stating Ahn was baptised when he was 36 years old on 9 October 1954 by a Pastor Gim Seo-gyeong. According to them the length of the ministry of Ahn is then 30 years and 4 months. Other sources have criticized the Seventh Day Adventist Church protocol as a forgery.[41]

Around the year 1997, Witnesses of Ahn Sahng-hong Church of God had since established a non-profit organization titled the Church of God World Mission Society in order to legally register the organization, its members, and assets.[36][42]

See also[edit]

List of people claimed to be Jesus



  1. ^ Hangul: 안상홍 can variously be seen represented in Latin letters as Ahn Sahng Hong, Ahn Sahng-hong, Ahn Sahnghong, Ahnsahnghong, Ahn Sang Hong, Ahn Sang-hong, Ahn Sanghong, Ahnsanghong, An Sahng Hong, An Sahng-hong, An Sahnghong, Ansahnghong, An Sang Hong, An Sang-hong, An Sanghong, and Ansanghong. Korean names follow the <family name> <given name> pattern, but his name is sometimes romanizised using the Western pattern <given name> <family name>, consequently e.g. Sang Hong Ahn, Sang Hong An etc. can also occur.
  2. ^ Korean: 하나님의교회 예수증인회. Translation in a more direct word order would be "Church of God Witnesses of Jesus".
  3. ^ Korean: 새언약 유월절 하나님의교회
  4. ^ Korean: 하나님의교회 세계복음선교협회
  5. ^ By 1918 Buddhism was the predominant religion in Korea. By 2010, according to a survey cited by The World Factbook, 2013-14 edition, Christians accounted for 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%) and Buddhists for 24.2% of the South Korean population.[7]
  6. ^ Korean: ; hwang-won-sun[14]
  7. ^ Korean: 하나님의교회 예수증인회
  8. ^ Korean: 엄수인; eom-su-in[25]
  9. ^ Korean: 석계공원묘지; seok-kkye-gong-won-myo-ji[28]
  10. ^ Korean: 선지 엘리야 안상홍 지 묘
  11. ^ Korean: 새언약 유월절 하나님의교회
  12. ^ Korean: 하나님의교회 안상홍 증인회
  13. ^ Korean: 안광섭; an-gwang-seop[30]
  14. ^ Korean: 김주철; gim-ju-cheol[32]


  1. ^ LEXILOGOS. "Korean Conversion: Hangeul > Latin Alphabet". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  2. ^ Ushuaia.pl. "Online transliteration/transcription tool". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  3. ^ "Web-Archieve: Welcome to Church of God". 2005-03-05. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  4. ^ "zKorean - Dictionary Result: "복음"". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  5. ^ New Covenant Passover Church of God. "History". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  6. ^ World Mission Society Church of God. "Abraham's Family and Mother". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  7. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  8. ^ 現代宗教 (in Korean). 現代宗敎社. 1985. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  9. ^ 탁명환 (1992). 한국 의 신흥 종교: 기독교 편 [South Korea's emerging Christian side] (in Korean) 4. 국제 종교 문제 연구소. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  10. ^ "The parable of the fig tree". 
  11. ^ 안광섭. "새언약 유월절 하나님의 교회" (in Korean). Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  12. ^ http://usa.watv.org/truth/sermon/content.asp?idx=1433&page=1.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ a b World Mission Society Church of God. "Seek David in the Last Days". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  14. ^ "Hong's Hangul Conversion Tools". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  15. ^ a b 이 (Lee), 명덕 (Seung-yeon) (2012). "하나님의교회는‘장길자’증인회! 안상홍씨 친아들 안광섭씨가 말하는 하나님의교회" [The Church of God is Zahng Gil-Ja's Congregation! Ahn Sahng-hong's son Ahn Kwang-sup speaks out about the Church of God]. 현대종교 (Modern Religion) (Hyudae Jongyo) (2): 28–33. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  16. ^ "안상홍씨와 본처 황순원씨의 묘를 직접 찾아가 봄" [On-site Spring Visit to the Grave of Mr. Ahn Sahng-hong and his lawfull wife Hwang Won-sun] (in Korean). International Missionary Society of Seventh-Day Adventist Church Reform Movement. 2010-08-19. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  17. ^ "BibleGateway - Quick search: "church of god"". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  18. ^ J. Gordon Melton (2005-01-01). Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Infobase Publishing. pp. 150–. ISBN 978-0-8160-6983-5. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  19. ^ 1 Timothy 3
  20. ^ 月刊朝鮮 (in Korean). 朝鮮日報社. March 2009. p. 357. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  21. ^ 現代宗教 (in Korean). 現代宗敎社. 1985. p. 128. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  22. ^ 韓國宗敎 (in Korean). 圓光大學校宗敎問題硏究所. 1997. p. 547. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  23. ^ http://usa.watv.org/intro/history.asp#1990.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ http://usa.watv.org/truth/truth_life/list.asp.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "Hong's Hangul Conversion Tools". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  26. ^ a b "새 예루살렘과 신부 여자들의 수건 문제 해석". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  27. ^ "Interpretation on the New Jerusalem and the Issue of the Head Covering of Brides". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  28. ^ "Hong's Hangul Conversion Tools". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  29. ^ http://usa.watv.org/intro/history.asp.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ "Hong's Hangul Conversion Tools". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  31. ^ "생명수는 무엇인가?" [What is the Water of Life?]. 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  32. ^ "Hong's Hangul Conversion Tools". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  33. ^ "Trinity". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  34. ^ a b "God Elohim". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  35. ^ http://usa.watv.org/truth/truth_life/content_secondcoming.asp#05.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ a b Church of God World Gospel Association v. Ji Won Tak (Northern Seoul Regional Court Civil Section Number 11 2005-07-08). Text
  37. ^ "기독교 이단 사이비 종교 명단과 종교차별 신고" (in Korean). The National Council of Churches in Korea. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  38. ^ Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada (2004-12-08). "Korea: The Church of God, including the denomination of Christianity to which it adheres, its beliefs and practices; whether there is a congregation of the Church of God in Seoul known as the Church of God Mission Society located at 381-2 Suyu-dong #2, Gangbuk-gu (2002-2004)". Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  39. ^ World Mission Society Church of God. ""Mother" the Mystery of the Bible". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  40. ^ Timeanddate.com. "Calculate duration between two dates – results". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  41. ^ https://m.crc.ac:449/?m=bbs&bid=undefined&sort=d_regis&orderby=desc&uid=57.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  42. ^ "법원, "근거없는 추측비방은 비인격적인 범법행위"". The Christian World Monitor (in Korean). 2003-09-29. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 

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