Sitting United Church of God Council Members Are Actively Teaching Against Official Doctrine
The United Church of God, an International Association (UCG) has very specific doctrinal teachings that may be found at the website ucg.org/members/study-papers. This web page contains thirty-eight official study papers concerning doctrines, ranging in dates from 1996 to May 2019—now including the recently amended Born Again doctrinal study paper.
Note: Along with my own material this post contains content from a contributing writer in a major COG organization who wishes to remain anonymous for now.
The UCG Calendar Study Papers were compiled and approved by the Jim Franks Doctrinal Committee. Jim oversaw these Papers and has made them the official COGWA teaching as well. There will be some analysis on these Papers in Part 2 below.
UCG has a doctrinal study paper, which defines the term “new moon.” This study paper is dated, February 2002, and is titled, Should Christians Observe the New Moons?
In that paper, UCG officially teaches, “…the New Moon is defined as the first day of the month as determined by the molad [James: which is the average time between conjunctions used by the modern Rabbinic Calendar finalized in 1178 A.D.].”
This may be found on page 4, in paragraph 2. This is also stated on page 2, paragraph 2, in the second sentence of the Introduction to the “Should Christians Observe New Moons” Paper, “ … when we use the term “New Moon” we are referring to the first day of the month as determined by the molad.”
In the Paper Jim states that: The new moon can be defined as the first visible crescent, the astronomical conjunction and the average time between conjunctions (molad).
All three are slightly different and can actually occur on different days. (Page 2, sentence 1 and 2 of the Introduction to the “Should Christians Observe New Moons” Paper). UCG makes a few statements, to help give perspective to the term, molad, below.
The “astronomical” New Moon is the actual conjunction when there is no moon light at all, and there is the “molad,” which means birth of the moon, and there is the “first crescent.” All three are slightly different and can actually occur on different days. (Page 2, sentence 1 and 2 of Introduction)
· “The molad is roughly in the middle of this period during which the Moon is not visible.”1 (Page 2. last sentence of paragraph 3—a quote from Nathan Bushwick)
· … the conjunction, which is called the astronomical New Moon to separate it from the molad or the first crescent. (Page 3, paragraph 3, sentence 4)
The official teaching approved by the CoE and posted in the “Should Christians Observe New Moons” Paper; is that the New Moon is determined by the molad, and the molad is clearly NOT the conjunction (astronomical new moon) nor is it the first visible crescent new moon!
Teachings Against Official Doctrine
The United Church of God now has at least three sitting Council of Elder members who have been openly teaching contradictory to the church’s official beliefs about when “God’s” new months begin. To confuse the issue even further, they don’t all agree with each other, either.
Mario Seiglie, Dan Dowd, and Jorge de Campos are sitting members of the United Church of God Council of Elders, who are all “on record” with online sermons about what they individually believe about the new moon and when “God’s” months begin. Links to their sermons are listed below and their statements are also transcribed.
Mario Seiglie’s Belief: The New Moon is the First Visible Crescent New Moon. Mario Seiglie recently gave a sermon on September 28, 2019, titled, Trumpets and God’s Calendar [You might want to download this in case they take it down.], to the congregation at Garden Grove, California that lasted 40 minutes and 30 seconds.
At the 24 minutes and 26 seconds Mario begins discussing a Biblical unit of time—the month. It is good to start at this point in order to understand his full context of “month.” At 26 minutes and 6 seconds he makes the statement, “You start counting from that new moon, when that faint little crescent begins; when you see that, it’s the beginning of a new month.”
At 31 minutes and 45 seconds, he makes the following statement, “At the beginning of your months, when that new moon appeared, guess what? In all of Israel, when that happened; when that day was beginning at evening, all of the trumpets sounded throughout all of Israel. Oh, it’s the first of the month.”
At 37 minutes and 23 seconds, he then makes this statement, “And so, brethren, we see the importance of the blowing of the trumpets. The first day of the seventh month is so important, because it establishes that new moon.”
Mario Seiglie teaches that the first visible crescent new moon (not the conjunction or the molad) determines the beginning of “God’s” months. This is exactly what Herbert Armstrong taught [James: and what I also teach] for well over 45 years, within both the Radio Church of God and the Worldwide Church of God.
Dan Dowd’s Belief: The New Moon is the Conjunction or Astronomical New Moon
At 32 minutes and 17 seconds into part 2 of Dan’s May 20, 2017, sermon, titled, The Hebrew Calendar—Part 2, he states, “Trumpets is the only holy day on a new moon. Okay, so it’s critical that that be on the right day. It’s the absence. It’s the conjunction. It’s the absence of light.”
Dan Dowd teaches that the conjunction or astronomical new moon (not the molad) determines the beginning of “God’s” months. The conjunction is when the Sun, Moon and Earth are lined up, in that order. There is no light coming from the moon. This is the darkest point of the dark phase of the moon. This is not the molad spoken of in UCG’s doctrinal study paper!
Jorge de Campos’ Belief: New Moon is the Conjunction or Astronomical New Moon At 49 minutes and 49 seconds into part 1 of Jorge de Campos’ sermon, titled, Why Does the Church of God Use the Hebrew Calendar?, he identifies what he believes to be the new moon; “Bible’s not specific on some of those terms. When is exactly the new moon? Must the new moon be on the visibility of the lunar crescent? Must the first month of the year be in the spring or not?
Well, I’ve had some people say to me, ‘Oh well, that’s not a problem. When is the new moon? You can see it in the sky the whole night.’ Brethren, that regrettably shows a lack of understanding what the new moon is, because the new moon is when the moon is in the sky with the sun. And so, it is during the day—not at night. We cannot see the new moon from earth, except on the stirring moments of a solar eclipse.
The stirring moment of a solar eclipse is the conjunction. The solar eclipse is a perfect alignment of the Sun, Moon and Earth. A solar eclipse is the most perfect form of the conjunction new moon; also know as the astronomical new moon.
Define the Problem
Dan Dowd believes the same as Jorge de Campos, while Mario Seiglie believes the same as Herbert Armstrong. This is not where the confusion ends. None of these men have ever taught UCG’s official position that, “…the New Moon is defined as the first day of the month as determined by the molad.”
Dan Dowd and Jorge de Campos are teaching one new moon! Mario Seiglie (with Herbert Armstrong and TheShiningLight) is teaching another new moon, and both are falsely claiming that what they say is official UCG teaching
UCG’s official doctrine teaches yet another new moon! None of these “new moons” are the same and can fall on different days! Can this get any more ridiculous? YES, OF COURSE IT CAN!
There is a tremendous blind spot with the Council of Elders on these new moon and calendar issues. They don’t even understand that they are teaching contrary to each other and against the official doctrine of UCG.
Each of the above-mention men has, in a sense, tried to force their will upon the moon. They want the new moon to do something that it does not do! They desperately want “Trumpets” (1st day of Tishrei) a new moon, to be in agreement with the calculated Hebrew Calendar which uses molads!
Mario like HWA and myself, believes that “Trumpets” falls on a new moon—the first visible crescent new moon. yet he disagrees with me in falsely thinking that today’s Rabbinic Calendar uses the first light of the visible crescent to begin the months.
Did he understand or check, when he kept “Trumpets” on Monday, September 14, 2015, that the first visible crescent new moon day (Rosh Chodesh) fell on September 16—TWO days later? It was impossible to see the first visible crescent new moon from anywhere on earth on the day Mario kept “Trumpets” in 2015.
Herbert Armstrong was deceived by Herman Hoeh into falsely thinking that the modern Rabbinic Calendar does use the first visible crescent to the moon and Mario Seiglie also believes that the Rabbinic Calendar used in the COG goes by the first light of the new crescent moon.
Hoeh pulled one sentence out of context from Philo and insisted that today’s modern Rabbinic Calendar is the same calendar which has been used since Moses. Herbert was deceived by that claim and many others have also been deceived by that false claim.
Herbert Armstrong understood the Calendar but was deceived into thinking that the Rabbinic Calendar today is the same one used anciently, which it is NOT.
In fact NO Rabbin would agree that today’s Rabbinic Calendar has been in use since Moses or even that it is scriptural. ALL Rabbins and every historical or religious writing insists that today’s Modern Rabbinic Calendar based on the darkness of molads was finalized in 1178 A.D., and that from Moses until well after the temple period the first possible light of the new crescent was calculated and then confirmed by actual sighting.
Today’s Rabbinic Calendar was finalized in 1178 A.D. was not in use during the temple period or before, it goes by the non biblical average time between conjunctions and the Rabbins openly admit that it is contrary to the scriptural first crescent new moon used by Israel from Moses until well past the temple period.
Dan Dowd and Jorge de Campos believe contrary to Herbert, the scriptures and history, that “Trumpets” falls on a new moon—the dark phase of the conjunction of the moon.
Did they understand or check, when they kept “Trumpets” on Thursday, September 13, 2007, that the dark phase conjunction new moon fell on September 11—TWO days earlier? Simply check when the conjunction occurred—September 11, 2007, at 3:44 pm (Israeli DST).
UCG’s official doctrine teaches, “The New Moon is defined as the first day of the month as determined by the molad.” UCG kept “Trumpets” on October 3, 2016, when the molad fell TWO days earlier on October 1 near 4:45 pm!
They did not keep Trumpets according to any of these beliefs in the year 2007! UCG kept “Trumpets” on Thursday, September 13. The dark phase conjunction new moon fell on September 11 (TWO days earlier). The first visible crescent new moon day fell on September 14 (ONE day later) and the molad “new moon” fell on September 12 at 4:26 am (ONE day earlier). “Trumpets didn’t fall on any new moon by anyone’s definition.
In fact these three men teach two separate things and they all teach something quite different from the UCG official belief. Then despite deviating from the UCG official teaching, they all say that we should accept and follow the UCG teaching which they themselves reject! This confusion comes from the fact all of these sources are trying to prove the modern Rabbinic Calendar was used during temple times; when it absolutely was NOT!
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How Can This Get Any More Ridiculous?
Circumstances now exist for the following scenario. One congregation member says to another, “The first visible crescent is the true Biblical new moon. I know this is true, because Mario Seiglie is on the Council of Elders, and I just finished listening to his sermon.” Another congregation member retorts with, “That isn’t true! The conjunction is the true Biblical new moon. I know this is correct, because Jorge de Campos made a video, and he is on the Council of Elders, and I just finished watching his video.” Yet, another member gets involved in the conversation, who has actually read the doctrinal study paper, and he states, “You are both wrong, because I have actually read the official doctrinal position in the paper, Should Christians Observe the New Moons?”
It Gets Even Worse!
These members take all of this controversy and division to their local pastor. He has likely not listened to any of these sermons and hasn’t read the paper Should Christians Observe the New Moons?, and if he had, he may not have understood every detail or connected all the dots. He will likely be blindsided and even think these members are simply misunderstanding what they’ve heard. He may simply tell them, “Look, we’ve always kept ‘Trumpets’ on a new moon. You just need to have faith in the Council of Elders and do what they tell you.” OOPS!! Do you see the problem? Do what they tell you? Which one of the three different teachings, that elders on the Council have taught about “Trumpet” and the new moon, are you going to follow?
So, the member who listened to the Council of Elder member, Mario Seiglie, vows to keep “Trumpets” on the first visible crescent new moon from now on! The member who listened to Jorge de Campos vows to keep “Trumpets” on the conjunction new moon from now on! The one who read the New Moons doctrinal study paper vows to keep “Trumpets” on the New Moon determined by the molad from now on!
Over the next couple of years, word gets around that a few calendar “nuts” are keeping “wrong” holy days. The pastor has counseling sessions with them and asks, “Why have you left the trunk of the tree, with all this calendar nonsense?” They respond that they have been following what the elders on the Council have been teaching and you (the pastor) are NOT following the Council. He now knows they are all hopelessly lost and casts them out of the church. The rumors take shape and make their rounds. The rest of the membership gets the message that the troublemakers had to leave the congregation.
They were labeled troublemakers and cast out of the church for what? Doing what the elders on the Council have been teaching them!
The calculated Hebrew Calendar was never designed to work as we [the COG] have been taught! It was never designed to place the first day of any month on any new moon of any kind, and normally, it does not.
If a church uses the calculated Hebrew Calendar, then it cannot teach, as doctrine, “Trumpets” falls on a new moon. That is False! The calculated Hebrew Calendar and “Trumpets falling on a new moon” are not mutually compatible! The “Trumpets” that UCG observes, normally does not fall on a new moon.
Today UCG is in doctrinal chaos regarding the Calendar, and their official position which is also the official position of COGWA and LCG is based on deliberate misrepresentations and falsehoods. When will they be willing to accept the truth?
COG Calendar Paper Analysis
Some years ago the UCG Doctrinal Committee then headed by Jim Franks did certain Doctrinal Papers on the Calendar. Later this was largely summarized in the LCG Calendar Paper and these same arguments and proofs became part of the COGWA position on the calendar.
See and download these Doctrinal Papers here:
The Hebrew Calendar (COGWA)
The basic premise or assumption all of these papers are based on, is that today’s Rabbinic Calendar is the same as the Hebrew Calendar used from Moses and through the Temple period up to today and that today’s Rabbinic Calendar should therefore be used by the COG to determine the Biblical Festivals.
These Franks papers are all based on that same assumption and they offer many quotes from leading scholars on the subject to prove their point.
Most elders and laymen reading these papers would be so deeply impressed by the number of quotes from scholarly sources like Avraham Finkel, Philo, Arthur Speir, Alfred Edershiem, the Encyclopedia Judaica, Maimonides, the Talmud and Saada Gaon, that after reading they would put these papers down convinced of their correctness beyond any question.
The elders and leaders would then go ahead and use these Papers, teaching them as truth and further convincing may of the brethren and using this supposedly authoritative material to belittle anyone who disagreed.
In fact how many people would ever even think to question Jim Franks Doctrinal Committee of impressive church leaders and actually investigate their sources and quotes?
I suspect no one, until now! This paper is an analysis of the accuracy of the quotes and conclusions contained in the various COG Papers mentioned above.
This Paper is about far more than the Biblical Calendar issue; it is about the honesty, the moral and intellectual integrity and the credibility of the leaders of today’s major Church of God organizations.
In fact the Franks UCG Calendar Papers including the “Should Christians Observe the New Moons” Paper falsely claims that Israel has always used the molads, and to support that position they engage in wholesale Contextomy, taking quotes out of context and presenting them as meaning the opposite of what was actually written by the scholars.
The UCG quotes Finkle as writing, “The calculation of the calendar was transmitted to the sages in an unbroken chain going back to Moses….” This quote contains the exact words written, beginning on page 141 of The Essence of the Holy Days.
At first glance this quote would suggest that TODAY’S Rabbinic Calendar is the very same calendar used through history from the time of Moses; HOWEVER, a key sentence has been omitted where the “….” appears.
The true full quote is: “The calculation of the calendar was transmitted to the sages in an unbroken chain going back to Moses. In 361 C.E., Hillel II established the calendar system we have today and that is valid for all future generations. [The sentence highlighted in yellow has been omitted by UCG and COGWA].
The full quote says that the calendar was calculated from the days of Moses, BUT the present calendar originated at the earliest in 361 A.D.!
Finkel explains what he means by the term, “calculation,” because he addresses the calendar “going back to Moses,” in more detail, later in his book. He fills in the details of his previous statement, of page 141, with a statement on page 212,
“The calculation of the precise moment of the appearance of the new moon was transmitted to the sages in an unbroken tradition that goes back to Sinai” (“Sinai” is synonymous with Moses).
Here, Finkel is essentially repeating the same quote from page 141, but now he is more detailed about what he actually means. He is talking about the first visible crescent new moon—“the appearance of the new moon,” and that “new moon” is the key to how the calendar of Moses was determined. There’s more!
Now, let’s look at this same quote (from page 212) in the full context of which Finkel explains the calendar of Moses and the Second Temple period, prior to when “… Hillel II established the calendar system we have today”—the calculated Hebrew Calendar. This is in chapter 11, titled “ROSH CHODESH,” below.
…From that point on, the moon wanes as the bright side gradually shrinks, and we see more and more of its dark side. Finally, at the end of the lunar month, when the moon passes a point between the sun and the earth – the point of conjunction – the moon appears completely dark and is invisible to us. Shortly after that, it reemerges as a thin, crescent-shaped line. That moment is called molad halevanah, “birth of the new moon,” and Rosh Chodesh is the day on which the new moon appears. The calculation of the precise moment of the appearance of the new moon was transmitted to the sages in an unbroken tradition that goes back to Sinai. It was called sod ha’ibur, “principle of intercalation” (Rosh Hashanah 20b). Although the exact time of its reemergence was known, the new moon was sancti- fied by the Bet Din in Jerusalem on the testimony of two witnesses who had sighted its appearance.
In fact a large part of tractate Rosh Hashanah is devoted to the subject of Kiddish Hachodesh, “sanctification of the month.” (p. 212, underlining for emphasis.
Now we have the whole story. The first visible crescent was determined by calculation and confirmed by observation! The first visible crescent “new moon” determined the calendar of Moses and the Second Temple period from the words of Avraham Finkel, in the full context of not only his paragraphs but in the context of his entire book. Finkel is actually stating the Mosaic and Biblical Calendar was determined by visual observation of the new moon and that today’s Rabbinic Calendar did not begin until at least 361 A.D.!
A complete chapter in Finkel’s book is devoted to “ROSH CHODESH”. Chapter 11 covers pages 211 through 226—the end of the book. Reading this chapter “puts to rest” what Avraham Finkel fully understands about the calendar of the Torah— Hebrew Bible “law” or “teaching.” Look at another stunning quote from Finkel in this “ROSH CHODESH” chapter, on page 216.
“… our sages wanted to anchor in the Jewish consciousness the awareness that the Torah intended for the new month to be proclaimed on the basis of visual sighting. We thus become mindful of the significant principle that the months are not automatically fixed and consecrated simply by the astronomical conjunction of the sun and the moon. Rather God empowered the Jewish people – represented by the rabbis of the Bet Din – to sanctify the months and the Festivals. We are made aware that as Jews we are dominated not by the limitations of the physical world and the structures of time but by our sanctification of the beginning of each new month, when we accentuate our spiritual nature, which transcends the bounds of physicality and the structures of time” (p. 216).
Finkel is stating that Hebrew Bible law (Torah) intended the calendar to be a first visible crescent New Moon Observation Calendar—“… our sages wanted to anchor in the Jewish consciousness the awareness that the Torah intended for the new month to be proclaimed on the basis of visual sighting.”
This is exactly what UCG and COGWA oppose in their doctrinal study papers, including UCG’s “Summary of the Hebrew Calendar.”
This is all we need to know, but Finkel goes even further by stating, “the months are not automatically fixed and consecrated simply by the astronomical conjunction of the sun and the moon.” This is what today’s calculated Hebrew Calendar does!
The basis for TODAY’S Calculated Rabbinic Calendar is indeed “… consecrated on the basis of the [average] astronomical conjunction of the sun and the moon.” The average time of “the astronomical conjunction of the sun and the moon” is 29 days, 12 hours, and 793 chalekim, used in “the calendar system we have today.” Finkel is stating that with the Torah calendar “months are not automatically fixed and consecrated” in this manner. Only with today’s calculated Hebrew Calendar are the months automatically fixed and consecrated on the basis of the [mean] astronomical conjunction of the sun and the moon.
In this last chapter of his book (page 216), Finkel actually tells us what all Jewish calendar scholars already understand. The calculated Hebrew Calendar used today is NOT the calendar that Hebrew Scripture law (Torah) authorized for God’s people to use! Today’s calculated Rabbinic Calendar does what Finkel says it should not do!
The UCG doctrinal study paper is taking the exact opposite position of Avraham Finkel, using his quotes out of context in a manner suggesting that he completely agrees with UCG.
HOWEVER in light of his entire quote and other revealed complete quotes, this is an appalling out-of-context use of Finkel’s words, by UCG’s writers.
The doctrinal study paper is suggesting the calculated Hebrew Calendar was used during and prior to the Second Temple period for determining the Holy Days!
UCG’s doctrine writers would have you believe Finkel teaches exactly what UCG teaches: regrettably doing so by deliberately deceiving the brethren through the dishonest journalistic practice of quote mining! This is contextomy, or taking quotes out of context.
This Paper was deliberately written to deceive the brethren, including elders and pastors. This quote mining was specifically designed to hide the fact that Finkel actually believed the first visible crescent New Moon Observation Calendar was used during the Second Temple period, which Christ would have followed, and not today’s calculated Hebrew Calendar.
These UCG Calendar Committee folks followed up by COGWA and others deliberately redacted the yellow highlighted sentence to consciously deceive people into thinking that TODAY’s Rabbinic Calendar is the same calendar used since Moses. in short; they LIED!
This article PROVES with no room for doubt, that the vast majority of the scholarly quotes in the various COG Papers are either deliberate misquotes or quotes taken out of context and presented as meaning something entirely different from the clear meaning of the original material in its context.
In fact the compilers of these COG Calendar Committees started with a preconceived and false position, and then proceeded to distort the statements of these scholars to mean the exact opposite of what they had actually said, in order to support their false preconceived notion.
In short these Jim Franks Doctrinal Committee people, and remember this would have been approved by the CoE then made up of people now leading COGWA: Thes folks have deceived the brethren; instead of being zealous for the truth they have resorted to deliberate misrepresentation in their zeal for their own errors.
How can these persons be believed in anything, when they are caught repeatedly lying to deliberately deceive the brethren on important doctrine?
For even more analysis of these fraudulent Calendar papers download this article on the deliberate misrepresentation of Rabbi Nathan Bushwick.