Ronald Weinland and the Church of God
Some doomsday scenarios such as Y2K and the end of the Mayan calendar in December 2012 have emerged over time through the beliefs and predictions of diverse individuals referring to similar outcomes. Other end time forecasts come from the mouths of individuals, who may or may not have a following, though they do claim to have direct relationships with otherworldly information sources which have chosen them as mouthpieces. Ronald Weinland is one such prophetic vessel.
The Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Weinland’s church is called the Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God, and it is an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God, which was founded in 1931 by a pastor named Herbert W. Armstrong, who used the radio as his primary tool for reaching tens of thousands of followers all over the country. Like Weinland, Armstrong spoke extensively about scenarios describing the end of the world, and offered salvation to his followers, promising that their loyalty and devotion would earn them safe passage to the better world that would succeed the present one.
Although Armstrong did not specifically name a projected date for the end of the world, his teachings did point to the year 1975. He died in 1983, with the world still functioning much as it had in previous years. His following began to splinter after his death, and one of Ronald Weinland’s primary objectives in founding his own church was to unify some of these factions around teachings that followed in Armstrong’s footsteps.
Weinland’s church is based on the premise that he and his wife Laura are prophets whose coming was predicted in the bible, and that they will rebuild the original temple. He accuses Pope Benedict of being a false prophet. Weinland has published two books detailing his prophesies: 2008: God’s Final Witness, and The Prophesied End-Time. He claims that God made him a prophet in 1997, after nearly 1900 years of no comparable leadership in the church.
Weinland compares himself to the apostle John, who was also given privileged information about the apocalypse. According to Weinland, God revealed information to John about the ways the seven seals of the revelation would reveal themselves, and Weinland has been specially charged with interpreting this message.
According to Weinland, events during the year 2008 set the stage for the upcoming end of the world. He pinpointed December 14, 2008 as the date when the first trumpet of the seventh seal of the Book of Revelations would sound, setting in motion a series of events that would culminate in apocalypse for most of the planet, and redemption for the fortunate few.
December 2008 was, in fact, a time of severe financial difficulty in the United States. Weinland believes that the financial crisis that snowballed in 2008 will eventually lead to the United States losing its position as a world leader, and the ensuing global chaos. According to Weinland, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Western Europe will also collapse, setting the stage for a third world war fueled by deep religious divides. This conflict would bring about the death of billions of people.
Weinland directed his message towards followers of Islam and Judaism as well as Christianity, believing that he was sent to redeem people from all three faiths. However, we do not know whether any Jews or Muslims have found his message compelling enough to follow.
Weinland predicts that May 27, 2012 will be the end of man’s self-rule. He forecasts a period of devastating turmoil, concluding with Christ stepping in to usher in a better world. He bases his calendar calculation on end-time prophesies related in the Book of Daniel. According to Weinland’s blog, January 7, 2012 marked the last day of the period preceding the final stretch, which starts on January 8, and spans 20 weeks, or 140 days, until May 27.
According to Weinland, the events that will culminate on May 27 have been brewing since long before 2008. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were part of the equation, as were the string of geological and meteorological disasters during recent years. All of these events have contributed to a weakening of the existing infrastructure of western society, setting the stage for its imminent collapse.
Unlike survivalists who predicted that the Y2K scenario would bring about widespread chaos, or writers such as Michael Drosnin, who forecasted a nuclear disaster in 2006, Weinland’s 2008 prediction can neither be proven nor disproven until May 2012. It is easier to look backwards and see the connections linking a string of events than it is to project forward from a date to arrive at a specific outcome.
One factor that has tainted Weinland’s credibility somewhat has been an indictment charging him with failing to report income based on donations to his church. He did, in fact, deposit some of these church funds in a Swiss bank account, and appears to have underreported his earnings to the IRS. He explained to his congregation that his intention was to keep the funds in a safe location, and use them for advertising to warn of upcoming disasters.
Weinland’s potentially dubious financial dealings may or may not have any direct bearing on the legitimacy of his prophesies, although detractors have found them to be fertile material for criticism. The site ronaldweinland.info, written by a man who grew up in a family following Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, has made much of the indictment, as well as Weinland’s response to it.
The factual truth of Weinland’s prophesies is certainly subject to debate. Regardless, his writings and his sermons do tap into a powerful emotional truth, that of our collective fascination with doomsday scenarios, from the Book of Revelations to the final days of the Mayan calendar.