The End Time Prophet, the New Moses?
When we take a critical view at the American David Berg, who was considered a prophet and called Moses David by his followers in the religious sect "The Family" (previously known as "The Children of God"), certain norms for true and false prophecy may be used. These are based on the two articles by Knud Jeppesen and Helge Kjaer Nielsen in the Danish publication titled The New Dialog.
1: Quoting the Bible in support of one's statements does not prove anything. The devil did these when he tempted Jesus in the desert (Matt. 4). His quotation was actually correct, but as we all know, "like Hell".
2: When quoting the Bible, Biblical and Christian assumptions are assembled; i.e. the quoted text must be understood in the right context. Besides, there must be a correspondence between the word and action of the prophet.
When these criteria are applied to the actual circumstances regarding David Berg and our knowledge of him (partly on the basis of what he has written himself, and partly on the basis of the testimony given by recent and former followers), we are left with two main problems concerning his genuineness as a prophet.
First, there is a problem in connection with his word and his followers' use of Biblical texts in support of his dignity of a prophet. We might call this the "dogmatic credibility" of David Berg. Second, his behavior in specific situations constitutes another problem. This we might call his "ethical credibility."
It seems that the members of The Family have developed a conditioned reflex towards difficult quotations from scriptures cited by the sect itself. They always react by maintaining that the quotation has been misused and not seen in the right context. Therefore, it is even more surprising to see how the sect itself uses quotations from the Bible, as obviously the sect rarely succeeds in using quotations in the right context. This is especially true when the quotations are used to state the reasons for regarding David Berg as "Moses David."
There is not sufficient room in this page to produce a detailed investigation of the textual evidence of The Family, but we shall state the most important ones.
Edward Priebe, who for many years was a member of the Children of God, has written an undated text titled, "David the Prophet? Why David Berg is not God's Endtime Prophet." In a simple way he states The Family's misuse of Biblical texts. We thus get a clear picture of the dogmatic heresy of the sect relative to the founding prophet David Berg. The following examples are built on the experiences and insight of Edward Priebe.
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is probably the most important text in connection with David Berg appointing himself to be a prophet. In a circular letter titled, "a Prophet Like Moses", he claims that God is speaking about him when the text says:
Who is the prophet whose coming is predicted in Deuteronomy? St. Peter pointed to Jesus as the prophet anticipated by Moses (Acts 3:22). Stephen the martyr also identifies the predicted prophet as Jesus (Acts 7:37). The first Christians all believed that the expectations were fulfilled by the coming of Jesus of Nazareth.
Of course, we may question the correctness of the belief. But one cannot claim that a Christian is in correspondence with the New Testament. At the same time to disagree with these two basic statements form the early church is not possible.
Nor does it make any sense to maintain that the predictions of Moses apply to both Jesus and David Berg. Then we end up in contradictions and meaninglessness.
The New David?
Another important text for David Berg is his argumentation that he is the prophet in Isaiah 55:3-4. The text promises that the Lord will make an eternal covenant, this time and for ever, and "love you faithfully as I loved David."
St. Paul also used this text in his sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:14 and following. Note in particular verse 22). He connects it to the fulfillment of the resurrection of Jesus. In his opinion the new David was identical with Jesus.
Here again one might disagree with St. Paul. It makes no sense, however, to claim that Paul is right and at the same time maintain that The Family is right, when it says that David Berg is the one to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, both as "witness", "prince", and "instructor" (Isaiah 55:4).
Another text frequently used by The Family is Psalm 89 (in particular verse 28 onwards), where the Lord points out David and God's own faithfulness to him. Even though David's sons broke their words, the Lord will not break his word to David, "Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness -- and I will not lie to David" (Psalm 89:35).
The Family also often argues on the basis of the text from 2 Samuel 7, where Nathan gave his word to David, that the Lord will never withdraw his faithfulness from him (verses 12-16).
There is actually no connection between these texts and David Berg except for the name "David". Using these texts when arguing that he is the new David, to whom God shall always present the truth, David Berg makes quotations from Biblical texts in an obviously disconnected way.
Servant and King of Peace
Ezekiel 34:23-24 reads:
The Family also twists the word written in Ezekiel 37:24-25:
Similarly, in Hosea 3:5, where it is said that the Israelites "...they will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days." The Family attaches great importance to the expression "in the last days" and uses it in their arguments that the prophecy concerns David Berg, who is the end time Moses and David. This is a somewhat twisted interpretation!
Studying the Scriptures
Edward Priebe analyses these very texts, as his experience of many years has taught him that they serve as "scripture proofs" within the sect of The Children of God to identify David Berg as a prophet with the same status as Moses and David.
Priebe closes his paper by quoting Jesus:
Of course, one may deny the expectation and fulfillment theology of the Bible. No one, however, is allowed to add to or subtract from the Bible, at the same time claiming to be a Christian group based on the Bible. David Berg wants to add to the Bible, placing himself next to Jesus. This is where he reveals himself as a false prophet, and his followers reveal their heresy in comparison to Christianity, confirming his misuse of Biblical texts.
The Family must understand that if it wants to be recognized as a Christian community, it will have to clarify these matters.All scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version of the Holy Bible.