Why So Many People Study with Shinchonji. Why Doubt it?

Dear reader,

Thank you for taking these topics to heart.

In the New Testament, there is a comment about angels being eager to know the full implications and meanings of our future redemption.  In the same way, we can assume that the supernatural kingdom of darkness is also interested in these events.

For the last two hundred years, many supernatural entities (angels, Jesus, a spirit of prophecy) have appeared to apocalyptic leaders with detailed explanations about the last chapter of Christianity - information about the Messiah´s return to earth and the true meaning of ambiguous prophecies.

What makes these supernatural visions so appealing to people?

A supernatural source reveals knowledge and secrets that the Bible does not fully reveal on its own.  This makes it interesting.  Also, it convinces leaders of end-time movements that their supernatural source must be divine in origin.  Leaders recruit people with the material from the revelation-vision and debate other Christians with this information.

With discernment, of course, we know that just because explanations come from a spirit-revelation, it does not necessarily mean that the explanations are from God.  Many leaders have been deceived by spirit entities.  They make the Bible say things even though the voice in God´s Word is saying something else.  This  is why outside Christians are puzzled when they hear the explanations and look at the texts themselves.

Further, final leaders write articles and books filled with pages contending that the real reason Christians do not accept their new teachings is because Satan has deceived them and they are spiritually in darkness. Only the revelation given to their leader, which opens seals and end-time prophecies, can give light.

But, before rushing ahead, let´s get back to the appeal and attraction people feel.

The prophecy models and knowledge from a final leader bring a new freshness to the Bible.  One young lady confessed that she started studying with SCJ because she was attracted to the freshness and newness of it all.  The Bible had become routine.

Others (in the SCJ testimonial page) have said that it was amazing to hear Shinchonji give such clarity and sureness when talking about biblical prophecies.  They say that no Christian minister was able to answer their Bible questions.  Only SCJ´s explanations and details were found to be clear.

Newness and certainty (in explaining the Bible and complex prophecies) are two strong reasons.  It is also true that some believers join final groups with a sincere heart.  They desire to be a part of something big.  To paraphrase one member, ¨If you hear that Revelation is being fulfilled in front of your eyes, why wouldn´t you want to test it out for yourself?¨

In many cases, people on the inside have much passion and spiritual zeal, which is commendable.  As pointed out by Christian thinkers, many followers in apocalyptic groups have more zeal than a large percentage of church-goers today.

So, why would genuine Christians and Christian thinkers doubt these supernatural entities (angels, Jesus, a spirit of prophecy)?  What would cause a sincere believer not to join an apocalyptic group?

Let´s look briefly at five reasons, although many more could be given.

First, there is a clear warning of deception in the New Testament writings (Mt. 24:4,5, I Tim. 4:1, Lk. 21:8, I John 4:1, 2 Pet. 2:1, etc.).  If you were entering a foreign country and were warned of fraudulent police officers on the backroads, imagine the impressions that would flood your mind if you saw police cars coming up to your vehicle.

In the same way, Jesus´ voice warns of deception in Christianity.  Many spirit entities have given revelations to final leaders with  ¨freshness¨ and ¨clarity¨ about Jesus Christ´s return but have caused destruction in people´s lives and terrible spiritual harm.

Second, Jesus warns us about final leaders embodying and representing his return (Lk. 21:8).  Shinchonji, like other apocalyptic groups, discredits that God glorified Jesus´ humanity, teaching instead that he is now only a spirit who returns to earth and invisibly guides them or incarnate their leader.  Thus, the leader is the physical mouthpiece of Christ Jesus.  In SCJ thinking, Jesus´ spirit has entered and embodies (works through) Mr. Lee´s flesh.  Seeing Mr. Lee is like seeing the Lord Jesus (see Shinchonji´s article on Rev. 1:7). Mr. Lee writes that he is the white horse (human flesh) in Rev. 19 which Jesus uses to return to earth.

In contrast, in the written word God affirms that ¨this same Jesus¨ who left is the one who is returning (Ac. 1:11), not a spirit Jesus in another flesh.

Third, Christians are suspicious of new movements that are gnostic in content.  Gnosticism was one of the early attempts to distort Christianity through ¨secret knowledge¨ - fresh information about Christ and the universe that the early Christian communities didn´t know.  But, in doing so, their secrets distorted salvation and the Son of God´s identity.

Today deceptive spirits follow the same pattern.  Secret knowledge is given about the end-times and Jesus´ return, but make changes to Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit.  In Shinchonji, changes are made about the Holy Spirit and Jesus.  The written word reveals one thing, but the SCJ revealed word to Mr. Lee says something else.  In Christian thinking, true messengers honor Jesus´ identity since he is worshipped in heaven and Christ Jesus is the same and will be the same forever (Heb. 13:8).

Another sign is when the leader´s words become the inspired authority, which explains the written word and is above the written word´s self-revelation.  The Scriptures become controlled (i.e. connecting verses based on the leader´s authority) and meanings of words are only interpreted based on what the leader teaches.  The group ignores the context in the written word.  More often than not the revelation is saying something about a text, but Christians see God´s voice in the Bible saying something else.

One person said that one Shinchonji instructor told him to put aside everything he thought the Bible was revealing.  He was instructed only to listen to the revealed word.  But, in Christian thinking, this is backwards.  Believers are supposed to use the written word (2 Tim. 3:16) to test spirit-inspired revelations, not let revelations to leaders be the authority over the written word.

Finally, Christians doubt supernatural entities/revelations that bring a message contrary to God´s heart and character.  If you have ever received an e-mail from a friend and realized that it was a scam or a virus, you understand this concept.  Content determines the degree of reliability.  Some people who started the SCJ studies testified that the emphasis on knowledge of prophecies didn´t seem right.  Others mentioned feeling uncomfortable about using deception and dishonesty when recruiting others for the SCJ Bible studies.  Still others noticed a harsh, cultish, and arrogant tone on the SCJ website and in Mr. Lee´s books.

In summary, although leaders with revelations from the invisible world bring freshness and new explanations to Bible prophecies, it is important to be alert when these signs appear.

In the articles that follow, we look at these and other points in more depth.


Does Rev. 8,9 Refer to a Church in South Korea?

Dear reader,

Mr. Lee, the top pastor in Shinchonji, teaches that an angel and a spirit-Jesus appeared to him on a mountain in South Korea.  Further, he explains that the Counselor-Holy Spirit promises in Jn. 14,16 are fulfilled by the Spirit uniting to his flesh in the end-times.  Needless to say, Mr. Lee is an important figure in the end.

In SCJ thinking, he is the (new) Apostle John figure in Revelation through whom Jesus´ spirit works in the last days.  He is one of the two witnesses in Rev. 11, the primary fulfillment of the one who overcomes in Rev. 2,3, and the white horse (flesh) that Jesus´ spirit uses to return to earth in Rev. 19.  The appearance of spirit beings (an angel and a spirit-Jesus) to Mr. Lee is believed to be the physical fulfillment of Rev. 1:1-3 and Rev. 10.

When a person in the Christian world makes these claims, as Christians, we must test these spirit entities with God´s written word (I Jn. 4:1, I Tim. 4:1).  Of course, testing is not unkindly attacking a leader or their followers, who are loved by God.  But, it is important to avoid deception.  One of the most effective tests is seeing if a revealed voice (the leader´s message) matches the voice in God´s written word.

In Christian thinking, God´s voice found in the written word is superior to spirit-revelations, not the other way around.  Let´s look at an example in Revelation 8 and 9.

According to Mr. Lee (i.e. his revealed word), Jesus chose a special church in South Korea (the Church of the Seven Lampstands).  However, these people betrayed Jesus´ words and were invaded by a false pastor and his associates.  These intruders are known as the destroyers and the church members who betrayed are the betrayers.  These two points are two of the important mysteries in Revelation (See Mr. Lee´s book, ¨The Truth Regarding Revelation´s Fulfillment,¨ p. i).

This forms the background of the early chapters of Revelation.

Mr. Lee interprets the events in Rev. 8 and 9 to refer to the betrayal and destruction of the Church of the Seven Lampstands.  Since they betrayed Jesus (and refused to repent after being warned about the invasion of the destroyers/Nicolaitans), they are punished.  The plagues in Rev. 8 and 9 refer to the punishment of those in the Church of the Seven Lampstands who refused to repent.

¨This plague of the seven trumpets is a punishment for the church of the seven golden lampstands (Rv. 6:15,16).  They are punished because they entered the caves and rocks of the gentiles even after receiving Jesus´ letter telling them to repent and overcome the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2,3)  The church of the seven golden lampstands was specially chosen by God, but they failed him.  If God´s chosen church betrayed him, just imagine the condition of the rest of the world´s churches¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 198).

Here´s a condensed explanation of Rev. 8 and 9 from Mr. Lee´s book, Creation of Heaven and Earth (pp. 197,198).  For a fuller description, please consult his book.

1.  In the first trumpet (Rev. 8:7), God´s chosen people who betrayed are the earth, trees and grass.
2.  In the second trumpet (Rev. 8:8,9), the creatures in the sea are the chosen people who betrayed, and the ships are the churches of the chosen people.
3.  In the third trumpet (Rev. 8:10,11), the springs and rivers refer to pastors and evangelists from the chosen people.
4.  In the fourth trumpet (Rev. 8:12), the sun, moon, and stars represent the pastors, evangelists, and congregation members of the tabernacle of the chosen people.  They are destroyed.

In Rev. 8:13, when the eagle speaks of the people on earth and the next three trumpet sounds, Mr. Lee´s explanation is that it refers to the people of the tabernacle of the seven golden lampstands.  ¨Three trumpets must still be sounded.  An eagle flying in midair calls out three loud ´woes´ to those who live on the earth...The people of the earth are the people of the tabernacle of the seven golden lampstands¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 198).

5.  In the fifth trumpet (Rev. 9:1-11), the locusts are false pastors who torture the betrayers.  The abyss refers to the churches of the Nicolaitan destroyers (who invaded the Church of the Seven Golden Lampstands).
6.  In the sixth trumpet (Rev. 6:13-21), the heads of the horses are seven pastors and their tales are false prophets (i.e. pastors who betrayed) that belonged to the seven pastors.  The fire, smoke, and sulfur are the doctrines of the false pastors who kill people´s spirits.

Mr. Lee summarizes chapter 9 in this way, ¨In this chapter, Jesus judges the chosen people from the church of the seven golden lampstands that betrayed (Rv. 6), and these betrayers enter a gentile church.  Even after seeing a third of their spirits killed there, they still refuse to repent¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 201).

What problems do we discern with this interpretation?

First, Mr. Lee´s perception of the Church of the Seven Lampstands, which was an apocalyptic movement in South Korea with problems of its own from the beginning.  (See the article about the history of Mr. Lee before Shinchonji and other articles about Korean apocalyptic movements.)  Mr. Lee was under the influence of this and other end-time movements before founding Shinchonji.

Second, when believers read through Rev. 8 and 9, it does not seem to correspond to this explanation. 

For example, God´s voice in the written word does not localize the events.  It speaks of the ¨earth¨ and the ¨inhabitants of the earth¨(Rev. 8:7, 8:13, 9:18) - much more universal than South Korea.  Mr. Lee interprets these global references as the congregation members of the Church of the Seven Lampstands, but the meaning in the written word refers to all the people in the world.

Jesus alluded to a universal time of distress (Mk. 13:19,20) and a time of anguish associated with the ¨abomination of desolation¨ spoken of in Daniel (Mt. 24:15,16).  See our other article on this point.

The context of Rev. 8 and 9 is one of great distress on the whole earth where humans seek relief from their suffering.  After the fifth plague, people ¨seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will allude them¨ (Rev. 9:6).  Interpreting ¨deaths¨ as dying ¨spiritually¨ and ¨people on earth¨ to ¨people in the Church of the Seven Lampstands¨ is a voice that differs from the written word´s revelation.

This is typical in end-time groups.  The leaders interpretations become the real meaning of the text instead of the text´s own revelation.  End-time leaders point to a hidden, deeper meaning that has been unsealed.

Another problem is that when Rev. 9:20,21 states that the inhabitants of the earth refused to repent, it is not because they betrayed Jesus (as Mr. Lee teaches).  God´s word reveals that they did not repent of their great evils - worshipping idols, committing murder, doing acts of sorcery, sexual behavior, and thefts (Rev. 9:20,21).  The written record does not reveal that they used to be a chosen people, but humankind at large.

¨The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.  And they did not repent of their murders or or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts¨ (Rev. 9:20,21, NRSV).

When we study this, it can be seen how final prophets with revelations from the spirit world (angels, Jesus, the Spirit of prophecy, or God) consider themselves ¨revealers¨ of the written word.  They give new meanings to words and make new connections that no one else sees.  Their voice is considered God´s Word which unveils the real meaning behind the written word (even if the written word affirms something else).

In Christian thinking, this is backwards.  As followers of the Lord, we are supposed to be careful.  When prophets with supernatural experiences with spirits appear, we must test how they use God´s Word since there are many deceptive spirits in the last days (I Tim. 4:1, I Jn. 4:1).  The voice in God´s written word corrects ideas from spirit-revelations, not the other way around.


What is the Meaning of X? Difficult SCJ Questions.

Dear reader,

According to Shinchonji, the SCJ pastor, Manhee Lee, had an encounter with heavenly entities on a mountain in South Korea.  These entities (God, Jesus, and a holy spirit/angel) gave Mr. Lee a ¨revealed word¨ or ¨revelation¨ on the prophecies related to the second coming (their meaning and their physical fulfillment).  Mr. Lee says that he is the New Apostle John figure who received the scroll (the revealed word) in Rev. 10.

When heavenly entities convince a leader that their ¨revelation¨ is true and a movement is started, it´s important to test this revelation.  Testing, of course, is not physically persecuting a leader or their followers, who are loved by God.  But, it´s important to avoid spiritual deception (I Tim. 4:1, I Jn. 4:1).

Leaders in end-time movements believe their revelation is from God because a) it seems to answer all the prophecies about the last stage of Christianity and b) no one else in Christianity knows their answers to these questions.  This is seen as evidence that the ¨revealed word¨ must be divine in origin.

Members in Shinchonji use the revealed word to pose questions to Christians.  In SCJ literature, it is stated that no one can answer their questions about Revelation or the second coming.  To Shinchonji, this demonstrates that the ¨revealed word¨ is superior to all Bible knowledge in Christian circles today.

These questions are also used to make Christans feel like they must have this knowledge (¨the revealed word¨) to be ready for Jesus´ return.  In his zeal, one SCJ member sent out more than 70 e-mails with questions to his Christian family.  The message was, ¨If you don´t know the answer to these questions, you need to study with Shinchonji?¨

What is the problem with these questions?  What do we discern?

First, it is suspicious when the ¨revealed word¨ asks questions that the written word does not require believers to know.  For example, one Revelation question is, ¨What is the meaning of the white stone in Rev. 2:17?¨ But, when we listen to God´s voice in Rev. 2:17, the written word is not commanding believers to know this meaning.

The reader is able to understand that it is something wonderful.

In Rev. 1:3, God´s voice states that those who read Revelation and take to heart what is written in it will be blessed.  Without perfect knowledge, believers throughout the centuries have been blessed by the powerful themes that come from the written word in Revelation.  But, the written word does not command us to understand every word.

Shinchonji members might respond, ¨This is equal to saying that it´s not important to understand Jesus´ words at all.¨  But, this is different.  All followers of Christ believe that we should study what Jesus makes known in the Bible.  The difference is when a ¨revealed word¨ emphasizes something that the written word does not emphasize.  Only the revealed word requires it to be known.

Instead of trusting in Christ´s power, love, and promises, people become more worried about understanding every word in Revelation that the ¨revealed word¨ asks a question about.

When God´s word does not emphasize something, we can trust that God either does not emphasize the meaning or he chooses not to reveal it, which is a divine prerogative (Jn. 21:20-23, I Cor. 13:12, I Jn. 3:2). A host of topics in Scripture is unknown to the Christian world (the identity of the spirits in 1 Pet. 3:18, future activities in eternity, the time that elapsed before Satan´s rebellion, and much more).

Imagine an English professor asking students, ¨When Cinderella lost her slipper in the story, what was the price of that slipper?¨  The story does not reveal the answer.  In the same way, the ¨revealed word¨ in Shinchonji creates questions that the story in the written word does not ask (and then expects answers that the written word does not reveal).

(Note to reader: Many questions raised by Shinchonji fall under this analysis, but it is possible that some do not.  Each question should be analyzed separately/case by case to see if it applies.)

What are some other problems with ¨revealed questions¨?

Since the ¨revealed¨ questions require answers not easily known in the written word, it slowly makes participants view the ¨revealed word¨ in Shinchonji as the primary source of truth.  Shinchonji would disagree with this, but it becomes more apparent to outside Christians that the revealed word from Mr. Lee becomes the real authority in SCJ, not the written word.

When this happens, it makes it nearly impossible to correct a leader with a ¨revealed word¨ with God´s written word.  Revealed ¨words/revelations¨ insist that their revelation unveils the deeper connection or the real meaning in the written word (even if the written word says something different).

For example, God´s word in Mt. 24:27 makes it known that the meaning of lightning is related to visibility, but the revealed word in SCJ cites other verses, like Lk. 10:18 and Rev. 11:19, to show that the deeper meaning in Mt. 24:27 does not refer to visibility.  So, the revealed word ¨corrects¨ the written word, not the other way around.

A third problem with the ¨revealed word¨ is circular interpretation.  One Shinchonji member once asked, ¨If Mr. Lee is not the Apostle John figure, who is?¨  But, this person did not realize that Mr. Lee (the new Apostle John) is the one who says there must be a new Apostle John.  When the written text is consulted on its own, it does not require followers of Jesus to believe a new John is coming.

Another case is when Mr. Lee reveals that the ¨one who overcomes¨ in Rev. 2,3 refers to one person, Mr. Lee, (as a primary meaning) and to others (as a secondary meaning).  Only Mr. Lee sees that this is a prophecy for a final leader.  When God´s Word is consulted independently, it is the exact opposite.

Fourth, when Shinchonji speaks of knowing answers to Revelation (how prophecies should be understood and how they are physically fulfilled), the assumption is that giving interpretations (and the physical fulfillment) is the same as giving the right interpretation (and the right physical fulfillment).  Teachers and students of logic know this is false.  A student can give answers to all the hard questions on an exam and still be wrong (even though their answers were unique and not found on any other exam).

The same is true with revelations from spirit entities to final prophets.  The kingdom of darkness has been revealing end-time answers to many groups for a long time. The fact that final prophets are convinced that supernatural beings from heaven are guiding them doesn´t mean that their guided answers are the right ones.  Crafty, intelligent spirits can deceive humans (1 Jn. 4:1), which is why we must test them.

Testing is not merely seeing if a ¨revealed word¨ can give answers to 40 questions on Revelation that the revealed word created, which is circular.  A much safer test is seeing whether or not the voice of the ¨revealed word¨ is the same voice in God´s written word.

Lastly, when we test the answers from Shinchonji´s revealed word, the ¨revealed word¨ seems to impose itself on the the written word.  The interpretations seem controlled and self-validating.  Mr. Lee says, ¨This is connected to the meaning here,¨ but other connections or meanings are possible too.  It feels controlled, like in other movements with a revealed word (see the testimonial section).

For instance, what is Shinchonji´s revealed answer to the ¨white stone¨ in Rev. 1:17?

God´s Word has many contexts and uses for stones/rocks (Ez. 36:26, Mt. 16:18, 2 Cor. 3:3, 1 Sam. 17:50, Ac. 4:11, Mk. 16:3, etc.), but Mr. Lee´s revealed word states that stones represent ¨the tools of God¨ (the words of God) used for judgment, like the stone tablets given to Moses.  In the end, the revealed word says the ¨white stone¨ is ultimately the revealed word (the revelation to Mr. Lee in Rev. 10).

¨The Bible borrows the physical qualities of a stone when it uses stones figuratively to represent the tools of God - people who pass judgment...The white stone (Rev. 2:17) that Jesus (the living stone) promised to give to the one who fights and overcomes the group of Satan (the Nicolaitans) represents the law, which is the word of the New Testament Jesus received from God.  This word is also the word of the open scroll from Rev. 10, and it is by this word that the earth and the sea are judged (Jn. 12:48, Rv. 16)¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 485-487).

At a certain point, the meanings in Revelation and other prophecies become predictable - everything refers, in some way or another, to the revealed word (see Mr. Lee´s book, Creation of Heaven and Earth).

In summary, when a revealed word appears from heavenly entities (an angel, Jesus, or God) and uses questions that it creates, puts itself above the meanings in the written word´s self-revelation, or controls meanings between verses, it is a sign to Christians.  It shows that the voice in God´s written revelation is not the same voice from the prophet´s revelation.

Thanks for considering these points and principles when testing Shinchonji´s questions.

Our Story/This Blog.

Dear reader,

This blog came into existence a couple years ago through one of my brothers who discovered that we had several family members involved in Shinchonji.  

We are from a large, Christian family in the United States and had one family member move to South Korea, get married, and then he and his wife became involved in Shinchonji.  Later, studies were done with two other family members who then joined Shinchonji as well.

The information we present here comes from conversations and e-mails with these family members.  The purpose is not to unkindly atttack them, the SCJ pastor (Mr. Lee), or other Shinchonji members, for they are precious and important to God.  Rather, the idea is to analyze and test Shinchonji´s fruit, Shinchonji´s revelation (the big ideas), and let others test what we see.  

Many end-time leaders harshly attack any Christians who disagree with their message, calling them Satan´s agents or tools.  Although Mr. Lee does the same thing in his book, he also writes, ¨Christians should sincerely try to find out if this testimony is true¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 566).  

Most people who join end-time groups, as they progress, fall under a spiritual spell.  They come to a point where their leader is Jesus´ voice.  The leader´s words are God´s words.  His voice ¨reveals¨ the real meanings in God´s Word (even if the written word is saying something else).  In Christian thought, this is backwards.  Christ´s followers use the voice in God´s written word to correct prophet-revelations, not let prophet-revelations correct/re-explain the voice in God´s written word.
In this blog, the articles include quotes from Shinchonji sources (Mr. Lee´s books, ¨Creation of Heaven and Earth,¨ and ¨The Truth Regarding Revelation´s Fulfillment,¨ and the Shinchonji website).  For those who want to get Shinchonji´s fuller perspective, please consult their website articles. 

Again, in our hearts, we have no intention to unkindly criticize Mr. Lee or other Shinchonji members, many of whom are zealous and genuinely want to see God´s kingdom come to earth.  We also appreciate one of our family member´s feedback, arguments, and critiques.  Although we do not know everything about Shinchonji (since we are on the outside), we do believe it is important to test what we can see.

Since some of the Christians in our family (see podcasts below) have had an interest in world religions, philosophy, Christian thinking/apologetics, evangelism, Christian history, and Christian cults, we all observed signs that were troubling.  In these articles, we edit and summarize these points from a basic, Christian perspective - one that is common to people from all different Christian backgrounds and denominations. 

We believe that God´s voice in his written word is the safest authority for Christians and it should be used to correct ideas or spirit revelations to prophets (Gal. 1:8, 2 Tim.3:16, I Jn. 4:1). We also hope to communicate the information in a gentle, kind tone with much love and concern.  

A final note.  This blog is designed for readers who already have concerns or doubts about Shinchonji. Devoted SCJ members will probably not be affected by the content.  Most followers who leave end-time groups need something bigger - a negative experience, expectations/prophecies that never come to pass, or a deeper and personal study of God´s Word showing that the leader´s voice and the voice in the written word are not the same.  

Thank you for your interest in these topics.  Best wishes in Christ.        

Jason M. Schmitz 



Podcasts Evaluating Shinchonji.

Three family members took the time to create the podcasts below (please scroll down).  Here are a few comments to add to what they point out.

1. Podcasts: The Doctrine Devoid of Repentance/God´s Holiness and Justice.

They mention how end-time groups focus heavily on prophetic knowledge and de-emphasize repentance and the solution humans need - Jesus´ remedy for sins in our place.  This is the focus in the New Testament revelation - the importance of being ¨in Christ¨ and ¨having the Son¨.  Although Mr. Lee´s two books in English acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins, the real emphasis is on the ¨revealed knowledge/word¨ as the final requirement for salvation (See pages 328-333 in ¨Creation of Heaven and Earth¨).

¨Those who receive the word of revelation from the new Apostle John, believe it, and obey are freed from their sins¨ (The Truth Regarding Revelation´s Fulfillment, p. 5).  ¨No one attains salvation simply by claiming to have been saved or to be orthodox....Only those who believe in and keep the revelation of the New Testament will go to heaven¨ (The Truth Regarding Revelation´s Fulfillment, pp. 57, 94).

2. Podcast: Shinchonji´s Fruit of Deception.

They mention how Shinchonji uses and justifies deception. Most followers of Christ (and even non-Christians) see this as a bad testimony.  

3. Podcast: A Different Jesus.

Throughout the history of Christianity, revelations from the spirit world have been giving end-time prophets a different definition of Jesus Christ, God, or the Holy Spirit.  Instead of letting the written word correct spirit-guided revelations, end-time leaders use spirit-guided revelations to correct what Christians throughout the centuries have seen in the written word. 

Here are the broadcasts.


Interpreting the Bible: SCJ´s Method.

Dear reader

If you have ever interacted with end-time groups before (and you see how they move from one Bible verse to another), you may ask yourself, ¨How did they get that explanation from this verse or that word?¨  It´s a very strange feeling that leaves Christians puzzled and frustrated.

Dialogues can seem fruitless when believers spend hours pointing to meanings in certain verses, but members in apocalyptic/end-time movements point to other verses (or even use the same ones with opposite meanings).  For example, Christians see the use of lightning for visibility in Mt. 24:27, but SCJ sees it as invisibility (using other verses, like Lk. 10:18, for support).  In I Thess. 5:1-8, SCJ explains those in the light as ¨those with the revealed word,¨ but Christians see this as referring to all true believers.

Many Christians and followers in apocalyptic/end-time groups do not realize that they are using different approaches to interpret the Bible.  This leads to some big questions about biblical interpretation.

What method should people who love God´s Word use to interpret it?  What approach do Christians and final prophets use to interpret the written word?  Why are the interpretations/explanations so different?  And, how can we truly know what God´s voice is saying?

Although there are different methods of Bible-interpretation, let´s look at three.  See which one you feel honors God´s Word the most and lets his voice be the final authority.  Understanding these methods shed light on why interpretations are so different.

1.  The first method is the leaders-guided approach.

This is when it is believed that God´s presence guides a group of leaders to explain the meaning of the Bible to common people.  The Watchtower Society or the Catholic Magisterium are examples.  The leaders become the authority since they are directed by God´s Spirit to explain the written word.

In Christian thinking, this method is not the best because every Christian should know God´s Word for themselves.  It also detracts believers from looking to the Bible and the supernatural voice of the Holy Spirit for answers.  Instead, they turn to the leaders as the primary voice of instruction.  In addition, groups with this interpretation method often fall prey to traditions or rules that become equal or more important than God´s voice in the written word itself (2 Tim. 3:16).

2.  A second method is a ¨revealed-word¨ approach.

This is when it is believed that God reveals meanings in the Bible to a final prophet.  Spirit entities (angels or Jesus) open seals and give revelations to final prophets.  The meanings center around the last stage of Christianity (i.e. prophecies about Christ´s return to earth).  The prophet´s voice becomes the voice in the written word, which is why members learn and memorize the prophet´s interpretations.  Even when the written word appears to communicate something different, the prophet´s explanation is the right one.

In Christian thinking, this method is dangerous because spirit entities have been revealing new and fresh information about the end of the world for a long time.  Also, it puts too much authority in the hands of one source, the prophet.  The prophet becomes a ¨revealer¨ of God´s Word and can even give meanings that the Bible does not give on its own.  For example, Mr. Lee reveals that the ¨east¨ in Rev. 7 refers to Korea because the Apostle John (Mr. Lee) ¨knows where the east is since he saw it from heaven¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 194), but the independent voice in God´s Word does not make this clarification.

In practice, this method makes the prophet´s revelation/revealed word the final authority since their voice is the interpreter of God´s Word.  To Christians, this is backwards.  The voice in God´s written word should correct spirit-revelations, not the other way around.

Shinchonji instructors might object and reply that everything is backed by the Scriptures.  But, this overlooks two points.  All groups with a revelation-leader quote the Bible profusely.  Even non-Christian religions, like Islam and Bahaism, quote the Bible to support their leaders.  The problem is when the connections, meanings, and verses cited are controlled by the revealer/interpreter.  Many Christians suspect the verses are being misrepresented when the revealed meanings disregard the context and seem forced on the Bible.  Just because a revealer-leader uses the written word or spiritual definitions for support does not mean it is according to the Bible.

Second, Christians discredit new meanings when the revelation/revealed word subtly distorts two important ideas in the Bible - Jesus´ identity and the requirements for final redemption from sins.  

Lastly, both the leaders-guided method and the revealed word approach use circular interpretation.  They explain a key verse as a secretive/hidden meaning for their own authority, which is circular and self-appointing.  Properly read by other Christians, the written word does not support the interpretation.  For instance, the Watchtower Society claims to the be the ¨wise and faithful¨ servant in Mt. 24:45-47, but Christians see the passage referring to all faithful disciples in the end.  Similarly, the SCJ pastor interprets verses for a final pastor, which only the final pastor sees as true prophecies for a final pastor.

3.  The Bible-Only Method.

Most believers rely on God´s presence in their lives to help them understand the important truths from Christ Jesus, and not necessarily ¨all the information¨ in the written revelation.  God does not hide his important truths from those who love him. The Scriptures communicate God´s voice (2 Tim. 3:16) to those who seek him with a pure heart, which is why the truths regarding sin, repentance, God´s love, redemption, the cross, life in Christ, eternal life, the Holy Spirit´s presence, and a human-divine relationship with God can be understood without an authoritative leader or group (1 Jn. 2:27, Ps. 119:97-104).

Both authoritative groups and revelation prophets argue that this Bibly-only method leads to many interpretations and denominations.  However, it is still superior because it allows God´s voice to reveal the ¨big and important truths¨ to believers on their own.  Secondary issues in Christianity can be debated ¨in-house¨ since everyone has the same authority (the written word).

When a revealer-prophet, like Mr. Lee in Shinchonji, is the final interpreter of the Scriptures, it becomes the voice of God (even above the independent voice in the written word).  This is also why Christians find it hard to correct spirit-revelations with the voice in the Bible.  It´s comparable to a judge who identifies himself as the sole interpreter of the U.S. Constitution.  As a result, other judges will find it hard to correct the authoritative judge.

In Christian thinking, the first voice we must listen to is God´s voice in the written word (2 Tim. 3:16), which is more authoritative than spirit-revelations to final prophets.

In closing, realizing that Shinchonji uses a different interpretation method helps understand why their interpretations are so different.  This is also why Christians and SCJ members can have Bible discussions and seem to get nowhere.  They are using two different methods to interpret God´s Word.  

Thanks for considering this analysis about interpretation philosophies.

Question for SCJ: Is There a Clear Promise for a Final Pastor?

Dear reader,

Thanks for taking these points to heart.

In the last two hundred years, many final leaders have given prophecies for themselves in the written word to assure their followers that God has chosen them.  Yet, Christian researchers notice that when final leaders reveal prophecies for themselves, the biblical texts do not say what the leaders affirm.

Let´s look at an example in Shinchonji.

According to Shinchonji´s public website, Mr. Lee has received information from an angel (a holy spirit), Jesus, and God.  These spiritual entities, working through Mr. Lee, reveal that the New Testament announces the coming of a final pastor.  To Mr. Lee, this is no exaggeration.

Mr. Lee´s coming is just as big as the Messiah´s first coming.  He writes, ¨Just as the Old Testament promises Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:39), the New Testament prophesies about this promised pastor¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 82).  ¨The Old Testament testified about one person in Jesus, God´s promised pastor.  It is no exaggeration to say that the New Testament testifies about the one pastor Jesus promised¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 337).  ¨It could be said that the New Testament proclaims one pastor promised by Jesus¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 429).

In Mr. Lee´s book, he explains that the Bible reveals a series of pastors and chosen people in different time periods, and that there is now a final pastor (Mr. Lee) and a final chosen people (Shinchonji) in the end. Through this final pastor God accomplishes his will in the book of Revelation.

What is the problem with this claim about a promised pastor?

First, a legitimate promise in the written word is one that everyone sees.  Otherwise, it is not a true promise according to the written word (the Bible).  If it were a clear promise, we should expect devoted Christians from the first century on to be talking about this coming, which we do not find in Christian writings.

Second, Mr. Lee´s statement that his coming is prophesied just like Jesus´ coming is not accurate.  Jesus´ coming in the Old Testament was foretold in a clear way.  Although many of the details were disputed in the first century, no one disputed the Messianic promise itself.  One Talmudic tradition says that the prophets spoke of nothing more important than the days of the Messiah.

The clarity of the Messiah´s coming was also confirmed by multiple groups.  The Essenes, for example, knew the Hebrew prophets spoke of a Messiah.  The Aramaic targums (translations of the Old Testament) inserted the Messiah in many texts.  Even the Samaritans believed a Messiah was to come (Jn. 4:25, 42).

When God´s voice wanted his people to believe in the Messiah´s coming, he used clear and unambiguous language.  Applied to Mr. Lee´s statement above, if there is a similar promise from God in the New Testament for a pastor, it should be equally transparent.

Thirdly, when we evaluate the verses used by Shinchonji for a final pastor, they are based on circular interpretation.  That is, they are real prophecies only to Shinchonji, which is a problem.  It should be verifiable and clear to all Christians.
For example, Mr. Lee teaches that the phrase ¨the one who overcomes¨ in Rev. 2,3 refers primarily to one individual/Mr. Lee (and, in a secondary sense, to those who overcome in Shinchonji).  But, according to the testimony of the written word, it is the exact opposite.  The primary meaning refers to all those who overcome in the churches (Rev. 2:24, 3:4), not just one individual.

Even if Mr. Lee were correct about this secret meaning, it is not a clear meaning that convinces Christians since the written word does not reveal it independently.  The same is true for other prophecy texts.

According to Mr. Lee, the promise of the Counselor in Jn. 14,16 is another prophecy for Mr. Lee.  But, he defines the Counselor to include two aspects - the Spirit and another ¨flesh¨ through whom the Spirit of the Counselor works.  But, the written word in Jn. 14,16 only specifies that the second Counselor is the Spirit of Truth or the Holy Spirit (promise), which Jesus said the world could not see (Jn. 14:16,17).

The Counselor/Holy Spirit was to indwell all the disciples, not just one future flesh/leader (Jn. 14:17, Ac. 1:4,5).  If the Counselor-leader is the only one who interprets that the Counselor-leader includes a second flesh, it is not based on something that all Christians see the written record affirming.

Mr. Lee also reveals that the references to the Apostle John in Revelation (Rev. 1:1,2, 10, etc.), the reference to one of the two witnesses in Rev. 11, the reference to the male child in Rev. 12, and the white horse in Rev. 19 are prophecies for a final pastor.  But, these are hidden prophecies for a pastor since the written word does not unambiguously refer these prophecies to a Christian pastor.

In the introduction to Revelation (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 176), Mr. Lee quotes Hosea 12:10 to show that that the Apostle John in Revelation refers to a promised pastor, a new Apostle John who must appear in the future.  According to one source, in the Korean translation of Hosea 12:10, it states that ¨prophets can be used figuratively,¨ but this does not constitute a specific prophecy.

A specific promise according to the Bible is one that the voice in the written record makes known to others independently, like in the writings of the Hebrew prophets announcing the Messiah´s coming.  If the written word does not make this clear, the real source of authority is the leader´s revelation (from heavenly entities), which other end-time leaders have used to reveal prophecies for their coming.

Imagine a U.S. judge declaring that ¨something is clear according to the U.S. Constitution¨.  This would mean that other judges could open the Constitution and find it there.  It would be suspicious if it were only clear to this particular judge and no other judge could confirm its clarity.  It would make everything based on this judge´s interpretation/perspective of the Constitution, but not the Constitution´s self-revelation.

The same is true in God´s Word.  One Christian lady said that after looking up Bible verses given to her of a final pastor, she was more convinced that God had not made this promise in the Bible.  According to the written word, God´s voice led her in the opposite direction.

One SCJ instructor replied that perhaps God planned to hide this promise (i.e. seal it) from Christians.  But, this creates more problems than it answers.  First, it would make Mr. Lee´s promise different than the promise of a Messiah in the Old Testament, which goes against Mr. Lee´s statement above.  Second, if God truly asks believers to follow a final pastor, it would be strange to hide this promise in his written testimony and then expect everyone to believe a promise that is not clearly revealed in the Bible.

Even though the written word gives many clear prophecies about the end, Christians have never seen a clear promise to follow a world pastor who embodies Jesus´ spiritual return.  Jesus´ first sign of the end is a warning to stay away from leaders who come in his name and embody his expected return (Lk. 21:8, Mt. 24:4,5).  See article on Mr. Lee´s claim to be the flesh-spirit union with Jesus´ returning spirit.

Questions for reflection.  

In Latin America, there is a group that believes that their first leader was the new Aaron of the Christian world.  Are there any clear prophecies for a new Aaron in the Bible?  Should followers of Christ believe a promise that only a final leader makes clear to their group?  What is the clearest example/promise in Shinchonji of a final pastor?  If it is clearly described by God´s voice in the written word, what other groups recognize it as a real promise?  If it is not clearly revealed, what are the spiritual implications?    

The Parable of the Two Seeds in Mt. 13.

Dear reader,

When a final prophet says that an angel, Jesus, and God gave them a revealed word/revelation, it is important to test it with the written word.  The Apostle John said to test the spirits (I Jn. 4:1).  Testing, of course, is not physically persecuting a leader (or their followers), but it is necessary to avoid deception.

One discerning test is to see how the spiritual entities (the angel, Jesus, and God) treat the written word.  Do they submit to the meanings in the written word or do they reveal new meanings without the context in mind?  Does the revealed word reveal meanings that the written word does not reveal on its own?  Does the revealed word connect verses that seem unrelated or controlled?  Is the revealed word the same voice as the voice in the written word?  

With this in mind, let´s test Shinchonji´s revelation about the parable of the two seeds. 

According to Mr. Lee, the parable of the two seeds in Mt. 13:24-29 is the first parable people should learn in the Bible (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 289).  To understand the background, Mr. Lee teaches that God prophesied in Jer. 31:27 that he would plant the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.  Mr. Lee says that this was fulfilled in Jesus´ first coming.

¨Approximately 2,600 years ago, God prophesied through the prophet Jeremiah that the day was coming when he would plant the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast (Jer. 31:27, NKJV).  This prophecy was fulfilled roughly 600 years later in Jesus´ first coming (Mt. 13:24,25)¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 289).

Mr. Lee explains that the two seeds planted in the parable (Mt. 13:24-29) represent Jesus´ word (a good seed) and Satan´s word (a bad seed).  At the end, Christ harvests the good/wheat-like seeds.  These seeds symbolize believers in God´s word, seen as Shinchonji´s revealed word at spiritual Mt. Zion (Shinchonji).  Those who do not enter Shinchonji belong to Satan´s seed.

¨Those born of God´s seed (i.e. the wheat-like believers) will be harvested into the barn of heaven.  The barn of heaven is Mt. Zion where God´s people sing the new song.  On the other hand, anyone who is not harvested at the time of the harvest has proven they belong to the weeds, which are born of the devil´s seed. ...Jesus prophesied that he would come back to harvest the field where he had sown the seed.  This prophecy is finding its fulfillment today after 2,000 years.¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 302,303).

In addition, Mr. Lee teaches that Jesus´ seed and Satan´s seed are in the same field, which represents Christian churches.  According to Mr. Lee, people must leave their churches, which have Satan´s seed in them, and come to Shinchonji.

¨In this parable the good seed is the word of God, and the man who sowed it is Jesus.  The field is Jesus´ church, and the enemy is the devil  The weeds the enemy sowed represent the words of the devil.  Since the weeds were sown among the wheat, it is clear that the good seed and the weeds are planted in the same field.  This tells us that the word of God is mixed with the word of Satan within the churches of Jesus.  Again, Satan´s word has been sown in the church...The true grain (wheat) refer to true believers who are born again of the word of God.  The weeds are church congregation members who are born of the word of Satan....  Which of these two groups of church goers will the angels harvest when the time comes? Certainly it will be the wheat-like believers, born of the word of God, who are harvested (Mt. 13:30, Rv. 14:14-16).  The children of Satan (the weeds) will be left behind in their churches¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 300, 301).

Since this is a revelation to Mr. Lee, what do we notice when we test it with the Scriptures?

First, using parables to give revealed meanings has been a characteristic of apocalyptic leaders and end-time  groups in South Korea for a long time.  See article on the history of Mr. Lee before Shinchonji.  Mr. Lee was associated with (and studied under) apocalyptic leaders before Shinchonji.

Second, Mr. Lee´s revelation does not take into account the meaning of the planting in Jeremiah 31.  In context, God´s voice is prophesying a final restoration for Israel (Jer. 30, 31).  In Shinchonji thinking, physical Israel is fully rejected by God, not fully restored.  The opposite is true in the written word.  God´s voice (in five of the minor and three of the major prophets) speaks of a final restoration.

The promises in Jer. 31 were partially fulfilled when the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile and partially fulfilled in the Messiah´s first coming via the new covenant.  Yet, on account of God´s loving faithfulness, he promises to reveal his glory through a final restoration of Israel in the end - spiritual renewal, Jerusalem´s exaltation, a Jewish return to their land, rescuing Israel from their enemies, and peace under the Messiah´s reign.

Jesus told the Jews that they would not see him again until they blessed his return (Lk. 13:35).  For a more in depth study on a final restoration, consult Lk. 1:32,33, Ac. 1:6,7, Ac. 3:19-21, Rom. 11:1,11,12, Rom. 11:25-28, Ezek. 34, 36,37, Micah 4:6-5:5, Zeph. 3:9-20, Is. 9:7, Is. 10:20-11:16, Is. 14:1,2, Is. 27:6, Is. 35, Zech. 8:7,11-13, 20-23, Zech. 13:1,2, Jer. 30, 31,32, Jer. 33:6-16, Amos 9:11-15, Joel 3.
The two seeds in Jer. 31:27 refer to the promise that God would restore Israel (the house of Israel and the house of Jacob) in the future.  The references to planting and the seed of man and beast (people and animals) is a common analogy of restoration and future prosperity.  Similar symbols are used in Ez. 36:9-11.

¨I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel.  The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous.  I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before (Ez. 36:9-11).

God also makes use of the imagery of sowing in reference to Israel in Hos. 1:10,11 (using a play on words with the name Jezreel).  See Hos. 2:21-23 and Hos. 14:4-7 for a future restoration.  In the prophets, the references to sowing, planting, and building carries positive connotations of future blessing and stability.

Mr. Lee´s revealed word misses the context in Jer. 31 and reveals that the beast (NKJV´s translation of Jer. 31:27) refers to what Satan would sow.  Mr. Lee calls Satan a beast and applies it to Jer. 31:27.  ¨Revelation figuratively calls Satan the devil, the dragon, and the ancient serpent (Rev. 20:2).  This is why the weeds Satan sowed are called the seed of beasts (Jer. 31:27)¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 291).

When we look at the verses surrounding Jer. 31:27, God is the one who is planting, not God and Satan.  God will plant (restore) Israel among the people and animals.  It will not be a desolate time, but a time of re-building and prosperity.  In the written word, it does not mention Satan in this context.

Fourth, Mr. Lee´s revealed word states that the field in which Jesus plants his seed is the church.  ¨In this parable the good seed is the word of God, and the man who sowed it is Jesus.  The field is Jesus´ church...¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 300).  However, the written word declares that the field is the ¨world¨.  Jesus answered, ¨The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world¨ (Mt. 13:37, 38).  Even though some believers see a secondary application to Satan´s influence in Christian churches that do not honor Christ Jesus, the text speaks of his kingdom in the world.

Lastly, Shinchonji´s revealed word makes the ¨good seed¨ in the parable refer to those who are born of Shinchonji´s revealed word.  To Christians, this is an example of an end-time movement appropriating the Bible to make it refer to their group´s situation or message.  The revealed word in Shinchonji makes the good seed in the parable refer to those who believe in the revealed word, which is circular interpretation.

In the written word, the two seeds are the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt. 13:38), similar to the good and bad fish in the parable of the net and the lake (Mt. 13:47-51).  Jesus´ point is that there will be a final separation of the righteous and the wicked in the end.  It doesn´t define righteousness as ¨believing and obeying a final revelation¨.  Christian righteousness is much deeper than that.

After testing this parable, we notice that the revealed voice is not saying what the voice in the written word reveals.  In contrast, the revealed word is giving meanings by quoting the written word, but not by submitting to what the written word is saying.  In Christian thought, when differences exist between the written word and a revealed word, the written voice is superior.  

Should SCJ Lie About Their Bible Studies?

Dear reader,

What would you think of a missionary who exaggerated conversion stories to obtain funds for his spiritual work?  Or, how would you feel about a minister who employed dishonest advertising as a means to attract people into his church?  Is it appropriate to use deception with Jesus´ message?

Most followers of Christ around the world (and even ethical, non-believers) discern that dishonesty is not right.  In Rom. 12:17, God tells us to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  

One Shinchonji instructor said that deception was acceptable because Christian churches contain spiritual lies, traditions of men, and Satan´s seed.  It is needed to make Christians interested in SCJ or to thrwart the devil´s plans.  This person also mentioned Shinchonji instructors do not reveal their church name because information on the internet (and in the media) give people inaccurate ideas about Shinchonji.

What is the problem with this type of reasoning?

First, according to the written word, which is the standard for believers, God tells Christians to speak truthfully to one another (Eph. 4:25) and to conduct ourselves without deceit (1 Pet. 2:1).  This is the underlying principle that Christians should adhere to.

When people in an end-times movement make their leader´s words equal to God´s word, they are open to any command.  One SCJ member confessed that she used to recruit Christians by stating that a seminary student (i.e. a Shinchonji instructor in disguise) needed to do a Bible study with a number of believers before graduating.  She stated that a SCJ instructor posed as a pastor of a non-denominational church abroad to attract Christians.  Others testity that SCJ members sit in on Bible studies with newcomers, pretending to be listening for the first time to reinforce the information.  Other SCJ members in MANNAM have lied about their assocation with Shinchonji.  

If Shinchonji´s message were true, why not rely on the power of the message itself to convince people?

Dishonesty makes it seem like God´s message does not have any power on its own. In the first century, the disciples relied on God´s power from the Holy Spirit and the power of the message itself to convince listeners (I Thes. 1:5, Rom. 1:16, I Cor. 2:4, Ac. 1:8).  They did not need to resort to dishonesty (and they lived in a pagan society with denomic activity and influences).

Why would the real Jesus use a spiritual method that turns Christians off?  When other Christians hear about Shinchonji´s practices, it is a poor testimony to them.  Using lies to spread a final truth is a spiritual incongruency (2 Cor. 6:14).

One Shinchonji instructor replied that we should be willing to ¨cut off a hand¨ if it would save someone from eternal damnation, which meant that ¨lying about SCJ¨ was justifiable.  But, how would this person feel if he heard of other groups using this same tactic with the same argument?  The end doesn´t justify the means.

In the written word, we know that God is morally perfect and hates lying - all forms of lying.  God abhors spiritual and physical lies.  Lying implies hiding something or misguiding others for a deeper purpose.  This hurts humans, which God truly dislikes (Prov. 6:16-19).

What about spiritual entities?  Should messengers of God promote truth or deception?  If two spiritual entities (an angel and Jesus) appeared to a final leader and approved of lying to the Christian world, what would you make of these entities?   The Apostle John declares that no lie comes from the truth (I Jn. 1:21).

With this in mind, do you think God would approve of a recruitment program that included a practice that God really despises?  Since God is the standard of righteous conduct, it is inconsistent for God to send a supernatural vision to Manhee Lee that approves of something he hates. 

To Christians love Christ, a final movement that approves of lying is a sign that something is wrong.

History Before Shinchonji: Where was Mr. Lee?

Dear reader, 

One phenomenon in Christian history is how apocalyptic leaders and movements give birth to other movements that attempt to be the final movement in Christianity.

The following report sent by a professor in California substantiates Mr. Lee´s involvement in three other Korean end-time movements before Shinchonji.  According to this record, Mr. Lee was associated with (and studied under) apocalyptic groups for many years.

One SCJ member did not dispute this information.  He did correct that he believed Mr. Lee´s health was not in danger.  (According to SCJ thought, Mr. Lee will never see physical death.) He also pointed out that Mr. Lee never condoned the previous movements and should not be totally evaluated based on his previous associations.    

Nonetheless, the information is helpful to understand Mr. Lee´s past influences.     

A Short Genealogy of the Shinchonji Church of Jesus (1)

Here is some information on historical and theological connections between the Shinchonji Church of Jesus and other apocalyptic Korean movements.   Manhee Lee (b. 1931), the founder of the Shinchonji Church of Jesus, originally belonged to a faith-healing group begun by Tae Sun Park (b. 1915) (S. Lee 139).  This group was known as the Olive Tree Movement, because Mr. Park linked himself to the return of Christ as one (or both) of the two witnesses or olive trees in Revelation 11 (Grayson 209; Moos 117).  (His followers, in fact, revised Wesley’s hymn to read “Joy to the world, the Olive has come” [Moos 116]).  Mr. Park also identified himself as the mysterious, ever-victorious figure who comes from the east in Isaiah 41:2 (Grayson 209).  His followers called him the “Righteous Man of the East,” and they (or he) claimed he would never die—or, at least, that the last day of the world would come within his lifetime (Moos 120).

The Olive Tree movement was the largest and fastest growing of the new, syncretic Korean religions after the Korean War (Grayson 208).  By 1963 it had gained from 800,000 to 2,000,000 followers in over 300 congregations (Moos 119).  Many of the followers lived in specially constructed industrial communities outside of Seoul that made a variety of “Zion” products—everything from blankets and underwear to caramels and artificial flowers (Moos 113).  The movement also had a popular presence in rural areas, where Mr. Park’s distinctive white churches, with crimson crosses painted atop crenellated towers, dotted the countryside (Grayson 207). By the mid-to-late 1960s, it seemed to some observers that Mr. Park’s movement would supplant mainline Protestant groups in South Korea (Grayson 208).

Mr. Park was an industrialist and elder in the Presbyterian Church who was attracted to revivalist movements.  He himself had a growing sense that there must be more to Christian faith than the Presbyterians seemed to offer.  While helping to lead an all-night revival meeting for 20,000 people in southern Seoul in 1955, he received a vision of fire and water descending from heaven.  He then came down from the platform and massaged the head of a man identified as a cripple, and Mr. Park’s helpers then cried out that the man could walk.  By sunrise, after Mr. Park had circulated among the crowd and massaged many heads and limbs, his helpers shouted to great applause that he had healed 1,000 people (Grayson 208; Moos 115-116).  Thus the Olive Tree movement was born.

Park was expelled from the Presbyterian Church in 1956 on charges of heresy.  He claimed in return that he was a truer Christian than the ones who denounced him, and his followers continued to call him Elder Park.  It should be noted here that a vexed relationship with the Presbyterian Church has marked not only Mr. Park’s movement but also all of his successor movements, all of which have regarded themselves as supra-denominational (Grayson 208; Moos 117).

The worship services that evolved in the Olive Tree movement were somewhat Presbyterian in form but came to involve hours of frenzied hymn-chanting, hand-clapping, and drum-beating.  Many followers, both women and men, deserted their families to donate all their worldly possessions in order to gain eternal life on Mr. Park’s terms.  According to the anthropologist Felix Moos, “Women followers were observed to be especially eager to offer whatever possessions they had—rings, watches, clothing; some ardent believers were even seen shedding their skirts during revival services since they had nothing else to give” (119).

Mr. Park was accused, among other things, of injuring and defrauding his followers, and he was sentenced to two and a half years in jail in 1959.  But a regime change resulted in a swift pardon, and Mr. Park spent only a few months in prison (Grayson 208; Moos 117-18).  Scandals connected with Mr. Park and his family from the 1970s onward, however, resulted in mass defections (Grayson 208). 

By 1969, Manhee Lee had already abandoned the Olive Tree movement to join another—the Tent Temple movement.  The Tent Temple—or the Temple of the Tabernacle—was founded by Jae Yul Yoo (b. 1949), also known as the “Young Servant.”  Mr. Yoo had previously been a follower of Jogkyu Kim and his Hosang prayer house.  When Mr. Kim became involved in a sexual scandal with a female member, however, Mr. Yoo left the group with a handful of members and started his own (S. Lee 138).

According to Mr. Yoo, Jesus spoke only in parables and secrets.  Since the end times were now said to be imminent, these parables and secrets needed to be illumined, and Mr. Yoo alone could properly do this. His method of interpretation was to match each passage of Scripture with its hidden twin.  For, according to Mr. Yoo, all verses come in secret pairs (S. Lee 139).

Mr. Yoo also taught that the Lord had prepared a secret room near the reservoir of Mt. Chungkye, on the southern outskirts of Seoul, as a refuge of escape from the battle of Armageddon.  After the chosen saints entered this valley, the world would be covered by fire.  Then the saints would be made into kings to rule the world (S. Lee 138-39). 

Mr. Yoo’s Tent Temple movement grew to 5,000 members in the 1970s.  The group shrank when Mr. Yoo was accused of fraud.  Mr. Yoo subsequently gave up his leadership of the movement, donated its assets to the Presbyterian Church, and moved to the United States in 1980, where he now pursues a private business and denounces the teachings of Mr. Lee, in part because Mr. Lee was critical of Mr. Yoo’s defection from his own movement (S. Lee 139, 143).

Mr. Lee’s Shinchonji Church of Jesus is one of several apocalyptic groups that came out of Mr. Yoo’s Tent Temple movement.  Two other such groups are Poong Il Kim’s Saegwang Central Church and the late In Hee Koo’s Heaven Gospel Witnessing Association (S. Lee 139). 

Mr. Kim, founder of the Saegwang Central Church, was originally an evangelist for Mr. Park and then a follower of Mr. Yoo.  He founded his own movement in 1974.  Like Mr. Yoo, he held that all passages in the Bible are secretly paired—and that one must know these secret pairings to be saved.  He named himself “The Counselor” or “Another Counselor.”  According to Mr. Kim, the Kingdom of Heaven would soon be established in Korea, and the abode of salvation would be in his church alone.  In 2009, he publically confessed in a newspaper that he was not the divine Counselor after all, and he repented and apologized.  However, he has maintained leadership of his movement, and he continues to insist that believers can only receive their salvation through the Saegwang Central Church (S. Lee 140-42).

Like Mr. Lee, In Hee Koo of the Heaven Gospel movement had been part of Mr. Park’s group and, also like Mr. Lee, had joined the Temple Tent movement in the late 1960s.  He started his own Heaven Gospel movement in 1971 after receiving a vision in which he was commanded to “receive the worship of the nations.”  He was imprisoned as part of a government crackdown on pseudo-religions in 1975, and he died in prison in 1976.  Among his teachings: (1) the Korean flag was a symbol for God and contained the meaning and message of Scripture; (2) Scripture itself was a system of parables, secrets, symbols, and mirrored shadows;  (3) the saints should learn the words of God directly from those who had received the Spirit of God; (4) the second coming of Christ would take place in Korea; (5) Mr. Koo himself embodied that second coming; (6) judgment day would arrive on November 10, 1973.  When judgment day did not arrive as predicted, many of his followers literally wanted their money back.  Other followers, however, even after Mr. Koo had died, continued to believe that they had witnessed in him the second coming of Jesus (S. Lee 141-43).

After Mr. Koo’s death, the Heaven Gospel movement divided into many branches.  Among them, The Korean Jesus Churches of Heavenly Gospel Evangelical Association became the best known.  This group was headed by Chong Il Choi, who represented himself as the “wife “of Mr. Koo.  He was regarded as the “Lamb” who embodies the second coming of Christ in Revelation.  Mr. Choi also claimed that he could perfectly interpret all sixty-six books of the Bible.  Each of the branches of the Heaven Gospel movement vigorously asserts itself as the only path of true belief (S. Lee 141).

Mr. Lee’s Shinchonji Church of Jesus is the third main offshoot of the Tent Temple movement.  In addition to being a follower of Mr. Sun and then of Mr. Yoo, Mr. Lee subsequently followed Man Bong Baek, who claimed to be God and was referred to by many as “Solomon.”  Mr. Baek, like Mr. Koo, also stipulated a date for the end of the world.  When this date came and went, Mr. Baek’s followers deserted him.  Mr. Lee gathered some of these to form the Shinchoji Church of Jesus (SCJ).  Mr. Lee dates the official beginning of SCJ as 1984, which, he says, is “the year that the universe completed its orbit and returned to its point of origin” (M. Lee 44).

Like others from the Tent Temple movement, Mr. Lee asserts that the Bible is made up of parables and secrets, and that one must understand the exact meaning of these passages in order to be saved.  Mr. Lee, as the “promised pastor,” is the only one who can impart a complete mastery of the scriptures.  Also like others from the Tent Temple movement, Mr. Lee asserts that the new heaven and new earth will begin in Korea.  When the number of the saved reaches 144,000, the era of Shinchonji will begin at Gua Chun City, located in the same valley designated by Mr. Yoo.  At this time, or by this time, the souls of 144,000 martyrs, having waited in heaven, will enter the bodies of the 144,000 SCJ saints.  Mr. Lee himself, like Mr. Sun before him, claims that he will never die, and that his followers will partake of his “fleshly immortality,” a sort of redefined resurrection, through becoming the recipients of the spirits of the dead martyrs.  At present, Mr. Lee is in his early 80s and not in good health.  Recently, several leaders within SCJ have departed from the organization to begin their own movements, each leader claiming to be divinely anointed and uniquely possessed of the truth of the scriptures (S. Lee 140-43).

In summary, then, SCJ is one of three Korean apocalyptic movements that were all derived from Mr. Yoo’s Tent Temple movement.  In addition, the leaders of all three of these movements were originally involved in Mr. Park’s Olive Tree movement.  At least two of these third-generation movements, including SCJ, have in turn given rise to further, somewhat similar movements.  

Also in summary, it can be seen that SCJ demonstrates a number of common features with one or more of these related movements:

  • A leader who claims divine appointment or divine identity, revealed through a vision.
  • This leader’s claim of complete and exclusive understanding of the scriptures.
  • A focus on the parables of Jesus and other figurative or “secret” portions of scripture—or other portions understood by the leader as figurative.
  • An understanding of the leader’s exact interpretation of the parables and other figurative portions of scripture as prerequisite to a person’s salvation.
  • The claim that no other leader or group offers the way of salvation.
  • The claim that the leader will never die.
  • The claim that the leader has a messianic role in the end times, which are imminent or in fact have already begun.
  • The claim that Korea is a focal point of action in the end times.
  • The claim that the valley of Mt. Chungkye in particular will be a refuge and gathering place for believers in the end times.
  • The future role of these believers as rulers of the world.                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Works Cited

Grayson, James Huntley.  Korea: A Religious History.  London: Routledge Curzon, 2002.

Lee, Man Hee.  The Creation of Heaven and Earth.  Republic of Korea: Shinchonji Press, 2009.

Lee, Seung Yun.  “The Genealogy of Cults: ‘The Tabernacle-Temple Denomination.’”  Modern Religion April 2011: 138-43.

Moos, Felix.  “Some Aspects of Park Chang No Kyo—A Korean Revitalization Movement.”  Anthropological Quarterly July 1964: 110-20.

(1). Researched by professor Paul Willis, willis@westmont.edu, revised July, 2012.

Is Gen. 1-3 a Parable for a Chosen Pastor?

Dear reader,

When a revelation from spiritual entities (angels, Jesus, or God) appears to a final prophet, it is important to test the message with God´s Word.  Testing is not merely seeing if the revelation gives answers to Bible prophecies about Jesus´ return, which many revelations do.  Rather, it is seeing if the voice in the revelation is the same voice in the written word.  In Christian thinking, the written word is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16).  It is superior to voices and messages from final prophets.      

According to Mr. Lee, he received a revelation (a revealed word) about the Bible´s last prophecies and their physical fulfillment.  In Mr. Lee´s writings, he teaches a simple, biblical pattern where God choses a pastor, creates a people, the people betray God, God´s people are destroyed, and then this process is repeated (until the last pastor, Mr. Lee, and a last people appear in Revelation). 

Mr. Lee claims that the first pastor chosen was Adam.  He teaches that Genesis 1-3 is a figurative account of how God chose this first pastor.  ¨Thus, understanding Genesis 1 literally and thinking that it records the creation of the natural world raises many contradictions.  The order of creation is recorded figuratively to hide the secret of the creation of God´s world from the evil one¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 33).

The following description is a simplified version of Mr. Lee´s explanation of a pastor in the beginning.  This summary of the six days comes from the book cited above, pages 33-51.

1st Day – God is looking for a light, which represents a pastor.  Jesus, a chosen pastor, also claimed to be a light (Jn. 12:46, Jn. 8:12).

2nd Day – God creates the expanse/sky, which represents the tabernacle/heaven of the chosen people.  The sun, moon, and stars are part of the expanse/sky, which refer to Jacob and the chosen people in the Bible (Gen. 37:9,10).  Water represents the ¨revealed word¨ from the pastor (Dt. 32:1,2, Am. 8:11).  The water above is the revealed word and the water below is lies. 

3rd Day – The land that appears refers figuratively to the chosen people and their tabernacle.  Both the tabernacle/sky and the land refer to the chosen people.  ¨The dry land that appears on the third day and the heaven created on the second day both refer to God´s tabernacle¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 39).  The vegetation, plants, and trees refer to believers (Is. 40:6-8, Dt. 32:2). 

4th Day – The great light of this day is the chosen pastor.  The moon represents evangelists in the position of a mother.  The many stars are believers in the position of children, but they have different levels of glory (I Cor. 15:41).  They are given authority to rule over the world.

5th Day – The water represents God´s word (Am. 8:11), the fish represent believers (Hb 1:14, Mt. 4:18-22; Mt. 13:47-50), and the birds represent the spirits that belong to God.  On the fifth day the holy spirit comes as a bird to carry out its work.  Filling the earth means that people are evangelized. 

6th Day – The cattle, creeping things, and wild animals represent the four beasts in Rev. 4:6,7.  The four living creatures of the spiritual world are heaven´s army.  On this day an organization, like the four living creatures in the spiritual world, is created on earth.  This is what Moses did when he built the tabernacle on earth (Ex. 25:8,9). 

Mr. Lee summarizes the creation account saying, ¨Once again, the creation account of Gn. 1 is a spiritual re-creation, stated in the terms of a physical creation.  This creation is not limited to a specific generation.  It is repeated over and over until all of Revelation is fulfilled.  This process of creating heaven and earth takes six thousand years, which is likened unto six days.  The re-creation of heaven and earth in Gn 1 is completed six thousand years later in Rv 21 (Rv. 21:6)¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 47).     

What is the problem of this summary?  What do we discern?

First, when we look up the passages used to support this figurative explanation, it seems like it is a model/voice forced on the Genesis account instead of the Genesis account forcing itself on Christians.  For example, just because Jesus said that his disciples would be fishers of men, it does not mean that ¨fish¨ figuratively refer to men in Genesis.  Jesus used this figure for fishermen to help them understand spiritual truths, the same with the parable of the net (Mt. 13:47-50).

Another example that seems misapplied is the metaphor of beasts (those who lack knowledge) in Prov. 30:2,3 and applying it to beasts (animales) in Genesis.  This comparison and others seem to be controlled ¨interpretations¨ and connections based on the revealer´s authority, not the Bible´s authority (i.e. the voice in God´s word).  If everything is according to the Bible, it means the Bible makes it known to the world, not a leader.   

A second problem is that when a final prophet unveils figurative meanings, it puts all the interpretation power in their hands.  Their voice is God´s voice.  They can make any symbol into a figurative or spiritual truth (as long as a verse is cited or a spiritual explanation is given for support).  But, simply citing Bible verses does not mean that this is the right meaning or connection.

Many end-time groups move from verse to verse in new ways to tie themes together and use spiritual definitions to back their explanations.  But, there comes a point when Christians sense that the connections and explanations are from the prophet´s authority, not from the written word´s own revelation/God´s voice. 

Third, Mr. Lee  uses many arguments to show that Genesis must not be literal (i.e. evidence from secular sources of millions of years of life on earth, Cain´s wife and fear of being killed by other people, the appearance of light on the fourth day, etc.).  This is important because Mr. Lee needs Genesis to be figurative to show that it refers spiritually to a pastor-people model. 

For example, Mr. Lee teaches that Adam was not the first real man.  Adam was only the first man to receive God´s word (i.e. become the first chosen pastor).  Mr. Lee states that other beasts (men without God´s word) existed before Adam.  According to Mr. Lee´s revelation, Adam even had parents.

¨Second, the Bible implies that Adam had parents.  God told Adam to leave his parents and unite with his wife (Gen. 2:24).  If Adam really was the first human God created, how could he have had parents? Clearly, Adam was not the first humanAlthough there were people living before Adam, because God gave Adam the breath of life that makes him a living being, God decided that Adam was the first ¨man¨.  Anyone with a physical body that lacks God´s breath of life is a mere lump of earth…The fact that no man had yet been created in this passage means God had not yet chosen a pastorThere were many people before Adam, but because they did not know God and they did not have God´s word, they were considered beasts.¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 58, 59, 61).

The problem is that this means that God created beasts (humans) who did not have his word before Adam appeared.  This is strange.  How long did these humans exist without God´s Word?  Also, why wouldn´t God give the first humans his word?

A fourth problem is that Mr. Lee makes Gen. 1-3 a spiritual parable about the creation of a pastor instead of a real account of God´s glory and power in creating a physical world from nothing.  Instead of believing the simple and straightforward voice in the first chapters, Shinchonji asks Christians to trust another voice about the beginning.  It changes the story.

Imagine writing a little story book for children with this scene.  ¨In the beginning, many beasts existed.  They were humans without God´s word and knew nothing about God.  Then God chose one pastor to help his parents and other beasts.  This pastor was Adam.  He was created from dust because all nutrients come from dust or the earth (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 60).  He became the first man when he received God´s word.  The trees and animals/beasts that existed in Adam´s world were other people who lived in his community.¨   

See Mr. Lee´s book for fuller explanations on this topic (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 33-50, 54-62).  In Christian thought, Adam was the first man (I Cor. 15:45), not the first pastor.  The written word refers to Adam as the first person to become a living being, not a being who simply received God´s word.  ¨Thus, it is written, ´The first man, Adam, became a living being´¨ (I Cor. 15:45).  Before Adam, there were no other living humans.  This is why he is called the first.

Sin entered the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12), which means there was no sin before Adam´s time.  If there were other humans around before Adam, they would have been perfect, sinless creatures.  But, how could they be perfect if they didn´t have God´s word and were just beasts?  These and other questions arise if Mr. Lee´s model is true.

One Shinchonji member quoted Rom. 5:13 and said that ¨sin¨ was not taken into account when there is no law (i.e. before Adam´s time).  But, this verse is out of context.  In Rom. 5, Paul refers to the time between Adam and Moses, not before Adam (See the time frame in Rom. 5:14).        

A fourth problem with a figurative creation account is circular reasoning and open interpretations.  Many final prophets with spirit-guided revelations interpret symbols or words  to self-validate their final prophet and group.  For example, the revelation to Joseph Smith said that the ¨stick¨ in Ez. 37:15-17 was a figurative symbol for Joseph Smith´s revelation.  But, Christian thinkers notice this as circular since the ¨revealer-prophet¨ is the one who reveals these meanings instead of the written word.  This is what we perceive in Gen. 1-3 with a final pastor revealing a ¨chosen-pastor model¨ for a final pastor.

Lastly, Mr. Lee´s arguments against a literal Genesis are not new.  Many liberal professors and scholars contend that Gen. 1-11 is mythical and use similar points.  However, many Christian and Jewish thinkers see that such conclusions only create more problems.  See internet articles on how Jesus and the apostles viewed Genesis 1-11 as primarily historical and real (e.g. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab3/literal-genesis) .

Even if Gen. 1-3 were a parable, what is the important point?  The voice that Christian and Jewish readers note is the need and promise for a sin-redeemer.  It is a promise repeated to Abraham in Gen. 12.  Early Jewish sources recognized that there is an emphasis on the Messiah´s coming in Gen. 3:15.

¨The Palestinian Targum testifies that in Gen. iii.15 there is promised a healing of the bite in the heel from the serpent, which is to take place "at the end of the days, in the days of the King Messiah." In the Palestinian Midrash to Genesis (Bereshith Rabba xii) we read: "The things which God created perfect since man sinned have become corrupt and do not return to their proper condition until the son of Perez (i.e. according to Gen. xxxviii. 29, Ruth iv. 18 ff. the Messiah out of the tribe of Judah) comes." (1)

This is what nations and individuals need, a remedy for sin.  In Christian thinking, this is the greatest evil in the world.  True redemption comes through Christ and being ¨in Christ¨.  Although Mr. Lee understands this point in Gen. 3:15, his central focus is different.  His revelation emphasizes a figurative account that sets up a model for a chosen pastor at the end (i.e. Mr. Lee).  
(1)  http://hadavar.org/drupal/book/export/html/107, Accessed July, 2013.