Why So Many People Study with Shincheonji. 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, accounts of 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?

The visions are intriguing because they unlock puzzling Bible predictions on the end-times.  Ironically, they give answers to questions the Bible itself does not answer on its own.  This makes it interesting.  Further, the information is used by their leader to convince others it must be from God.  Leaders then recruit people with detailed studies about their revelation-vision, which becomes their primary focus.

With discernment, of course, we know that just because explanations come from a supernatural experience or vision, it does not necessarily mean it is true.  Anyone who studies recent Christian history knows that many sincere leaders have been deceived by spirit entities and visions.  The Apostle Paul warned that Satan and his messengers can masquerade as legitimate servants of God (2 Cor. 11:14,15).

In addition, many leaders set themselves up as the heroes of Christian history, claiming that all other ministers, missionaries, Christian communities, etc. are deceived and in spiritual darkness.  Only their revelation brings light to the world.  This is because their leader has been given a unique anointing or has had seals opened and explained before their eyes.  Further, any Christian who does not accept their information is an enemy.

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

The new prophecy model and information from the leader brings a new freshness to the Bible. One young lady admitted that she started studying with Shinchonji because she was attracted to the freshness and newness of it all.  The Bible had become routine at that point in her life.

Others on the SCJ testimonial page have said that it was amazing to hear Shinchonji give such clarity and sureness when talking about biblical prophecies.  They wrote 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) were two reasons.

Another case is that some believers join final groups with a sincere heart.  They desire to be a part of something big or they are tired of the mediocrity in Christian circles.  To paraphrase a SCJ 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 these groups, there is much zeal and excitement.  As pointed out by Christian thinkers, members in apocalyptic groups often display more passion than a large percentage of church-goers today.

So, why would many simple Christians or Christian leaders question the veracity of these visions to end-time leaders?  Why doubt SCJ?  What causes devoted believers not to join them?

First, information directly from Jesus Christ´s revelation warns of deception, false messengers and spiritual lies from deceptive spirits all masked as Jesus´ final representative or revelation (Mt. 24:4,5, I Tim. 4:1, Lk. 21:8, I John 4:1, 2 Pet. 2:1, etc.).  This means that the Christian world is to stay away from any final messenger or spokesperson who appears in Jesus´ name.    

It is equivalent to a father warning his son never to open the door to masked strangers.  Yet, many masked strangers continually appear claiming to be sent by the father.  The warnings protect the son from harm.  The same is true with Jesus Christ and his words about final leaders in the end (Lk. 21:8).

Secondly, even though Christians have varying ideas about the end-times, one point that is evident in the Bible is that Jesus Christ returns himself without a mask, not as an invisible spirit via a human leader (I Thess 4:16, Acts 1:11, Mt. 24:30).  The same resurrected Jesus is the one who returns (Acts 1:11).  When leaders declare that Jesus Christ´s spirit is working through them, embodying his return, it is a different Jesus.

For example, one alarming teaching in Shincheonji is that Jesus' spirit is working through a human vessel - Manhee Lee's flesh/body to such a degree that seeing Mr. Lee is seeing ¨the Lord¨.  Manhee Lee teaches he is the ¨white horse/flesh¨ in Rev. 19 upon which Jesus returns (The Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 246,247) .

Third, Shincheonji follows the same pattern as other groups in history whose revelations and spiritual knowledge distort precious truths from Christ.  This casts doubt on the spiritual sources behind the information.  We observe this pattern in harmful movements in Christian history, such as Gnosticism, and in recent organizations such as the Watchtower Society.

These groups emphasize secret or revealed visions from God, yet the information distors elementary truths about salvation, Jesus of Nazareth, or some aspect of God´s identity.  Shincheonji does this with the Trinity, Jesus´ identity, the Holy Spirit, and redemption (i.e. more focus on being ¨in the know¨ than salvation from sin).

Fourth, another reason Christians distrust final leaders is because they become the final authority in their group.  They exalt themselves above the Bible (in practice, not theory) because they claim a unique anointing from God, which makes them the official interpreter/teacher of prophecies, parables, and other passages. This means the Scriptures can be made to mean anything the interpreter reveals them to mean.

The most obvious problem is when outside Christians see that meanings are ¨poured¨ into the Scriptures instead of letting the Scriptures give us the meanings.  One Shincheonji instructor told one individual to put aside everything he thought the Bible was revealing and only listen to the revealed word in SCJ.  In Christian experience, this is backwards.  God´s voice in the Scriptures correct end-time revelations (2 Tim. 3:16, Mt. 4:4,7,10), not the other way around.

Lastly, Christians disregard messages from visions that are contrary to God's heart and character.  When two people know each other well, it is easy to recognize messages which are contrary to the way they think or talk.  A case in point is when someone hacks a friend´s e-mail account and sends messages that they would never write.  The content proves the author is someone else.

This is one of the reasons behind doubting SCJ´s practices or content.  Some people said that the heavy emphasis on knowledge in SCJ of prophecies did not seem right.  Others mentioned that Jesus would not use lies and deceit in recruiting others to promote his truths.  Still others noticed a harsh and arrogant tone on the SCJ website and in Manhee 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 other inconsistencies and signs appear.

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

Thank you for your interest, and God bless.

Testimony of a Former SCJ Member.

Dear reader,

The following testimony, which is used with permission, was sent to us and describes various aspects of the Shincheonji movement.      

Testimony of a Former SCJ Member.
1.       Introduction.

Until recently I was involved in a religious group from South Korea called Shinchonji/ Shincheonji (Korean for “New heaven and earth”). Shincheonji (“SCJ”) is today operating in many countries around the world. In my opinion, this is a radical group that poses significant threats to society although many of the people involved are wonderful, humble people that are simply trapped in a cycle of continuous religious manipulation.

I have personally seen how SCJ has caused much damage to many people’s lives (advocating that people leave their jobs to take up the cause) and relationships (with the group even advocating that people must sever ties with their family members if they oppose the group).  Deceit and lies are the main tools used to further its primary goal: recruiting new members.

The purpose of this letter is to bring this religious group to the light.

My story is as follows:

2.       How I became involved with SCJ.

I became involved in a Bible study program last year after a friend told me about a Bible school/course that he highly recommended. I am a Christian and at the time I was feeling that my spiritual life was not where it should have been. I had not been a committed member of a church or a cell group. When this opportunity came along, I thought it would be a good opportunity to rekindle my relationship with God through His Word. I was told that I had to commit to attend two sessions per week for six months. 

I committed to this and after a few one-on-one sessions with introductory lessons (called “BB lessons”), I was interviewed by two senior members of the Bible school, because I was told that there were too many people interested in the program and that I had to effectively be “accepted” to attend. This almost made me a bit nervous but I was very relieved when I was accepted for attendance. I started the program with about 15 other people. I noticed that there were many Korean members in the Bible school moving between classes and assisting in different ways.

Fast forward a month and I was busy with the introductory part of the Bible school which I found fantastic – we looked at the structure of the Bible, the flow of history, the covenants, the consistency of prophecies and fulfilment, and also the figurative language in the Bible. It was very new, refreshing and very exciting and I felt that I could understand some things for the first time. By this time the lessons increased to three times a week and were close to three hours each, which I found a significant challenge due to my already busy schedule. Nevertheless, I pressed on as I had committed for six months and I believed that I was privileged as there were other people who weren’t accepted to attend the program.

As the weeks progressed it became apparent that there was a very clear flow that the instructors were following, and it felt like we were steering towards a specific conclusion, but I could not quite put my finger on it, and I received the same answer for many of my questions, namely, that everything will be answered when the time is right.

When, at this time, I asked the head instructor more about the name of the Bible school or its affiliations, he said that it is a very small organisation that you will not find anywhere on the internet, and that it is named “Parachristo/Para Christo¨. This, I would later find, was a lie.

Fast forward a further two months and we increasingly began to focus on the importance of the figurative language, parables and prophecies in the Bible. For example: Mark 4 from verse 11 says:
And He (Jesus) was saying to them, To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.  From this the verse it was deduced that it is necessary to be able to understand figurative language and the parables in order to receive atonement and to be saved, which was something I could not get my head around.

It became clearer that the program was based on an intellectual interpretation of the Bible and the actual requirements for atonement. Simply put: you had to understand the parables and the figurative language as taught by this specific Bible school in order to be saved. We continued to ask many questions, but got the same answer: that everything will become clear when the time is right.

By this time I must add that our attendance to the classes were almost aggressively policed, and virtually no excuses were accepted for not being able to attend class, as we were told to decide what is more important: God or worldly things. There was a growing sense of urgency in an environment which was diligently managed by the group leaders. They were constantly asking us about our understanding and our thoughts, and in order to cement this, they attempted to meet up with us on a one-on-one basis every week, in addition to the normal classes.

Around this time we also examined specific verses relating to mountains, and that the interpretation of a figurative mountain is a congregation where people gather. For example Mark 13:14 says: When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong -then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. We were then told about the physical reality of this figurative mountain being a specific congregation, and the instructor asked us if we were willing to go there.  We were told that we would then see the physical reality of what was promised in Hebrews 12:2, namely...  you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.

The instructor then posed the question again, asking whether we would like to go to this physical congregation. As if programmed to do so, one of our fellow classmates put up their hand and said, “Yes, let us go!”

Fast forward another week or so and the class was preparing to go to the physical Mount Zion. There was a great sense of anticipation among the instructors and some of our class members, and we had to prepare a short show that would be performed in front of the congregation. For the occasion we had to dress a certain way, black and white with ties. Before entering the temple, we watched a video that instructed us to conduct ourselves in a certain way, including the correct way to great each other by bowing, correct ways to sit and the correct way to kneel when praying. This really felt a bit weird but I pushed my uneasy thoughts aside.

When we arrived at the congregation, we were welcomed like celebrities. It felt a bit odd but we went with the celebration. We entered into a congregation of several hundred people that were singing in Korean and clapping and swaying in a certain way. We were welcomed as the first fruits in heaven, and told that we are in fact passing over from death to life. All of this was happening without me ever committing to anything other than a 6 month Bible school. Suddenly, now, we were part of a congregation which taught a new kind of salvation, which is only attained by their message, and this church was considered "heaven"- the physical reality thereof.

At this time it was revealed that half of our supposed class members were in fact already members of the congregation, and that they were effectively acting as agents among the other class members to ensure that everything was run smoothly. In fact, they were referred to as “Maintainers”. The person who put up her hand in class when we were asked if we would like to go to Mount Zion was, in fact, also a maintainer. This was a clear act of deception in my opinion. In class we also personally overheard testimonies of these maintainers, posing as if they have heard the content of these lessons for the very first time, which was not true.

Suddenly it was clear that the group’s true agenda was much more than simply a Bible school. We were recruited into a specific religious group by using false pretences. When asked about this, the group’s reasoning was clear: it is acceptable to use deceit and lies if it serves God’s purposes. They use the example of Jacob lying to Isaac when he said that he was in fact Esau, in order to obtain the prophesied blessing. They say that because God’s ways are higher than men’s, although we might perceive it as wrong, it can also be a tool used to fulfil God’s will (to substantiate this, they also used Isaiah 55:8 which states For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

They also use the verse in Matthew 10, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes, which they interpret as being able to lie if a situation requires it.  But, they do not elaborate about the next part in the verse which says: and be as innocent as doves. In fact, later on, one of the Ministry Department leaders told me, “If Satan and his agents are able to use lies in this battle, why can’t we?”

3.       After “passing over” and becoming part of the congregation.

Our class was now accepted into the congregation and, henceforth, we were expected to attend the congregation’s services twice a week – on a Wednesday and a Sunday, as mentioned in Numbers 19, which says that whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. He shall cleanse himself with water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. They interpreted this explaining that any person that is not part of the congregation is, in fact, spiritually dead and because we would be in contact with them throughout the week, we should attend the services where the spiritual life-giving water (or the new word that we are being taught), is shared.

Church services consisted of singing certain prescribed songs, men and women sitting apart, and then lots of fervent prayer with a sermon broadcasted and translated video of the leader preaching usually somewhere in Korea. Often we would be asked to come an hour early before the three hour long service to get “training” and afterwards we met in cell groups or departments for another hour or two.

We were now attending five, three (3) hour sessions every week and once again our attendance was strictly enforced.  And now, a further requirement was set – we had to start introducing other people into the Bible school sessions. I told them that I did not yet feel comfortable inviting people as we had not yet seen the full picture and we have not yet received the answers that we were promised, but of course there is an arsenal of verses that can be used to reiterate the importance of spreading the gospel, which they duly utilised.

We further completed the intermediary and advanced sections of the program in order to get a full understanding of what was happening. At the time most of the teachings seemed feasible, especially due to the finely-planned and incremental nature of progression, and the path of least resistance was indeed to at least finish the program.  The pressure to invite new people into the Bible school increased, and at a stage we were required to give daily feedback on the progress on that front, which they refer to as “evangelising”.

I continued to be part of the congregation for some time after completing the six month program, in order to give it a fair chance and to make sure that I understand the teachings. In order to qualify as a full member, one needs to write three tests, and achieve a score of at least 90%, among other things. This includes signing a pledge and evangelising at least on person, after which you can “graduate” and become a true member of the congregation and have your name written in the “Book of Life”, which, believe it or not, is the church’s registry.

I wrote all three tests before deciding that there are too many inconsistencies with the congregation’s teachings and the Bible, and I quit.

4.       SCJ’s identity and basic theology.

Before I continue, I need to plainly state that the things that I will describe to you now will sound like utter and clear nonsense, but I can assure you that if you have been slowly and steadily indoctrinated with their teachings, it can be very, very convincing and powerful. The program of indoctrination is so cleverly put together that it appeals to intellectual people. The teachings start with things that most people would agree with, and then they gradually introduce the more eccentric doctrines. I believe that it is a very subtle form of brainwashing.

This theology is believed by over a 140,000 people around the world that sacrifice their entire lives, relationships, studies, careers, and families. I have heard of couples getting divorced on account of this group and friendships broken and families torn apart. And all this is justified by the group, using the scriptures where Jesus said His message will separate families.

I was convinced at a stage. I know of many professionals and educated individuals with many academic degrees, who have given up their careers in order to further this cause. But I now sincerely believe that this is a false doctrine.

Let me give you two examples used by SCJ to justify the dramatic nature of their claims and teachings, and also to get members to challenge their existing belief systems/way of thinking.

Firstly, in John 6:56-66, Jesus says “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” This was a difficult teaching for many of His disciples to comprehend, as it sounded bizarre to them, hearing it for the first time. It was outside of their frame of reference. For this very reason, many of His disciples stopped following Him – only twelve remained. This example is used to explain to SCJ members that even though a teaching may sound bizarre/ strange/ different to anything your frame of reference would allow – it can be in line with God’s will (God’s thoughts are higher than ours even if it does not fit in with our frame of reference or understanding). Another example used is that Jesus told his disciples to steal a donkey (as in Luke 19:29-34) – from which it is extrapolated that God’s ways may also involve doing things that humans perceive as morally wrong. This example is also used to justify lying.

In terms of the identity of the congregation I describe, it was a branch congregation of an international religious group called Shincheonji (SCJ). SCJ believes that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is here. The word Shincheonji is Korean for “New heaven new earth” and that is what they believe their congregation is: the physical reality of heaven; the mount Zion or new heaven and new earth as described in Revelation. In fact, they teach that the book of Revelation is a prophecy that is being fulfilled today, and that you need to be able to interpret the figurative language of Revelation in order to attain atonement.

The South Korean leader of this congregation, Mr. Man Hee Lee, is a well-known international peace advocate. He teaches that he is a messenger to the current generation (just like Moses was the messenger in Old Testament Times and Jesus was the messenger at the time of the First Coming). He teaches that an angel appeared to him and revealed to him the fulfilment of all the events of the Second Coming, as is prophesied in the book of Revelation.

Further, Man Hee Lee proclaims that he is the Advocate/ Comforter that is promised by Jesus in the book of John 14:16: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. Further, you need to accept him as such, and the messenger of this generation. All people who do not accept him as such are compared to the Jews who did not accept Jesus at the time of the First Coming.

Man Hee Lee is also referred to as the one who overcomes as mentioned in Revelation. He is also referred to as the physical fulfilment of the male child, the one who sits on God’s throne, and the one who is currently ruling all nations with an iron sceptre (all from Revelation).

Essentially, you have to be part of SCJ and accept the message of Man Hee Lee, who is referred to as Seon Saeng Nim or simply “SSN” (which is “Teacher” in Korean) in order to attain salvation. SSN calls all other churches "Babylon" and "Satan’s pastors" and basically says that the ¨Holy Spirit" as we understand it, does not exist – in fact “there are many holy spirits”. The Trinity is rejected.

5.       Summary of SCJ’s teachings:

-   God loves mankind, and has been looking for a way to reunite with humans as they have fallen in sin. God wishes to dwell with man as He did with Adam and Eve.
-        For the past 6,000 years, God has appointed different messengers in different generations: Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus. This messenger would be the one “where God is at” – the human used by God to reach His chosen people. God’s people had to listen to/follow these messengers in order to be saved. In Noah’s and Moses’ cases it was physical salvation – you had to listen to Noah to be included in the Ark and you had to listen to Moses in order to be saved from slavery in Egypt. In Jesus’s case, it was spiritual salvation – you had to follow Jesus in order to receive atonement. But, in each generation, the people God sends His messenger to, betray him.
-         Jesus was a messenger of God and came according to the Old Testament prophesies.
-         Jesus spoke in parables which were actually prophecies about the Second Coming: centred on the creation of SCJ and emergence of another messenger, namely Man Hee Lee (SSN); the Advocate/Comforter that Jesus promised in John 14:16.
-        SSN is God’s chosen pastor in today’s generation and the one “where God is at”. The Holy Spirit/ Spirit of Truth that Jesus promised in John 14:16 is only in him; the Spirit of Truth indwells SSN. Therefore SSN is the Advocate/Comforter/Counselor that will guide us in all truth and speaks on behalf of God (as in John 16:13). This is the full and true meaning of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus. The Holy Spirit, as understood by the rest of the world, is false.
-         Only SSN can bear testimony to Revelation’s physical fulfilment and give a new and inspiring interpretation about the Word and what it really means – as no one could before. This includes revelation about the current time, the time of the second coming of Christ. This has been revealed to SSN by an angel of God. SSN is proclaiming this message at the proper time, as the faithful and wise servant who gives food (spiritual food, the Word of God) at the proper time (see Matthew 24:45).
-        God, Jesus and SSN are working together to restore God’s kingdom on earth through establishing his New Heaven and New Earth spoken of in Revelation (after which the church is named) so that God can dwell again with humans on the earth.
-       SSN is gathering the elect: 144,000 chosen people who are being sealed with this new testimony (the 144,000 chosen people who are sealed as in Revelation 7). The 144,000 chosen people are divided into the 12 tribes of the new spiritual Israel.  These 12 tribes are the 12 main groups within SCJ.
-        The Holy Spirit at the Pentecost was just a foreshadow of the marriage between spirit and flesh that is to come, where Jesus and the 144,000 spirits of the martyrs will come and marry/merge with the bodies of 144,000 SCJ members who are fully sealed with the Word of Testimony of the Messenger (SSN). This is how the martyrs come to life to serve with God and Christ as per Revelation 20:4-6.
-        SSN is the one who overcomes, and is sitting on God’s throne. He is currently ruling all the nations (see Revelation 2:26-27).
-        All nations have drunk “the maddening wine of adultery” spoken of in Revelation.  In other words, they have accepted Satan’s doctrine (mixed teachings consisting of the thoughts of men and their interpretations of God’s word). If they do not accept SSN’s message, they are lost and will not be saved.
-        SSN pursues world peace as part of God’s promise in the Bible – to bring world peace.

6.       My reasons for leaving.

My first main reason for leaving was the blatant use of lies and deceit, and promotion of using it. This was a reason that was reasonably easy to formulate, as it is clear from many verses in the Bible that lying is not acceptable, even if good things result from lying (see Romans 3:7-8).

My second main reason, which was also relatively easy to formulate, was the veneration of a human being as the new Saviour (or as it was sometimes euphemised, you need to follow Man Hee Lee in order to be saved at the time of the Second Coming). Jesus said that He Himself would return, and therefore Jesus remains my sole Saviour. 1 Timothy 2:5 plainly states: For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.

Within SCJ, there is a new central figure: Man Hee Lee, and he is venerated and praised. For example, songs are sung in the congregation meetings, including the following excerpts of songs which refer to praising Man Hee Lee:

Let us praise the king of kings
Let us praise the Advocate of God
Let us praise Advocate, who will rule heavens and the earth
Thank you, the One Who Overcomes,
I will praise your name forevermore and evermore

My third main reason relates to reason two above – the fact that SCJ changes the fundamental gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is being preached that there is a new saviour: Man Hee Lee. Galatians 1:7-9 states plainly: Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

My fourth main reason was formulated by considering the following warning from Deuteronomy 18: when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." Every year, Man Hee Lee releases a “slogan” for a particular year. Below is a photo showing the slogan of 2014:

During 2014, a big international peace summit was held in Seoul, called the World Alliance of Religions for Peace, or WARP Summit.  As you can see from the above photo, this was one of the events that Man Hee Lee indicated would occur in 2014, which it did. It was brought about by the effort, discipline and dedication of SCJ members (they organised it from all over the world). In retrospect, it was called a “heavenly promise that was fulfilled”. However, the completion of the 12 tribes did not take place. 

Therefore, one of the “heavenly promises” that was given by Man Hee Lee did not materialise.  One needs to question the reliability of a person who states that he has received the revelation of the fulfilment of all the events in the current times. As an aside, the completion of the 12 tribes refers to each of the 12 tribes (groups) of SCJ which needs to reach a number of 12,000 members each, which is also deduced from Revelation.

My further reasons for leaving were the many inconsistencies when compared to the Bible, and it took a bit more time to formulate. The six month course was mostly done in the form of a guided tour through the Bible, but we would focus on specific books, and we never focused on what Jesus did on the cross, for example. After completing the six month program, I finally had a bit of free time again to do Bible study on my own time (although one of the things that SCJ does is that they try to keep you as busy as possible with congregation meetings, evangelising, encouraging you to become a maintainer, etc. – so much so that in some cases they would ask for your schedule in order to see, when you have free time). 

When I made the time to consider other parts of the Bible, I found many inconsistencies with SCJ’s teachings. For example, looking at Acts, it is clear that the Advocate/Comforter that Jesus promised to the disciples, was in fact a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit that was sent to them after Jesus ascended, rather than an exclusive indwelling in a specific person, 2,000 years after Jesus ascended.

7.       A few reasons why SCJ is so successful.

Imagine a group of around 150,000 people around the world with a single purpose at heart – a purpose they deem more important than their lives/careers/families. People who are not afraid to use deceit in order to further their most important goal: growing the organisation. SCJ is such an organisation.

One of their primary strategies is their seemingly voluntary peace/community upliftment organisations and projects, which is used to lure prospective members. A very good international case study is called “Mannam”, which was a charitable organisation that was used as a front for Shincheonji, and is a subject that you can easily find on the internet.

Mannam has subsequently been replaced by other organisations, namely the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL) and the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), which today are the main cover organisations for SCJ.

They have hosted several international peace rallies including the WARP summit mentioned above. This was a very big event, but the reality was that many of the attendees (if not most - I do not want to make up statistics), were SCJ members. Therefore, although the numbers of attendees created a spectacular scene, it was at least somewhat skewed by SCJ members who attended without disclosing the true reason for their attendance. Many of these attendees were sponsored to attend in some way (including international travel costs).

SCJ also has smaller scale and often community-based groups that also aim to involve new prospects, under the pretence of predominantly community upliftment projects.

Other strategies used by SCJ:

a)      They request that members continuously click on pro-SCJ websites in order to boost the rankings on Google, so that these websites appear first when SCJ is Googled. Further, members are told not to visit anti-SCJ websites, as it will corrupt them.
b)      They meticulously monitor members, using social messaging services such as Whatsapp. If members cannot attend services, it is done via Skype. If a member shows any signs of non-commitment or doubt, they would immediately escalate it to the congregation leaders. Some of the senior members are very strong manipulators. Emotion is often use to bring challenging individuals back in line.
c)       Much (if not most) of the time spent in the bi-weekly sermons, is spent by Man Hee Lee and other leaders reiterating the fact that SCJ is orthodox and really, really, really… the only true church of Jesus Christ. All other churches and pastors belong to Satan and is referred to as “Babylon”. SCJ members are continuously told that they are the chosen ones and because of this, they will face persecution, but that they must persist and be victorious, run harder, work harder, etc. because the work they are doing is of eternal importance and if they are victorious, they will rule all nations with the ¨One Who Overcomes¨ (Man Hee Lee).
d)      SCJ has training sessions, some of which are compulsory, teaching members how to “evangelise” new members, telling their members how to act/dress etc., and also how to handle confrontations/ challenges/ apologetics.
e)      As soon as there is an external group or a church that openly opposes SCJ, all members are warned rigorously.  In some cases, members have to memorise verses and write tests, for example we had to write a test about the Christian Council of Korea (CCK) – a church that opposes SCJ. Answers needed to be memorised and reproduced verbatim in this compulsory test. One dares not to ask about this, otherwise you are met with fierce questioning.
f)       There are many structures in SCJ: including the Men’s Department, Women’s Department, Youth Department, and so forth. Each person becomes part of a cell group, and it is driven home that anything your immediate superior requests of you or instructs you to do, should be considered an instruction directly from God, because the teachings/instructions, etc. flow like live-giving water (as in Rev 22:1 which states the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb). Rhetoric like this is continuously repeated and one is continuously told to not follow your own thoughts because you need to renew your mind and recalibrate everything according to God’s will (Romans 12:2 states Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind).
g)      The organisation is very coordinated and finely planned. Each of the 12 tribes has a specified geographic area and focus/target areas for expansion, and must give feedback on their expansion strategies and success on an ongoing basis. Non-performing leaders are removed/redeployed.
h)      The environment in SCJ is fear-driven. If you do not perform, specifically if you do not evangelise, there is a problem. Man Hee Lee himself said in one of his sermons, “If you do not evangelise, I will kick you out”. Unfortunately many people, especially younger members, simply cannot stand against such oppression and manipulation.

I pray that the above testimony may help members and former members of SCJ and their families in whatever way possible.

Shincheonji´s Dishonest Practices.

Dear reader,

How would you feel if you learned that a Christian missionary was using fake conversion stories to obtain funds?  What if a Christian pastor used false advertising to attract people to his congregation?  Or, what if Christian historians distorted stories about other religious leaders to help get people out of those groups?

These questions deal with proper conduct in Christianity (or Christian ethics).

Many Christians follow a simple question, mainly, ¨What would Jesus Christ do in this situation?¨ Although no Christian is morally perfect, we should all strive to model his example.  Further, we should never promote something that goes against his upright character.

This brings us to Shincheonji.  When we look carefully at SCJ, which claims to be guided by God and Jesus, we discover that they justify using deception and lies to recruit others.

Based on several testimonies, Shincheonji members often recruit other Christians by inviting them to a Bible study (or by saying that some seminary students/SCJ instructors in disguise need to conduct a Bible study in order to graduate).  Some people have written and said that their Shinchonji instructor avoided telling them who they were or used false names for their group.  One person told us of a Shinchonji instructor who posed as a pastor in a non-denominational church.

Another person mentioned that they started to question SCJ when they realized that people who were allegedly taking the courses for the first time were actually already SCJ members.  These ¨maintainers¨ pretended to be amazed by what they were learning.  They help maintain people in the studies.

Why does Shincheonji use deception?

One Shinchonji member replied that deception was justifiable because Christian churches are full of spiritual lies, traditions of men, and Satan's seed.  Deception is necessary to lead Christians to SCJ (and even outsmart the devil´s schemes).  They also do not reveal their real name because of critical information on the internet and in the media about SCJ.

However, to a sincere Christian, these arguments are unconvincing.  

Firstly, using deception goes against Christian standards and even non-Christian ethics.  In Romans 12:17, Paul says that Christians should do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  When non-Christians hear about SCJ´s dishonest practices, it is a bad testimony.  In Eph. 4:25, we are told to tell the truth and rid ourselves of all deceit (1 Pet. 2:1).  This is an underlying and basic principle in Christian living and moral behavior.

Another problem with deception is that it casts doubt on other areas of the organization.  It´s like a leader who is dishonest in one area but allegedly honest in others.  The problem with people who find out about deception is that it diminishes credibility in other areas.  One lady said that SCJ´s deceptive practices made her not want to listen to anything else they taught.

Thirdly, using deception is not needed to outwit the kingdom of darkness.   

The first century was a world full of darkness and evil influences, but the apostles and early Christians relied on the person of Jesus himself, the beauty of his message, and power from the Holy Spirit (I Thes. 1:5, Rom. 1:16, I Cor. 2:4, Ac. 1:8).  Paul and the other disciples did not resort to deceptive measures but spoke boldly and openly (see the book of Acts). 

Why would Jesus resort to lies in the end to attract Christians?

Lying goes against his character and undermines the power of his message.  To most Christians, lying makes them skeptical of Shincheonji since righteousness and unrighteousness do not mix (2 Cor. 6:14).

One Shinchonji instructor replied that they must be willing to do anything (even ¨cut off someone´s hand¨) to bring others to the truth of Shincheonji´s message.  But, surely there is a limit.  Undoubtedly, they would not approve of other groups using lies to advance their messages.  The end does not justify the means, especially when related to something as significant as Jesus' kingdom.

Lastly, one of the clearest moral teachings in Israel, God´s moral laboratory for centuries, was that all forms of lying and deceit are detestable to God (Prov. 6:16-19).  If you think about it, lying and deception involve withholding information, hiding something, or misguiding others for an ulterior purpose. 

This is why it is questionable that an angelic being or creatures from heaven in SCJ would promote deception to recruit their message.  Using lies to spread truth is spiritually inconsistent.  The Apostle John writes, ¨I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth¨ (I Jn. 2:21).

For more information on Shincheonji´s arguments related to deception, please listen to the podcast on this topic.

History Before Shincheonji: Where was Manhee Lee?

Dear reader, 

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

The following report sent by a professor in California substantiates Manhee Lee's involvement in three other Korean end-time movements before Shincheonji.  

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 Manhee Lee, in part because Mr. Lee was critical of Mr. Yoo’s defection from his own movement (S. Lee 139, 143).

Manhee 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 publicly 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 Manhee Lee, In Hee Koo of the Heaven Gospel movement had been part of Tae Sun Park’s group and, also like Manhee 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).

Manhee 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).  Manhee 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, Manhee 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.  Manhee 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, Manhee 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,, revised July, 2012.


Shincheonji Vs. Christian Interpretations.

Dear reader

If you have ever interacted with end-time groups before (and you see how they jump from one Bible verse to another), you may ask yourself, ¨How did they get that explanation from this verse or that word?¨  It seems bizarre and frustrating.

Dialogues with members of these groups seem pointless because Christians use certain verses to support a point, but then apocalyptic/end-time movements use other verses (or even the same verses with new or distinct meanings).  For example, in I Thess. 5:1-8, SCJ explains those who are in ¨the light¨ as SCJ members with the revealed word, but Christians, using the context, see this phrase as referring to all genuine Christians.

The point is that Christians and followers of end-time movementst do not realize that they are using different ¨glasses¨ (or approaches) to explain meanings in the Bible.  This leads to some important questions on biblical interpretation.

What method should people who love God´s Word use to interpret God´s Word?  What approach do final prophets use?  Why are the interpretations/explanations so different?  How can we truly know what God´s voice is saying?

In general, there are two interpretation methods that are historically unsafe and dangerous.  The third method is the one we advocate since it honors God's Word the best and allows his voice to be the final authority.  When you analyze these methods, it´s easier to understand how people have different interpretations.

1st Method: Group-Guided Approach.

This method teaches that God has chosen a specific 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 believed to be directed by God´s Spirit to explain the Scriptures.

We judge this method to be inferior because every Christian should know God's Word for themselves.  It detracts believers from looking to the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit for answers.  Instead, they look to leaders.  In addition, this method leads to groups forming traditions or rules that become equal or more important than God´s voice in the written word itself (2 Tim. 3:16).

2nd Method: Prophet-Revealer Approach.

This method teaches that God elects one final prophet at the end of Christianity to be Jesus´ ultimate spokesperson.  This individual allegedly has an encounter with God or Jesus who then open seals and reveal secret meanings to the prophet.  The prophet's voice becomes the authority, which is why members learn and memorize the prophet's interpretations.

We judge this method as unsafe because it puts too much authority in the hands of one source.  The prophet becomes a ¨revealer¨ of God´s Word, which means that 1,000 prophets can have 1,000 ¨correct¨ interpretations - all different from each other.  Manhee Lee reveals that the ¨east¨ in Rev. 7 refers to Korea based on his own revelation experience because he ¨knows where the east is since he saw it from heaven¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 194), but the Scriptures do not teach this.

In practice, this method elevates the prophet's revelation/revealed word to a position above the final authority of God's Word.  To Christians, this is backwards.  Clear messages in God's written word are above prophet-revelations, not the other way around.

Shincheonji, like other groups, claim that everything is backed by the Bible.  However, all groups (even non-Christian groups) can quote the Bible to their advantage.  The real issue is if the leader´s revelation forces meanings into God´s Word instead of letting God´s Word impose meanings to people on its own.

When we observe meanings twisting what God was already making clear, we have reason to suspect that this final leader/prophet is being deceived by spiritual revelations or is purposely leading others astray.

Another reason to doubt these prophet-revelations is when they twist two of the clearest revelations from God in the Scriptures - Jesus´ identity and the concept of salvation.  This happens in Shincheonji and other groups.

The last problem with this method is circular interpretation (and authentication).  The prophet interprets a verse to authenticate their group or revelation, which is circular since the meaning comes from the prophet himself.  The meaning cannot be authenticated independently by other Christians or by the context.  For example, SCJ followers insist that the ¨one who overcomes¨ refers primarily to a final leader (Mr. Lee), but the context in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 do not support this interpretation.

It is suspicious when the SCJ prophet/pastor interprets these verses for a final prophet/pastor, which only the final pastor/prophet sees as true prophecies for a final pastor/prophet.

3rd Method: The Holy Spirt & Bible-Method.

We deem this the safest and most efficient way to interpret the Scriptures.

Most believers rely on God's presence in their lives to help them understand the important truths from Christ Jesus.  This does not include all ¨the information¨ in Christianity.  However, it is based on the conviction that 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.

Thus, many of the age-old Christian truths such as sin, repentance, God´s love, redemption, the cross, a new 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).

End-time groups state that this 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 can be debated ¨in-house¨ since everyone has the same authority.

In Christian thinking, the safest and most important voice we must listen to is God's voice in the written word (2 Tim. 3:16), which is more authoritative than interpretations from final prophets.

In closing, realizing that Shincheonji uses a prophet-interpretation method sheds light on 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.

Listen to Podcasts Evaluating Shincheonji/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 ¨united to Christ¨ and ¨having the Son¨.  Although Manhee 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: Shincheonji'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.


Is Genesis 1-3 a Concealed Prophecy for a Pastor?

Dear reader,

Many apocalyptic leaders have either had real experiences with spiritual beings or have claimed to have had real experiences with spiritual beings.  However, when examined carefully, we observe spiritual deception in some way or another. Jesus himself warned of spiritual leaders who would come as his final representative (Lk. 21:8).  
According to Shincheonji, Manhee Lee received a revelation from spiritual beings (a revealed word) about the meaning of the Bible´s last prophecies and their physical fulfillment.  In Mr. Lee's writings, he introduces a simple model where God chooses a pastor, creates a people, who eventually betray God, which leads to God´s people being destroyed, and then this process is repeated with a new pastor (until the last pastor, Manhee Lee, and a last people, SCJ, appear in Revelation). 

Manhee Lee´s teaches that the first pastor chosen was Adam and makes Genesis 1-3 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 condensed version of Manhee Lee's explanation of a pastor in the beginning (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 33-51).  Notice the figurative meanings.

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). 

On p. 47, Manhee Lee gives a concise summary, ¨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).¨       

What do we find problematic with his figurative meanings and summary?  Why doubt this revelation?

First, when we examine the verses used in support of his figurative meanings, we find them to be disconnected and forced.  For example, Jesus said his disciples would be fishers of men, but this does not mean that ¨fish¨ refer figuratively to men in Genesis.  Jesus used this in a certain context for fishermen to help them understand spiritual truths, like other parables (Mt. 13:47-50).  Another misapplication is the metaphor of beasts (those who lack knowledge in Prov. 30:2,3) and applying it to beasts and animals in Genesis.  This is connecting two unrelated texts.

These examples lead to a second problem.  When a final prophet is the figurative interpreter/revealer, it puts all the interpretation power in his or her hands.  This is dangerous in final groups because their members fall under a spell and make the leader´s voice God´s inspired word.  This explains why Christians are so puzzled when they meet end-time groups who play Bible ping-pong with verses to give hidden meanings.  

A reason to doubt these explanations is because they go far beyond what any Christian sees the text saying on its own.  It would be like a Mormon leader making a claim about the Book of Mormon but no Mormon seeing those claims to be accurate.   

A third problem is that Manhee Lee forces a figurative explanation for Genesis using literal arguments (i.e. millions of years of life on earth, the appearance of Cain´s wife, Cain´s fear of being killed by other people, and the appearance of light on the fourth day).  However, his figurative explanations also create more spiritual problems than answers.

For example, he sustains that Adam was not the first real man.  Adam was only the first man to receive God´s word (i.e. the first chosen pastor).  Mr. Lee states that other beasts (men without God´s word) existed before Adam.  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 human.  Although 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).

This means God created humans at the beginning of time who did not have his word before Adam appeared.  Think about this.  Why would the first humans not have God´s words? How long did these humans exist without God´s Word?  These and more questions complicate things with his figurative explanation (1).  

Making Genesis 1-3 about a pastor is a case of circular reasoning and self-validation.  Many apocalyptic leaders interpret symbols or words to self-validate themselves or their group.  Joseph Smith said that the ¨stick¨ in Ez. 37:15-17 was a figurative symbol for the Mormon revelation.  But, this is circular since the ¨revealer-prophet¨ is the one who reveals these meanings instead of the written word.  In the same way, in Gen. 1-3 a final pastor is revealing a model for a final pastor.  

Another problem with this Genesis explanation is that Manhee 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.  Shincheonji changes the story and focus.

Finally, even if Gen. 1-3 has figurative aspects, what is the main point?  The message God reveals is that the human race needs a savior to restore a broken creation and bring humans back into a perfect and beautiful relationship with God.  It is a promise and blessing repeated in Gen. 12 about the Messiah, Jesus.  Early Jewish sources also recognized the importance of the Messianic promise after the creation account (2).

The need nations and individuals have is related to sin, which destroys the physical world, the relationship between humans and our relationship with God.  A final pastor/prophet, priest, and king is prophesied throughout the Christian Scriptures, who is Jesus Christ, not a final pastor.

(1) An unbiased reading of the Scriptures state that Adam was the first man to be alive, not receive God´s words.  ¨Thus, it is written, ´The first man, Adam, became a living being´¨ (I Cor. 15:45).  Before Adam, there were no other men.  This is why he is called the first. 

(2) ¨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.", Accessed July, 2013.