Shincheonji´s Deceptive Practices.

Dear reader,

How would you feel if you learned that a missionary was using distorted conversion stories to obtain financial support?  What if a youth minister used false degrees to get hired at a church?  Or, what if Christians invented stories about other religious leaders to enourage others to discredit those groups?

These questions deal with Christian conduct and behavior (or Christ-centered ethics).

One simple test to measure Christian ethics is the question, ¨What would Jesus Christ do, say, or think about the situation?¨ Although no devoted Christian is perfect, we all desire to model his kindness, forgiveness, honesty, love, etc.  In other words, believers should never act or promote that which opposes his character.

When we test what is happening (and what has happened) in Shincheonji, we discover that members resort to deceptive practices to recruit others and hide their identity.

In my own case, I remember a family member inviting me to a Bible study online by a seminar student (SCJ teacher) who needed to teach others to graduate from their seminary.  This is a line other SCJ members have used too.  Some people have testified that their SCJ instructor avoided telling them their organization´s name, or they used fictitious names.

One SCJ couple infiltrated churches to invite others under the guise of a normal Bible study.  A former SCJ member told us of a Shinchonji instructor who posed as a pastor in a non-denominational church.  Still another person mentioned that SCJ has ¨maintainers¨ who take the study with newcomers and pretend they are learning the teachings for the first time.

When I confronted one SCJ teacher about this, they replied that deception is justifiable because Christian churches are full of spiritual lies, traditions of men, and Satan's seed (teachings).  They said deception can lead Christians to SCJ and even outsmart the devil´s schemes.  They also said their identity should be kept secret because of so much critical information on the internet and in the media about SCJ.

However, to devoted Christians, these arguments are weak and unconvincing.  

Using deception goes against Christ´s righteous standards and even common ethics.  In Romans 12:17, Paul instructs believers to do what is right ¨in the eyes of everyone¨.  When people who are not Christians learn of SCJ´s deceptive practices, it is a poor testimony.

In Eph. 4:25 and 1 Pet. 2:1, those in Christ are instructed to never lie to other believers and to get rid of all deceit.  This is an underlying and basic principle in the Christian life.

Think for a moment how you would feel if someone from a religious group used deception to recruit you?  It actually backfires.  It casts doubts on the group´s credibility in the other areas too.  One Christian lady noted that SCJ´s deceptive practices made her not want to listen to anything else they taught.

In addition, SCJ´s argument that using deception is needed to outwit the kingdom of darkness is unimpressive.  

In Jesus´ time, the world was full of darkness and evil influences in the Roman empire.  Yet, the apostles and early Christians relied on Jesus´ example and sacrifice, the beauty of his message, his miracles, and the power of the Holy Spirit to convince outsiders (I Thes. 1:5, Rom. 1:16, I Cor. 2:4, Ac. 1:8).  In the book of Acts, the disciples spoke boldly and openly about Jesus.

If SCJ´s revelation is true, they should be able to rely on the truthfulness of the message to convince others. Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice (Jn. 10:16,27), which leads to another question.  Would the real Jesus approve of using deceit to attract Christians?

To devoted followers, it is spiritually contradictory and seems like something from lying spirits.  Deceit makes Christians more doubtful of Shincheonji since righteousness and unrighteousness do not mix (2 Cor. 6:14).

One Shinchonji instructor said that they are willing to do anything (even ¨cut off someone´s hand,¨ to quote Jesus´ words) to bring others into Shincheonji.  But, surely there is a limit.  The end does not justify the means, especially when related to something as significant as Jesus' kingdom.

One of the clearest moral teachings in Israel was that all forms of lying and deceit are detestable to God (Prov. 6:16-19).  Such conduct negatively impacts people who are important to God.  Lying involves withholding information, hiding something, or misguiding others for an ulterior purpose.

Christians outside SCJ can quickly discern that using deceit to spread truth is a sign of error.  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).

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