A Sealed Book: The Scrolls in Isaiah and Daniel.

Dear Shinchonji participant,

Shinchonji believes that God gave Isaiah a scroll and sealed it up so that neither the nation of Israel nor the religious leaders of his time could read or understand it (Is. 29:11,12). They also explain that God sealed up the prophecies in the book of Daniel (Dan. 12:4).

According to SCJ, only Jesus could unseal the Old Testament prophecies when he appeared.  Until his coming, they were closed.  Shinchonji says that the same is true today with the New Testament prophecies.  They are sealed until the final pastor comes.  Since the New Testament prophecies are closed, no Christian leader today can understand them.

The message in Shinchonji is that only the final pastor (Mr. Lee) is the one who is able to unseal the New Testament prophecies today.  Thus, it is very important to find him and listen to him.  

What is the problem with this model of sealed prophecies?  

First, we must be careful with this claim because other leaders who received visions from the supernatural world have said the same thing.  It´s not a new message in apocalyptic groups.  A final prophet, apostle, or pastor argues that God has opened up seals to them and given them new information about the end.

The danger is that leaders use this to justify adding or subtracting meanings from the Bible.  They make changes (¨hidden changes¨) or make new connections to prophecies that the Bible does not teach on its own.

So, this claim from leaders should make us more cautious.

Second, this sealed model leads to a problem called ¨circular interpretation.¨  This occurs when a leader interprets ¨hidden¨ verses about the leader´s own authority or the leader´s own teaching.  For example, the one who overcomes interprets the meaning of ¨the one who overcomes.¨  Mr. Lee is the one who explains that the Apostle John figure is Mr. Lee.

Circular reasoning is also seen in the way Shinchonji asks questions.  One SCJ member once said, ¨If we do not find the Apostle John figure today, who else will fulfill it?¨  But, this person did not realize that SCJ is the one who interprets the Apostle John figure as a prophecy for a final pastor.

This means many teachings and claims behind the group are subtly coming from the leader, not the Bible.  

Third, another problem with this model is that it is not accurate.  Why?

Although Jesus did reveal many things about the Old Testament prophecies since he was the Messiah (for example, Lk. 4:21, Lk. 24:27), this does not mean final leaders are on the same level.  Just because Jesus revealed many things, it does not give final leaders the same divine right a priori.

Final leaders believe that because they received information from a supernatural source, they must be considered as having the same authority as Christ Jesus or an apostle.  But, this is not a valid claim.

Fourth, this model is not true because many of the prophecies in Daniel and Isaiah were understandable (even though they were ¨sealed¨).  In other words, they were not sealed in the sense that nothing could be understood.  For example, the angels explained to Daniel the meaning of some of the symbols in the prophecies (Dan. 7:17, 8:20-22).  The Jews also understood that the majority of Daniel chapter 11 had been fulfilled before the times of Christ (see the writings of Flavius Josephus).

Not all the prophecies in Isaiah or Daniel were sealed in the sense that nothing could be understood.

Also, when God told Isaiah that no one could hear or understand his words, he made this point because of Israel`s horrible spiritual state (see Is. 29:13 - right after the context of the scroll).  In other words, the prophecies were partly closed because Isaiah´s contemporaries were so far removed from God´s heart.   

Jesus quotes the same reason for his contemporaries not understanding him - a problem of a hardened and unspiritual heart (Mt. 15:8,9).  At the end of Daniel, the Scriptures make the same point.  The wicked will not understand, but the righteous will (Dan. 12:9,10).

The righteous will understand some things from the prophecies.  So, it is not all hidden.  If it were, there would be no way to confirm their fulfillment.

An example of this is when Jesus speaks about the abomination that causes desolation (according to Daniel´s prophecy) in Mt. 24:15.  Immediately following this is the phrase ¨let the reader understand¨. This indicates that the reader could understand what God was saying to Daniel about the desolation.        
Fifth, when end-time movements and final leaders teach that the Bible is a closed book, it makes it impossible to correct the leaders with the Bible.

Final leaders (in theory) claim that everyone should use the Bible to test their explanations, but (in practice) they make it impossible to correct them because they say that Christians are only using a closed book.  Thus, all the ideas that outside Christians see in the Bible and believe are not reliable.

Lastly, and closely related to the last point, SCJ uses the argument of sealed prophecies to change (through adding new meanings and subtracting other meanings) verses that God gave us to be prepared for the end.  

Before Shinchonji was founded, even the simplest Christians who did not know much about eschatology (the study of the last things) still knew that God had made certain ideas very important - the idea of a world leader, the idea of the Messiah´s visible return, the idea of a serious and final judgment on earth, the idea of real deaths and persecution by a world leader, the importance of Jerusalem and Israel, and the idea of Christ´s triumph over Satan´s kingdom.

As people gradually study with Shinchonji or become members, they stop believing in these big ideas, which is a problem since these big ideas are based on clear passages in the Scriptures that all Christians see.     

This is what we observe and discern when apocalyptic movements make claims about the Bible being a closed book to the Christian world until their leader appeared.