If you were to meet up with two deceptive spirits that were going to interpret the Bible, how do you think they would do this? This question is at the heart of end-time groups.
Here are some possibilities.
1. Contexts (verses before and after a verse) would be ignored.
2. Clear verses would be ignored or de-emphasized in favor of new information.
3. Connections between verses are made that no one else sees.
4. New meanings are given to difficult verses.
These are just a few examples.
This question is important because end-time leaders teach that a spirit or spirits (Jesus, an angel, the Holy Spirit, etc) appeared to them in a vision and gave them important Bible explanations about the end of the world. These leaders say they have a special anointing to explain the Bible. In Shinchonji, Manhee Lee is reported to have received information from God, Jesus, and angels.
As Christians, we are told not to believe every spirit, but to test them (I John 4:1). In Christian thinking, when spirits claiming to be angels or Jesus communicate messages that distort, twist, or misapply God's Word, something is amiss. Below is an edited summary from a book on some of the most common techniques used by end-time teachers or preachers who do not rightly divide the Bible (1).
1. BIBLICAL HOOK: A text of Scripture is quoted as a way to make readers think the text is affirming what the author is saying. However, when the text is consulted carefully, it speaks of something else.
Both Shinchonji and the Watchtower Society quote Mt. 24:45-47 to prove that God chooses a final servant (their leader/s) to guide the Christian world in the end. However, when Christians read these verses carefully, they see Jesus referring to all faithful disciples in the end. Another example is when Shinchonji uses 1 Thess. 5:1-11 to interpret those in the light as those with the revealed word, when God's voice in the written word refers to believers at large.
2. IGNORING THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: A text of Scripture is quoted but removed from the surrounding verses which form the immediate framework for its meaning.
When Jesus uses lightning in Mt. 24:27 for visibility, he is rebutting the idea of a secret or regional appearance/return to earth. Shinchonji removes the meaning from its context, quoting other verses (Lk. 10:18, Rev. 11:19) to show that lightning in Mt. 24:27 should mean invisibility. Another example is Jer. 31:27 where God is prophesying a restoration for Israel (in context), but Shinchonji links it to Jesus' parable of the two seeds in Mt. 13.
3. COLLAPSING CONTEXTS: Two or more verses which have little or nothing to do with each other are put together as if one were a commentary of the other(s).
In Manhee Lee's revelation, he teaches that Jesus (a pastor) is the light in Jn. 8:12 and makes this the commentary/link to the light (a pastor) being chosen on the first day of creation in Gen. 1. Shinchonji makes the metaphor of a ¨beast¨ (one without God's knowledge/ungodly leaders) in Prov. 30:2,3 and Is. 56:9-11 a commentary for the ¨beast¨ in Rev. 13 (a false pastor without God's revealed word).
4. OVERSPECIFICATION: A more detailed or specific conclusion than is legitimate is drawn from a biblical text.
Manhee Lee quotes Hos. 12:10, which speaks of parables and visions in general, to support that the Apostle John figure in Revelation is a prophecy for a future leader (Mr. Lee). However, Hos. 12:10 does not specify that this refers to the Apostle John. Another example is taking the Counselor-promise in Jn. 14,16 to specifically include another flesh-human body (Mr. Lee).
5. WORD PLAY: A word or phrase from a biblical translation is examined and interpreted in a different language as if the revelation had been given in that language.
This happens with the Korean language in Shinchonji. When referring to the Counselor, Manhee Lee quotes the word, ¨Bohaesa,¨ (Korean-Chinese) to re-inforce the idea of a teacher with grace. He also quotes a Korean word, ¨tongdal,¨ (mastery, thorough knowledge) for ¨search¨ in 1 Cor. 2:10 to show that the Apostle John has perfect mastery of the Bible. The word in Greek for ¨search¨ or ¨examine¨ does not mean mastery. See the article on the Counselor.
6. THE FIGURATIVE FALLACY: Either making literal language out of figurative language or mistaking figurative language for literal language.
In Manhee Lee's book, he argues that this is the problem with the Christian world: incorrectly making figurative language literal. He fixes the problem. In Christian thinking, the written word (when given) is the key. For example, Jesus refers to the real temple in Jerusalem in Mt. 24:1,2, but Mr. Lee makes it figurative because the word ¨temple¨ can often be figurative. He does not let the context determine the meaning.
7. SELECTIVE CITING: To substantiate a given argument, only a limited number of texts is quoted. The total teaching of Scripture on that subject would lead to a conclusion different from that of the writer.
According to Shinchonji's revelation, the post-ascension Christ is a spirit who works through Manhee Lee's body/flesh. One SCJ member cited different verses referring to the Spirit (of Jesus) in Revelation and Galations to prove this. Yet, other verses reveal that Jesus is not only a spirit, but also a superhuman (the first glorified human). Both are true because the Messiah has two natures. Another point is pointing to some verses where God rejects Israel in the prophets, but not accepting the verses where God promises to fully restore Israel in the prophets. See other articles on these points for additional information.
8. INADEQUATE EVIDENCE: A hasty generalization is drawn from too little evidence. It is based only on the authority of the leader or group´s interpretation.
In Manhee Lee's book, Creation of Heaven and Earth, the connections and explanations in Revelation are based on Mr. Lee's authority. For example, he interprets the ¨east¨ in Rev. 7 as Korea. But, it is based on Mr. Lee's authoritative explanation of ¨heaven¨ and his own authority/testimony of being the Apostle John figure who knows the physical fulfillment of the events. See the article on the 144,000 in Rev. 7.
9. CONFUSED DEFINITION: A biblical or Christian term is misunderstood or misdefined in such a way as to be rejected.
Shinchoji misdefines the Christian definition of the Trinity. Christians familiar with this topic know that this happens in other spirit-revelations to final prophets. In Christian teaching, there is a careful distinction between one God being and three God persons. However, Shinchonji argues that when Christians refer to the Trinity, they are referring to three beings and one being (instead of the real definition of one being and three persons). See the article on the Trinity for more information.
10. WORLD-VIEW CONFUSION: Scriptural concepts, ideas, or symbols which have a particular meaning within the cultural framework of the Bible are lifted out of that context, placed within the frame of reference of another system and given a meaning that differs from their intended meaning.
Shinchonji's revelation teaches that the spirits of the martyrs will come back to earth and unite with the flesh of those believers at the first resurrection in Rev. 20. This is the meaning of the resurrection, which is more of a mixture of eastern ideas of reincarnation than a Christian one. The biblical concept of the resurrection refers to a spirit being united to a person´s own flesh that God re-creates and glorifies, similar to what happened to the Lord Jesus, who is the firstfruits of future resurrections (I Cor. 15:20, Rom. 8:11, Phil. 3:21, Is. 26:19). See other articles on this point.
11. VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION: Either a leader associates his or her teachings with figures accepted as authoritative by traditional Christians, or a leader's situation is likened to people and events in the Bible.
Shinchonji considers their situation to be like Christ's in the first century. All other Christian leaders are compared to the Pharisees who misinterpreted the Messianic prophecies and would not listen to Jesus. In the same way, Christians today do not understand the end-time prophecies and do not listen to Manhee Lee. Or, just like Paul had to leave his teachings and hear Jesus' voice, Christians must leave their pastors and follow Mr. Lee's voice. Comparisons and associations like this are made in SCJ's literature.
12. ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION: The assumption is that the Bible's prophecies contains hidden, esoteric meanings which are opened only to those who are initiated into its secrets. The interpreter declares the significance of biblical passages without giving much, if any, explanation for his or her interpretation.
Manhee Lee and other apocalyptic movements in South Korea have taught that the parables are written in coded/secret information to keep God's plans hidden from Satan. Also, when reading Mr. Lee's interpretations of Revelation, it seems that the revealed word ¨revealed¨ meanings, but did not submit to the clear ideas that come from the written word in Revelation. See other articles on this point. In the end, the revealed meanings and Bible connections in Shinchonji are based Manhee Lee's authority.
13. SUPPLEMENTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: New revelation from post biblical prophets either replaces or is added to the Bible as authority.
The real voice that the Christian world must listen to is the revealed word, which is the interpreter of the written word. The revealed word is considered God's Word. Even if the Bible affirms something different at face value, people are taught to listen to the revealed word. The written word, especially in relation to prophecies about Jesus´ return, is said to be sealed from other Christians. This makes the leader's voice the voice of understanding and authority (even above God´s voice in the Bible).
(1) Taken and adapted from this webpage on James Sire's book, ¨Scripture Twisting¨. http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b03.html