Shinchonji receives their Bible explanations from a teacher, Manhee Lee, who believes he has received his information from an angel/the spirit of the Counselor, Jesus, and God. These entities have united with/entered Mr. Lee´s body/flesh. This is why he says with confidence that they have the ¨most perfect theological revelation in the entire history of Christianity¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 16).
When a final prophet claims to be fed by heavenly creatures, it is important to test their revelation with the written word (the Bible). Testing is not physically persecuting a leader (or their followers), who are important to God. However, in Christian thinking, it is necessary to avoid spiritual deception.
Some effective tests are seeing if a) the voice from the revelation to the leader (the voice of the revealed word) is the same as the voice in the written word and b) seeing if the revealed word honors the written word (the ideas from the text and context) or if it reveals meanings based on its own authority.
With this in mind, let´s look at an example in Shinchonji.
Many people may recall an important phrase used by Jesus in Mt. 24:15, Lk. 21:20, and Mk. 13:14 called the abomination that causes desolation. Christ uses this as a sign about the last days before his return to the planet.
How does the revelation to Mr. Lee define this phrase? In a short answer, Mr. Lee teaches that this abomination was fulfilled when a false pastor (and his associates) invaded and destroyed a church chosen by Jesus in South Korea.
Mr. Lee´s revealed word states that a church in South Korea called the Church of the Seven (Golden) Lampstands was the representative church on earth. They had Jesus´ words but betrayed him. This church/temple was then invaded by a false pastor and his associates (the Nicolaitans).
In Mr. Lee´s book, he says that this invasion and destruction is the ¨abomination¨ that Jesus was referring to and what Paul was referring to in 2 Thes. 2:1-4 about the ¨evil one¨ who invades the temple and destroys it.
The invasion and destruction are two important points in Shinchonji thinking.
Mr. Lee claims that the beast in Rev. 13 - known as the anti-Christ to many Christians - is really this false pastor and his associates. ¨This beast with seven heads and ten horns is called the ¨abomination that causes desolation¨ in Mt. 24¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 500).
Thus, the abomination that causes desolation in SCJ relates to a false pastor and his associates (called the destroyers/Nicolaitans) who stand in the holy temple/church (called the Church of the Seven Lampstands) and destroy it. This pastor is also the ¨evil one¨ Paul mentioned in 1 Thess. 2 and the beast in Rev. 13.
Those who understand these events are to flee to Mt. Zion (Shinchonji), created by Jesus through Mr. Lee.
¨The beast that receives great power from the dragon invades the tabernacle of God´s chosen people, defeats them, and rules over the holy tabernacle for 42 months (Rev. 11:2). Paul prophesied about the man of destruction taking his seat in God´s temple, claiming himself to be God (I Thes. 2:1-4)....The tabernacle of heaven in this chapter (Rev. 13) refers to the church of the seven golden lampstands. Salvation, however, comes only to those who flee to the mountain when they see the destroyers standing in the holy tabernacle (Mt. 24:1-16, Rev.3:4, 17:14). This mountain is Mt. Zion, which is promised in Rev. 14:1. It refers to Shinchonji-New Spiritual Israel¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 216,217,218).
According to Mr. Lee´s book, God uses Mr. Lee as the one ¨who overcomes¨ the false pastor and his associates/the Nicolaitans. He then creates Shinchonji. Those who come out of the Church of the Seven Lampstands (and other Christian churches) become the 144,000 sealed Jews in Rev. 7.
What is the problem with this explanation of the ¨abomination that causes desolation¨?
First, Mr. Lee associates the abomination with a church movement in South Korea. This church was an apocalyptic group with problems of its own. See the article about the history of Mr. Lee before Shinchonji. Mr. Lee joined this movement (and others) before founding Shinchonji.
Second, when we look into the written word (the authority in Christian thought), the information is very different. We find something bigger. Christ associates the abomination of desolation with a time of wrath against Israel, armies, a desolation in Jerusalem (and the surrounding area), and the Jerusalem temple.
¨When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near¨ (Lk. 21:20). ¨So, when you see standing in the holy place, the abomination that causes desolation...then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains¨ (Mt. 24:15a,16).
In Lk. 21:20-23, Jesus links the abomination to a time of wrath against the people of Israel. He employs the phrase ¨this people¨ in reference to Israel. ¨There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people¨ (Lk. 21:23).
In Mr. Lee´s book, he writes that the temple in Mt. 24 is not a reference to the Jerusalem temple, but a spiritual temple. It refers to the chosen temple/church of the seven golden lampstands in South Korea. ¨When Mt. 24 refers to the fall of the temple in Jerusalem it is not referring to the physical temple. It is referring to the destruction of the tabernacle of God´s chosen people¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 18).
In the Scriptures, the word ¨temple¨ can have spiritual meanings or literal meanings. For instance, Jesus´ body was called a temple (Jn. 2:19,20), the believers in Christ are a spiritual temple (I Cor. 3:16), and the temple in Jerusalem is a literal temple (Jn. 2:14). Each case is different. When the written text gives the meaning through the context, however, this is the voice that is important to listen to.
When we look at these passages in context (Lk. 21, Mt. 24), the voice in the Bible refers to the real temple in Jerusalem. Jesus even mentions the stones and buildings of the temple (See Mt. 24:1,2, Lk. 21:5,6).
A third problem is that Mr. Lee´s explanation of the abomination does not conform/submit to Daniel´s prophecy about the abomination, which Jesus said the reader must understand. ¨So, when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand¨ (Mt. 24:15, 16).
Jesus expects readers to understand what Daniel was revealing about the abomination that causes desolation. Daniel spoke something of an abomination that Jesus wanted readers to understand. Note also what Christ does not say. He does not declare that Daniel´s words regarding the abomination were sealed (i.e. only a final prophet could understand them). He enjoins the reader to understand Daniel´s meaning.
¨So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand - then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains¨ (Mt. 24:15).
What ideas about an abomination are found in Daniel´s prophecy?
In the book of Daniel, there are three references to an abomination. The first occurs within the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27. Here, the abomination involves the completion of the 70th week, the city of Jerusalem, the sanctuary/temple in Jerusalem, a ruler/prince, the ruler´s armies, and the nation of Israel (¨your people¨).
¨Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city...After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood...he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator¨ (Dan. 9:24a, 26,27b, NRSV).
Instead of using the context, the ¨revealed word¨ in SCJ gives spiritual meanings to this passage (i.e. Jesus´ body is a temple that is re-built through the resurrection). ¨Daniel 9:24-27 mentions 69 weeks (7 weeks and 62 weeks) that pass from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah, the most holy one, is anointed. Later, after the 62 weeks have passed, the anointed one will cease to exist and the enemy who destroyes the sanctuary will prohibit the giving of gifts halfway through the 70th week. This was fulfilled by Jesus at the first coming. The temple was Jesus´ body. The rebuilding of the temple was Jesus´ death and resurrection¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 207).
In Daniel 11:31, there is a second reference to an abomination that causes desolation. It refers to an event that happened two centuries before Christ - the desolation of the temple in Jerusalem by a pagan ruler (Antiochus Epiphanes). This reference to the temple in Jerusalem and an ungodly ruler prefigured something in the future. It is a point that readers would have known.
In Daniel 12:11, there is a third reference to a final desolation, which marks the beginning of the end. It occurs in the context of a final king at the end of chapter 11 - a ruler who appears on earth during the time of ¨wrath¨ (Dan. 11:36) and has great authority over nations (Dan. 11:39-45). It happens during a time of great distress (Dan. 12:1) and before the resurrection of humans (Dan. 12:2,3).
So, when Jesus refers to an abomination (spoken of by the prophet Daniel), these are the big ideas that readers are supposed to pay attention to. Jesus´ description of Jerusalem´s desolation and the temple in Lk. 21 and Daniel´s references to Jerusalem, armies, and the temple are in harmony.
Lastly, there is a problem with Mr. Lee´s understanding of the ¨beast¨ in Rev. 13 and the ¨lawless one¨ in 2 Thess. 2, which Mr. Lee associates with a false pastor (and his associates). Does the written word, the safe authority in Christian thought, refer to a false minister or a powerful ruler?
According to 2 Thess. 2, the lawless one (or man of iniquity) is an incarnation of evil and sin. He is the epitomy of ¨all sorts of evil¨ (2 Thess 2:10) and exalts himself ¨above God¨ (2 Thess 2:4). In Christian thought, this is similar to Satan´s desire. It is no small claim to be above the Creator of the universe. Even though many false pastors can do spiritual harm, it is not the same as claiming to be God or incarnating evil to a level that surpasses the world´s worst examples in history (i.e. Hitler).
In Rev. 13, the written word describes the beast as one with great authority over nations and people on earth (Rev. 13:7). The beast attacks the saints (Rev. 13:7) and many die because of this beast (Rev. 13:15, Rev. 20:4). To Christian lawyers/Bereans who use the written word as the supreme authority (Ac. 17:11), the context of the beast in Revelation is much greater than a false minister in South Korea.
Why is this ¨abomination¨ teaching important in Shinchonji?
Mr. Lee believes that when Jesus tells his readers to flee to the mountains in Mt. 24:15 upon seeing the abomination that causes desolation, the reference to mountains refers to a spiritual mountain, Mt. Zion (i.e. Shinchonji). Those in the Church of the Seven Lampstands (and, by extension, all Christians) who do not flee to this mountain when the destroyers/the beast/false pastors appear cannot receive salvation.
¨ Those who worshiped the beast and who received his mark in Rev. 13 are the people at the tabernacle who failed to flee to Mt. Zion even after seeing the destroyers standing in the holy place (Mt. 24:15,16). (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 209). ¨Salvation, however, comes only to those who flee to the mountain when they see the destroyers standing in the holy tabernacle (Mt. 24:1-16, Rev.3:4, 17:14). This mountain is Mt. Zion, which is promised in Rev. 14:1. It refers to Shinchonji-New Spiritual Israel¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 218). ¨Although Rev. 13 has already been fulfilled, the churches of the world are blind and totally unaware of what is taking place. They claim to be orthodox, but their claims are nothing more than lies¨ (The Truth Regarding Revelation´s Fulfillment, p. 40).
In summary, when we test the revealed word concerning the abomination, the beast, and the lawless one, we see that the voice in the written word (the Bible) is not saying the same thing. This is an important sign when testing a revelation from spiritual sources (an angel, Jesus, and God).