According to Shinchonji, the SCJ pastor, Manhee Lee, had an encounter with heavenly entities on a mountain in South Korea. These entities (God, Jesus, and a holy spirit/angel) gave Mr. Lee a ¨revealed word¨ or ¨revelation¨ on the prophecies related to the second coming (their meaning and their physical fulfillment). Mr. Lee says that he is the New Apostle John figure who received the scroll (the revealed word) in Rev. 10.
When heavenly entities convince a leader that their ¨revelation¨ is true and a movement is started, it's important to test this revelation. Testing, of course, is not physically persecuting a leader or their followers, who are loved by God. But, it's important to avoid spiritual deception (I Tim. 4:1, I Jn. 4:1).
Leaders in end-time movements believe their revelation is from God because a) it seems to answer all the prophecies about the last stage of Christianity and b) no one else in Christianity knows their answers to these questions. This is seen as evidence that the ¨revealed word¨ must be divine in origin.
Members in Shinchonji use the revealed word to pose questions to Christians. In SCJ literature, it is stated that no one can answer their questions about Revelation or the second coming. To Shinchonji, this demonstrates that the ¨revealed word¨ is superior to all Bible knowledge in Christian circles today.
These questions are also used to make Christans feel like they must have this knowledge (¨the revealed word¨) to be ready for Jesus' return. In his zeal, one Shinchonji member sent out more than 70 e-mails with questions to his Christian family. The message was, ¨If you don´t know the answer to these questions, you need to study with Shinchonji?¨
What is the problem with these questions? What do we discern?
First, it is suspicious when the ¨revealed word¨ asks questions that the written word does not require believers to know. For example, one Revelation question is, ¨What is the meaning of the white stone in Rev. 2:17?¨ But, when we listen to God´s voice in Rev. 2:17, the written word is not commanding believers to know this meaning.
The reader is able to understand that it is something wonderful.
In Rev. 1:3, God's voice states that those who read Revelation and take to heart what is written in it will be blessed. Without perfect knowledge, believers throughout the centuries have been blessed by the powerful themes that come from the written word in Revelation. But, the written word does not command us to understand every word.
Shinchonji members might respond, ¨This is equal to saying that it's not important to understand Jesus' words at all.¨ But, this is different. All followers of Christ believe that we should study what Jesus makes known in the Bible. The difference is when a ¨revealed word¨ emphasizes something that the written word does not emphasize. Only the revealed word requires it to be known.
Instead of trusting in Christ's power, love, and promises, people become more worried about understanding every word in Revelation that the ¨revealed word¨ asks a question about.
When God's word does not emphasize something, we can trust that God either does not emphasize the meaning or he chooses not to reveal it, which is a divine prerogative (Jn. 21:20-23, I Cor. 13:12, I Jn. 3:2). A host of topics in Scripture is unknown to the Christian world (the identity of the spirits in 1 Pet. 3:18, future activities in eternity, the time that elapsed before Satan's rebellion, and much more).
Imagine an English professor asking students, ¨When Cinderella lost her slipper in the story, what was the price of that slipper?¨ The story does not reveal the answer. In the same way, the ¨revealed word¨ in Shinchonji creates questions that the story in the written word does not ask (and then expects answers that the written word does not reveal).
(Note to reader: Many questions raised by Shinchonji fall under this analysis, but it is possible that some do not. Each question should be analyzed separately/case by case to see if it applies.)
What are some other problems with ¨revealed questions¨?
Since the ¨revealed¨ questions require answers not easily known in the written word, it slowly makes participants view the ¨revealed word¨ in Shinchonji as the primary source of truth. Shinchonji would disagree with this, but it becomes more apparent to outside Christians that the revealed word from Manhee Lee becomes the real authority in SCJ, not the written word.
When this happens, it makes it nearly impossible to correct a leader with a ¨revealed word¨ with God's written word. Revealed ¨words/revelations¨ insist that their revelation unveils the deeper connection or the real meaning in the written word (even if the written word says something different).
For example, God's word in Mt. 24:27 makes it known that the meaning of lightning is related to visibility, but the revealed word in Shinchonji cites other verses, like Lk. 10:18 and Rev. 11:19, to show that the deeper meaning in Mt. 24:27 does not refer to visibility. So, the revealed word ¨corrects¨ the written word, not the other way around.
A third problem with the ¨revealed word¨ is circular interpretation. One Shinchonji member once asked, ¨If Mr. Lee is not the Apostle John figure, who is?¨ But, this person did not realize that Mr. Lee (the new Apostle John) is the one who says there must be a new Apostle John. When the written text is consulted on its own, it does not require followers of Jesus to believe a new John is coming.
Another case is when Manhee Lee reveals that the ¨one who overcomes¨ in Rev. 2,3 refers to one person, Mr. Lee, (as a primary meaning) and to others (as a secondary meaning). Only Mr. Lee sees that this is a prophecy for a final leader. When God's Word is consulted independently, it is the exact opposite.
Fourth, when Shinchonji speaks of knowing answers to Revelation (how prophecies should be understood and how they are physically fulfilled), the assumption is that giving interpretations (and the physical fulfillment) is the same as giving the right interpretation (and the right physical fulfillment). Teachers and students of logic know this is false. A student can give answers to all the hard questions on an exam and still be wrong (even though their answers were unique and not found on any other exam).
The same is true with revelations from spirit entities to final prophets. The kingdom of darkness has been revealing end-time answers to many groups for a long time. The fact that final prophets are convinced that supernatural beings from heaven are guiding them doesn't mean that their guided answers are the right ones. Crafty, intelligent spirits can deceive humans (1 Jn. 4:1), which is why we must test them.
Testing is not merely seeing if a ¨revealed word¨ can give answers to 40 questions on Revelation that the revealed word created, which is circular. A much safer test is seeing whether or not the voice of the ¨revealed word¨ is the same voice in God's written word.
Lastly, when we test the answers from Shinchonji's revealed word, the ¨revealed word¨ seems to impose itself on the the written word. The interpretations seem controlled and self-validating. Manhee Lee says, ¨This is connected to the meaning here,¨ but other connections or meanings are possible too. It feels controlled, like in other movements with a revealed word (see the testimonial section).
For instance, what is Shinchonji's revealed answer to the ¨white stone¨ in Rev. 1:17?
God's Word has many contexts and uses for stones/rocks (Ez. 36:26, Mt. 16:18, 2 Cor. 3:3, 1 Sam. 17:50, Ac. 4:11, Mk. 16:3, etc.), but Manhee Lee's revealed word states that stones represent ¨the tools of God¨ (the words of God) used for judgment, like the stone tablets given to Moses. In the end, the revealed word says the ¨white stone¨ is ultimately the revealed word (the revelation to Manhee Lee in Rev. 10).
¨The Bible borrows the physical qualities of a stone when it uses stones figuratively to represent the tools of God - people who pass judgment...The white stone (Rev. 2:17) that Jesus (the living stone) promised to give to the one who fights and overcomes the group of Satan (the Nicolaitans) represents the law, which is the word of the New Testament Jesus received from God. This word is also the word of the open scroll from Rev. 10, and it is by this word that the earth and the sea are judged (Jn. 12:48, Rv. 16)¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 485-487).
At a certain point, the meanings in Revelation and other prophecies become predictable - everything refers, in some way or another, to the revealed word (see Manhee Lee's book, Creation of Heaven and Earth).
In summary, when a revealed word appears from heavenly entities (an angel, Jesus, or God) and uses questions that it creates, puts itself above the meanings in the written word's self-revelation, or controls meanings between verses, it is a sign to Christians. It shows that the voice in God's written revelation is not the same voice from the prophet's revelation.
Thank you for considering these points and principles when testing Shinchonji's questions.