The other day I received a phone call saying that someone had recommended me to attend a Bible study on the book of Revelation. The caller implied that it was through that recommendation that they had received my number.
I asked some questions about who was doing the study and when it was. The lady on the phone told me she was from the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. I asked the lady if she could email me some information. She was happy to do so, emphasising that the Shincheonji Church of Jesus is reaching out to other Christians and Christian leaders in order to hear different perspectives and encourage dialogue.
They were having an online ZOOM Bible study on the book of Revelation that night, and so I decided to attend. As it happened, there was no dialogue, and all attendees were muted and blacked out. A Kiwi woman began the lesson by introducing the speaker, Chairman Lee Man-Hee. He shared some of his personal story and then taught on the book of Revelation. His teaching was in Korean, but was translated into English. I personally did not feel his teaching was compelling, or true to the Biblical text.
So, what is the Shincheonji Church of Jesus? It is a religious movement from South Korea, led by Lee Man-Hee, who teaches that he is the messenger who received and ate the open scroll in Revelation 10, also referred to as the Promised Pastor.
Shincheonji was established in 1984 and its full name is Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of Testimony. You may have heard of them early in the pandemic, when they unfortunately became a focal point of the spread of COVID-19 in South Korea.
You may also have heard of them being referred to as a “cult”. This seems to be a common accusation, as on their main English homepage they have a frequently asked questions section. In this section they address questions often brought against organisations viewed as cults, such as: “What is deception and is this a tactic used by Shincheonji?”; “What is propaganda and is this a tactic used by Shincheonji?”; “Do you have to give up your life (job, school, family) to be in Shincheonji?”; “Is it true that people are pretending to be your friend, just to have you join the church?”; and “Is Chairman Man Hee Lee, the second coming of Jesus?”
Shincheonji appears to have become very actively seeking to proselytise people in New Zealand. I have learned that Shincheonji has contacted many other ministers from my denomination, often with a similar story (“someone thought you might be interested”).
Because of Shincheonji’s history and their heightened activity in New Zealand, NZCN felt it might be helpful to make churches more aware of this group.
Here’s the group’s own information about itself: their main English homepage
Here’s some other links and resources which give various perspectives on the group.*
A link to an apologetics article on the group: https://www.apologeticsindex.org/14298-shincheonji-cult-of-christianity
NZ-based news articles on Shincheonji:
Wellington man who left 'manipulative' Shincheonji cult issues warning to others
Churches on alert of “dangerous cult” Shincheonji on takeover mission
Woman recruited to Shincheonji sounds warning about group
Video on Shincheonji by NZ Pastor Nick Field:
Responding to Shincheonji: How leaders can help
Ex-Shincheonji member Stella Kang (the information she gives is consistent with the above sources)
Shincheonji-How do they approach you? Who are their targets?
Shincheonji: Who are they? What do they believe in? Why problematic?
* The information contained in all these links represents the views and opinions of the original creators of such content and does not necessarily align with the views or opinions of NZCN itself. The appearance of these links in a NZCN communication or website does not constitute any endorsement by NZCN or its affiliates.