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UK: Churches warned of 'deceptive cult' linked to South Korea infiltrating congregations
The Church of England has issued a formal alert to almost 500 parishes in London about the activities of the group known as Parachristo.
The organisation, a registered charity, runs Bible study courses at an anonymous industrial unit under a Botox clinic and a personal training company in London Docklands.
But it is understood to be linked to a controversial South Korean group known as Shinchonji (SCJ) – or the “New Heaven and New Earth” church (NHNE) – whose founder Man-Hee Lee is referred to as God’s “advocate”.
It is claimed that some of those who become involved gradually withdraw from friends and family and actively lie about their real lives [...]
A companion article, titled The Korean religious leader on a collision course with the Church of England notes:
Organisers insist Parachristo exists solely to help “understand the Bible more deeply”. [...]
Former attendees of Parachristo study groups have claimed that existing members effectively pose as new students.
Shinchonji teaching documents seen by The Telegraph instructs these “maintainers” to “arouse curiosity” of newcomers and “try to be close to each other until the student relies on you fully”.
They are told to “take notes of the conversation with the student” and report back to the group leader.
Shincheonji -- Cult of Christianity
According to the SCJ, their leader - Manhee Lee - is the Messiah or the spokesperson of the Messiah ("Promised Pastor").
Lee Man-Hee claims that Jesus appeared before him as a "bright heavenly figure." Some see him as God’s “promised pastor” who holds the key to avoid impending judgement. Followers believe that Lee Man-Hee is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Reportedly the church teaches that Lee Man-Hee is the angel referred to in Revelation 22:16:
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
The church also believes that Revelation 7:2 refers to South Korea (East) and to Lee Man-Hee (angel):
Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God.
According to the group's promotional literature Lee Man-Hee is the only person who can testify to the mysteries of the Book of Revelation -- which he claims already has been fulfilled. He is said to teach that the world has already ended, and that we are currently living in the afterlife.
Shincheonji denies the biblical teaching that people are saved by faith in Jesus Christ -- and not by works.
The church denies the doctrine of the Trinity.
Sociologically Shincheonji has many cult-like characteristics as well.
Front Groups; Alternative Spellings
Note the different spellings of the name of the group: Officially it is Shincheonji, Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ). Commonly referred to as Shincheonji, but the name is sometimes spelled without the 'e' -- Shinchonji.
Likewise, the name of the cult's leader is Lee Man-Hee, which is sometimes written as Man-Hee Lee or Manhee Lee.
Lee Man-Hee founded Shinchonji in 1984.
Other names related to this movement: Mannam Volunteer Association/Mannam International Youth Coalition (MIYC), International Peace Youth Group (IPYG)/Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ).
World Peace... and Deception
Like similar cults, Shincheonji claims it promotes world peace -- but its deceptive nature tends to backfire, like it did when the cult organized the World Alliance of Religions Peace Summit (WARP). Wikipedia:
From 17-19 September 2014 Shincheonji organised their SCJ 6th National Olympiad. It is the major event for SCJ which they hold every four years, and it coincides with Lee's birthday. On this occasion, they also invited many international guests who all believed they were attending a secular "World Peace Summit". As the two events took place simultaneously and in the same venue, it led to significant confusion and embarrassment for international guests who had been misled.
Here's one blogger's experience at a similar event: "We thought we were going to a world peace festival...turned out to be a religious cult sort of thing."
- Court Rules [Korean TV Broadcaster] CBS May Call Shincheonji an Antisocial Group. This article, posted on a website dedicated to observing another cult, is part of a larger collection of news items about Shinchonji
- My Experience with Shincheonji, by Breanna Jennings -- and English teacher in South Korea. See also her video and the follow-up
- GotQuestions.org: "What is Shincheonji? Is it a cult?"
- Analysis of Shincheonji's Movement
- Freedom of Mind: Information posted on the website of cult expert Steven Hassan
- Thesis: The Shincheoji Religious Movement - A Critical Evaluation