Question for Manhee Lee: Where is the Promise?
Thanks for taking these points to heart.
In the last two hundred years, many final leaders have given prophecies for themselves in the written word to assure their followers that God has chosen them. Yet, Christian researchers notice that when final leaders reveal prophecies for themselves, the biblical texts do not say what the leaders affirm.
Let´s look at an example in Shinchonji.
According to Shinchonji's public website, Manhee Lee has received information from an angel (a holy spirit), Jesus, and God. These spiritual entities, working through Mr. Lee, reveal that the New Testament announces the coming of a final pastor. To Mr. Lee, this is no exaggeration.
Manhee Lee's coming is just as big as the Messiah's first coming. He writes, ¨Just as the Old Testament promises Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:39), the New Testament prophesies about this promised pastor¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 82). ¨The Old Testament testified about one person in Jesus, God's promised pastor. It is no exaggeration to say that the New Testament testifies about the one pastor Jesus promised¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 337). ¨It could be said that the New Testament proclaims one pastor promised by Jesus¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 429).
In Manhee Lee's book, he explains that the Bible reveals a series of pastors and chosen people in different time periods, and that there is now a final pastor (Mr. Lee) and a final chosen people (Shinchonji) in the end. Through this final pastor God accomplishes his will in the book of Revelation.
What is the problem with this claim about a promised pastor?
First, a legitimate promise in the written word is one that everyone sees. Otherwise, it is not a true promise according to the written word (the Bible). If it were a clear promise, we should expect devoted Christians from the first century on to be talking about this coming, which we do not find in Christian writings. This means it is a promise only based on Mr. Lee´s authority, not the written word.
Second, Manhee Lee's statement that his coming is prophesied just like Jesus' coming is not accurate. Jesus' coming in the Old Testament was foretold in a clear way. Although many of the details were disputed in the first century, no one disputed the Messianic promise itself. One Talmudic tradition says that the prophets spoke of nothing more important than the days of the Messiah. Multiple groups independently extracted promises of a Messiah, like the Essenes. The Aramaic targums (translations of the Old Testament) inserted the Messiah in many texts. Even the Samaritans believed a Messiah was to come (Jn. 4:25, 42).
Thus, when God's voice wanted his people to believe in an important coming, like the Messiah's coming, he used clear and unambiguous language. Applied to Manhee Lee's statement above, if there is a similar promise from God in the New Testament for a pastor, it should be equally obvious, but it´s not.
Thirdly, when we evaluate the verses used by Shinchonji for a final pastor, they are based on circular interpretation. That is, they are real prophecies only to Shinchonji. Let´s look at a few examples.
Manhee Lee teaches that the phrase ¨the one who overcomes¨ in Rev. 2,3 refers primarily to one individual/Mr. Lee (and, in a secondary sense, to those who overcome in Shinchonji). But, according to the testimony of the written word, it is the exact opposite. The primary meaning refers to all those who overcome in the churches (Rev. 2:24, 3:4), not just one individual.
An unbiased reading, confirmed by Christian communities everywhere, reveals that no one sees this as a clear prophecy for one individual. It is supposedly a secretive prediction only clear to the leader, which makes it based on his authority. The same is true for other prophecy texts.
According to Mr. Lee, the promise of the Counselor in Jn. 14,16 refers to a final flesh (pastor). But, this is only so because he re-defines the Counselor to include two aspects - the Spirit and another ¨flesh¨ through whom the Spirit of the Counselor works. Further, it is not an example of a clear prophecy. On the contrary, evidence in the text and in Acts dispels the teaching of the Counselor working through only one flesh.
Other examples can also be cited in Revelation. However, these are only clear promises to Mr. Lee, not any other Christian community. Again, apocalyptic leaders cite hidden prophecies for themselves based on their authority, but it needs to be shown that God in his written word has made these prophecies known.
To justify hidden or secretive prophecies in Revelation, Manhee Lee quotes Hosea 12:10 to show that that the Apostle John in Revelation refers to a promised pastor, a new Apostle John who must appear in the future. According to one source, in the Korean translation of Hosea 12:10, it states that ¨prophets can be used figuratively,¨ but this does not constitute a specific prophecy.
A specific promise according to the Bible is one that the voice in the written record makes known to others independently, like in the writings of the Hebrew prophets announcing the Messiah's coming. If the written word does not make this clear, the real source of authority is the leader's revelation (from heavenly entities), which other end-time leaders have used to reveal prophecies for their coming.
Imagine a U.S. judge declaring that ¨something is clear according to the U.S. Constitution¨. This would mean that other judges could open the Constitution and find it there. It would be suspicious if it were only clear to this particular judge and no other judge could confirm its clarity. It would make everything based on this judge's interpretation/perspective of the Constitution, but not the Constitution's self-revelation.
The same is true in God's Word. One Christian lady said that after looking up Bible verses given to her of a final pastor, she was more convinced that God had not made this promise in the Bible. According to the written word, God's voice led her in the opposite direction.
One Shinchonji instructor replied that perhaps God planned to hide this promise (i.e. seal it) from Christians. But, this creates more problems than it answers. First, it would make Manhee Lee's promise different than the promise of a Messiah in the Old Testament, which goes against Mr. Lee's statement above. Second, if God truly asks believers to follow a final pastor, it would be strange to hide this promise in his written testimony and then expect everyone to believe a promise that is not clearly revealed in the Bible.
Even though the written word gives many clear prophecies about the end, Christians have never seen a clear promise to follow a world pastor who embodies Jesus' spiritual return. Jesus' first sign of the end is a warning to stay away from leaders who come in his name and embody his expected return (Lk. 21:8, Mt. 24:4,5). See article on Manhee Lee's claim to be the flesh-spirit union with Jesus' returning spirit.
Questions for reflection.
In Latin America, there is a group that believes that their first leader was the new Aaron of the Christian world. Are there any clear prophecies for a new Aaron in the Bible? Should followers of Christ believe a promise that only a final leader makes clear to their group?