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Christianity Today's 'Second Coming Christ Controversy' Collapses

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By Jonathan Park , Guest Contributor
September 14, 2012|5:52 pm

Jonathan Park is the director of Olivet College of Journalism. He received two degrees from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and a Master of Divinity degree from Olivet University (San Francisco, CA). While he was a student at Northwestern, Park also wrote for The Christian Post as a contributor. Raised in a Christian family, Park attended church all his life and currently attends an EAPCA church. He has also served as a volunteer minister for several years, leading Bible studies and preaching occasionally.

Christianity Today published an article Wednesday that appears to shift the focus of the so-called "Second Coming Christ Controversy" from issues about soteriology to past eschatology teachings.

The director of Olivet University's journalism program, Jonathan Park, who was also a former correspondent for The Christian Post, has conducted his own investigation and interviews to fact-check CT's story.

The article below was written by Park and sent to various media outlets.

CT's Source Edmond Chua Testifies Jang's Orthodoxy, Perplexes Accusers

In his interview with Christianity Today Edmond Chua raised questions about Jang's past eschatological beliefs, while at the same time affirming Jang's orthodoxy when it comes to Christology and soteriology. Edmond said "Jang is unsurpassed in preaching the theology of the sacrifice and atonement of the Cross. He had successfully taken what many pastors would just say as a one-liner, expositing how God loves us, and paints this relationship between Jesus and his disciples in such a way that would put any movie to shame."

Edmond similarly attested to Jang's orthodoxy on Christology and soteriology three weeks ago in a personal testimony published August 23 on the Singapore Christian Post, where he served as the manager. His testimony titled "David Jang's Orthodoxy: An Ex-Insider's Perspective," also vouched for the orthodoxy of the Jang-founded Olivet University.

"I can attest that Jang preaches and teaches a full-bodied view of the atonement," wrote Edmond. He said he listened to Jang preach at Olivet's main campus in San Francisco and read notes of his sermons. "Contrary to what has been claimed [in CT's first article]," Edmond clarified, "[Jang] does not view the cross as a failure; the victory and efficacy of the atonement figure in his sermons and notes of his teaching."

Edmond, like all of the sources (named or anonymous) that have spoken to CT, also wrote in his testimony that Jang has never taught or implied that he was the "Second Coming Christ," saying, "In my exposure to Jang's preaching and teaching, I have never heard him proclaim himself Christ or Messiah or in any way imply that he believed he was."

Edmond added, "[I]t must be pointed out that the real reason I joined Jang's denomination in the first place was only because of his tremendous and life-changing teaching emphasis on the glory of the crucified and resurrected Christ."

Edmond's assertions in his Aug. 23 article may well have perplexed CT at first, along with many of Jang's accusers, most of whom are based in East Asia, because of the strong defense he provides of Dr. Jang's orthodoxy in Christology and soteriology, thereby totally debunking the allegation that people associated with Jang believe that the ministry of Jesus and his work on the Cross failed.

Edmond Coins New Term: "Non-Parousia Postmillennialism"

In the same August 23 article, Edmond assumed that a few individuals at the EAPCA denomination had believed or taught what Edmond called "non-Parousia Postmillenialism," or NPP. Edmond alleged that even those few individuals who had taught NPP had only done so prior to 2006 and that Dr. Jang stopped people from teaching that same year. NPP, a term that seems to have been created by Edmond, interprets the Second Coming of Christ as a symbolic event rather than a literal event.

But NPP is an inaccurate view of EAPCA's eschatology, according to this writer.

This writer has personally attended an EAPCA church since 2005, but he does not recall any teaching or preaching on premillennialism, postmillennialism, or amillennialism in the church. At Olivet University, the overview of the three dominant eschatological views was taught in both Systematic Theology and (very briefly) in New Testament courses, but the professors did not endorse any one view over the other.

Rev. Anthony Chiu, stated clerk of EAPCA, said NPP was never an official view of the denomination.

"The term NPP, 'non-Parousia Postmillenialism', was coined by Edmond Chua to describe our beliefs," said Rev. Chiu to this writer. "A Google search of the term produces unrelated results, apparently because Chua coined the term himself."

By his own admission, Edmond said he "never heard such teaching in [Dr.Jang's] actual preaching."

Chiu also said that there were never any lessons that taught or encouraged Edmond's NPP theory, nor the belief in David Jang as Christ. The denomination said its statement of faith has always affirmed the "personal" return of Jesus Christ "in power and glory."

EAPCA's official statement of faith reads in part: "We believe…in…our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His Personal return in power and glory."

Edmond's Claim about EAPCA's Eschatology Changes Drastically

Edmond stood by his claims about EAPCA's theology and supported the denomination's orthodoxy up until late August, only questioning its eschatology.

However, only a few days after he penned the article on "David Jang's Orthodoxy," he contradicted his previous statements in a follow-up article on Singapore CP. That article was removed shortly thereafter from the website for violating the editorial guidelines of The Christian Post. (Edmond's first article remains on Singapore CP's website).

Many of Edmond's controversial claims were reprinted in CT's Sept. 12 article, however. Edmond told CT he had once "believed that Jang was a new Christ, a messianic figure establishing the kingdom of God on earth" and he "prayed in [Dr. Jang's] name instead of Jesus."

These claims are puzzling in light of Edmond's previous assertions about the centrality of Jesus Christ in the prayers and sermons of Dr. Jang.

"[Dr. Jang] glorifies all Three Persons of the Godhead in his prayers and offers every prayer to God in the name of Jesus Christ. It would be irrational for Jang, if he indeed believed himself to be Christ, to pray in that name," wrote Edmond on August 23.

Such apparent contradictions and flawed logic in Edmond's subsequent articles and writings convinced some readers that his later writings were written by a different person altogether.

Dr. Donald Tinder, dean of Olivet Theological College and Seminary, found some of Edmond's explanations in his first article to be "helpful," but thought that a later email and article were either fabricated, or that Chua was somehow pressured into writing them. In an email, Tinder voiced these concerns to Ted Olsen, CT's "Second Coming Christ Controversy" author. Tinder told Olsen that if Edmond was in fact the author of these contradictory accounts then he "is gravely disoriented or extremely pressured as there are too many internal contradictions."

Dr. Tinder, who was also a former editor at Christianity Today for 10 years, noted to CT's Olsen "how similar some of [Chua's] extreme comments are to other baseless charges against Jang or the movement."

"But [Edmond Chua's] emails do have the virtue of substantiating a major claim of ours, that the attacks against us could be based on misunderstandings, misrepresentation, outright fabrications, and possible hostility from some concerned just with sowing discord rather than maintaining sound doctrine," Dr. Tinder added.

This writer's own testimony, also sent to Olsen, pointed out the impossibility of simultaneously believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross (sound soteriology) while also believing that a Second Coming Christ (Jang) needs to complete the "unfinished" work of Jesus (a matter of eschatology). The work cannot be both finished and unfinished at the same time. Like Edmond, the writer of this article had been taught the efficacy and completeness of the cross of Jesus, and this writer continues to hold firmly to that belief.

 

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