Christianity Today's 'Second Coming Christ Controversy' Collapses

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

In addition, their claims about the "restricted" chat has also been challenged. Olivet University's Dean of Administration, Nathanael Tran, refuted the authenticity and content of the chat, especially the idea that it could be "very dangerous" if the school hires "people and professors from the world."

"Most of Olivet University's professors do not belong to the EAPCA denomination," said Tran. "And we would never call our current situation 'dangerous.'"

CT's Articles Synced for Theological Review Meetings

CT published its two "Controversy" articles on or near the dates of meetings of a committee tasked with performing a theological review of Olivet as part of a deal between the school and the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway Resources to sell the Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico to the university. The deal is contingent on the review. CT's second article was published on September 12, the day of the meeting.

No Such Doctrine of 'Righteous Lying'

In his interview with CT, Edmond claimed he was taught about "righteous lying" by Borah Lin at a summer mission training program he attended in New York six years ago. But Lin said that this charge is "completely made up" in an attempt to discredit her, especially her confession of faith in Jesus Christ.

"I have never taught about 'righteous lying' or that lies can be righteous," said Lin.

As a participant of the summer program, this writer can attest to Lin's statement that denies Edmond's claim.

There was also no such "private session" where Lin taught about the "45-year work of Christ." CT reported that Edmond and "seven others" had been singled out for the "private sessions." But there were only seven or eight participants altogether for the summer program. (Edmond had emailed several people that there were eight attendees, but this writer personally remembers only seven). If all eight people (including Edmond) were invited, then the event in question could no longer be called "private."

This writer recalled that when Lin gave her guest lectures at the training, she taught about the life of Jesus, from his virgin birth to the victory of the Cross. This writer's personal faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior was immensely strengthened after hearing about Jesus' victory on the cross as preached by Lin.

In the CT article, Carver Yu, a member of the Hong Kong-based Independent Enquiry Committee examining Young Disciples of Jesus, accused the fellowship of teaching "righteous lies." In 2008, the committee issued a report that charged YD with teaching that the first coming of Jesus to earth was a failure and that it taught about righteous lies. Yu told CT that he's convinced YD teaches its members to lie.

A YD representative called Yu's statements about "righteous lies" untrue. She said that accusing people of "righteous lying" is actually a tactic used by groups engaging in witch hunts in East Asia.

"When their arguments logically fall apart, they usually turn to personal character attacks, such as accusing people of lying. The accusation that we, although we are Christians, are teaching a doctrine of 'righteous lying' is an example of this," she wrote. "When we give a clear confession of faith that we believe in the total victory of Jesus Christ on the cross, they cannot refute it with verifiable evidence, so they try to win the argument by saying we're lying about our faith. The right thing to do would be to examine the issue logically. But instead people who use this tactic just cut off any dialogue when they lose. This is a typical method used by anti-Christian groups in Asia to attack Christians."

"It seems like there is no limit how far some accusers will go to use this righteous lie theory to accuse us of lying, whether about our faith, the ministry or anything that is not in line with their allegations," she continued. "Who has the right to dispute our sincere confession of faith regarding Jesus Christ? Our conscience is clear about our confession to Jesus. It's wicked to attempt to crumble that with this theory of 'righteous lie.' Aren't the people who are accusing us of lying actually the ones who are lying?"

Faith & Family Service, Not Wedding

CT also stated that Susan and Edmond were married in a church wedding along with 69 additional couples in 2006. (A Faith & Family Foundation official confirmed that there were a total of 69 couples, not 70 as CT reported.)

What actually occurred was not a wedding ceremony, as CT describes, but a service, according to China's Faith & Family Foundation. The organization helps to counsel and care for young Christian couples and families.

The foundation said the event is a Christian service for couples who desire to dedicate their family to God in front of other believers before marriage. There were over 500 people in attendance, including the 69 couples, at the Faith & Family service that the Chuas participated in.

This service arose from the unique family dynamics in East Asia, where many parents belong to Buddhist or non-Christian faiths. For couples whose parents or relatives expect to hold a traditional wedding ceremony, the Faith & Family Service allows them to first publicly declare at church their intention to make a family centered on Jesus Christ while respecting their family's marriage traditions.

According to Faith & Family personnel member Minghuan Jin, participants typically sign a statement that the Faith & Family Service is not a marriage but a Christian worship service. Couples do not have arranged marriages, but instead apply to participate after a period of courtship, said Jin.

CT's article also incorrectly drew a relationship between Dr. Jang and the Faith & Family Foundation. CT reported that the service took place on October 30, 2006 and claimed that it coincided with Dr. Jang's birthday. However, Bart Cheng, another participant of the service, said the date was in fact on October 29, not October 30. He also confirmed that it was not a wedding ceremony, but rather a service.

Another important note: Dr. Jang celebrates his birthday according to its lunar calendar date (not October 30), which is typical practice among older Korean persons.

From this writer's knowledge, it is not the first time accusers falsified dates or facts to support their claims.

The Biblical Way of Handling Disputes

CT inaccurately paints the efforts of those seeking Biblical resolutions to disputes as "intimidation," according to groups implicated in CT's articles.

"The worst thing about it is, these few named and anonymous people have chosen to air their grievances in media as a first recourse, instead of resolving these in a Biblical manner," noted Hokuto Ide, a reporter for Christian Today in Japan, another organization listed by CT.

He continued, "Instead of being encouraged to resolve differences through dialogue in a church setting, genuinely troubled believers have fallen victim to the predatory efforts by those with commercial and other interests who seek to sensationalize their stories with unethical motivations - namely trying to break Olivet's deal to purchase Glorieta."

According to Rev. Anthony Chiu, if there is a genuine misunderstanding on an issue, it would be right for Christians to try to resolve it with church leaders.

"If someone has a misunderstanding about teachings or beliefs, they should have first opened up a dialogue at church. Instead, it seems the misunderstandings of people are being exploited by the press and others. This is the real tragedy here," said Chiu.

"The Bible clearly explains in Matthew 18 the process by which differences among believers should be resolved: first with an in-person, one-on-one meeting with an offending brother or sister; then a face-to-face meeting in the presence of two or three witnesses, and finally in front of the church. If these efforts fail, then mediation should be brought into the secular realm," he said.

Controversy Falls Apart

CT presented the Second Coming Christ "controversy" as a big global issue. The second part of the series, however, has narrowed the issues it raises from those concerning Christology and soteriology, to alleged teachings from 10 years ago on eschatology. Since the eschatological issues raised in CT's latest article by two newly named sources in East Asia arose from Bible lectures of unsubstantiated authenticity, it seems that the controversy has come down to a few voices in Asia, rather than many around the world.

 

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