(Photo: Twitter/ @miguelverdun)
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and self-professed savior of the world, died Monday and members of the evangelical Christian community have been calling for prayer for his followers to have their hearts opened to whom the Bible teaches as the only Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Despite the jokes being made by some members of the public reacting to the news that yet another self-professed messiah had died -- with some suggesting lightheartedly that Moon had until Wednesday to come back to life -- Christian leaders have chosen to focus instead on the estimated thousands or even millions who believe the 92-year-old South Korean leader's unbiblical claims about being called by Jesus Christ to fulfill his earthly mission.
"Sun Myung Moon dies...lost without Christ. Let's pray his followers SEE THE TRUE LIGHT. JESUS! Proof again 4 believers to be sharing Truth," tweeted David Burton, Director of Evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention.
Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., wondered, "Will the death of Sun Myung Moon open the eyes of his followers to the falsity of his messianic claims?"
"We must pray so," he suggested.
Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, shared: "Sun Myung Moon, Unification Church founder, has died. Today, Moon meets the actual Messiah that he thought he was. #tragic"
Stetzer further comments in post on his website: "Moon believed that Jesus failed at part of his mission and he was to fulfill that mission. Certainly, every person who dies without Christ is tragic. Yet, in Moon's case, he thought he was 'Lord of the Second Advent' -- but now Moon meets the Son, the true Lord and Messiah.
"The Unification Church reports millions of followers (though scholars put the number much lower). Regardless of the number, there are many people who have just seen their leader die. Now, his followers must deal with the aftermath -- and I hope you will join with me in praying for them."
The author, researcher and missiologist implored Christians to "pray for members of the Unification Church so they might hear of the true Messiah in this trying time," after pointing to a report from the North American Mission Board titled "The Truth About the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon." The NAMB report describes Unification Church teachings as "a complicated mixture of eastern philosophy, Christian and biblical terminology" propagated by "bizarre notions and interpretations of Rev. Moon and other UC leaders."
Members of the Unification Church, which was founded in the 1950s, had been praying for Moon since news broke weeks ago of his hospitalization and battle with pneumonia. The Vancouver Sun reported that members of one UC church in Canada had been in service when word came of his passing.
"It so happened we were having our Sunday service this morning when the announcement came through," Al Wilding, a pastor of Vancouver's Unification Church told the publication. "We had been doing special prayers anyway and Rev. Moon teaches that life on this earth is finite and doesn't last forever, so we were kind of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, so to speak."
When asked about the cult claims surrounding the Unification Church, the Canadian pastor said, "I didn't join because of some personality cult I was really inspired by what he taught."
Wilding suggested that those doubtful of Moon's unorthodox Christian claims study his writings and sermons for themselves.
Moon leaves behind his wife and 10 children. His followers have reportedly started a 13-day mourning period to mark his death.