Sources in 'Second Coming Christ Controversy' Face Scrutiny

Sam Kyung Chae

Sam Kyung Chae: 'Cult Fabricator' and 'Heretic'

Another one of Christianity Today's main sources is a Christian leader in Korea named Sam Kyung Chae, whose statements have been called "unreliable" by many evangelical leaders in Korea, including the Christian Council of Korea. Chae once served as vice chair of CCK's heresy committee during the investigations against Jang but was ousted by CCK in 2010 because he was found to hold heretical theological beliefs. A year later, Chae was branded the "worst heretic" in the history of the Korean church in a statement signed by CCK and 50 member denominations, including Hap-Dong, the largest Christian denomination in Korea, for his unorthodox beliefs in Tritheism and Jesus' birth, which he says was made possible by Mary's menstrual blood.

(Corroboration can be found in the following documents: CCK Investigation Report on Sam Kyung Chae:  English Version  Korean Version)

In total, accusations initiated by Chae against Jang have been cleared four times following investigations by CCK. CCK concluded in two separate reviews that Jang had no relationship with the Unification Church, and in another two investigations Jang was cleared of allegations related to the Second Coming Christ. Chae, despite being vice chair of the CCK heresy committee, failed to find any evidence of heresy in all his investigations, and subsequent re-investigations, against Jang.

According to CT, critics say Jang was involved in the Unification Church and taught Unification theology at Sung Hwa Theological Seminary in Korea. Phil Bay, a spokesperson for Holy Bible Society, where Jang currently serves as president, firmly rejected those claims. In a statement released to CP, Bay said Jang never taught Unification theology or at a seminary run by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. "It would have been impossible that Dr. Jang taught Unification theology in 1989," said Bay. "In 1989, Sung Hwa Theological Seminary was a Methodist seminary." Bay said that CT was made aware of the distortions of facts made by its sources, but the writers intentionally omitted HBS's response.

For example, he said that HBS pointed out that quotes attributed to Jang in the News N Joy article were highly distorted and taken out of context. "It's hard not to question the objectivity of Christianity Today when it relies on News N Joy, a pro-North Korean newspaper, as a source in making this claim," said Bay. The fact that Dr. Jang was the general secretary, and later president, of one of the founding Presbyterian denominations of CCK confirms his orthodoxy, added Bay.

(Corroboration can be found in the following documents: Public Statement of The Heresy Investigation Committee of the CCK:  English Version  Korean VersionPublic Statement of CCK:  English Version   Korean Version)

The CCK also issued statements to CP refuting the statements made by Chae in the CT article. Chae claims that the "executive committees of a general assembly" rejected the CCK report. CCK said this claim is totally untrue. "Rev. Jang is not a heretic," said the Rev. Jae Chul Hong, CCK president, in July 2012 at the General Assembly of the CCK in U.S. "It's over.... It was clearly declared during the terms of six previous presidents that it's completely over." CCK provided CP with documents verifying that the president and the general secretary of the General Assembly have made public statements affirming the CCK report that cleared Jang of suspicion after four investigations. The CCK general assembly, in its GA annual report, said all suspicions raised by Chae have been totally cleared as groundless.

CCK also rejected Chae's claim that over 20 denominations have broken away from CCK and formed a new body, the Communion of Churches in Korea (CCIK), which plans to conduct its own investigation on Jang. "No denominations have left the CCK over this issue. If that were so, we would have less denominations, but there are still 71 denominations in our membership," said CCK in a statement to CP. "We're puzzled as to why Christianity Today is discrediting the CCK decision into this matter and giving credence to Chae's claims," the largest Korean Protestant body added. "Perhaps this is because CT did not gain enough in-depth insight into Chae's gravely heretical beliefs--including the conception of Jesus through Mary's menstrual blood. These are detrimental to the basics of Christian faith. We encourage Christianity Today to look at the results of the CCK investigation."

Ken Smith

Anonymous Sources

CT cited several anonymous sources from U.S. and China but noted that they provided evidence that they once held "senior positions" in organizations, ministries, or businesses associated with Olivet. In East Asia, all of the sources who have come out publicly in the past have been discredited. In response to CT's use of anonymous sources, Bay of Holy Bible Society asked, "How can we respond to faceless people?" "In Matthew 18:15-17, it says if a brother makes a fault, tell it to the Church. And when David Jang went before the church council, the allegations were found unsubstantiated," he said. "Why are they hiding instead of bringing this before the Church?"

Notably, the co-author for the CT article in question, Ken Smith, admitted that his "Olivet insiders" or anonymous sources did not directly hear that an Olivet University official had confessed a belief that Jang is the Second Coming Christ. "Ken Smith made false claims on Facebook about Andrew Lin informed by two so-called 'insiders,' which he later had to retract because they were based on hearsay," said Nathanael Tran, dean of administration of Olivet University. "My strong suspicion is that these are the same people being relied on for indirect information about the U.S. people's 'confessions' in the article."

Ken Smith's Email to Andrew Lin's Lawyer:

This is in response to your communication on July 20, 2012, requesting that I remove a Facebook post I made on April 19th regarding a supposed confession concerning David Jang made by Andrew Lin. I made that statement in good faith, relying upon what two different sources in the organization had told me. However, upon further consultation, I have been made aware of further details regarding how they came to that particular belief. It appears to me that whatever reasons they had for this belief, what they reported to me was nevertheless largely based on indirect and not direct information. Because my statement did not include this significant caveat - I was unaware of it at the time - upon the advice of my attorney, I have removed that particular Facebook post.

Ken Smith

CT alleges that anonymity was granted because the publication "found evidence" that its "sources could face retaliation" for speaking to the magazine about the issue. The magazine did not substantiate "evidence" of possible retaliation, and there has not been evidence of retaliation towards those speaking against Jang and groups allegedly tied to him in cases from East Asia.

(Update) Since the publication of its article, CT has issued a significant correction regarding the belief in David Jang as the Second Coming Christ by one of its anonymous sources. The corrected version says the opposite of the original version.

Original Version:

"In fact, the same member did come to that conclusion and acknowledged that for a time, he too believed that Jang was the Second Coming Christ."

New Version:

"In fact, the same member said that although he never believed or confessed that David Jang was the Second Coming Christ, he did for a time believe it was possible that Jang was a 'key eschatological figure.'"

Jang's Controversy? A Misnomer

The CT article does not quote any sources that claim Jang himself taught or claims he is the Second Coming Christ. Jang has repeatedly confessed his belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior and through which his sins are forgiven.

Jang's statement of faith as published in Christian Today Korea:

"By the grace of Jesus Christ, I accepted Jesus as my one and only Savior, and since I was forgiven of my sins, I have never abandoned faith in Jesus Christ. Also, I have never preached any other gospel other than that of Jesus Christ. Furthermore I have never taught that I am Christ."

"One thing is clear, everyone agrees that Dr. Jang never taught nor claimed that he was the Second Coming Christ," said the Rev. Anthony Chiu, stated clerk of Evangelical Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in America (EAPCA) in a statement to CP. Chiu, a Chinese-American pastor who has been studying the issue in East Asia, continued, "Yet, his accusers claim the followers believe this about him. How could this be possible? I have yet to hear a credible explanation."

He added, "Another problem is, if someone says he believes in the victory of the cross and Savior Jesus Christ, how can anyone else say he doesn't believe this? Likewise, if someone says he didn't confess that Jang is the Second Coming, then how can someone else say he did? That is going against that person's freedom of conscience and fundamental human rights. How can someone tell you what you believe or don't believe?"