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<크리스채니티 투데이> 장재형 목사 2탄: 추가 폭로
2012년 09월 15일 (토) 01:38:02 교회와신앙 webmaster@amennews.com

 

미국의 크리스채니티 투데이(CT)가 장재형 목사의 '재림주' 의혹 시비 논란과 관련, 두 번째 심층취재물을 올렸다. 장씨 집단의 동남아 핵심 인물의 한 명이었던 에드먼드 추아(크리스천 포스트 싱가포르 판 전 편집인) 부부가 장씨의 실체를 폭로한 내용을 간추려 싣는다. 현재 미국 전국복음주의자협의회(NAE)가 이번 가을 발표 예정으로 장씨의 문제점을 계속 검증하고 있는 시점에서, 장 집단에 관하여 추가 증인들이 실명으로, 구체적으로 폭로했다는 점에서 충격적으로 받아들여진다. <편집부>


   

장 목사 산하 교회의 한 사역자/업체경영주/언론 편집인으로서 동남아 지역을 대표하여 싱가포르에 파견된 에드먼드 추아(이하 '추아') 씨와 그의 아내인 수잔 후(이하 '수잔')씨는 장씨를 새 메시아(그리스도)로 믿게 된 까닭과 나중 생각이 바뀐 배경, 장씨의 조직체 상황 등을 비교적 소상히 밝히고 있다.

2005년 9월 초순, 그룹의 핵심 성경공부 시리즈를 마친 뒤 리더였던 수잔은 추아에게 "자 그럼, 데이비드(장) 목사님은 누구인가요?"라는 식으로 물었고, 추아는 "그분은 재림주이십니다!"라고 답한 것으로 기억한다. 학습 결과 정말 그렇다고 결론과 확신이 내려졌고 "(실제 장씨가 어떤지와는 달리) 왠지 하나님의 친밀한 사랑이 느껴졌다"고 했다. 추아는 "정말 그분(장재형)을 하나님으로(as God) 생각했고, 예수님의 이름 대신 그분의 이름으로 기도했다. 그분에 관해 무엇인가 기록할 때는 대문자 대명사를 썼다."고 말했다. 그러나 지금은 둘 다 그렇게 믿지를 않는다.

둘은 (장재형의 생일 겸 운동 발족 14주년인) 2006년 10월 30일, 다른 69 커플들과 함께 합동결혼식('성혼식')을 했다. 커플 대다수는 운동 지도자들에 의해 짝지어졌다. 커플들 중 일부는 과거 전혀 몰랐던 케이스(이 점에서 통일교의 합동결혼식을 연상시킨다: 역자주)지만, 추아-수잔 두 사람은 이미 오래 알게 된 사이여서 "그나마 행운"이었다고 추회한다. 그런데도 (장씨가 설립한) 올리벳 대학교의 직원들은 장씨가 메시아라느니 재림주라느니 하는 따위의 비밀스런 가르침이 없다고 여전히 반박하고 있다.

수잔은 대학교 재학 중이던 22세(2002년) 무렵, 어느 복음주의 단체에서 세례를 받은 뒤로도, 세례나 죄, 구원 등의 분명한 의미를 모르고 지내던 중, 그녀에게 접근해온 장 씨 집단의 한 커플과 성경공부를 시작했는데 마치 계시와도 같았다. 성경 처음부터 끝까지 배우면서 성구들이 잘 풀어져 너무도 명료하게 들렸다. 한 달간 집중공부 끝에 수잔의 교사 리 지홍은 '새 이스라엘'이라는 메시지를 소개했다(내용상 2002년 7월 20일 캘리포니아 버클리에서 있었던 어느 수련회에서 장의 수석교사 린 보라 씨가 했던 설교와 거의 동일했다).

메시지에 따르면, 장 씨의 교회는 인 맞은 하나님의 종들 144,000명(요한계시록 7장 참조)로서, 가장 먼저 열매를 맺고 먼저 구원 받을 무리이며, 지상에 하나님의 나라를 세울 사람들이자 천국의 표본이라는 것이었다. 이 메시지의 결론 부분은 재림 교리로 집약되었다.

첫 그리스도와 둘째 그리스도를 모세의 두 돌판을 갖고 거듭 대조시킨 이 메시지에 따르면, 하나님이 손수 두 돌판을 만드시고 십계명을 쓰셨듯이, 첫 그리스도인 예수님이 하나님께 보냄 받아 오셨는데, 모세가 두 돌판을 깨뜨린 것처럼 백성은 예수를 거부하고 죽였고, 모세가 자기 손으로 둘째 돌판들을 써야 한 것 같이 둘째 그리스도는 사람 편에서 만들어진다. 돌판들은 그리스도를 상징하는데, 첫 그리스도는 하나님이 보내셨고, 둘째 그리스도는 "우리가 만들어야 한다"고 이들은 주장한다. 땅 위에서 만들어져야 한다는 것이다. 그러고 나면 하나님이 그 위에 쓰실 것이고, 그를 인정해 주실 것이란다.
또, 전체 공동체 그리스도는 아직 오지 않았다, 공동체의 그리스도는 아직 계시되지 않았다라고 한다.

수잔의 교사는 이 메시지 재생 후, 장 씨를 누구라고 생각하느냐고 물었고 수잔도 장 목사를 재림주라고 대답했다. 두 돌판의 메시지는 린의 다른 설교에서도 되풀이된다. 또 다른 전회원들 가운데도, 두 돌판의 신학을 배웠다면서 둘째 그리스도는 예수님처럼 신적으로 보내어지는 것이 아니라 사람이 만드는 존재일 것이라고 진술한 사람들이 있다.
(공동체에서 "문자와 영", "종말", "때와 날"로 알려진) 이 설교들은 장을 재림주로 선언하도록 회원들을 독려하는 핵심 학습이었다는 수잔은 이것들을 남에게 가르치기 전에 최소한 7번 공부하라는 지시를 받았다고 했다.
물론 추아 부부 역시 장씨가 직접 자신이 재림주라고 가르치는 것을 들은 적은 없다. 그러나 2004년 3월 중순 홍콩에서 있은 한 행사에서 장씨는 거의 근접했었다고 수잔은 증언한다:

"그분 자신이 '때와 날'에 관해 가르치고 있었는데, 물론 우리 모두 이미 들었던 내용이었죠. 그분은 단지 칠판에다 쓰시면서 다니엘서 12장에 있는 때와 숫자를 강조하느라 애썼습니다(장씨측의 특이한 단 12장 풀이에 관해서는 CT의 관련기사 첫 회 분 참조). 그분은 우리한데 '여러분, 다들 이해하셨나요?'라고 물었고 일동은 '아멘'이라고 대답했어요."

그 행사 후, 장 목사는 수잔을 자기 선교사로 삼으려고 싱가포르까지 직접 데려다 주었다. 그러나 여의치 않았다. 수잔은 약간의 훈련만 받았고 (비밀번호로 접속되는 비디오를 통한) (운동권의) 아침예배를 자주 걸렀다. 그리고 자신의 사역비를 받아내려고 부모에게 거짓말을 했다. 수잔은 죄책감에 빠졌고 피곤했으며, 결혼생활도 별 도움이 되지 않았다.
둘은 또 크리스천 포스트 싱가포르 판을 운영(이론상 소유)했는데, 수잔은 사업 쪽을, 추아는 편집 쪽을 맡아했지만 하루 5편씩 기사를 올려야 하는 부담에 짓눌렸다. 선교는 불가능했고, 장씨 공동체와 연락이나 채팅을 할 여유도 없었다. 맨날 일만 하다 보니 질리기 시작했다.

첫 아기가 태어나자 수잔은 그룹 회합을 빠지면서 그동안 하루 7번씩 충실히 읽던 노트가 아닌 딴 책들을 읽기 시작했다. 그러나 아기를 기르는 기쁨 때문에 과거의 고통을 잊어가면서, 힘을 내어 말레이시아 그룹 멤버들과 재연결되었고 다시 일과 사역에 매진했다. 하지만 둘째 아기가 나면서 또 다시 중압감과 그네들의 '컬처'에 적응하지 못한다고 느꼈다.

수잔은, 잃은 양 한 마리를 찾으려고 99 마리의 양들을 뒤에 두고 떠난 선한 목자와는 달리, 장 씨의 그룹 사람들이 전회원들과 화해하기는커녕 마치 전혀 무관했던 양 공격하는 모습에 분노를 느꼈다. 수잔은 그런 피해자의 한 명인 선교사 마 리 씨가 2008년초 홍콩에서 예청에 대하여 반대 증언을 한 뒤 장 집단이 나쁘게 대했다고 평했다. (CT의 이전 기사에 대한 크리스천 포스트의 대응 기사에서는 마 리의 전남편이 "그녀의 모든 증언은 거짓"이라고 했다고 보도했으나, 수전은 마 리가 장씨 공동체의 한 부분이었고, 마 리의 증언이 자신의 경험과 아주 잘 부합한다고 말한다.)

수잔은 말한다. "지도자는 책임성이 있어야 한다...나와 데이비드 장(장재형)과의 정서적 연결은 그것으로 끝났다. 나는 그분을 존경했었다. 예수님과 십자가를 가르칠 때 그의 설교는 매우 좋았다. 하지만 이것은 잘못이다. 이것은 그리스도의 영이 아니다."

에드먼드 추아의 스토리

'에드먼드 목사'로 알려진 추아가 첫 아들을 기다리고 있던 2009년, 그는 장의 복음장로교총회(EAPC) 세계총회(WGA)의 싱가포르 및 동남아 지역 대표로 있었다. 각국에 산재한 장 씨의 업체/교회/사역체의 대표 인사들이 매주 비공개 채팅룸에서 장씨에게 활동보고를 하고 장의 계획을 듣곤 했다. 때때로 장의 수하 사람들은 장이 이끄는 공동체의 존재나, 단체들에게 주는 영감 외에는 장의 '권한 행사'를 부인하곤 하는데 실상은 (2009년도) WGA 채팅 사본 내용으로도 밝혀진다. 이 채팅에서는 토론이라곤 약간 뿐이었고, 흔히 장 씨가 직접 광역적 리칭을 위한 재조정으로부터 크리스천 포스트의 리드 기사가 무엇이어야 하는지 까지 지시를 내렸고, 일꾼들의 목표 미달을 질책하기도 했다.

집단의 타깃은 야심적일 수 있다. 한 멤버는 델리, 방갈로어, 칼코타, 뭄바이, 스리랑카, 파키스탄, 방글라데쉬 등을 3개월 내로 복음화하라는 지시를 받기도 했다. 채팅 도중 올리벳 대학교가 자주 등장했다. 장 목사는 2009년에 WGA 회원들과 함께 올리벳의 재정난을 토의했고, 모든 학생들이 의무적으로 EAPC에 가입하도록 했다.

장 목사는 통역자를 통해 다음과 같이 채팅했다고 한다:
"오늘의 토픽은 외부 학생들을 OU로 받아들이냐에 관한 것입니다. 물론 받아들여선 안되지만, 돈을 생각하면 받아야 합니다...문제는 우리가 대학교를 외부에 오픈할 때 교수를 선정해야 한다는 것입니다. 그럼, 그들은 과감한 비평들을 할 것입니다. (상황이) 지금과 같지는 않을 터입니다...세상 사람들과 교수들이 들어오면, 그들의 회의에서 모든 정책을 결정할 것입니다. 이것은 매우 위험합니다."

추아와 수잔이 다른 취재원(取材源)과 공통된 것 한 가지는, 2006년 이전 장씨에게 ‘고백’을 한 사람들은 고백서신을 장에게 직접 보내는 것이 관례였다는 것이다. 장 씨 단체의 직원인 어느 필자는 이 문서에서 장을 가리켜 12번도 더 '그리스도님'이라고 지칭했다. 그 필자는 딴 회원들로부터 그런 신앙을 독려 받았고 최종 고백은 성경공부 리더가 장 목사가 누군지를 묻고 나서 왔다고 밝혔다. 추아도 장씨를 처음 봤을 때 "매우 원초적이어서 장씨를 메시아/그리스도라고 믿어“버렸다. 추아는 또 장이 하나님이라고 믿었지만, 그런 신앙은 장이 메시아라고 시사한 학습 차원을 넘어섰음을 깨달았다.

추아는 또 거짓말이 의로울 수 있다는 공동체의 가르침에 난감해지곤 한다. 6년 전 그는 아포스톨로스 캠퍼스 사역(현 아포스톨로스 미션스)을 위한 서머스쿨 선교훈련 과정을 이수하려고 미국 뉴욕으로 갔다. 한 달간의 훈련이 거의 끝날 즈음, 린 보라가 추아와 다른 두 명을 따로 뽑아 개인학습을 시켰다. 린 보라는 그리스도의 "45년 사역"에 관해 가르치면서 그중 세 가지는 예수님에 의해 완성되었지만, 남아있는 42년간의 일이 장재형에 의하여 완성될 것이라고 말했다. 린은 또 사라가 아브라함을 보호해 주려고 애굽 사람들에게 그가 그녀의 남편이 아닌 오라버니일 뿐이라고 거짓말한 부분에서 장을 아브라함, 장의 추종자들을 사라에게 비유하기도 했다. 선교훈련 외의 학습에서 성경교사들은 기생 라합을 의로운 거짓말의 본보기로 내세웠다.
"미련한 자에게는 그의 어리석음을 따라 대답하라 두렵건대 그가 스스로 지혜롭게 여길까 하노라(잠언 26:5)"라는 성구도 한 근거가 되었다. "급한 시각에 진실을 말하는 것은 너무 느리다"는 것을 반복 주입 받았다고 추아는 밝혔다.

비슷한 경험을 다른 전회원들도 말한다:
야곱은 에서보다 더 복 받을 자격이 있었고 리브가와 야곱 모자가 이삭에게 거짓말을 한 것도 정당화 되었다는 식으로 배웠다. “...사탄에게는 진실을 말해선 안 된다. 그는 여러분의 복을 훔쳐가고 여러분의 신앙을 죽이기 때문이다.”

2008년 장씨 수하의 예수청년회의 진상을 조사한 홍콩 독립조사단이 우려한 것은 특히 "의로운 거짓말"을 성경에서 배우는 지혜라고 하는 가르침이었다. 중국 남부/동부/중부/북부에서 온 증인들이 그런 신앙에 관해 진술했는데, 재림주 신앙보다 더 폭넓게 유포된 듯 했다.
조사단의 한 명인 카버 유 중국신학대학원 총장은 장의 집단이 구성원들에게 거짓말을 하도록 가르친다는 것을 확신한다고 말했다. 유 박사는 말한다: "약 4년전 뱅쿠버에서 활약하던 장씨 집단의 어느 중국인 리더와 대화한 적이 있습니다. 하나님 나라를 위한 모종의 목적 성취를 위해 거짓말을 한다는 속임수 윤리에 대하여 따졌더니, 그는 그것이 성경상으로 정당화된다고 단호히 대답하더군요. 우리의 의혹을 확인시켜 준 셈이죠."

물론 이런 추아 부부의 발언이 다른 학습 이수자들과 “일치하지 않는다”는 것이 장 씨 집단측 주장이고 입장이다. 올리벳의 조너턴 박 프로그램디렉터는 "장 박사는 그리스도의 사역을 완성할 분이라고 린 보라가 가르쳤다는 추아 씨의 주장을 읽고 놀랐다"면서 "정말 린이 장 박사가 메시아라고 몰래 가르쳤고 예수의 십자가 사역의 완성에 관하여 공중 앞에서 (의롭게든 아니든) 거짓말을 했다면, 그것은 졸속 언동이다. 나는 그녀의 강의를 들은 뒤 십자가가 승리임을 더욱 확신한다"고 주장했다.

박 씨 자신은 "장 박사님을 메시아로 고백한 적이 없다"면서, "빌리 그래함이나 릭 워렌을 존중하는 것과 동일한 수준으로 장 박사님을 능률적인 기독교 지도자로서 존중하지만, 장 박사님이 나를 위한 예수 그리스도의 대안일 리가 없다"고 말한다. 올리벳 행정관의 한 명인 새러 래플러 씨도 "보라 씨가 가르친 학습의 이유가 있겠지만 확실히 데이비드 장이 메시아라고 가르쳤을 리는 없다"면서 "장 씨 자신이 그것을 부정했다!"고 강조한다. "우리에겐...장 박사님을 재림주라고 하는 고백이 절정을 이루는 그런 학습 플랜이 없어요...우리에겐 아무런 비밀도 숨길 것도 없습니다."

그런데도 숨길 것이 전혀 없다는 것에 장 집단 사람 누구나 일치하지는 않는 모양이다. 장씨의 산하 언론의 하나인 IB타임스의 조너턴 데이비스 수석 콘텐츠 담당자가 크리스천 포스트 같은 여타 장씨 산하 발행물의 업무 협의회에 참여하기를 꺼리는 이유는 자신의 임무가 "본질상 비밀"이기 때문이다. 윌 앤더슨 크리스천 포스트 발행인/CEO는 CT의 지난 8월 (장재형 관련) 특집의 한 취재 소스로 의심되는 어느 필자에 의한 기사를 모두 에드먼드의 싱가포르 판에서 삭제해 주기를 (이메일로) 요청했다.
또 다른 이메일은 이랬다: "PD('데이비드 목사님' 곧 장재형 씨를 지칭: 역자주)가 방금, (회원들의) 페이스북이나 여타 네트워크 사이트 사용을 금지한다고 발표했는데, 명백한 안전 이유 때문입니다...페이스북은 우리(장 집단: 역자 주)를 박해하는 단체들로 하여금 우리가 섬기는 사역체들을 포함하여 우리 모두를 함께 싸잡아 연계하기가 쉽도록 해 주기 때문입니다." (그러나 현재도 장 집단 사람들은 소셜 네트워크를 적극 활용하고 있다.)
크리스천 포스트의 역사를 직원 핸드북으로 포함시키느냐는 여부에 관한 한 이메일은 PD가 문서/오디오/비디오 형태의 역사가 비회원들의 수중에 들어가는 것을 원치 않기 않으신다..."라고 썼다.

추아 씨는 폭로 후 소송 위협을 받기도 했고, 해당 웹사이트 출입을 못했으며, 밤에 그의 집을 찾아온 장 집단 사람들에게 자신과 (2006년 뉴욕 전도훈련에 동행했던 자신의) 아버지가 괴로움을 당하기도 했다.
폭로에 동참한 다른 사람들도 협박/위협을 받았다. 2007년 '잠잠히 서서'란 필명의 여성 블로거는 아포스톨로스 캠퍼스 사역에 1년간 개입됐던 스토리에서, 대학교 캠퍼스에서 성경을 읽던 중 접근해 온 '유국희'라는 여성의 소개로 '선교센터'의 성경연구 시리즈에 참석했는데, 애당초 도움이 되었으나 나중엔 의문이 일기 시작했고 특히 그룹의 엄격한 계층구조에 거부감을 느꼈다. "나는 '어린양'이라고 불리는 게 싫었습니다." 특히 싫었던 것은 장 씨의 구심점 역할이었다. "그때쯤 나는 데이비드 목사님에 관한 '학습'이란 것을 이미 받았는데, 선교센터에서의 성경공부 도중 국희 씨가 그분은 재림 예수라고 말했습니다...나는 만약 그렇게 믿는 사람이 당신 한 사람 뿐이면 어떡할 거냐고 묻자 그녀는 모두 다 그렇게 믿는다고 대답했던 것이 기억나요."
'잠잠히서서'는 CT에게 증언한다: "트레이시 데이비스와 맨 처음 내게 전도했던 두 선교사를 비롯(잘 기억나지 않는 한 두 명의 멤버들을 포함)한 고참 멤버들 몇이 샌프란시스코에서 휴스턴으로 날아와서는 예고 없이 내 집 앞에 나타나 소송 위협과 겁주기 등으로 날 협박했습니다."

장에게 비판적인 일본 블로거, 아마야 마코토 씨도 일본 크리스천 투데이에게 당한 소송이 4년째 진행 중이다. 캐나다의 독립 저널리스트인 앤 블로클허스트 씨와 미주한인 사회의 두 신문인 크리스찬 투데이 US(장씨의 크리스천 투데이와 무관)와 미주뉴스앤조이도 비판 기사를 실은 뒤 장씨 집단으로부터 고소 협박을 받았다고 밝힌 바 있다.

추아 씨 부부는 크리스천 포스트 싱가포르 판 웹사이트에 이젠 더 기사를 올릴 수 없음을 발견한 8월 30일, 떠나기로 결심했다. "무거운 마음이지만 모든 이해를 뛰어넘는 주님의 평화가 섞인 마음으로, 온라인 기독언론에 관여했던 것을 일단 접기로 결정했습니다."

취재팀:
테드 올슨: CT 뉴스 온라인 저널리즘 담당 편집인
켄 스미스: 워싱턴 주 객원 저널리스트

* 출처: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/september-web-only/david-jang-second-coming-christ-singapore.html
* 번역: 김성훈 목사

 

<크리스채니티 투데이> 장재형 목사 2탄: 추가 폭로 영문 기사 전문


The Second Coming Christ Controversy: More Leaders Speak Out

David Jang's emissaries to Singapore speak for the first time on why they believed he was a new Christ, why they changed their minds, and how his organization operates.

As the Southeast Asia representative for David Jang's organizations—pastor of his churches, proprietor of his businesses, and editor of his Christian news website—Edmond Chua believed that Jang was a new Christ, a messianic figure establishing the kingdom of God on earth.

Just after midnight on September 6, 2005, Chua had completed a series of Bible studies, and his teacher, Susan Hu, was leading him through a crucial final lesson.

"I think Susan asked me, 'So who is Pastor David?' And I probably said something like, 'He is the Second Coming Christ!' I fully believed it. The [Bible studies] just seemed to point that way. It was very logical and deep. For the first time I felt that I knew the love of God intimately, strange as that may sound, considering who Jang is."

Chua told Christianity Today, "I actually thought of him as God and prayed in his name instead of Jesus'. And whenever I typed something about him, I would use the upper case on pronouns."

He doesn't believe it anymore—nor does his teacher, Susan. The two married on David Jang's birthday, October 30, 2006—the 14th anniversary of the founding of Jang's movement—along with 69 other couples, Susan said.

Like most of the other couples, the Chuas' marriage was arranged by the movement's leaders. "We are a lucky case: We knew each other for very long already," Susan said. "Some couples, the two never met each other before, but were recommended and they accepted with faith and obedience."

As Christianity Today reported in August, several former members of Jang's organizations similarly described encouragements to believe that Jang is the Second Coming Christ. But most spoke on condition of anonymity. Now, in exclusive in-depth interviews with Christianity Today, the Chuas are among the first to speak out on the record about their experience in Jang's group, the theology behind their belief that he was the Second Coming Christ, and why they left.

Employees of Jang-founded Olivet University counter that the community has no secret teachings that Jang is Christ or the Second Coming. Meanwhile, a National Association of Evangelicals committee is meeting again today in its ongoing inquiry into whether Olivet is theologically compatible with the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay Christian Resources.

Susan's Story
In 2003, Susan was already a university graduate and a Christian. A year earlier, while attending Xiamen University in Fujian, the Chinese mainlander had been baptized by a Korean evangelical group unaffiliated with Jang. While studying one day, she was approached by a couple and invited to a Bible study.

"I was baptized but did not know the meaning of baptism, sin, or have a clear understanding of salvation," she said. "I was only a bit scared of the end—Judgment Day—because I wondered what would happen to my grandparents who had never heard the gospel."

The Jang-connected Bible study was a revelation. "Wow," she said. "They teach you one by one from beginning of the Bible to the end. I felt the teaching was so clear, unlocking the verses."

A month of intensive study later, Susan's teacher, Li Zhihong, introduced the 22-year-old to a key teaching she calls the "New Israel" message. The content, Susan said, was essentially the same as a July 20, 2002, sermon delivered by Jang's chief teaching associate, Borah Lin, at a church retreat in Berkeley, California. (The Chuas provided a transcript of the sermon, as well as other Lin sermons, to CT. Susan said she received the Lin sermon texts in Chinese and English later, when she was a missionary. Similar sermons had once been available as audio recordings on the community's internal websites, the Chuas said, but they did not have copies.)

The sermon indicates that Jang's church constitutes the 144,000 sealed servants of God of Revelation 7. "This doesn't mean that it will be only these people and the rest will all die," the sermon says. "It is that these will be the ones to bear fruits first and gain salvation first. … They are the ones that establish the kingdom of God here on earth. They are the sample of heaven."

Near the end of the sermon, the church's Second Coming teaching comes into focus:

We need to stand firm. This is the dream that God has given us. That is why these are the firstfruits. This is the sample. What is this? This is the great body of Christ. This is the second coming of Christ. This is the resurrection of the body of Christ. This is the second coming of the great body of Christ. The great body of Christ being established is the true resurrection of the true coming of the body of Christ. … The one who establishes the Kingdom of God becomes the Christ.
The sermon repeatedly compares the first Christ and the second Christ with the two stone tablets of Moses' commandments. Just as God created the first tablets and wrote the Ten Commandments on them, so was the first Christ, Jesus, sent by God. And just as Moses broke the tablets, Jesus' people rejected him and killed him, the sermon says. And just as Moses had to write the second tablets with his own hand, so the second Christ will be man-made. It continues:

The stone tablets symbolize Christ. The first Christ, God sent. How about the second Christ? We must make him. On earth, he has to be made. Then God will write on him. God will then acknowledge him. …
Peter personally met the Lord. Already, he has met the Lord. Jesus asked him. He asked, "What do people think of me?" Peter said, "Some people say you are a prophet or Jeremiah." Then Jesus asked, "Who do you think I am?" Then Peter confessed. You are the Christ, the son of the living God. Peter has already met him. But [it] is not like the whole community recognizes Jesus as Christ. To some, he is a prophet. Some know him as a prophet or Elijah. But the individual Christ has come. However, the whole community Christ hasn't come yet. The Christ of the community is not revealed yet.
After recapping the sermon, Susan's teacher asked her who she thought Jang was. Susan responded as she says many others in the community did. David Jang, she said, was the second Christ.

The teaching of the two tablets is repeated in other sermons attributed to Lin, including one sermon completely focused on the tablets. Other former members of Jang's community said they were also taught the theology of the two stone tablets, and that the second Christ would have to be man-made, not divinely sent as Jesus Christ was. Susan says these sermons—known in the community as "Letter and Spirit," "Eschatology," and "Time and Date"—were the key lessons in encouraging members to declare Jang as the Second Coming Christ. Susan says she was told to study them at least seven times before teaching them to others.

Like other former members who spoke about the teachings, the Chuas say they did not hear Jang directly teach that he was the Second Coming Christ. But Susan said he came close at a mid-March 2004 event in Hong Kong.

"He himself was teaching about 'Time and Date,' but of course all of us had heard about time and date before. He just simply described it on a whiteboard, simply tried to emphasize the time, the numbers in Daniel 12." (Several former members of Jang-affiliated organizations told CT they were taught Daniel's prophecy of 1,260 days, 1,290 days, and 1,335 days referred to the timespan of Jesus' life and ministry and a 42-year gap that Jang would fulfill.) Then, Susan said, "He asked us, 'Do you all understand? 'Everyone said, 'Amen' of course."

After that event, Susan said, Jang personally escorted her to Singapore to become his missionary there.

It didn't go well, she said. She had little training, often missed the movement's daily morning church services (broadcast via password-protected video streams), and lied to her parents to get money to support her mission.

"Inside I felt very guilty and tired," she said. Marriage didn't help much. Even by the time Edmond and Susan legally married, three months after their church wedding, she said, "our relationship was bad because we had changed from leader and follower to husband and wife."

They were business partners, too. Together, they ran (and, in theory, owned) The Christian Post's Singapore edition. Susan handled the business side, and Edmond served as editor. When they were told they had to create five articles a day, they became overwhelmed. "I was not able to do mission," she said, "I did not connect with the groups. I did not attend the internet chats." All she could do was work, and she began to withdraw.

After the birth of the Chuas' first child in late 2009, Susan withdrew from community gatherings and began reading books that weren't part of the notes she had once faithfully read seven times a day, as mandated.

But her outlook changed as well. "I forgot all the pain in the past. I was very joyful with my child." She reconnected with group members from Malaysia, too, and found herself reinvigorated to plunge herself back into her work and ministry.

A second child had the opposite effect. "Once again I felt very burdened," she said. "By the beginning of this year, we really felt we could not fit into the culture again."

Then Susan Chua had a dream.

"I just felt the pain of ex-members come to me," she said about the dream. "The pain is so deep, so heavy. It's like I was in their pain. They were not able to tell others or adapt to the society. … [Jang] sent out many young leaders that are really not mature. Many are really not able to shepherd the young members, so many members were hurt."

She awoke angry, thinking of the lost sheep that Jesus said the Good Shepherd would leave 99 other sheep to find. Instead of reconciling with former members, she says, Jang's associates attacked them, sometimes denying that they had ever really been connected. The victims, she said, included Ma Li, a former member and missionary she knew in China. Susan says Jang "treated [Ma] badly" after she testified against the group in Hong Kong in early 2008. (Ma was the only named former member in CT's earlier story. An article appearing in The Christian Post responding to CT's article quoted Ma's ex-husband as saying, "Everything she testified was a lie." Susan says that in fact Ma was part of Jang's community and that her experience accords very well with Ma's statements.)

"A leader should take the responsibility," Susan said. "You need to literally comfort those who hurt instead of covering up. … My emotional link with David Jang was cut off that night [of the dream]. I used to respect him. His preaching is very good when he talks about Jesus and the Cross. But this is wrong. This is not the spirit of Christ."

Edmond's story
In 2009, as the Chuas awaited their first child, Edmond (by then known as Pastor Edmond, since he was leading church services as well as editing the Singapore edition of The Christian Post) was tapped to be one of the movement's top leaders. He represented not just Singapore but Southeast Asia on the World General Assembly (WGA) of Jang's Evangelical Assembly of Presbyterian Churches (EAPC). Each week, about a dozen representatives of Jang's many businesses, churches, and ministries around the world—International Business Times, Veremedia, Olivet University, and others—met in a restricted chat room with Jang to report their activities and hear his plans.

At times, Jang's associates have denied to Christianity Today and other inquirers that there is such a thing as a community led by Jang, or that he exercises any control of various organizations beyond providing inspiration. Transcripts of the WGA chats from 2009 clearly demonstrate otherwise. (CT took steps to verify the authenticity of both the WGA chats and the Borah Lin sermons.) There is little discussion in the chats. In many cases, Jang largely lays out plans varying from wide-reaching reorganizations to indicating what story should be the lead at The Christian Post. In other cases, he chastises workers for not meeting targets.

Such targets could be ambitious: One member is instructed to evangelize in Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—all in less than three months.

Throughout the chats, Olivet University (OU) features prominently. The school, founded by Jang in 1992, is currently attempting to purchase the 2,100-acre Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico from the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay Christian Resources. LifeWay has made the deal contingent on a review by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to determine theological compatibility between the two organizations. (Olivet President William Wagner told CT that the NAE panel is meeting today and that "the chance of us getting the property has gone down considerably.")

In 2009, Jang and WGA members discussed Olivet's financial troubles and the requirement that all students be members of the EAPC. (The conversation is significant in part because Jang does encourage discussion and debate.) "Today's topic is whether we will receive outside students to OU," Jang said (via his translator). "Of course we shouldn't, but when we look at money, we have to receive. … The problem is that when we open up the university, we must designate professors. Then they will make daring remarks. It will not be like now. … When people and professors from the world come in, their meeting will decide all policies. This is very dangerous."

The eventual plan, to create a massive online distance learning program to compete with Liberty University's, never quite materialized (though it was part of Olivet's stated plan in acquiring Bethany University, a recently closed Assemblies of God school in Scotts Valley, California, which it later abandoned before attempting to buy Glorieta).

Edmond, meanwhile, pursued both his bachelor's degree and his M.Div. at Olivet (he lived most of the time in Singapore), and spoke at his graduation ceremony in 2011.

Edmond and Susan also confirmed what other sources have told CT: Before 2006, it was common for those who had confessed to send a letter of their confession to Jang. CT has independently obtained a document which, although it is not addressed to Jang, otherwise appears to be just such a written confession. (To protect the confidentiality of its source, CT was asked not to quote from the document directly.) The writer, a current employee of a Jang-associated organization, refers to Jang as "Christ" more than a dozen times in this document. The writer also describes being encouraged in this belief by other members, and—like other accounts by former members—indicates that the final confession came after a Bible study leader asked who Jang was. Edmond echoes the language of this document when he says his initial view of Jang was "very primitive. I simply believed that Jang is Christ." He said he believed Jang was God, but acknowledged that this belief went further than the lessons that indicated Jang was Christ.

The community's end-times theology, which Edmond said took him years to understand more deeply, now troubles him. But he's also troubled by what he says is the community's teachings that lying can be righteous.

Six years ago, Edmond said, he traveled to New York for the Sumer School Mission Training for members of Apostolos Campus Ministry, a college group that Olivet's leaders say has provided most of its students (the organization has since been renamed Apostolos Missions). Near the end of the month-long training, he said, Borah Lin singled out him and two others for private sessions.

"During those private sessions, Borah Lin preached to us about the 45-year work of Christ; three of which have already been completed by Jesus, leaving 42 more years of work to be finished by David Jang," he said. "She also compared Jang to Abraham and his followers to Sarah in the account in the Bible where Sarah, to protect Abraham, lied to the Egyptians that he is only her brother, not her husband."

In lessons outside the mission training, Edmond said, Bible study teachers pointed to Rahab the prostitute as an example of righteous lying.

"They have encouraged lying and deception in cases that they judge to be urgent or critical, especially when people are judged as dealing with the incorrect motive. They take this from the Scripture itself, when Proverbs says 'Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.' They apply this to people who do not understand the great things they are doing for the Lord." Telling the truth, Edmond says he was repeatedly taught, takes too long when time is urgent.

Edmond's concerns are shared by other former members who spoke with CT. One said:

They have a teaching in their Bible studies that Jacob is the one who deserved the blessing, rather than Esau, and that Rebekah and Jacob lying to Isaac was justified. And that's why they are also justified in lying to folks who would challenge their birthright. … If you need to flee to escape from Satan, you can lie to do so. You shouldn't tell the truth to Satan, because he will steal your blessing and kill your faith.
The Hong Kong-based Independent Enquiry Committee, which investigated the Jang-affiliated Young Disciples of Jesus movement in 2008, was particularly concerned that the group taught that "righteous lies" are wisdom taught in the Bible. The committee's report said that witnesses from south, east, central, and north China all testified to the belief, and it seemed to be even more widespread than the Second Coming Christ belief.

One of the members of the investigating team was Carver Yu, the president of China Graduate School of Theology and one of the plenary speakers at The Lausanne Movement's Cape Town 2010 gathering. He told CT he's convinced that Jang's associates teach community members to lie.

"I talked to a leader of the Jang community, a Chinese [member] active in Vancouver about four years ago, and confronted him about the ethics of deception, i.e. telling lies in order to achieve certain purpose for the kingdom," Yu said in an email. "He flatly told me that it was justified by the Bible. This confirms our suspicion."

'We do not have secrets'
Olivet University dean Donald Tinder said he'd been very impressed with Edmond Chua when Chua was pursuing his degree. But he found Chua's description of the teachings that David Jang is the Second Coming Christ to be inconsistent. (Edmond sent Tinder and others a version of his story via email.) Tinder sent CT statements from three other participants of the 2006 Summer School Mission Training, each of whom disagreed with aspects of Edmond's account of the meeting.

"I was startled to read Mr. Chua's claim about Borah Lin's teaching that Dr. Jang is to complete the work of Christ," said Jonathan Park, who is now program director of Olivet's journalism school. "If Lin truly was secretly teaching that Dr. Jang is Christ and lied (righteously or not) in the public regarding the completeness of Jesus' work on the Cross, then she did a very poor job of it, as I am more convinced that the Cross is a victory after listening to her lectures."

The Chuas and other former members did not dispute Park's assertion that Jang and other members of the community, even those who promoted unorthodox eschatology, preached orthodox teachings on soteriology.

"Jang is unsurpassed in preaching the theology of the sacrifice and atonement of the Cross," Edmond told CT. "He has 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."

The Chuas provided written copies of numerous sermons and lessons delivered by senior members of the community, many of which contain theology that would have been unexceptionable in a Baptist Sunday school classroom. Very few reference teachings like the "two stone tablets" or contain any explicit eschatology.

Park also stated that he "never confessed Dr. Jang as Christ. … I do respect Dr. Jang as an effective Christian leader in the same degree I respect Rev. Billy Graham or Rev. Rick Warren, but in no way is Dr. Jang a replacement of Jesus Christ for me."

Likewise, Sarah Lafleur, now an administrator at Olivet University, wrote, "I think Borah had a reason to teach the lessons she taught, but certainly she could not have been teaching that David Jang is Christ—Jang himself denied this! We do not have a lesson plan 'culminating' with a confession of Dr. Jang as the Second Coming, as some make it out to be. … We do not have secrets, nor is there anything to hide."

Not everyone in Jang's community seems to agree that the group has nothing to hide. In one email provided to CT, Johnathan Davis, the chief content officer of IBTimes, declined to participate in a Christian industry association being organized by leaders of other Jang-affiliated publications like The Christian Post, because, he said, "My commission is inherently covert." In another email string from mid-August 2012, Will Anderson, the publisher and CEO of The Christian Post, requested that Edmond delete from the Singapore site any articles by a writer suspected of being a source for CT's August article.

Another email announced that "PD [Pastor David] just announced that the use of Facebook and other networking sites is now forbidden for obvious security reasons... Facebook makes it easy for organizations that persecute us to link us all up together including the ministries we work for." That email itself contained the final instruction, "CLEAR THIS MESSAGE AFTER READING." (The command to abandon Facebook seems itself to have been abandoned, since many members and organizations in the community are currently active on the social networking site.)

In a different email thread discussing whether to include The Christian Post's history as part of its employee handbook, one senior leader wrote, "I don't think we should include the history in the handbook. The issue is that PD [Pastor David] doesn't want the history in written, audio or video form to fall into a non-members' hands. Once you make a hard copy of something it is set in stone and he still wants some things to remain vague."

Jang's associates did not only challenge Edmond Chua's account by email. Edmond says he has found himself threatened with a lawsuit, locked out of his website, and harassed by Jang associates coming to his home late at night. (Members have also harassed his father, who accompanied him to the 2006 New York evangelism training, Edmond said.)

Others who have spoken out recently have also faced threats or intimidation. In 2007, an anonymous blogger from Houston who referred to herself as StillStanding posted the story of her year-long involvement with the Jang-affiliated Apostolos Campus Ministries. (CT was able to confirm her identity and verify several details of her account.) On her blog, StillStanding said that in late 2005, she had been reading her Bible on the campus of Rice University when she was approached by a woman named Kookhee Yoo. Kookhee invited her to join in a series of Bible studies at the "mission center," and initially StillStanding said that she found them helpful.

But eventually she began to have questions about what she had been taught. She was uncomfortable with the group's strict social hierarchy—"I hated to be called a 'lamb,'" she said on her blog—but especially with the central role that Jang played. "By this time I had already gotten the 'lesson' about Pastor David, that he is second Jesus, Kookhee told me this during a Bible study in the 'mission center.' … I remembered the words of Kookhee when I asked her if she was the only one who believed this about her pastor and she said that everyone did."

StillStanding removed her blog shortly after it went live. She explained to CT that "a few of the senior members including Tracy Davis and the two missionaries who originally evangelized to me, along with one or two others (I can't remember), flew from San Francisco to Houston and showed up unannounced at my door and threatened me with legal action and intimidation."

Similarly, a lawsuit from Christian Today Japan against Yamaya Makoto, a blogger who has repeatedly criticized Jang, is in its fourth year. An independent journalist from Canada, Ann Brocklehurst, as well as two Christian newspapers serving the Korean American community, Christian Today US (no relation to either Christianity Today or to the Jang-affiliated Christian Today newspaper) and News-N-Joy US, have also reported receiving legal threats from Jang's community for publishing critical articles.

On August 30, after finding that they could no longer upload articles to The Christian Post - Singapore Edition website (it's hosted on the same servers as the U.S. edition of The Christian Post), the Chuas decided to walk away. "It is with a heavy heart and yet mingled with the peace of the Lord that transcends all understanding that we have decided to bring our involvement in online Christian journalism to a close," they said in an email to friends, business associates, and others. But Edmond said he plans to continue to tell the truth about his experience in Jang's community and what it teaches.

Ted Olsen is CT's managing editor, news and online journalism. Ken Smith is an independent journalist based in Washington State.

 

 

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