Shang Hui was a pastor in China. He began to hear of people leaving the church to join the Church of Almighty God. Even his parents had joined them. When he met the cult members, they said, “God’s name was Jehovah, but then it was Jesus on earth. God can do a new thing again, and be another Christ on the earth.” Shang was confused by their teachings. He was discouraged in his ministry because the cult was growing so rapidly.
Origin and Influence
The official name for the cult called Eastern Lightning is Church of Almighty God. The religion was started in 1989 in China. Estimates of their membership range from 100,000 to 1,000,000.
They believe that God revealed himself during Old Testament times as Jehovah, then came to the earth as Jesus, and has revealed himself now in the form of a woman who calls herself Lightning Deng. Her real name was originally Yang Xiangbin. Deng does not appear publicly, and it is not publicly known what she looks like or where she is. The visible leader of the cult is Zhao Weishan who may be Yang’s husband.
They claim that the Bible is now out of date, and that new revelation is necessary. The cult has published several books, including Lightning from the Orient, which claims to be revelation from God to the female Christ. The books speak to Christians and threaten them with detailed punishments.
They say that the name of Jesus is now obsolete and powerless, and that Deng is now the Christ. They predicted the end of the world for December 21, 2012.
Activities and Strategy
They especially target Christian churches, even selecting the strongest Christians. They are less interested in people of other religions or sects. They send members to pretend to join churches.
They use prostitution to attract potential converts. People who join are separated from their spouses and are required to engage in sexual activities.
They offer large amounts of money to Christian pastors to convert. They use torture, kidnapping, and murder. They physically attack leaders of Christian organizations. They refuse to let a convert leave their membership.
If a person seems interested in joining, they give gifts, but they threaten violence if a person does not convert. They try to get Christians into sexual sin, then blackmail them.
They claim that they are falsely accused of violence, but many Christians and missionaries in China have witnessed their actions.
They have hundreds of stories of people that they claim received a fatal disease from God for resisting the cult. Members are required to give everything they have to the cult. They are encouraged to leave their families and live with the cult and work at spreading the message. They have stories of many people who were in Christian ministries before leaving the church to join them.
They have started expanding their organization in several other countries. They start by giving printed material to people at Chinese churches.
They acknowledge that Christ died for our sins, but do not believe a person can be saved by Christ without their organization. They deny the resurrection and the second return of Christ.
They believe that anyone who does not accept the message of Deng (the female Christ) will be condemned by God. “Now the responsibility of man is to follow the female Christ, and only if he forsakes his faith in Jesus Christ, tears his Bible in public, calls himself a “son of the devil,” is “conquered” by fully submitting himself to the spoken words of the female Christ and thus becomes a “victorious one,” can he enter the Kingdom that will be established on the earth by the female Christ.” (From an article about the cult written by “China for Jesus”).
Even though the violent, immoral, and deceptive strategies of this cult make them seem like a terrorist organization, many of their followers do not know about the leaders’ activities. Especially in countries other than China, people impressed by the cult may not believe the accusations against them.
Therefore, it is important for a Christian to be able to respond to their doctrines. It is not possible that a person who fully participates in the cult and believes their doctrines is a Christian. Therefore, they have a spiritual hunger that is not satisfied. The priority of a Christian should be to share the gospel with them.
Many people join Eastern Lightning because of fear. We must preach that faithfulness to the truth is more important than any earthly condition. We also know that the kingdom of God will triumph.
In this course, we will explain the basic beliefs and history of selected cults and religions, contrasting them with Christianity and evaluating their doctrines and practices by the Bible.
You will be better prepared respond to the errors of wrong religions and to protect Christians from deception.
Without a doubt this is one of the most practical course SGC has developed and we believe it will make you a more informed, discerning and redemptive spiritual leader.