It was in early 2020 when I first encountered the name “Shincheonji.” The world was just starting to realize that the coronavirus was something to be reckoned with, and Shincheonji was all over the news for its alleged role in spreading the virus in South Korea, my home country.
As God’s plan would have it, I was in the process of putting together a panel for my ecumenical podcast called “The Narrow Door”—a passion project that I had been working on for some time since coming to the Catholic faith a few years prior.
A quick search online yielded, well, interesting results which piqued my curiosity. Not long after, I found myself watching then-90-year-old Shincheonji leader, Chairman Lee Man-hee, bowing on his knees at a news conference to apologize for his church’s unintended role in the outbreak.
As odd as this denomination seemed, I was so moved by his gesture. I decided to find out if the church existed in the Philippines via an Instagram post, which connected me to a Filipino Shincheonji instructor.
It was through the ecumenical conversations on my podcast with Catholic, Protestant and Shincheonji church friends that I started to give serious thought to the Bible.
Admittedly, I was one who turned to the faith because of a really difficult experience in my personal life. I found that turning to God and prayer actually worked, by which I mean I felt comfort and healing.
I also started trying on what I deemed was a Christian way of life and it was all well and good. But the more conversations I had on my podcast, the bigger the Bible-shaped hole in my faith life began to appear.
I had known for some time that Shincheonji offers a free Bible theology course to anyone who is interested. It took me a while but I finally did take the plunge over a year ago.
I have taken the Shincheonji theology course—twice, just to be sure—and have since become part of this church that is so misunderstood. The reason: Shincheonji has given me a full understanding of the word of God which I now believe should be the standard of our life of faith.
What is the meaning of Shincheonji?
Shincheonji is the abbreviation of “shin cheon shin ji,” which in Korean means “new heaven and new earth.”
The complete name of the church is Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony.
It may seem like a strange name and it’s definitely a mouthful but Shincheonji, or New Heaven and New Earth, is a name that is recorded in the Book of Revelation (Rv 21:1) and so is Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (Rv 15:5) as the place all nations will come to worship.
Shincheonji has been testifying for over 40 years that the events prophesied in the Book of Revelation that signal Jesus’ second coming have started to fulfill.
This testimony or the understanding of the fulfillment of Revelation is given to anyone who is willing to listen in the form of the aforementioned free Bible theology course and it is being offered all over the world.
Last year alone, I was one of 106,186 people from different parts of the world who finished the course and became part of Shincheonji. That was a staggering growth by any means, especially in the religious world where church membership is on the decline.
This rapid growth was also one of the main reasons why the churches in Korea started to attack and falsely accuse Shincheonji of “sheep stealing” and being a cult.
Who is Chairman Lee?
Simply put, Chairman Lee Man-hee is the person who has been chosen to witness the events that are recorded in the Book of Revelation which is why he can testify about them.
A very important thing to note here is that Chairman Lee is not sharing his commentary on Revelation, but it is his testimony or what he has seen and heard (Rv 22:8), and he is delivering that testimony to the churches (Rv 22:16).
As incredible as that may sound, his testimonies are all in accordance with the Bible which is why he is referred to as the “promised pastor.”
He is not Jesus, he is certainly not God, but he is the pastor who has been given the revealed word that will lead believers to the understanding of God’s plan at the time of the end.
Chairman Lee is the first to admit that he is not well-educated and that he can only speak of what he has seen and heard. He is currently doing exactly that on a global scale through a series of Bible seminars online. He implores believers, especially the pastors, to listen and verify everything through the Bible and even goes as far as asking to be corrected if what he says is wrong.
The invitation of Shincheonji
The call of Shincheonji is for all people to listen to the testimony on the fulfillment of the Book of Revelation because the time has come for all believers to unite in one truth.
Christianity today is rife with differences and divisions. Ironically, we have started to persecute one another within the faith. The only solution is to dialogue through our differences with the Bible, the one Scripture that we all profess to be the word of God.
I once heard that true love is willing salvation for someone and I cannot agree more. The Bible says that we must come to the knowledge of the truth to be saved. Let us reason together to bring each other to the truth as a show of the love that Jesus commanded us to have for one another.
Sam Oh and Tina Ryan are launching “The Best News Ever Podcast” on May 22 on YouTube and Spotify. The Shincheonji Bible seminars are available on the English Shincheonji YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/@ShincheonjiChurch_en).
Sam Oh is a host who has worked on TV, radio and events for 18 years.
Image credits: Sam Oh