What is Eastern Lightning?

"...If anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. 24"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25"Behold, I have told you in advance. 26"So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. 27"For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Mt. 24:23-27).

Background

Eastern Lightning (also known as The Congregation, Church of Almighty God, Seven Spirits Sect, New Power Lord's Church, True Light Sect, or True Way Sect  is a reference to a group in China that is a cult. It is officially known as the Church of the Almighty God (Wikipedia). The group was founded in 1989. As of 2001, the sect had around 300,000 adherents (Time).1

Characteristics

The method of conversion are often quite brutal with brain washing sessions. They seek to infiltrate Christian worship services with their “seeker” mentality, but then later introduce subversive doctrines to prey on Christians. Interestingly, there have been various raids by the Chinese government against this group. They have a strong apocalyptic and anti-Chinese government stance. They appeal to many peasant groups who are dissatisfied with China. Their destructive nature has resulted in one minister refusing to allow strangers to worship in his church. Interestingly, the church trains its members on how to convert people through building trust by lending money and slowly revealing doctrine. The Eastern Lightning Cult hands out leaflets in Chinatowns in San Francisco and New York City.

False Teachings

  1. Personal religious experience supercedes the Bible's authority on issues of teaching and practice.
    1. This is the backbone for the beginning of the Eastern Lightning's teachings. From reading various writings put out by the Eastern Lightning cult, it is extremely clear that they emphasize personal religious experience over the objective teachings of the Scriptures. While God certainly uses personal religious experience, these experiences cannot contradict the written Word of God. This is a common ploy by various cults.
  2. The Bible has become outdated with a new third testament revealed by the woman Jesus.
    1. This is an extremely common practice by various cults: see Mormonism for just one example.
    2. How do you know that this new revelation is of God? What if someone else has a contradictory religious experience which says that the Eastern Lightning teachings are not of God?
  3. The Woman Jesus is God Incarnate.2
  4. The Christians who join this woman Jesus will ascend with her to heaven in the coming apocalypse.
  5. This woman Jesus has written new hymns that would fit on about 10 CDs.
  6. Jesus' Second Coming is Secret
  7. The Great Red Dragon of Revelation is China.
  8. Jesus already returned as a normal 30-year old woman and is in hiding (Time).

A strong appeal to personal religious experience to the extent of undermining the Bible as the final authority on issues of doctrine and practice.

A Biblical Response to some Heretical Teachings of Eastern Lightning

"...If anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. 24"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25"Behold, I have told you in advance. 26"So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. 27"For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Mt. 24:23-27).

Jesus summed up quite well the type of doctrine that the Eastern Lightning group teaches. First, He explicitly taught that false Christs would arise. This secretly coming woman Jesus who is in hiding is certainly a false Christ. She did not even come as the right gender to be Jesus! Second, Jesus clearly taught that His second coming would be as the Son of Man in an open, non secretive manner. Jesus instruction regarding those who would teach that Christ would come in secret is, "Do not believe them." What could be a more fitting response to the Eastern Lightning movement?

Personal religious experience supercedes the Bible's authority on issues of teaching and practice.

  1. This is the backbone for the beginning of the Eastern Lightning's teachings.
    1. From reading various writings put out by the Eastern Lightning cult, it is extremely clear that they emphasize personal religious experience over the objective teachings of the Scriptures. While God certainly uses personal religious experience, these experiences cannot contradict the written Word of God (see ). This is a common ploy by various cults.
  2. Teaching: Jesus already returned as a normal 30-year old woman and is in hiding (Time). 
    1. See: Jesus is a Man article.
    2. Jesus is forever a priest after the order of Melchizedek. As such, He is a male forever (Heb. 6:20; 7:25). Therefore, it is imposssible for Him to be a woman.
    3. The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns, He will not do it secretly, but openly as the Son of Man (Mt. 24:23-27).
  3. Teaching: The woman Jesus wrote a third testament. 
    1. The Old and New Testament's are the authoritative Word of God. There does not need to be a third testament. God's Word, the Bible, does not pass away (1 Pet. 1:25).
    2. While it is theoretically possible that there could be other books than the ones listed in the New Testament, these books cannot contradict what is written in Scripture. Since many of Eastern Lightning's doctrines contradict Scripture, this alleged third testament, which endorses Eastern Lightning teachings, is not of God.
  4. Teaching: The Great Red Dragon of Revelation is China.
    1. While this teaching certainly does not make the Eastern Lightning movement a cult, it does raise questions about how they are interpreting the Bible. It is highly doubtful given the context of the book of Revelation that the Great Red Dragon actually is China since Revelation was dealing mainly with first century events. It is certainly true that the Chinese Government has committed many atrocities, but that does not mean that they are the Great Red Dragon. Numerous apocalyptic cults have made similar predictions regarding statements in Revelation and attempted to apply them to modern day events.

Christians do not worship the Bible

While some Christians may elevate the Bible in an idolatrous sense, the Bible teaches us to worship God alone.3 We certainly should be open to the present work of the Spirit in the world today, but this work cannot contradict God's unchanging Word. The Holy Spirit's job was to remind the disciples and apostles of what Jesus taught them. Not to contradict what He previously taught.

Disagreement among Interpretations

There certainly are various Christian disagreements regarding various passages in the Bible, but that does not mean that we cannot know anything about the Bible and must rely on a subjective religious experience of a few people on the Chinese continent. Christians are allowed to disagree on various issues (see Romans 14). In the essentials there should be unity, in the non-essentials there can be diversity, but in all things, there should be charity.

Quotes from Eastern Lightning Sources

“The Old Testament is the actual record of God’s work in the Age of the Law. So, the Old Testament is a book of history. The New Testament is a product of the work of the Age of the Grace. When the new work started, they became outdated books.”4

“In the meetings, they have started to enjoy the words of Almighty God only, because these words (that is, all the words in The Word Has Appeared in the Flesh) are God’s present work and God’s words of the new age, which can meet people’s present needs. As the new work and word of God has appeared, the Bible has naturally become old, and various statements and theories of the Age of the Grace have naturally been forgotten.”

“But today God’s footsteps have been “controlled” by the Bible. The spreading of the newest work meets extreme difficulty, and meets hindrance at every single step. All these are caused by the famous verses and words and the many prophecies in the Bible.”5 Could it be because Jesus actually warned us about false christs and Christians are actually discerning about these false new teachings?

Sources

  • http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,181681,00.html 2001- accessed May 18, 2009.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Lightning - accessed May 18, 2009.
  • http://amazingchina.wordpress.com/chinese-religions/eastern-lightning/ - Great Summary of the Cult – “Much of this information was taken from the article “When Christians Wish They Were in Prison: An Examination of the Eastern Lightning Cult in China.” by Paul Hattaway. It was published on the website of Asia Harvest”
  • Eastern Lightning Websites: http://hidden-advent.org, http://www.holyspiritspeaks.org, http://www.endtimeworksofgod.org, http://www.thelordsadvent.org, and http://www.godword.org. Accessed May 18, 2009.

Further Resources about the Eastern Lightning Cult

  • http://www.chinaforjesus.com/EL_1.htm
  • http://www.chinaforjesus.com/EL_development.htm
  • http://math.ucr.edu/~zguan/ecult.htm
  • http://amazingchina.wordpress.com/chinese-religions/eastern-lightning/ - Great Summary of the Cult – “Much of this information was taken from the article “When Christians Wish They Were in Prison: An Examination of the Eastern Lightning Cult in China.” by Paul Hattaway. It was published on the website of Asia Harvest”
    http://www.asiaharvest.org/pages/newsletters/66%20-%20May%202002%20-%20Henan%20Province%20(Part%202).pdf
  • 1. Some of the websites operated by Eastern Lightning adherents are: http://hidden-advent.org, http://www.holyspiritspeaks.org, http://www.endtimeworksofgod.org, and  http://www.thelordsadvent.org, and http://www.godword.org.
  • 2. http://english.hidden-advent.org/about_us.php
  • 3. This is written in response to http://english.hidden-advent.org/book/0028.php.
  • 4. http://english.hidden-advent.org/book/0028.php
  • 5. http://english.hidden-advent.org/book/0028.php

 

 

 

 
 
CARM ison