Want to Join a Korean Doomsday Cult?

This past Sunday I received a message from someone who attends White Fields. She said that she was in Alta Park in Longmont when a couple approached her who were from the Worldwide Mission Society Church of God, seeking to evangelize her.

When she told them that she is a Christian, they questioned her salvation and told her that Jesus had claimed that he would come again as a man, give his church a new name, and that in order to be saved, one needs to be part of this church, and adhere to several “new covenant requirements” including keeping all of the feasts mentioned in the Book of Leviticus.

They mentioned that they belonged to a branch of this church which had recently started in Boulder, and that they were planning to start a Longmont branch soon as well.

I had never heard of this group before, so I looked them up. Turns out they have some pretty crazy doctrines, which, unsurprisingly, they kept quiet about in this interaction in the park.

Who are they and what do they believe?

The Worldwide Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) was founded by Ahn Sahng-Hong in South Korea in 1964. He was a long-time Seventh-day Adventist, until he split off to establish his own religion.

They believe in God the Father and God the Mother, and they believe that their founder, Ahn Sahng-Hong (deceased) was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ (this is what the people in Alta Park were talking about when they said Jesus came back as a man and gave his church a new name), and that his wife (still alive) is the incarnation of God the Mother.

Ahn Sahng-Hong’s wife, Jang Gil-ja, is not only considered to be divine as God the Mother, but she is also known as “The Bride of Christ” – because she was married to Ahn Sahng-Hong, whom they believe to be the reincarnation of Christ.

Along with referring to him as “Christ Ahn Sahng-Hong,” they also believe that he is the Holy Spirit and they baptize and pray in the name of the Father, Son and Ahn Sahng-Hong.

I just threw up a little bit in my mouth as I wrote that…

They teach that all people were originally created as angels in Heaven, but then sinned against God and were sent to Earth as a second chance to return to God. The only way for humans to be saved and return to heaven is by keeping the Levitical feasts and following the teachings of Ahn Sahng-Hong, which includes believing in God the Mother, AKA Jang Gil-ja, Ahn Sahng-Hong’s wife, who gives everlasting life.

When you lay it out like this, it’s pretty clear how crazy this is. Not only is it a cult of personality, it is a radical deviation from Biblical doctrine. It’s not surprising that they keep most of this stuff to themselves when they go out preaching in parks.

And yet, the WMSCOG is growing very rapidly. They boast of 450 churches in Korea and 3000 around the world.

The member of our church who met them concluded her message to me by saying that this whole experience made her realize how unprepared she was to explain and, if necessary, defend what she believes and why.

How should you respond if you are approached by the WMSCOG? Or by any other pseudo-Christian group that has their own heterodox interpretation of the Bible?

There is one thing which is common to every religion in the world, other than Christianity: they teach that salvation is something that you have to earn. The gospel message of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, teaches that salvation is something that Jesus earned for you, and which is given to you by God as a free gift.

Notice that the soteriology (doctrine of salvation) of the WMSCOG is one of salvation by works.

Here’s what the Bible has to say:

“for it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

On the matter of feasts and Sabbaths:

“Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).

“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11).

The gospel is not a call to celebrate feast days and Sabbaths in order to obtain salvation, it is the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done for you, in order to save you. Anyone who teaches that such things are necessary for salvation is not only wrong, they are creating a different gospel.

Jesus said that when he would return again, he would come to judge the living and the dead. The teachings of the WMSCOG are not only incorrect and dangerous, they are heretical; both in their deification of Ahn Sahng-Hong and Jang Gil-ja and in their teaching of salvation by works, which goes contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible that we are justified by God through faith in Christ and his finished work on the cross.

In the big picture, this is just another re-branding of an old, and widespread lie: that you can (and must) work your way to God. The good news of the gospel is that salvation is not earned by your performance being good enough, but on the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Rest in that, and be on guard against those who teach otherwise.

For more on the Worldwide Mission Society Church of God and sources for this article, check out these sites:

Dynel Lane, the Media and a Contradiction of Terms

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Almost a year ago, a tragedy happened here in Longmont: a pregnant woman responded to a Craigslist ad for free baby clothes, only to be attacked and to have her baby cut from her womb and abducted.

The baby did not survive, and the assailant, Dynel Lane is currently on trial this week in the Boulder District Court, however she is not being charged with murder, but with suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and child abuse knowingly and recklessly resulting in death and unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

Colorado law does not count the death of an unborn child as murder, only if the child lived outside of the womb for some time. The issue in this case is that it’s not possible to prove how long the child lived outside of the womb – so Colorado’s wording of the law will not allow a murder charge in this case, even though wrongful death is obvious.

Dynel Lane has pleaded not guilty to these charges and has come back saying that it was Michelle Wilkins who attacked and tried to stab her, and that she was only trying to defend herself, and the reason she cut the baby out of Michelle’s womb was because she thought Michelle was dead and was trying to save the baby. This however, gives no explanation for why Dynel Lane told medical personal at Longmont United Hospital that the baby was hers, until they realized that she hadn’t given birth and the baby couldn’t be hers.

You can read Dynel Lane’s testimony here.

Today closing arguments are being presented by both sides.

This case presents a conundrum, not only for the wording of the law, but for the media in telling the story.  As one friend pointed out: The Denver Post reported that Dynel Lane “…cut out Wilkins’ fetus before taking the baby to Longmont United Hospital…”

Did you catch that?  She cut out a “fetus” and then took the “baby” to Longmont United Hospital.

It’s a very careful choosing of words which reflects a fundamental belief: that unborn children are not actually children.

The word they’ve coined to help create this false dichotomy – which this case so painfully exposes – is “fetus.” What’s ironic, is that this is based on a failure to grasp the fact that the word fetus is simply Latin for “young person.”

Fetus is Latin for “young person”

Did you catch that?  Young PERSON.    Not “young mass of tissue, akin more to cancer than to a human being.”

This case presents a conundrum for lawmakers and the media, because it shows that a fetus and a baby are not two separate things. Everyone knows that what this woman did was wrong, because she killed a baby… But if we stick with strictly considering the unborn unhuman, then why is this crime so heinous?

Is a baby only a baby if its mother wants it?   Clearly the answer is no.

I will be interested to see what happens in this case. Hoping for justice for Dynel Lane’s crime and mercy for her soul.

 

Coming Soon…

Mrs. Longmont Pastor is well into her final trimester with our latest addition to the Cady family. We're expecting a little girl in mid-late December. You can pray for us; the birth of our last child was difficult (I wrote more about that here), but so far everything is going well with this one.

Our friend Page did a photo session with us last week. Here's one of the shots we took at McIntosh Lake in Longmont.

Page does great work. If you're ever looking for a photographer in the Boulder, CO area, check her out here at http://www.boulderlifestylephotography.com/

 

Making the News

The past 2 Sundays White Fields Church and yours truly have been mentioned in the local newspapers in Boulder and Longmont.

Last Sunday I was honored to be featured in the Times-Call's annual 100 People of the St. Vrain Valley, in which I got to share about mission work in Hungary as well as what I enjoy about being a local pastor here in Longmont. You can find that article online here.

This past Sunday, White Fields' annual Easter Outreach in Roosevelt Park was reported on by both the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Times-Call. Check that article out here.

Sometimes you can't be sure how what you say to reporters will actually get reported, but I was very pleased with how the Camera and Times-Call reported what I said.

 

Longmont Baby Abductor Will Not Be Charged With Murder

I was talking to a friend in Romania the other day and he said it feels like he is always seeing Longmont in the news.

It’s true. Longmont has made national (and apparently international) headlines a lot in the past few years, and not for good reasons: catastrophic floods, carjackings involving kids, and most recently a fetal abduction in which a woman who was 7 months pregnant responded to a Craigslist ad for free baby clothes was beaten, stabbed and had her baby cut from her womb and kidnapped.

For what it’s worth – crime rates in Longmont have actually decreased in the last year, as opposed to Boulder, which has higher crime rates which haven’t decreased, but this kind of stuff, although not characteristic of this fine town, gets a lot of publicity – as it should.

The suspect’s arraignment will be today at 1:30, but the Times-Call reported that the DA has already stated that murder will not be among the charges brought against this woman, the reason being that Colorado law does not count the death of an unborn child as murder, unless the child lived outside of the womb for some time. The issue in this case is that it’s not possible to prove that the child lived outside of the womb, and if so, for how long – so Colorado’s wording of the law will not allow a murder charge in this case.

People in Longmont were protesting this and picketing on Main Street last week when it was first announced. The charges expected to be brought against the suspect are: suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and child abuse knowingly and recklessly resulting in death.

The problem with those charges are that even all together they will not lead to as strong of a sentence as if murder or manslaughter had been part of it. Since the mother survived, and there is no proof that the baby lived outside of the womb, Colorado law has no way to charge her with anything stronger.

What do you think?  Is this justice?

The sad part of this is that if this attack had not happened, this baby would have lived. The baby’s life was clearly taken by this attack. I find it hard to accept that we have no way to prosecute that.

Opinion Article in Longmont Times-Call Advocates that Fertilized Eggs are Human

I was surprised to see today that the Longmont Times-Call posted an opinion article by a Longmont resident on the topic of when an unborn child becomes a true person – since this is a controversial topic which is very much at the heart of debates over abortion and human rights.

I was even more surprised when I realized that the article was advocating for seeing fertilized eggs as fully human – not what I had expected to find when I saw the title of the article.

The author, Brad Jolly, is writing in response to atheist doctor Richard Juday, who believes that humanness develops over time.

Check out the article – I found it surprisingly refreshing, especially that it appeared here in the local paper: http://www.timescall.com/columnists/opinion-local/ci_26964706/brad-jolly-fertilized-human-eggs-are-human

Thank you Longmont Times-Call for representing a broad spectrum of viewpoints!

“The Dopest Job Ever”

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Yesterday, while riding the lift at Eldora, I had an interesting conversation with a guy who, like me, was up snowboarding alone.

He was from Boulder, probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s, and works in some area of the tech industry.

He was very interested when he found out I was a pastor, because he said he’d always been interested in what goes on in churches, but had never been to church himself.  Here’s how our conversation went:

  • “Wow, you’re a pastor?!  Like in a church?”
    • “Yeah”
  • “So, what do you do there?”
    • “I teach the Bible and counsel people and lead the church as an organization in all the endeavors we are involved in.”
  • “Do you like emcee the shows and stuff?”
    • “You mean the church services?  Yes, I lead the worship services.”
  • “So you’re kinda like an emcee!  That’s dope!”
  • “Wait, so you’re married?  (I had mentioned my wife and kids to him)
    • “Yeah, I’m married”
  • “I thought priests couldn’t get married”
    • “Well, that’s a rule in the Catholic church – but we’re not Catholic. In fact, even in the Catholic church, they only introduced that rule a couple hundred years after Jesus lived and established the church, so most Christians don’t follow that rule, and most pastors get married.”
  • “Wow. I always thought that would be a pretty dope job, but the one downside is that you couldn’t have girls. But, you know, if you can have girls, then that’s like the dopest job ever!”
    • “Well, I mean, as a pastor, you can’t just go around having lots of girls – you can have a wife and a family, but it has to be monogamous.”
      • “Yeah, but same thing – you get to have a girl. That’s dope!”

About this time the lift reached the top of the mountain – and I encouraged him that he should really check out a church sometime for himself, and that he ought to give some consideration to who Jesus was and what he taught. After that, we bid each other farewell and got off the lift, and went separate ways. Who knows if we’ll ever meet again.

It did surprise me though, how little this man knew about church and about Jesus. It served as a reminder that we live in a post-Christendom society. Boulder has long been considered a trend-setting, cultural hub for Colorado and the Western United States. That means that as Christians, increasingly we can no longer expect that most people in our society have a basic understanding of Christian doctrine and practice, and know who Jesus was and what God requires of them. More and more people in our society are growing up without that, and we as Christians need to be prepared to present Jesus and the message of the Gospel to people without the assumption that they have some basic background understanding of Christianity – because more and more do not.

“Most Americans lead very busy and very undisciplined lives”
– Jim Collins, ‘Good to Great’

This quote rings true to me of people I know and oftentimes, sadly of myself.

Discipline in all areas of my life is something I have been trying to cultivate more and more. I’ve always been concerned about discipline, but for this season in my life it is one of my main focuses.

What I’ve found is that when I am more disciplined, I am happier, more content, and more focused. The areas I’ve been focusing on in this quest for greater disciple are: Spiritual, Physical (working out), Financial, and Familial (dedicating time with my family and not allowing distractions).

Thing is, that we live in a very “noisy” world. Mobile phones constantly blink and buzz, asking for our attention, for ‘just a second’. What I’ve found is, the more disciplined I am with every area of my life – giving myself boundaries and holding to them – the less time I end up running around ‘fighting fires’, and the more I am able to be fruitful in the areas where God has called me to be.

All of us are stewards of the resources we’ve been given by the Lord. May we be found to be good stewards of everything he’s given us – investing them and multiplying them for his glory and for the good of others.

I’m on a journey, seeking to be more disciplined with everything God has given me.

Thoughts?

Young Life in Longmont

A few months ago, my wife and I were talking with some people from White Fields – and the topic of Young Life came up. This friend of ours was telling us how she had been involved in volunteering at a YL camp up near Winter Park. Then another friend from White Fields told us that he had applied for a job up at that same camp.

So my wife and I had this conversation: “I wonder if Young Life is doing anything in Longmont…”

A few weeks later, historic flooding happened right here in Longmont. Houses were flooded, roads were washed out. Lots of destruction.

As one does, I went to go check out the destruction. Here’s the picture we took of Sunset Street in Longmont:

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Sunset Street – owned by the St Vrain River

As we’re standing there, some other guys come up and stand right on the edge of the road. I tell the guy: “Hey, watch out, that’s not stable!” Then somehow we got to talking – they asked if I was from Longmont, they told me they recently moved to town from Boulder. I asked what brought them to Longmont – and they told me: “We moved here to start a Young Life branch for the St. Vrain Valley.”

“Really?” I said. “I’m the pastor of a church here in town and my wife and I and some people from church were just talking about how we would love to work with Young Life here in Longmont.”

And that is how I met Ben and Tim, who are heading up the new Young Life branch in the St Vrain Valley.

Since then, they’ve started doing Wyld Life meetings for middle schoolers here in town, and had great turnouts. I’ve gotten together with them a few times – in fact, I just had lunch with them again today. They are great guys, doing great work.

Check out what they are doing – it’s great stuff. The meetings they do are fun and are a safe environment for kids in middle school – and they love parental involvement. Here is their website: St Vrain Valley Young Life