Christianity Today looks at David Jang and Second Coming Christ Controversy

This article in Christianity Today, The Second Coming Christ Controversy, is going to generate discussion in North American evangelical circles.

While the piece centres around the Southern Baptist Convention and it’s business dealings with the copious holdings of David Jang and his Olivet University out of San Francisco, there are interesting ties to The World Evangelical Alliance headed by Canadian Geoff Tunnicliffe.

Five months after Tunnicliffe’s appointment in 2005, the WEA opened an Information Technology Center on the San Francisco campus of Jang’s Olivet University. Several sources say that organizations started by Jang and his followers began to support the WEA financially, and in April 2007, Jang was accepted onto the WEA’s North American Council. Two months later, Olivet University invited Tunnicliffe to be their commencement speaker and presented him with an honorary doctorate. Over the next four years, The Christian Postreporters also began to work for the WEA as press secretaries, and an Olivet graduate became director of communications. The former CEO of Deographics was appointed executive director of the WEA’s IT Commission. An Olivet graduate from The Christian Post and Jubilee Mission was hired as their chief of staff. The WEA’s website moved onto the servers that host the websites of The Christian Post, Olivet, Young Disciples of Jesus, and other Jang-associated organizations. Soon thereafter, the WEA began sharing office space with Jang’s companies. Some 20 organizations associated with Jang have been accepted for membership into the WEA (composing a third of its global partners and a sixth of its associate members). However, none of the former members CT talked to, nor any of Jang’s critics, alleged any wrongdoing by the WEA itself; where there was concern it was simply that the WEA had given legitimacy to Jang and his organizations by associating so closely with them.

Tunnicliffe, who previously worked for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, responded to Christianity Today questions.

The strong ties with Jang’s people and The Southern Baptist Convention are evident  in the ownership and running of The Christian Post, an online conservative religious news site.  Canadian media organization Crossroads Christian Communications Inc.  affiliates with The Christian Post, providing The World Report, and runs a citizen journalist site called MyVu, partnered with The World Evangelical Alliance.

The core of the concerns which surfaced in Asia about 10 years ago.

Over the last five years, ministries and organizations founded by or connected to Jang have gained influence in American and global evangelical ministries, including the World Evangelical Alliance. Yet in the same period, a number of mainstream Christian organizations in Korea and China have severed relationships with his affiliated organizations after investigating such claims and finding them credible. Other groups have reconfirmed their ties after their investigations cleared him. Now, as Jang’s businesses and ministries have sought greater recognition and expansion in the United States, Christian leaders and ministries here are asking similar questions about Jang, his affiliated organizations, and their theology.

News N Joy, a Korean Christian website, reported in 2004 that it had four conversations with Jang about his career in the Unification Church after Jang objected to one of the site’s articles. In the interview, Jang said the description in the Sun Moon University history book was inaccurate, but acknowledged that he had worked for the school until 1995 (he did not officially resign until 1998). “He explained that the reason he was involved in Sun Moon University was to teach orthodox theology to Unification Church members,” the site reported. “In addition, he added that he led a lot of deluded people to the way of truth.”

Both sides agree that Jang has long had more orthodox ties. According to a résumé Jang submitted to the Christian Council of Korea, he received his M.Div. from Hanshin University in 1990 and a Ph.D. from Dankook University in 1992. That same year, he was ordained as a Korean Presbyterian minister, and by 1999 he was moderator of the Hang Dong Presbytery.

…But according to several sources with experience in Jang-associated organizations and communities, many members of the movement believed that the key event in Jang’s early missionary endeavors is not in his résumé—nor, indeed, in any written source. It was believed, these sources said, that in or around 1992, early follower Borah Lin told Jang that she believed he was the “Second Coming Christ”—not Jesus Christ himself, but rather a new messianic figure that would complete Jesus’ earthly mission. According to several former members, Lin became an important spiritual figure in Jang’s closest circles.

Christianity Today’s Senior Managing Editor Mark Galli – Monitoring Controversy, Why some stories take a long time
Associated Baptist PressNAE investigating possible Glorieta buyer
The Huffington Post

The Davidian Watcher blog
Ken Smith blog – Confessions of a Would-be theologian
Anne Brocklehurst: International Business Times and lock-ups
Strengholt: World Evangelical Alliance: In the grip of big money?
Owen Strachan - Guard the Flock 

Update: The Christian Post responds. Rebuttal by Ken Smith.

Update: Part two of Christianity Todays investigation: The Second Coming Christ Controversy: More Leaders Speak Out

via: Bible Belt Blogger

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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9 Responses to Christianity Today looks at David Jang and Second Coming Christ Controversy

  1. jhc says:

    Oh my, another corrupt ‘christian’ organization. Quelle surprise.

  2. fjc says:

    This is about business, not faith.

    Faith is used as a tool to further business ,personal financial enrichment, personal power and influence.

    Guess who does the hard work or provides the financial support. Guess who benefits. You only need to ‘follow the money’ to figure it out.

    It is the penultimate of pyramid and ponzi schemes.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why do you only present the CT article accusations and just post a small link to the CP response, which raises some serious questions over not only the objectivity of CT in all this, but that some of the sources CT uses are highly biased (especially their writer Ken Smith for their report has even admitted he basically hates these other organizations and twists the truth to condemn them).

    Other sources promoted as authentic in the CT article have been outright condemned as cult leaders themselves and have clear agendas in their accusations. After reading both articles I felt inclined to think this is a media grudge battle.

    I think it would be prudent for your blog to offer some of the evidence presented by the CP article too, as right now, after myself reading both, I feel your blog is not portraying the whole picture fairly.

  4. Bene Diction says:

    1) CT objectivity.
    This is an investigative piece, and presents several sources.

    2) Please point out where Ken Smith said he ‘hated’.

    I believe you are referring to this:

    “You know, I have to admit, I wasn’t as charitable in some of my blog posts about the WEA or Olivet as I should have been. I keep imagining God reading them back to me on the day of judgment, and looking at me with a raised eyebrow as He comes upon certain phrases. It’s not a terribly comfortable feeling. I don’t want to go back and re-edit the posts – that would feel weird: not only did I say what I said, but I fully stand by the concerns they raise. But if I were to write them over again, I would use less inflammatory language. And to those concerned, I offer my apologies. I’ll try to do better.”

    Please point out where he twists the truth to condemn them?
    CP did not post the response to the Jang lawyer. Smith did.

    The criteria for the Glorieta Conference Center is at Baptist Press.
    The decision is up to the SBC and Olivet U.
    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38524
    Concerns were raised in July, prior to the CT article.

    Apart from the threats of lawsuits – a CP editor addressed concerns with CT in Chicago.

    An editor of The Christian Post recently travelled to Chicago to meet with Christianity Today editors prior to the publishing of CT’s allegations. In the discussions, CP editors sought to explain the dynamics of Asian church controversies and to bring biblical clarity.

    No one is muzzling the Christian Post.

    “Prudent for my blog to offer some of the evidence presented by the CP article…”

    The link is offered.
    People can make their own decisions with what is provided, and as things unfold.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Regarding CT reporter, Ken Smith’s objectivity I was actually referring to this text he previously wrote:

    “Olivet had made me angry; and I absolutely wanted the bad things I found to be worse than they were; and I absolutely wanted the good things I found to not be as good as they were. I wanted to include any incriminating information I turned up, even if I thought it wasn’t likely to be true; and I wanted to leave out anything that tended to exonerate them…. In brief, I wanted to be right, and I was willing to go to rather inappropriate lengths to convince others that Olivet was in the wrong. Worse than anything else, though, was the realization that I tended to do this with more frequency than I was happy to admit.”
    -Ken Smith

    So yes I admit he does not use the word hate, but there certainly is enough in there, for me anyway, to make me feel uncomfortable with his objectivity in a balanced investigation.

    Numerous other sources mentioned in the CT report are also highly questionable too. I want the truth to be revealed too, but having read both pieces I certainly don’t feel CT gave sufficient background on their sources to allow people to understand the full picture (example – one of the main sources, Chae, has been condemned in Asia and found to have extorted hundreds of thousands of $ from Christian orgs).

  6. Bene D says:

    Smith acknowledged his feelings about what he found about Olivet, and he says so on his personal blog.

    Objectivity – I think fairness and accuracy are more realistic journalistic goals – the CP rebuttal doesn’t aim for either. How can it?
    see: Objectivity in journalism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivity_(journalism)

    I’ve been covering an oingoing story here at BDBO for four years – I am not personally involved in events, but it would be a lie to say I don’t have feelings about the people around the story. I can strive to be fair, and openly acknowledge feelings, while maintaining accuracy.

    Are you referring to Sam Kyung Chae who was associated with The Christian Council of Korea, a member of the WEA?

    The Council has lost a lot of members over it’s investigations of Jang.
    If people and groups chose to accept Jang and his enterprises, that is their choice, but to pretend there is no contention, concerns and controversy is hardly objective.

    CT wrote an investigative piece – and there is room to write more as events unfold and information surfaces. They got the ball rolling, any news outlet can pick it up, investigate and run with it. This is a complex and complicated story – it will get bigger.

    What was Chae convicted of, and in what court?
    (I see the mention in CP – can you link up to court/trial documents?)

    You don’t have to feel good about the CT article, or comfortable with Ken Smith.
    The rest of the story has not unfolded. Do your own research, draw your own conclusions. The point of the CT piece is to raise important questions and concerns for the public good. The organizations and people involved are responsible for their decisions and corrective courses of action. Investigative pieces are meant to generate discussion, expose, uncover, reveal, inform, hold the powerful to account.

    Name the ‘numerous other sources which are highly questionable’.

    Ken Smith:

    “The one significant piece of information that we didn’t have when we published the article was the testimony from Ma Li’s ex-husband, Yang Shuang Hao, and if we had, we would certainly have included it. This is the key part, in which he asserts that Ma Li had never been a member of the Young Disciples:

    I am sure that she was not a YD China member, so everything she testified was a lie.

    As I said, we hadn’t seen that specific testimony, but we had, however, seen indirect references to the allegation that Ma Li (the only former member who was willing to be named in our article) wasn’t actually a member of the Young Disciples. So several weeks ago, I asked her and one of our other Chinese sources about it.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes I really don’t know everything concerning this issue by any means – mainly what’s on the two articles and a few blog pieces (which I generally take with a pinch of salt). I by no means feel CP’s piece is perfect journalism either, but rather my purpose in writing here was simply – having read both articles it left concerns in my heart about the objectivity of numerous things I had read – yes perhaps a little on both sides but certainly a lot more on CT’s side, and in particular Ken Smith. And to be honest I feel the burden to be objective and fair is much more heavily weighted on CT at this point as they are the ones bringing up accusations and questions on their Christian brothers and sisters. Not just one person, Jang, but a host of Christian leaders and very prominent organizations. If anything CT writes in a negative way against anyone they’ve mentioned it has very serious implications.

    I am reminded of God’s heart towards saving just one person – I was taught Jesus died for everyone – but yes personally me, I as one person am so loved by God that his one and only son would die for me! I personally believe God would prefer to save one soul than condemn 100 evildoers. That’s just my belief.

    From your answers it appears you have ties to these people and I apologize if you feel I was personally attacking them – I really did not want to do that – more I just thought a central writer (Smith) perhaps was not the perfect person to make a balanced investigation into this matter. Not that he is a bad person himself at all – just in my mind for the best journalism, if anyone has any conflict of interests it is best if the story get handed over to another to maintain absolute integrity.

    In response to your last post – where you say “fairness and accuracy are more journalistic goals than objectivity” – I’m sorry but I would have to politely disagree and feel that objectivity is a central part of having fairness and accuracy.

    I appreciate our discussion into this and believe you are a true brother/sister in Jesus. God bless you.

  8. Bene D says:

    “From your answers it appears you have ties to these people…”

    Nope. None. Had never heard of Olivet University, don’t know Olsen, Smith or Jang.
    I don’t subscribe to CT, and CP’s ideological bent is tinny to my Cdn ear.

    I like what Jeff Dunn said at Internet Monk – “The CP ran a long rebuttal of CT’s story yesterday, which, as far as I can read, is a non-denial denial.”

    I’ve done investigative journalism – it’s difficult, you have to run everything past media lawyers, you have to be able to take the heat, and you don’t put out a lot of what you’ve learned. You do sweat it.

    Perhaps I am defending the right of CT to run the piece and use someone like Ken Smith. I’m pleased to see more than fluff. While the SBC sale is the focus, Jang has right of response. His decision not to, leaving CP to flounder is another red flag.

    Geoff Tunncliffe stepped up to the plate, as did Jang’s employees at Olivet.

    Christians have a problem coming to terms with the reality that we are vulnerable – organizations make bad alliances, people we respect don’t have the same motives we do, and relationships are not neat, they are messy.

    An investigative piece doesn’t spoon feed the reader, and there are Christians who are uncomfortable not being told what to believe.

    The most recent red herring hit piece on Ken Smith at CP is silly, but it is part of how these difficult stories unfold.

    When any organ points out it is threatened with lawsuits,(CT) when sock puppets pile in (CP), the old adage of where there is smoke there is fire comes to mind.

    I take it Chae hasn’t been before a court and the numerous other sources which are highly questionable, aren’t.
    The premise of the piece goes way beyond pet beliefs and cultural differences.

    I’ve enjoyed our discussion.

  9. Pingback: Christianity Today continues look at David Jang and Second Coming Christ Controversy | Bene Diction Blogs On

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