Christianity Today continues its investigative coverage of David Jang, his theology and his North American business expansion.
In August Christianity Today published an investigative article on the ongoing controversy over a businessman/church leader named David Jang titled The Second Coming Christ Controversy.
The reaction to the Christianity Today piece by David Jang followers at The Christian Post was aggressive and swift. The Christian Post published what Jeff Dunn at The Internet Monk called a ‘non-denial denial‘ and swiftly followed with a clumsy smear piece on Ken Smith, co-author of the CT article. The sock puppeting and borderline hysteria in the comment section at The Christian Post was over the top, even for internet chatter. Why?
In an editorial published simultaneously in August (Monitoring Controversy) Mark Galli, Christianity Today Senior Managing Editor wrote:
In the weeks leading up to the publication of this story, Smith and CT have received threats of lawsuits by people associated with Jang. We have also been accused of reporting this story with predetermined conclusions. But the story took so long to report precisely because we had no predetermined conclusions. Read the story, and you’ll see many questions still unanswered. We held off publication because we are committed to running stories when they’re ready and when we can fully stand by them.
In the second installment, The Second Coming Christ Controversy: More Leaders Speak Out Christianity Today takes a deeper look at the theology and beliefs taught by Jang leaders, and the aggressiveness toward critics and former followers in Jang operations. A former editor of the Singapore edition of The Christian Post Edmund Chau and his wife Susan are featured in the second part of the CT investigative article.
As Christianity Today reported in August, several former members of Jang’s organizations similarly described encouragements to believe that Jang is the Second Coming Christ. But most spoke on condition of anonymity. Now, in exclusive in-depth interviews with Christianity Today, the Chuas are among the first to speak out on the record about their experience in Jang’s group, the theology behind their belief that he was the Second Coming Christ, and why they left.
Employees of the Jang-founded Olivet University, meanwhile, say the community has no secret teachings that Jang is Christ or the Second Coming. Meanwhile, a National Association of Evangelicals committee is meeting again today in its ongoing inquiry into whether Olivet is theologically compatible with the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Christian Resources.
While the sale of a Southern Baptist Convention conference centre to David Jangs Olivet University is being debated, intimidation of critics continues.
Not everyone in Jang’s community seems to agree that the group has nothing to hide. In one email provided to CT, Johnathan Davis, the chief content officer of IBTimes, declined to participate in a Christian industry association being organized by leaders of other Jang-affiliated publications like The Christian Post, because, he said, “My commission is inherently covert.” In another email string from mid-August 2012, Will Anderson, the publisher and CEO of The Christian Post, requested that Edmond delete from the Singapore site any articles by a writer suspected of being a source for CT’s article.
Another email announced that “PD [Pastor David] just announced that the use of Facebook and other networking sites is now forbidden for obvious security reasons… Facebook makes it easy for organizations that persecute us to link us all up together including the ministries we work for.” That email itself contained the final instruction, “CLEAR THIS MESSAGE AFTER READING.” (The command to abandon Facebook seems itself to have been abandoned, since many members and organizations in the community are currently active on the social networking site.)
In a different email thread discussing whether to include The Christian Post’s history as part of its employee handbook, one senior leader wrote, “I don’t think we should include the history in the handbook. The issue is that PD [Pastor David] doesn’t want the history in written, audio or video form to fall into a non-members’ hands. Once you make a hard copy of something it is set in stone and he still wants some things to remain vague.”
Jang’s associates did not only challenge Edmond Chua’s account by email. Edmond says he has found himself threatened with a lawsuit, locked out of his website and email, and harassed by Jang associates coming to his home late at night. (Members have also harassed his father, who accompanied him to the 2006 New York evangelism training, Chua said.)
…Similarly, a lawsuit from Christian Today Japan against Yamaya Makoto, a blogger who has repeatedly criticized Jang, is in its fourth year. An independent journalist from Canada, Ann Brocklehurst, as well as two Christian newspapers serving the Korean American community, Christian Today US (no relation to either Christianity Today or to the Jang-affiliated Christian Today newspaper) and News-N-Joy US, have also reported receiving legal threats from Jang’s community for publishing critical articles.
An aside: (Olivet president and The Christian Post and The Christian Post board chair Bill Wagner, told The Tennessean yesterday that David Jang resigned from Olivet University this summer).
David Jang has denied he condones his followers and employees teaching or believing he is Second Coming Christ. “‘By the grace of Jesus Christ, I accepted Jesus as my one and only Savior, and since I was forgiven of my sins, I have never abandoned faith in Jesus Christ. Also, I have never preached any other gospel other than that of Jesus Christ. Furthermore I have never taught that I am Christ.’ ~ David Jang
Jang has not responded to CT, nor does it appear he has made any overt effort to clean up the bible study teachings in Asia and the US over the years. Aggressive legal manoeuvres toward critics and downplaying of Korean investigations are not addressing the legitimate concerns now being raised in North America regarding his teachings and his expanding businesses. It is apparent by the open responses by leaders at Olivet University and The World Evangelical Alliance who have financially partnered with Jang, the ongoing effort to legitimize Jang’s media and business expansion in North America have been successful.
Lists of David Jang holdings have been published online.
Netherlands – WEA and Jang organizations
David Jang Domain Names
Previous post with links to media coverage and a Canadian connection to The Christian Post
The Tennessean – Lifeway rethinks plan to sell camp to Christian college
Timothy Dalrymple – Strange Things Afoot in Christian Media – a must read
Religion Dispatches (A)theologies: Christian Media Battles Over Controversial Figure
Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion: The Christian Post’s Troubling Attacks on Critics of David Jang
Update: The Christian Post responds