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Taiwan Church News
3190 Edition
April 15-21, 2013
Headline News

New “Christian” cult prompts Taiwanese church leaders to alert church flock and issue united response

Reported by Simon Lin

Written by Lydia Ma

A new “Christian” cult with origins in China has engulfed Hong Kong and Taiwan in the past few months. This cult, known as “Church of Almighty God” or “Eastern Lightning”, has bought large advertisements in major Taiwanese newspapers recently and its members have been actively convincing Christians in Taiwan and the rest of the non-Christian public to join. Their non-biblical advertisements have confused many Christians, which has prompted many churches to become concerned and alert their own flocks.

In response to the claims and actions of the Eastern Lightning cult, the PCT, various regional Christian alliances, and the Methodist Church in Taiwan held a joint symposium on April 14 at Hsinhsing Presbyterian Church on the theme “Discerning the Errors of the Church of Almighty God and the Christian Church’s Response”. According to the convener of this symposium, Elder Ou Yang Chia-li from the Church in New Taipei City, the Eastern Lightning cult fits all the characteristics of a Christian cult. Unfortunately, the Taiwanese public doesn’t know better and assumes that this cult’s advertisements are part of the Christian church’s evangelistic efforts. For this reason, real Christian churches have an obligation to warn the public. A joint response was issued and an advertisement was published in major newspapers at the end of February.

According to Ou, the basic beliefs of the Eastern Lightning cult contain glaring theological errors. For example, it claims that “Jesus” and “Jehovah” are former names of God that have now been replaced with the name “Almighty God”. Furthermore, the cult’s followers claim that Jesus has returned in the form of a Chinese woman – reportedly one of the woman partners of the cult’s founder, Zhao Weishan. This cult not only denies the Trinity, but also denies the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross for people’s sins. Hence, it teaches that this “woman Christ” has now come to finish what Christ had left undone and trusting in this “female Christ” is the only way to heaven and eternal life. Needless to say, this cult also denies the authority and authenticity of the Bible.

Holy Light Theological Seminary President Rev. Daniel C.S. Chen said that though the Eastern Lightning cult seems to have a passion for evangelism, its ultimate purpose is to draw more people into this cult. Once newcomers let down their guards and join the cult, they are coerced into attending small group meetings and tempted with money and sex, or threatened with violence. In this manner, the tactics used by this cult are not much different than the mafia and many people in China have been brainwashed into abandoning their families and giving away their body and their money.

According to Shoushan Presbytery’s Moderator, Rev. Chen Tsung-hui, the Eastern Lightning cult shares many things in commons with the Mormon Church because both are rejected by orthodox Christian churches but claim to be Christian nevertheless. For this reason, Christian churches need to be concerned and careful. Chen added that Holy Light Seminary felt compelled to host a gathering to discuss this issue and he is very glad that Shoushan Presbytery completely supported such efforts and urged local parishioners to attend.

Logos Theological Seminary President Chuang Ting-chin said that he was very worried about the effects of this cult on the Taiwanese public because it has invested millions on commercial advertisements and has so far been advertising twice a week. He hopes that church leaders can put their heads together and find the best way to respond. This cult especially preys on people who are spiritually and emotionally weak and those who are disaffected by churches. Hence, it is necessary that churches foster loving and caring small groups or fellowships so that every member is cared for and no one falls through the cracks.

Chuang also underscored the importance of churches in providing good nurturing and sound teaching, as well as building a good “firewall” against false teachings. He added that this present threat may just be what churches need to reignite their passion for reaching the lost for Christ.

 
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Taiwan Church News
3190 Edition
April 15-21, 2013
General Assembly News

58th General Assembly Convention introduces PCT social welfare organizations and their social impact

Reported by Lin Yi-ying

Written by Lydia Ma

One of the main programs of this year’s PCT annual convention held at Mackay Memorial Hospital Auditorium was to introduce the work of various PCT social welfare organizations. These organizations are supervised by the PCT’s Peace Foundation and they include: Seamen’s and Fishermen’s Service Center in Kaohsiung, Taipei Women’s Development Center, Rainbow Project, Disabled Concern Center, Aboriginal Community Development Center, Labor Concern Center, Welfare and Service Center for the Disabled, and the PCT social welfare branch office in Penghu. These organizations reach out and help single mothers, foreign nurses, foreign manual workers, fishermen and their families, people with disabilities, and other people in the margins of society.

To make these ministry reports interesting and touching, some presentations included skits. For example, the organization reaching out to people with disabilities invited one disabled couple to do a dance presentation on their wheelchairs. Other organizations presented their own skits to give the audience some idea about the people they see and help on a daily basis. These presentations were very touching and received a warm applause from the audience.

PCT General Secretary Andrew Chang said that one of his goals since assuming office was to help more people become acquainted with all PCT ministries through gatherings such as the annual convention. For this reason, each annual convention in the past 8 years has focused on a ministry theme and included presentations from various PCT organizations. Chang underscored that he was confident that if every church could partner with these PCT affiliated social welfare organizations and contribute, PCT evangelistic outreach and the furthering of the gospel across Taiwan would improve exponentially and become much more effective.

One very important couple who attended this ministry report session was the former PCT General Secretary Rev. C.M. Kao and his wife Lee Li-chen. Mrs. Kao was the one who presented the ministry report for Taipei Women’s Development Center because she was its representative on behalf of the PCT.

Representatives from other organizations also presented their reports and many of them included well-rehearsed skits. One skit showed the mistreatment of a foreign worker by an employment agent. Another skit showed a foreign woman married to a Taiwanese fisherman who suffered domestic abuse under the hands of her husband. However, when the fisherman suffered a stroke later on due to his heavy drinking habits, his wife nevertheless took care of him. Tragically, being a caregiver under such circumstances also caused her to become clinically depressed. The woman finally got some help and support through the PCT’s social welfare branch office in Penghu.

Instead of a skit, the Disabled Concern Center in Kaohsiung used a clip to accompany their report. This clip showed how the center helped disabled children overcome disabilities. One segment of the clip showed a child who couldn’t walk but managed to learn to walk on his own with the help of the center. Another clip showed how the center helped a child who couldn’t speak to learn sign language. This child is now able to communicate and he was interviewed for the clip. At the end of this clip, the audience came away with a deeper understanding of what it means to “accompany someone with one’s own life and impact someone with one’s own life”.

One of the highlights of the ministry presentations was a dance performed by a disabled couple on wheelchairs.

Photo by Lin Yi-ying

 
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Taiwan Church News
3190 Edition
April 15-21, 2013
General Assembly News

PCT General Assembly 58th Annual Convention highlights evangelism and social welfare

Reported by Chen Wei-chien

Written by Lydia Ma

The 58th PCT General Assembly Annual Convention took place last week from April 9-12, 2013, at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei. The highlights of this year’s convention were the installation of Rev. Hsu Jung-fong as the new Moderator and the installation of Rev. Lyim Hong-tiong as the new General Secretary.

The opening ceremony began with a worship service that included a sermon delivered by the current Moderator, Rev. Pusin Tali, on the theme “Helping One Another and Building the Body of Christ”. This service also set aside some time to pay respects to foreign missionaries who had passed away in the past year, including Ms. Margaret Barclay, Rev. Harry Daniel Beeby and Rev. Carl Schroeder.

Another highlight of the convention was to recognize the wonderful work of current missionaries and pastors, such as Rev. Jonah Chang and Mrs. Judith Estell. Chang is a Taiwanese minister of the United Methodist Church in the USA. He has been very helpful in promoting closer relations between US and Taiwanese churches. He was also instrumental in helping the World Council of Churches publish an English biography on Rev. Shoki Coe. Judith Estell has been a missionary in Taiwan for the past 42 years and she will be retiring later this year.

One important segment at this year’s convention was the signing of partnership agreements with two churches – one from Burma and the other from Japan. Rev. Thla Lap, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Burma, represented his church in the signing agreement. Rev. Watanabe Kiyoshi, CEO of a Christian denomination in Japan for deaf people, represented his church in the signing agreement. Both pastors also spoke briefly at the assembly about their aspirations for this partnership. It is likely that collaboration in women and youths ministries will soon follow.

The farewell ceremony was held for the current General Secretary, Rev. Andrew Chang, on the 3rd day of the convention and this was followed by the installation ceremony of Rev. Lyim Hong-tiong as the new General Secretary. The new Moderator, Hsu Rong-feng, presented a gift to Chang to thank him for his years of dedication. Then, Hsu presided over the oath of office for Lyim. This segment of the convention concluded with an address from Lyim whereby he also introduced his new team of staff members.

Taiwan Church News interviewed the executive director of this year’s convention, Rev. Huang Che-yen, about the theme of this year’s convention and Huang said that it was Chang’s idea that the assembly would focus on introducing all the social welfare organizations supervised by the PCT’s Peace Foundation. “Besides social welfare services, we also want to extend Jesus’ love to others through our service,” he said. To highlight the PCT’s social welfare ministries, the litany used during the opening and closing ceremonies and the seminars during the convention revolved around the theme of service.

In related news, several PCT social service foundations set up booths just outside of the convention’s venue to promote their ministries and raise funds. Items such as lily flowers and organic purple rice grown in indigenous reservations could be bought just outside of Mackay Hospital. According to the Indigenous Ministry Committee’s Agricultural Development Center, these products are organic and dependable. The center hopes that parishioners can recommend these products to their families and friends and thus support indigenous peoples.

The new General Secretary and his new team of program secretaries are introduced.

Photo by Chen Wei-chien

 

 


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