The "Eastern Lightning"
Sect: A Recent Threat to the Church in China
(ANS) In recent years many heretical sect have appeared all
over China, such as the "Spirit Spirit" sect, the
"Yellers", and the "Established King"
sect, among others. Because many believers in rural areas
have a low educational level and a limited understanding of
the faith, these sects have at times been able to attract
a limited following in certain rural areas. However, up until
now, none of these sects have really managed to thrive or
develop in any extensive way. November's issue of Tian Feng,
the magazine of the Chinese church, reports that recently
a new sect has been spreading rapidly, especially in the North
of China. This sect differs from others in that it has a fully-developed
theory and system of beliefs and also various tools necessary
for propagation purposes, such as literature
and evangelists. The sect has thus managed to spread more
rapidly than other sects in recent times and continues to
operate on a wide scale. As a warning to believers, November's
Tian Feng gives details of the sect and also some personal
accounts of encounters with sect members.
The "Eastern Lightning" sect takes
its name from Matthew 24:27: "For the Son of Man will
come like lightning which flashes across the whole sky from
the east to the west." According to Wan Ge, writing in
Tian Feng, the group claims that history can be divided in
to three stages: the first stage was the era of the Law, when
God took the name of Jehovah. The second was the era of Grace,
when God came down to earth in male form in Israel and spoke
Hebrew, taking the name Jesus. The sect claims that now God
has returned again to earth in the East, in China, speaking
Mandarin Chinese and this time in female form, taking the
name of Lightning. According to Wan Ge, the sect members use
Genesis 1:27 to explain that it is natural for God to be female
at the second coming since "God created human beings,
making them to be like himself. He created them male and female."
The sect claims that this second coming of God to earth closes
the period of Grace and ushers in a new period of the Kingdom,
when judgment and sentencing will begin.
Whilst using and distorting Scripture to justify
their beliefs, sect members also claim that the second coming
of this "female Christ" renders all previous beliefs
and writings about God invalid. The group therefore attacks
the Bible and forbids its members from studying Scripture.
Instead, Wan Ge mentions that the sect has produced its own
"Bible", a 600-page volume entitled "Lightning
From The East". The book contains no indication of publishing
house, publishing number or author.
As well as attacking the Bible, the sect denies
the Trinity, claiming there is no "Father" and no
"Holy Spirit", only Jesus, who has now come down
in female form to the East and calls herself "Lightning".
The group claims that the Bible and the idea of the Trinity
have now been "revealed" by this new female Christ
as the imagination of human beings and not of God. On the
one hand they interpret the Bible out of context and in order
to justify their beliefs yet, on the other hand, they slander
the Bible and proclaim it to be the product of people's imagination,
saying that "Believing in the Bible is like believing
in rumours" and "Those who uphold the concepts in
the Bible are to be seen as God's class enemies." Since
the group does not believe in the authority of the Bible or
the validity of Christ's first coming, they also oppose such
notions as salvation through the cross and even discourage
their members from praying.
Wan Ge explains that the sect regularly sends
out its "evangelists" to different areas. These
groups target evangelists, preachers and church workers in
each area so that they might convert these people, who often
already enjoy a good reputation in their churches, and thus
through their converts they can reach whole congregations
more easily. According to Wan Ge, the sect has large appeal
because its members are very eloquent and know how to play
on believers' eagerness for the Lord's return, asking such
questions as "The Lord has already returned, do you want
to see him?" One "evangelist" of the sect who
visited Lueyang in Shaanxi Province even bought a tape with
her saying that the female Christ had recorded her words on
to the tape!
Members of the sect start their exchanges reasonably,
says Wan Ge, claiming that when Jesus was on earth and talked
of future events he also suffered much resistance, persecution
and accusation, as did the Old Testament prophets when they
prophesied about the Messiah. Then, the members of the sect
suddenly change their tack and try to persuade their listeners
not to resist the idea that the Lord has already come down
again. When people do try to argue, the "evangelists"
of the sect either try to drown out other people's voices
with their arguments or else resort to crude insults to silence
As with other sects, Tian Feng urges believers
throughout China to resist this sect through regular Bible
study and prayer, so that believers can refute the sect's
claims through a firm knowledge of Biblical truths.