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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 people.

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.

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