When modern day Christians hear the word “persecution” they often think of nations that oppress Christians by outlawing the faith. Today Christianity is not outlawed by most nations and especially here in America where we have religious freedom. Our government may not always make rulings that are helpful to Christianity but there is a form of persecution far more severe than what most modern day Christians think of in America. Remember that the persecution of Jesus did not come in the form of laws. It wasn’t illegal to teach like Jesus did which is why King Herod and Pontius Pilot did not find him guilty. Persecution originally came from the religious leaders who falsely labeled our earliest church “Heresy” and false doctrine. The Jewish leaders could not defeat Jesus’ teaching so instead they spread false rumors about him among the people using the 3 most powerful rumors — sex, money, and sin, “He eats and drinks with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners.” These rumors spread like wildfire and even affected those closest to Jesus. Remember that Judas betrayed Jesus immediately after seeing a woman break open an expensive bottle of perfume over Jesus’ feet. Perfume like this was customarily saved for one’s wedding day. The bible does not say it directly, but it is clear that Judas Iscariot misunderstood Jesus and was deeply affected by the negative image that the pharisies had instilled in his mind. It was only then that he betrayed Jesus.
What makes Providence Church a “Cult”?
Today too in America the situation is similar. It’s not illegal to practice your faith, but the most severe persecution comes through labeling each other as cults, spreading of false rumors, and proppigating that negative image through widespread subjective media. The word “Cult” is an accusation that rapidly spreads like an infectious disease whether it is founded on truth or not.
False Rumor #1 Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok is a self proclaimed messiah.
This rumor is absolutely false and unfounded. The fouding pastor of Providence church, Joshua Jung makes it clear in his sermons that Jesus is the one and only begotten son of God, one of the Trinity, and no other person can claim to be his physical body. Here are two such examples.
Excerpt from the message titled, “Only God and Jesus is(are) the Lord(s) and can be the Lord(s).”
given by Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok on December 7th 2008.
Translation by Ho Myung Lee
When I was in the mountains the Lord came and taught me about the second coming. I asked the Lord about how there are so many people in the world who claim to be the Lord of Second Coming and that many people follow them. He said, “How can they claim to be me when they aren’t Jesus? Why do you pay attention to such nonsense? If someone other then yourself claimed to be you, would you acknowledge them? Someone else can’t even be a 2nd version of you. In the same way, I am the Lord of First Coming and I am the Lord of Second Coming,” he said.
Because the Lord told me this, I realized that there is something wrong with everyone in the world who claim to be the Lord of Second Coming, understood the Lord clearly, and came to understand that the Lord will come like that in the spirit in the Second Coming. The bible says that the Lord will come again. If we live according to His Words, then we become his bodies and become the people that teacher Paul talked about.
Excerpt from the message titled, “Jesus, the One and Only Begotten Son”
given by Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok on February 22, 2009.
Translation by Ho Myung Lee
“He [Jesus] is not an only Son in terms of his mission. He is the son of God, one and only Son. Abraham and Moses can be considered the only sons in terms of their missions. That is why people consider Jesus in the same way. However, Jesus is the one and only Son who actually came from God’s side. Only Jesus is the messiah of the world and the one and only Son of God.”
False Rumor #2 Providence Church is a Cult.
Pastor Joshua Jung lives serving only Jesus and that is why he is able to connect to Jesus and receive the Lord’s words. As we are told to do in Mathew 22:37 Joshua Jung lives serving the Lord with all his heart, will, and life. In the past some have accused him of teaching things that are contrary to the bible or different from most Christian teachings, but if you look at his sermons you’ll see that we teach all the same core doctrines. The difference is that Providence places a strong emphasis on preparing and making oneself ready for the Second Coming by raising the level of faith from being children of God to living a life of faith as the Bride of Christ. This philosophy is not just conceptual but takes form in the way we live our every day life of faith. For example, most Providence churches hold pre-dawn services as a way of putting Jesus first in our daily lives.
Our churches are organized differently than some modern Christian churches in that our church is organized around and centered on the sermons. In any typical Christian church you have a pastor who handles the administration, deals with each member, and delivers a sermon each week. Our church is no different except that we do not leave the contents of the sermon up to each pastor at each location. Our churches allow the local pastors to deal with local issues but the Word is provided to every church by Pastor Joshua. Our teacher, Pastor Joshua spends most of his time focusing on Jesus and what sermon Jesus would like to be delivered and then he writes down as Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit inspire him. He prays for hours every week to receive this very spiritual word. Then all of the churches deliver that sermon and take action centering on Jesus’ word for that week. In this way our church functions in a way that is more similar to the Roman Catholic church which follows the directions of the Pope or multi-campus Christian churches which all feature the same video sermon by one preaching pastor. By centering on these words from the Heavens all Providence churches in 50 different nations are able to move in harmony united with and taking action according to the guidance and inspiration of the Lord Jesus Christ each week.
Will you endure persecution, or will you be the one who persecutes?
People followed the apostles because they preached Jesus’ words so deeply. People could feel Jesus through them because they knew Jesus best. And like Jesus they walked down the most difficult of paths. The world condemned them as criminals. We hold them up as our heroes but they were considered heretics by the religious leaders of their time. The question is in these last days, will we be like those heroes we uphold or will we join the masses in persecution of those God works through today?
In the Roman empire Christianity was an outlawed religion for its first 400 years of existence. We should not forget our history. We also should not forget the atrocious crimes we committed against humanity once Christianity became the state religion. In the various different Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition alone “Christians” massacred thousands claiming that to hate and kill was the righteous thing to do. Christianity became no different than Saul who stood by and gave his consent as our church’s earliest ancestors were martyred as heretics. He had the support of the religious leaders of what was considered then God’s chosen religion.
Should we forget our own Salem witch trials where we sentenced innocent members of the church to death based on the accusations made by a small group of young people? Labeling someone, “Cult” is an easy mistake to make, but a very painful mistake that leaves unrepairable damage. It was this kind of thinking that lead to our savior’s crucifixion, so if we love Him and consider ourselves his followers we should not listen to such accusations or so readily use labels like, “Cult” against our own brothers.
the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
Even our American ancestors, the pilgrims left Europe because of extreme persecution. Shall we now turn on our history and make the same mistake as those in the past? Will we make the same mistake and label every group that breaks away from tradition as cult or heresy? Instead we should repent and make ourselves ready for our Lord’s second coming. Let him find us loving our brothers and sisters just as he commanded us.
To learn more, please visit our related blog posts that addresses the controversies that surround Providence and Pastor Jung Myung Seok.