Koreans are spiritually sensitive people, which is the reason there are so many new religions appearing within the culture. Trying to keep the different denominations from splitting up and forming break-away churches is the constant concern of the Protestant Church. One break-away church given much publicity in the Catholic Press recently is the Shinchonji, Church of Jesus, Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ).
(shin:new, chon:heaven, ji: earth), meaning a new heaven and earth, was
started in the 1980s by a pastor, now chairman, of the church, Lee
Man-hee. He was born in 1931 and has been associated with the
apocalyptic religions of Korea up until he started his own. The teaching
of the church, put simply, centers around the belief that once there
are 144,000 believers in the world the end will come, and only they will
be saved. (Apparently, the above fact is not correct. One of the members of the Church has made this clear in his comment. I am sorry for the mistake.)
Peace Weekly article tells the story of a woman who listened to her
godmother and joined one of these Scripture groups conducted by
Shinchonji. She had no idea that it was the Shinchonji Church and was
greatly moved by what she heard. The courses were extremely interesting;
parables and the importance of symbols were stressed in the teaching.
She enjoyed the classes but just before she was to become a member of
the Church, realizing it was not Catholic, she left. She said she was
pleasantly addicted to what she had heard, and after she left no longer
enjoyed listening to the sermons in the Catholic Church. Her life was
now different, she said; everything was all mixed up. Since it was her
godmother who introduced her to Shinchonji, she now has difficulty
believing anyone. To get help she went to a group the Protestant Church
has set up to give counseling to those leaving these cult-like groups.
bishops and the dioceses have told the Christians to beware of those
who say the bishops and priests approve of these cult teachings, and not
to attend their classes. The Catholic Church has not been as infected
as some of the other Churches, but these break-away churches do a good
job of teaching, having charismatic leaders who are causing a great deal
of havoc, not only in religious circles but within society.
is not seen sympathetically by many in society because of the
credulity, fraud, hypocrisy, lunacy and ignorance that they see related
to things religious. This attitude is easily understood and puts a
burden on Christians in our society. It's helpful to remember the words
of St. Peter: "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks
you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and
reverence..." (1 Peter 3:15).