David Jang

David Jang has become an increasingly influential figure in Asian and now American evangelicalism, says Christianity Today in the introduction to an August, 2012 investigative report.

He and his followers have founded media outlets (e.g. The Christian Post and the International Business Times — whose parent company owns and operates Newsweek magazine) — and Olivet University, a San Francisco-based Christian college and are key influencers in the World Evangelical Alliance.

Many people say Jang leads a group that has encouraged the belief that he’s the ‘Second Coming Christ.’ Reportedly Jang specifically denied ever teaching this.

Critics in Korea, Japan, and China say he was at one time involved in Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Some former members say that they have heard teachings that bore similarities to the teachings of Sun Myung Moon — that Jesus’ work was left unfinished and in need of another “Christ” to complete it.

In its investigative report Christianity Today says

No one CT talked to for this story claimed that the “history lessons” that allegedly encourage the belief that Jang is the “Second Coming Christ” were ever taught in Olivet classrooms, or that Apostolos or Young Disciples members have encouraged the belief among its members in recent years.

Yet questions and concerns remain regarding Jang and his organizations.

In the Summer of 2013, Olivet opened a campus in Wingdale, NY, 65 miles north of New York City.

In an article about the campus, the New York Times made note of the controversies, and wrote

Olivet officials deny any connection with the Unification Church.

Olivet leaders said that the article had misrepresented Dr. Jang and the college, and that Christianity Today was envious of the success of a rival Web site, the Christian Post, which was started by alumni of Olivet. Olivet’s president, Tracy Davis, denied that Mr. Jang had ever told anyone he was a messianic figure.

“People somehow insinuated that though no one explicitly told them,” she said.

Ms. Davis and Olivet’s communications director, Anna Oh, said Dr. Jang never taught at the Unification Church, though; they said that Sun Hwa Theological Seminary was a Korean Methodist school where he taught Christian systematic theology, not Unification theology, and it was bought by the Unification Church.

“Christianity Today is a respected holder of tradition, and we were surprised that we were targeted by them,” Ms Davis said. “It was not based on theological merit.”

Dr. Jang did not respond to a request for comment. Christianity Today says it stands by its story.
– Source: >Amid Questions, Town Welcomes a New College, New York Times, Oct. 4, 2013

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  • The Second Coming Christ Controversyoffsite By Ted Olsen and Ken Smith. An investigative report published by Christianity Today (CT), September 2012, Vol. 56, No. 8. Ted Olsen is CT’s managing editor, news and online journalism. Ken Smith, an independent journalist based in Washington State, has been investigating David Jang on his blog, Confessions of a Would-Be Theologian

    […] Jang is a controversial figure who, according to credible reports, has been hailed by some of his followers as the “Second Coming Christ.”

    Over the last five years, ministries and organizations founded by or connected to Jang have gained influence in American and global evangelical ministries, including the World Evangelical Alliance. Yet in the same period, a number of mainstream Christian organizations in Korea and China have severed relationships with his affiliated organizations after investigating such claims and finding them credible. Other groups have reconfirmed their ties after their investigations cleared him. Now, as Jang’s businesses and ministries have sought greater recognition and expansion in the United States, Christian leaders and ministries here are asking similar questions about Jang, his affiliated organizations, and their theology.

    The details of Jang’s early life are in question, and multiple efforts to contact him for this story’s publication were unsuccessful.

    Critics in Korea, Japan, and China say he was involved in Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. They point to his appearance in a 1989 student handbook for Moon’s Sung Hwa Theological Seminary as an assistant professor of theology, teaching systematic theology and Unification theology. They also cite a 2002 history of Sun Moon University praising him for helping to fund the school.

    Jang’s defenders, on the other hand, say the critics have fabricated evidence and that Jang merely joined an anti-Communist club that also included Unification Church members.

    News N Joy, a Korean Christian website, reported in 2004 that it had four conversations with Jang about his career in the Unification Church after Jang objected to one of the site’s articles. In the interview, Jang said the description in the Sun Moon University history book was inaccurate, but acknowledged that he had worked for the school until 1995 (he did not officially resign until 1998). “He explained that the reason he was involved in Sun Moon University was to teach orthodox theology to Unification Church members,” the site reported. “In addition, he added that he led a lot of deluded people to the way of truth.”

    Both sides agree that Jang has long had more orthodox ties. According to a résumé Jang submitted to the Christian Council of Korea, he received his M.Div. from Hanshin University in 1990 and a Ph.D. from Dankook University in 1992. That same year, he was ordained as a Korean Presbyterian minister, and by 1999 he was moderator of the Hang Dong Presbytery.

    But according to several sources with experience in Jang-associated organizations and communities, many members of the movement believed that the key event in Jang’s early missionary endeavors is not in his résumé—nor, indeed, in any written source. It was believed, these sources said, that in or around 1992, early follower Borah Lin told Jang that she believed he was the “Second Coming Christ”—not Jesus Christ himself, but rather a new messianic figure that would complete Jesus’ earthly mission. According to several former members, Lin became an important spiritual figure in Jang’s closest circles.

  • The Second Coming Christ Controversy: More Leaders Speak Outoffsite Ted Olsen and Ken Smith, Christianity Today, Sep. 12, 2012: “David Jang’s emissaries to Singapore speak for the first time on why they believed he was a new Christ, why they changed their minds, and how his organization operates.”

    As the Southeast Asia representative for David Jang’s organizations—pastor of his churches, proprietor of his businesses, and editor of his Christian news website—Edmond Chua believed that Jang was a new Christ, a messianic figure establishing the kingdom of God on earth. […]

    He doesn’t believe it anymore—nor does his teacher, Susan. The two married on David Jang’s birthday, October 30, 2006—the 14th anniversary of the founding of Jang’s movement—along with 69 other couples, Susan said. Like most of the other couples, the Chuas’ marriage was arranged by the movement’s leaders.

  • Christian Media Battle Over Controversial Figureoffsite by Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, Religion Dispatches, Sep. 30, 2012.

    In the relatively calm seas of the Christian media, a storm has erupted between Christianity Today, arguably the mouthpiece of contemporary American evangelicalism, and the Christian Post, a smaller competitor. At the center of the storm is David Jang, a popular preacher in East Asia but a relatively unknown figure in the United States, who has ties to the late Rev. Moon’s Unification Church and, according to sources in a recent Christianity Today article, may have led his followers to conclude that he is a “Second Coming Christ.” […]

    [Ted Olsen and Ken Smith] investigated claims that members of David Jang’s ministries were encouraged to believe that Jang embodies a “Second Coming Christ,” an act of blasphemy for Christians. In addition to drawing further ties between Jang and Rev. Moon, who famously declared himself the messiah, this recent controversy hits close to home for evangelicals because of Jang’s ties to many parachurch organizations with seemingly orthodox beliefs.

    While Olsen and Smith are careful to cite sources who both confirm and deny that members are led to believe that Jang is the second coming of Christ, the article leaves the reader with the sense that, at least for a time, many of Jang’s followers did believe it.

    Additionally, the CT article points out that the connections between Jang and the Unification Church go beyond surface similarities, noting that Jang taught at a UC seminary for 9 years (1989-1998), though in later interviews Jang claimed to be infiltrating the seminary with orthodox theology.

    With Jang’s credibility called into question, along with affiliated ministries like Olivet University in San Francisco, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the Christian Post, a number of these affiliates went on the defensive.

    No response was more immediate, or more aggressive, than that of the Christian Post.

    See Also
    arrow The Christian Post’s Troubling Attacks on Critics of David Jangoffsite A quick overview of the controversy, by Christian blogger Richard Bartholomew.

    arrow Strange Things Afoot in Christian Mediaoffsite In-depth, multi-part analysis by Timoythy Dalrymple, at his Philosophical Fragments blog.


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This post was last updated: Jan. 2, 2015