Apologetics Index

Creciendo en Gracia / Growing in Grace / Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda

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Growing in Grace International Ministry

Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace International Ministry) is a movement of churches headquartered in Miami, Florida. It has churches in 24 countries – mostly in Latin America, but also in the US and Canada.

The group is organized around José Luis De Jesus Miranda, a 59-year-old Puerto Rican man with impish charm and a taste for indulgence. Some defectors, like Regina Albarracin — a Pembroke Pines woman whose son remains a member — liken him to a cult leader. Devotees call him Jesus Christ and lavish him with gifts and money. More than 400 followers have set up businesses that funnel 20 to 80 percent of their profits into the ministry. Others donate cars, homes, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash and services.

De Jesus’s followers believe they are God’s true chosen people and call their children the “super race.” They are also convinced other churches peddle deceit and spread poverty, war, and disease. But while this antipathy dates back years, only recently have they begun acting on it by disrupting religious events.

Over the past five months, Creciendo en Gracia parishioners have held at least 40 protests in more than a dozen countries. And De Jesus says this is just the beginning. “My purpose,” he explains, “is to close down every church so the true church can begin. You could say I’m leading the greatest reformation that has ever happened.”
– Source: Jesus Redux, Miami New Times, USA, Feb. 9, 2006

Creciendo en Gracia’s teachings mark the movement as, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Sociologically, the movement has cultic elements as well. [See: Sociological vs. theological definitions of the term ‘cult’]

Free To Indulge In Sin

De Jesus teaches that the Devil has been destroyed, and that Hell does not exist. Nevertheless, he claims there are two classes of people: those who reject his message and are therefore predestined, and those who accept his word as true. The latter are saved and can not lose their salvation. Hence they are allowed to indulge in sin.

Reincarnation of Paul? El Otro? Jesus Christ?

De Jesus’s gospel flows from an experience he had in December 1976. After a hardscrabble youth in Puerto Rico, where he often stole to feed his heroin habit, he moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, and ran a Bible-based treatment center for drug-addicted street toughs. But soon he lost faith in conventional churches. “I was getting tired of all the legalism and hypocrisy,” he explains. “I kept thinking, Christianity should be something better.”

Then one frosty December night, he says he awoke to find himself flanked by two brawny men with stern expressions who told him: “The King of Kings is coming to anoint you.” Before he knew it, he was standing in a luminous marble corridor where trumpets blared and a spectral figure crept toward him. Then the apparition merged with him, and he began to hear a man’s voice in his head.

“He said, ‘Open your Bible,'” De Jesus recalls. “So I opened to Romans 6. And he said, ‘Read that … that means you’re dead to sin; sin can’t reign in your life.'” The experience left De Jesus transformed. “Ever since that day, I can’t learn from anybody — and I mean no one,” he says. He now believes that was the night of Christ’s second coming.

In the years that followed, the voice continued to offer new revelations. Then in 1986 it said, “Move to Miami. There you’ll have a bridge to all nations.” So at age 40, De Jesus, his then-wife Nydia, and their five children came to the Magic City, where he secured a fifteen-minute daily slot on WVCG-AM (1080) and began preaching his controversial message.

Before long, other ministers were railing against him from their radio pulpits. And this worked to his advantage. After he had been on the air three months, De Jesus rented a Hialeah warehouse, filled it with 300 chairs, and invited listeners for a weekend seminar. To his surprise, he says, 500 people turned up. “Just like that,” De Jesus marvels. “Creciendo en Gracia was born.”

In the years that followed, the church increasingly revolved around De Jesus. Then in 1998 he claimed to be the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. The following year he proclaimed himself “El Otro” — a demigod who would lay the foundation for the Lord’s return. Finally in 2004 he named himself Jesus Christ and the ultimate authority on the gospel. Today no one but him — and his right-hand man, Carlos Cestero — are allowed to preach. And De Jesus always dictates the message. Instead of regular sermons, most followers around the world watch videos or simulcasts of these men projected on a screen behind the pulpit.
– Source: Jesus Redux, Miami New Times, USA, Feb. 9, 2006

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First published (or major update) on Saturday, July 22, 2006.
Last updated on August 25, 2007.

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