The Second Coming Christ Controversy
The Second Coming Christ Controversy
The good news was they had a buyer.
Glorieta Conference Center, owned by the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay Christian Resources, is one of the largest and best-known Christian conference facilities in the country, sitting on 2,100 acres near Santa Fe, New Mexico. But for 24 of the last 25 years it has drained money from the organization.
"There's just not a demand for the kinds of things that we do and used to do at Glorieta," said LifeWay spokesman Marty King. So, last September, LifeWay's trustees decided to investigate selling the campus. The plan was to sell to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico for the nominal price of $1. However, the convention said the cost of upgrading Glorieta and potential environmental liability made acquisition unattractive.
Then came an offer from San Francisco–based Olivet University. (The school has no connection to Illinois-based Olivet Nazarene University.) The school, founded by Korean pastor David Jang in 1992, has several affiliate ministries and Internet businesses that reportedly helped it to raise enough funds to buy and run the Glorieta campus.
The bad news for LifeWay was that 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 'Second Coming Christ'
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.