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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Christianity Today’s Story on “Second Coming Christ”

A couple weeks ago I received a mass email from Christianity Today highlighting a news story on David Jang and “The Second Coming Christ Controversy”, as the article was called. I clicked to the story and saw that it was very lengthy and I did not have time to read it. Today, the print edition, September 2012, arrived in the mail. If you have any interest at all in global Christianity, or even just American evangelicalism, you have to read the story. It is a major piece of investigative journalism by Ted Olsen and Ken Smith of a scope that I for one cannot recall in the pages of Christianity Today. It represents a major commitment of time, money and page space by Christianity Today to tell a story that raises profound questions about the doctrinal integrity of major evangelical institutions, including The Christian Post, the World Evangelical Alliance and the Southern Baptist Denomination. It is a very difficult story to summarize, but at its most basic point the article shows that “an increasingly influential figure in Asian and now American evangelicalism”, David Jang, has for years been the subject of profound questions about whether or not he believes himself to be a “Second Coming Christ”---“not Jesus Christ himself, but rather a new messianic figure that would complete Jesus’ earthly mission.” Even for people like myself who have been raising questions about the doctrinal coherence of global evangelicalism, the story is shocking and the implications for major gatekeepers of American evangelicalism, such as Richard Land and Geoff Tunnicliffe, sobering. It is not surprising, then, that The Christian Post and other institutions and individuals mentioned in the story are pushing back against the article's claims with a vehemence seldom directed at Christianity Today. While the discourse has remained civil, and Post editors have met face-to-face with CT editors, the charges and counter-charges are serious, including reports that the coauthor of the story, Ken Smith, has major ethical violations in his history. CT's story is here, the Post's response is here. 

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