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Eastern Lightning

Often, when we are searching for something, we are attracted to it by title. For example: a book or television series or movie. Some Christians are even attracted to churches because of their name. So, if I referred to a church known as the Church of Almighty God, you might think it sounds like a decent church. Well, not so. Let me explain.

The Church of Almighty God is a secretive movement that started in China in 1991. Although it has been banned by the Chinese Communist Party for its anti-government stance, it continues to grow and is considered an influential doomsday cult. The Church of Almighty God is also known as Eastern Lightning, a name based on Matthew 24:27: For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

The group believes that God has again become incarnate, this time as a Chinese woman named Yang Xiangbin, who calls herself “Lightning Deng.” Although Yang is the figurehead of the movement, the true leader is her lover, Zhao Weishan, the man who first began proclaiming that Yang was divine.

In 2000, Weishan and Yang moved to the United States where they currently oversee operations of the group from New York City. Yang is often called “Christ of the last days” and “Almighty God” in the belief that she is the second coming of Christ, here to finish the work of God. In a further confusing mix of theology, the group teaches that we are now in the Kingdom Age and that God is currently carrying out his Great White Throne Judgement. They claim that all Christian denominations and sects have lost the Holy Spirit and His power is now concentrated in the Church of Almighty God.

The Church of Almighty God denies the Trinity, instead teaching a form of modalism. A modalist views God as one Person instead of three Persons in one and believes that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are simply different modes or forms of the same Divine Person. Therefore, according to modalists, God can switch between each of those three forms. Of course, we know that the Bible presents God as one but then speaks of three distinct entities: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we believe that God exists in three co-eternal, co-equal Persons.

According to the teaching of the Church of Almighty God, Jesus forgave mankind’s sin in the Age of Grace but His salvation was not complete, because the sin nature remained in mankind. Now, they believe, in the Age of the Kingdom, through the teaching of the Christ of last days, mankind can finally be delivered from sin and made fully clean.

There are disturbing reports of the group using sexual seduction, kidnapping, bribes, brainwashing and blackmail to coerce new members into the group and keep them there. The group especially targets housewives, the poor and house churches in China, first befriending believers and then slowly trying to convince them that Yang is God incarnate. In 2002, Eastern Lightning members allegedly kidnapped 34 leaders of an underground Christian network (the China Gospel Fellowship) and then held them captive for two months. In August 2014, five members of Eastern Lightning went on trial for the murder of a 37-year-old woman in a restaurant because she refused to join their group.

While the group pays lip-service to the sacrifice of Jesus, they believe that true and final salvation is only available through adherence to their teaching. In this way, Jesus’ sacrifice is denigrated and His work on the cross considered powerless to fully save. It is a dangerous group that people are advised to stay well away from. It has all the hallmarks of a cult and due to its denial of the sufficiency of Scripture, is also peddling lies using the name of God.

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We have to be so careful who we believe and honour. Only our Heavenly Father.

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