Churches, groups, organizations, websites, and ministries affiliated with Shincheonji go by many names, and have occasionally changed their names especially to either make it more difficult for them to be exposed as being part of SCJ or once people find out those churches, groups, organizations, websites, and/or ministries they used to be part of are affiliated with SCJ. In my case, I was never a member of SCJ, but I did study with a campus ministry in the San Francisco Bay Area via Zoom whose name I didn't find out until October 2020, when I found out the group went by Northern California Missions, or NorCal Missions (NCM), through an email I received that said I was waitlisted for a large class around late September, early October 2020. I also never knew what church or denomination NCM was affiliated with, and I was told by NCM members that it was nondenominational and not connected to any church. After I left NCM in December 2020, I did research on SCJ and compared what I learned while studying with NCM with what I found out about SCJ's teachings, and I learned that NCM was in fact affiliated with SCJ. I also found out in my research on SCJ and NorCal Missions after leaving the campus ministry that they went by other names including Ignite Ministries and Christians of NorCal before changing it to NorCal Missions around late September, early October 2020. I also found out that SCJ in the SF Bay Area also runs a website called Bible Study For All and they have a church that's currently called the San Francisco Zion Church. If you were a member of SCJ or at least studied the Bible with SCJ without becoming an official member, do you remember the names of any SCJ-affiliated church, group, organization, website, and ministry that you attended, studied the Bible with, or were part of?
The terms Shincheonji uses as loaded language are found in the Bible. Examples are words such as "wheat", "weeds", "food at the proper time". Is it correct to say that people use loaded language to give a word/phrase a different meaning from what is intended in the Bible; whereas the person speaking Christian jargon is simply saying it for what the Bible intends for it to mean?
I was raised Catholic by my parents and remained in the Catholic Church until 2016, when I fell away and lived as an unbeliever until early 2019. I have been a seeker and follower of Christ without being part of any denomination since 2019, and ever since then I have been looking for a church and a Bible study group to commit to, based on where they'll help me grow in my faith in God together with other believers in Christ and where there is biblically sound doctrine. I have prayed to find such a church and Bible study group ever since, although I have attended at least 7 Protestant churches for Sunday worship service, several campus ministries and church-based groups for Bible study and fellowship with other believers in Christ, and one Catholic charismatic event and Mass, and I have been slowly understanding more of God's Word ever since I started reading more of it, by myself and with other believers in Christ. I had been slowly grown in my faith in God and I have a lot to go in my spiritual journey, although now I'm experiencing a new spiritual crisis that began in part because of what I experienced in the Shincheonji group I studied the Bible with as well as with another cult-affiliated Bible study group. Around early 2020, when the COVID pandemic hit the United States and the first restrictions were put in place, I received a follow request on Instagram from two people who I never met in person, one of them who would later invite me to a Bible study group, around early June. When that person invited me to her Bible study group, we briefly talked about our spiritual journeys and then we met through video chat, and after the video chat we exchanged our contact information. She introduced me to a teacher who would give me introductory Bible lessons through Zoom, and she joined in the lessons that I had with that teacher. The introductory lessons were relatively short and lasted for a few days, and we went over various things like the meanings of "holy," "Bible," and some other words and other things such as "history, moral teachings, prophecy, and fulfillment" and obedience. I have read a few of the Bible verses and passages they went over in the introductory lessons before, but the rest of verses and passages were all those I never read before. The intro lessons lasted only for a few days, but because I thought that they were helping me understand the Bible more, I decided to sign up for the small class lessons after the intro lessons were over at the end of June. The intro lessons were also the first time where I had to clap my hands for God, because the instructor told me that we were to do it to give praise and thanks to God. This would be in every small and large class, although I never joined a large class. The small classes began in July were two days a week and everyone had to attend class, even if the classes conflict with people's schedules including work or class schedules or if one is sick. Whenever I was late to the small class lesson, I got a text or a phone call from the teacher who gave me the intro lesson and he told me to get to class on time. I expected the teacher who gave me the intro lessons to give the small class lessons and the recruiter who invited me to the Bible study group to be in the small class, as they were initially nice to me and talked to me as if they wanted to be friends with me, but they weren't in the small class. Another teacher taught the class that I signed up for. All small classes, like every other SCJ activity such as the intro lessons and the meetings with recruiters, were through Zoom or other video call platforms due to the COVID pandemic and restrictions, and they were supposed to last for 6 to 9 months. During the time I was in that small class, I learned about various parables, a majority of which I was already familiar with but never studied a lot of them in depth. The class also mentioned about some figurative language it called "the language of Heaven," meaning parables, and taught about various animals, objects, etc. that they taught had symbolism all throughout the Bible, as well as teaching that we had to learn and understand the parables in order to receive salvation, which is an unbiblical teaching I never really noticed nor thought about it during the time I was in the small class, until I looked at the notes I took in that class one month after I left that SCJ-affiliated Bible study group, after which I finally realized that SCJ was teaching false doctrines even in their introductory lessons and small class lessons, including the teaching that we must understand the parables to receive salvation. I learned through the introductory and small class lessons that typing up the notes and taking pictures of what the teachers drew and wrote on the board were forbidden, which I never noticed was a red flag until after I left the SCJ-affiliated campus ministry. Furthermore, everyone had to have a physical Bible and they could not use a computer or phone to read the Bible online or through an app, which is another possible red flag I didn't notice. Within the campus ministry I studied with, “hand clapping for God" at the end of each closing prayer was a ritual that everyone had to do. I never felt comfortable doing it whenever I'm not doing it from my heart and it's just because other people are doing it or because it's required or customary. I suspected no one who clapped their hands at the end of each Bible study was actually doing it to praise God. I also felt like every teacher who led lessons might have said empty prayers, but I'm not sure. Thankfully I only clapped my hands at the end of each introductory lesson, but didn’t do it at the end of each small class lesson when I knew it wasn't coming from my heart, as all the Bible lessons were done through Zoom. Throughout the summer I got at least two more follow requests on Instagram from people I never met in person and whose profiles suggested they were Christian. I accepted their requests and followed them back and they invited me to their Bible studies. They also met me through a video chat and I exchanged contact information with one of them. One of them even told me her Bible study would go over the entire Bible, just like the first recruiter told me. I also talked about my spiritual journey and how I was looking for a Bible study group. But they never got back to me when I told them I was interested in their Bible studies, which was strange. I tried to speak to all of the recruiters as well as the other members including the instructors to try to become friends with them, but I did not really have long conversations with most of them. I thought that I had a lot in common with one of them, who I spoke with more often and even did some activities with her online, but it all began to change after early October 2020, when everyone gradually talked less to me and then they all stopped talking to me after I left their group, which I found out in late September that it went by Northern California Missions, or NorCal Missions. Around late August 2020 I got called to work, and I could no longer join the small class because it conflicted with my work schedule. I asked the small class teacher if he could change the time of the class or let me make up the class, but he declined and he asked me to ask my manager if he could change my schedule so I could keep attending the class. I originally thought about it, but I decided not to do what the teacher asked me to do. I felt it was weird that the teacher would ask me to ask my manager to change my work schedule so I could keep attending the class, but I hoped the Bible study group itself was not part of a cult. After I could no longer join the small class lessons I asked the teacher who taught me the intro lessons if I could sign up for another class and he said I could. He told me it was a large class, and two members of that Bible study group said that large classes require an interview plus signing up through a form and they're supposed to last for about a year and goes over more topics. About a week or two later I was interviewed by the same teacher who taught the small class, and we got to know each other a little bit more. I stated my own spiritual journey and the teacher seemed to listen at the time. I signed up for the large class, and I was even invited to a game night event that was two days before I got an email on whether or not I was accepted into the class. I participated in the game night and I also prayed to God that I could be accepted into the large class, but two days after the game night event, I got an email saying I was waitlisted because more people signed up for the large class than the maximum capacity. I was upset about it, especially since I wouldn't see anyone I met through Zoom before the game night event in the large group class, where all of them would be. When I received the email about the waitlist, I saw the name of the campus ministry in the email: Northern California Missions, or NorCal Missions (NCM). When I looked for NCM online I couldn't find it, which seemed to be suspicious to me because I knew that cults are generally secretive and usually delete their old websites if they have any, and I felt it was weird that NCM didn’t have a website or an Instagram or Facebook page. I also saw that the two people who invited me to their respective Bible study groups around late summer 2020 were also in the game night event, which later made me suspect they might have been NCM members. I asked someone from the campus ministry about whether or not they had a website and they told me they had one last year but scrapped it and plan on making a new website, and that they would tell me later once the website was made. That also made me have some suspicions about NCM, but I still hoped it wasn't part of a cult. After I was waitlisted, I asked one of the teachers if he could give me one-to-one lessons and he said yes, so within a few weeks after that he gave me some lessons. The person who first invited me to her Bible study group also asked me if I wanted to go over Bible verses with her by phone or by video chat, before and after I got the email from NCM, and I said yes. We never went over them by phone or through video chat, only through text. It was around September or October that the she began to teach me some false teachings and I thought she was just a new Christian in need of hearing the true gospel, so I shared some of the gospel with her and she seemed to agree with me, but when I asked her certain questions such as what she believed about salvation she didn't answer them. During mid-October, I was invited to two other Bible study groups through Instagram, after I received and accepted follow requests from some members of those two Bible study groups. I participated in their Bible studies but quickly left them. One of those Bible study groups was called Disciples Reaching and Evangelizing All Mankind (DREAM), which I actually checked out briefly in person by in spring 2019 but did not really attend any Bible study back then. I decided to check out the Zoom-based Bible study with DREAM during October 2020 after I was invited by one of the DREAM members. I heard that DREAM was a weird campus ministry because their church required baptism in order to become a Christian and to be saved, and I hoped that it was not part of a cult. I studied the Bible with three DREAM members, all of them male, and they made many promises to me such as helping me find a better job and to become a better Christian. That, along with telling me in an aggressive tone that there are some things such as wanting to get a girlfriend, that could hinder me from becoming a Christian, was a red flag, along with the DREAM members asking me to read through the Gospel of John one chapter a day and telling me they'd call me to ask me if I finished reading a chapter in the Gospel of John, was another red flag, although I agreed to read one chapter a day and I did. The lessons I went through were on seeking God, the Word of God, and discipleship. I was invited to a worship service and I checked it out for a few seconds. I logged off the Zoom call as it felt it was awkward for me to be on the Zoom call. During the lesson on discipleship, I heard some unbiblical teachings regarding salvation and how to be a Christian and I tried to share the Word of God with them, but the members of that group didn’t listen, and they in fact shut me down through the Zoom call especially since I pointed out that the teaching that one cannot be a Christian nor be saved until one has discipled people, given up things they viewed as a hindrance toward spiritual growth, and followed and obeyed all teachings of Jesus was in fact unbiblical. I shared the Word of God through text, and at first one of the DREAM members seemed to agree with me but then I saw that he was dishonest with me, especially since he, along with two other DREAM members, still wanted me back on the Zoom call with them. One of them also wanted me to have a Zoom call with him so he could give me answers to what I had told him and the other DREAM members, but I declined his offer. I peacefully ended my conversation and my Bible study with the DREAM members and left DREAM. When I did research on their campus ministry I found out they were part of a cult, called the International Christian Church (ICC), which I found out split from another one called the International Church of Christ (ICOC). I spoke with the NCM teacher about my experiences with DREAM when he began giving me one-to-one lessons, but he taught me some unbiblical teachings regarding salvation and faith, which confused me even more. He clearly had a misunderstanding about what salvation by God's grace through faith in Christ means, even when he showed me Ephesians 2:8-10, which teaches that God saves people through His grace through faith in Christ and is the one who enables people to do good works and obey Him, through the Holy Spirit, he mainly focused on Ephesians 2:10 but twisted the passage around to make it sound like the verse was teaching we must work our way to salvation. He assumed all Protestant churches taught "once saved always saved" where one can just say they believe in Jesus, say a prayer like a sinner's prayer, and believe they've been saved but have no real change in their lives that show that they have genuine faith in Christ and were saved by God through it, meaning they could be living in unrepentant sin but feel like they're licensed to sin freely. The teacher also focused on various passages in Hebrews 11 where it teaches that by faith various Old Testament people obeyed and did works, but he taught that the Old Testament people had faith because they acted upon their belief in God's promises, and used those passages to reinforce the teaching that faith is "knowledge of God's promises, belief in them, and acting upon that belief." I realized later that Shincheonji actually misinterprets Hebrews 11 to teach that it is by the actions of the Old Testament people that they had faith. I noticed that Shincheonji teachings on faith, works, obedience, grace, and salvation were very similar to the International Christian Church's teachings on such concepts, and were even similar to, yet different from, Catholic and Orthodox teachings on those concepts. The teacher gave me countless other passages and verses such as Matthew 22:1-14, which is the parable of the wedding feast where in the parable the person without the wedding clothes got kicked out from the feast, and Matthew 25:1-13, which is the parable of the ten virgins where in the parable five virgins prepared their lamps but the other five did not and were kicked out from the Kingdom of Heaven. The two parables were taught as showing that we must be prepared to enter God's kingdom and not hide talents or be sleeping, but the teacher never explained to me what the wedding clothes and the oil in their respective parables meant no matter how many times I tried to ask him what he believed they meant. I agree that we must be prepared for the second coming of Jesus and also to enter the God's kingdom when we die, but I realized after leaving NorCal Missions that Shincheonji clearly misinterprets those passages and almost every other passage and verse that the cult teaches about in its lessons, and that the oil and the wedding clothes mean something very different to SCJ as opposed to what the Bible teaches on those parables. The teacher also said that we can't be sure that we were truly saved or that we genuinely had faith in God, just like how the first recruiter told me before I began having the one-to-one lessons with the teacher, and told me that God judges everyone by their works and that even Christians will get condemned by Him if they haven't done His will, and at that time I couldn't really understand what the teacher was trying to teach me, but during the first time he gave me the lesson on salvation it sounded like he was teaching salvation by faith and works (which Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and even various pseudo-Christian cults like Jehovah's Witnesses, the International Church of Christ and its spinoff cult the International Christian Church, and other cults teach) or that he was teaching salvation by works. I tried to have a peaceful discussion about various concepts and beliefs and the Bible with the teacher, but it turned into a debate, and we would continue talking about it until he ended the lessons with me after he saw I could not accept any false doctrine he was teaching me. I tried to teach him the truth, but he didn't even listen to me, and wanted to give me the same lessons over again until I agreed with his campus ministry. He even gave me one lesson twice, the second time it was with two other students who I found out weeks after I left NorCal Missions that they were also Shincheonji members. During the lesson the teacher gave me with the two other students, I noticed that the two students sounded brainwashed because they agreed with everything the teacher told them, and I tried to speak up and tell about what I believed to everyone in the lesson, but they didn't really let me speak and have a discussion. I talked to the two students through text and at first they seemed open about discussing with me, but as I tried to teach them about salvation according to Scripture and what faith is according to Scripture, as well as why different denominations and churches could not agree about salvation, they tried to divert from the conversation by mentioning that the fulfillment of prophecies was missing from our discussion and asking me what I thought, as well as comparing the Catholic, Orthodox, and various Protestant views of salvation, faith, works, and grace to the disagreements between the Pharisees and Sadducees regarding resurrection to try to say that all Christian denominations are "wrong" on the issues of salvation, faith, works, and grace just like how the Pharisees and Sadducees were wrong on the resurrection. The two students never answered my texts when I shared the Word of God with them, even when I agreed with at least some of the things they were telling me, although at the time I spoke to them it seemed like we agreed with each other and I believed their group was teaching many biblical things. I tried to ask both him and another teacher questions about salvation, faith, works, obedience, and grace, and they didn't help me much, and they even assumed I wanted to argue or debate with them or even with God, which was never my intention. My original intention was to leave their campus ministry if I heard any major unbiblical teaching or if they had signs that they were part of a cult, but then I felt like God might have wanted me to share the truth with NCM members to see if they would listen or not, and if they didn't, then it would have been a sign for me to leave NCM. They refused to go over some topics, and one of them, the small class teacher, stopped responding to my questions despite answering some of them. The recruiter who first invited me to NCM and who I considered to be a friend of mine did not even want to go over Bible verses through the phone or video call with me nor even do any other activity with me, despite the fact that we only shared Bible verses and passages through text. I would only realize after I left NCM that she wasn't really listening to me when I shared verses and passages with her and shared the truth with her, especially since she believed in SCJ doctrines such as SCJ's teachings on faith and salvation and didn't really talk about what she thought when I shared the Word of God with her. However, she indirectly invited me to a fall revival seminar, which was also through Zoom. I went on the Zoom call for the revival seminar, where the main speaker was very charismatic. He had heavy emphasis on seeking God through His written Word with a humble heart, but I noticed that during the worship songs, the way that the people sang them was very bland, almost as if they weren't really singing praises to God. If that were the case, it would have been another warning sign that I was studying with a cult. The teachings in the seminar also seemed biblical and I didn't hear any major unbiblical doctrine, and later I realized that seminars were a way to get people to join the Shincheonji cult. I noticed that as I told everyone I met online from NorCal Missions about my confusions with both the false doctrines from DREAM and those of NorCal Missions, and as I tried to teach the truth from God's Word to almost everyone and tried to become friends with them, they all seemed to be less interested in being friends with me and less helpful and supportive of me, and they gradually talked less with me until I finally left NorCal Missions and then told everyone I could no longer study the Bible with them and said goodbye to them all. Then they all stopped responding to me, especially when I mentioned the Shincheonji cult and how NorCal Missions was very similar to SCJ. During my time I studied with NorCal Missions, several members told me the Bible was their standard and when I asked them about what they believed about salvation and other topics, either they said it wasn’t what they believed but rather what God said in Scripture, or they told me to separate between what they believe and what God says in Scripture, or they didn't respond at all. They also told me that faith consisted of “knowledge, belief, and action” when I spoke to them about what faith was according to Scripture. When I tried to explain to them about the whole salvation process, they didn’t really listen to me, and they didn't really seem to know that salvation itself is a very complex process. I thought that at least three members of NCM would listen to me more than the others who I shared the truth with, but I realized later they didn't listen to me either. After I left DREAM, I told the NCM teacher about my experiences with DREAM when he began giving me one-to-one lessons, but he taught me some unbiblical teachings regarding salvation and faith, which confused me even more. While I was confused by both DREAM and NCM, I told several people I know outside of DREAM and NorCal Missions about my experiences with the two groups, and they advised me to leave both DREAM and NorCal Missions, and they told me those two groups were either cults or affiliated with cults. A few people even mentioned to me about the SCJ cult before and after I left NCM, and after I left NCM I started noticing that NCM was very much like SCJ. With further research on SCJ after I left NCM, I realized that NCM was in fact affiliated with SCJ. During my time in NCM I saw some similarities between NCM and DREAM, such as works-and-obedience-based salvation doctrines as opposed to salvation by grace through faith (although all denominations and churches have debates about what salvation by grace through faith means), manipulation, dishonesty, and lying by the members of each group, as well as calling all churches and denominations outside of SCJ and the ICC, respectively, unbiblical and comparing opposition to the 2 respective cults to opposition of Jesus to defend and justify their respective groups and deny that those groups are part of a cult, yet I noticed differences as well, such as the fact that the ICC was more aggressive than Shincheonji, even in the beginning of their recruitment and indoctrination process as opposed to Shincheonji, where Shincheonji members were nice in the beginning until one got further in the recruitment and indoctrination process or when recruits start doubting or questioning SCJ doctrines, practices, beliefs, and behaviors or preach the truth to SCJ members if they’re genuine followers of Christ, and also that Shincheonji is even more secretive than the ICC, especially with the fact that SCJ members almost never reveal the name of their campus ministry or what church or denomination they're affiliated with until one has completed or nearly completed all the SCJ classes as confirmed by my research on SCJ, while ICC members will tell the name of their campus ministries to people and sometimes have the name of the church they're affiliated with. Another red flag I noticed was that SCJ members, especially one of the teachers, accused non-SCJ churches and preachers of having man-made teachings and they accused me of infusing Scripture with man-made teachings and twisting Scripture around. They wanted me to only use Scripture, without using any commentaries or explanations from various pastors and churches that teach biblically sound doctrines. Yet I pointed out that their teachings could also be man-made, such as their definition of faith as “knowledge of God’s promises, belief in God’s promises, and acting upon one’s belief in God’s promises,” but they dismissed my response to their accusations against me and against non-SCJ churches and preachers. I also prayed so that God would correct NorCal Missions of their false doctrines if they had any and so that I could share the truth with NCM, as well as praying for wisdom and discernment on whether or not to stay with NCM. I asked several others to pray for me for these things. During my last week with NorCal Missions I finally saw more unbiblical teachings being taught by the group and I finally heard clearly that they did in fact teach that we cannot be sure we had true faith or true salvation until we did everything Jesus told us to do, which is unbiblical and which shows NCM teaches more of a works-based salvation. When NorCal Missions saw that I could not accept any unbiblical doctrine they stopped giving me the lessons and I left, and a few days after that I did research on the Shincheonji cult, and gradually I saw that NorCal Missions was in fact affiliated with Shincheonji, and after I have told everyone goodbye, mentioned about Shincheonji with some of them, and sent several people Bible verses on salvation and other topics, they all stopped responding to me and I never spoke to them ever since. After I left NorCal Missions, I realized everyone from NCM I met on Zoom was a Shincheonji member, and all three people who invited me to their Bible studies, including the first person to invite me to her Bible study group, were recruiters for Shincheonji. I'm also starting to accept that none of the SCJ members I met online were really my friends in the first place nor did they want to be friends with me as much as they wanted to recruit me into their cult. I also realized that SCJ-affiliated Bible study groups, as well as ICC-affiliated Bible study groups, were also not really discussion-based groups like a majority of legitimate Bible study groups, and that Bible lessons were generally done in one direction (that is, teacher to student), and that discussions were really discouraged, as SCJ teachers expected everyone to agree with everything they were being taught. At first I thought that God answered my prayers because I was invited to three different online Bible study groups that I saw were campus ministries and that He wanted me to stay with NorCal Missions, but then I realized later that it was most likely because I put that I graduated from my university and later I put that I was a follower of Christ on my Instagram profile that I was invited to those three Bible study groups. I still don't understand why I studied with those groups or accepted their invitations, but I know now that NorCal Missions and DREAM were definitely affiliated with cults, and the other Bible study group has unbiblical teachings, although I don't really know whether or not it's affiliated with a cult. I also remembered that some people from SCJ told me that NCM was a nondenominational group and was not affiliated with a church, but I realized that was a lie when I found out they had a church, currently called the San Francisco Zion Church. I also found out through my research that the Shincheonji cult also had Bible study groups that went by other names like Zion Missionary, New Song Ministries, Revival Fellowship at SJSU, Revive at Sac State, True Vine Ministries, True Vine SF, Religare, Global Light, Ignite Ministry, and Christians of NorCal, and I realized SCJ was active across the San Francisco Bay Area and nearby areas in Northern California like the Sacramento area. I found out that Shincheonji also had a theology program that goes by names like Northern California Theology Program, NorCal Theology School, and Bible Study For All, and that they have an equivalent of NCTP/NCTS/BSFA in Southern California called Word and Life Theology School, and that the Southern California equivalent of the SF Zion Church was the Zion Mission Christian Center/Zion Mission Center in Orange County. As of now I am struggling in my faith against various doubts I have, and I want to understand the Bible in its original context and the meanings of various Bible verses and passages. I noticed that my experiences with Shincheonji and the ICC almost made me go back to being agnostic or atheist, but I also noticed that they could potentially lead me to returning to the Catholic Church or joining the Orthodox Church, as I still remember and see that various Bible verses could support Catholic beliefs and doctrines like Purgatory and beliefs and doctrines shared by Catholicism and Orthodoxy, such as the Bible and church traditions along with other extrabiblical traditions having equal authority and the Eucharist being a sacrifice, as well as the miracles I experienced during my Catholic years. However, at this point I'm not sure which church God is leading me to, as there are genuine Christians in Catholic, Orthodox, nondenominational, and Protestant churches and even in pseudo-Christian cults, but God would not lead me to a cult like Shincheonji or the ICC just like He would not lead me to Mormonism, Iglesia Ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witness, or La Luz del Mundo or any prosperity gospel church or any other church with false teachings that contradict His word, written or not written.