Eastern Lightning or Dongfang Shandian (东方闪电, "Oriental Lightning") is a cult offshoot of Christianity in China. It is also known as Seven Spirits Sect (七灵派), Second Saviour Sect (二次救主派), New Power Lord's Church (新能力主教会), True Light Sect (真光派) and True Way Sect (真道派). The official name for the group is the Church of Almighty God. The group is number 2 on the cult hit-list of the Chinese Communist Party for its subversive aims and activities.
History and beliefs
The group was founded in 1989 in Heilongjiang Province by Zhao Weishan. They believe that God has returned to earth as a woman, "born to an ordinary family in the Northern part of China" to guide mankind for the third and last time. According to the group, the first and second times of active guidance of mankind were as Jehovah of the Old Testament and as Jesus in the New Testament.
The group teaches that a woman self-styled "Lightning Deng" (邓闪电), from Zhengzhou, Henan is the second Christ. Her most widely distributed book, Lightning from the Orient (《东方发出的闪电》) is the Word of God. The book claimed the first coming of Christ was to redeem humanity, while the second is to conquer men's hearts and defeat Satan. Those who do not accept her words would die a terrible death or receive severe punishment.
Most of the information available on Eastern Lightning comes from human rights organizations, the Chinese government, and international Christian groups with connections to Christian communities in China. The Chinese government lists the group as a "cult" and has actively tried to suppress it, especially since its millenarian theology tends to take an explicitly anti-government stance.
Christian groups tend to be among the best-informed of all Western reporters on the movement, though they, like the government, regard the group as a heretical sect that deserves the label "cult" due to the radical differences that separate Eastern Lightning teaching from orthodox Christian doctrine. There have been reports of Eastern Lightning members attacking, kidnapping, and/or harassing leaders and members of other church groups in China.
- Lois Chan and Steve Bright (2005). "Deceived by the Lightning" (PDF). Christian Research Journal 28 (3). http://www.equipresources.org/atf/cf/%7B9C4EE03A-F988-4091-84BD-F8E70A3B0215%7D/JAL130.PDF.
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