Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.
Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:
The leader of an international religious organisation is being held in the US on charges of human trafficking, child rape and other felonies.
Naasón Joaquín García, who heads La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church, was detained at Los Angeles airport, California prosecutors said.
Mr García, known as “the Apostle” among his followers, and his three female co-defendants are facing 26 charges.
La Luz del Mundo said it was confident Mr García would be proven innocent.
A day after the charges were announced, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador faced scrutiny about a concert last month at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a famous and historic cultural center in Mexico City, that appeared to be a tribute to Garcia. The government had given permission for the space to be rented for the event, a move that angered critics who said public venues should not be used for religious purposes.
Lopez Obrador responded that authorities in Mexico did not have the information that came to light Tuesday when Garcia was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport.
The organisation, which has headquarters in Mexico, says it has baptised more than five million people around the globe.
The church has been open through the night for congregants to pray following the announcement of the charges against Garcia. By Wednesday morning, a dozen congregants had filled the first of about 50 pews inside the sprawling church. Women wearing long dresses covered their hair with colorful headscarves.
Some congregants who gathered at churches across the region Wednesday refused to talk about the allegations, instead requesting that guests respect their sacred space. Others expressed strong devotion for Garcia, saying they believe he’ll be cleared of the charges against him.
In Santa Ana, church leadership added two additional services Wednesday so congregants could pray for García. David Salazar, a 50-year-old who grew up in the church, stood outside the doorway flanked with golden pillars shortly after the 9 a.m. service began. He defended Garcia in between sips from a foam coffee cup.
It claims to have at least 1.8 million followers in Mexico alone. However, only 188,326 people stated their religion as being Luz del Mundo, says Mexico’s official census (in Spanish) carried out in 2010.
In recent years the church’s influence has spread to the US, particularly in parts of California with large Hispanic populations.
What are the charges?
In a statement released on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Mr García, a Mexican national, and the three women allegedly committed 26 felonies in southern California between 2015 and 2018.
These included human trafficking, production of child sex abuse images and forcible rape of a minor.
The defendants are accused of coercing underage girls into performing sex acts. The girls were reportedly told that if they went against the wishes of “the Apostle” they would be going against God.
According to court documents, Mr Garcia lectured several of his underage victims “about a king having mistresses and stated that an apostle of god can never be judged for his actions”.
“Crimes like those alleged… have no place in our society. Period,” Mr Becerra said.
“We must not turn a blind eye to sexual violence and trafficking in our state.”
Mr García’s co-defendants have been named as Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Meléndez and Susana Medina Oaxaca. They are all affiliated with La Luz del Mundo.
Among them only Ms Meléndez remains at large.
On Wednesday, Mr García, Ms Ocampo and Ms Oaxaca appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom for arraignment.
How has La Luz del Mundo responded?
In a statement (in Spanish), the organisation denied all the charges.
“We categorically reject the false allegations made against our brother Naasón Joaquín García,” the statement reads.
“In adherence to the Christian values our church preaches and practises, we reject any conduct which violates people’s dignity,” it added.
What is La Luz del Mundo?
The fundamentalist Christian organisation was founded in 1926 by Mr García’s grandfather, Eusebio Joaquín González.
It describes itself as a “resurgence of the early Christian church”.
AFP/Getty ImagesLa Luz del Mundo
(The Light of the World)
- 1926Founded in Mexico
- 58Countries with church presence
- 1,800,000Followers in Mexico alone (claimed)
Source: La Luz del Mundo
Women cover their heads during services and sit separately from the men.
During its annual gathering in Mexico’s Guadalajara, which La Luz del Mundo calls “holy convocation”, organisation leaders holds mass baptisms and what they call a “holy supper”.
A story just broke in Los Angeles the other day that has barely raised a ripple in U.S. media. However, Mexican newspapers and TV are transfixed by it.
Most Americans have never heard of this enormous 12,000-seat La Luz del Mundo church complex in Guadalajara. (A translated promo video is here). Built like a multi-tiered wedding cake, its concentric white scalloped walls turn various rainbow colors during festivals. It towers over the city and is Mexico’s largest evangelical Protestant church.
Its pastor, Naasón Joaquín García, was just arrested Monday at LAX and slapped with a bail set at $50 million, the highest ever imposed by a Los Angeles County judge. Imagine if Mexico had thrown Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen into jail. That’s the level we’re talking about.
The New York Times and Los Angeles Times are two of the American print outlets really covering this and even they are scraping for details about this church. From the New York Times:
The leader of La Luz del Mundo, a church with its headquarters in Mexico that claims to have more than one million followers worldwide, was charged Tuesday in Los Angeles with more than a dozen sex crimes, including allegations that he forced children to have sex and made them pose naked for photos, the authorities in California said.
The leader, Naasón Joaquín García, 50, was arrested Monday at Los Angeles International Airport, according to the California attorney general’s office. Mr. García is considered by La Luz del Mundo, which has locations in the Los Angeles area, to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at the airport that morning. Here’s this man walking onto U.S. soil expecting to visit his four daughter congregations in southern California when –- WHAM -– the police show up.
In a 19-page complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday, prosecutors said there were four victims, three of whom were children. One child and a woman were raped, prosecutors said in the complaint. Mr. García is also accused of human trafficking and forcing children to perform oral sex.
The crimes occurred from 2015 until 2018 in Los Angeles County, the authorities said.
One of the people told a group of girls that if they went against the desires of Mr. García, “they were going against god,” according to the complaint. Children were told to perform “flirty” dances for Mr. García wearing “as little clothing as possible,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said Mr. García gave a group of children “a speech about a king having mistresses and stated that an apostle of god can never be judged for his actions.”
The rest of the piece doesn’t contain a whole lot more than what you can find in a Google search, so we’ll turn to the Los Angeles Times:
Prosecutors said they secured an unprecedented $50-million bail for the leader of La Luz del Mundo church because they feared his followers could raise money to free him from custody and that he would flee the country…
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Thursday said that to his knowledge Naason Joaquin Garcia’s bail was the highest ever imposed on someone in Los Angeles County.
“We have a great apprehension that Mr. Garcia will raise the money to get a bond to bail himself out,” Becerra said. “We have provided the court information to back up the credible fear we have.”
The paper then quoted a local defense attorney saying bail rarely goes over $1 million or in very unusual cases, $2 million. The bail was originally set at $25 million and Becerra doubled that. If you doubt this church has money, get a load of some of the photos of this place here.
For reporters wanting to follow up on this place, do a look-see for local branches of Luz del Mundo near you. Here in the Pacific Northwest, I was surprised to find daughter churches in Canby, Ore., and in south Seattle. Here is a video of the pastor’s followers sobbing over his arrest.
Their doctrine is similar to Oneness Pentecostals: They believe in being baptized in Jesus’ name, not in the name of the Trinity. The church has been led by a family dynasty with the imprisoned Garcia being the grandson of the founder.
TheMexicanLabyrinth.com has a good story about the less-than-savory reputation of Samuel Joaquin Flores, the father of the imprisoned pastor, and the church’s cult-like aspects. A Sacramento TV station has another read on the arrest and this video shows followers marching by the pastor (who is standing on a balcony overlooking the crowd) giving him Nazi-like salutes.
The Associated Press did the best story I could find on the question everyone must wonder: Why was this man arrested in Los Angeles and not in Mexico?
The fundamentalist Christian church, whose name translates to The Light of the World, was founded in 1926 by Joaquin García’s grandfather. His father also led the church and was the subject of child sex abuse allegations in 1997, but authorities in Mexico never filed criminal charges.
The accusations were particularly painful for a church that has tried to cultivate an image for its law-abiding, hard-working, conservatively-dressing people in Mexico — a country where it claims about 1.8 million followers. Its male members favor suits and short hair, and female members wear veils that cover their hair and modest dresses. There are about 1 million U.S. members…
Here we go again. Actually, “Pentecostal” would be a better descriptor than “fundamentalist.”
The church also believes there was no salvation on Earth from the death of the Apostle John around A.D. 96 to 1926 when the church was founded. Which definitely consigns a lot of folks to hell. For more videos on their beliefs, click here and here.
The arrest is sure to prove an embarrassment for Mexico, in part because similar allegations have never resulted in charges there and in part because the church has long had political influence.
“It shows the enormous difference between the quality of law enforcement in Mexico and the United States,” said sociologist Bernardo Barranco of the Center for the Study of Religions in Mexico. “In Mexico, unfortunately, there is an innate protection for clergy, not just for the Luz del Mundo.”
Apparently this pastor has been running this operation for a long time but it took awhile to build a case against him.
This is where Spanish-speaking reporters really come in handy or some English-speaking reporters need to hop on a plane, hire a translator and get to the bottom of this unusual church. So what we need here is a religion-beat pro who speaks Spanish. Source
1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”
2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9).
3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).
For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit.
It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated.
Christians Don’t Hate the LGBT Community
Christians hate the sin of the world and how it hurts Christians and non-Christians alike. But this hate for sin fuels a love for the sinner and a desire that they find freedom from sin through Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. Disagreement with the LGBT lifestyle does not equate to hatred. On the contrary, it likens to love.
#Antichrist #evildoers #suppressingtruth #birthpains #tribulation #sevenyears #hellonearth #those that have ears, let him hear, those that have eyes let them see!
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