Why I Do Not Mourn the Death of Paul Yonggi Cho
by: Deji Yesufu
The death of popular South Korean Pastor, Paul Yonggi Cho, was announced yesterday, Tuesday, 14th September, 2021. Cho was 85 years old and had been pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea. This church is regarded as the assembly with the largest congregation in the world. While Nigeria churches may boast of the largest church auditoriums in the world, the church that has the largest number of members is the one that Cho led. Cho was a Pentecostal pastor who preached a full blown prosperity gospel and was one of those who popularized the brand in Asia and even went on to have long lasting influence on Christians here in Africa and Nigeria in particular. It is because of the gospel that Cho preached that I refrain this day from mourning his death. I do not celebrate his death either and I would rather use the occasion of his passing to remind those who believe the gospel Cho preached that they do not believe the Christian message and if they were to pass from earth to eternity, the message they have laid their soul on as anchor might not be able to save them from the wrath of God coming on men’s unbelief.
Death is a leveler and Solomon reminded us of the benefit of death when he said that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting (Ecclesiastes7:2). He said that when people have occasion to mourn, it tends to make their minds dwell on healthy matters – especially things that concern the eternal state of their souls. It will compel those who are not Christians to have another opportunity to find peace with God. On the other hand, the house of feasting is a place where the pleasures of the flesh are pandered to and the ease that come with such an environment will usually not make people think uprightly. Yet it is appointed unto every man to die and those who are wise will weigh carefully their relationship with God while they still have breath. This is the reason why as a blogger I will continue to use the occasion of the death of popular persons, who pushed certain ideologies, good or bad, to remind all of us of the eternal consequences of those ideas. And, certainly, when I die I am sure somebody out there will examine my beliefs and consider, according to scripture and the life I lived, whether I would be spending eternity with Christ or with the devil and his demons.
When I became a Christian in 1998, I developed a deep hunger for Christian literatures. I read everything I could lay my hands on that espoused the name Christianity. I am thankful to God that the Lord carefully directed some helpful materials my way in those days. Unfortunately there were others that were not too helpful – in fact downright cultic. One of them was Paul Yonggi Cho’s book called the “The Fourth Dimension”. In this book, the South Korean man wrote about how Christianity came to their country through the efforts of Western missionaries. He talked about how he survived an illness and then how he eventually built the church that is today regarded as the church with the largest congregation.
In this book, Cho taught a doctrine that said essentially that a person can get whatever he wants if he would only learn the art of visualization. He explained how this technique of visualization can be combined with the Christian practice of prayer, along with positive confessions, to receive whatever you wanted in life. The book was replete with his own personal stories and those of other people who use these technique to receive health and wealth into their lives.
It was not until some years after that I discovered that the doctrine that Cho was teaching was an arm of the heretical Word of Faith (WoF) message. Cho will however take an aspect of the WoF, positive confession, and extend it into the visualization technique that he taught in his book. This doctrine is actually an arm of the very cultic teaching called the New Thought that was developed in the 19th century by men like Phinehas Quimby but was Christianized by E. W. Kenyon in the early 20th century. It is a technique that is taught in many New Age books and if they are utilized properly, do actually bring adherents a lot of wealth – and health too. What Cho and others do not tell their adherents is that these doctrines are not taught in the Bible and the mere fact that they produce result is not enough for anyone to regard them as Christian.
Christian doctrines exhume essentially from the pages of the Bible. If a doctrine is being espoused and cannot be defended by the truth of the Word of God, that doctrine, regardless of what result it brings, is not of God. Also, if a doctrine is being taught by any so called minister and cannot be traced to what believers taught in the past, that doctrine is essentially a doctrine of demons. There is nothing new in the Christian faith; after two thousand years of its existence, there are no new arguments or doctrines in the body of Christ. When New Thoughts emerged in the 19th century, Christians had every reason to be wary of it. When it transformed to Word of Faith in the 20th century, there was a lot more reason to beware of this message.
A final test of whether a doctrine is sound or not is if it narrows down to the message of salvation for sinners and if it leads those who believe it to take the matter of godliness or personal sanctification very seriously. The doctrines of Christ leads hearers to develop a sense of awe for God, which leads those who are rebelling against him to repent of their sins and lay faith on his Holy Son, Jesus Christ. The doctrines of Christ will lead men always to a healthy comprehension of the matter of salvation. It will help believers to worship God for the faith they have received in Christ and compel them to live holy. The doctrines that Cho espoused leads adherents to look at God as a genie: an idol that gives them all their heart desires. It is almost never about salvation. These doctrines also lead adherents to living lives that dishonor God with the avalanche of scandals that follow them. Cho himself only recently escaped conviction by a court of law in South Korea, having been involved in a business deal which his son led and which led to the defrauding of innocent people of their hard earned resources. Cho’s son was convicted and sentenced to jail; while the father, though convicted, was pardoned by the judge because of his long term contribution to social matters in the society through his ministry and church.
Cho has concluded his life and ministry and is at the moment before the judgment seat of Christ receiving his reward, good or bad, for what he has believed and taught in the nations when he was alive. Cho wrote a lot of other books but it is his “Fourth Dimension” that is most known among Christians and the false doctrines espoused on those pages are still being propagated in churches around the world today. This is the reason I do not mourn his passing. Instead I bemoan the thousands of souls that are continually deceived by the message in his books and I pray that many of such persons can get to the point in their understanding of God of renouncing their beliefs in the doctrines that Paul Yonggi Cho and others like him preach.
Perhaps you can explain what Genesis 11:6 means.
The Lord be with you brother Deji. I pray He continues to use writings like this to enlighten people who are victims of such false preachers. Remain blessed and keep up the good work.
Excellent analysis of another wolf who has been cast into hell. I rejoice that the numbers of false teachers has been reduced by one.