They claim to be the reincarnated Jesus Christ, the Son of God, or the Messiah. They attract followers who believe in their divine mission and miraculous powers. They often challenge the authority of established religions and governments. They are the false messiahs of our time, and they are not a new phenomenon.
Throughout history, there have been many people who claimed to be the messiah or the savior of the world, especially in times of crisis and turmoil. Some of them have been rejected or killed by their opponents, while others have founded new religious movements or sects. The Bible warns Christians to be careful of false prophets who will deceive many people in the end times (Matthew 24:23-24).
In recent years, several men from different parts of the world have made headlines for their claims to be Jesus Christ reincarnated. Some examples are:
– Alan John Miller, an Australian former IT specialist who founded the Divine Truth movement in 2007. He says he remembers his crucifixion and resurrection, and that his partner Mary Luck is Mary Magdalene. He teaches that God is a loving parent who wants everyone to become divine through emotional healing.
– José Luis de Jesús Miranda, a Miami-based preacher who led the Growing in Grace International ministry until his death in 2013. He claimed to be both Christ and the Antichrist, and that he had a “666” tattoo on his arm. He preached that sin and hell do not exist, and that his followers were “super race” who would transform into immortal beings.
– Inri Cristo, a Brazilian-born former waiter who has been claiming to be Jesus since 1979. He lives in a compound near Brasilia with his disciples, who call him “Sovereign”. He wears a white robe and a crown of thorns, and rides a motorized scooter. He says he is not here to start a new religion, but to reform Christianity.
– Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop, a retired Siberian traffic cop who goes by the name Vissarion. He founded the Church of the Last Testament in 1991, after he had a revelation that he was the reincarnated Christ. He lives in a remote village with thousands of followers, who adhere to his strict environmental and ethical rules. He says he is here to save humanity from an impending apocalypse.
– Wayne Bent, a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor who changed his name to Michael Travesser in 2000. He claimed to be the Messiah and the Lamb of God, and that God told him to sleep with seven virgins in his New Mexico compound. He was convicted of sexual misconduct with minors in 2008 and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
These men have different backgrounds, teachings, and lifestyles, but they share some common characteristics that make them appealing to their followers. According to Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, these include charisma, charisma authority, charisma legitimacy, charisma attractiveness, charisma exclusivity.
Charisma is the ability to inspire devotion and loyalty through personal charm and charisma authority is the claim to have a special connection with God or a higher power. Charisma legitimacy is the use of scriptures or prophecies to support one’s claims or actions. Charisma attractiveness is the offer of salvation, healing, or happiness to those who join one’s group. Charisma exclusivity is the creation of an us-versus-them mentality that separates one’s group from the rest of the world.
However, these false messiahs also face challenges and risks that can undermine their claims and influence. These include charisma vulnerability, charisma accountability, charisma competition.
Charisma vulnerability is the exposure to criticism or scrutiny from outsiders or insiders that can reveal flaws or contradictions in one’s claims or actions. Charisma accountability is the demand for evidence or results from one’s followers or authorities that can test one’s credibility or legitimacy. Charisma competition is the presence of other charismatic leaders or groups that can challenge one’s authority or attractiveness.
The rise and fall of modern-day false messiahs is a fascinating phenomenon that reflects human psychology, sociology, and spirituality. It also raises important questions about how we define and recognize true leadership, authority, and divinity.