Eastern Lightning (东方闪电) is a Chinese cult that proclaims that Christ has already returned as a Chinese woman. The cult started in Henan Province in the early 1990s and reportedly has one million followers in mainland China.
Eastern Lightning has been a source of distress to mainland churches because of the cult’s dedicated efforts to recruit followers from the churches.
I have personally experienced the pain of seeing brothers in Christ drawn into the cult. My family and I lived in the Mainland for eight years. During that time I came to know some students who became close friends. We often studied the Bible together. After I left the Mainland in 2006, two of them joined Eastern Lightning. In addition to being deeply saddened, I also thought to myself, “What a strange thing! Where on earth did this come from?” This painful experience is what moved me to study Eastern Lightning in the hope that I could help my friends.
Eastern Lightning has been known by different names. Though in this article I primarily refer to the cult as Eastern Lightning, nowadays it is more commonly known as “The Church of the Almighty God” (全能神教会). In the early days it was also known as “The Real/Concrete God” (实际神) cult (as opposed to the “remote” God of the Bible).
The teachings of Eastern Lightning are fairly simple. The core teaching can be briefly summarized as follows. The Trinity is a false doctrine. Instead, one God simply used different names in the three different ages:
- God was called “Jehovah” in the Age of Law (the Old Testament period).
- He was called “Jesus” in the Age of Grace (from the time of Jesus until, presumably, the early 1990s when Eastern Lightning started).
- He is called “The Almighty God” in this final Kingdom Age (and currently The Almighty God is a certain Chinese woman).
My main purpose in writing this article is to help people see that Eastern Lightning is not something new but is merely one more permutation of other cults already in existence. I will try to do this by explaining:
- where some of Eastern Lightning’s ideas come from (Section 1
- who its leaders are and how the cult got started (Section 2
- some ways in which various Eastern Lightning teachings contradict the Bible (Section 3).
My hope is that this explanation will help a few people who have joined the cult or are considering joining the cult to see the cult for what it is.
Note: Earlier English versions of this article published at
Earlier Chinese versions of this article published at
I am very grateful to my good friend Ted Spaeth for encouraging me with this project and Linda Chen for her great initiative and wonderful Chinese translation of the earlier version of this article.