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Every so often, Christians in the West are able to latch onto a celebrity of sorts who claims the name of Christ. Sometimes it’s Chris Pratt, who kinda sounds the part for a while before the facade is eventually dropped. Other times it’s the likes of Tim Tebow, who, though his theology is far from a ribeye and closer to Gerber, at least has a completion percentage greater than 50 percent, which is more than can be said about his NFL career.
And then there’s the story of Riaan Swiegelaar, co-founder of the South African Satanic Church, who resigned his post three months ago and has now gone public with the claim that he has met Jesus. And there was much rejoicing, particularly by the likes of Charisma News, Christian Post, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
But by meeting Jesus, I don’t mean that he heard a gospel proclamation and walked an aisle or said a sinner’s prayer or was baptized. I mean, the guy claims he actually met Jesus face-to-face. For the previously named outlets, that’s apparently enough, and no further inquiry is necessary. “Don’t you see?” They’ll say. “We have a former high level satanist on our side now; this gives us so much credibility,” not realizing how much the credibility of the faith is at stake with such claims.
So let’s examine Swiegelaar’s claims and see how they stack up against Scripture and the core claims of Christianity. So you can check his claims and my accuracy in representing those claims, you can see his Facebook live here, an interview he did shortly thereafter with a YouTuber here, and a second Facebook live wherein he doubles or triples down on previous statements here.
Which Jesus did he meet? Was his reaction anything like those in the Bible?
According to Swiegelaar in his first Facebook video, he “encountered” Jesus when he did a Church of Satan ritual meant to increase his power and influence. In his YouTube interview, he adds that he was summoning demons in order to help in that effort. More on the ritual shortly, but the important part here is that he claims to have met Jesus Christ face-to-face when he did this ritual.
Swiegelaar is inconsistent in how he describes his reaction to supposedly meeting the King of Kings. In his YouTube video, he says he was kind of scared, because if that’s really Jesus then he’s in trouble. But in the first Facebook video, he said he didn’t care and that if it was really Jesus then he’d have to prove it. Jesus responds by “filling him with love” while telling him, “I need you for the kingdom.”
Did Swiegelaar react how anyone in Scripture did? By no means. To cut to the chase, when Isaiah meets the Lord in Isaiah 6, clarified as being Jesus in John 12, his response is lament over the fact that he’s a sinful wretch in the presence of the holy, triune God. When John sees the resurrected Jesus while on Patmos, he “fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev. 1:17-18). The constant refrain of those who experienced Christophanies and the appearance of angels through Scripture is, “Fear not,” because they encountered a holy entity while not being holy themselves. In reality, this sounds closer to Kim Walker-Smith’s reaction to a Jesus that sounds more like a mix of Pride and Prejudice and Stretch Arm Strong, and I’d like to claim the mantle of the only person in the history of the world to reference those two in the same sentence.
But beyond that, since when does Jesus prove himself when we ask him to? Jesus explicitly denies the Pharisees a sign in Mark 8, because they had all they needed, just like Swiegelaar has all he needs in Scripture as a testimony. In fact, it’s foolish unbelievers who ask for a sign (1 Cor. 1:22).
And to simply address this supposed Jesus’ statement of his need of a former New Ager turned Satanist, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25).
So, to sum up, we have a Jesus who does not strike fear in the hearts of the unholy, responds to demands for a sign, and has a need for a man he created. We’re already batting 0-for-3 here, but Scripture, along with its commands to not engage in divination, only lists one instance of a pagan ritual being performed and God showing up instead, and it does not end well for Balaam (Num. 31:8). According to Scripture, this is already caved in, but let’s plumb the depths of his other claims to see if maybe he just missed the mark on something important, or if we’re talking about a different Jesus altogether.
What’s his good news?
A repeated phrase in Swiegelaar’s videos is “my truth” or “my experience,” which should immediately raise our post-modern red flags. I don’t care about what you claim to be true or what you have claimed to be experienced if it doesn’t comport with reality, but what does Swiegelaar claim to be his truth? I’ll rattle off a few of Swiegelaar’s quotes with Scripture references that immediately refute what he claims. You can look them up on your own time.
“Jesus didn’t come to earth to sacrifice himself.” He also shared an article on his Facebook page denying the Atonement and decrying a “violent” God. – 1 Peter 2:24
“Telling someone you love them is more powerful than preaching” – Romans 10:14
“God doesn’t care” if you believe. – John 3:16
“Nobody is a bad person. Do you understand that? Nobody in their essence is bad.” – Romans 3:9-20
“We are all equally God’s children.” – Ephesians 2:3
“We get new spirit bodies when we leave this earth plane.” – Isaiah 26:19
“If that is the New Age Jesus, I’m in. I’m happy,” while denying the “Old Age” Jesus to be Christ. – Galatians 1:8-9
“Say a prayer to your god or whatever your concept of that is.” – Jeremiah 10:10-11
“‘No, that can’t be. It doesn’t fit into the Bible,’” said with an incredulous shrug. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
He claims direct revelation from God and has “information people aren’t ready for,” which includes, “The love that he – or they – have for people.” – The entire book of Jude
But wait, there’s more (For less than $19.99…)
Allow me to continue in my deceased equine abuse with another list of things he claims, but I’ll skip the Scripture references because these are even more obvious.
He uses crystals for healing.
He still practices being a medium.
He is unrepentantly homosexual.
He said that God told him, “There’s nothing to forgive,” and that he doesn’t regret his involvement with Satanism.
He unironically said, “It was never my intent to instruct people on what they should believe,” all while instructing people on what they should believe.
His cosmology is, “As time began, we were all one thing, connected, and we as God, as consciousness, as a collective…”
His solution is, “We need to grow back into each other.”
He says he does not plan to find and attend a faithful church, saying, “Why would anybody? That was the first 2,000 years of religion.”
He denies his need for instruction because he “met Jesus.”
And after all these claims, he has the audacity to say, “If you question my salvation, then I’m going to question the Holy Spirit in you.”
And it doesn’t stop there, but we have more pressing matters.
Shame where shame is due
For all intents and purposes, we’re a month out from this story breaking, and for all the hoopla about Swiegelaar’s supposed conversion, there is exactly one post on Charisma News that actually questioned the narrative, and all it could muster was that Swiegelaar “may not have had a legitimate born-again experience.”
Shame on Charisma News, shame on CBN, and shame on Christian Post, when all they had to do was 30 minutes of original research of primary material. We all gave CNN grief over their coverage of the “mostly peaceful” BLM riots, but this is bearing false witness not of morons burning down cities, but of the One who holds those cities in the palm of his hand.
Jesus told his disciples that the world will know that they are indeed his disciples by their fruit (Matt. 7:16), and that fruit was born out after his commission to them to disciple the nations (Matt. 28:19). In so doing, they aided in reconciling the rift between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-15), in becoming stewards of the Word and of prayer (Acts 6:4), and by being willing to be brutally executed for the Name (Heb. 11).
In other words, the tree rooted in Christ produced fruit that smelled, tasted, and felt like the triune God.
So why is it so difficult in the Western Christian world to be truthful when the tree produces fruit with the taste of Eastern mysticism, the firmness of jelly, and the stench of the inner bowels of New York City’s monkeypox infested sewer system? Could it be that our star of discernment has gone supernova, leaving nothing but a blackhole that consumes everything in its path and doesn’t even allow light to escape? In our escapist, rapturous Christian culture, are we so starved for good news that we’re willing to invent it? God help us if so.
But there is, in fact, good news, for Charisma News, for CBN, for Christian Post, and for Riann Swiegelaar. The good news is that they can have their sins, including all of the aforementioned, wiped clean by faith in the Christ who was born of a virgin, lived, died a gruesome death, was resurrected in glory, and now possesses all authority while seated at the right hand of God. He is putting his enemies under his feet, the last one being death. But between now and the final enemy, he will crush the enemies of faux conversions, false religions, and fake news, and we along with the parties mentioned above must repent of those and kiss the Son, lest he be angry and we perish in the way (Ps. 2:12).